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One week after a massive earthquake, a plume of radiation from Japan seems to be heading our way, although experts say it’s nothing to fear. People who don’t listen to experts (or note their unfortunate habit of getting things really wrong on occasion) are stocking up on thyroid-cancer-prevention pills.

We’re also paying closer attention to those two reactors up the coast. Several newspapers (including the Sacramento Bee and San Gabriel Valley Tribune) question our reliance on nuclear power. The North County Times points to worries at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station about a similar scenario to the one in Japan, and the paper noted this week that the U.S.-recommended evacuation area around the stricken plant in Japan is much wider than the long-accepted 10-mile evacuation zone around the San Onofre plant.

Two years ago, we told you about “mistakes and management problems” at the plant that continued “despite an unprecedented executive shake-up and a year-long effort to convince federal regulators and an industry ratings group that things are improving.”

As for earthquakes, San Diego hasn’t been a hotspot for big ones. We seem to have only had one earthquake-related death in our recorded history, and that was of a man buried alive under thousands of books. We don’t have a history of significant tsunami damage either.

Pension Board Revolt


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A member of the city’s pension board is quitting because the city won’t agree to pay for board members to hire attorneys to represent them in case of litigation, the U-T reports. The city attorney had said the extra legal coverage, beyond what they already get as public employees, was unnecessary.

Making Sense of the Census

New census figures tell the story that we’ve all noticed: San Diego is becoming more diverse and less white. In fact, whites made up 48 percent of the county’s population last year, compared to 55 percent in 2000.

As our census guru Keegan Kyle explains, the number of white, non-Hispanic residents fell by 49,000 while people of other races and ethnicities increased by 330,000. Check out our map which reveals the places in the county that are the whitest (a lot of areas along the coast and a few inland) and are the most non-white (South Bay, southeastern San Diego and mid-city, and a couple North County areas).

Wonk with Us

Do you get a little bored on Mondays when there’s nothing to watch on TV except “RuPaul’s Drag Race”? OK, maybe that’s just me. Whatever the case, we’re holding a policy-intense discussion about the future of redevelopment in San Diego on March 28, featuring a look at what’s next for urban renewal and affordable housing. If you’ll attend, make sure to catch up on our redevelopment coverage.

Behind the Bargaining

No, members of our San Diego Explained video crew don’t stand up in a factory and do their best Norma Rae imitations. Instead, they explore the world of collective bargaining, which is in the news these days everywhere from Wisconsin to City Hall to NFL boardrooms.

Big Rent Rise Predicted, but…

The president of rent.com has gotten in touch with her prognosticatory powers and tells CNNMoney.com that rents will rise by 31 percent in San Diego by 2015. Whoa, Nelly! This would be terrible news for us renters who’ve felt smugly superior to local homeowners for the last few years.

I asked our real-estate guru and resident excitement-dampener Rich Toscano to calm me down. He did: “The claim that inflation-adjusted rents will rise so rapidly is outlandish enough to require some seriously convincing data to back it up. No such data makes an appearance in the CNN article. So this has the look of people making numbers up to get a headline.”

Well I never!

Toscano also referred readers to his own analysis of local rents, which suggested that they were unlikely to make a dramatic move in either direction

Meanwhile, Toscano notes in a new post that the median price per square foot for San Diego homes rose nicely in February (well, nicely if you’re selling, not buying) but a 2010-style spring rally does not seem forthcoming.

By the way, the U-T is restarting its column on issues confronting renters and landlords.

Chargers Writer and Balloon Sculptor, All in One

When you’re seven years old (or 42 or 80), just a few choices can be overwhelming. Try this on for size: “OK, listen everybody, I can do flowers, hearts, kittens, doggies, horsies, teddy bears, sharks, dolphins, whales, bunny rabbits and butterflies, swords, bow and arrows, monkey on a tree and bananas, big crazy hats and pretty hats.”

The man with the balloons is an entertainer at the Corvette Diner. And, as the latest article in our Moonlighting series reveals, he also writes about the Chargers. “I’ll be a guest on national and local sports shows as a Chargers expert, but no one ever puts it together who I am,” he said. “I live in two completely different worlds.”

More Borders Stores Bite the Dust

The Borders bookstore chain is closing even more stores, including one in San Diego, the Wall Street Journal reports. It’s not clear which one will be chopped; the downtown store is already clearing out merchandise prior to its previously announced closure.

No Tote Bags for Them

All local Republican congressmen voted to defund National Public Radio. But the NYT says the Senate probably won’t go along. For a perspective from an NPR fan who thinks it needs to get off the federal dole, check my NCT column.

Meet the Meh Man

There have been some mighty unflattering monikers for bank robbers in these parts, but the “Ho-Hum Bandit” may be one of the most insulting. The robber has held up several banks in San Diego, along with Los Angeles and Seattle, and apparently stuck up a bank outside Denver on Wednesday. He got the nickname because he’s bland-looking and unassuming.

In contrast, I’m very assuming and talkative too. Hey FBI! Would you name me the “Chatty Cathy Bandit” if I decided to knock over a bank?

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

Randy Dotinga

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

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