So two journalists walk into an artist’s studio. No, it’s not the start of a joke. It’s the beginning of a tale about how a threesome of painters preserved our writer and photographer in art.

The trio works on collaborative paintings, including a series about their colleagues in the arts world. Our team dropped by to watch and ended up being subjects. Our photographer was painted as he photographed; the painters were photographed as they painted.

By the way, our photographer doesn’t need a trip to the dentist. That’s artistic license.

I’ll Bring the Beads

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We call it the municipal equivalent of Mardi Gras, when people gorge themselves silly on food and drink (and God knows what else) before cutting back: Local governments in California have been busy approving redevelopment projects before funding might disappear thanks to state cutbacks. Now, finally, San Diego is going to join the party and potentially commit hundreds of millions to projects.

Also in redevelopment news: another local state legislator, the second so far, has declared support for the governor’s plan to kill redevelopment funding. The answer from North County’s Mark Wyland, a Republican, came in response to a survey we’ve sent to all local legislators. Several more provided answers on Monday. We’re compiling their responses and will post another update or two today.

South Bay’s Murky Politics

He couldn’t quit them, but it turned out they could quit him: last month, a former Chula Vista mayor was ousted from the board that runs the San Diego port. That was especially unusual since he was appointed to serve as port vice chairman that same day.

There are a lot of theories floating around — including talk of vendettas — about exactly what happened. And a possible lawsuit looms, investigative reporter Will Carless discovers.

San Diego Fact Check takes a look at the South Bay too: is it true that some parts of the region have had an unemployment rate topping 20 percent? Yup. There’s a caveat, though, making the claim only mostly true.

Could 401(k) Be A-OK?

While some of us have no pension plans at all, the city’s not ready to go that far. Instead, it’s thinking about switching some employees to 401(k). Commentator Scott Lewis has been skeptical of the idea because of what it could mean for the city budget, and notes that an actuary says it won’t save money immediately: “Yes, you read that right, a switch to a supposedly more austere plan will likely increase costs at a time it’s scrambling to cut this year’s deficit. It’s a deficit the mayor has said threatens nearly all recreation center and swimming pools, along with library, fire and police services.”

Speaking of the city budget, the City Council looked at various options yesterday and heard two estimates of the upcoming deficit: $96 million and $57 million. The U-T says a $75,000 study found that the city could use new fire stations to reach the proper levels of protection. It’s unclear why the city needs to know this when it’s clear there isn’t $100 million (plus $40 million annually) to pay for the recommended stations and won’t be for some time, if ever.

‘Streets Czar’ in Jail

Mario X. Sierra, recently appointed as San Diego’s director of Transportation & Stormwater, is in jail after being arrested and charged with committing a lewd act with a minor. A councilman recently dubbed his position to be “streets czar.” We’ve quoted him several times in the past, particularly about pothole issues.

Mighty Escondido May Strike Out

Up in the (not-so) Hidden Valley, the boys of summer may turn out to be the boys of never. The state redevelopment crunch might steamroll Escondido’s plans to build a $50 million minor-league stadium that would be home to a Padres farm team, the U-T says.

One Case, $5 Million

The U-T says the California State University system had to pony up $5 million in total over a whistle-blower case filed by a football strength coach at SDSU.

No Indictments?! Oh Come On

Fact Check TV looks at’s claim about the Chargers (it’s false) and a report’s outlandish claim that San Diego hasn’t recently had any indicted councilmembers. In fact, for a while, that seemed to be just about all we had.

Well, It Could Be Worse

San Diegans sometimes shake their heads and mutter to themselves, “Is everybody corrupt around here?” (And by “San Diegans,” of course, I mean me.) But while we’ve had our problems, we can’t hold a corrupt candle to the now-infamous city of Bell up by Los Angeles. The LAT notes an email sent by an assistant city manager to a candidate for police chief saying that his contract was written vaguely “in order to protect you from someone taking the time to add up your salary.” That salary turned out to be more than $400,000 a year.

Future Investigative Reporter at Work

For the latest issue of Behind the Scenes TV, arts editor Kelly Bennett dropped by an elementary school in Chula Vista to check out a program that teaches third-graders to play string instruments — violins, violas, cellos and basses.

An eight-year-old tried to teach Bennett how to play the violin until she confessed that she already knows how. (Sneaky!) Little Alejandra then peppered our journalist with questions: What songs do you know? Why are you writing all of the things I say down in your notebook? If you’re a reporter, does that mean you don’t play the violin anymore?

My, how inquisitive. Get that kid a fedora and a press pass. There’s gotta be a scandal or two in the Student Council race. My advice: Check the financial statements! Those brownies with “Vote for Madison!” on them sure didn’t bake themselves.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

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

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