Don’t forget to reserve tickets to our VOSD forum this Thursday, “What SeaWorld and ‘Blackfish’ Mean for San Diego.”

Dozens of tickets are still available for the event at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla. Panelists will discuss what SeaWorld offers San Diego and how do we should balance animal rights concerns with the company’s contributions in our region. Check our quest to understand the SeaWorld controversy here.

♦♦♦

It’s Election Day. Again.

There aren’t many big-ticket races or issues on the ballot this time around, but we’ve identified a few questions to keep in mind as votes roll in: Just how paltry will turnout be? Will any candidates cross that crucial 50 percent threshold? And will Republicans’ victory pattern hold steady?

And here’s our busy voter’s election guide if you need a last-minute cheat sheet.

• “District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis wrote a letter of recommendation to the University of San Diego on behalf of a relative of indicted Mexican moneyman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, a lawyer for Azano said in federal court,” the U-T reports, indicating “Dumanis had a closer relationship or more extensive dealings with Azano and his family than she has previously acknowledged.”

• The L.A. Times looks at the battle over the future of the Barrio Logan neighborhood.

Can’t Stand the Avenging Attorney? Blame the Law

Plenty of city officials, businesspeople and developers can’t stand local environmental attorney Cory Briggs, the guy who’s brought many of their beloved construction projects to a halt.

But maybe his critics are too quick to blame Briggs. As we note in a new analysis, he doesn’t create his often-successful lawsuits out of thin air. He relies on state law that aims to protect the environment and the earth itself — and the settlements from those suits often include environment-friendly provisions (as well as Briggs-friendly provisions, like attorney fees).

Still, it’s “difficult to know how many fights over the law go beyond the perpetual agitation between business and development interests and environmental, labor and neighborhood groups,” VOSD reporter Liam Dillon writes.

Commentary: Put Veteran Teachers First

For many people, raises and promotions at work are a matter of how good they are at their jobs — or at least how good their bosses think they are. But many union workers like public school teachers fall into a different category: The quality of their work matters less than their seniority.

In a new VOSD commentary, San Diego school board member Richard Barrera — who’s also a local labor leader — criticizes efforts to do away with seniority rules and focus on teachers who are linked to better test scores.

“We need to ask one basic question: Where is the evidence that any of these ideas actually produce improvements in our kids?” Barrera writes. “Evaluating teachers and principals based on testing data hasn’t improved test scores. Merit pay experiments haven’t improved test scores. Closing ‘low performing’ schools hasn’t improved test scores.”

Seattle Beats SD to Punch on Minimum Wage

The city of Seattle, whose population is about half that of San Diego, has approved a new $15 minimum wage, setting a new standard for cities that want to give a boost to the lowest-paid workers.

“The plan, which includes a lower training wage aimed at teenagers, will phase in the higher, local minimum over three to seven years, depending on the size of the business and benefits they provide employees,” USA Today reports. “Next April 1, when the plan takes effect, every worker will get at least a $1-an-hour raise.”

We’ve been tracking the minimum-wage debate here — there’s talk of a boost to $13.09-an-hour — and we recently explored the issues raised by a minimum wage for restaurant workers who make healthy incomes thanks to tips. The new Seattle minimum wage doesn’t carve out an exception for them.

Balboa Park’s Cabrillo Bridge Opens Again

Balboa Park’s landmark Cabrillo Bridge over the 163 freeway is open for business after months of repairs worth $38 million, NBC 7 reports.

Pedestrians say they liked keeping the bridge free of cars. It’s not clear what the museums and other park institutions think. Some have long been critical of the idea of closing the bridge to cars because they feared it would keep away visitors.

Quick News Hits: Park It

• “California State University is embarking on a hiring spree, aiming to add 700 new full-time faculty members next year in an attempt to reverse years of class and staff reductions and improve student success,” the L.A. Times reports.

• You may have heard about the mysterious benefactor known as @hiddencash on Twitter who’s been leaving envelopes of cash in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and Bakersfield. Hundreds of people have followed tweeted hints in search of the no-strings-attached money.

San Diego now has its own Twitter persona who’s giving away money. You can find him (or her) at @sdcashstash. Yesterday brought a cash drop-off in East County, while Sunday afternoon featured a dash for cash at Mission Hills Park.

Being the intrepid reporter I am, I zipped across town on Sunday to the park, which I know well and recognized from a Twitter hint. I arrived within 20 minutes but couldn’t beat a few TV news vans and a handful of free-money-seekers.

I’m continuing to keep a close eye on @sdcashstash’s tweets and am ready to dash across town at a moment’s notice. For journalism, of course! I can see the headline now: “Morning Report scribe finds hidden cash, has no life.”

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

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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