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After months of intense debate over the future of one of the city’s icons, the City Council voted Monday to support a major construction project that will return Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama to pedestrians.  

The vote: 6-to-1, with Sherri Lightner dissenting. (Her opponent in the November election, Ray Ellis, sent an emissary to the meeting to exclaim his support for the project.)

So what’s next? Our Kelly Bennett has the rundown with the highlights from the meeting and an explanation of what the decision on Irwin Jacobs’ plan means. 

For now, it paves the way for the city to borrow money and break ground by October, with the goal being completion by the 2015 centennial celebrations.

For more beyond yesterday’s happenings, let’s take a look at the archives: there’s our Reader’s Guide primer, the alternative pushed by opponents and what the remodel would look like.

How Other Districts Are Dealing

To avoid massive teacher layoffs, the San Diego Unified School District hammered out a labor agreement that anticipates big cuts to the school year if no new taxes get approved.

We’ve covered that story this week, and now we wanted to see if that was unique or not. Turns out the other districts in the state’s top five took other approaches.

Two are in wait-and-see mode. Two districts say they have reserve funds to get them through.

So who’s most likely to get hurt by a shortened school year? The neediest students, a source tells us

City Auditor to Investigate Pothole Delays

The city’s auditor is looking into San Diego’s pothole tracking system in the wake of our analysis showing that it takes weeks, on average, for potholes to be repaired.

Bridgepoint’s Very Big, Very Bad Fall

The stock price of Bridgepoint, the San Diego-based higher education company, fell by a third on Monday after news came that it had been denied accreditation by a major accrediting association, which pointed to a variety of problems (including a ton of student dropouts).

The decision could jeopardize the company’s access to financial aid, which is responsible for its incredible boom in recent years.

For background about Bridgepoint, check our story from 2011 about its rapid rise in local power and prominence and the controversy over the way it does business.

Fact Check TV: Horn Blew It

As Fact Check TV explains, County Supervisor Bill Horn flubbed a claim about how crime went up after the state tinkered with the way prisoners are housed. 

VOSD Radio Looks at Health Care Reform

VOSD Radio bestows the Hero and Goat of the Week awards on a single person — the guy whose company is responsible for the Fourth of July fireworks fail and faced the music the day after. Also, our Scott Lewis looks at how uninsured people are costing local hospitals.

I was one of those uninsured for six months until about a week ago thanks to the potential — and peril — that health care reform poses for people with pre-existing conditions. My recent story for Kaiser Health News explains why I needed to go without insurance for 6 months to get insurance for 14 months.

Quick News Hits

• Stories about Stockton’s financial woes and potential fees to park at Balboa Park lead our list of the most popular stories of the week.   

• The state is moving ahead with stalled plans for a bullet train that’s eventually envisioned to zip passengers from San Diego to San Francisco. But, as the NC Times reports, officials won’t get around to planning the link to San Diego until 2016.

And, as we noted in a Reader’s Guide to the bullet train debate, construction on our leg is a low priority. We may not get to ride the train to the north until the 2030s, leaving us train fans stuck with Amtrak and its perennial delays. But maybe we could take the Amtrak to the bullet train?

Name that (Street) Tune

The U-T and NC Times had stories over the past few days about Oceanside leaders discussing the city’s street-naming policy.

Ho-hum. I think I’m going to go see what Marmaduke is up to … but hey, wait a minute! There’s a reason why this came up: because a former city official, now the city school board’s president, thought a street called Vista Entrada should be renamed after his son’s band, Irieside. (The papers had both written about his bid before, but downplayed it in the follow-up articles.)

If the street does renamed after the band, that would set a great precedent. Just think of all the musicians and groups with origins in the San Diego area. How about a Blink 182 Boulevard? RuPaul Road? Tom Waits Circle?

Watch out for Iron Butterfly Drive, however. If you get off on In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida Place, you won’t find an exit for 17 minutes.

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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