At the moment, Walmart stores are fairly rare in the city of San Diego. (“And rightly so!” union activists are muttering as they read this.) But now, the world’s largest corporation has painted a bullseye on this Target-dominated city.

Walmart announced yesterday that it plans to open about a dozen stores in the city over the next five years. That’s quite a lot considering that there are only about six Target stores in the city right now.

The problem is the new ordinance that forbids super-duper stores with grocery departments unless the council can be convinced that they won’t hurt competitors. (How super-duper? Even bigger than Mission Valley’s mammoth two-floor Target store, which recently opened its own grocery area.)

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A petition drive is calling for the ordinance to be overturned; it looks like a swing-vote councilman may kill the ordinance in order to avoid the cost of a special election.

So where will the new stores go? How many will be big enough to have triggered the ordinance if it was still in place? When will Walmart break ground on new stores?

A company spokeswoman wouldn’t say.

Dumping the Shrunken:

San Diego schools don’t know whether downsized classes actually work, but no matter: they’re being cut anyway. The standard kindergarten through third-grade classes in the district will jump from an average of 24 to 29 students next year, with individual schools suffering the most if they had gotten special opportunities to embrace the smaller classes.

It sounds like a no-brainer that smaller classes would be better for kids, but research is divided. The district will study whether the smaller classes helped kids learn more, but it will be too late to affect the class-size decisions.

Not Making (or Changing) the Grade:

Parenting styles have been in the news this month thanks to a new memoir by a Chinese-American woman who takes a tough — some say too tough — approach to raising kids. Among other things, she doesn’t accept low grades. In her mind, they’re anything that’s not an A.

But do grades really mean much? As education reporter Emily Alpert wrote last week, “from school to school and teacher to teacher, the bar is set all over the place … One federal study found that B students in poor schools and D students in affluent ones got similar scores on a national exam.”

It’s possible for a student to appeal a grade to the San Diego school board. But a new report says only two students did that over a recent year-long period. They both lost their cases.

At Long Last:

We just about had to do the Heimlich Maneuver to make them do it, but the downtown redevelopment agency has finally coughed up the public records that we’ve been demanding for weeks. Now it’s on to figure out what they say.

Attention Second-City Residents:

Investigative reporter Will Carless has returned to our staff after a foray into Indonesia, and now he’s looking for stories in our county’s second largest city. Help a reporter out: What should he look into in Chula Vista?

A Deeper Look at the Stadium Morass:

The two cheeseheads on our staff are busy waiting for the Super Bowl and a victory (they hope) for their beloved Packers. I haven’t heard from our resident Pennsylvanian, who’s more of an Eagles fan. And then there are those of us who are stuck with the Chargers, who’ve made it to the big game but haven’t managed to win it.

Will they ever bring home a Super Bowl victory to San Diego? If they don’t do it next year, it may never happen: the Chargers are set to stay around for a little while, but they may still leave town later for the friendlier confines of somewhere like Los Angeles. The newest edition of San Diego Explained looks at the latest happenings in the never-ending drama over the team’s give-us-a-new-stadium-or-else stance.

If you’re a football fan, this week’s New Yorker story about the NFL’s “Concussion Crisis” is an eye-opener: following up on extraordinary journalism in the New York Times, it tracks the long history of violence and injury in football and the growing controversy over rough play and head injuries.

It also notes that a labor dispute looms over the next season. The owners want to boost the number of regular-season games to 18, up from 16. “The players, naturally, have tried to characterize this as hypocrisy: if the game has become disturbingly dangerous, why play more?”

The head injury issue has cropped up locally. A San Marcos high-school football player’s devastating 2007 injury — it left him in a mostly vegetative state — allegedly came after he complained of headache and disorientation. As the U-T reported this month, a lawsuit over his injury continues to drag on, with more than 50 depositions taken.

More Port Drama:

In the U-T: “The environmentalists who successfully got the San Diego Unified Port District this month to add more open space in the first phase of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, are returning to their first priority — defeating the redevelopment of the Navy Broadway Comple at the foot of Broadway, adjacent to the Embarcadero boundaries.” The critics filed a lawsuit this week demanding a new environmental review.

Always with the Harping, She Is:

The Photos of the Day capture a rehearsal for San Diego Opera’s upcoming performances of “Turandot.” Don’t miss the almost-ethereal photo of a harpist at work.

Making Friends Over Bible Study:

State Senator Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), a former city councilman, is getting buddy-buddy in Sacramento with some unexpected people — members of the GOP. The LAT says the “former Jesuit seminarian-turned-politician” got to know Republicans during weekly Bible study meetings and organized a bipartisan rally against proposed cuts of funding for the blind, disabled and old.

Vargas even provided a nice backhanded compliment for the Republicans: “If you reach out to them, you’ll see they’ll stand for the right things.”

Hey, Everybody! Let’s Get Nauseated!

Belmont Park is best known for its rickety roller coaster, but now it’s got a new attraction to vie for attention: the Octotron, a ride said to be a “double spin sensation.” One observer declared that “the nauseous need not apply,” our news partner reports.

How about people who are just nauseating? Can they ride? If so, maybe the park can create a media sensation by getting Octomom to ride the Ocotron with her eight kids. (This idea is yours to keep, Belmont Park. You’re welcome!)

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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