If you’re lost in the backcountry of San Diego, the yips of beagles might be the prettiest sound in the world. In particular, some pooches named Snickers, Danie, Charlie, Wishbone and Huckleberry.

They work with Pam Medhurst, who leads a team of volunteer search dog trainers and handlers. They head out when people are missing. Sometimes they find what they’re looking for — a scared and shivering but live person. 

In this week’s Q&A, Medhurst talks about the highs and lows of her work, her most memorable find and the place where people get lost the most. And yes, we’ve got even more photos of those adorable dogs

Audited Audit and Miffed Auditor:

Now this is unusual: San Diego schools are watchdogging their own internal watchdogs. We’ve got new details about the complaints about an investigation (of alleged grade-changing at an alternative high school) that have led to an investigation of the investigation. Meanwhile, an internal auditor — one of the watchdogs — says she’s having trouble working with the district’s attorneys.   

Also in education, the San Diego teachers union plans to stand behind a teacher who was fired from a charter school after spearheading its unionizing effort. 

Big Legend about Small People:

There are plenty of myths about the dozens of small adult actors who played the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz, and one of them hits close to home: according to rumor, a colony of them lived in special mini-homes on La Jolla’s Mt. Soledad. Is it true? San Diego Fact Check contacted the man who may be the world’s leading Munchkin expert. (It’s nice to have a title.) And the verdict is… here.

Good Gig:

Arts editor Kelly Bennett checks in with musician Yo-Yo Ma, who was in town for the San Diego Symphony’s 100th anniversary gala. Bennett’s mission: listen to a rehearsal and ask the other musicians about what it’s like to work with such a master.

Prima Donna:

Fear not, dear readers: We may finally be nearing the end of looks back at Councilwoman Donna Frye’s tenure. But first, a retrospective of the retrospectives.

We chatted with her about her legacy, the U-T took a look at her final newsletter, the Daily Transcript heard her acknowledge that she was “sort of the skunk at the garden party” while campaigning, and now CityBeat is pondering whether a cult of personality developed around her

This reminds me that it might be a good time to go on eBay and sell my collection of Donna Frye action figures from Mattel.

I’m kidding, of course! Mattel only sells City Council inaction figures. 


The Week in Review: Going, Going, Gone

Arts Funding Might Vanish: A councilman wants to cut city funding for arts, and his proposal may force the arts community to launch a new kind of counterattack. Most readers who commented were fired up — and annoyed — by the idea to save money. “Art isn’t simply ‘dessert’ for the privileged,” said one reader. But another decries “sacred cows” in the city budget and says “it’s time to share the pain.

Walmart Hopes Up in Smoke: Unions don’t like Walmart (which is no fan of them either). Neither do small businesses and other supermarkets with union workers. In a victory for these Walmart critics, the City Council this week made it harder for certain kinds of superstores to build in San Diego, even though activists in some of the poorest neighborhoods actually wouldn’t mind a big Walmart one bit.

Whither Balboa Park? A commentary about the future of Balboa Park prompted our readers to consider the best ways (and the not-best ways) to preserve our crown jewel.

Scott Lewis, who penned the piece, has posted a follow up responding to some of these comments. He says it’s become clear that trying to protect Balboa Park’s good history while recovering from its bad, will be the primary tension as the city and philanthropists try to set it up for a better future.

If you want an easy backgrounder on what’s going on with the park, watch our San Diego Explained piece with NBC 7/39.

An AIDS-Friendly Military?: Some readers were sympathetic to the views of a local physician who says the military’s ban on open gays in the military threatens the sexual health of service members. He says the ban discourages them from getting proper testing and screening. A commenter offers a unique perspective from the other side, saying the military showers HIV/AIDS patients with benefits and “will help manage one’s potential outcome and provide a soft landing if one crashes.” In other words: those who get HIV in the military? Lucky!

Cut Loose: We bid sayonora to school board members Katherine Nakamura and John de Beck, both non-wallflowers who were fired by voters, with looks at their eventful terms.


The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to enjoy over a cuppa):

San Diego Was No Fan of Lincoln: Last month was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s first election as president. But San Diego County voters were not fans at the time: they didn’t support him then or in 1864 either. 

Uncovered: There’s a new fuss at the scandal-plagued Arlington National Cemetery over news that eight sets of remains were buried in a single grave. The story reminds me of a routine burial practice in San Diego: for decades, the bodies of people who died in poverty were often stacked on top of each other — sometimes in threes — in single plots at Mt. Hope Cemetery. Hundreds were buried under a dirt lot too.


Quote of the Week: “He always got to pick his snake, and he got the choicest bumblebee.” — Cheryl Williams, wife of the late Jack E. Williams, on how he always got special treatment while dining in other countries as he sold the poinsettia.


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...

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