Fans of San Diego trivia know that a journalist went undercover at Clairemont High 35 years ago and got the material that inspired “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” That may be righteous, man, but now we know about another 1980s-era undercover high-school student: our new police chief.

Liam Dillon explores the time Shelley Zimmerman spent three months undercover as a student at Patrick Henry High in 1983. At the age of 24 Zimmerman “infiltrated groups of students and targeted those she believed to be drug users” and contributed to more than 70 arrests.

For some more background on Zimmerman, check our recent story about the challenges she’s facing.

Alvarez Does the Unity Thing Again

“Once again, Councilman David Alvarez has negotiated a compromise on a contentious land use decision in his district,” VOSD reporter Andrew Keatts reports. “The City Council on Tuesday approved a new community plan for Otay Mesa. Alvarez orchestrated a last-minute change to address the biggest outstanding dispute over the plan,” which had to do with a bank’s plans for property it owns.

Side Battle in SeaWorld Debate: PETA vs. Airport

You may recall that the animal-rights group PETA challenged the SeaWorld company in court by claiming that it violates the constitutional guarantee against slavery by keeping killer whales in captivity. A judge drop-kicked that idea.

But PETA hasn’t given up. Now, the U-T reports, PETA says it is suing San Diego’s airport because it won’t allow advertising that urges visitors to not go to SeaWorld.

In a blog post, a PETA attorney says “the First Amendment stands to protect against this kind of viewpoint discrimination.” It’s not immediately clear how the First Amendment applies in this case, however: It prevents the government — and only the government — from limiting speech, but does it also require public agencies like the airport to accept any advertising?

Tech: With a Little Help from Their Friends

VOSD tech blogger Blair Giesen looks local and finds several “amazing companies” that are “reinventing or disrupting one of the oldest industries in the world.” They are, he writes in a new column  “developing the right culture and creating San Diego’s own Digital Mafia.”

Does that mean somebody’s going to end up sleeping with the fishes, perhaps courtesy of a hefty 1990s desktop tower instead of a concrete block? Nope. But they are “leveraging technology as advertising and creating technology solutions for the world.”

Hungover When Party Hasn’t Even Begun

• The Culture Report, a weekly VOSD feature, is miffed about the bollixed plans to celebrate the centennial year at Balboa Park with a grand celebration. (VOSD, by the way, is going to dive in to figure out what happened and why. What do you want to know? Send Scott Lewis a note.)

Here’s a quick index to a few other topics in the Culture Report: Katy Perry, ability to remove from your brain. Tijuana, potential to become the new China. Heck, Gates of. Also: Broken heart, ill-advised treatments to relieve.

We even have links to interviews with actor and weird person Crispin Glover, whom I’ll always remember for this spot of bother

• Speaking of the arts and Balboa Park: Ninety-nine years ago a comedian named “Fatty” Arbuckle dropped by with a comedienne named Mabel Normand. They made a short and funny (if dated) film called “Fatty & Mabel at the San Diego Exposition,” which holds up pretty well as an early dose of silent-film slapstick comedy. (You can watch it on YouTube or read a brief VOSD story about it.)

Within just a few years, a grisly and garish scandal would consume Arbuckle and forever change Hollywood and the films it produced. For more, check my interview with the author of a new book exposing what Arbuckle did (and didn’t) have to do with the liquor-soaked death of a young woman.

• U-T columnist Logan Jenkins suspects that you can add the ballyhooed plan to light up Coronado Bridge to the list of San Diego’s growing list of big dream gone bust.

A couple years ago, there was talk both San Diego and San Francisco could light up major bridges at the same time in 2015 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of big expositions in our cities. But, as Jenkins writes, our pals up the coast got there first: A $8 million project to light up the Bay Bridge ended in grand success last year, and the project may permanently turn SF’s perennial Other Bridge into a bright-eyed rival to the Golden Gate.

“San Francisco stole our lightning as well as our thunder,” Jenkins writes.

Quick News Hits

• A lobbyist continues to lose clients in the wake of a campaign scandal, the Daily Transcript reports.

• Here’s some good news for a change: We’re not in the new Forbes Top 10 list of the most expensive cities in the country. We’re sitting pretty at 12th, behind places like Santa Ana and Seattle.

• Speaking of dreams, here’s one that San Diego can push for: Showing the Czechs who’s boss. Yeah, Czechs, we’re talking about you.

According to a recent report, San Diego’s gross metropolitan product was $177 billion in 2012. If we were a country, we’d be just below Kuwait and above Ukraine, Romania and New Zealand.

If we pick up the pace, we’ll bypass the Czech Republic, which is at $196 billion, and perhaps face off with Peru. But we’re also going to have to watch our rear flank. Back off, Kiwis! Don’t make me come down there.

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:

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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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