Following up on our in-depth visual examination of the controversial proposed makeover of Balboa Park, we now focus on how the plan manages to create an underground parking garage (with a grassy park on its roof) and funnel people there from the Cabrillo Bridge. We’ve posted maps and graphics that show how things are expected to shake out under the plan.

The mayor says the plan creates more parking spaces and gives visitors more green space. Opponents have objected to aspects of the project, including the necessary digging that they say will disrupt the park’s natural existing natural flow. On Tuesday, the City Council will consider the proposal.

Money-Draining Suit Against City Nears Trial

The allegation would be quite a scandal if it’s true: A former top city employee says he was sacked because he tried to blow the whistle on possible wrongdoing involving a mayoral supporter. The mayor denies the allegations, and a lawsuit by the ex-employee is heading for trial while costing the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

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Legal bills for outside lawyers could reach $450,000, and that doesn’t include the cost of a year of work by the city attorney’s office. Meanwhile, the mayor gave a deposition, a rare occurrence. For the moment, the legal fighting is focused over a bureaucratic issue, not the actual allegations.

Local Businesses Aren’t Rushing to Be Checked

Few local businesses — just seven to be exact — have gotten certification through a federal program that supports businesses that don’t hire undocumented immigrants, the NCT reports. The national numbers have also been tiny.

It’s hard to figure out the cause, however. It might have something to do with lack of publicity, lack of interest or a decline in the number of illegal immigrants seeking jobs here. Or businesses might be afraid, said a local federal agent. “You really are opening up your hiring process and asking a government entity to review your labor hiring and bring you up to proficiency and compliance with hiring processes,” he told the paper. “There may be a little bit of fear to doing that.”

ACLU Targets Jesus-Speak at Council Meetings

This year, 12 people have spoken during the “moment of reflection” at Escondido City Council meetings, and several have ignored the city’s requests that they try to make “inclusive” and “nondenominational” remarks, the NCT reports. Nine of the 12 — all representing Christianity — have mentioned “Heavenly Father” or “Jesus,” according to the ACLU, whose legal director complains that “it’s beginning to look like it’s a Christian City Council.”

The city has now revised its guidelines after hearing from the ACLU. A local church member who asks people to speak tells the paper that he hasn’t tried to reach out to a non-Christian speaker “in a while.”

Mystery Coronado Death Captivates Media

You know an event is a bit overblown when the media that declared it to be a big deal starts to explore how — surprise! — it’s a big deal. That’s just what the U-T did in regard to the mystery death at a Coronado mansion: it declared it to be “the talk of the town” and “one of the most sensational events to ever happen” in Coronado. (“I am a member of the public,” snapped an annoyed commenter. “And I am NOT riveted. Not at all. Not even a little bit. Stop speaking for me.”)

Still, the death continues to fascinate because the cops aren’t saying much, allowing speculation to run wild. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident during sex play? The sparse available details don’t seem to fit any scenario.

Conflicting and inaccurate accounts didn’t help matters over the weekend.

For one, reports disagree over whether the dead woman’s legs were bound. There were also reports that the mansion owner’s child had died from injuries from a fall at the house before the woman’s death; other news organizations said he was still alive. The sad news was finally confirmed Sunday: the child has died. (U-T)

Meanwhile, the U-T profiles the 54-year-old star pharmaceutical industry CEO who owns the mansion where the nude body of a 32-year-old woman was found last week, hanging from a balcony. He’s described a “go-getter” who had run-ins with Coronado neighbors over home renovation issues: “I thought he was as arrogant as hell,” said a neighbor.

He was also one of Arizona’s 10 most highly paid CEOs and executives last year, the Arizona Republic reported. His company sells cosmetic drugs like Restylane and Dysport.

U-T Says It’s There For You

Fresh off rumors that it’s for sale and an unusual head-scratching confirmation that it’s indeed trying to figure out what to do next, the U-T’s publisher tells readers that “our commitment to the San Diego region is steadfast.”

He also says “San Diego is like no other place on earth — and The San Diego Union-Tribune is committed to making it a better place.” (What place on earth is like another place on earth? OK, maybe just about anywhere in Orange County. Never mind.)

The publisher also says the paper will soon launch “a big community involvement initiative” regarding K-12 education. So is this all an effort to soothe readers who might be concerned about yet another sale? It’s not clear.

• Earlier this month, the U-T editor announced on his Facebook page that the paper has created new principles for its editorial page. The principles include a lot of no-brainers plus this thought-provoking tidbit: the longtime right-leaning paper “will be independent of any political party.” The editor adds: “the difference you will see is in independence from any particular party line.”

The paper’s recent sale prompted some, especially non-GOPers, to hope the paper would become less conservative. It has a history of strong support for the GOP, both nationally and locally, although it veered on some social issues and has endorsed Democrats. (Things certainly have changed. Back in 1868, the first owner of The San Diego Union pledged it would maintain a “wise and masterly silence” on political issues.)

Declaration of a Comic-Con-Free Zone

Comic-Con is coming up next weekend, offering the usual Hollywood hoopla along with Steven Spielberg, high-profile panel discussions and more headlines with words like “Pow!” and “Zowie!” than you can shake a Quidditch broom at.

And behind the scenes, up in obscure conference rooms, academicians will ponder things like this topic from 2008: “an analysis of how an asylum in the Caped Crusader’s world reflects the American debate over treatment of the mentally ill.” In recent years, comic books and graphic novels have become a routine part of the world of education from lower grades all the way up to universities.

Now hear (BAM!) this: The Morning Report will be a Comic-Con-free zone for the rest of the month unless something really remarkable happens. Why? Because not all of us are obsessed by video games, sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes and comic books. We have lives!

Now excuse me, I have to catch up on the shows I recorded from the July 4 Twilight Zone marathon. (Ha ha, I’m totally kidding. I caught up on those last week.)

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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