Mayor Jerry Sanders has long said he wants to both keep the San Diego Chargers here and build a big expansion of the convention center. Now the Chargers have taken the bold and perhaps foolhardy step of rebuffing the mayor.

Yesterday, the top spokesman for the team questioned the legality of plans to fund the expansion. He also “said voters should be offered the choice to do this instead of allowing hotel owners to unilaterally raise taxes without a vote of the people for the Convention Center project,” reports Scott Lewis, who unravels what he sees as some earthshaking proclamations.

For background, remember it all has to do with the complicated “Comic Con Tax.”

Lewis thinks the Chargers could have a “fascinating argument” if they decide to challenge it like this: “If the hoteliers were already going to raise hotel-room taxes by up to 3 percent for a new Convention Center, then voters should have a say in whether they want it to go to that or to something else, and potentially keep the team. What they’ll have to deal with are the many voters who don’t think it should go to either.”

For more about all this, check out yesterday’s conversation on Twitter and our ongoing coverage of the stadium search.

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Big Transit Plan Gets a Drubbing

The state Attorney General’s Office isn’t happy with a $200 billion plan to spend money on local transportation projects over the next 40 years, saying (among other things) that it might increase greenhouse gases in the long term. We take a look at what the attorney general’s criticism means and what local officials say. We also examine the role that mass transit may play in future decades in this region where it’s difficult to get places unless you have a car or an endless tolerance for the epic hassles of taking the trolley, bus or train.

The Blackout’s Sewage Problem

This week for San Diego Explained, our video series with NBC 7 San Diego, we tried to understand why two million gallons of sewage spilled when the power went out this month.

We understand why it happened now. The question is whether we, as a community, should just accept that when the power goes out, the sewage will flow.

San Diego Explained runs every Wednesday on NBC 7 San Diego during the 6 p.m. news. Here’s the link to all our recent explanations.

• And here’s a less-than-inspiring detail from the state’s utilities agency about this month’s blackout: SDG&E and other power companies across the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico are a bit estranged. In fact, “they really don’t communicate at all, as near as we can tell,” said an official with the California Public Utilities Commission, according to the Union-Tribune. She added: “Unfortunately for San Diego Gas & Electric customers … basically their service was sacrificed so that (the blackout) wouldn’t continue into the rest of the state.”

Earlier this week, the NC Times paraphrased a power executive as saying that while the blackout has its origins in Arizona, “it wasn’t until transformers in the Coachella Valley shut down and a Mexican power plant lost some power that the problem cascaded throughout all of San Diego County.”

Understanding the Next Big Labor Battle

Next year, San Diego voters will get to consider the fate of project labor agreements in government construction projects. We’ve posted a primer about what these things do, why they’re at issue now and what we know about their benefits and costs.

A ban on the city requiring these deals has qualified for the ballot. But of particular interest right now may be the effects of a SB 922, a bill sitting on the governor’s desk. If he signs it, it would prohibit these type of bans and it would severely penalize cities who passed them.  (NC Times)

Attorney General Won’t Look Into Coronado Death

The state attorney general’s office has rejected a request that it review how local authorities investigated the deaths of a boy and his father’s girlfriend at a Coronado mansion, the U-T reports. The father, a pharmaceutical industry tycoon, had asked the state to step in.

SeaWorld’s Near Catastrophe Aired in Trial

A Florida courtroom got to watch a video of a trainer at San Diego’s SeaWorld getting pulled deep into water by a killer whale that refused to let go.

The video was shown as part of a trial in which SeaWorld is fighting federal allegations in connection with the death of a trainer at Orlando’s SeaWorld who was killed in front of onlookers by a bull orca in 2010.

“A casual observer might see a near drowning,” Reuters reported about the San Diego video. “But SeaWorld corporate animal curator Chuck Tompkins said that, in the video, he saw trainers successfully executing well-rehearsed emergency procedures.”

Tompkins added that he saw a “a well-trained environment,” even though the bull orca refused four times to follow a signal to release the trainer, who’d been grabbed by the foot.

Suicide Kits Spawn One Heckuva Mistake

A few months ago, the news broke that a 91-year-old La Mesa woman had been selling suicide kits by mail for those who wished to end their lives. Federal investigators apparently got a hold of a mailing list and have been notifying local authorities around the country, including those in an Oregon city where cops busted down the door of a buyer, worried he might off himself.

Oopsy daisy! The buyer had bought the “do-it-yourself asphyxiation package” for a a co-worker — a newspaper reporter working on a story about the suicide kits. Now the local cops will get to fix the door. (Reuters)

Jerry Schad, Popular Hiking Writer, Dies at 61

Jerry Schad, the longtime writer of books and columns about hiking in San Diego County, died Thursday at the age of 61 of kidney cancer. The U-T wrote about his final days last month. He and his wife, who met in 2010, married just six months ago. 

When the Death Penalty Drama Was Ours

This week’s controversial execution in Georgia, featuring a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, attracted the world’s attention. Back in 1992, a San Diego killer was at the center of another death penalty drama, one that spawned even more high drama at the high court, as I recalled in a history flashback last year. 

Rapid-Fire: A Bridge That Can’t Get a Break

• The city’s financial watchdog office supports the idea of turning over almost $700,000 to the arts district at the former Naval Training Center and warns that plans could fall apart if a gap of almost $1 million isn’t filled.

• The new bridge over Harbor Drive in downtown is pretty stunning, but a vandal isn’t impressed and tagged it with graffiti.

• Here’s an idea: a San Diego Chargers Office Park! It comes courtesy of former mayor Dick Murphy. You know, the one who resigned. (U-T)

Just think: you could engage in water-cooler talk about the Chargers at your office in the San Diego Chargers Office Park. Instead of a paper shredder, maybe Nick Hardwick could come by and tear up all your sensitive documents!

Just don’t let him headlock that wussy Phil from human resources. He’d fold like a flour tortilla. But Phyllis in accounting… she could totally take him.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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