One thing is clear: A 17-year-old La Jolla High junior varsity football player suffered a concussion during a game a few months ago. He kept playing. Why he did is the subject of a dispute that spotlights the growing awareness of the risks of football. The student has been back to school only once since the injury Oct. 17 and he could not make it through a full day. He faces chronic migraines, sensitivity to light and his doctors told his parents he needed to be constantly supervised.

He played offense, defense and special teams but now his days playing football are over. The question is whether he can make it to graduation.

As VOSD’s Mario Koran reveals after an investigation, the player’s father and the team’s head coach say an assistant coach insisted he keep playing even though the boy said he could not. The assistant coach, who was suspended, denies the allegation.

Whatever the case, “a constellation of safeguards was in place to protect [the player] from this exact type of injury,” Koran writes. “All of them failed.”

Step Up, Politicos

The latest VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast features Voice of San Diego journalist Liam Dillon, who talks about the importance of making politicians act: “you have to force people to be brave.” Also on air: Local foodie Troy Johnson with some predictions about 2015 in food. Prepare yourself for kale juice and gin. Yummy!

South Park to the Barricades!

“South Park began 2014 in a state of blissful ignorance,” write two residents in a U-T commentary. “We will be a very different community in 2015.”

Sounds like a call to arms, and it is. Sabrina DiMinico, an activist, and Mark Arabo, who runs the Neighborhood Market Association, are warning that South Park won’t be run over by big companies that dream of “infiltration.” Like, say, Target, which wants to convert a fossilized supermarket into a mini-store, one that may cause congestion by attracting customers and woo business from hip local shops. “South Park is an extraordinary San Diego success story,” they write. “That should not be exploited by distant corporations for their own enrichment.”

A New Year and State Laws Galore

More than 900 new California laws became official on Jan. 1, including ones that allow unauthorized immigrants to get driver’s licenses (DMVs were mobbed), protect nude selfies from being pilfered and proferred, and prevent “mug shot” sites from charging people to get their booking photos removed.

The sick leave law, authored by local legislator Lorena Gonzalez, goes into effect too. Here’s a helpful San Francisco Chronicle run-down of what it does. The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise has more details about other new laws that affect employers and workers. Among other things, employers must now provide training about “abusive conduct” such as “repeated infliction of verbal abuse” and the “gratuitous sabotage or undermining of a person’s work performance.”

In the story, attorneys say the law could lead to rules against bullying that’s not related to something that’s illegal, like sexual harassment.

• State law providing better conditions for chickens went into effect on Jan. 1, and there’s talk that it could significantly boost egg prices. But it’s not clear that would happen. (CNBC)

Twitter Thinks It’s So Funny

Political humor alert! My joke on Twitter — “Dammit. Third day of the year, and I’m still writing ‘interim mayor’ on all my checks” — prompted this reply from demoted now-Councilman Todd Gloria: “That’s funny Randy, I’m still writing ‘Council President’ on all of mine.”

Quick News Hits: Cobra Gets a Name

• The ultra-narrow race for Chula Vista City Council already spawned a $58,000 recounting effort funded by the Democratic Party, and now there’s a lawsuit too. The goal is to find a way to push former Mayor Steve Padilla past the winner, local school board member John McCann, who was declared the winner by two votes. At issue: votes that weren’t counted due to discrepancies. The lawsuit says they should have still been counted. (U-T)

• While San Diego dumped them, several cities around the county still operate red-light cameras that threaten drivers who ignore stoplights with tickets that could cost them $600. But if you whiz through an intersection in Oceanside just in time to notice a camera flash, don’t get too worried: They’re working, but they’re not working. While they still flash and take photos, cops aren’t actually using the cameras to ticket anyone. (Reader)

• Meanwhile, a bold newspaper editorial position: “Being known as a hub of sex trafficking is a distinction this community cannot accept.” (U-T)

• Bestselling mystery author Patricia Cornwell “has just signed a deal with CBS for an original television drama she’s created, featuring a character called Angie Steele, an unorthodox detective who works for San Diego’s major crimes unit.” An unorthodox detective? On TV? What will they think of next?

• The San Diego Zoo’s new famous white monocled cobra — the dangerous snake found in an L.A.-area yard — has a new Hindi name: Adhira. (LAT)

• The La Jolla Light newspaper, the voice of “The Jewel” and my old stomping grounds, has “had it.” Seriously, they’ve completely had it over there. What’s the problem? Hard to get good help these days? Well, sorta: The newspaper is sick and tired of the infamous local odor of “marine life excrement”, and now it’s created a Cove Stench Calendar to reveal to the world just how bad things are: “Reporters embedded on the frontlines will provide daily updates on the air ‘conditions’ in the Village, which we will pass along to you and City Hall.”

As I’ve said before, journalism is glamorous. Pay attention, kids. Also: Will a sternly worded calendar soon replace the perennial sternly worded memo? Stay tuned with eyes open and nostrils closed!

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and 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

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