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The jewel’s in danger.

Balboa Park, arguably the best thing about our city (present company excluded), is facing tough times unless somebody does something. While he’s often rosy about San Diego’s future and a big fan of build-build-build, even the mayor says the city can’t keep Balboa Park in the style to which it — and we — have become accustomed. 

The question of what’s next is getting lots of attention from philanthropists and other park fans. There’s talk of a big role for nonprofits and the de-vehicle-ing the Plaza de Panama, better known as the parking lot area between the art museum and the Organ Pavilion where there never seem to be any open spaces. Even a parking garage is on the drawing board.

How far should the vision go and what does it mean if the city hands gives up the reins? Scott Lewis examines the options and notes that “we have stopped dismembering Balboa Park, but we have a long way to go to reverse the trajectory.” The good news: “it appears that people who care about a priceless community asset, one of the largest urban parks in the world, are coming together to protect it.”

There’s more: Our latest San Diego Explained TV segment takes a look at four major ideas that could spell big changes at Balboa Park.

Maybe This Is Why They’re Called the Bolts:

There was still plenty of buzz yesterday about a possible purchase of a big share of the Chargers by an LA sports magnate. Andrew Donohue tells us more about that magnate (he’s like the Wizard of Oz) and why the NFL might not want a team in LA after all (leverage).

To the Barricades!:

Our look at a councilman’s plans to slice and dice the city’s arts funding attracted a slew of comments about the value of art to the city and where it should fit among various priorities as funds vanish.

Memories of the Way They Were:

Like sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our political lives: We’ve compiled retrospectives of our coverage to bid farewell to two longtime members of the San Diego school board.

We track the doings of the cantankerous, quixotic and ever-quotable John de Beck, who left the board this week with another memorable remark: “You hear people talking about, ‘Save us.’ Not save education. Save us.” He added: “The whole bunch of us are not willing to share the pain … I hate to be right, but I think I am.”

He tells KPBS: “I have to say I’m my own worst enemy by having opinions and raising issues. I could have made it safe. But I didn’t.”

We also take a gander at the eight-year tenure of Katherine Nakamura, who got sacked by voters just like de Beck. She’s made a mark advocating for extracurricular activities like arts, music and JROTC. A reporter also once heard her cell phone play “Revolution” by The Beatles when a superintendent called. But was it the fast or the slow or the crazy version?

Potty Talk:

In our latest urban legend Fact Check, we examine rumors that there are public restrooms underneath the Horton Plaza fountain. There were, and they were pretty disgusting and dangerous, even featuring a man “permanently perched” on a latrine, as tour groups discovered.

But they’re not there anymore: they were removed to make way for underground pipes. Pipes, by the way, that aren’t providing water to the fountain: it’s broken, the U-T says, and it’s been that way for a while.

GOP vs. GOP:

CityBeat checks in with a 62-year-old “irascible retired Marine major and local GOP outcast” (sounds like he deserves his own reality show) who’s heading back to the county’s Republican leadership after being ousted for publicly raising questions about how the party does things here. He hasn’t stopped mouthing off: he calls the local GOP chairman a “thug.” Doesn’t anyone use the word “miscreant” anymore?

Smile! You’re on Candid Car Camera:

Nathan Fletcher, the local Republican assemblyman who looks like he’s going places (maybe even to the Mayor’s Office), thinks cameras should be able to watch you when you go places. He supported a new law that will allow cameras to be mounted on car windshields to monitor drivers.

The goal is to improve road safety by helping drivers see what they did wrong, but civil liberties advocates and others are crying foul. “Big Brother does not need to land on my dashboard,” one assemblywoman said, the Sacramento Bee reports, adding that Fletcher “carried the measure on behalf of DriveCam, a company in his district that produces vehicle cameras.”

Health Hazard Roundup:

• A San Diego man who’s a major player in the anti-circumcision movement is out with a second edition of a comic book that opposes the procedure. Enjoy the fun reading, kids!

• Gangway! Audience members at the Old Globe Theatre may want to start being on the lookout for wayward props. Just ask the man who’s playing the Grinch at the theater: he accidentally kicked a present off the stage and heard a woman scream.

Must have been the wrong size.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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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