The Automotive Museum won’t win any awards as being the most forward-seeking of Balboa Park institutions. Its critics, in fact, think it’s an uninspiring collection of cars that needs a major tune-up.

“If you’ve gone there twice you get to see all of the same stuff again,” says a race car driver who served on the museum’s board. “There were too many people on the board who didn’t want anybody to make a difference.”

He isn’t on the board anymore, and he has company in his complaint, including a county supervisor: As Kelly Bennett reports, the board has purged internal naysayers who wanted to explore a merger with the nearby Air and Space Museum.

The museum’s executive director promises some improvements but says visitors are fine with its slower pace and more old-fashioned feel, a bit like a high school gymnasium stuffed with cars.

A New Quest: The Impact of ‘Blackfish’

Sometimes it takes sound and images to move people. Such was the case with the allegations that SeaWorld mistreats killer whales and puts trainers at risk. A magazine article and an eye-opening book brought attention to the issue over the last few years — we talked to the book author in 2012 — but it wasn’t until the recent documentary “Blackfish” that the public at large began to pay attention to the allegations.

Now, SeaWorld has engaged the film it calls “propaganda” in a major social media war.  The company is trying to recover its image and avoid any damage to its bottom line. VOSD facts chief Lisa Halverstadt is launching a new quest to understand the issues, SeaWorld’s place in San Diego and what its future is.

She writes: “Are SeaWorld’s killer whales truly suffering in confinement and if so, what responsibility do we have to push for change? What is SeaWorld’s economic impact on our region in the first place, and how is the continuing movement associated with Blackfish’ affecting its bottom line? What does SeaWorld give back to our community, and what local policies and developments has the company pushed in the last five decades?”

VOSD Radio: Meet the Enforcer

At VOSD, engagement editor Catherine Green helps set the standards and enforce the rules. She explains her role and explores the dilemmas raised by online journalism in an appearance on the latest issue of the VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast. The hosts also discuss the fact check and hero and goat of the week. You can read about the show and listen to it here.

The iMayor Debriefs, Officials Withhold

• The U-T chats with the “iMayor,” soon-to-be-ex-interim city chief Todd Gloria, who says the incoming mayor is “a very reasonable individual.” Gloria also dampens former Mayor Filner’s outlandish expectations about a $100 million celebration of the centennial celebration at Balboa Park: He envisioned it as more of a $20 million-$30 million event.

• At least one local pundit totally blew his prediction for the mayor’s race. (Don’t look at me. No, seriously. Look away! Do not behold my shame!) But the almost-official results from the Registrar of Voters show a closer race than we saw on Election Night: 53 percent Faulconer, 47 percent Alvarez.

Fletcher’s at Top of Heap, for Once

• Former legislator and mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher went to the mountaintop, literally, and wrote about it in an essay for VOSD. His story prompted dozens of comments (many of which had more to do with opinions about him than about the essay) and became the most popular on our site last week.

Check the full Top 10 list of the week’s most-read stories here.

Quick News Hits

• Murders in the county hit a record low last year, the U-T reports.

• Last week, the U-T shut down its struggling cable TV operation (which required a $3 million studio) and laid off staff members. We’ve since learned that the paper has also laid off five newsroom employees, including Kris Viesselman, a graphics expert who was one of the top executives at the paper, and longtime sports writer Don Norcross.

• NBC 7 San Diego checks in on what the drought may cost you at the grocery store.

• The University Heights library branch has a fantastic location (right next to the Sprouts store!) but a teeny, tiny space. Meanwhile, a hulk of a building sits unused a few blocks away next to the school district headquarters. You may know the one: A gray stone monolith from 1910, it looks like it could take any other building in town in a fair fight.

The Reader reports that there’s talk about turning the Teachers Training Annex 1 — catchy! — into a replacement for the little library branch. But things don’t seem to have gotten past the ominious-sounding “ongoing dialogue.”

• A San Diego man once declared dead by a court more than a decade ago now wants to be declared alive, 10News reports.

• A nifty Facebook page called Vintage San Diego offers regular glimpses at the past of our city and the rest of the county. Commenters provide plenty of memories.

Here are some fun pictures of Hillcrest from the 1960s, featuring Sears and bars called Mickie Finn and Tally Ho, now Rich’s and Flicks.

If you’d like another look back, check this video of a drive down the I-8 (or whatever it was called back then) and onto Rosecrans in Point Loma back in 1963.

A lot of the scenery hasn’t changed a bit. Look carefully and you’ll see some cars that are still stuck in traffic at the Midway Drive interaction today!

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 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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