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The mayor of San Diego officially has no power over the school district, but this mayor and other city leaders have stepped into the fray at times, and mayors in other cities have more say over education. With that in mind, we asked the 2012 mayoral candidates what role they’d play and whether they’d send their kids to local public schools.

Among the major contenders, Councilman Carl DeMaio talked about encouraging “efficiencies” and touted his efforts in support of job training. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis pointed to programs she’s supported that help kids and promised to use the “bully pulpit” of the mayor’s office. And Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said he’s begun a “listening tour” on education issues and will offer a plan next year. Rep. Bob Filner has declined to participate in these exercises.

What’s Going on With Local Jobs

• Also on the local job front, employment is continuing its slow and steady rise, although it’s modest, according to our Rich Toscano.

• Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons have reached a three-year labor deal with their union employees, seemingly averting a strike that threatened to shut down dozens of stores in San Diego County and elsewhere in Southern California. Workers will vote on the deal later this week, the L.A. Times reports.

A strike could have been devastating to the stores. Even if few patrons refused to cross picket lines, the stores that stayed open would have to cope with inexperienced replacement workers, potentially making things difficult for patrons. And there’s this: “None of the grocery chains has fully recovered its market share from before the 2003-04 strike and worker lockout,” the LAT says.

Bolts Explore Stadium-Convention Combo

The Chargers have directed their architects to explore the idea of combining a new football stadium downtown with a Convention Center expansion, the Union-Tribune reports, despite the fact that Convention Center boosters want nothing to do with a stadium.

The mayor’s convention expansion czar put it this way: “They’re not going to take our money. I don’t know what they’re talking about.”

The problem: if an expansion isn’t connected to the main Convention Center, getting there could be a major inconvenience for conventiongoers, and make meeting planners turn away from San Diego.

The Chargers spokesman says “we’ll obviously reassess where we are” if the idea goes nowhere.

We earlier explored how the two projects do and don’t mix. Here’s more on the Chargers stadium search.

Politifest Sights and Sounds

If you missed Politifest, or if you attended and want to see whether your hair survived the day (never mind if you’re one of our several hair-challenged male staffers), check out our photos. You can also see which mayoral candidate seems to have already won the race for Guy with Most Awesome Cowboy Boots.

We’ve also compiled the best chatter about the event.

And Today in Local Innovators

• A San Diego company is itching to compete with giant music streaming service Pandora. Its pitch: The songs are selected by real human DJs, not those crummy robotic algorhithms. (LAT)

• Willie Morrow is one of those renaissance men every city needs. The local barber has long been a national pioneer in black hair care, but that’s not all. He’s also “an inventor, writer, business owner, historian, newspaper publisher and a self-taught chemist.” (U-T)

Vindication for Ex-City Official

Here’s a story we missed earlier this month: a judge dismissed the Securities and Exchange Commission’s case against Terri Webster, a former assistant city auditor with San Diego.

“For Webster, the dismissal represented an end to nearly seven years of being in the cross hairs of a series of lawsuits and prosecutions in state and federal court,” the Union-Tribune reported earlier this month. She was the only city official caught up in five high-profile legal actions: an SEC complaint, two criminal prosecutions and two civil lawsuits.

Webster notes that her vindication comes with little attention. “There are literally thousands of stories talking about when I’m prosecuted,” she said. “When the case is dismissed and I’m vindicated, it’s just one story. There isn’t the coverage in the media when you are innocent.”   

We frequently reported on Webster and the case against her from 2005-2008, including in the first-ever story on our site, in which Andrew Donohue explored how she’d sent a worried email about the city’s pension plan and signed it “Sincerely, Sleepless in San Diego.”

In a 2008 column, Scott Lewis pondered whether it’s fair that she had become what he described as the “chief villain.”  

What Lurks Beneath Balboa Park

As our story’s headline puts it, we found “Magic in the Basement in Balboa Park.” What, are the mummies falling in love below the Museum of Man? Naw, but there was still something to see: a rehearsal below the House of Charm for “Odyssey,” the community performance whose production we’ve been following.  

So What Do Reference Librarians Do Anyway?

A couple weeks ago, a dust-up erupted among our commenters over the value of libraries and librarians.

Why do librarians need to make $70k a year? To me, it’s a $35k a year job that should be done by part timers without benefits,” reader Jim Jones wrote. “The Dewey Decimal system isn’t rocket science.”

After harrumphing to myself, I replied that it takes knowledge to find knowledge, and you can’t answer everything through Wikipedia. (For example, those Wiki slackers don’t have a single entry about me. Imagine!)

Then I got to wondering: What are the toughest questions that reference librarians get? I contacted several of them from around the country and compiled their answers in a blog post for The Christian Science Monitor.

One of the librarians who took part is Catherine Greene from San Diego’s La Jolla/Riford library branch. She says she got to answer this question: “What were the prices of spices in Europe in the 16th century?” In the post, she explains how she found the answer and notes that Wikipedia was useless. She also got to write a phrase that you don’t see every day: “one cow would buy a pound of pepper.” (It’s an example of the kind of factoid she found that wasn’t actually helpful.)

Please Don’t Tell Any Snobby Foodies about This

I dropped by the Dennys website the other day (don’t judge me — a man’s gotta eat) and noticed something surprising: San Diego, the nation’s eighth largest city, ranks No. 4. on the list of cities whose residents have “liked” the 24/7 restaurant chain on Facebook. Almost 41,000 of us seem to think highly of Grand Slams and all the rest of the diner’s artery-blockers.    

One city didn’t make the list, even though its name appears in a signature Dennys dish. I’m talking, of course, about Moons Over My Hammy.

Hey, Dennys! How about letting us inspire something on your menu? Sandy Eggo is an obvious choice, although it sounds like it might taste gritty. If there’s one thing San Diegans aren’t, it’s gritty.

Readers, if you have an even cheesier idea (literally or figuratively) for a Dennys dish related to San Diego, let me know.

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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