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If you’re flying into San Diego, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of the familiar sights of Balboa Park, like the California Tower to the Organ Pavilion. You might also see a bunch of ordinary-looking buildings and parking lots that many folks never notice while driving to the zoo or walking on the Prado.

They’re part of the Naval Hospital complex. What’s it doing in our park? In the latest story in our series about Balboa Park’s history, we take a look at why it’s there.

Turns out the city itself gave land to the Navy, which would later think about moving (it didn’t) or swapping its space for land nearby (voters said no). Now, the park and the military seem stuck with each other for a long time to come.

Some more trivia: Balboa park visitors may not spot the main Naval Hospital complex, but many know about the beautiful former hospital administration building and chapel at Inspiration Point. (Pro tip: There’s often plenty of parking in this area on busy Balboa Park days.)

The chapel now houses the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center — you can read about its struggles to protect its holdings here — and a Vietnam veterans peace memorial sits nearby.  

Did Someone Kill the Canyon’s Coyotes?

Something seems to be missing from Tecolote Canyon: coyotes. You know, the species know for its spooky howling and pet-unfriendly behavior.

Residents who live near the west-central San Diego canyon have noticed a dip in the coyote population, and they’re raising the alarm. Why? Because they’re more than a nuisance. Coyotes play a major role in the food cycle.

Where’d they go? It could just be a natural variation. Or perhaps Wildlife Services, the federal agency that we’ve been tracking, has been killing them. We don’t know: the agency, which reports having killed some 1,400 coyotes since 2005, refuses to give us details about where and why.

As our infographic shows, the agency has killed thousands of animals, including some whose demises could use some explanation: 2 flamingos, for instance. Plus an alligator, 43 dogs, 15 hogs, 414 songbirds, 14 turkeys, and more.     

Earthquakes Explained

We felt a swarm of earthquakes yesterday, with some in the 5-magnitude range. There was damage, including broken windows, in the Imperial County town of Brawley.   

Hold tight: earthquake trackers say there’s a 10 percent chance of a bigger one hitting us by Tuesday afternoon, the U-T says.  

Our last big shaker was the Easter 2010 quake, which caused heavy damage in Imperial County. To get a handle on how big it was, check our compilation of the most interesting videos and stories from that day.

We followed that with a classic San Diego Explained on where the fault lines actually are in this region.

We’ve also published an interview with SDSU geology expert and perpetual quote machine Pat Abbott and a history flashback about San Diego’s shaky history (we’ve had just one recorded quake-caused death). Also check our 2011 joint investigation with KPBS of how hundreds of potentially earthquake-unsafe local school buildings hadn’t been inspected, let alone fixed or demolished.

Labor Shortage Hurts Flower Growers

Produce and flower growers are facing tough times this summer, but not because of poor crops. Instead, there are slim pickings on the workforce front, the NC Times reports. “This is the first time anyone remembers significant and severe labor shortages reported up and down the state. In the past, they’ve been limited on a regional basis,” an Oceanside flower grower tells the paper.

What’s going on? A lack of immigrants from the south appears to be a problem. A major avocado grower tried to take advantage of a federal program to bring in documented workers, the paper says, but sources explain that he gave up after being “frustrated with its high cost, legal fees and housing and transportation expenses.”  

Quick News Hits

• A trim Mayor Jerry Sanders is the star of a pro-gay-marriage ad that will air in Tampa during the GOP National Convention. Sanders, a Republican, touts his support of gay marriage and mentions other supporters, including Laura Bush, Cindy McCain and Dick Cheney. (KPBS)

• Harper’s Magazine writer David Sirota lumped the U-T’s Doug Manchester in with a new breed of “Citizen Kane” newspaper publishers forcing their writers to ignore blockbuster stories. But he included this line (links are his): “In one-newspaper San Diego, conservative businessman and activist Douglas Manchester bought the Union-Tribune in 2011 and promptly published a front-page editorial promoting a real estate deal from which he stood to profit.”

Our Scott Lewis pointed out that the two ideas linked — Manchester’s vision for the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal and his Navy Broadway Complex — are separate. This provoked a Twitter debate with Sirota.

• Speaking of Manchester’s U-T. Its editorial page continues offered a list of the top six presidents of all time. (As you may recall, it recently declared our current chief executive to be the worst of all time, below even the one whose fiddling set the stage for the Civil War.)

Who makes the U-T’s best-ever list? Lincoln and Washington, of course. But not the other guys on Mt. Rushmore (Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt). Nor anyone named JFK, Truman, Jackson, Wilson or Eisenhower. Instead, the U-T thinks three presidents from just the last 24 years deserve spaces in the top six — Reagan, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.

The U-T also called for San Diego to offer to hold the GOP National Convention here this week if bad weather halts the festivities in Tampa. (Never mind that the security logistics alone would make it impossible to move even a scaled-down convention in a matter of days.)

Not surprisingly, the U-T found that the San Diego mayor’s office hasn’t reached out to the GOP about moving the convention here. “That’s unfortunate,” sniffed the U-T.

• Our contributor Sandy Coronilla posted a photo on Facebook of a several-decades-old plate emblazoned with a drawing of Roger Hedgecock and the slogan “A Mayor for All San Diego.”

And that’s all the political dish we have for you today.

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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