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Maybe the city can own a chunk of the Chargers, suggests a congressman running for mayor. Forget it, says a rival assemblyman, it’s against regulations set down by the powers who run the NFL. But our Scott Lewis thinks it’s hardly an impossible play.

“Yeah, I’m not all that intimidated by the NFL bylaws,” Lewis writes. “And something tells me the war veteran Fletcher shouldn’t be either.”

Lewis believes this is time for negotiating with some spine. Besides, Fletcher changed redevelopment’s rules when they threatened to impede a stadium. “If we are to change our rules, perhaps the NFL can bend some of its own. This city is plainly tired of watching its leaders negotiate so meekly.”

• Lewis’ thoughts were spurred by Fletcher’s statement criticizing Filner’s public-ownership idea. Fletcher said, “the NFL bylaws … prohibit public ownership (partial or otherwise) of NFL teams.”

We ran that statement through the Fact Check and found that it’s true. While the Green Bay Packers are publicly owned, they were grandfathered in. The NFL doesn’t allow any other team to have anything but private ownership.

The NFL could change its rules, of course. But for the moment, they are what Fletcher says they are.

• The NFL has resurrected a loan program that could mean hundreds of millions for a new stadium here, the Union-Tribune reports. The G3 program had helped build many NFL stadiums, but the fund had run dry.

UCSD Professor in Center of Da Vinci Brouhaha

An engineering professor at UCSD has art specialists in an uproar over his efforts to uncover a Leonardo da Vinci painting that may be behind another fresco in the building that now serves as the City Hall of Florence, Italy. Hundreds of art historians and scholars want the professor, whom we’ve profiled in our pages, to stop drilling holes into the fresco to see what lurks beneath.

But Florence’s mayor tells the NY Times that “only a crazy person would stop now. I think Florence has the right to solve one of the greatest mysteries of the history of art.” Check the stunning photos accompanying the Times story, which will bring out your inner art historian.

‘Swing District’ Draws Rivals After Redrawing

The City Council district now represented by former TV reporter Marti Emerald is going to be a free-for-all next year because Emerald has moved and will run in another district due to redistricting. CityBeat examines the candidates and notes that it’s a tough one to predict since registration is pretty evenly divided between the two big parties and independents.

“The factors at play currently include low name identification for all three candidates running in District 7 and the uncertainty of how important the June 5 primary will be in the race for a Republican presidential nominee,” the paper reports.

Does anyone remember the last time the California presidential primary was a battleground for Republicans and not just an afterthought after all had pretty much been decided? Drop me a line if you do. Otherwise I’ll have to look it up, and we wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?

Death of a North County Journalist

John Van Doorn, a veteran journalist who covered wars around the world before coming to the North County Times in the 1990s, died last evening after a stroke at the age of 78, the paper reports. He was a winner of the Ernie Pyle Memorial Award for his Vietnam War coverage and previously worked at newspapers in New York, including the NY Times.

At the NC Times, he’d served as business editor and, most recently, a columnist. I remember him as a crusty no-nonsense type, and I’m not the only one. “When the phone would ring, he would adopt his New York accent and answer, ‘Van Doorn here,’ and Lord help you if you were a public relations flack or a retail ad rep trying to get something on the business page,” editor Kent Davy recalled. “I had to gently tone him down and remind him that this wasn’t New York.”

Other NCT journalists recalled him as tender-hearted but such a tough editor that they dubbed him “Van Doom.” For their part, readers knew him as a fiercely anti-war columnist who “frequently focused on people on the fringes of society.”

$56 Million Asked for Kin of Fighter Crash Dead

Attorneys want the federal government to pay $56 million to relatives of four people who died three years ago in University City when a fighter jet crashed into their neighborhood, the U-T reports. The federal trial in the case now awaits a ruling by a judge.

Cab Drivers Seek Safety in Numbers

For those of us who take cabs on occasion, our priorities include things like getting a driver who won’t talk on the phone, zip through red lights or declare that the credit-card machine is broken.

For those who drive cabs here, their priorities are quite a bit more substantial: they want to survive. Two recent killings of cab drivers have focused their minds even more. KPBS reports on a two-year-old organization of drivers that is pushing for security despite major challenges.

“The convoluted system of accountability and ownership of the taxi cab business has made if difficult for drivers to organize and make demands,” KPBS reports. “Complicating things further, most cab drivers are immigrants. This is often their first job in this country, and they are just learning the system.”

News at the Speed of Brief

• The Port District is moving ahead with plans to remodel Seaport Village, the U-T reports: it “would be largely rebuilt and redesigned to add a boutique hotel, tear down the Harbor House restaurant building, build a new ‘signature’ building reminiscent of ferry buildings elsewhere and construct a multistory parking garage.” It’s not yet clear what will be done with the old police station.

• First there were records. Then there were record stores. The records went away, and then the record stores did too — locally, the Wherehouse, Tower Records, and now, Sam Goody too. The 17-year-old landmark store in Horton Plaza is going to shut down to make way for a park; a new store might appear, but it won’t have the evocative name, CityBeat reports.

“I guess, in the end, Sam Goody was a store for people who didn’t know any better: the grandma looking for the latest Yanni CD, the haven for the Michael Bolton aficionado, the sonic arcade for a thirteen-year-old discovering his love for music,” a music blogger tells CityBeat.

A petition drive is already underway to support one downtown landmark, the 1960s-era Caliente racetrack ad on the side of a derelict theater. Maybe our Sam Goody needs a save too, although the past is absolutely welcome to keep Yanni.

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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