A sheriff’s deputy named Zheath Sanchez specializes in fighting graffiti and other gang-related problems. He also happens to have an eye for art, which he sees in the graffiti he tracks. In this week’s Q&A, Sanchez talks about the difference between tagging and gang-member graffiti and his thoughts about a vandal who’s now creating graffiti-style art legally and getting honored for it.

Reporter Keegan Kyle interviewed Sanchez during a ride-along when the interview suddenly came to an end. No, it wasn’t something Kyle said or (or anything else unfortunate). Sanchez actually spotted a wanted man in Imperial Beach. With moments, a dozen or so cops were on the scene along with a police dog. The men were apprehended, as they say, without incident, and the interview started up again.

County’s Pot-Unfriendly Stance:

An advocate for medical marijuana says the county hasn’t approved a single medi-pot dispensary. Is it true? Yup, says our fact-checking crew. No one has gotten a permit for one. Why? Well, the county’s rules cover unincorporated areas, not exactly a hotspot for medical marijuana distributors. And then there’s the matter of the fee: more than $11,000, which is enough to cause enough stress and headaches to make a person need some you-know-what.

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La Mesa’s Latest Brouhaha:

A forum got touchy in La Mesa when a councilman and a bookstore owner faced off and grabbed each other, prompting a call to the cops and an angry response from the daughter of the owner of the restaurant where it all occurred: “Hey! Hey! Don’t be grabbing people in my place! If you want to be disrespectful, get out. Get out of my restaurant! I don’t want no violence in here! Go!”

Patch.com has the story and video.

Bilbray Misses the Mark:

CityBeat chews out Rep. Brian Bilbray for the “silliest thing a San Diego Congress member said this week.” Bilbray said this: “When we talk about budget reduction, rather than denying Americans the right to live in the United States unless they buy certain insurance, why aren’t we talking about doing cost reductions like California has done, not exactly a right-wing legislature?”

In reality, health care reform only levies a financial penalty on certain people who refuse to be insured. CityBeat also dings Rep. Duncan D. Hunter for saying the federal right to mandate highways is in the Constitution. CityBeat says it isn’t. Any constitutional scholars want to weigh in on this? Maybe Hunter’s talking about federal highways and interstate commerce.

Not the Best Care, But Close:

If you’re on Medicare and need to visit a hospital, a new study says you’re better off heading to West Palm Beach. Or Brownsville, Texas. Or even Dayton, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Tucson or Cincinnati.

They all scored better than San Diego in a ranking of regional hospital care. Even so, we didn’t do too shabbily: San Diego scored 17th out of 113 metro areas, just above Detroit, Miami and St. Louis. L.A. was down at 36th.

Members Only (Mostly):

We’ve been closely following the San Diego Museum of Art’s preparations for its new Gainsborough/Hodgkin exhibit, featuring a classic British artist and a contemporary counterpart. Now, the show is getting ready to open this morning, and arts blogger Dani Dodge was on hand this week during pre-opening festivities for big donors, museum members and a few others.

Yeah, but Who’s Counting Those Pecs?

Also in arts, By the Numbers takes a look at San Diego Opera’s “Turandot” performance, which opens this weekend. It features 15 gongs, 277 costumes, 30 wigs, six acrobats and more.

There’s also an unknown statistic: how many audience members will grab their opera glasses when the bare-chested (and bare-headed, -backed and -legged) male cast members make an appearance.

Yes, we’ve got a photo. But if you want a closer view, you’ll just have to get front-row seats.


What We Learned This Week:

Money for Something, but What? No one’s quite sure who will pay for the proposed convention center expansion. And now, there’s another big question mark. No one’s saying how much the expansion will cost. They won’t even hazard a ballpark guess.

Even so, the arm-twister recruited by the mayor hopes to release a funding plan next month.

Cities Fear the Reaper: The U-T says 16 cities in the county will face big hits if the state goes ahead with the governor’s bid to dissolve redevelopment agencies. Locally, only Encinitas and Del Mar don’t have redevelopment projects.

Speaking of future construction, Councilman Kevin Faulconer wants officials to move quickly on $60 million in downtown projects before the governor and legislature can kill redevelopment agencies in the state. Other cities around the state have gone into full-blown emergency mode in order to get their projects in under the wire. The wire, that is, that could be a guillotine. (U-T)

You Get a Walmart! And You Get One! And You…: Attention San Diego shoppers: the Walmart company thinks you don’t have enough places to shop. Just in time for the City Council make another big decision about whether super-duper stores can open in the city, Walmart has announced that it plans to build a dozen stores in San Diego.

Walmart doesn’t want to answer questions, however. Where will the stores be located? (Does the city even have places to put 12 of them?) How big will they be? When will they open? They’re not saying.

As for the council’s possible repeal of its Walmart-discouraging ordinance, it sounds like it’s a done deal: a swing vote has swung toward dumping it.

Would you like a Walmart superstore to open near you? Or did bad publicity (and, perhaps, “Nickel and Dimed“) turn you off its low-low prices? Take our online survey and let us know.

The End of the Brush-Off: After we put on pressure and received help from politicians and readers, downtown’s redevelopment agency finally released documents regarding a crucial but aborted study. We’re reading them and will report back on what they say.


The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to read over a glass of the horrible fake-brewed iced tea that so many local restaurants serve):

Money Doesn’t Drive These Teachers: A fledgling charter school in Normal Heights has had to cut its budget drastically. At a union-represented school, the teachers with the least seniority might be first on the chopping block. Not here. Everyone from the CEO on down is making just $91 a day


Quote of the Week: “As long as I’m not out on the street, I’m OK.” — Aja Booker, who teaches fifth and sixth grade at the Normal Height’s charter school, on accepting a 50 percent cut in her pay.

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

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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