It was quite a week in local news, as two major projects got long-awaited OKs while a ballot initiative was left twisting in the wind thanks to a mathematical formula.

But first, a look back — not to the past seven days in San Diego, but the past 160 years.

In the middle of the 19th century, Chinese people came to town to fish for abalone. They stuck around and created Chinatown roughly where part of the Gaslamp Quarter is today. They found prejudice and severe restrictions here, but they also built political influence in a community that held on to its heritage.

Chinatown is gone now, but the past lives on thanks to 83-year-old Murray K. Lee, the curator of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.

In this weekend’s Q&A, we talk to Lee about what he calls the “search for Gold Mountain.” That’s also in the title of his upcoming book about the history of the Chinese in San Diego.

In other news:

Yesterday’s Morning Report had a mathematical error. There’s talk of a half-cent increase in San Diego’s sales tax. If someone spent $10,000 in a year, that would amount to $50 in extra tax.

I incorrectly multiplied 10,000 by .05, not the correct .005, and came up with $500. (In a related story, maybe it’s time to revisit my 2009 tax form.)

Also: it is the parents of Amber Dubois who filed a damage claim against the state, not the parents of Chelsea King. My apologies.

• Columnist Scott Lewis takes a look at the dynamic duo who helped the schoobrary become a done deal. One of them thinks Lewis is a cynic but, as our columnist implies, project supporters might well fall into that category on their own.

Elsewhere:

• There’s been chatter online about the future of the Union-Tribune’s arts coverage, especially since critic Robert Pincus was laid off. Next week’s forum at the bookstore Warwick’s about local arts coverage — featuring Pincus, U-T editor Jeff Light and literary agent Sandra Dijkstra (who’s threatened a U-T boycott) — should be a humdinger. Look for lots of mentions of the word “parochial.”

The big issue may be this: as the U-T transitions to a tighter local focus, where do the arts (and books) fit in? And is there room in the paper for a wider (not purely local) discussion of these topics?

By the way, a Milwaukee art critic offers some revealing perspective on her endangered colleagues and the faults that helped seal some of their fates.

• Finally, the NYT reports that the classic comedy film “Airplane!” has turned 30. (In typical droll NYT style, it refers to the subject of this famous scene with Barbara Billingsley as “street patois.”)

There’s a local connection: Robert Hays, who played the troubled pilot Ted Striker, attended Grossmont College and San Diego State before working for several years as an actor at the Old Globe Theatre.

Hays went from the Old Globe to a movie with jokes about Turkish prisons, gladiator flicks and naked grown men? Surely I can’t be serious. I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

•••

What We Learned This Week:

Numbers Crunch DeMaio: Councilman Carl DeMaio and his allies spent hundreds of thousands to put a measure on the November ballot that would have given an extreme makeover to the city’s contracting and outsourcing policies. Unions were gearing up for a fight, but they need not worry (at least for a while): the petition supporting the initiative failed to get enough signatures.

Sound simple? It was anything but: a tiny number of petition signers — we wrote that they provided the “30 signatures from hell” — indicated a much larger problem. DeMaio asked for a full recount (at a cost of $151,000), but was denied.

Back to the drawing board (and maybe a refresher course in statistics) for DeM & Co. Perhaps this guy is available.

There’s No Shushing This Celebration: At last, the downtown library/charter school is a go: the City Council approved it by a 6-2 vote, with Donna Frye peeling off from the no votes to support it and help avoid a last-minute kerfuffle.

Barrio Logan’s Mall Miracle: Another project that’s been a long time coming got approval this week: The council unanimously supported a shopping center in a southeastern San Diego neighborhood. This is a big deal because few grocers and retailers have wanted to move into the neighborhood until now. But the question of who owns the property remains unresolved.

•••

Fact Check-a-palooza: Are middle-school kids the most likely to report guns and drugs? We check into the claim. Also: is the sheriff right about numbers regarding tracking local sex offenders?

•••

The Coffee Collection: … is overwhelmed by all the serious local news this week and is lying on the couch with a wet washcloth on its forehead. It will return.

•••

Quote of the Week: “The problem is I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Hopefully this will give all of us some direction on who we are and what we want to do. And how I’m going to get there.” — 55-year-old Sue Dickey, an unemployed administrative assistant who’s taking a job training course we profiled.

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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