We asked the four main mayoral candidates if they support the City Council’s controversial decision to move forward with planning for a $40 million makeover of Balboa Park. Three of the candidates say they support it, including Councilman Carl DeMaio, who says he’s not yet a firm fan of the specific project.

The exception was Rep. Bob Filner, who declined to respond because he’s insulted by the limitations we put on responses. (We asked them to provide a “yes” or “no” answer and no more than four sentences of explanation. Guess we know who’ll be talking over the buzzer when there’s a mayoral debate on TV.)

Stay tuned: We’ll be posting more articles like this that quiz the main mayoral candidates about major issues.

A preservationist group is suing the city, saying it broke the law by approving a deal with billionaire philanthropist Irwin Jacobs (a major donor to voiceofsandiego.org) over his plans to remodel Balboa Park. The organization says the deal — technically a memorandum of understanding — is a contract; the city attorney’s office has said it doesn’t guarantee future action regarding the controversial project. The U-T has a little more.


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A New Era for All-White County Board?

Under pressure from the ACLU, the county Board of Supervisors appears willing to make a move that could lead to the end of its 16-year domination by the same five white Republicans.

Yesterday, the board voted to take a new look at the boundaries that determine its five geographic districts, the Union-Tribune and North County Times report. One ACLU-supported idea is to create a district in South County and part of central San Diego that would have a slight majority of Hispanics and blacks. Critics had complained that the existing plan for redrawn boundaries would continue make it hard for non-Republicans to get elected.

But the ACLU’s proposal won’t be controversy-free. The mayor of Coronado said his community, which would be lumped in with northern coastal communities, has more in common with other parts of the South Bay.

There’s some discrepancy between the two news reports. The U-T says the board plans to create the new district and will abandon its original plan. The NC Times says the board will consider the new district and have only delayed their vote on the new redistricting map.

School Board Won’t Act on Member’s Residency

The school board won’t delve into the matter of where one of its members lives or whether she gets free rent from a district employee.

An attorney for the district said the matter of whether Shelia Jackson lives in the district she represents “was in the jurisdiction of the state attorney general, while the gift issue rests with the attorney general, the district attorney, the city attorney and the Fair Political Practices Commission,” Emily Alpert reports.

Alpert has a recap of several other big developments at yesterday’s board meeting, including the scrapping of a proposal to get rid of seniority system for laying off teachers and the closure of an embattled charter school in Chollas View.

Will Our Water Beat Orange County’s?

Councilman Kevin Faulconer tweeted the other day that the city’s “recycled H20 would be more purified than Orange County.” He’s talking about a test program to purify sewage. (As you may recall, there was plenty of hoopla about the program’s debut a few weeks ago. Nobody was actually allowed to drink the water, however.)

So is he right? San Diego Fact Check finds that the councilman’s claim is “mostly true”: “San Diego’s purified sewage would be cleaner after the first treatment process but water quality would likely be equal at the end. (They don’t know for sure since San Diego just began its pilot study.)”

• A boost in hotel taxes would mean $1 billion for marketing over the next 40 years, Councilman David Alvarez said. San Diego Fact Check finds that he’s right.

County Supervisors to Consider New Blueprint

The county Board of Supervisors today will take yet another look at the controversial attempt to rewrite its general plan, the blueprint for land use in the vast unincorporated parts of the county.

“Boiled down to its basics,” the U-T says, “the document would make it harder to build in remote areas while encouraging construction in existing communities, near established roads and fire stations.”

The idea is to rein in rural sprawl. But farmers and others who own land in the backcountry fear they’ll be left in the lurch, saying the rezoning will decrease the value of their land. They want the Board of Supervisors to leave their land as it is or pay them for the decreased value.

Correcting County Pension Numbers

In an item about a story in the U-T, yesterday’s Morning Report incorrectly described the county pension fund’s returns as being for the first six months of this year. In fact, they were for the fiscal year ending on June 30.

Balboa Park Organist’s Job Saved

The City Council voted unanimously, with some grumbling, to keep Balboa Park’s civic organist on duty for 10 years. She’ll make $286,000 over that time, plus extra salary from a private organization, for work weeks of about 30 hours. (City News Service)

The salary of the organist, who plays on the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, made the news in the spring when some questioned whether the cash-strapped city should keep her on the payroll. In addition to performing each week, “she rehearses, plans concerts, learns new music, meets diplomats, organizes guest artists and greets her adoring fans after the concert,” Kelly Bennett reported.

There have been seven civic organists since 1917, but only four organ curators since 1915. They’re in charge of maintaining the organ; they also turn sheets of music and make sure they don’t blow away.

Pilfered Plaques Stifle Local History

Thieves have recently made off with plaques from historic homes in Mission Hills and other neighborhoods, the Reader reports. “There appears to be a mini-crime wave targeting our historic communities and our historic markers,” warns a Kensington organization.

The thieves apparently want to sell the metal in the plaques.

Yikes. Important memo to Chula Vista: When you finally get around to erecting a platinum statue to honor your most illustrious native — me — make sure it has a 24-hour security guard. Can’t be too careful!

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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