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The La Jolla Recreation Center / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The city of San Diego is supposed to track where city money goes and make sure there are no conflicts of interest in how it is spent.

But there’s a big exception in the world of park and recreation centers. For decades, San Diego has let local recreation councils — nonprofits outside the city structure — figure out how to spend revenue on things like programs and improvements. Now, the city attorney wants to put a stop to this system, seize the money and make sure it all flows in and out of City Hall.

The problem is that the rec center groups involve some of the city’s most engaged residents and they’re ready to pack City Council Chambers to oppose the move. It’s coming fast because the city has to soon decide whether to re-authorize the rec center groups.

Our reporter Andrew Keatts has the story about the dispute, which the Council will hear today. “For the Council, there may not be an easy solution. The city attorney has said the current structure opens the door for unchecked ethics conflicts and skirts legal requirements for spending city funds,” Keatts reports. “Yet that’s cold comfort to the volunteers, who see a city that has cut library hours and parks and rec center hours in lean budget times now coming to reclaim its money once and for all.”

• The U-T has a roundup on how next year’s City Council races are shaping up. It looks like council members Myrtle Cole and the embattled Chris Cate will face major rivals. Lorie Zapf already has seven candidates who are trying to oust. Meanwhile, Councilman David Alvarez, a failed candidate for mayor, is stepping down due to term limits. A candidate in the race to take his place is already snapping up endorsements.

As the U-T notes, it’s rare for incumbents to be kicked out of office. It has happened before, however, during scandals.

Sempra Takes Wildfire-Related Writedown, But…

The parent company of SDG&E says “it is taking a $208 million after-tax write-down in case the California Public Utilities Commission rejects SDG&E’s request to pass $379 million in costs from 2007’s deadly wildfires to ratepayers,” the U-T reports. But the power company will keep trying to make customers pay.

The situation has inspired state legislators from Northern California to push to make sure that power company customers don’t end up paying the costs if utilities there are blamed for the devastating fires. (L.A. Times)

Correction note: In the Friday Morning Report, we incorrectly stated the courts have not been receptive to SDG&E’s argument. It hasn’t yet reached the courts, though. It has been heard by administrative law judges, who will help the Public Utilities Commission make its decision. If someone doesn’t like how that turns out, then it could head to the actual courts.

Border Report: Some Firms Fear End of Dreamers Program

Congress is trying to figure out what to do with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, whose participants are known as Dreamers. In this week’s VOSD Border Report, Maya Srikrishnan takes a look at what local businesses and government agencies are thinking about the potential loss of these employees and customers, who may number in the tens of thousands here.

The education and tourism industries are especially unhappy with the prospect of DACA’s demise, while some tech firms aren’t worried.

Also in the Border Report: Advocates try to protect families from immigration crackdowns, illegal border crossings are way down, and a look at Mexico’s grim sex tourism industry. Also: murder is way up in Tijuana.

The Early Student Gets the Snoozes

U-T columnist Peter Rowe delves into the controversy over whether public schools should start later to better reflect research into how kids function. Early mornings, the findings suggest, are not the best time for them to learn.

Turns out that what’s best for children may not be best for everyone else for a variety of reasons, such as changes in schedules and, perhaps, the fact of change itself.

A University City parent leader puts it this way: “it would be fair to say that everyone agrees the evidence looks compelling. It’s just the logistics of it.”

“Co-working” spaces, where the self-employed pay a price for a fancy place to work, are on the rise in the county, just like breweries and cold-brew coffee joints. And, just like them, the co-working industry is raising questions about whether it’s reached the status of a glut, the U-T reports.

One co-working company in particular is facing accusations that it’s not playing nice on the competition front. Meanwhile, the fact that co-working spaces come with a premium cost compared to regular office space — or just working on the couch — could make them much less than recession-proof.

Quick News Hits: Ghosts in Our Midst

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Investment, a nonprofit with a lot of land and intentions for southeastern San Diego neighborhoods, has been struggling on a variety of fronts, and its faced questions about representation by residents on its board. Now, it’s adding three community members to its board. (@lisahalverstadt)

Driving in downtown could become less confusing: It may finally become possible to drive down Park Avenue straight to Harbor Drive. (Times of S.D.)

It’s Oct. 31, a good time to remember the real-life mysterious death that created the legend of the ghost at the Hotel del Coronado.

As I wrote in a history flashback for VOSD a few years ago, a woman dubbed the “Beautiful Stranger” was found on the hotel’s steps in November 1892. She’d been shot in the head.

“She might have been a grifter known for conning men with her husband in railway cars. Maybe she was pregnant and fell into despair after giving herself an abortion. Perhaps she did herself in; she’d bought a handgun across the bay just the other day,” my story says. “The authorities thought it was suicide. But they came to a decision quickly, and future generations of authors and crime buffs wondered if they missed a murder.”

In honor of her death, you could drop by her plot at San Diego’s historic Mt. Hope Cemetery, where the gravestone simply says “Kate Morgan/Also Known as/Lottie A. Bernard/Died Nov. 29, 1892/At Age 24 Years.”

Or you could go to the Hotel Del yourself, where ghosthunters are known to reserve her room years in advance for Halloween. One woman stayed there and told the U-T in 1992 that she heard a “faint rhythmic murmur, like the sound of someone snoring and slurping through a straw.”

Makes sense! I’d be a bit sleepy and thirsty if I’d been dead for 100 years too.

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

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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