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In the ongoing drama that is downtown, it’s not hard to cast the agency that’s in charge of urban renewal: It’s either the hero or the villain. Now, we’re seeing how two of the major mayoral candidates are far apart on its future.
One of them, Rep. Bob Filner, wants the agency to go away. The other, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, was the prime mover behind a secret deal that could keep it afloat for decades. He’s semi-apologized.
The topic was a big one during Wednesday’s mayoral debate, as Liam Dillon reports. “Filner proposed each neighborhood should receive equal attention and funding. It’s unclear, as with many of Filner’s ideas, exactly how that would work. … (Fletcher) celebrated downtown’s record and said he would try to replicate its success in other neighborhoods.
Filner had more to say. He’s going to fix everything that’s wrong in the city, and he’ll even come to your house and bake you a nice cake in whatever flavor you’d like. OK, I made that last part up, but Filner, a “bundle of bombast,” as Dillon calls him, made a long list of promises about how he’s going to solve homelessness, create jobs, and much much more, all without raising taxes. However, “Filner seemed to acknowledge that he hasn’t fully developed his ideas.”
As for Fletcher, the only other major candidate who showed up, he came across as “practical and pragmatic,” CityBeat reported, and willing to stick to his guns even in front of a liberal crowd. “The dude didn’t flinch, regardless of how the audience responded.”
• OB Rag says the debate was “mostly unremarkable,” featuring “unsurprising positions.”
But the website found some hope: “Both candidates highlighted their differences, and both found common ground. The evening was also a demonstration that even parties with sharply divergent views can come together and discuss their differences in a civil and respectful manner, and without widening the gulf that separates the two political parties today that has led to the extreme polarization of our society.”
Don’t worry, conflict fans. This mutual niceness can’t last for long. This is politics we’re talking about.
• Half of the major mayoral candidates weren’t there, but our photographer was, and he got shots of both candidates. Check out their hands: They’re gesturing, waving and shaking, seeming as animated (or more so) as the faces of the two contenders.
• Councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio is a wonk’s wonk. He could talk your ear off about city financial matters. “If you think a high-energy, intellectually serious policy wonk should be mayor, and you appreciate regular union bashing, then you’ll no doubt like DeMaio,” Dillon writes.
But there are two other major Republican candidates, and they’d both like to fight off DeMaio while seeming smart about city affairs. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and Fletcher “both say their personal histories and political experiences demonstrate they can build consensus with varying interest groups to make change,” writes Dillon in a story about their strategies. “And by default, they argue that DeMaio’s hard-charging style will leave him with few allies and, as a result, few accomplishments.”
Recommended School Closings
As Andrew Donohue noted on Twitter this morning, it’s amazing how little money is saved by closing schools.
San Diego Unified School District is proposing the closure of at least 12 schools, saving about $500,000 for each closure against an estimated deficit as large as $118 million in next year’s operating budget. (U-T)
To soften the blow of the closures, school officials have been holding public meetings (KPBS), though parents and students are still unhappy (KGTV), including a Point Loma parent group that’s issued a press release detailing its complaints. Others are surprised that their positive progress aren’t enough to keep them off the closure list altogether. (KPBS)
Cutting operating costs for whole schools doesn’t save all that much, by the way. Our data-wrangler Keegan Kyle ran the numbers and estimates that if San Diego Unified eliminated all funding for middle schools, it would still fall $9 million short of resolving a $100 million budget hole next year.
Oh Heck, Give Them an Orchion and Call It a Day
The San Diego Architectural Foundation, which bestows Orchids and Onions on local building projects each year, is getting decidedly mixed nominations for the controversial proposal to give Balboa Park a makeover, NBC7 San Diego reports.
On one hand, an onion nomination pointed at the plan to divert traffic off Cabrillo Bridge to a new parking structure behind the organ pavilion. The main supporters are “willing to severely compromise the historic integrity and aesthetics of Balboa Park in order to build a massive, un-needed and unwanted concrete off-ramp off of the individually historically-designated Cabrillo Bridge.”
On the other hand, the project got a nomination for an orchid because it would rid the Plaza de Panama of cars. For more, see our coverage of the battle over Balboa Park.
By the way, our engagement editor Grant Barrett will emcee the Orchids and Onion awards ceremony this year. The event is October 27 at the Balboa Theatre.
San Diego Crime Has Dipped
San Diego regional rates of murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and larceny/theft are far from the top nationally. We rank 176th for violent crime and 298th for property crime. In the big picture, this shows that the San Diego region, and not just the city itself, are doing well crime-wise.
But there’s a big exception: Car theft. We rank 27th nationally, with 408 car thefts per 100,000 residents in 2010. Even here, though, there’s good news: that’s down from 16th and 873 car thefts per 100,000 people in 2005.
Behind the Pot Crackdown
A federal prosecutor is making medical marijuana users mighty nervous by going after medi-pot shops and raising the prospect that there might not be a single place to legally buy weed in the county. San Diego Explained examines the ongoing legal drama.
Also: The Union-Tribune has details about a protest this week, while CityBeat’s John R. Lamb questions whether the end of the world for dispensaries is really going to come. “Unless Laura Duffy wants to shift all of her office’s resources into prosecuting medical-marijuana cases, you won’t be able to make a huge dent in the number of dispensaries, because you’re not able to follow through with the threats,” a local law professor tells him and also had a similar quote in our San Diego Explained video.
Yo! Over Here. Yeah, You. We’ve Got Music!
Psst! Wanna hear a symphony?
The San Diego Symphony wants to let you know it’s there, hidden among the skyscrapers of downtown. Along with our news partner NBC 7 San Diego, we visited with a pianist-turned-architect who’s got an unusual idea about using a way of writing music to make the symphony building pop to passersby.
That’s a Joke. No, Really
A small study out of UCSD suggests that men are funnier than women, but there’s a twist: “The study also found that men believe they are funnier than they actually are,” NBC7 San Diego notes.
A writer for the XXfactor blog thinks the study findings make sense. She writes: “Most women who have a sense of humor can tell you about a time they’ve told a joke, had it blatantly ignored by their friends and family, and then heard a man tell the same joke (having subconsciously stolen it from the ignored woman) to peals of laughter.”
Moral of the story: Women need to tell more jokes so men can get more good material. Thanks, ladies!