A country club near Chula Vista’s Eastlake neighborhood had a problem: Too many coots wandering around on the golf course. No, not duffers. These were the avian kind of coot — small black birds that look like ducks and make quite a mess by eating greenery and leaving stinky reminders of their existence everywhere.

So someone called a federal agency called Wildlife Services. Trappers came out and killed more than 100 coots.

Who paid for this work on private property? The county did, with taxpayer money. Never mind that federal officials repeatedly told the county that Wildlife Services wasn’t killing coots under the county contract.

But even finding out this much took months. As we’ve reported, the federal agency has killed thousands of animals locally, but it’s not clear why.

Democrats Make Nice

Judging by last week’s big fight, you might assume the two most powerful Democrats in city government would continue to be at each other’s throats. But Mayor Bob Filner and Todd Gloria, president of the City Council, were all smiles yesterday as they smoothed over the issue that led to an unusual confrontation at City Hall: who would represent the city on local government coalitions. Check our story to see who’s serving on which committees.   

• Our coverage of the City Council spat led the list of the Most Popular stories on the VOSD site last week.   

Fact Check TV Tackles Council Election

Hmm. The host of San Diego Fact Check TV, our weekly segment on NBC San Diego, looks nothing much like the guy who usually does it. The beard’s gone, for one thing. And the unfortunate neckties. And the host looks like our reporter Lisa Halverstadt.

A change for the better? Check for yourself here: she helps viewers understand the complicated reasons why not every voter in a City Council district will get to take part in an election to choose a new councilperson.

 • On Saturday, the Morning Report summarized a Fact Check we published about the number of calls that the police department gets regarding people who are suicidal or mentally ill. While the number is up by more than 50 percent, a headline in the Morning Report incorrectly said it had doubled. Sorry about that.

Sequester Cuts Loom over San Diego

While congress recently avoided many of the large tax increases that the federal government was set to impose in the New Year, it hasn’t yet dealt with automatic spending cuts set in motion in 2011.

The National University System Institute for Policy Research estimated that the San Diego region would lose up to $2.5 billion in annual spending if those across-the-board cuts are realized. The Department of Defense, for example, will need to cut 9 percent of its 2013 budget.

Goldman Sachs economist Alec Phillips says hide the kids: the so-called sequester is coming. He says it’s a matter of when, not if.

More about Medical Translation

We’ve been following the plight of refugees in neighborhoods like City Heights who have a hard time getting medical care due to the lack of available interpreters. In some cases, they wait hours at clinics only to get connected to someone who speaks the wrong language.

HealthyCal.org found this is an issue in Central California too: farmworkers from Ventura County to the Bay Area speak 23 indigenous languages from 13 Mexican states. It isn’t enough for providers to ask ‘which language the patient speaks, but which township in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, for example, that person comes from.’”

The consequences can be deadly.

Fixing the Lily Pond

About five months ago, a late-night water-gun fight damaged the lily pond at Balboa Park, setting off a sensationalized media firestorm and false political accusations. (To get a perspective on what actually happened, click here or watch this.)

Now, the pond area is being repaired. The water is gone and the fish have been temporarily relocated. You can see a photo here.

Panama Canal Expands and Ports Wait Bonanza

“[W]ith the $5.25 billion expansion of the Panama Canal now officially half complete, a scramble is on among the hemisphere’s ports to lure a new generation of elephantine cargo ships, bulk carriers and automobile haulers to their harbors, where boosters envision an economic boom,” the Washington Post reports.

We’ve got a port here, of course, although it’s not one of the biggest ones in North America. Its future did play a role, however, in the mayor’s race.  

Settlement Near in Mobile Home Park Saga

“Now that a settlement is near, the melee over the De Anza Cove mobile home park now has resident pitted against resident in a fight for relocation benefits,” the Reader reports. A new lawsuit has appeared.

For background, check our 2009 explainer.

At San Diego State, a Hidden Mural Makes Waves

An archaeologist at San Diego State who’s saved several historic campus murals has found another one more — a colorful and imaginative depiction of characters from the world of “Alice in Wonderland” like the White Rabbit and Alice herself, KPBS reports.

Created in the 1940s, the mural was later painted over. But photos of it remain, and it looks like the mural can be saved. The artist who painted, now in his 80s, it is delighted, declaring “They found my rabbit!”

This story got me to wondering about “Alice in Wonderland” and which folks in the local government and media worlds could be cast to play the various characters.

Who’s the Mad Hatter? The Queen of Hearts? Tweedledee and Tweedledum?

Just thinking about it is giving me a Cheshire Cat grin.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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