Working Women's Memo: San Diego's for You

Another one of those municipal rankings is out: This one is a book, "The Best U.S. Cities for Working Women," by Jill Andresky Fraser.

She writes that, based on five criteria, San Diego is among "the best of the best . . . one of the seven most promising cities in the nation for working women." We are in the company of, in alphabetical order, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul and New York. Nope, not Pittsburgh.

The criteria?

- Diversity of career options, including the range of potential employers for women. San Diego is "very good."

- Job challenges, including whether the city is home to corporate headquarters or is a branch town, and whether there's the possibility "of achieving prominence" in the company or city. San Diego rated excellent.

- Receptiveness to newcomers. We're excellent.

- Advantages for singles, such as the size of the singles community, the city's social diversity, quality of night life and the rental housing market. We rated very good.

- Advantages for two-career couples, such as home prices, day care centers and family entertainment options. We're very good.

It's unclear to us whether a different set of criteria would be used for working men. In any case, some men are buying it. "They may want to find out where all the working women are going," said a saleslady at B. Dalton's bookstore at University Towne Centre.

Return to Sender

Having spent 10 years as a social worker in federal prisons, Chris Uchman now wants to help trouble-bound juveniles before they enter The System.

Uchman and his wife, Kathy, are working to establish a youth ranch on La Posta Road, eight miles east of Campo, to work with teen-agers who, as he says, are "knocking on the court's doors" but who can still be steered straight.

The two, who have a 13-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter of their own, have been working since December to establish the ranch.

So far, they have formed a nonprofit corporation, leased part of the old, 160-acre Shadow Ranch, which was a girl's summer camp and riding school, and are converting a 2,500-square-foot bunkhouse into modern quarters to care for six--and maybe up to 12--boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 16.

More than $40,000 has been spent so far on the land lease and initial renovation work, much of that advanced as a loan by Catholic Community Services of San Diego. But Uchman figures an additional $25,000 in work still is needed to bring the facility up to code so he can be licensed by the county's Department of Social Services.

There's no question of the need for such a facility, he said; the department currently is recruiting professional residential home operators from outside the county to open up homes in the San Diego area to help care for adolescent foster children and wards of Juvenile Court.

Ultimately, the Uchmans want to operate a miniature Boys' Town of sorts for youngsters who may seem headed for problems but who have not yet run into the law. The couple would rely on referrals from area churches and social service organizations. Uchman said: "We want to take our services to the streets rather than just waiting outside the courtroom doors."

One of the Uchmans' ideas was to get 700 families in San Diego County to sponsor the ranch, at a cost of $10 a month, so the facility could operate independently, under a board of directors and with a staff of full-time counselors.

To test the water, the Uchmans sent solicitation letters to 3,500 homes in the El Cajon area. "We hoped we'd get support from 20 or 30 families," Uchman said. The fund-raising cost $1,220 in printing, postage and return postage.

The effort brought $31 and a slap. The Uchmans got five responses: three one-time $10 donations, another with a buck enclosed, and one return envelope containing a complaint about junk mail.

On the Comeback Trail?

The Nice Guys is a loose-knit service organization in town including the likes of Police Chief Bill Kolender and Sheriff John Duffy, among other political, civic and professional muckety-mucks.

And it is within these ranks of civic do-gooders, who quietly raise and distribute tens of thousands of dollars every year for local charities, that Roger Hedgecock is showing his political restlessness.

He's one of seven candidates for election next month to sergeant of arms. There are two sergeants, and among their duties is to collect lunch money.

Hedgecock acknowledges that the position is the lowest among the elected ranks of the organization. "It's a small step," he said, "but it's a comeback."

Talk About Hot Stuff

The other day, Barry Horstman lunched at Mandarin restaurant at 4th Avenue and C Street downtown, where he ordered the hot-and-sour soup.

He never got a chance to find out how sour the hot-and-sour soup was, but the billing was at least half accurate. With the first sip, Horstman said, he scorched everything south of his chin. He gave the soup five minutes to cool, by which time the plastic spoon had melted.

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