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Sometimes we get the opportunity to publish something special. VOSD contributor Kelly Davis shares the remarkable story of the last days of the life of her sister, Betsy, who chose to end her own life, legally, after suffering for three years with ALS.

Betsy faced the prospect of death by suffocation. She chose an assisted death, one that came with the expected hurdles under California’s new aid-in-dying law and an unexpected hitch regarding the medication she needed to die.

“My sister is an example of exactly what the law intended to do: allow a dying young woman the ability to assert control over the chaos and uncertainty of terminal illness,” Davis writes. “She turned death into a reason to celebrate, and she was there to enjoy the party.”

Culture Report: Finding Glamour in Germs

As scientists try to understand the human genome, a local artist is figuring out how to turn germs into something spectacular. This week’s VOSD Culture Report profiles the artist, who begins with scientific images of microbes and adds the sparkle dust of artistic license.

Fortunately, she’s been able to find some interesting germs: “Bacterium are pretty stupid-looking. They just look dopey because they’re very basic shapes. If you get into more complex viruses, that’s when you get the crazy little doodads and whatnot.”

Also in the Culture Report: a whole lot of delectable things to gobble up, including a Latin Food Fest, a new Whole Foods Market, fabulous local meatballs and a dance series on “men and their incredible musculature.”

Opinion: Taxpayer Advocates Fumble Desalination Support

In a VOSD commentary, Marco Gonzalez, one of the region’s top environmental attorneys, takes aim at the San Diego County Taxpayers Association for supporting the Carlsbad Desalination Project. Water from the plant is much more expensive than regular water, he writes, and a better solution would be to push people to conserve.

Issa’s Surprising Challenge

As the Orange County Register reports, local Rep. Darrell Issa — the richest member of Congress and one of the loudest and most influential — may be facing the fight of his career. National Democrats are watching closely to see whether they should throw money into the race to support a little-known challenger to Issa.

• We’ve been telling you a lot about the gigantic November sample ballot that may land with a loud thump on your front porch soon. Well, guess what: The local ballot may not throw out your back after all. The City Council today will figure out whether it wants to leave out the full text of two complicated ballot measures, leaving voters to find it online or at local libraries. Attorney Cory Briggs, who’s pushing his citizen’s plan, is not happy the full text of it might not be published.

More on Politics: Trump, Translated

• No, says local Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, a prominent Trump ally, the GOP presidential candidate wasn’t hinting at an assassination of Hillary Clinton yesterday. “I think Trump said what he meant,” Hunter told CNN, “and what he meant was we can stop Hillary Clinton from being elected, we can stop Hillary Clinton from being the next president who chooses who is going to sit on the Supreme Court.”

In fact, Hunter added, Trump is “simply getting better at articulating what he’s thinking and putting them into words.” (U-T)

• “The San Diego Public Utilities Department abused the hiring process to unfairly favor job applicants with inside information from City Hall, putting the city at legal risk, according a new report from City Auditor Eduardo Luna.” (U-T)

• Virginia Senator and vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine will be in town on Aug. 20 for a luncheon fundraiser. (U-T)

Finally, a Free Downtown Shuttle

Whatever your mode of transport — car, bicycle, cab, Uber, public transit, feet, levitation — getting around downtown can be a challenge, especially if you’re tipsy from a bar run. Or disabled. Or overheated or rained on, or carrying a bunch of packages or… You get the idea.

Cities like Denver have pioneered the use of free and convenient shuttles to get people from place to place in their downtowns. Now, downtown San Diego has its own shuttle — sort of.

You have to hail this one (via phone or a wave) and it shuts down at the inconvenient time of 9 p.m on weekdays. And you’ll most likely get a quicker pickup via Uber. But at least it’s free. (U-T)

Medicare Ratings Rap Tri-City Hospital

A new Medicare report card ranks the quality of care at the nation’s hospitals. How’d we do? So-so.

Two hospitals, Scripps Green and Scripps Memorial, both in La Jolla, got the max, five stars. North County’s long-troubled Tri-City Medical Center go the lowest score in the county, just two stars. The county’s other hospitals (except for the exempt VA Medical Center, Rady Children’s Hospital and Naval Medical Center) all received three or four stars.

Some hospital associations aren’t fans of the ratings, saying they don’t reflect that some hospitals serve sicker patients. But the government says the ratings take this into account, and it adds that “all types of hospitals have both high performing and low performing hospitals.” (inewsource)

Sports Podcast: Loxie Shooks and the Gulls

The latest edition of our sports podcast The Kept Faith features the guys chatting with our Scott Lewis about his recent interview with Padres chairman Ron Fowler and the impending Chargers/Padres feud. They also talk to Loxie Shooks of the hockey Gulls about the upcoming season and what it’s like being the in-game announcer during the playoffs.

• The sports blog Deadspin has an update on nastiness erupting in Phoenix, where politicians are balking at a demand by the baseball Diamondbacks that they cough up taxpayer money for tens of millions of dollars in stadium repairs.

“ The county is essentially trying to set a precedent and force the team to pay for their own repairs over the next decade and change,” Deadspin says. One county supervisor snarls at the team owner in a recent letter “in which he yells at him in all caps, reprimands him for trying to squeeze more money from taxpayers, and calls modern professional baseball ‘parasitic.’

Here’s some more insight from Deadspin: “The Diamondbacks have the leverage of Phoenix taking over for the county as the stadium’s landlord. This arrangement would theoretically give the team access to municipal bonds, and allow them to pay cheaper rent. In exchange, the team would pay for their own repairs, but get greater control over stadium operations.”

Quick News Hits: Shake, Rattle and Respect

• San Diego supermarket workers won’t go on strike: They approved a contract this week. (U-T)

• San Diego County is once again getting a deluxe firefighting helicopter known as an “air crane” that can carry more than 2,600 gallons of water. (KPBS)

• Bella remains the most popular dog name in the county, at least according to license records, Fox 5 reports. The rest of the top 10, starting at No. 2, for 2016: Max, Buddy, Lucy, Daisy, Charlie, Molly, Bailey, Roxy and Lola.

• A U-T journalist ran into quite a sign at the Tijuana Estuary the other day: “Rattlesnakes may be found in this area. Give them distance and respect.”

Excellent advice about respect. I shall now address all snakes as “sir,” “madam” or “to whom it may concern.”

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also a board member and ex-national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). 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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