Our crisis-torn City Hall lurched from one major development to another yesterday, as the deadline to put a budget-boosting measure on the November ballot inched ever closer. Proposals withered and sprouted while an emergency meeting looms today.

Here’s a summary and here’s a run-down:

• The mayor vetoed the City Council’s decision to ask voters in November whether they’ll support a new $294 million City Hall.

This doesn’t mean the project is dead. Far from it.

For one thing, the mayor may think the City Council should just make the decision itself (he supports the City Hall). And the council, which overwhelmingly wanted to boot the issue to voters, could override the mayor’s veto.

• The City Council will hold an emergency meeting today, not Monday, to figure out what to do with a proposal to ask voters for a sales tax hike but kill the increase in two years if the city doesn’t get down to business about reform.

• The initial proposed ballot measure appears to be moot: the state says a tax hike can’t expire if certain things just happen or don’t happen.

But! A new proposal would allow a third party (a panel of judges or the city auditor) to decide if certain things happened. That might be legal. Maybe.

We’ll have live coverage of today’s emergency council meeting via Twitter.

More on the crisis at City Hall:

• Councilwoman Donna Frye has answered our questions about her ballot proposal.

• There was massive confusion over whether Frye and Mayor Jerry Sanders were creating a financial plan to move the city forward. Not so, said a Sanders spokesman.

• Columnist Scott Lewis offers lessons from 2004, another time when city leaders found themselves in quite a pickle. He says those pushing for a higher sales tax must be realistic and to recruit a conservative to stand with them, even if there’s a price to pay, or else history says they’ll fail.

• In a last bit of shocking news from the bowels of power, our City Hall reporter tweets that he’s heard from an anonymous source who has “it on really good authority” that an unnamed city official “has gone (expletive participle) insane.”

Now, I know the obvious question you’re asking: Expletive participle? Really? Isn’t it an expletive gerund? Answer: No!

Moving on. Next question: Who in heck is this person who’s gone around the bend? I asked our reporter to provide a hint, maybe “odd” or “even” — referring to, perhaps, a City Hall floor. Or a City Council district. No answer yet, but I’ll keep you posted as this breaking story develops.

In other news:

• We have an important correction to make regarding one of our Fact Check verdicts.

In June, we incorrectly reported that a statement by the district attorney was true: she’d said more and more local teenagers are dying from use of the painkiller Oxycontin. In fact, she was wrong, and so was our verdict of “true.”

We incorrectly analyzed data and came to the wrong conclusion. We apologize.

By the way, we check drug-related statistical claims like this one because they may influence decisions that officials make about where to devote resources.

• Tough crowd, tough crowd: Ocean Beach residents gave a tough reception the other night to what one called a vague “dog and pony show” presented by a coalition that wants to drastically reform city schools.

• Our editorial cartoonist is feeling positively grave about City Hall’s collective nervous breakdown.

• Our San Diego Explained video series takes a look the homeless downtown and the ban on ticketing transients for sleeping on the streets at night.

• Our weekly photo series, the San Diego People Project, checks in with a “fish specialist” who works at a pet store in the Sports Arena area. Handy tidbit: There are about 14,000 different kinds of fish you can order for a pet store.


• With the help of attention from TV news, there’s lots of heat being generated by CityBeat’s story about County Supervisor Bill Horn’s alleged funneling of taxpayer money to a religious anti-abortion group.

Horn’s office says the money won’t go to a curriculum for private religious schools. But CityBeat insists its allegations are true, saying the money was spent on a fundraiser for the group, which provides “religious lesson plans, telling kindergartners about fetuses and high schoolers about scripture regarding assisted suicide.”

Meanwhile, the organization says it’s not religious. But its vice president’s husband described it as a “ministry,” CityBeat reports.

• In another story about the supervisor slush fund, the U-T says the county still hasn’t gotten documentation for $380,000 in county-funded grants, including “$20,000 for marriage counseling at Patriotic Hearts and $7,000 for ammunition, food and other expenses for the Santa Margarita Gun Club.”

• An infant died of whooping cough at Rady Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, the first such death locally since 2001. While their number is still small, 1,496 cases of the disease have been reported in the state so far in 2010, the U-T reports, five times the number from last year.

• Also in CityBeat: the U-T appears to have calmed its relations with the Latino community after canning an opinion columnist and others who were Latino or covered Latino issues. The paper will work to form an advisory committee to advise it on Latino issues. (The North County Times has similar advisory groups.)

• I’ve written a brief piece for The Christian Science Monitor about the flap over the future of book coverage in the U-T.

• Finally: Journalists are devastated when they make mistakes. As a public service, I’d like to disclose my seven stages of dealing with errors in my work: Denial, anger, blaming of eagle-eyed readers, angry denial, blaming of eagle-eyed editors, wailing and then, finally acceptance (unless I head back to “denial” for another round.)


Correction: This article has been corrected to properly identify the person who described the organization in the Horn story as a “ministry.” It was the vice president’s husband, not the vice president.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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