State law frowns on collecting DNA from juveniles: Cops can’t take samples from minors except in limited cases. That means they can’t force kids they detain on the street to immediately submit to mouth swabs.

Or can they? The San Diego Police Department appears to have found a way to bypass the rules, VOSD contributor Kelly Davis reports: “According to department policy, as long as a DNA profile remains in the local database, officers can collect DNA from anyone for ‘investigative purposes.’ The policy requires only that officers get a signed consent from the minor. It doesn’t require them to notify the minor’s parent or guardian until after the sample’s been taken.”

The ACLU is targeting the policy in a new lawsuit revolving around a specific case, arguing that juveniles can’t give consent. “The lawsuit also raises questions about which juveniles are being targeted by the policy and why.”

The case involves a group of juveniles stopped in Logan Heights for the crime of walking in a public park while wearing some blue clothing.

An ACLU attorney tells us: “There’s very little in terms of protection built into the policy. Nothing stops the city from just maintaining this stuff indefinitely, other than the Constitution, I hope.” The Police Department hasn’t commented on the suit.

What the Oroville Dam Means to Us

All eyes have been on Northern California’s Oroville Dam this week as its spillway threatened to fail and inundate communities downstream.

That’s not all that will happen if there’s a disaster at the dam. As I report in a question-and-answer story, our water supply is tied to the fate of the dam, the “linchpin” of a vital state water system.

And that’s not all: “As California’s little-known second-deadliest disaster and our own grim local history reveals, the reliability of dams is crucial to our own personal safety.”

Indeed, a dam break in the Los Angeles area in 1928 killed as many as 600 people. And during the epic rains of 1916, two dam breaks in our own South Bay took at least 19 lives, including members of a local Japanese community.

U-T Columnists: Slow Your Roll, S.D.

Oh, how things have changed at the Union-Tribune. Back in the days of ownership by local hotel magnate Doug Manchester, the paper pushed hard for the community to build-build-BUILD. Among other things, the publisher and the paper pushed for a new football stadium.

That dream has largely gone down the drain, and the Manchester era at the paper ended. But there’s new-ish talk of replacing the Mission Valley stadium with a soccer stadium. Now, not one but two U-T columnists are skeptical about the pace of the effort.

“Fresh from a painful breakup, San Diego seems poised to marry the first sailor who comes along,” cautioned columnist Dan McSwain the other day, noting that details are skimpy so far. Now columnist Tom Krasovic has weighed in, warning against a “hurry-up offense” suggested by radio talk show hosts who act like it’s a done deal.

Something stinks here, if talks indeed are this advanced,” Krasovic writes. “Smells like mackerel. Carp. Croaker. Pick your fish.”

I wouldn’t have picked a croaker since I’ve never heard of it, but his point is clear: “That San Diego has taken hard fiscal hits on several ‘urgent’ sports-facility financing deals, including the renovation of Qualcomm Stadium, a still-unpaid IOU that is weakening the city’s hand now, should further lead its elected officials to encourage competing offers.”

So how much are Chargers season tickets in Los Angeles going to be? Try $375 for the fanciest seats. Hey, that’s not bad! Oh wait. That’s per game, the U-T reports, and significantly more than the Rams, the other team in town.

The cheapest season tickets will run $70 per game compared with $45 back here in San Diego.

Now about Doug Manchester: The U-T reports that he has a plan to build a new football stadium in Mission Valley, and he’s told the NFL about it.

Culture Report: A Cultural Center Grows in San Ysidro

This week’s VOSD Culture Report leads off with news from the San Diego neighborhood of San Ysidro: A historic church and its parking lot are going to be transformed into an urban park, a community center and a space for events.

This marks the end of a 10-year bid to use the church property to build affordable housing. The new project is expected to be finished by next year.

Also in the Culture Report: Young local artist Matthew J. Mahoney has died unexpectedly, the La Jolla Music Society is building a new home, the hit “Freaky Friday” is getting extended at La Jolla Playhouse and more.

Quick News Hits: The Permanent Pothole

As the number of refugees entering the county rose in January compared to a year ago, the City Council voted to join a legal effort to fight the Trump administration’s travel ban. Only Councilman Scott Sherman voted no. (U-T)

“The Right Rev. James R. Mathes is resigning as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego,” the U-T reports “His last day in the post will be July 1, when he will preach and preside over a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in downtown San Diego.”

Mathes, who’s led the 20,000-member diocese of the Protestant faith since 2005, will head to the Virginia Theological Seminary.

The U-T has laid off seven newsroom employees, the Reader reports, including members of the news reporting, sports, photography and graphics staffs. U-T vice president and editor Jeff Light wrote a note about the layoffs, saying oddly that “in an organization of our size, it is a small number, but that does not lessen the sense of loss everyone in our newsroom will feel today.”

Rain is coming: We could get as many as three inches of the wet stuff along the coast on Friday and Saturday, along with high winds, the U-T reports. The weather service is warning that local rivers will be overloaded, with the San Diego River (in Mission Valley) and Santa Margarita River (in North County) potentially reaching flood stage.

The rain’s likely to boost the number of reported potholes in the city of San Diego, which is already high above the levels of the past several years, possibly because we’ve been so wet.

It’s taking longer to fix potholes over the past several months, the U-T found, an average of a bit over a couple weeks. But it could be worse: one pothole in the University Heights neighborhood wasn’t repaired for nearly three years.

The pothole was on Campus Avenue. Guess you could say that the residents there got schooled about city priorities.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member 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 and follow him on Twitter:

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