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Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher may have his eye on the Mayor’s Office, but the attention he’s been getting the last few days is giving him a profile far outside of the city limits.

There he was on CNN yesterday, described as a “rising star” and talking about his ditching of the GOP. Some of the nation’s top political commentators are weighing in on the switcheroo.

We’ve complied links to the coverage, which includes pieces from The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and MSNBC, along with a video mashup of Fletcher’s GOP endorsement pitch played over the images from his party-ditching announcement.

Then there’s an even more crucial issue for Fletcher than his political future: How’s his home life now that he’s an independent married to woman who used to work for a Republican president and a governor? Fine, it seems: She’s made the same switch from GOP to indie.

Inside the Teacher vs. Teacher Battle

It’s no surprise that teachers in San Diego schools fail to agree on the best road forward to protect themselves as the district faces more financial woes.

But the public nature of the battle over their union’s direction is definitely new, and we’ve been carefully following this ongoing story. In the most recent major development, two officials who helped develop the union’s take-no-prisoners approach are out.

On VOSD Radio, our editor Andrew Donohue and reporter Will Carless dig deep into the story lines of the tension within the union. They also dissected Fletcher’s party switch and handed out the Goat of the Week  to a certain close-mouthed city attorney.

Scooter Claims Deserve Fix-It Ticket

Our Fact Check TV team of Donohue and Scott Lewis go scooter-happy in the latest edition as they take a look at a bunch of claims about extra pay for parking enforcement officers. (You may like to call them meter maids, but I’m not going to risk any of them getting mad and cite me for being a sexist jerk).

At issue: Do these city employees — perennial subjects of verbal abuse — get extra pay for riding scooters as claimed by Councilman Carl DeMaio? The truth about what the city prefers to call three-wheel motorcycle pay is a bit more complicated than DeMaio let on, but he got it right for the most part.   

Now that’s One Easy Campaign

Northern residents of the city of San Diego, meet your new councilman: 35-year-old telecommunications consultant Mark Kersey.

Wait, what? Isn’t the primary election in June? Yup, but Kersey is the only candidate. That means he’s won unless something extraordinary happens like an amazingly successful write-in candidate. (Been there, done that.)

There hasn’t been an unopposed City Council candidate who wasn’t an incumbent since World War II, U-T San Diego reports. Kersey got his virtually certain job by gathering 100 signatures and paying $200.

Like many council members, Kersey isn’t from here. He’s an Ohioan whose stepfather served as a small town mayor. Kersey is also a Republican who supports competitive bidding for city services but hasn’t gone into details. “I thought I had a few more months before I really needed to answer that question,” he told the U-T.

And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going

When a politician is asked about quitting, the answer is often “absolutely not!” followed by a resignation a few days later. So we should all learn to take such statements with a grain of salt, or maybe an entire Morton shaker full.

Still, it’s one thing to quit a job and another to quit a campaign. TV station CW6 just interviewed with District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and asks if the rumors are true that she’s going to drop out of the mayor’s race.

No, she said, turning to some bold if hackneyed phrasing: “I’m in it to win it.”

Words Meet Music

Nicolas Reveles, director of education and outreach at San Diego Opera, drops by our site to talk about the operatic portion of the local month-long celebration called The Big Read: Shades of Poe. The opera was scheduled to present a student-written opera based on “The Cask of Amontillado” last night; kids from Southwest High in the South Bay came up with it.

“The works of Poe lend themselves to musical (and dramatic!) setting, and I’m surprised that more composers haven’t tried to tackle more of his works for the development of an opera…” Reveles writes. “But we still wait for the ‘great American Poe opera.’”

For more about Reveles, check our 2011 profile.

The Lady and Her Cells

Two local academics tackle the question of whether a person’s cells, used in the medical world after death, are the person.

This is a big issue in the tale of Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cells were used without her permission in the pursuit of science. We’ve been exploring these kinds of questions as part of the Henrietta Lacks Project.

“Her story asks us to consider difficult questions about what it means to be human and to be alive, even in the face of and beyond the inevitable reality of death,” Mark Mann and Tate Hurvitz write.

Tracking San Diego Issues

Ann Tartre, executive director of Equinox Center, debuts the “2012 Election Priori-meter,” which will “track top trending issues in the San Diego mayoral race as well as other key races in the region until Election Day.”

The center has identified water conservation, land use, housing and transportation as critical priorities for the region’s qualify of life.

Quick News Hits

• The North County Times is laying off 56 employees in its departments that print the paper, package it for delivery and send it out by truck. It will outsource its printing to the presses of the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Newspapers often have trouble getting late-breaking news — such as sport scores and election results — into their print editions, and the distance from Riverside could conceivably exacerbate that problem for the NCT. But its publisher says news operations won’t be affected. (Disclosure: I’m a freelance contributor to the NCT.)

Better Not Have RoboRabies

I don’t think much about squirrels, except for that time when I was walking in Boston next to the statehouse and one of them ran up my eccentric friend. Maybe it confused “vertical thing that holds nuts” with “vertical thing that is nuts.”

But I digress.  

Turns out that squirrels do more to do than climb people. In California, ground squirrels often end up in intriguing faceoffs with rattlesnakes. Researchers at San Diego State and UC Davis want to understand how this works, but it’s hard to find a confrontation in progress or convince a live squirrel to take part in an experiment. So they’ve created RoboSquirrel, a stuffed squirrel, to see how snakes respond to squirrels that try to show dominance by swishing their tails.

Popular Science has the story, a photo and a video.  

Nobody go and tell the dog from “Up” about this. Uh-oh, too late.

“ROBOSQUIRREL!”

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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