This ain’t spitball. Regional water officials have gone on the attack against Southern California water officials, accusing the latter of conspiring to overcharge San Diegans for their water.

The San Diego County Water Authority says the Metropolitan Water District is operating a “shadow government.” Metropolitan, in turns, says the charges are hogwash and accuses the San Diego officials of being paranoid.

Rob Davis has pulled together the five takeaways you should understand about the war.

“The fight is unusual: A brutal, head-to-head battle between two public agencies that rely on each other for survival,” he writes.

It turns out this isn’t the first time the agencies have gone at it. There are complications and hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. And then there’s this tidbit: a group of water agencies has been meeting to talk about the San Diego lawsuit, with one actually calling their group “The Secret Society.”

Yup, just what you want to hear from a government agency supposedly working for the public good.

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid… Does She Get a Scooter Bonus?

Councilman Carl DeMaio says the city’s no-nonsense parking enforcement officers — like the one who gave me a $52.50 ticket just yesterday for being a few inches into a crosswalk — get extra pay for driving scooters, and he thinks that stinks.

He added recently that “it’s on average an 8 to 9 percent increase on base compensation, and by the way, you get paid scooter pay even when you’re not riding the scooter. You get scooter pay like all specialty pays when you’re on vacation and it’s used in calculating your highest compensation for your pension payout.”

San Diego Fact Check examined these four scooter pay claims and finds that they’re True, Mostly True, Barely True and False. (Not in that order.)

Drama, Tension and Prednisone: Arts Embedded

The stomach butterflies are building as young choreographers get ready for a big competition this weekend. We’ve been focusing on three of them as part of our Arts Embedded series, and our latest installment uses photos to chronicle their increasingly frantic rehearsals, which have featured asthma troubles, fatigue, last-minute redos, a male dancer in a dress and more.

Backhanded Compliment of the Month: Mayor’s Aide to U-T

The U-T San Diego editorial board, normally in line with agreements the Chamber of Commerce and other big business orgs call “essential,” panned the latest deal in the march toward an expanded Convention Center.

The editorial provoked a funny exchange on Twitter.

You’ll remember hotel owners successfully pushed the city to give the Convention and Visitors Bureau the sales and marketing functions of the Convention Center. This was their demand in exchange for their support of an increase in the hotel-room tax needed for expansion.

Obviously motivated by its own vision of the waterfront and future convention facilities, the U-T wrote the deal would make the expansion harder to pull off. That’s because organized labor “probably legitimately” had reason to worry that this deal would steer business away from its workers at the Convention Center. And that would hurt future negotiations.

Labor leader Lorena Gonzalez was thrilled: “Yes. The enemy of my enemy IS my friend,” she wrote. To which, Bill Osborne, the U-T’s editorial page editor responded: “In politics, there should be no enemies, just people who occasionally disagree.”

Gerry Braun, the mayor’s director of special projects and a former columnist at Osborne’s paper, gave Osborne what has to be called the backhanded compliment of the month: “You lost me at ‘probably legitimately.’ But, sincerely, I do enjoy your eloquent flogging of your owners’ dead horse.”

Where the Green Grows

Following up on a story about the sad fate of some 33,000 acres of land designated for preservation, we’ve created a map showing which land was set aside in 1997 for preservation and for development in the northern stretches of the city. Check the accompanying text for details about how to map other neighborhoods.

Reader Frank Landis says our story about preservation of protected lands was inflammatory and insulting. Writer Rob Davis Tweeted out the letter and called it a “thoughtful critique” of his story. What do you think? Say it here.

Readers: How to Deal With Teachers

That wasn’t the only thing on readers’ minds. Teacher Nancy Weisinger thinks there’s gotta be a better way to handle layoff warnings for teachers.

Steve Gerken says teachers should be rated based on merit and Comic-Con fan Bonnie Bekken is no fan of the convention center expansion.

Legislature May Tackle Surfing Madonna Issue

Assemblyman Martin Garrick, who represents part of North County, says he’ll push for legislation that would allow the Surfing Madonna mosaic — which shows Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard — to be placed at the entrance to Moonlight Beach State Park in Encinitas, the U-T reports.

The state park system has rejected the location, saying the artwork is a religious symbol and therefore forbidden on state property under the California Constitution. The constitution says the government shall not “ever make an appropriation, or pay for any public fund whatever … in aid of any religious sect, church, creed or sectarian purpose.”

The legislature can’t pass a law that violates the state constitution.

The artist behind the mosaic, Marc Patterson, told 10News that he “didn’t think that the religious imagery was religious. I thought of it as a cultural icon.” He also has said that the image appeared to him three times.

Quick News Hits

• A contractor has agreed to a plea bargain and will help prosecutors in their case against current and former public officials in the South Bay pay-for-play corruption scandal, the U-T reports.

• Jason Russell, the activist filmmaker whose bizarre nude antics in Crown Point drew worldwide attention last week, suffers from a condition known as reactive psychosis according to his wife, the LA Times reports.

Brief reactive psychosis — a sudden burst of psychotic behavior — can occur due to extreme stress, says the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It’s more common in people with personality disorders, which include conditions that cause people to be antisocial/sociopathic, paranoid, histrionic and narcissistic.

Or, as I like to call it, an editor.

Shot Dog to Get New Home

The pooch who was found shot in the chest and near death at an Indian reservation in North County has recovered — with the help of a stint in an oxygen chamber — and was scheduled to be adopted yesterday, the NCT reports.

The golden retriever mix is named Chance.

You can admire an awww-some photo of him “reviewing” his X-rays with a veterinarian over at NBC 7 San Diego’s site.

It looks like he’s grinning, and why not? Unlike so many of the rest of us, his medical bills are covered. (Lucky dog!)

You can help by donating to the county’s Spirit Veterinary Medical Fund, which helps orphaned pets and supports animal cruelty investigations, among other things, so every Chance has a chance.  

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

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