The preservationists leading the charge against the prevailing Balboa Park remodel have a plan of their own for turning over the Plaza de Panama to pedestrians.

We take a visual look at the plan, which would clear the plaza of parking spots but allow traffic to continue through it. We also show how it differs with the plan being led by philanthropist Irwin Jacobs and Mayor Jerry Sanders.

The Save Our Heritage Organisation says its plan is best because it’s based on a heavily vetted 1992 plan. However, it veers from that effort in one key way: it avoids the building of an underground parking garage behind Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The preservationists object most to the parking garage and the construction of a bypass bridge off of Cabrillo Bridge in Jacobs’ plan.

Earlier we looked at at how the his plan would change the park.

Water District’s Unusual Benefit-Boosting Move

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Governments around the country are trying desperately to get out of their promise to provide lifetime health care to retirees. But the Otay Water District, which serves Rancho San Diego, Jamul and eastern Chula Vista, is bucking the trend. It will consider giving the benefit to union employees (it already did so for senior executives), a move that’s “attracted scrutiny because it adds a liability, retiree health care, to the district’s books at a time when governments here and around the country are trying to trim it,” Rob Davis reports.

If health costs zoom up, the district’s customers, who have seen their rates jump 42 percent since 2008, will get stuck with the bill.

The Odds of a Chargers Departure

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the outlines for a new professional football stadium. The next step: They need a team. LA Times columnist Sam Farmer, the go-to guy for NFL in LA talk, thinks the San Diego Chargers are the leading candidate to be that team., meanwhile, seems to agree. The Bolts “seemingly meet all the requirements to be Los Angeles’ next NFL team,” reports.

Closing the Dick Murphy Loophole

The 2004 election for mayor was a humdinger: Write-in candidate Donna Frye would have won if a judge hadn’t thrown out 5,000-plus votes because voters wrote her name down while failing to fill in a little bubble on the ballot. Instead, incumbent Dick Murphy stayed in office, if only for a while.

Now, a state law will make such votes count, the U-T reports. Fabulous, says Frye. “Essentially the will of the people of San Diego was ignored.”

Gotta Know When to Report ’Em

Two North County City Councilmen, Jack Feller of Oceanside and Frank Lopez of Vista, have failed to properly report gambling winnings on their financial disclosures. (UT)

Crossing Border Into Mexico Getting More Complicated

“It used to be that entering Mexico, whether it was from San Diego or El Paso or here in Nogales, was a cakewalk, with no scrutiny on the United States side of the border and next to none on the Mexico side,” The New York Times writes.

Now, the newspaper says, efforts to stop the trafficking of guns and drugs into Mexico have led to much more scrutiny by border agents of those heading south of the border.

“But the reality on the border is that departing the country has become more complicated than ever — leading some people to worry that the outbound checks could not only dissuade illegal immigrants from leaving the country but also place them in a kind of no-win limbo, reviled if they stay and potentially arrested if they try to leave.”

Help Us and Win Tickets

The weekly VOSD Arts Report, the Morning Report’s kid sister (“Mom always liked you best! Waaah!”), is back in business after our arts editor Kelly Bennett took some time off. This week, she notes the possible bankruptcy of the Starlight Theatre (we’re looking for your memories about it) and links to other arts-related news stories, including the sacking of an executive director in the performing arts world and annual raises for San Diego Symphony types.

The Arts Report now has more than 1,000 subscribers. Help us boost that number and you could receive tickets to a performance at La Jolla Playhouse.

Speaking of arts, here’s a quote in last week’s New Yorker magazine about the public’s approach to art: “They are always asking a writer why he does not write like somebody else, or a painter why he does not paint like somebody else, quite oblivious of the fact that if either of them did anything of the kind he would cease to be an artist… When they say a work is grossly unintelligible, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is new; when they describe a work as grossly immoral, they mean that the artist has said or made a beautiful thing that is true.”

These brutal comments sound contemporary, as if someone said them yesterday. In fact, they’re more than a century old, courtesy of Oscar Wilde.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Aga-i-i-n

Hillcrest’s Cityfest street festival next Sunday will feature a flash-mob performance of “The Time Warp” dance from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and attendees are welcome to join in, with appropriate costumes (now where did my prom tuxedo go?) or without ( Somebody needs to tell them that flash mobs by definition are not publicly announced in advance.

The Old Globe has created a helpful video explaining how to do the Time Warp dance. The instructions start like this: “Jump to the left, shimmy down and then a step to the right,” then hands on your hips, and a couple thrusts of your… Ow. Oh my goodness. Let’s do the trip to the chiropractor aga-i-i-n!

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 and follow him on Twitter:

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