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Want to serve on the school board that oversees San Diego’s largest district? You have to take an unusual, expensive, demanding and controversial route.

To win, you have to first win over your neighbors. Easy, right? But then, you have to persuade the entire city. That takes work and money.

If you make it, you get a stressful job your colleagues do not treat as part time even though it pays $18,000. Keep in mind the direction of the district can change dramatically with each election.  The process and the governance system is getting criticism from all sides. In a piece today, Emily Alpert explains it and lays out what each group is looking for as we head into what will surely be a tense campaign cycle.

• After San Diego’s two major wildfires in the last decade, study after study, politician after politician and panel after panel have been able to agree on a few things at least.

“Three years after the smoked cleared, some those requests have been fulfilled. The region has larger stockpiles of radios, hoses and maps.

“But firefighters say the big ticket requests — the tools like fire engines and helicopters that actually put down fires — still remain unfilled,” writes Keegan Kyle in a new explanation of where we are now and what remains to be done.

• As we prepare to launch our new arts initiative, we have an announcement about the blog Survival in San Diego, which for the last four years has been a popular part of the site.

• An unnamed NFL owner told Yahoo! Sports that Chargers’ owner Dean Spanos has a dream, and it’s not for a new stadium in San Diego.”His dream is to go to L.A., and it may happen.” “Gah!” writes Liam Dillon. That and more is in a timely round-up of Chargers stadium tidbits from our City Hall reporter.

Elsewhere:

• The North County Times recognizes an interesting change about to occur for U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa:

“If Republicans reclaim the majority in the House this fall, as most political observers say is likely, Issa will become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he joined four years ago.” And that makes Issa a big deal.

• The NC Times also has an update on continuing consternation at San Onofre Nuclear Power Station as regulators crack down. We explained the origins of all of these issues last year.

• Today, the Coast Guard is holding the equivalent of a preliminary hearing concerning the death of 8-year-old Anthony DeWeese and charges against the three Coast Guard members who were on the vessel that killed him. (AP)

• San Diego’s famed biologist J. Craig Venter is best known for creating the first synthetic cell. He described it as the “first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent was a computer” and it brought international acclaim. We and the Union-Tribune and media across the country began explaining Venter’s next step — using this synthetic life to create efficient algae cells. Algae that could create oil cheap enough to replace fossil fuels.

Here was our story from a couple of weeks ago on the effort and the unprecedented investment it was attracting. And Sunday, The New York Times did an extensive write up on Venter’s project:

“At Synthetic Genomics, he wants to create living creatures — bacteria, algae or even plants — that are designed from the DNA up to carry out industrial tasks and displace the fuels and chemicals that are now made from fossil fuels.

“Designing and building synthetic cells will be the basis of a new industrial revolution,” Dr. Venter says. “The goal is to replace the entire petrochemical industry.”

Will San Diego be the next Houston?

• San Diego is the hub of all of this science largely because of the University of California, San Diego. Its former chancellor and the former president of the University of California itself, Richard Atkinson, is not so optimistic about UCSD’s future. “We are no longer able to adequately serve the needs of the young people of California,” he says in an noteworthy Q&A with the Union Tribune.

• The Houston Chronicle reports that San Diego attorney Michael Attanasio will be Roger Clemens’ counsel as the legendary pitcher tries to fight off charges that he lied to Congress about his use of performance enhancing drugs. Bonus: Quotes from former Padres General Manager Kevin Towers vouching for Attanasio’s savviness.

• Finally, while making the case for the new downtown library, Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilman Kevin Faulconer went out of their way to assure residents that the money to fund the library could not be used to buttress the deteriorating city services (like dwindling library hours).

Here was Faulconer on KPBS making the assurance again that the library comes from “funding sources that won’t take money away from our general fund.”

But Tony Kravaric, the head of the Republican Party in San Diego, has begun alleging that the city, which still needs $32.5 million from private donors to fully fund the library’s construction, might get that money instead from Proposition D, the half-cent boost to the sales tax, which would send money to the city’s general fund. In other words, Faulconer’s assurances the library would not need to tap the general fund isn’t so solid, according to his own party.

I asked Faulconer to respond on Twitter and he did. “Remember, five of my colleagues wanted a sales tax w/no reform. There are no assurances they wouldn’t use money for library.”

But he’s the one who said they wouldn’t need to. Yikes.

— SCOTT LEWIS

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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