Norma Navarro is an undocumented immigrant, and so is her 10-year-old daughter. But her 7-year-old daughter was born here and is a citizen. The legal statuses of the children makes a big difference in an area you might not expect — health care.

Although they both get help from the government, the child who’s a citizen has better coverage. This family lives in City Heights, but their predicament is a national one affecting almost 9 million people, reports VOSD contributing writer Heather Boerner.

“They are what policy wonks call multi-status families — that is, within one family, there are people who are undocumented, people who are citizens, and, in many cases, people who are legal permanent residents,” she reports. “It’s always been awkward for families like Navarro’s to navigate the health care system. But with health care reform, the gap between what’s available … may grow.”

Our story examines the gap, with a focus on how the disparities are playing out in City Heights. As you can imagine, the battle over immigration and health-care reform are major players here: “On the one hand, undocumented immigrants aren’t beholden to the individual mandate [in the Affordable Care Act]. On the other, they don’t get benefits from the law, either. Their access to health care could actually get worse under the reforms.”

Help Us Track Mayoral Promises

A car in every garage and a chicken in every pot? Well, Mayor Bob Filner didn’t go quite that far. But he still made a slew of promises, lots of them lacking details, during his recent campaign.

We’re going to keep track of his progress, or lack thereof, in turning them into reality. Click here to learn what we’re up to and how you can help.

SD’s Newest Colorful Judge Is Hardly the First

Gary Kreep, the most famous judge-elect in San Diego, takes office today, seven months after shockingly winning an election in June. He’s a leading figure in the “birther” movement challenging the president’s legitimacy, an attorney activist who supports right-wing causes and a man with a quirky and even bizarre past.

San Diego, it turns out, has a long history of colorful judges. I’ve compiled a history of four of them: two who ordered castrations for hundreds of convicted sex offenders, one who had a big mouth to beat the band and another who managed to get recalled from office after he was linked to a prostitution ring.

100 Years Ago This Morning, SD’s Deepest Freeze

A century ago, at 6:15 a.m. on Jan. 13, 1913, the mercury hit 25 degrees in San Diego. It remains the lowest temperature in San Diego’s recorded weather history.

That’s nothing to, say, a hardy South Dakotan or Mainer. But, as we discover each winter, our often-uninsulated homes (and maybe our warm-weather bodies too) aren’t designed to tolerate deep chill.

In a colorful flashback, I recap a day for the history books. City boosters at the time hoped the news wouldn’t travel and ruin our reputation as a climatic wonderland. The San Diego Union warned: “Sh! Don’t Tell Anybody — Keep it a Cold Secret!”

I also take a look at a topic that comes up whenever it gets nippy today: the homeless. Where did they go in 1913? The answer isn’t clear, but I did find details about a very busy downtown shelter in the Depression-era 1930s.

Behind the State Park Service Scandal

The L.A. Times summarizes a state investigative report that said “fear of embarrassment and budget cuts led high officials at the California parks department to conceal millions of dollars.” Just how much? Almost $54 million.

It gets worse. “Although much of the accounting issues appeared to stem from innocent mistakes and discrepancies, the report said, about $20 million had been deliberately stashed away,” and when “mistakes were discovered in 2002, officials made a ‘conscious and deliberate’ decision not to reveal the existence of the extra money, the report said.

No one’s saying whether criminal charges will be filed.

Feeling Poorly? Join the Club

The dreaded “flu-like symptoms” are on the march big-time in San Diego, at least according to Google’s Flu Trends tracking system.

Google has found that searches for flu-related terms go up when a region suffers from an outbreak. If the folks at Google understand things correctly, San Diego is right in the middle of one of its most intense flu outbreaks in years, and it’s getting worse.

Check out the flu graph here, which indicates we’re between “high” and “intense” on the flu front.  Things really started to get worse in the last couple weeks, and the numbers suggest we haven’t had a more intense flu outbreak since the fall of 2009.

It’s not too late to get a flu shot. The CDC has details about who should (and shouldn’t) get one.

Battle Brewing over Canceling Earth Day

As the Reader reported Friday, it sounds like the mayor’s office is giving the bum’s rush to the annual Earth Day festivities at Balboa Park, which are said to attract some 60,000 people. Earth Day may have to relocate, if that’s even possible, due to construction on the massive Balboa Park makeover. (Never mind that a judge has halted the work for now.)

The idea of a canceled Earth Day isn’t going over well. The U-T’s Matthew Hall reports that a fair organizer, who’s unwilling to move to another part of the park, is fighting back — and now the mayor’s office will reconsider.

• In a word: Hmm. The U-T, in a story about attempts to promote Balboa Park as a destination in itself instead of a collection of destinations, notes that preparations for the 100th centennial in 2015 include talk of “a series of high-profile events that could transform El Prado into something resembling a digitally enhanced Disneyland Electrical Parade.”

Let’s hope it’s not a Mickey Mouse affair.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

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

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