It’s official, the San Diego Association of Governments finalized a 40-year, $200 billion plan for the region’s transportation future. We made it as easy as possible to understand what it means in this handy guide.

Week in Images

Our photographer Sam Hodgson was on a roll this week. First it was this photograph of a teacher confronting San Diego school board member Scott Barnett. Then it was this collection of images from the aftermath of a confrontation at Occupy San Diego.

• You see things turned ugly at Occupy San Diego early yesterday morning. There were cops in riot gear, protesters yelling at the police, and 51 arrests as the city moved to clear out activists from the Civic Center and a park, the Union-Tribune reports.

Matchmaker for Artists and Institutions

Felicia Shaw, the San Diego Foundation’s point person on arts and culture, has developed a unique way to spend $250,000 in funding: It will go to artists who created projects and then convinced arts organizations to display them. Shaw explains it all in this week’s Q&A.

Filner Misses Mark with Gaslamp Claim

Visitors often get the local lingo mixed up and refer to the “Gaslight Quarter.” (Paging Angela Lansbury!) Rep. Bob Filner, a mayoral candidate, got its name right during a recent debate but his misled the audience with a claim about it.

Here’s what he said: “I wrote the Gaslamp plan. The Gaslamp went from zero to an incredible, lively thing because we had a focused program of investment and neighborhood input.”

San Diego Fact Check finds his claim is misleading.

Local Chronicler Passes Away

San Diego State Professor Paul J. Vanderwood, who went from reporting on the civil rights era in Memphis to teaching about Mexican history at San Diego State and exploring the glory days of a debauched Agua Caliente, has died at the age of 82 of cancer, the U-T reports.

I introduced him to you last year in an interview about his new book “Satan’s Playground: Mobsters and Movie Stars at America’s Greatest Gaming Resort.” He chronicled the heyday of Agua Caliente as a booze-soaked gambling resort for Hollywood types that spawned crime on this side of the border.

It was a real fancy place, he told me with a glint in his eye: “Movie star Mabel Normand was going to the swimming pool and it was rather late at night. By that time, the groundskeepers had spread manure on the grass leading to the swimming pool, and she slipped and fell in it. She said, ‘I’ve never seen so much shit.’ And the gardener answered saying, ‘Yes, but it’s the best shit that can be found in the world.’”

Vanderwood also alerted me to a San Diego City Hall scandal during Prohibition that featured illicit booze, corruption and a mayor and police chief in hot water. Check my recent story for more of the juicy details.

Architecture Fans Ignore Elephant in the Room

The annual Orchids & Onions contest lauded a “stimulating” Little Italy restaurant, bashed the “abomination” of a Sherman Heights school remodel and left the most controversial project in the entire county unscathed and unpraised.

The Balboa Park remodel — the one that would create an underground parking garage, a bypass road and a big pedestrian plaza in front of the museum of art — garnered no awards even though it got nominations from both sides of the debate, the U-T reports.

The Craft & Commerce restaurant, which features the words “DEMAND LESS” on its walls, got the Grand Orchid award. Hey, maybe they should lessen their demand that I pay the bill for my dinner!

What We Learned This Week:

Boom Go the Parents: Yesterday Union-Tribune writer Maureen Magee tweeted that San Diego school board member Scott Barnett said if he had to do it over again, he’d have voted for his opponent in the last election. “Nothing glamorous about this job.”

Nope. Angry parents descended on the San Diego school board this week, furious about the prospect that a dozen campuses will be closed to save money. Two board members tried to stop the closure train, while a bond rating downgrade threatened more trouble, although it’s unclear how much.

We answered your questions: Describing the district’s dramatic drop in student enrollment here and explaining how the district chose which schools it would consider closing here.

We gathered 10 interesting comments you put on our stories and don’t forget last week’s look at how we got here

Totally Unreal: Councilman and mayoral hopeful Carl DeMaio debuted what we call The Carl: a recorded version of himself online in a virtual reality environment, answering questions. Zombie Carl must be seen to be disbelieved. Meanwhile, CityBeat unloaded on Rep. Filner, calling him “chaotic, clumsy, vague, acerbic and arrogant.” (We must have been separated at birth!)

A Cleavage over a Clef: Readers are weighing in with new comments about a plan to enhance the entrance to the San Diego Symphony. Also in arts, Behind the Scene TV looks at the fate of the once-again-troubled Birch North Park Theatre.

Library Will Rise (All of It)! The mayor and lead fundraiser for the new downtown library are disavowing any suggestion that the facility’s auditorium is expendable if targets for raising money are missed.


Wackiest Story of the Week:

Oh, those crazy kids at PETA! They announced plans to sue SeaWorld, saying it violates the Constitution by enslaving killer whales, the AP reported. Legal experts say the lawsuit is hooey, but PETA is still reaping plenty of publicity.      

If the killer whales are slaves, we should release them all and give them 40 acres and a Sha-mule. (Get it? Har!)


He Said, She Said

Bribery-Based Quote of the Week: “If I try harder, will you let us stay open? Because I will.” — Luke Cepurac, 9, speaking at a San Diego Unified school board meeting, about his school that could be closed.

Pastry-Based Quote of the Week: “You don’t eat a jelly donut in the middle of a heart attack, no matter how sweet it might be.” — Katherine Nakamura, then a San Diego school board member, in a comment questioning a decision to rehire teachers who had been laid off. It’s worth noting she ended up supporting that decision.


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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