It’s an instant hullabaloo!

We got our first glimpse this week of a landmark proposed sculpture at the waterfront. “Wings of Freedom” would feature two 500-foot sculptures resembling sails or wings and, if all goes well, become a world-renowned icon for San Diego. The artist’s conception, which makes downtown look like Emerald City, divided people immediately.

It’s going to need some consensus: Its cost is $68 million.

A commenter thinks the sculptures look like “bunny ears.” The word “monstrosity” is getting thrown around by even the mayor’s spokeswoman. And I thought the “wings” look like a couple big vases. (I even pronounced them vah-zehs to sound as snooty as possible).

The most withering commentary came from a twitterer who declared that “Wings of Freedom looks/sounds like a feminine hygiene product. Developer/art FAIL.” Yee-ouch! That sounds like the kiss of death, but then again, similar complaints didn’t stop the iPad.)

There are supporters too, although their comments (“Very cool,” “wow”) aren’t quite as colorful.  

There’s another angle: a wealthy South Dakota businessman with ties to San Diego says he’ll donate $35 million for the sculpture. But a Facebook commenter says “could we please have a new central library first?” (The library’s completion is in jeopardy until boosters raise millions).

Court Battle over Redevelopment

The future of taxpayer-funded urban renewal in the state hinged on a few questions in the state Supreme Court chambers yesterday, KQED reports: “who controls the fate of local redevelopment agencies: legislators or voters? And even then, is that fate a zero sum game — that is, must the agencies continue to exist exactly as they are now? Or not at all?”

Learn more about redevelopment battles here.

Clarity, Maybe on School District’s Fate

Next week, a new report could provide insight into whether the San Diego school district is headed toward insolvency. Emphasize the “could” — it’ll be based on estimates.

In letters, parents tackle the threat (now withdrawn) of school closures. One says “the school board realized that the list actually contained high-performing schools, with communities that wouldn’t just sit back and shut up,” while another opposes using “kids as political cannon fodder.”

Sheriff Mistreatment Makes National Splash

The Washington Post has picked up on the news that the sheriff’s department admits it stashed dozens of arrested protesters in vehicles for hours with no restroom facilities, forcing some to relieve themselves in vans and a bus. Until now, “the Occupy San Diego protest has been a small, under-noticed outlier of only a few dozen people camped out in the downtown area. Little national attention went to the arrests in October of 51 men and women after the encampment was raided and torn down.”

Check out the remarkable Associated Press photo that appears with the story: It shows an Oct. 14 melee, with cops pulling protesters while one officer films it all.

Power Outage

Check our photos of last night’s Chargers defeat at the hands of the Raiders.

Fletcher and La Jolla Planning

“If you go down to the Children’s Pool there’s a lifeguard tower that eight years ago was condemned. They’ve been trying to rebuild it. For eight years, the city has more or less been trying to get a permit from itself,” Assemblyman and mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher declared a few days ago.

Is the city’s red tape really that bad? Not exactly. San Diego Fact Check rules the claim to be barely true.

Firm Wants Out of Water Deal

A small company has launched a bid to get out of a deal to turn seawater from Mexico’s Rosarito Beach into drinking water for homes and businesses in South Bay.

The company is trying to sell its stake in the project, “highlighting just how difficult it will be for local water agencies to tap Mexico’s ocean as a new supply,” Rob Davis reports.

Mapping the Nukes

Anti-nuclear activists are trying to gear up to fight the San Onofre nuclear power plant. How unusual is it for us to have a plant in our midst? Pretty unusual: a map by the Mother Jones magazine shows that there are just four in all the West Coast and Mountain states, and they’re pretty sparse west of the Mississippi, even in crowded Texas.

Suds City

San Diego Explained takes a look at how our fair city became world-renowned for craft beer, the kind often made at micro-breweries.

There’s plenty of debate over what craft beer is and whether big Kahunas in the beer world can make it. An alternative paper in Alabama offers its perspective, while the Boston Globe ponders whether Bud Light Platinum (which sounds like a credit card) qualifies.

Press Release Headline of the Day

“BREAKING NEWS! USD’s Evening MBA Program Ranked 14th in Nation.” Consider the media alerted!

Our Place in Tar-and-Feathering History

A grim San Diego tale appears in a reprinted column by longtime answer-guy Cecil Adams. A reader wondered: Has anyone actually ever been tarred and feathered? Yes, Adams writes, noting that in 1912, “Ben Reitman, companion of the radical agitator Emma Goldman, was beaten by a mob in San Diego, then tarred and covered with sagebrush.” (Feathers weren’t available; Reitman said his attackers also burned him with a cigarette and tore off all his clothes).   

We told you more about the attack on Reitman in a history flashback about the riots and brutality that turned our modest-sized town into a poster child for free-speech crackdowns and anti-union thuggery. The city actually banned speeches in a big chunk of downtown (no, you can’t do that), arrested dozens and sprayed protesters with fire hoses.

Next question: Has anyone been run out of town on a rail? If not, may I be so bold as to suggest a few people?

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 and follow him on Twitter:

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