It’s a familiar cycle: artists move into an expensive neighborhood. They make it cool. Everyone else wants to be there. Artists can no longer afford it. They move out. Repeat. 

As the story of Sushi Contemporary Peformance and Visual Arts in the East Village shows, trying to stop that cycle can be a tricky prospect for government officials.  

The rise and fall of the edgy Sushi “lends a look at the wrinkles that come with pushing neighborhoods destined for condos, bars and parking garages to save room for arts and culture,” Kelly Bennett reports. “The strings that come with that government investment leave complicated questions about what comes next when the first experiment breaks down.”

In Sushi’s case, a redevelopment grant allowed it to keep its home, with cheap rent, under the new Icon condo towers. But, the experimental group didn’t always get along with its new neighbors and eventually closed its doors.

• Bennett also put together her weekly Arts Report, a rundown of the highlights of the region’s art coverage.

Another School Program with Mystery Results

Last week, we told you about how San Diego schools often don’t get around to figuring out whether reforms actually worked.

We’ve come across another example: a unique and promising vocabulary program designed to help kids learn more English words than they’d normally hear at home. Turns out that there was no system set up to evaluate the program to see if it worked. And next year, budget cuts could eliminate it.

Jury Says City Discriminated Against Female Lifeguards

Five female lifeguards have filed sexual discrimination suits against the city in recent years. Four won settlements out of court and now, the fifth has won a $100,000 award and a jury verdict confirming women were discriminated against, the Union-Tribune reports.

Alison Terry, who the paper says is an all-time great high school swimmer here, said the city made it difficult for female lifeguards to get promotions to boost them out of seasonal employment; only 6 percent of full-time lifeguards were women compared to almost 27 percent of seasonal lifeguards.

A city spokesman told the paper that the lifeguard service has changed the way it does things. Terry has asked the court to force the city to make changes.

Do as Jones Says, Not as Jones Does

Assemblyman Brian Jones, a Republican from East County, is no fan of “special interest money” corrupting democracy. Or so says a flier he just sent to voters opposing payroll deductions that go to political causes. But, as the U-T reports, he just went on a junket to a corporation-funded conference in Maui. “I don’t control where the events are held …,” Jones told the paper. “I would prefer that they be in San Diego, but if they were in Yuma I would go. If they were in Paris, France, I would go.”

Does poor Yuma ever get any respect?

Atheists Target Cross on Camp Pendleton

An atheist organization is challenging the restoration of a cross this month at Camp Pendleton, the LA Times reports. A group of Marines had previously put up a cross at the site in 2003, but it burned down in 2007.

Three Marines in the group died in combat. The Marine Corps is considering whether to allow the 13-foot-high cross to remain. In a statement, it said: “it is important to follow procedure and use appropriate processes for doing this in a correct manner to protect the sentiment from question as well as be good stewards of our taxpayer dollars.”

Hopes Strangled by Red Tape

Tom Theisan of the Legal Aid Society in San Diego shares the story of how a homeless client of his is stuck in a Catch-22 because of anti-terrorism rules.

Theisan tells USA today that the man is trying to get on Medicare and has a Texas birth certificate to prove his age. But he’s forgotten his Social Security number. Now he’s stuck: State law says he needs a Social Security number to get an ID. But the Social Security Administration needs a state-issued picture ID to tell him his number.

The rules are meant to keep terrorists off planes, but have kept some regular Americans from getting driver’s licenses.

News at the Speed of Brief

• The Navy has begun laying off 3,000 mid-career sailors. (NBC 7 San Diego)

• The 50-foot-long dead fin whale on the beach in Point Loma seems to have been pregnant. Biologists found a fetus next to the whale; it was apparently pushed out of the whale’s body during the decomposition process, the U-T reports.

• San Diego State next year will offer a major in “sustainability,” the U-T reports. The idea is to teach students about how to steward the environment around the world. SDSU was in the news recently because of another new major: it’s the second university in the country to offer one in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies.

• Weird food news: San Diego’s new IHOP Express is selling Cup O’ Pancakes — “pancake batter baked in a disposable paper cup and drizzled with customizable toppings,” USA Today reports.

That sounds really gross. I want one this very instant.

Documenting JFK’s San Diego Visit on Film

A documentary this week about the Kennedy assassination, 48 years ago this week, got me to wondering whether there’s any video online of JFK’s motorcade visit to our own city just five months before November 1963. Guess what: There is!

YouTube has a 46-second snippet of the president’s motorcade, possibly taken on El Cajon Boulevard. (If you recognize the block, send me an email.) Kennedy rode down the street on his way to give the commencement address at San Diego State.

Look closely and you’ll see Secret Service officers standing on the sideboards of the car behind Kennedy, just as they did on Nov. 22, 1963. There’s also a bus labeled “White House Press” and a car with a “KGB” sign. That’s presumably a reference to the local AM radio station KGB, not the Soviet spy agency.

Another video, posted on the website of postcard publisher John Fry, offers a 58-second look, including shots of cute kids on the way to the motorcade and the motorcycle cops at the front. (More details about the video are here.) Fry’s site also includes a page with photos of JFK’s visit, remembrances from Crawford High students and a look at how El Cajon Boulevard’s Rudford’s diner recently memorialized a photo of JFK driving by with the restaurant in the background on its outer wall.

Maybe next they’ll memorialize the guy in the corner booth who’s been working on that French dip since the Truman Administration.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

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

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