Meet the new weapon of the two main supporters of proposed Balboa Park changes: He’s a towering local figure named Bill Walton.

We were on the scene yesterday when Mayor Jerry Sanders and Irwin Jacobs, the philanthropist pushing for the plan, put the basketball icon before the cameras. Walton offered “an inspired paean to the park,” Adrian Florido reports. “To his intimate lifelong relationship with it, from his childhood when his parents would walk him the few blocks from their home for evening dinners on the grass, to today, with his daily walks and bike rides. He lives just a block north.”

Walton’s appearance kicks off a series of walking tours hosted by the makeover plan’s design team. For more about Walton, check out our 2010 story about him in which he talks about his reinvention as a businessman.

The County’s $100K+ Pensions

Under legal pressure, the county has coughed up a list of its retired employees with the highest pensions. A total of 368 made the equivalent of more than $100,000 in 2010 based on monthly amounts, the Union-Tribune reports, although there’s a fudge factor: “Some did not collect that amount for the entire year.”

New L.A. Stadium Gets a Boost

The state Assembly supported a bill that would help pave the way for a new football stadium in Los Angeles, one that might attract the Chargers. The vote was 59-13, and among those 13 no votes were — not surprisingly — four assembly members from the San Diego area who presumably don’t want to help the Bolts get the heck outta Dodge. (L.A. Times and Union-Tribune).

The Mayoral Portrait Project: Bob Filner at the Marine Terminal

Rep. Bob Filner, the next subject in our series of photographs of the leading mayoral candidates, chose to pose next to the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal to highlight his jobs plan. “If we become a maritime center in San Diego, we’re talking about thousands of well-paying jobs — jobs that we lost when the defense industry left that we’ve never recovered,” he said.

Competing Pension Plan Could Make Ballot

Republicans and the business community have been lining up behind a proposed ballot measure that would eliminate guaranteed pensions for most new city employees and give them 401(k)s instead. There would also be a five-year salary freeze that would account for most of the measure’s savings.

Now, Councilman Tony Young, who serves as the council’s president, says he’s open to the idea of putting an alternative measure on the ballot in June 2012. He also says he’s been holding meetings on another topic: the construction of a grand government complex that would hold workers from the city, state and other agencies.

Preparing for the Big Debate

Don’t forget about Politifest, our family-friendly political festival on Sept. 17. We’re holding the first debate of the 2012 San Diego mayoral race. (The primary election is in June; if no one gets more than half the vote, there will be a runoff in November.)

The participants will include two of the leading candidates, Nathan Fletcher and Bob Filner, and several others: David Cardon, Loch David Crane, Hud Collins, Rob Harter and Steven Greenwald.

With the clock ticking down to debate go time, perhaps we’ll hear a major participant say he’s just not good at this sort of thing. “Lowering everyone’s expectations for a debate is one of the basic tools of politics, up there with smiling politely and learning how to beg for money,” Slate notes. So place your bets now on which mayoral candidate says he’s allergic to podiums.

VOSD Radio looks at the mayor’s race, redistricting and the end of summer.

A False Claim on Redistricting

The president of the Rancho Peñasquitos Town Council incorrectly described the amount of feedback received by the commission that redrew the boundary lines of San Diego’s City Council districts, San Diego Fact Check finds.

Leaf Ponders How He Fell

Former Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf, who’s putting his life back together after his career vanished in a druggy haze, told a crowd of college students in Montana that they need to be willing to ask for a helping hand. “Don’t be afraid to lean on your family and your friends for support and help,” he said. “I always perceived that as weakness when I was younger, and I associated weakness with failure. So I never let anyone help me with any issues I’ve ever had.”

A Montana newspaper reports that Leaf has recovered from painkiller addictions and surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. He’s now a motivational speaker and has a book coming out later this year.

Kibbles and Tidbits

• Now here’s something cops don’t hear everyday. “Officer, I just stole this car,” a man declared in L.A. after pulling up next to a police car. He’d swiped the Honda Civic in San Diego. (LA Times)

• Gotta power the oven for those Swedish meatballs: The IKEA store in Mission Valley has installed a 30,000-square-foot solar array to provide power. That’s the equivalent of about 15 percent of the size of the entire store. (Home Textiles Today)

• KPBS launches its new weeknight television news program, KPBS Evening Edition, Sept. 26. That makes seven nightly news programs in San Diego. The television and radio newsroom will also be partnering and sharing offices with the Investigative Newsource, also known as the Watchdog Institute. (Current.org)

• San Diego is among the nation’s top nine safest big cities for driving, the Allstate Insurance company says. We’re ranked up there with a couple unusual suspects — Los Angeles (!) and New York City (!).

Driving in those places is especially safe for me: the traffic is so bad that I take the subway instead whenever I can.

Yes, L.A. has a subway. Who knew? It’s almost a secret. I hope somebody tells me if San Diego ever gets one. (Editor’s note: Shhh, readers!)

Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly described the Rancho Peñasquitos Town Council president’s false statement. It has been updated. We regret the error.

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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