The City Ballet stands out for more than the fact that it combines ballet with a year-round orchestra. Its orchestra has also been a major player on the San Diego art community’s endangered list.

But the ballet company’s musical accompaniment seems to have avoided extinction, at least for now. VOSD’s Catherine Green talked to conductor John Nettles and other ballet fans about its past and somewhat-less-uncertain future. Nettles has asked for “no drama, panic, rumors, gossip,” but he hasn’t stopped the grumbling about money problems.

There are reasons for the complaints, like “the time he tried to enroll the orchestra in a pyramid scheme.” But Nettles defends himself: “The reality is, I’m the only person who could’ve gotten it this far.”

One Paseo May Have a Leg Up

• We told you the other day about how the One Paseo developers are pushing back against a referendum drive aimed at killing the City Council-approved Carmel Valley project. The developers are sending mailers to voters telling them how to withdraw their petition signatures.

Now, the U-T says a stunning 23,000 people have asked to to do just that. If the One Paseo people fend off the referendum effort, “it may also signal that referendums, which have successfully blocked several other recent pieces of City Council-approved legislation, may not be a slam dunk in some cases.”

• The City Council on Tuesday approved a plan to spend almost $1.9 million each year on a 350-bed temporary-housing program at the St. Vincent de Paul homeless center in downtown.

SeaWorld Half-Fails Fact Check

The struggling SeaWorld chain, which just launched a new ad campaign touting how it treats killer whales, likes to say that whales in captivity live as long as those out in the wild. PolitiFact Florida checks out the claim and finds it’s only “Half True”: “At its core, this claim is an oversimplification of a much more complex issue.” Also, “experts said that a simple measurement of survival rates (or lifespan) serves as a smokescreen from the more fundamental question of the conditions for whales in captivity.”

• The NPR show “Fresh Air” hears from a former SeaWorld trainer and author of a critical new book: “When you first start to see it, you first try to say, ‘OK, well, I love these animals; I’m going to take care of them.’ … You think, ‘I can change things.’ And then all these things, of course, never improve and then you start … seeing mothers separated from their calves; you start seeing trainers being killed, and then they blame [the trainers] for their own deaths.”

The show also features SeaWorld officials. They deny the trainer’s allegations about mistreatment.

Putting the Brakes on an Open Taxi Market?

Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Transit System gave the green light to lifting the cap on the number of taxis on city streets.

Unsurprisingly, a group of taxi permit-holders isn’t taking it well, Megan Burks reports for Speak City Heights. They’ve filed suit against MTS hoping to put the move on hold. Their claim: That the decision violates CEQA, the state’s big environmental law, because officials didn’t complete an environmental review detailing how more cabs on the roads would impact the environment.

But, Burks reports, the complaint doesn’t dwell entirely on environmental claims: “Buried at the end of the complaint is an allegation the change is unconstitutional because the city took cab companies’ property without compensation. They’re referring to taxi permits bought for an average of $120,000 that will lose their value when the city lifts its permit cap.”

City Attorney Took Cues from the FBI

The Ars Technica news site says the San Diego city attorney’s office defended the police use of those sketchy cell-phone monitoring devices by cribbing text from the FBI: “This canned press release marks yet another example clearly demonstrating how Washington D.C. is trying to prevent disclosure of how these devices are used nationwide.”

• Longtime Southern California journalist H.G. Reza, who wrote our recent high-profile story about a massive mess of an SDPD operation, is out with an essay in L.A. Weekly about police shootings like the recent controversial one in Los Angeles: “In my reporting career, I know of only one officer prosecuted for a fatal shooting while on duty. He worked in Escondido and killed a woman taken hostage by a bank robber in 1983. The officer was acquitted.”

• Across the country, legislators are trying to protect privacy rights — potentially at the expense of the public’s right to know — by making it “much harder for the public to obtain police officer body camera videos.” We’ve been following this issue locally, where the SDPD isn’t on the side of extensive transparency.

Culture Report: Old Art Is New Again

If you’ve been by Lindbergh Field lately, you may have noticed some nifty art that doesn’t inspire modern-art-style head-scratching: The airport is highlighting original art, collectibles and artifacts from 1915’s Panama-California Exposition at Balboa Park.

In this week’s VOSD Culture Report, we talk to the son of a late Latino artist who memorialized Balboa Park, including some buildings that no longer exist, through his art.

Also in the Culture Report: Artwork via dumpster-diving, a high-brow happy hour, and even more news about the endless (and we do mean endless) bid by UCSD’s alt Che Café to stay alive.

Quick News Hits: Wanna Bet?

• State legislators are pushing for access to “a vast repository of state records that scientists and water policy specialists say could dramatically improve our understanding of California’s groundwater resources if they were made public.” (CIR)

• Local school districts are miffed that SDG&E wants to change its billing system in way that could cost them money if they are relying on supposedly cost-saving solar energy. (U-T)

• Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani is a busy man even when he isn’t flogging the city of San Diego for failing to produce a football stadium deal: He’s working for Elaine Wynn, whose seemingly friendly divorce — from eccentric casino mogul Stephen Wynn — has set the stage for a battle royale: “the fate of the $13 billion enterprise they built together could hang in the balance.” (New York Times)

Perhaps the influence of Ms. Wynn’s line of work has led him to stake a ton on the gamble that alienating city leaders will ultimately boost the team’s bid for a new home here or in L.A. Or at the very least he may get special insight into whether to hit or stay on a hard 16. Spill it, mister!

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 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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