We’re learning more about the U.S. Department of Justice’s new investigation into misconduct in the San Diego Police Department. Here are some highlights:

• There’s some sort of investigation of the SDPD afoot involving the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office, but no one’s saying what’s exactly going on. Federal prosecutors and the FBI have specific mandates regarding the kinds of cases they can take on.

• The feds will pay for the Justice Department probe although they won’t actually run the investigation. A non-profit research organization will handle things.

• All findings of the Justice Department investigation will be public.

• The city attorney also revealed that a separate federal criminal investigation was underway.

For more perspective on how things are playing out, check our new story.

Education via SeaWorld: Not Just Do-Goodery

A lot of the SeaWorld discussion is about offsets — the extent to which the company gives back to the community for what it gets on public land. What does SeaWorld do for the environment, for conservation and education? The company earlier wouldn’t reveal what exactly it spends on conservation. But its commitment to education is more public. It’s a requirement of the company’s lease. So what exactly does it do for local schools and are the schools spooked about the controversy over SeaWorld? Lisa Halverstadt explains.

Catch up on our quest to understand SeaWorld’s impact on San Diego.

Meanwhile, the U-T notes that animal rights were already on the state legislative agenda as the bill to ban orca shows and their captive breeding at SeaWorld in San Diego enters the spotlight.

Commentary: An Operatic Decline

In essence, the San Diego Opera has chosen to die with dignity instead of facing an extended terminal illness marked by risk of bankruptcy and a decline in quality. In a commentary, local non-profit financial officer David Fuhriman notes that nonprofits face challenges in their very nature: “This is sometimes an impossible balance to strike. Should a nonprofit sell out its mission for the almighty dollar? Or should it refuse to settle, and put the organization in jeopardy?”

• Mark Swed, a music critic with the LA Times, is positively furious about the San Diego Opera’s decision to call it quits. In a new column, he questions the decision-making at the top: “who has ever heard of a major arts institution with a $15-million budget, one of the country’s top 10 opera companies, simply throwing in the towel over a deficit of a couple million dollars and not fighting to the end because there is no dignity in that?”

• The U-T takes an in-depth look at the opera’s swan song, noting — as others have — the peculiarity of its decision to close up shop: “There’s no accumulated deficit, typically the silent killer of arts organizations. And the company has the strong support of the city’s moneyed elite, who have provided the institution with hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.”

Remembering PSA Flight 182

The Reader checks in on efforts to build a memorial in North Park to victims of the 1978 PSA plane crash, the deadliest aviation accident in U.S. history at that time.

The crash is seared into the memories of San Diegans who lived here at the time, from the kids who saw the smoke from playgrounds to the radio broadcasters who spotted the crash seconds after it happened from their perch in a North Park office building.

San Diego Magazine published the definitive narrative history of the crash in 1998. Little-seen photos of the post-crash scene, which occurred when a PSA airliner collided with a small plane, appeared online in 2010.

Nothing memorializes the victims of the PSA accident other than a small, barely noticeable plaque outside the North Park library branch. However, there are memorials to remember the victims of other plane crashes, like this striking one in the Orange County city of Cerritos, site of a 1988 crash.

Piercing the Veil

Are elected officials engaging in public business via private email? If so, can the public get its hands on those emails?

This is a big issue in the local political world. It’s clear that some elected types have communicated privately with reporters from several local news outlets, including the U-T, CityBeat and VOSD. It’s less clear that officials have tried to bypass public-records law by, say, texting or privately emailing people who have business before school boards or city councils.

The U-T asked government administrators to hand over private emails about public business. And they got squat. Well almost squat: Only two administrators responded. “Others have said the records don’t exist, the public has no right to see them or they have not responded at all.”

Quick News Hits: Of Bandwagons and Marriages

• The bid for a ballot measure to raise San Diego’s minimum wage is moving forward. (KPBS)

“District officials with more than half of the 42 school districts in San Diego County said they do not collect and review official school safety drill reports from their individual school sites,” NBC San Diego reports. “And bylaw, they don’t have to review them.”

• KPBS sports columnist Jay Paris looks at the San Diego State Aztecs (now in the Sweet Sixteen), their Johnny-cheer-lately fans and the legacy of Coach Steve Fisher: “Was it really that long ago that Fisher, who turns 69 on Monday, cruised Montezuma Mesa begging an apathetic student body to cheer for the woeful Aztecs? Back when then-Cox Arena was considered among the most dreadful places on Earth? Not really.”

• My item last week about my parents’ wedding anniversary — celebrated in fine fashion at a local Olive Garden — prompted a few emails. My favorite comes from Lee Grissom, former president of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce, who’s been married for 47 years.

Not too long ago, he told his wife Sharon about a study that says the first 45 years of marriage are the hardest.

She responded with just four words: “I certainly hope so.”

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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