The illegal Encinitas mural of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard is 10 feet by 10 feet. That makes it 100 square feet of tough-as-nails artwork, as consultants are beginning to discover.

As the U-T reports, conservationists visited the Surfing Madonna in search of a way to get it off a wall below a railroad bridge and discovered that the mural may be stuck. Really stuck: it was bolted, not glued. “This thing is perfectly done,” one of the consultants said of the mural created by a faux construction crew. “It looks like they put in an extra structure to make sure it couldn’t be removed.”

The verdict isn’t in yet on whether the mural can be removed, as the graffiti-averse Encinitas City Council is demanding. One thing is clear, though: People love it. City leaders may not have a prayer if they tear it down without being able to put it back together.

Correcting a Factual Brownout

Due to an editing mistake, yesterday’s Morning Report incorrectly said the City Council had preserved service cutbacks in the fire department. In fact, the brownouts were eliminated. We apologize for the error.

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Faulconer Out, Filner In?

This just in: Someone’s not running for mayor! Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who seemingly made every list of high-profile mayoral hopefuls, isn’t going to go for the city’s top job. Instead, he’s endorsing Bonnie Dumanis, the district attorney and a fellow Republican.

A late-breaking U-T story has more news: Mayor Jerry Sanders is also endorsing Dumanis, while Rep. Bob Filner is expected to file the paperwork necessary to run. He’s a Democrat in a race with three declared GOP candidates, which could give him an advantage in moving to a likely runoff unless another major Dem (like state Senator Christine Kehoe) gets in.

At almost 70, Filner is quite a bit older than the other candidates. He’s also a notoriously prickly character, which would make debates lively.

One interesting tidbit from Councilman Faulconer: he used some leftover money from a previous campaign to pay for a poll about the mayor’s race. That’s a race, by the way, that’s still a year off. “It showed it was going to be a very tough race for everybody,” he said cryptically, refusing to elaborate.

Is it tough because voters don’t know the candidates? Or because they know them too well?

City Pays $1.8M Over Accident:

For 12 years, the intersection of Pacific Highway and Cedar Street — right in front of the County Administration Building and near a Jack in the Box — misled drivers who thought they could make a left turn. Nobody fixed it, and in 2009 a motorcyclist was killed. The city is paying $1.8 million to the dead man’s family, the U-T reports, and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith was unusually blunt about the city’s failings, saying “I am appalled.”

The accident-prone intersection got a signal three months after the accident.

Tourists Taxed by Hotel Fees?

If you buy a hotel room online, the site isn’t likely to draw your attention to hotel taxes. They’re added on at the end of the transaction, and it may be easy to miss them until the bill comes under the door during the last night of your stay. Then: Bammo!

All those dollars add up,” the president of an event planner association tells the NYT in a story about rising hotel taxes. “In the end, it’s going to mean fewer people attending or people staying for a shorter period of time.”

The story, however, doesn’t offer hard numbers to support its claim that the taxes specifically drive away tourists. Do they really take taxes into account when they compare locations they’d like to visit? And if they do, is that a boon to lower-priced hotels?

Statistics would sure be helpful to get: The city is thinking about boosting its hotel taxes to pay for an expansion of the convention center, although the plan is to make them “fees” in the eyes of the law so voters don’t have to approve them.

Showdown over Shutdown:

The school board is getting closer to closing a charter school, a rare move that would demonstrate the district’s new tighter leash on its charter schools. The Chollas View school, known as Promise, is accused of violating state laws.

In other education news, a member of the board that oversees South Bay middle and high schools wants to meet behind closed doors to discuss the superintendent’s behavior in the wake of investigative reporting by the U-T.

The U-T continues to dig deeply into the district: it’s reporting that high school grades at one campus may have been improperly changed.

Board Budges on Busing

Also: at last night’s school board meeting, the “board voted to create a 5-year-plan for transportation savings that protects dedicated magnets,” Emily Alpert reported by live tweets. The “board also voted to increase fees for busing for families who can pay. Vote was 4 to 1, Richard Barrera against.”

Get Emily’s play-by-play of the board meeting on our @sdlivetweet account.

Kyla Calvert at KPBS has more about the busing changes and one of our community contributors, Bey-Ling Sha, reviews the history of busing in San Diego and wonders if the San Diego Unified is setting itself up to be sued.

Rolando’s Greener Mix

Our swing around the city’s neighborhoods continues with a visit to Rolando in an older part of central San Diego. Besides an evolving ethnic mix, the neighborhood is also home to lots of large yards and residents committed to green living.

We also took another look at South Bay’s Nestor neighborhood and the decline in tourists who look there for a place to stay.

In other neighborhood news, community gardens are now easier to get permission for in the city.

Another Publication Bites the Dust:

An upscale local magazine called 944, part of a nationwide chain, is folding. The chain had been lauded as an incredibly fast-growing company just two years ago but faced lawsuits.

Pondering End of Life Care

There’s been a lot in the news lately about proper care for those who want to die on their own terms: An elderly East County woman made headlines by selling “suicide kits,” while HBO aired a gripping documentary called “How to Die in Oregon” about terminally ill people who are allowed to get the materials in order to kill themselves there. Then Dr. Jack Kevorkian died.

Now, the San Francisco Chronicle has posted a brief Q&A with Dr. Scott Irwin, director of the Psychiatry Programs at The Institute for Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice. He talks about palliative care, designed to improve quality of life and reduce suffering. “The evidence does suggest that that amount and quality of palliative care goes up in states that allow physician assisted dying and in countries that allow euthanasia,” he said.

For more about hospice care, check our Q&A interview from last year with the institute’s provost.

Important Announcement

The Morning Report is a Weinergate-free zone. You’re welcome.

Padres Are the Best at Something!

A new report by a company that grades employees finds that the Padres have the best ticket-sales staff in all of professional baseball.

Good to know, and it’s nice to hear that they work well with the public. If I had to deal with ornery people all day, I’d be tempted to develop exactly the wrong kind of slugging percentage.

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

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

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