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The plan to expand the convention center for more than half a billion dollars will definitely cost the city some dough. Early estimates set it at $3.5 million a year. Boosters assure residents it will more than pay for that, but that was the city’s skin in the game.

A new report released in time for today’s big City Council vote says it might actually end up at $9 million to $13 million a year.

There are lots of contingencies to keep the bill from getting that high, our story explains. But, as our reporter Liam Dillon writes, “city leaders can build in all the safeguards they want, but the fact remains that the budget ultimately is responsible for an amount far greater than $3.5 million annually to finance the expansion.”

Balboa Park’s Touchy Historical Designation

Balboa Park is a National Historic Landmark District. Balboa Park is about to undergo a dramatic makeover. Are these two things inconsistent?

Critics of the plan say yes, and they warn that the park may lose its designation. But, as our reporter Kelly Bennett finds, that might mean little outside of the arena of symbolism.

Read her examination of the designation issue to understand what is — and isn’t — at stake. Also make note of who plans to tattle to the feds about the makeover.

Politifest Is a Hit

Our second-annual Politifest attracted hundreds of civic-minded residents to Point Loma for a day of learning, politicking and fun. The U-T has a recap of the day’s marquee event, a debate between the two mayoral candidates.

Zingers flew. Rep. Bob Filner tried to bash Councilman Carl DeMaio over the latter’s support from developers, lobbyists and the publisher of the U-T: “They are going to, in fact, buy this election, and buy the city council and buy this city and run it in the way they want.”

DeMaio urged his rival to “present a vision”: “San Diegans do not want to have dysfunction, division and distraction. They want leadership.”

On the self-awareness (or lack thereof) front, Filner referred to himself in the third person: “When Bob Filner is elected, it’s going to be neighborhoods not special interests.” And DeMaio, who can be an acidic campaigner, called out his opponent for “attacking others and trying to divide.”

• Our friends at KOGO have the radio broadcast of the mayoral debate for your review. They aired it live Saturday.

 • Using the social media tool Storify, Sandy Coronilla created photo gallery from NBC 7 San Diego.

• CBS 8 covered it as well, zeroing in on an exchange about paying city employees for their performance, as opposed to their tenure.

• The U-T’s Karla Peterson added some more color about DeMaio at the event. (Including why he wouldn’t take off his blazer for the debate despite the heat.)

• The Independent Voter Network also wrote up some thoughts. Member George Janczyn posted some nice photos. As a matter of fact, the Twitter search of Politifest is full of great reflections, constructive criticism and photos.

• We recorded the whole thing, which included a mayoral debate, school board debate and often tense discussion for and against Proposition Z. We’ll roll out the videos in coming days and get our fact checkers to work.

North County Times: Layoffs Loom, Editor Leaving

The U-T’s purchase of the North County Times is to become final today, and employees at the NCT are bracing for the worst.

In an interview published in the U-T, CEO John Lynch said there will be no more than 100 layoffs overall in the transition, including some U-T employees: “there are some areas here (U-T) where we felt there were some stronger people and stronger brands in North County and they will replace (them).”

NCT staffers say several top managers have already gotten the news that they won’t be staying. They include the publisher, Peter York (he said goodbye), and Editor Kent Davy, who’s overseen the newsroom since 1996.

In a classy and poignant farewell column, Davy wrote: “No regrets here. The years, though not without hard times, have been sweet. I’ve had the best job in the universe.”

Meanwhile, after more than 14 years and 650 columns, I said goodbye to NCT readers too. I’ll no longer cover radio for the paper’s entertainment section.

A reporter from the Reader asked me why.

Quick News Hits

• San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore is not impressed with a counterpart in Arizona, the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio. (Fox 5)

• Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher wonders if big changes need to happen to football as head injuries raise concern. (Lemon Grove Patch)

• Journalism is glamorous. How do I know? Because a reporter for the Reader got a plum assignment: standing outside a newly built Ocean Beach public restroom and asking more than 25 people about what they thought of the public art on its ceiling. None of them had noticed.

The artwork, a jumble of circles of words, includes text that one man complained is negative like “fatal shooting of a dog by police officers” and “anger expressed on Newport Avenue will translate to violence,” the Reader reports.

I tried to reach an expert for perspective on words written in restrooms. Unfortunately, Kilroy could not be reached for comment.

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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