U-T San Diego is not pleased with Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher’s abandonment of the GOP. Not pleased at all.

The other day, it questioned his integrity as a former Marine: “He essentially left his colleagues behind, harming Republicans running for office.”  

Fletcher, who wants to be mayor, decided to respond by releasing both a transcript and a handy MP3 audio of his interview with the newspaper’s editorial board.

Our Scott Lewis writes in a commentary that there’s more to see here than just a newspaper vs. candidate grudge match: “The conversation opens a window into the newspaper’s worry about the Republican Party and a broader confusion in the community between party and principle. As people discuss Fletcher’s defection from the party, these two concepts seem to have become interchangeable. They are not.”

Lewis quotes U-T Editor Jeff Light, who expressed the editorial board’s worry about Congressman Bob Filner and asked Fletcher: “How can we get behind you given that we’ve got a lot of Republican backing and Republican tradition?”

•  Fletcher, meanwhile, continues to get positive press — U-T notwithstanding — for his switcheroo (he’s now independent). An L.A. Times columnist likes his stand against a “truly loopy tax loophole,” quoting him as saying his fellow Republicans refused to go along with his plans to get rid of it.

The columnist accepts Fletcher’s spin on the whole affair, writing that “it was a career-changing moment… that exacerbated his disgust with party partisanship and ultimately led to his desertion from the GOP and re-registration as an independent.”

An alternative theory that I floated on Twitter: Fletcher saw his mayoral poll numbers, which were initially reported to be low, and decided a change was in order.

In District 1, a Candidate Who Wants a Firm Ally

“I want somebody who’s going to stand next to me as a bulldozer runs us over,” says Dennis Ridz, who’s running to represent District 1 (which includes La Jolla and neighboring communities) and kick incumbent Sherri Lightner out. “We never had a feeling that she fully supported us.”   

We offer a Reader’s Guide to Ridz, the chairman of the Torrey Pines planning board and a Republican. He’s very detail-oriented — a wonk’s wonk, it sounds like — who wants to emphasize transportation, pension reform and outsourcing, and “civic engagement.”

His challenge: getting people to know he exists.

The District 1 candidates like to say quirky things like this keeper: “I don’t know if we wanted that out.” We’ve compiled a list of the darndest things that hopefuls have told us, plus a couple other details.

Update on School District Negotiations

The San Diego teachers union hasn’t been talking to the school district about concessions, but union reps have been communicating with the top brass over other issues. “In some areas, the communication has opened up a little more, as people are more comfortable speaking with each other,” a labor official says. And there’s more, what seems to be an olive branch — or at the very least, maybe some olive oil — heading the district’s way.  

Seau’s Brain to Be Studied for Trauma

The county medical examiner’s office has ruled Junior Seau’s death by a gunshot wound to the chest to be a suicide, KPBS reports.

Seau’s family has decided to allow his brain to be studied for any trauma caused during his years as a football star. Several living pro-football retirees have pledged to donate their brains. We compiled a reader’s guide to the crisis facing the NFL.

U-T San Diego has pulled together its complete coverage of Seau’s life and contributions onto one page.

Balboa Park Committee Advances Plaza de Panama Plan

The Irwin Jacobs plan to remove cars from Balboa Park, which has spawned a bitter debate, will go before the City Council this summer, the U-T reports.

Jacobs, the founder of Qualcomm, has plenty of support from Balboa Park institutions but has run into opposition from preservationists, among others, who like the idea of a car-less park but can’t bear the specific proposal in question. For background, watch our San Diego Explained video about the proposal.

Letters: Go Independents, Beauty, Stadium and Filner!

Readers have had a lot to say recently. Here’s a sampling of letters we got the last couple days:

• Oscar Ramos, from Golden Hill, is intrigued about Nathan Fletcher and friends’ defection from political parties. “The extent to which Fletcher is a true independent or just a Republican opportunist is less important than whether he can seriously compete against the two parties.”

•  Robert Leif calls Fletcher a “tool of downtown” and explains why he prefers Bob Filner in the mayor’s race.

• Jet Prudencio says it’s time to beautify the streets, especially where people should be walking.

• Bill Schwenker says, of course, if you’re going to spend a billion dollars on something to help the economy, it should be a stadium. He’s not being sarcastic at all. Not at all.

Quick News Hits

• Councilman Carl DeMaio, the political perpetual motion machine, is coming out against the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Plan, or DROP, which “allows employees to simultaneously collect a salary and a pension,” the U-T reports. “He wants city leaders to make immediate changes to DROP to make it less appealing and then seek a court ruling to eliminate it altogether.”

• More than $200 million in planned urban renewal projects in City Heights got approval to continue forward despite the state’s killing of redevelopment agencies, Speak City Heights reports. The city will send the projects, and hundreds of others, to the state and hope they survive a review process.

• Our story about Rep. Bob Filner finally releasing his plan to reform retirement benefits for city employees set off a debate in our comments. Mark Giffin coins an unpleasant new term to describe saddling kids with debts, while James Davis writes that Filner’s “‘plan’ for pension reform is a complete joke. So he wants taxpayers to pay into the stock market vs an employees own contributions to it, leaving the risk to them individually?”

Also, former City Council member, and current head of the Municipal Employees Association, Michael Zucchet, got into it with Bill Sheffler, the actuary and former member of the Pension Reform Committee.

• KPBS looks at the business of low-cost funerals, profiling a group that negotiates with funeral homes for better deals and a Carlsbad company called Basic Funerals that aims to allow people to spend the very minimum on arrangements for their late loved ones.

This story reminds me of a storefront sign I spotted in Normal Heights a few years ago. “Caskets & More,” it said.

The store’s gone now, leaving a mystery of what that “more” actually meant.

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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