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Powers' Podcast: UT Reporter Michael Smolens on Issa Bombshell, Convention Center Tactics

by Jeff Powers, published

San Diego Union-Tribune political reporter Michael Smolens spent a few minutes to talk about the political landscape in San Diego. Smolens has been a government and politics editor at the U-T since 1992.

We spoke about a number of issues including the surprise announcement from Congressman Darrell Issa and his decision to no longer represent the 49th Congressional district and the very real possibility that Issa might jump to the 50th Congressional district, should a grand jury return criminal charges against Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr.

Smolens also spoke about the new Convention Center measure that could have huge impacts on tourism and homelessness.

IVN Podcast below:


News that Congressman Darrell Issa would leave the 49th Congressional district sent ripples through the local political community.

You can read IVN's story here

Here is Smolens story for the San Diego Union-Tribune

I asked Michael Smolens about this news and if Issa could switch districts from the 49th to 50th. Smolens said, "A number of things would have to happen, Hunter would have to step down and step down before the filing period which I believe is at the end of February, so it's very speculative but it is interesting as the Hill pointed out he talked about stepping down from Congress but in his statement he said he was stepping away from the 49th district, so we'll see, nothing may come of this, but that's the new wrinkle."


A new signature push for a measure that would expand the convention center, raise the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) and direct funding to address the homelessness crisis has hit the street.

A recent Smolens article contained an interesting paragraph related to the non-contiguous, contiguous argument. Last year, Measures C and D contemplated a convention center expansion that was non-contiguous. That fact drew the ire from the likes of Joe Terzi, Phil Blair and April Boling, who spoke for months about how a non-contiguous expansion or annex of the convention center would "force comic-con to leave town, destroy tourism and hurt the convention center business."

Now, those voices are saying a non-contiguous expansion is just "fine" with them. And in fact are attempting to redefine what the words non-contiguous and contiguous are.  I asked Michael about this hypocrisy, "They decided in the language of this new ballot measure is to allow that flexibility at the very least to keep the ball moving forward, and they do insist that what they're doing is contiguous, but would allow something across the street with some sort of skyway that would connect it, therefore it's contiguous, but that's not what we all had in our minds back in the previous campaigns."

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