The Morning Report
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District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis appears to have more involvement in the brand-new and very messy campaign finance scandal than any of the other politicians tied to the mess. In a new story, we examine what we know about her connections to the accused (Dumanis herself isn’t accused of any wrongdoing).

Keep in mind that all we have now are accusations via the feds. It’s possible that this international scandal will fizzle into a kerfuffle.

• The unfolding campaign finance scandal — which really needs a catchy name (any ideas?) — features several strange details. We’ve compiled them in a helpful guide.

Among the peculiarities: An oddly timed and bizarre burglary, an Electoral College elector-turned-scandal figure (!) and more.

• Rep. Juan Vargas hasn’t denied involvement in the scandal.

• Local politicians are scrambling to distance themselves from tainted contributions. (U-T)

Meet the City’s $4 Billion Pollution Bill

Here’s some bad news for the city: It expects to need to pay $4 billion over the next 17 years to clean up the way it handles pollution. “The money will have to come from the same fund that pays for police, fire protection, parks and other core services,” VOSD’s Scott Lewis writes in a new story. “And the compliance will also require private builders to step up their game as well, increasing construction costs.”

So where’s the money going to come from? No one knows.

Are the Alternatives Anything But?

A coalition of local business types says it supports lots of alternatives to the big hike in a tax on building. So who’s in favor of what? “Realistically, coalition members are never going to need to say where they stand on each item, since most are politically unrealistic enough to make them nonstarters,” our Andrew Keatts reports. His story updates you on our attempt to get these folks to explain what they support.

Insuring Myself Will Cost $5,160 a Year. Yippee!

Think you don’t know anybody who’s benefited greatly from Obamacare? You do: me. The Affordable Care Act rescued me from paying $700-plus a month for terrible coverage via the state. That had been my only option for coverage as a single self-employed person with a decent income (so no Medicaid), an age lower than 65 and (ugh) a mild pre-existing condition.

In conjunction with Kaiser Health News, we’ve published a new update on how my wild insurance dreams — of reliable and high-quality coverage — have finally come true. You can check previous my stories about the drama I faced, including six months without coverage in order to get better coverage, here and here.

Commentary: Candidates Must Tackle Privacy Threats

In a new commentary, former CityBeat reporter Dave Maass, calls on the mayoral candidates to speak out about how they’ll protect citizens from local law enforcement’s encroachment on their rights. Otherwise, he warns, we could become “America’s Most Surveilled City.”

Goldsmith Holds Forth and Manchester Coughs Up

• City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who faced a difficult 2013, sits down for an unusual marathon interview with CityBeat. He was “was ready to wax philosophical on the rewards and challenges of being an elected city attorney,” CityBeat says, and to respond to the city’s transformation into what the paper describes as “a hotbed of partisan bickering and conspiracy theories.”

VOSD gets a mention (not a flattering one), as do the prospects for Goldsmith’s elected replacement, his dual role as a lawyer and a politician and his support of a messy referendum process. In the most newsworthy moment, Goldsmith says he regrets last summer’s infamous “chalk gate” case.

• Inewsource tries to unravel the mysteries behind the political action committees that are donating big (and often donating less-than-transparently) to the mayoral candidates.

Speaking of fundraising, the Reader says U-T publisher Doug Manchester’s Manchester Financial Group has donated another $90,000 to the county GOP on top of a previous $60,000 donation last year. It also gave $150,000 to the state GOP.

Quick News Hits

• Now it’s official: Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, a former San Diego councilwoman, will be the next speaker of the state Assembly, KPBS reports.

• Interest rates and inflation haven’t been very high in recent years. This is why hardly anyone seems to be staying their money in certificates of deposit (remember those?) But not everyone is immune from sky-high inflation. At San Diego State, “student fees” have more than doubled (not accounting for actual inflation) since 2004.

Now, students will be asked to consider something called the “student success fee,” which sounds positively Orwellian. KPBS reports that the university wants to boost the fee by as much as $500 a semester to pay for more professors. Students won’t get the final say, though. That belongs to the university president.

• Facebook commenters aren’t thrilled about the idea of the west end of Balboa Park being dubbed “The West End,” the Reader reports. But a PR firm says the name is just a temporary effort to remind people that the museums are still open during construction on the Cabrillo Bridge.

• KPBS takes a look back at the history of Balboa Park and explores a new book about the 1915 exposition by the late historian Richard Amero.

You can get a glimpse of the park in 1915 on film by checking out a fun 10-minute silent short called “Fatty and Mabel at the San Diego Exposition,” starring comedians Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Norman. The film is no classic and has a few uncomfortable moments from a modern perspective, but its battle-of-the-sexes slapstick might pull a grin out of you, especially in the final scenes at a fountain. (Anyone know which fountain it was?)

The lives of Arbuckle and Norman would take sharp and tragic turns within just a few years. But for a moment, you can see them having fun in a beautiful park that would long outlive their moments in the sun.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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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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