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Assemblywoman Toni Atkins stepped down as speaker of the Assembly on Monday to hand the gavel over to Los Angeles-area Assemblyman Anthony Rendon. Atkins, the first Assembly leader from San Diego, called the job “a bit of a lonely position.”

Atkins grew up poor and said she tried to keep in mind what it’s like not to have power, even as she held lots of it. She also said the legislature needs more women.

“I will say as a woman and probably as a member of the LGBT community too, as a lesbian, one of the things I have learned is that we still haven’t arrived,” Atkins told our Sacramento Report. “…I’m really mindful that there still exists some separation and definitely we are not really where we should be as women.”

Atkins is now running for state Senate.

Beyond Art for Art’s Sake in Schools

Where some schools have thriving arts programs, others don’t even provide the basics. San Diego Unified is looking to change that. Officials are working on a new plan for the arts that the school district could put into effect in the next few years, Kinsee Morlan reports.

“I think that San Diego is finally, finally getting with the program and not only putting more art in the schools but recognizing that arts integration – that is, teaching all the subjects through the lens of the arts in a more dramatic, hands-on way – is going to attract students, hold their attention and give them the thinking skills that kids need to survive in the new globalized economy,” said John M. Eger, director of the Creative Economy Initiative at San Diego State University and author of a blueprint to make schools more creative.

Eger said he hopes the plan integrates arts throughout the curriculum – using art to teach broader lessons in science or math. Teaching kids about Martin Luther King Jr., for instance, might involve role-playing important historical moments in his life.

But San Diego Unified has a record of writing plans it doesn’t really use.

Russ Sperling, director of San Diego Unified’s Visual and Performing Arts Department, said he came to the district last fall to make sure that doesn’t happen with this plan.

Trash to Tranquility

A forgotten corner of Balboa Park — San Diego’s “crown jewel” — is a 77-acre former landfill site. Now, Pete Wheeler, a wealthy manager who lives in Point Loma, wants turn part of that land into a sanctuary. It would have 12 spiritually themed gardens, a large meeting center, an outdoor amphitheater and a space for at-risk youth programs, Wheeler tells our Lisa Halverstadt.

Vicki Estrada, the landscape architect who wrote the city’s master plan for Balboa Park, has produced concept maps and accompanied Wheeler to meetings with city officials and others interested in the park.

Wheeler got the idea after he lost his wife of 48 years to cancer. Wheeler isn’t religious but a Tibetan lama and other religious leaders provided moral support before his wife’s death. Wheeler and that lama, Lhanang Rinpoche, once talked about a peace garden in San Diego.

Podcast: Comic-Con Speaks

Comic-Con leaders don’t do a lot of interviews. But David Glanzer, marketing and public relations director of Comic-Con, stopped by our studio to talk about the behemoth pop-culture event with Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts. He talked about hotels hiking prices higher and higher every year during the event and about how Comic-Con is working to help keep prices reasonable for its demographics – mostly young adults who can’t afford the ballooning price tags.

Scott and Andrew also talk about an attorney who cornered the school market but is losing his grip, the convention center expansion and more.

How the D9 Race Is Shaping Up

KPBS’s Megan Burks looks at how things are shaping up in the District 9 City Council race. The district, which covers City Heights, Kensington and the College area, was drawn in 2011 to empower Latino voters in the city. But the district’s seat has yet to be held by a Latino. Now, a number of Latinos are running to replace Marti Emerald, who holds the seat but is not running for reelection.

Fish Questions

KPBS follows up on some articles we’ve done about the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. Hubbs is looking to build a massive fish farm off the coast, but has run into trouble at a smaller operation in Carlsbad, where its fish have horns and deformed hearts or are blind. The city water department also worries Hubbs could cause a regulatory chain reaction that costs water customers $2 billion and the Navy is worried Hubbs will interfere with its operations.

Top Stories of Week

Our list of the 10 most-read VOSD stories of the week is here. Below are the Top 5:

1. Attorneys Flee Go-To Schools Lawyer’s Firm as His Hold on Education Market Slips
Attorney Dan Shinoff has managed to corner the school legal market in town for decades. But things are changing. (Ashly McGlone)

2. What the Fight at Lincoln High Reveals About the School’s Longstanding Tensions
A fight last week that left a police officer injured and at least one student facing charges has underscored existing tensions at Lincoln High. (Mario Koran and Rachel Evans)

3. East Village Developers Say an East Village Stadium Would Ruin East Village
A few dozen architects, developers and urban planners have banded together to reframe what they say is an unbalanced conversation on the East Village. (Andrew Keatts)

4. Years of Defying State Affordable Housing Law Gets Encinitas Sued, Again
Encinitas has spent years finding ways around a law that lets developers bypass certain restrictions if they include affordable housing in their projects. (Maya Srikrishnan)

5. Lessons From My Scary Encounter With an MTS Officer
My experience with an angry MTS officer who kicked me off the trolley taught me a lesson about investigative journalism. My encounter should teach MTS a lesson, too. (Lina Chankar)

Ry Rivard

Ry Rivard was formerly a reporter for Voice of San Diego. He wrote about water and power.

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