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A banking firm is helping San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders develop a way to pay for a new football stadium. But something’s missing: a contract.

“This has allowed the firm, Lazard Ltd., potentially to rack up bills without any public understanding of its duties or ultimate cost. The arrangement also could violate city policies on work performed without a contract or approval from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith — the second time Sanders has brushed up against contracting rules on a high-profile stadium issue in recent months,” our Liam Dillon reports.

The mayor’s office says a contract is in the works, and the firm hasn’t been paid. But the firm has still been busy working, even though municipal policy says the city isn’t liable for work performed without a contract.

The mayor’s last consultant trying to do the same task came in with a bang and left with a whimper, charging the city $160,000 for his services.

County Has Fewer Employees But More Spending

“The county has fewer employees today than we had in 1995,” said County Supervisor Ron Roberts. That sounds like good news for people who prefer a smaller government, but is it true? Mostly, says San Diego Fact Check, although county spending has gone way up even when adjusted for inflation.

How School Layoffs Worked

In case you missed it, here’s another look at our recent San Diego Explained video story that explains — with the help of pizza — how the school district sliced up its layoff projections last year.

Arts Report and Vets Tweak an Upcoming Play

Kelly Bennett posted our weekly Arts Report yesterday. It leads with some struggles of Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab. Guy just can’t win. You can subscribe to the Arts Report here.

• The vets who dropped by the first read-through of a play at Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company weren’t immediately impressed by its surreal take on a fictional reporter in a Vietnam-type war.

“My issue is more with the author than with the actors,” said a man who served as a U.S. Army photojournalist in the real Vietnam. “I find the reporter character unbelievable. I worked with some serious, dedicated people who would give their left arm for a story.”

We were on hand during the read-through of the play, “How I Got That Story,” as the director sought input from veterans and a woman who wrote about her son’s service in Iraq. 

The vets were there to do more than respond to the play. They provided perspective on the proper use of equipment and even how to move through the jungle.

The post is part of a series about the production of the play, for more details about the interaction those who have experienced war first-hand and actors who hope to be convincing. We’ve also posted several photos of the scene.

Mystery Polls Measure Mayoral Support

Bloggers at conservative site sdrostra.com report that pollsters are asking local residents about the San Diego mayor’s race and apparently trying to test different attack strategies.

It’s not clear who’s behind the polls. Or, for that matter, who’s behind in the polls.

Resignation for Officer Accused of Ticket-Fixing

A sergeant has quit the police department amid accusations of fixing tickets, the U-T reports. He oversaw the work of the officer involved in a much larger scandal: the now-imprisoned Anthony Arevalos.

SD’s Internal Battle over Medi-Pot

It’s described by a source in CityBeat as “perhaps the most divisive scene in the United States, full of bitter vendettas, tiresome one-upmanship and counter-productive infighting.”

What’s this guy talking about? Mayoral debates? School district politics? Staff meetings at voiceofsandiego.org?

Nope. That’s a reporter who covers medical marijuana nationally on San Diego being home to what CityBeat calls “the most contentious medical-marijuana community in the country.”

Quick News Hits

Prosecutors are accusing a well-known real estate agent of mortgage fraud. “Prosecutors said the defendants processed more than 100 phony loan apps, and that almost all the properties purchased with these loans are now in foreclosure, with lending banks losing $15 million so far,” wrote NBC7 San Diego.

• San Diego County residents have an estimated 500,000 unpaid traffic tickets, and they can get partial amnesty from the state — and a 50 percent discount on what they owe — through June. The amnesty is only good on certain kinds of tickets issued before 2009, Fox 5 reports.

As we reported a while back, one poor guy in Seattle got stuck with a $322 bill in 2009 for a busted-headlight ticket he got in San Diego in … 1990. He said he’d paid the $72 fine back then.    

• “I imagine if you were the right person you could get seizures.” That’s from a disgruntled rider on the Coaster, who’s miffed because those wrap-around ads — the kind you see on buses — are ruining his commute’s view of the ocean.

A spokeswoman said the ads aren’t on all cars, they don’t disrupt the view that much, and they make lots of money, the Reader reports.

• In preparation for the centennial of the Panama-California Exposition in 2015, Balboa Park boosters are planning to build a 3,000-square-foot house of the future, the U-T reports. Its features “include the possible incorporation of nanotechnology in lighter but more durable structural elements; a water recycling and treatment system that does not have to be connected to the municipal sewage system; and an organic design that resembles fish circling the interior atrium.”

Questions from reporters spurred the San Diego Regional Sustainability Partnership to order committee chairs to not speak to the media, the U-T reports. “Let’s remember that reporters can be cunning in their approach and try to pressure us to get the information they are seeking so please, be very careful,” chairwoman Elaine Rosenberger wrote.

Journalists can be “cunning”? What a bunch of flapdoodle. We’re perfectly innocent little angels.

Now, sit right down here next to me, and let’s swap stories about the deep secrets of our professions. You first. 

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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