“Oh my God, it’s Bill Walton!” exclaims a student at La Mesa’s Helix Charter High School — formerly just Helix High — as he catches a glimpse of the onetime basketball star in the gym.

“Helix rocks!” spouts the 6-foot-11 Walton, paying tribute to his alma mater. He’s back home.

But where does he belong? The question’s been dogging Walton, whose TV sportscasting career mysteriously ended last fall.

Now, he’s getting an idea of what’s next. It involves innovation, technology and mentoring: Over just a couple months, he’s emerged as a leading figure in three local business ventures.

Our story has more about what Walton’s brother describes as “the next reinvention of Bill Walton.”

In other news:

  • In a stance that could greatly alter the pension discussion, “City Attorney Jan Goldsmith is wondering if city employees should share some of the investment risk with taxpayers in the employee pension plan.” The pension plan is only two-thirds funded.
  • There’s trouble for five San Diego public schools: they’re “listed among California’s persistently lowest achieving schools today” and “must take some drastic steps, such as replacing their principal and at least half of their staff, reopening as a charter school, shutting down or increasing instructional time.”
  • So just how difficult is life at the North County condo complex struck by the giant real-estate swindle that’s costing taxpayers a bundle?
  • Well, for one thing, the prices of the affected homes have fallen by a ton — as much as 82 percent. Is that unusual in North County? Actually, yes.

    And we checked in with a property manager who said this about some of the properties in question:

    “We had very active meth lab on the property. We had prostitution. We had a guy sleeping naked in the clubhouse. The coin things were beaten off of the washer and dryer.”

    Sounds like another Friday night at my place.

  • Sometimes it seems like the city of San Diego goes out of its way to make a buck off its residents. Ask anyone who’s gotten a parking ticket for being a few inches past a red line or been dinged for hundreds of dollars in unpaid business license fees. (I certainly wouldn’t know about anyone in these types of situations. No sirree, Bob.)

    It turns out that the city isn’t ultra- aggressive in one area: it “could have received between $6.4 million and $29.7 million more in property taxes over the last three years simply by collecting the money it was owed, a wide-ranging audit found last week.”

  • In other City Hall news, the City Council is about to discuss refinancing the debt it owes on a renovation of the football stadium. An irony: the city can get a better deal on the refinancing because it’s losing money on the stadium.
  • The latest edition of our San Diego Explained video series on NBC 7/39 examines how food stamps work: how are they funded and why do so few eligible San Diegans take advantage of them?

Elsewhere:

  • John Albert Gardner III, the man charged with murdering Chelsea King, has been named a focus in the investigation of the killing of Amber Dubois, the North County Times and Union-Tribune report. The NCT story has some interesting details about a team of specially trained dogs who picked up on Amber’s scent in August and tracked it up Interstate 15 to Pala and the UT dedicates a separate story to the dog search.
  • The NCT says another report has found flaws in the San Onofre nuclear power plant’s safety culture, something we took a deep look at last year.
  • UCSD’s Jim Fowler is at it again, with a new study that says, as Wired News puts it, that “Goodness spurs goodness … a single act can influence dozens more.”

    But selfish acts can spread too. Think about that the next time you grab the last pint of Ben & Jerry’s at the supermarket.

    We’ve talked to Fowler several times about his research into social networks and the contagiousness of things like loneliness.

  • Remember Tom Metzger, the white supremacist leader from Fallbrook? Maybe you’ve tried to forget. Now, at the age of 71, he’s launched a write-in campaign for Congress in Indiana. (Hat tip to CityBeat for noticing this story.)
  • Finally, a Minneapolis newspaper takes a look at a San Diego State study — funded by Clorox — that debunks the five-second rule.

    “You know the rule: If food falls to the floor and you grab it back within 5 seconds, you can still eat it. Without, you know, dying,” the story says. The researchers found that germs from the floor don’t wait that long before attacking a dropped carrot or sippy cup.

    It’s time for a new 10-second rule: Pick up your fallen food within five seconds. Then spend the next five seconds pretending that you never heard about this study.

Correction: The original version of this post misquoted Bill Walton in its second paragraph. It has since been updated. We regret the error.

— 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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