Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman is gunning to crack the “code of silence” some think permeates the SDPD. But what about the City Council’s own self-imposed gag order?

After a council vote to settle three lawsuits with victims who allege sexual abuse by San Diego police officers (at a tab of $1.56 million), Councilman David Alvarez released a statement: “The actions that led to this settlement sicken me, and if I was at liberty to talk about them, I think the public would agree we need to face this problem head on and hold management accountable.”

VOSD’s Catherine Green and Liam Dillon gathered all we know. Alvarez also declined in March to talk about disgraced ex-cop Christopher Hays and the suits he spawned.

“He said a federal report on SDPD, which was released around the same time, gave him ongoing concerns about how supervisors handle potential misconduct by patrol officers,” they wrote.

Want to Know a Lot About Mystery Real Estate?

Our new reporter Ry Rivard has launched a new occassional series: “What’s that Lot?” It’ll be an effort to explain those neighborhood eyesores sometimes known as mysterious vacant lots or buildings you might wonder about. It starts with a story about a curiosity in Encinitas.

“Right along North Coast Highway near the intersection with Cadmus Street, between a liquor store and a Mexican restaurant,” he writes, is an old salvage yard owned by Eugene and Margaret Chappee. It dates to before Encinitas became a city in 1986, and “if the scrap yard weren’t there, the property could house a coffee shop or any number of businesses.”

Rivard didn’t learn much from a woman eating dinner in a house on the property, but he reveals the lot was the site of a 1985 choking death of a 23-year-old man “who wandered on to the property one morning after an all-night party.”

Wanna know more about a mysterious piece of property in your area? Email Rivard and share the address of that strange space.

Culture Report: Meeting of the Building Minds

The Culture Report leads with our eighth Meeting of the Minds — a guided tour of San Diego’s most intriguing spaces by local architects. The catch, said Catherine Green: They couldn’t focus on any projects of their own.

Also: Bruce Jenner, who went from world’s greatest athlete to Kardashian stepdad to transgender hero,  reminds Alex Zaragoza of her City Beat story two years ago. She wrote about a photo display telling the stories and struggles of trans-folk. “It’s been reported that 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide, and many of those I interviewed admitted to attempting or seriously thinking about killing themselves,” she writes, noting: “If you are a transgender person and are looking for help, The Center offers services in English and Spanish.”

Political Artist No Pushover

Oakland artist Packard Jennings, known for his “Anarchist Action Figure,” might have appreciated the Craigslist job ad by Paul Koch, CTO of San Diego’s Chatmeter, had Koch used a different illustration with it.

As San Francisco’s KQED explains, Koch won “major kudos” for his job ad titled “Searching for 2 F**king Great Developers,” which included expletives and a funny picture of a man pushing over his desk.

Only the picture didn’t make Jennings laugh. It was lifted from “Business Reply,” Jennings’ pamphlet with drawings of an office during worker upheaval.

NFL Punts on Tax-Exempt Status

A constant jab at the NFL as it negotiates with cities for stadiums has been the point that the NFL itself is a tax-exempt nonprofit. The teams pay taxes, but the league  does not. Now the league office says it’s throwing in the towel — and drop-kicking nonprofit status. The move may allow the NFL to conceal the salary of its commissioner, which is now public in the nonprofit’s tax filings.

How much in taxes will the NFL fork over? The New York Times reports: “While the N.F.L. as a whole generates more than $10 billion in revenue annually, the league office ran a $13.5 million deficit in the 2013 fiscal year.”

USA Today Blames Weather for Our Losing Teams

My former U-T sports colleague Brent Schrotenboer writes of the city’s sports woes in USA Today: “Of the nine most populous cities in the U.S, only San Diego never has won a championship in the NFL, NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball. Four different San Diego teams have tried. But only two are left. And now another team might leave, too.”

Uhm, Brent, tell us something we don’t know.

But this was intriguing: “Great weather may dampen motivation,” said Adam Alter, an associate professor at New York University. “Humans and other animals tend to glide through life unless they encounter a reason to engage more deeply with the world. Harsher weather … makes you more vigilant and potentially hard-working, whereas sunshine can dampen your motivation by signaling that all is right in the world.”

Nice reporting comeback, Brent.

Luth Warm

Downtown-based Luth Research is pulling the curtain back on “Netflix’s notoriously mysterious viewership numbers,” Quartz reports, quoting Variety. Luth found a work-around that lets it mine data from 2,500 Netflix subscribers watching on computers or mobile devices.

For example: “‘House of Cards’ reeled in 6.5 percent of subscribers in the first 30 days of its third season, while ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ garnered 7.3 percent over the same period for its inaugural season.”

Mattel Pulls Plug on SeaWorld Barbie

PETA cheered. SeaWorld was “disappointed.” But we haven’t yet heard from 5-year-old girls regarding Mattel’s decision not to extend its Barbie licensing agreement with the theme park overseer.

“The toy giant had previously made SeaWorld-branded toys, including the Barbie Baby Animal Rescuer Playset and the Barbie Antarctica Penguin Fun Playset,” CNN Money reports. “Both featured a Barbie doll wearing a SeaWorld outfit and were sold on the animal theme park’s website. A spokeswoman for Mattel did not elaborate on why the company decided not to renew its contract, which expired at the end of last year.”

One guess: Shamu sent a sonar signal to the toymaker.

Ken Stone, a freelance writer and contributing editor at Times of San Diego, has heard all the jokes about him and Barbie.

Correction: This post originally listed incorrectly the number of SDPD lawsuits settled by the city.

Ken Stone

Ken Stone, a freelance writer and blogger, is a contributing editor at Times of San Diego.

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