When the city redrew its map of City Council districts, it created a new one — District 9 — that united City Heights to give Latino residents a bit more oomph in San Diego politics.

Now that the district’s experienced its first primary election, how’d that go? Not as planned, our analysis finds.

Few voters from the district’s Latino-dominated districts, mainly in City Heights, went to the polls, and most were from white-majority neighborhoods like Talmadge and Kensington.

“The results underscore a disparity in electoral power between northern areas with more white residents and southern areas with more Latino residents,” our data specialist Keegan Kyle reports. “Unless turnout evens out across the district, candidates campaigning toward the interests of northern residents will gain a strategic advantage in future elections.”

In the end, Marti Emerald defeated Mateo Camarillo for the City Council seat. See our coverage of the campaign for more on this tension and other big issues in the new district. 

Fourth of July Fireworks a Big Dud

The Port’s big Fourth of July fireworks display went awry last night when the entire stockpile of pyrotechnic firepower went off in one massive explosion five minutes before the show was set to start. The Port says it’s investigating, says NBC San Diego.

This YouTube video captures the spectacle well.

Parking Fee’s Expected to Bring a Bounty

One big part of the Irwin Jacobs plan for revamping Balboa Park is an  underground parking garage (it would go behind the Organ Pavilion) that would charge at least $5 for five hours. Jacobs is covering the cost of much of the plan’s construction, but not the parking structure: The city would borrow $14 million to help build the garage and $2 million for a reserve fund.

As our story explains, the expectation is that proceeds from parking would pay off the loan and pay for staff and trams. But if that doesn’t happen, the city’s day-to-day budget will be on the hook for the money.

Kelly Bennett explains that park critics aren’t the only ones with concerns:

“The city’s Independent Budget Analyst asked serious questions about how much the parking structure would be used since there are free lots nearby and urged city officials to be conservative and cautious with agreeing to this kind of financing in a report last summer.”

The whole Balboa Park plan goes before the City Council next week in a meeting that’s guaranteed to be a humdinger.      

The Wind Beneath the ‘Wings’

The weekly Arts Report recaps stories that look at the status of various art projects (like the “Wings of Freedom” sculpture that sent Twitter critics a-mocking), San Diego’s envy-worthy arts funding, the mod-ness (mod-nicity?) of Tijuana and more.

While You Were Out

Our editor Andrew Donohue took some time off so he and his wife could become parents for the first time. Now he’s back, and Scott Lewis devoted some of the VOSD Radio show to catch him up on what he missed.

The episode of the radio show is titled “An Idiot’s Guide to the Last 2.5 Weeks.” As a service to my paycheck, I shall have no comment on the possible identity of the “idiot” in question.

Taking Stock of Stockton’s Mess

Pity poor Stockton, a perennial also-ran in the Central Valley. It didn’t inspire “American Graffiti” or build an awesome arch. (That’s Modesto.) It didn’t become a country music hub (that’s Bakersfield) or a state capital (that’s Sacramento).

But Stockton now has a nationwide reputation: it’s the largest city in the country to go bankrupt. We’ve been keeping an eye on the news up there since some folks have talked about bankruptcy as a way for San Diego to get rid of its crushing pension debt.

Here’s the thing, though: Stockton isn’t going after city employee pensions. Officials there say that would hurt recruitment. However, the city’s plight might still over San Diego a lesson.

One reason it’s broke: it took a gamble by borrowing money to invest so it could pay down its pension debts. That bet went bad. Mayoral candidate Bob Filner’s pension fix includes the same type of gamble.

Letters: $500K Windfall, Mt. Soledad and More

In letters, readers write about the county retiree who got $500,000 in pension proceeds that he shouldn’t have received, a possible solution to the endless legal battle over the Mt. Soledad cross, the good things about Rep. Bob Filner’s devotion to solar power, and the quality of our story about the city auditor’s take on the development department.

Quick News Hits

• It doesn’t look like the NFL’s weakened rules about game blackouts will make it easier for you to watch the Chargers on TV. (U-T)

• The city has released an environmental impact report about the convention center expansion. (U-T)

• CityBeat offers a look at what local state legislators are accomplishing and, more likely, not accomplishing. Republicans have had an especially hard time getting their bills passed.

The paper also looks at the gifts that legislators took, including a lot of navel oranges (thanks to the fruit people), “rice boxes” (yes, from the rice people) and a variety of meals (some from the controversial Chukchansi Indians of the San Joaquin Valley) and more.  

• A British soccer team wants to sell its stock to Americans. Our Scott Lewis has explored the potential for a publicly owned soccer team here.   

• According to an internal e-mail, the U-T has hired a new top boss of its sports department. He’s Larry Graham, an editor at ESPN.com. The email, from editor Jeff Light, says the paper will also hire new sports staffers.

By the way, the Reader reports that the paper’s CEO has warned employees not to talk to “enemies” like Voice of San Diego. Hey, U-T! Make love, not war!

For Diners, It’s Sunny Side Down

It’s suddenly become harder to find a patty melt in this town thanks to a diner die-off in Mid City.

First, the Johnny’s R diner on El Cajon Boulevard shut its doors a few weeks ago after struggling under new owners. Now comes news via NBC San Diego that Brians’, a landmark diner in Hillcrest, is now closed. (At one time, both owners were named Brian, hence the unusually placed apostrophe.)

Brians’ — a bear haven where the portions are large and so are the patrons — had been a kind of second office to me. So now I’m looking for a new one.

Rudford’s, a 24/7 diner that’s has been around since the ’40s on El Cajon Boulevard, is the best bet. Rudford’s also recently remodeled and put up small plaques memorializing longtime patrons who’ve passed away.

I hope it wasn’t anything they ate.  

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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