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The San Diego Chargers team officials like to say that it’s going to cost taxpayers a big bundle to operate Qualcomm Stadium and keep it from falling apart.

How much? More than $300 million between now and 2020, they said in December. We asked them for details, and they specified the number at $340.5 million.

That’s a lot of smackers for a city that’s been perennially on the verge of a financial nervous breakdown. But is it true?

We’ve spent weeks crunching the numbers. Our analysis suggests the Chargers estimate is a fuzzy one, relying less on hard evidence and more on uncertain numbers.

In fact, according to our scenario based on current city plans, the number is around $196 million. That’s a difference of nearly $145 million.

As for the Chargers, their special counsel says the team stands by its calculations. In fact, he says, the estimate is actually on the conservative side.

Why does it matter? Because the city’s ultimate decision about putting money into a new football stadium could have a lot to do with how much it thinks the old one will cost.

In other news:

  • We’ve got two more installments in our series of e-mail interviews with local movers and shakers. One is with April Boling, the onetime City Council candidate who, as Scott Lewis puts it, “was instrumental in helping the Republican Party and others successfully challenge the city’s complex campaign finance regulations.”

    She tackles municipal bankruptcy, names the region’s most promising leader and says it’s impossible to know how bad the city’s financial straits actually are.

    In another interview, Jess Durfee, leader of the local Democratic Party, fends off skeptical questions about local Dems. (“Now that campaign finance system for the city of San Diego has just been gutted, political parties will have even more of an influential role. It’s pretty clear the Republicans are better prepared for this,” Lewis writes.)

    Durfee agrees that the GOP is doing more robust blogging in San Diego, discloses the worst thing you can say in an endorsement interview and names the “perfect populist antidote to the insular club of Republican (county) supervisors.” (Guess who?)

  • It’s an interesting way to make money: lay down stock-market bets that the companies you’re investigating will tank because of your findings. That’s what San Diego’s swindler-turned-scam-finder Barry Minkow does.

    Now, a company that he targeted — weight-loss giant Medifast — has slapped him with a $270 million lawsuit, accusing him of defamation and stock manipulation.

    Minkow, who seemed to back track from his Medifast investigation earlier this week, has reversed course. He says he’s going full steam ahead.

  • The chairman of the San Diego Food Bank is asking the City Council to consider allowing City Hall to be used to prescreen residents for food stamps in an effort to increase the region’s abysmally low participation rate. Check out our special report Out of Reach for more background on low enrollments in social services at the county and its root causes.
  • Hark! What photography from yonder window breaks? Check our Photos of the Day to find out.

Elsewhere:

  • Politics news in the U-T: Rep. Brian Bilbray and Democratic rivals for his seat raised more than $1 million in 2009. … Five candidates running to replace Councilwoman Donna Frye faced off in a debate.
  • Forget banks. To some crooks, ATMs are where the money is. As the U-T reports, six local ATM thefts or attempts have been reported to the media this year, compared to seven in all of 2009.

    The ATM at Whole Foods Market in Hillcrest has been targeted a whopping three times in recent years. No word on whether its ATM is organic.

  • A San Diego gay male couple is in the news in Louisiana: “A federal appeals court Thursday ordered the state to issue a birth certificate to two men who adopted a Louisiana-born baby boy in 2006 only to have the registrar of vital statistics refuse to give them the document because they were unmarried.” (Times-Picayune)
  • The original version of this post included a summary of and a link to a CityBeat story that said an appellate judge had suggested San Diego police lied in a home-search case. CityBeat now says its story was wrong. The case actually involved the police from the Imperial County city of Calexico, not San Diego. Also, the man involved in the case was from Calexico, not San Diego.

    Unfortunately, that ruins our always-clever closing zinger.

— RANDY DOTINGA

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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