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If you listen to the experts, making more room for cars often just translates to more congestion. Extra lanes, the research suggests, won’t stop traffic jams but just spread them out over a wider area.

But in San Diego, roads have a long history as the go-to solution to congestion in places like Mission Valley, the former farmland that’s evolved into a sprawling regional center full of shopping malls, office towers, hotels and — in the past few decades — condos galore. (Plus, of course, a stadium.) Now there’s talk of more construction, more roads, more more more, and even recognition of the value of the little-seen river that runs through it.

As VOSD’s Matthew Hose reports, Mission Valley is at a crossroads: “Will it become a livable neighborhood and another piece to San Diego’s City of Villages puzzle, or will it continue to be a throughway between the sprawled-out areas in San Diego?”

Local President Gets Demoted, Part I

Last week, there was a big power transition in the local political scene: a female politician took over the presidency, with the power to set the agenda and serve as a public face, taking the reins from the high-profile guy who’d been running things for a while.

There’s a good chance you didn’t hear a word about any of this. That’s because this didn’t happen at the City Council, where intrigue, mystery and bitterness surrounded the ascension of Councilwoman Sherri Lightner.

No, we’re talking about the San Diego Unified school board, where Marne Foster took over the presidency from board member Kevin Beiser with, so it seems, no fuss and no muss. Never mind that Beiser is thought to have higher political aspirations: “While I have immensely enjoyed the opportunity of being president, to quote (trustee) Richard Barrera … we are stronger when we share leadership,” Beiser said, according to the U-T.

Local President Gets Demoted, Part II

By contrast, there was plenty of muss and plenty of fuss last week when most of her San Diego City Council colleagues approved making Lighter president and demoting Councilman Todd Gloria. Lightner’s ascension was clearly a behind-the-scenes triumph for Republican who supported her. How do we know? Because hardly anyone on the Council (or, for that matter the public) has said anything publicly about why she deserves the job.

Lighter is finally discussing the move: What will she do differently as president? She tells the U-T that she’s skeptical of “symbolic actions” — presumably those meaningless declarations that government boards and councils like to make about political issues — and wants to help “my colleagues advance their agendas and be the best that they can be.”

Lightner, the U-T points out, “had to sit through dozens of speakers praising Gloria and calling the move unfair, while she received essentially no support from the public.” She also says she expects to be done with politics in two years, when she’s termed out.

• In a VOSD commentary, Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, says he’s confident in Lightner’s abilities: “She is qualified, capable and has proven that she can do this job. My relationship and experiences working with her give me great confidence in that.”

The Truth Behind Fired-Teacher Tales

Amid all the drama about the future of teacher tenure, how hard is it to actually fire a public-school teacher? The U-T dug into reports of local fired teachers over the past couple years and finds it’s extremely difficult: School districts had to pay off teachers who’d been accused of all sorts of misconduct, some of it bizarre.

In some cases, districts agreed to keep the alleged misconduct secret, presumably meaning the teachers could get new jobs with their new districts none the wiser to their pasts.

VOSD Radio: What a Week it Was

The three co-hosts of the VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast tackle the week, which was dominated by drama at City Hall, and not just the Lightner imbroglio but also a Council member’s staffer who went rogue within earshot of a reporter. Her f-bomb is the least of her worries.

Other hot topics on the show include that tight election in Chula Vista and turmoil at SeaWorld.

Bolts Might Bolt: This Time They Mean It!

The U-T, the biggest booster the Bolts have in town — at least when it comes to the Chargers’ goal of getting a brand-spanking new stadium — is warning that the end may be near. Really. The U-T warns: “Might it be alarmist to suggest [yesterday’s game] could be the Chargers’ final game as the San Diego Chargers? Maybe. Honestly, no one seems to know.”

One thing we do know: Mayor Kevin Faulconer told the U-T that a mildly flip comment from a port commissioner about the stadium’s prospects was “unfortunate and inappropriate.”

Quick News Hits: Sign of Barrio Logan’s Times

• Two stories about the future of transportation in the county — both examining votes by SANDAG, a regional coalition of governments — were at the top of the VOSD hit parade this week: They were the two most-read stories. For the full Top 10 list, click here.

• Barrio Logan has a nifty new neighborhood sign. “The sign makes it OK to be proud of where you are from,” an artist tells the U-T.

• If you see some guy twirling around the gas pumps at your neighborhood Arco, don’t call the police or shove the guy into traffic. It’s just me, expressing glee about the low gas prices through interpretive dance. But any excessive enthusiasm should be curbed: Prices may go up 10-12 cents a gallon in California as of Jan. 1 because of a bid to fight global warming.

• They had me at “All Female Bone-Devouring Worms Fancy Dwarf Males, Except One.” That’s the headline on a story in Deep Sea News (the Deep Sea’s News Leader!) about new research out of Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The worms live in the very deep sea and eat the bones of dead whales, because why not? As Deep Sea News reports, there’s a twist when it comes to the masculine worm eaters: “These males are not only independent, they likely use their manly trunks as a penis to directly transfer sperm to the females. Say hello to the bone-devouring-I-am-my-penis worm.”

But wait, there’s more. Well, probably. “No doubt these sexual extremist scavengers will continue to break the bounds as more of them are described.”

Consider this good news. If we ever lose the gargantuan weirdness of Comic-Con, we’ll always have Scripps to fall back on.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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