If a councilman has his way, the local arts community will soon face the mother of all battles.

Councilman Carl DeMaio wants to trim a city program that provides money to 111 nonprofit arts organizations and get rid of most of the city’s art staff, too.

It’s not clear if DeMaio’s financial reform plan, of which these cuts are a little-noticed part, will go anywhere. Kelly Bennett reports that if arts do end up in jeopardy the arts community will have to find new ways to fight for its funding.

In Other News:

• As expected, the mayor vetoed the City Council ordinance that would make it tougher — critics say impossible — for stores like Wal-Mart to open new superstores with grocery aisles. The council, which has been divided, can still override the vote.

• Got $274 to spare? If you gather that much from each resident of San Diego, you’d have enough — $377.5 million — to fix San Diego’s deteriorated streets, according to a new report. The problem: the city isn’t anywhere near spending the money required to fix the streets and maintain them.

• For all the talk about his power to torture the Obama Administration, you’d think Rep. Darrell Issa — dubbed the “Grand Inquisitor” by his critics — would be lugging around an iron maiden. In fact, he’s getting ready to unleash a torrent of investigations in the House. We sample the flurry of news stories about Issa, who’s had to do some backtracking as he steams toward great prominence.

• Is the convention center floating on water? Is there buried treasure in Presidio Park? Are there tunnels under UCSD and downtown? Did rum runners deliver booze to sea caves at Point Loma during Prohibition?

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We’re looking for your help as we check out these and other urban legends submitted by readers.

We’ve already look at one seemingly outlandish legend about bodies under a park and declared it to be true. You can check our summary in the latest edition of Fact Check TV, which also analyzes claims about the size of city’s budget deficit and paperwork for small businesses.

• Councilwoman Donna Frye, who’s leaving office, drew praise that shows she managed to gain respect from some of those who disagreed with her, no mean trick in a city where polarizing politicians are often despised by their critics.

More Frye: The Photos of the Day include outtakes from photographer Sam Hodgson’s session with the councilwoman.

• In arts, we chat with the dynamic duo behind the well-respected Cygnet community theater, which recently moved to Old Town. Sean Murray and Bill Schmidt, who are business and personal partners, tell us about their plans for the future and the challenges of balancing their work and home lives.


• Last year, I visited Donovan state prison (on a tour, mind you) in the outskirts of the South Bay and roamed the grounds with an escort after signing a form acknowledging that the prison doesn’t negotiate for hostages. The prison offered a variety of striking sights, including a giant bakery full of tattooed prisoners in hairnets and signs warning that there are no “warning shots.”

Nothing was more stunning than a converted gymnasium crammed full of prisoners on bunkbeds. The gym’s walls were lined with privacy-free toilets and showers, and prisoners milled around instead of being safely ensconced in cells. It looked like a security nightmare for guards, but I hear that prisoners themselves like the freedom of not being in cells.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider a federal ruling that said prison overcrowding contributes to poor medical care that violates the constitutional rights of prisoners. A Wall Street Journal story about the case includes a Reuters photo of overcrowding at Donovan.

• Figure out a way to charge for trash pickup and privatize some city services. Sound familiar? These long-discussed solutions to San Diego’s financial woes, along with increased business fees, are part of a commission’s draft report. The problem, as always: some of the changes need to go through voters. (U-T)

• San Diego is the eighth worst place to find a job in the country out of 50 metro areas, with 4.79 unemployed people per advertised job, according to a website’s monthly Job Search Difficulty Index.

• As you may have heard, legendary actor Leslie Nielsen has died. As a fan of Nielsen’s comedy oeuvre (and also of the word “oeuvre”), I’d like to point out that the San Onofre nuclear power plant makes a memorable appearance in the classic 1988 movie “Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!”

You may insert your own “Surely you can’t be serious” joke here.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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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