A company under increasing scrutiny nearly made life easy on county transportation officials this month, when a missed lease payment almost negated its contract to rebuild a cross-border freight line. Now, if public officials want to undo the deal, they’ll have to work for it.

In a new story, we explain how the deal avoided falling apart. This is a follow-up to our extensive coverage of the “Impossible Railroad” earlier this week.

How the VA Health System Works (and Doesn’t)

We told you earlier this month about how the VA health system in San Diego has reduced its outreach efforts to tell veterans about the care it offers, potentially leaving more people in the dark about services that could help them.

In a new story, we explain who’s eligible for the medical services (surprise: not every veteran is) and how much free treatment they can get (it may depend on how long it’s been since they served). We also look at the process required to get coverage.

Dock Market Lets Fishermen Sell Direct

Not even a month ago, VOSD food writer Clare Leschin-Hoar wrote about the struggles a group of local fisherman faced trying to sell directly to consumers on the pier. It triggered some action. After that, Leschin-Hoar reports, county and port officials moved quickly. And now, the waterfront’s Fish Harbor Pier will soon be home to a new market.

New Doctor Tackles Jail System’s Death Rate

CityBeat’s award-winning “60 Dead Inmates” series last year uncovered the San Diego jail system’s high rate of deaths among prisoners. Inmates were murdered, committed suicide and died of overdoses while in the care of the sheriff’s department.

The pattern continues. This year alone, three more inmates have killed themselves. Last year, 12 inmates died in custody, CityBeat reports. By one measurement, that’s the highest rate among the state’s seven largest counties.

Now, the newspaper profiles the jail system’s new head medical officer, who explained the “policy changes he’s made and strategies he’d like to implement to not only reduce the number of inmate deaths, but also improve inmate welfare overall.”

Could Minimum Wage Go to the Max?

Fresh off their partial victory in getting a boost in the minimum wage in San Diego, but not as much as they’d like, local progressive types are looking forward to a possible $15-per-hour ballot measure in 2016, The Nation reports.

Here’s a tidbit you may not know: According to Council President Todd Gloria, San Diego is now the nation’s largest city with its own minimum wage.

Good News for GOP

Data wunderkind Nate Silver, then with the New York Times, revolutionized election-watching in 2012 by monitoring poll numbers and making accurate estimates about the results.

Now, the Washington Post is getting in on the election-prediction business. It thinks the GOP has a good chance of taking over the Senate, but it predicts a close race here in one of the country’s only competitive congressional races. While the June primary results suggest Republican Carl DeMaio is in good shape, the Post gives him a 52 percent chance of winning.

The Post says the county’s other House reps each have more than 99 percent likelihood of winning.

Quick News Hits

• “Nearly 30 dancers who work at two San Diego-based strip clubs are filing a lawsuit against the city and the chief of the San Diego Police Department, claiming officers held them against their will and took inappropriate photos of them,” NBC 7 reports.

• City leaders were thrilled Tuesday when they finally got to announce that Illumina, large well-known biotech company, had been persuaded to stay in San Diego and expand its facility creating new jobs. The company seems to be doing well. On Wednesday, it acquired a large consulting firm.

• San Diego is one of the 10 most expensive metro areas in which to run a business, according to a new ranking. We’re at No. 7, below Honolulu (No. 1), a few East Coast metro areas and San Francisco and San Jose. “California, the state with the biggest population, has one of the nation’s highest tax burdens and an expensive housing market,” Marketwatch reports.

Other possible factors: High energy prices (yup, we have those), higher wages and “land constraints.”

• As I wrote in these pages last fall, medical misfortune has doomed me to shuffle through seven (now eight) insurance companies over the past 13 years.

Obamacare finally offered me inexpensive, stable and high-quality insurance. Or so I thought. My insurer Blue Shield tells me that I’m covered at the moment, but it’s not paying any benefits. This is, as you can imagine, a spot of bother.

My case has been “escalated” twice, but nothing has happened. (Maybe I should have taken the stairs.) But this week, I did get something to show for my trouble: a 12-digit “Incident Number.”

Yes, 12 digits. As one local wag suggested on Twitter, Blue Shield has 999,999,999 problems, and I am one. Not even Jay-Z can help me.

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 is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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