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Eavesdrop on San Diego’s political circles and you’ll hear one named mentioned quite a bit: Nathan Fletcher.

He’s said to be following the Pete Wilson playbook: Marines, state Assembly and then mayor. For now, he’s an assemblyman but he’s already considered a formidable challenger to become Mayor Jerry Sanders’ successor in 2012.

Liam Dillon sat down with Fletcher for a Q&A, learning how he first got involved in the Chelsea King tragedy and opening an early window into how Fletcher would operate: He said he voted against Proposition 8 and will vote against Proposition D, the city of San Diego’s sales-tax increase.


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Especially good: Sam Hodgson’s photo of Fletcher. Hodgson remarked on Twitter later how the Fletcher was enough at ease to allow the photographer to get in his face.

That’s quite a feat. I’ve had Hodgson in my face for four years and I’m still not at ease with it.

• Speaking of Hodgson getting in someone’s face, he profiles a guy who actually lives in Balboa Park. Eric Williams worked in the Coast Guard’s search and rescue operations in the Pacific Northwest, Caribbean and San Diego. Now he’s the Girl Scout’s director of property. He refers to his wife as “the first lady of Balboa Park.”

The connection between this week’s subject and the last is one of my favorite things: A tree house. I never had one as a kid, and I still want one.

• One of the seminal figures of blues music in San Diego, Ken Schoppmeyer, has died.

• Before we jump into the week’s happenings, a quick announcement from us: Our arts blog will be going live next week. We’re shooting for Thursday. Here’s a little on what we’ll be doing. You can also sign up for our new, weekly arts email newsletter, which will start soon. Stay tuned for more.

What We Learned This Week

So This Is What’s Called Astro-Turfing: Follow along as a partisan talking point becomes accepted fact in a news report.

Beware … The Silence of the Thumbs!: More and more governments are banning the use of laptops and cell phones during hearings because of worries that they could just be used as an unscrupulous shroud. Plus: How the heck are governments going to be able to find and produce all the supposedly public information that’s being created in these conversations?

Everybody Dance Now: Oh, wait. It’s C&C Development. Not C&C Music Factory. Whoops.

Actually, it could be hard to recognize this new developer, who is hoping to score financing help from the San Diego Housing Commission to renovate and run affordable housing for the elderly.

That’s because its founders were until recently listed as executives of San Diego-based Amerland Group. They use Amerland Group e-mails. Their phone number is Amerland’s. And their development portfolio is Amerland’s, too.

Why does that matter? Amerland is in a whole mess of trouble after a fire in its Vallejo complex killed four people.

The Mayor’s on a Roll: We know Mayor Sanders is forced to say a lot of words about a lot of topics and gets asked a lot of questions by a lot of people. But, as our Fact Check found, he’s having trouble nailing down the reform talking points as the campaign for Proposition D ramps up.

Well That’s a Mighty Mess in the Middle: Lincoln High has long struggled with the fact that it has no ordinary middle schools regularly feeding it students, making it harder for teachers across schools to offer a unified teaching plan. That problem could be compounded now that San Diego Unified’s major reform push is built around strengthening the relationships between those feeder schools.

The Beverage Collection: (Stories to read over a hot cup of joe, if you’re reading this in the morning. If it’s Saturday evening, you could even pour yourself a glass of red wine.)

It’s a State of Mind: By now, we’ve all heard about SDSU’s growing prowess as a research institute. We explain now why some researchers chose SDSU over local powerhouse UCSD (it’s the ability to teach) and why State’s transformation isn’t complete (money and reputation). Also, in the comments, one SDSU higher-up didn’t think the relationship between the two schools was made clear enough and said UCSD is a partner, not a competitor.

First Step: Change the Name: It’s called Commercial Street. It’s was supposed be an industrial hub. Now it’s a rather abandoned stretch of Logan Heights. It does have something going for it though: A trolley runs through it. That has city planners salivating at the chance to turn it into one of those stretches of condos, store fronts and businesses that smart growthers dig.

A Story of Real Crime: It just didn’t add up. One document had all the money going to the buyer. The other had an average of $150,000 from each sale going to the mastermind of the transactions in the form of a “marketing fee.” The documents were supposed to be exactly the same.

This was one of the enduring mysteries we hadn’t been able to completely solve in our Staggering Swindle investigation. This week we got the answer, a rather simple one: The woman who was supposed to be the neutral third party in the condo sales, the escrow agent, created two different documents, thereby concealing the mastermind’s payments from those who would’ve wanted to know about them — the buyers and the lenders.

Number of the Week: Three. That’s the number of families out of 10 in San Diego that can’t make ends meet.

Quote of the Week: “I’ll be quite candid: like many people my views on the gay community have changed over the years,” City Council candidate Lori Zapf, in an interview with the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, on her previous comments that gays shouldn’t be able to serve in public office.

— ANDREW DONOHUE

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