If you drop by a courthouse for a hearing, you expect to see a court reporter pecking away. That’s one way that a record of the proceeding is kept. But if you drop by a San Diego County Superior Court family law hearing, there may be no one taking everything down.

That’s because the court isn’t requiring this kind of record-keeping anymore If you’re in court and want a court recorder, you’ll have to pay. “The court reporter cuts, which went into effect Sept. 5, are drawing concern from local family law attorneys who say the changes will hurt low-income and middle-income individuals,” contributor Jonah Valdez reports.

Unheeded Warnings on Homeless and Disease

As San Diego’s deadly hepatitis A outbreak expands and spreads to other counties and states (including California’s Santa Cruz, Utah, Rhode Island and Arizona), the U-T dug into public records in search of what we knew and when we didn’t do anything about it.

Here’s the paper’s latest finding: “San Diego officials were informed repeatedly of the dangers of disease-carrying runoff from homeless encampments into area waterways, as far as a decade before the current hepatitis A crisis spurred action … documents from the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control board show problems like homeless encampments went unaddressed for years.”

Downtown’s new homeless camp has opened, and dozens immediately sought spaces. (CBS 8/City News Service)

VOSD Environment Report: Big Water Decision

Tuesday is decision day for a plan to build a pair of 35-mile underground tunnels to bring water to Southern California. Regional water officials at the Metropolitan Water District will decide whether to back the project, says this week’s VOSD Environment Report.

Also in our roundup: The governor talks weather, a great environmental writer gets a write-up and our reporter takes a hike.

City Employees Use More Transit, But …

You might assume that city employees would commute less by car than the rest of us. After all, many of them work in downtown, where our transit systems converge. And some city employees have crafted and backed policies to make the city become more climate-friendly.

It’s true that city workers are more likely to get to work without driving, but their overall level is still low, a new report says. Just 13 percent ride public transit, compared to 4 percent citywide, and hardly anyone bikes to work, KPBS reports.

What gives? Well, for one thing, the city subsidies both parking downtown and public transit. An advocate says the city can do more through things like bike storage and showers, although the biggest impact will come when it become safer to bike.

“Housing tracts and shopping plazas could be built faster and damage the environment less under a long-awaited compromise being forged between government officials, local developers and conservation groups,” the U-T reports.

She’s Running: Feinstein Wants Another Term

She’s in it to win it for the sixth time. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who’s now 84, is going to run once again in 2018 in a bid for a sixth term. “The Democrat’s announcement comes amid threats from her left, with more progressive Californians saying that Feinstein’s moderate nature isn’t the right fit for a state that feels the brunt of Trump administration policies,” the L.A. Times reports.

But Sen. Kamala Harris, a darling of some (but not all) progressives, is fully backing the state’s senior senator.

California is moving its presidential primary back to March 3 in 2020 in a bid to stop being an afterthought state that gets blown off because races are already decided by the time they get here.

How will that affect things for Democrats? Just about every prognosticator failed to predict what happened last year, so maybe we should get out of the crystal-ball business. That won’t happen, of course. 538.com analyzes what an earlier primary may mean for the Golden State.

The take-home messages: It might help California candidates — if they run and they don’t lose, like favorite sons (and daughters) sometimes do. And the earlier Democratic primary calendar in 2020 might not be that unusual compared to the past. And our primary may not anoint a winner.

Fire and Rain Report

I’ve been in Anaheim this week for a work trip and watched Monday as the sky turned an angry yellow under a haze of smoke and ash. I spent much of the afternoon poring over online evacuation maps and wondering whether I’d have to skedaddle.

Turns out the month of October produces the biggest wildfires in California on average, according to an analysis of data from the the past 16 years, the OC Register reports. That’s no surprise to San Diego.

More rain’s in the very-long-term forecast, sort of. Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography tell the U-T they think we’ll see more “atmospheric rivers” like the one that smacked the drought into oblivion last winter, but there might be longer dry periods between them.

As I reported recently, “researchers think a megaflood is just as likely to hit the state as a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and has the potential to cause three times as much damage.” The cause would be one of these atmospheric rivers — a series of storms that keep pounding the state like happened during the Great Flood of 1861-1862, which dumped 66 inches of rain on L.A.

U-T Sports Columnist Bravely Faces a Bolts-Free Sunday

U-T sports writer Kevin Acee didn’t attend a Chargers game on Sunday. This was a first for him since 2004. “So this is what you all do on an autumn Sunday?” he wrote in an 1,100 word-plus column. “You sit in the house in gym shorts and no shirt and try to convince your wife that what you’re doing is necessary so she she’ll stop ‘wondering’ if you might actually get some work done.”

He didn’t just melt into the couch. He actually went outside and exercised. We admire your courage, Kevin! Stay strong during this difficult time. Our thoughts, prayers and ashes of burnt Chargers T-shirts are with you.

Quick News Hits: Bouncy House Bonanza

Local Reddit readers are filling a thread with complaints about Western Towing, the local powerful towing company.

In 2015, we reported that investigations were probing “whether thousands of dollars in contributions from the towing industry were illegally laundered to the campaigns of five high-profile San Diego politicians over the past six years. In one case, a tow company owner has already admitted to laundering cash to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ failed 2012 mayoral bid.”

Back then, we heard from readers who were piping mad about alleged towing abuses.

 Your next parking ticket could come with video. (10News)

El Cajon wants you to stop giving money to the homeless. (Times of S.D.)

The world’s largest bouncy house, at a whopping 10,000 square feet, is in town. That’s larger than a baseball diamond, CBS 8 reports.

Wow. That’s a big bouncy house. I’m waiting for the adult version with a bouncy wine cellar. Boing! There goes the chardonnay!

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 (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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