Whether they’re elected or appointed, San Diego’s political leaders are just about unanimous in their support for a half-billion-dollar expansion of the city’s convention center. But the taxpayer-supported project has critics, including the staffers who advise a powerful state agency. Today, we’ll get some insight into whether the California Coastal Commission will give crucial approval or prompt a massive rethinking of the whole thing.

Wanna catch up on the debate? First, check our handy list of “Six Things to Know” about the project. Then read this U-T story; note that a prominent convention center booster says he’s ready to kill the whole expansion if a particular dispute can’t be worked out.

We also received an opinion piece by Phil Blair, the chairman of the convention center’s board of directors, titled “Four False Claims About the Convention Center Expansion.”

One of those “claims” is a suggestion that the glut of convention space in the country will keep the center from making money. San Diego, Blair says, is different from the rest.

Blair’s opinion piece sparked more debate in our comments.

Meet SD Architecture’s Young Turks

They respect the past and even honor it by refusing to vanquish old buildings to make way for new ones. But a new generation of young local architects isn’t made up of fusty preservationists. They aspire to create urban housing that appeals to what one calls “the 20 to 40, urban, energetic, go-getting lifestyle.” Why? Because “that’s who I think is most interesting.”

Some of us decrepit fossil types might beg to differ, but never mind. The point, as VOSD land-use reporter Andrew Keatts explains in a new piece, is that these architects are working with the old guard to “pursue an identifiable urban-centric style and mentality.”

Our story examines what the architects share, including ties to a local branch of an L.A. architecture school, a focus on small lots, resistance to getting into zoning fights, and, in many cases, a dual role as architect-developers.

A New Kid on the Way as Election Looms

Councilman David Alvarez’s wife has a baby due in a few months, their second. VOSD’s Scott Lewis wonders if impending parenthood would be a bigger issue for a woman mayoral candidate.

Playing with Food Is OK This Time Around

The New Children’s Museum is opening a new exhibit called “Feast: The Art of Playing with Your Food,” and VOSD food politics blogger Clare Leschin-Hoar is on the scene: “Food facts like hunger and food scarcity – heavy topics – are balanced with fun.” Read her lively report here.

NFL’s Concussion Crisis in the Spotlight

VOSD has been tracking the debate over concussions and long-term brain damage in football players, a discussion that’s gained tragic relevance locally in the wake of the suicide of NFL star Junior Seau. PBS’s “Frontline” aired a remarkable documentary about the topic this week titled “League of Denial” that examines the suffering of former players, medical research into possible injuries from concussions, and the NFL’s tortured history of dealing (and not dealing) with the issue.

The documentary, which you can watch here for free, is effective and fair if a bit sensationalized an overbearing background music. It includes a segment on Seau and interviews with his ex-wife and children.

Have you ever wondered why they can’t just make better helmets to prevent these injuries? One of the journalists featured in the documentary has an answer on the sports blog Deadspin: helmets prevent skull fractures. Concussions, which occur when the brain gets bruised while moving around inside the skull, are different: “It’s important to know that the brain is like a yolk inside an egg — if you drop it ensconsed in tissues, it won’t break, but it’ll sure slosh to one side or the other, which is how many concussions take place.”

Quick News Hits

• One of the saddest moments in the Filner scandal came when a City Hall worker went public with allegations of sexual harassment and was then subject to a barrage of insulting comments online and on the radio due to her appearance. Now, SanDiego6 has uncovered City Hall surveillance video (thanks to a public records request) that it believes confirms part of the worker’s story. Sheriff’s detectives, who continue to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing by the former Mayor Filner, are apparently reviewing the footage.

• You might have received a curious letter in the mail offering a warranty for your sewer connection — a service apparently endorsed by the city of San Diego. NBC 7 explains what it is.

• Meanwhile, up in Escondido (via U-T): “the mayor said parents who need libraries because they don’t have time for their kids shouldn’t be having children in the first place.” (Can we get a Fact Check on this?)

• 10News reports on hundreds of malfunctioning fire alarms in the Sweetwater school district, which serves middle and high school students in the South Bay.

• Councilman Mark Kersey says he’s learned that about 6,000 fewer Marines are expected to call the county home in the near future, City News Service reports via KPBS.

• The governor has signed a bill by local Assemblywoman Toni Atkins that will allow a wider range of medical professionals (including nurse practitioners) to perform a certain type of early abortion, the U-T reports.

• The U-T profiles Francis Barraza, a young woman who’d been serving as the executive director of the county Republican party and will now lead the GOP’s statewide outreach to Latinos.

• The Friends of the Villa Montezuma are holding a special Halloween walking tour this Saturday of San Diego’s historic (and city-owned!) Mt. Hope Cemetery, the permanent home of local luminaries like Civil War vets, a governor, the nation’s first female attorney, California’s first millionaire and folks with names like Horton, Chandler, Sessions, Whaley, Jessops and Marston.

The cemetery is also home to hundreds and hundreds of the indigent dead who were buried, sometimes three deep, with no headstones to mark their final resting places.

One desolate 10-acre dirt lot may hold 4,000 unmarked graves, as we reported a while back. Nothing about Mt. Hope may be more haunting.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him 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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