The mammoth City Council meeting on Monday included several pleas for everyone to get along. That’s not happening: Opponents of the approved makeover of Balboa Park announced Tuesday that they’re suing and will be fighting on issues that date as far back to 1870.

The move, by a loose coalition of neighborhood groups and preservationists, was expected. In a statement, they said they’ll fight on three grounds.

The easiest argument to understand is the one claiming the park is “free” forever thanks to an 1870 state law. That raises questions: Does a parking fee for just part of the park, as envisioned by the makeover, violate the law? What about the existing costs that people pay for valet parking and even museum admission? And does it matter what the writers of the law back then — just 20 years after statehood — actually understood and meant about the meaning of free?

Our reporter Kelly Bennett takes a look at this issue and another legal point in her follow-up to Monday’s big vote.

Meanwhile, no one seems to be rushing to popularize the term “public-private parknership,” which I came up with the other night. Come on, people! It works on so many levels! (Well, two. But still.)

Filner at the Mic, Unplugged

Rep. Bob Filner, a mayoral candidate and an opponent of the Balboa Park makeover, had the future on his mind the other night when he got up to tell the City Council why he thought the proposal stunk.

He referred to Jerry Sanders as “my predecessor as mayor.” He wondered about the proposal’s fate if funder Irwin Jacobs shuffled off this mortal coil (“God forbid”) or the company Jacobs founded (Qualcomm) tanks.

Then he took a trip back in time to the days of Kate Sessions, the crotchety and tremendously influential garden guru who helped turn Balboa Park into a world wonder. “Holy mackerel, she’s here!” Filner declared before a Sessions look-alike dressed in a period outfit walked up and announced her opposition to the plan.

You can watch Filner’s speech here.

Another Dance Over School Closures

San Diego Unified won’t close small schools after all. No, this isn’t a reprint of an old Morning Report item, although it sure sounds like one. Our story explains why this news item sounds so darn familiar.

Letters: Cross Talk, Power Plant

In letters, Gail Conners of Rancho Bernardo isn’t bothered by the eternally controversial cross on public land at Mount Soledad: “Sticks and stones can break our bones but symbols cannot hurt us. Symbols belong to the eye of the beholder.”

Another letter writer, Bob Stein of University City, took a different view last week: “Every audience knows its appearance honors and advertises the religious beliefs it was meant to represent when first installed in 1954.”

Also: Theresa McCarthy of East County offers plenty of reasons she opposes the Quail Brush Power Plant project near Santee and Mission Trails Regional Park.

Mayor’s Race, from Micro to Macro

The mayor’s race is likely to depend, at least partially, on issues like pensions, potholes and personalities. But other factors on a more global level could play a role, too, like other races and ballot measures that draw voters to the polls.

We talked to four political gurus and asked them how “macro” issues might affect how things play out. They offer theories about voter turnout (it might be higher, younger and less informed), the state tax hike proposal (tax-averse voters will lean toward Councilman Carl DeMaio) and even the role of a daily newspaper that’s having a grand old time as it flexes its editorial muscles.    

Quick News Hits

• Tim Sullivan, the respected sports columnist recently sacked by the U-T for not being with the program has landed a job with the sports section of the newspaper in Louisville, Ky. “The search for a new gig is over,” he tweets.

Oh Dang, We Forgot to Get Him a Card

CityBeat discovers that May 31 was “‘Papa’ Doug Manchester Day” in the county, courtesy of the Board of Supervisors. Manchester, of course, is the owner of the U-T who prefers to be called “Papa” by everybody.   

The county board lays it on thick, lauding Manchester as “a true industrialist, with accomplishments on a national and international scale in telecommunications, radio broadcast, medical instrumentation, publishing and real estate development.”

The Next ‘Meeting of the Minds’: Lemony Fresh

Parking in Horton Plaza’s inverted double-helix parking garage can be a challenge. If I’m an avocado, am in the fruit or vegetable section? Can I get to orange from mango and zucchini or whatever? Sometimes it seems impossible to get there from here.

There’s a reason a 1986 story about the then-new shopping center described the garage under the headline “It’s What Many Would Call a Real Lemon.”

Sometimes I try to make it easy by just parking as high as I can. But the parking garage roof at Westfield Horton Plaza is for more than cars. On Aug. 1, the “7 Lemon” level will host the third installment of our popular arts and culture event, “A Meeting of the Minds.”

Our weekly Arts Report has initial details, and more will be coming next week. We also offer links to stories about a new drive-in theater (will wonders never cease?), an Old Globe artistic duel, the chalkboard art project on the side of Hillcrest’s Alibi bar and a minor little event that one local likes to call “Nerd Prom.”

If you see a Wookiee slow-dancing with a warlock downtown, now you’ll know why. (I’ll be the taller one.)

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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