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As L.A.’s plans for a downtown stadium move ahead, talk of the Chargers heading for smoggier confines heated up this week.

The Bolt Beat blog finds five reasons why the Chargers might leave (including their owner’s willingness to sell part of the team) while Bolts from the Blue says “the nightmare is taking shape.” It says the Chargers are the most likely team to land in L.A.: “The way I see it, the Vikings will get a deal done in Minnesota, and it will be more difficult than people think to extract the Jaguars from Jacksonville or the Bills from Buffalo. The Rams could be the second team to return to L.A., but they can’t move from St. Louis until 2014…”

On VOSD Radio, which airs Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on AM 600 KOGO, our Andrew Donohue and Scott Lewis explain why this Chargers-to-L.A. talk is different from previous chatter, and wonder how San Diego can put together a deal. They also talk about what will happen at our upcoming Politifest 2011 event (featuring the Idea Tournament). Click here to stream the show or here for a podcast or download.

Also, the Union-Tribune talks to the main Chargers spokesman, who downplays the L.A. stadium momentum, noting the hurdles that remain.

He also says L.A’s plan — building a stadium with little in the way of taxpayer assistance — won’t turn voters off of pitching in for our planned stadium: “Simply put, the situations in Los Angeles and San Diego are not at all comparable.”

Plus, a hitch has appeared up in la-la-land.

“USC could block efforts to have the new team play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the three to four years that a proposed football stadium would be under construction downtown,” the L.A. Times reports.

If you want to take your mind off all the politics, just take a look at photos from the Chargers’ first pre-season game Thursday. 

Remembering a Fallen Officer

We have photos from the funeral for SDPD police officer Jeremy Henwood, who was shot to death last weekend. Thousands of people attended the service in Point Loma. (U-T)

Life after Dirt for Decrepit Paintings

Think of all that a classic old painting could go through during its centuries on earth. It might get covered by grime from cigarette-smoking museum-goers and smog, jostled as it’s moved around and slathered with layers of not-so-protective varnish. Colors may fade and intricate details might disappear amid rips and tears.

This is where art restorationists like Betsy Court come in, armed with microscopes, cameras and X-ray machines. Not to mention knowledge about solvents and soaps that could put chemists to shame.

In this week’s Q&A, we watch the Balboa Art Conservation Center conservationist as she resurrects a very old and very damaged painting of St. Peter from the San Diego Museum of Art. In her hands, the saint who’s famous for his uncertainty has a prayer of looking fantastic at long last.

• Also in arts, check the memories that readers contributed this week about the Starlight Theatre, which is trying to reorganize through bankruptcy. And you can read about a PSA pilot who often flew over the Starlight when he wasn’t actually performing at it. We’ve got photos of memorabilia too.

A Bid for Hizzoner-Hood

“I’m Mostly Honest” didn’t seem like the best slogan for my possible mayoral campaign, nor did “I Haven’t Been Convicted of Any Major Felonies Recently.” So this week, I asked readers for ideas. A reader threw my last name into the mix with her suggestion: “Votinga for Dotinga!”

Well, it could be worse. On second thought, maybe not.

•••

Story of the Week:

School Buildings on Shaky Ground: For about a decade, the state has been warning that hundreds of school buildings in San Diego County are potentially dangerous in an earthquake. But local districts have only bothered to do anything — review them, fix them, destroy them — in regard to about 100 of the 320 buildings considered to be at risk.

Our investigation with KPBS found that the list of buildings itself has problems: some buildings are listed under the wrong districts, meaning that officials wouldn’t know they’re at risk even if they were willing to do something about them.

Back in 1933, California learned how vulnerable schools could be when the ground shakes: An earthquake in Long Beach destroyed 70 campuses and would have killed hundreds or thousands of students if it had hit during school hours; the quake inspired stronger building codes for schools. And last year’s Easter Day quake near Imperial County could have caused injuries or worse at a Calexico elementary campus if school had been in session; the school had been flagged over possible earthquake safety issues.

Still, San Diego County has been largely immune to damaging or deadly earthquakes, at least in recorded history. It appears that only one person has died in a quake here since California became a state in 1850.

Check the chart we just posted to see if your local schools have any buildings that fit the state’s criteria to be considered possibly vulnerable to earthquakes.

•••

What We Learned This Week:

Zombieland: Redevelopment is hard to kill, state leaders are discovering. The California Supreme Court put most of the state’s redevelopment-killing actions on hold for months as it figures out how to rule in a big lawsuit. (KQED)

There’s Not Just One Balboa Park Plan: After earlier examining the mayor-supported plan for a makeover of Balboa Park, we explored the vision of a top local preservationist group. It wants to still allow some cars into the Plaza de Panama between the museum of art and the organ pavilion.

Dozens of our members weighed in, and more than 40 percent like the plan being pushed by philanthropist Irwin Jacobs that would rid the plaza of cars. The others were split among the other options, with only a few wanting to keep the park as is.

• An Anti-Petition Radio Ad Goes Too Far

In a radio ad, a labor-backed group is warning that signing ballot measure petitions — such as those pushing a city pension reform — can put people at risk of identity theft. San Diego Fact Check finds plenty wrong with the ad’s claims: it hits it for “factual inaccuracies, stretched truths and overall lack of context.”

• In Southeastern SD, Another Hard Row to Hoe

A farmers market is struggling to make it in southeastern San Diego, where fresh produce can be hard to find. But advocates have a plan. We explore the challenges of bringing new choices to a “food desert” and we follow up with a TV segment.

•••

Quote of the Week: “I’m seeing people losing their homes, going into bankruptcy, having foreclosures. People are desperate and you’re talking about raising your salaries and your benefits?” — Evita Beas-McCullough, a resident who was miffed about the Otay Water District board’s plans to offer lifetime medical coverage to its union employees after already giving it to executives. The board approved the benefits despite an outcry.

•••

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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