They’re over at last: thanks to changes in the budget, the San Diego fire department is no longer “browning out” as many as eight fire engines at a time and letting other nearby stations pick up the slack.

• A councilwoman told a reporter that it’s taking a bit longer for the fire department to respond to medical emergencies and fire. Is that accurate? San Diego Fact Check’s verdict is “mostly true” — response times have gotten slightly slower but the city’s fire chief says it’s not a statistically significant shift.

Don’t blame me for the delay. Only once did I almost walk in front of a speeding ambulance, and that was because I was on the phone and not paying attention to my surroundings at a University Heights intersection. I’m now much more focused. Hey lookit, something shiny! (HONK!)

No Tears from This Clown

At the tender age of 30, former Marine Mike Vinn has done the near-impossible: he’s made standup comedy a full-time career. We talked to him about running open mic night, the hazards of insulting La Jollans and a heckler’s perfect riposte.

Not Even a Wrist Slap for High-Speed Drunken Driver

Driving 125 mph down Highway 163 is never a good idea unless you happen to have a badge and sirens on the top of your car. It’s an even dumber idea when you’ve been throwing back glasses of white zinfandel and it’s 2:30 a.m.

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That’s what authorities think a man did in December 2009, and they charged him with drunken driving and speeding. “He’s lucky he didn’t kill or seriously injure someone. At which point I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he got a decade in prison,” University of San Diego law professor Shaun Martin blogged this week about the case.

An appeal court ruling in the case came out yesterday. “As it is, he got essentially no penalty. No jail time. A suspended sentence,” Martin wrote. “Even that got reversed on appeal (albeit for a new trial) because the trial court improperly excluded some expert testimony.”

It’s an example of how “our criminal laws make an incredibly powerful distinction between ‘potential’ and ‘actual’ harm, even when the underlying acts are exactly the same…,” Martin writes. “I’m not at all confident that such a broad disparity is justified.”

Getting Wiggy with It at the Old Globe

The play’s the thing, but this summer, wigs are coming in close second. “Amadeus,” a play in the Old Globe’s summer Shakespeare festival, will go through 36 eighteenth-century wigs. (And no, “Amadeus” isn’t a recently discovered play by a time-traveling Shakespeare. The festival includes non-Will-y works.)

DeMaio Says Locals Slept Through Government Takeover

On VOSD Radio, Councilman Carl DeMaio says San Diegans were too distracted to notice unions and lobbyists for big business as “they took over control of our city government.”

Hot (European-Derived) Dog! A Fireworks-Filled Fourth

Plenty of Independence Day fireworks displays are on tap for this weekend. But, as a wise woman once said, it’s always something. Out in East County, the organizer of a fireworks display at Lake Murray says a legal fight that nearly cancelled some local fireworks left his event without enough money to hire bands.

Slate notes that hamburgers, wieners and frankfurters, all perennial foods on the Fourth of July, are named after places in Europe. Sheesh. How about some gosh-darn American food already? Fried chicken with french fries for everyone! Oh wait a minute…


What We Learned This Week:

Dead to Life: The state’s new budget leaves urban renewal agencies in a vulnerable position, but not dead on the battlefield, and legal skirmishes could help them win the war.

Job Cuts Finally Official: The school board agreed to cut hundreds of jobs and things might get worse.

Dems Knock Heads: The county’s Democratic chairman laid down the law to local elected party officials: You must endorse a Dem for San Diego mayor or else you won’t get a drop of support or even an endorsement. (Republicans have the same policy in reverse.)

Claptrap, declared Lemon Grove’s Democratic but Republican-endorsing mayor. Intimidating political hackery, said CityBeat in a fit of maximum-prescription-strength pox-on-all-their-houses fury.

Nor a Drop to Drink: A local plant is now churning out a million gallons a day of purified water that used to be sewage. It’s part of a pilot project to test what critics like to slam as “toilet-to-tap.” Critics, that is, who once included San Diego’s mayor. He’s changed his tune, but he wasn’t willing to disobey regulators at a press conference this week: He wouldn’t drink a beaker of the water, even as he reddened in the summer sun. Officials also made sure to nip a councilman who seemed ready to take a sip.

Smell You Later (and Now Too): It’s the season of the stink, thanks to newly born skunks who are making their presence known at night in neighborhoods across the county. We take a look at their odiferous habits, their often-cozy relations with feline types and the things you can to do keep them away.


The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to savor over a cup of joe):

They Really Like Him, but Do They Respect Him? The superintendent of San Diego schools is a really likable man. But while he may be a great guy to have beer with, his innate niceness might be a hindrance to getting his job done.


Quote of the Week: “I wish Bill was a little bit more of a son of a bitch. Because you can’t run a fairly dysfunctional organization of this size without sometimes being a son of a bitch.” — San Diego school board member Scott Barnett on superintendent Bill Kowba.


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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