They’ll be made of steel and titanium, but they aren’t artificial hips. They’ll be as tall as downtown’s skyscrapers, but they aren’t buildings. And they’ve got locals staking out positions, but they aren’t some political football. Such is the state of things for the “Wings of Freedom,” the controversial mammoth sculptures proposed for the waterfront, which get an airing before the public tonight.

The sculptures, which are supposed to look like wings or sails but have been derided as less impressive things like bunny ears, make up part of the big planned makeover of the Navy Pier next to the USS Midway Museum. We’ve compiled a reader’s guide to help you understand what’s being proposed and how people are reacting to it.

Do you have a reaction? Weigh in on our story or go down to the Port of San Diego administration building tonight from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the first of three hearings gathering public opinion on the project.

Four Candidates in Running to Replace Jackson

We’ve got the skinny on the four candidates who are hoping to replace San Diego school board member Shelia Jackson, who told us that she’s not seeking reelection. She represents southeastern San Diego.

• Also in local election news, Councilwoman Marti Emerald now has no rivals in the newly created 9th District, reports SD Newsroom via Speak City Heights. Fellow Democrat Georgette Gómez had originally planned to contest Emerald, but has dropped out and endorsed her.

The Latino-majority district was created in this year’s redistricting process, forcing Emerald to move and potentially opening her up to a challenge within her own party from someone with deeper roots in the community.

Lawsuit over County Transit Plan

Environmentalists are suing the San Diego Association of Governments over its $200 billion plan for transportation and public transit over the next four decades. It’s long been criticized for prioritizing freeways over transit in the early years, but the environmentalists are the first to take their claims to court. They say it doesn’t adequately address public health and pollution, didn’t involve the public enough and uses misleading data.

SD Schools’ ‘Irrationality’

Maybe this is why education finance is so difficult to understand.

• Sacramento Bee politics columnist Dan Walters writes that state money for K-12 education “is allocated by a bizarre combination of power politics and a constitutional provision so complex that only a few in and around the state Capitol even profess to understand it — and rarely agree.”

And he turns to San Diego Unified to show that “when it comes to school finance, irrationality is not confied to Sacramento.”

Walters runs down the decisions that we’ve been focusing on: San Diego city schools “not only negotiated a ‘back-loaded’ contract with its teachers union that kicks in a 10 percent raise next year but gambled that the extra money would be there and rescinded layoff plans,” he writes.

“District officials now project a huge deficit if triggers are pulled and say that seeking a state bailout — which may also mean a form of receivership — may be their only option if the teachers union refuses to reopen the contract.”

• Want to figure out that tangled mess that is state education funding? The Union-Tribune tries to untangle it.

The paper comes to the conclusion that those hoping to avert the potentially disasterous midyear budget cuts will have to “overcome a number of barriers” like getting a tax increase on the ballot or finding other places to get the money.

The Balboa Park Remodel on Video

The major supporters of the proposed remodel of Balboa Park have released a 10-minute video of their vision, including an animated tour of what a car-free Plaza de Panama would look like.

Chronicling a ‘Refugee’s Silent Journey’ in Photos

We updated you about the progress being made by Har Sin, a young deaf refugee from Burma who’s learning to communicate. Now we’ve posted a photo essay about him, comparing current photos tothose from when we first met him.

In Front of and Behind the Camera

Behind the Scene TV, our weekly look at the arts world, features the local dance company Eveoke, which is heading to the Dominican Republic to perform a dance that focuses on real-life sisters who resisted a dictator in that country. Three of the sisters paid with their lives; the surviving sister will watch the performance.

San Diego Fact Check TV finds that San Diego school board member Shelia Jackson’s claim about schools south of Interstate 8 to be “mostly true” and notes that La Mesa Patch, a news website, found that Rep. Duncan D. Hunter made an unproven claim about how the feds had issued $5,000 fines to businesses for spilled milk.  

• Sam Hodgson, our photographer, is accepting your assignments today. You’re his boss for the day. Feel free to tell him what to do. (I’m starting with “Quit it with the skinny jeans!”)

Feds Claim 139 Local Medi-Pot Shops Shut Down

The U.S. attorney thinks at least 139 medical marijuana shops have shut down in the San Diego area, California Watch reports. Federal prosecutors across the state have been targeting the shops.

Clarifying the Morning Report

Yesterday, the Morning Report explained the elections for the San Diego school board and said “unlike City Council elections, all city residents have a say in each school trustee election.”

School board candidates do run first in their neighborhoods and then the top two finishers advance to a general election. But not “all” city residents have a say in that round. The district’s boundaries are different from official city limits.

Some neighborhoods inside the city of San Diego are not a part of San Diego Unified, including Rancho Peñasquitos, Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Carmel Valley, San Ysidro and Otay Mesa.

The No-Nuke-Plant Blues

I can’t think of the San Onofre nuclear power plant without hearing  the crow’s caw that greets just about every appearance of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant in “The Simpsons.” The mutated three-eyed fish named Blinky also comes to mind.

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office, in contrast, can’t think of the power plant without thinking of life without it. In a new report, it paints a grim picture of how we’d function if both of the state’s nuke plants closed, as envisioned by a ballot initiative that’s now gathering petition signatures, the LA Times reports.

The closure of the plants would cause “rolling blackouts, spikes in electricity rates and billions of dollars in economic losses each year,” the office reported.

• You may recall that the San Onofre nuclear power plant inspired some naughty humor in one of the “Naked Gun” movies. Turns out it’s inspired something else: a quirky Southern California desert home on the top of a volcano that’s owned by public TV personality Huell Howser. It’s for sale for $750,000.

The home looks like … um … a UFO. Yeah, that’s it. The house “features a dome formed from concrete and bent-fir beams and grounded by glass walls,” the Curbed blog reports.  

Holes in Coverage

American Journalism Review criticizes the U-T’s lack of penetrating coverage about its 2009 sale to Platinum Equity in a story looking at how newspapers often sugarcoat their internal actions. The story says the paper never mentioned something we discovered — a requirement that employees sign an agreement that banned them from wooing current or former co-workers to a competitor.

The paper’s coverage of its sale this month has been rosy too. It’s piece on the sale didn’t even hint at the controversial reputation of its new owner or contain the sale price that other media outlets got from Manchester himself. The paper’s Facebook page called him “brilliant.”

Glurg, Glurg

A blog looks back at the best comic books featuring Aquaman and finds an intriguing one from 2004: “half the city of San Diego is sunken underwater with hundreds of thousands of its residents mysteriously mutated into being unable to breathe above water. Aquaman investigates … and eventually sets up shop in ‘Sub Diego’ as his new homebase.”

No big deal. We’re used to mysterious mutations out of the blue around here. Like when our sports teams do well, for instance.

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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