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Two mayoral candidates have united across political lines to demand two rivals step up and debate their visions for the future of San Diego, even though the election is more than nine months away, the Union-Tribune reports.

Rep. Bob Filner, a Democrat, and Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, a Republican, issued their challenge yesterday in a joint letter aimed at their leading rivals, Councilman Carl DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. They want DeMaio and Dumanis, Republicans, to appear at upcoming debates before the June primary election, including one co-sponsored by voiceofsandiego.org, Politifest 2011.

No sale, a spokesman for DeMaio told the paper. He said the councilman is too busy pushing for a pension reform initiative that will appear on the ballot if supporters gather enough petition signatures.

• Filner says he has an alternative to the initiative that DeMaio is pushing. He hopes to put his own measure on the ballot, with the City Council’s help. (That way the measure wouldn’t need a petition drive to reach voters.) As Liam Dillon reports, his plan “focuses on capping individual payouts and reducing the city’s annual pension payment.” He also “floated two long-discussed, but never implemented ideas: extending the timeline for repaying the pension debt and issuing bonds to pay it back.” Those ideas come with potential pitfalls.


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The Smell of a Mystery

One thing we know: Lots of local people smelled something quite strange on Wednesday afternoon. It wasn’t a pretty smell and reminded people of jet fuel, lighter fluid or even fabric softener.

One thing we don’t know: What it was.

The people who monitor air pollution couldn’t figure it out since their devices didn’t pick up anything unusual, NBC San Diego reports. Now that the odor seems to have vanished, we may never know. (My theory: It was a very, very big skunk. Think I saw it at my high school reunion.)

Yep, She’s a Mormon

She grew up learning about Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and the bloody struggles of a young American religion. Then she went to BYU and retained her commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, even as she became a liberal feminist who accepts gays, can’t stand Republicans and married a Jewish man.

Through her writings, including a well-read column this month in The Washington Post, Joanna Brooks has become the public face of Mormons who refuse to fit into the public’s (and the church’s) perceptions of Mormonism.

Why didn’t she just leave the deeply conservative church? “I love the tradition I grew up in, and it feels like home,” she says in this week’s Q&A feature. She’s not backing down from her beliefs or her faith.

Blue Man’s Group

He’s clad in “blue body paint and a sarong and a wig made of yak and human hair dyed blue at the tips, and walks on 35-inch stilts. His wing span is 13 feet.” Your ex-husband, perhaps? No, it’s a USD grad student in acting who’s making a splash at the Old Globe in a performance of “The Tempest.” Behind the Scene TV meets the man behind the sarong.

Find Us Dubious Park Claims

San Diego Fact Check is looking for claims about Balboa Park’s proposed makeover that we can prove or disprove.

Stay Easy, San Diego

Certain single people are too high and mighty to join online dating sites. You can all move on to the next item. (Ciao!) For the rest of us, here’s some notable news: okcupid.com ranks San Diego ninth on its list of the 10 U.S. cities where the highest percentage of users are looking for no-strings encounters of the physical kind. Portland, Ore., is No. 1. (Time.com)

In other words, don’t be surprised if you find yourself flung after your fling.

•••

What We Learned This Week:

If It’s Thursday, It Must Be Indy

The mayor embarked on a whirlwind tour of mid-America cities this week, making stops in Indianapolis (home of this year’s Super Bowl), Kansas City and Denver to check out how they managed to build big sports complexes. His goal: figure out how they did it as San Diego continues its slow march toward a very-unguaranteed new football stadium.

From Indianapolis, Mayor Jerry Sanders hinted to the U-T that the building of a stadium here isn’t just a city issue. “I don’t think this can strictly just be a San Diego thing. I think it’ll partly be a county plan. I think there are some creative ways we can come together.”

Under a headline that addressed our mayor as “Dude,” our Scott Lewis implied this week that Sanders didn’t need to leave town to understand how the other cities managed to build. It’s simple, Lewis wrote: They taxed people.

For more on the Chargers stadium search, check out our ongoing coverage.

Is DA the Weakest Link? Rep. Filner, the only major Democratic candidate for mayor, told CityBeat that he thinks the establishment will decide that three’s a crowd and push out one of the trio of other leading rivals for the job. Who? He thinks District Attorney Dumanis might be the one.

Little Learners, Big Lag: Thousands of California kids won’t get to go to preschool this year thanks to budget cuts, even though some research suggests that sitting in a classroom before kindergarten can make a big difference in the future lives of children.

A Walmart Looms in Southeastern San Diego: A region that’s long struggled to get attention from big chains is poised to get its very own Walmart.

•••

Number of the Week: $120 million. That’s how much philanthropist Irwin Jacobs pledged to the San Diego Symphony almost a decade ago. The money has boosted the symphony to new heights, but also forces the symphony to convince people that it needs help from other people too.

•••

Quote of the Week: “It astounds me that they’re spending that much. What are these people doing?” — Stewart Payne, a parent, on how the district that runs South Bay’s middle and high schools is spending more than $500,000 on public relations regarding construction funded by a bond.

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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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