Not long ago, a pair of local political power players headed to a meeting with the Chargers in our sunny city and proceeded to feel a big chill. The team told them they’d need to come up with another $200 million on top of $350 million already promised if they wanted to keep banging the drum for a new football stadium in Mission Valley.
Whaaaa … ? Our Scott Lewis, who has the story, uncovers the team’s pitch: The team wanted the money to come from boosting hotel taxes or other fees on tourists. While some San Diegans expressed shock that the team’s new proposal included a hotel tax hike, it turns out they’d been planning it for a long time.
No sale, said Mayor Kevin Faulconer and County Supervisor Ron Roberts. Check Lewis’s play-by-play for more details.
Now, of course, local politicians and candidates are balking even as the team tries to bypass them and go directly to voters, as just about everyone feels burned by the Bolts.
Case in point: The two Democratic candidates for City Council in District 3, which covers neighborhoods like downtown, Hillcrest and Normal Heights, share plenty of opinions. As our Lisa Halverstadt reports, one of their areas of agreement is over plans for that convadium downtown. What do they think? In a word: Meh.
“City Council contenders Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward believe an East Village stadium would eliminate promising possibilities for valuable downtown plots and rob the city of resources they think should go elsewhere,” Halverstadt reports. And they both say they’ve gotten a message from voters: “San Diegans don’t want the city to up its investment in the Chargers.”
• KPBS takes another look at the City Council’s District 9, where Latinos make up half the population but don’t tend to vote, allowing whites — like those in upscale Kensington — to gain plenty of influence at the ballot box.
Will things change this year when all the candidate running in the race are Latino? They hope so, of course. “If we continue to only reach out to Kensington, it’s eroding our democracy,” one candidate says. “These voters become stronger and the ones we continue to ignore give up on the system.”
Rep. Hunter in More Hot Water
Earlier this week, we heard that Rep. Duncan D. Hunter spent $1,302 in campaign funds on video games; he blamed his 13-year-old-son, who’s also named Duncan (as is D. Hunter’s father, the former congressman).
Now, the Daily Beast says “an additional $1,650 was spent on Christian Unified Schools, a private school district in San Diego that serves evangelicals.” A spokesman says the mess is “being resolved,” but the reporter claims that “his staff’s explanations for the expenses are not particularly explanatory.”
Good News for the Semi-Nude
San Diego has a rich history of public nudity and semi-nudity, at least dating back to the Balboa Park’s 1935-36 Zoro Garden Nudist Colony. We’re home to a nudist camp in the backcountry and a world-famous nude beach that draws hundreds daily in the summer. And in 2010, the folks behind the World Naked Bike Ride went to court in an unsuccessful bid to legally cycle through town without a stitch on.
The newest nudity kerfuffle involves an attendee at a gay pride festival who was cited for wearing a rear-baring loincloth. He claims that it was selective enforcement in light of other events, like the Over the Line Tournament, where thongs display plenty of skin. So he sued the city. (He wasn’t prosecuted over the citation.)
A federal appeals court has resurrected his appeal, sending it to local courts where a jury will decide if he violated the law, the U-T reports. According to the ruling, “that an officer referred to [the defendant] as a ‘drama queen’ during his arrest is additional evidence of discriminatory purpose.” During a hearing, one judge asked, “Why don’t we just say that was a bad call by a police officer?” Sounds like a bare fact.
Tough Times for Water Features?
You may not know it based on the decorative fountain you bought at Home Depot, but “water features” are big business. How big? An “interactive” water fountain at the Anaheim Convention Center cost a cool $3 million, and the company that built it is experiencing a boom.
It may be an outlier, the L.A. Times reports. “The historic lack of rain has been rough on the state’s waterscape businesses — the people who create fountains, ponds and other aquatic landscape features. Such ornamental projects are easy targets when water is scarce, a scapegoating that fountain builders say is inaccurate and unfair.” (As I reported last year for VanityFair.com, there’s a lot of drought blame-shifting going around.)
Bike Rentals: Safest Way to Cycle?
Widespread bike rentals have had a rocky start in San Diego. But the news site Vox has some good news about bike rentals: No one has died while cycling with one of bikes in the so-called bike-sharing programs.
“Contrast this with the overall estimated cycling fatality rate of 21 deaths per 100 million trips,” Vox says. So what’s going on? A new report points to better bike design, more bike use in areas with slower car traffic and the higher numbers of less-experienced (and more cautious) cyclists. Oddly, bike renters seem to be injured less even though they’re more likely to not use helmets.
• Good news for cyclists? The city may be heading toward banning parking on Fifth Avenue downtown. (City News Service)
Bill Walton: Massive Deadhead
Quick: Name a pro athlete who’s a total hippie from way back. I’ll hold. Can’t think of anyone other than our very own Bill Walton? Join the club.
Walton’s been doing a lot of press lately about his new memoir “Back From The Dead: Searching For The Sound, Shining The Light And Throwing It Down.” A couple weeks ago, a nifty story in the New York Times Magazine noted his “surprising gratitude” despite a life of “physical agony.” Now, the AV Club interviews Walton about his passion for music in general and for the Grateful Dead in particular. He’s seen the band play more than 800 times.
“Music is my life,” he says. “It’s inseparable from anything else that I do … In a world that is far too often selling fear and death, I’m selling hope and life and success and that’s why I chose to be part of the Grateful Dead.” In fact, he says, “I became the basketball player I was because of the Grateful Dead.”
Behind S.D.’s Wackiest Place Names
U-T columnist Logan Jenkins digs into the origins of unusual place names in San Diego County. Espola, it turns out, isn’t a name of Spanish origin but instead a blending of the first letters of Escondido, Poway and Lakeside. Pomerado, the name of a hospital and a road, takes a similar approach to letters in Poway, a community called Meron, and (Rancho) Bernardo.
There’s the backwards Lanoitan Street in National City (get it?) and Lebon Avenue in University City near Nobel Avenue.
In typical elaborate Logan-lingo, Jenkins notes that “any sampler of quirkily conceived San Diego names cannot avoid out of prudery the oft-repeated off-color dubbing of the monorail at the Wild Animal Park nearly 45 years ago.” As we confirmed a few years ago after Jenkins mentioned this in another column, the Wgasa Bush Line’s name indeed had its roots in an earthy phrase.
North County Report: Not All Roads Lead to Debate
Our weekly North County Report looks at how Encinitas and Oceanside are trying to remodel their streets. When it comes to smooth sailing (er, riding), one is not like the either. Also: The advisers behind the hugely controversial Poway school bond are back, Vista has a huge list of candidates running for City Council and the homeless shelter in Escondido is staying open into the spring.
Quick News Hits: This Street’s a Snooze
• The City Council has been wary about giving itself raises, presumably because it’s afraid of being throttled at the ballot box. But it’s not rushing to take away its own nice perks either. (U-T)
• With the potential of influencing both presidential nomination races, state voters may come out in droves. (Times of SD)
• A new economic forecast predicts a banner year for the California economy and a 5 percent unemployment rate by 2017. (L.A. Times)
• It’s easy to test a driver for alcohol, but what about pot, cocaine, painkillers and other drugs? State legislators are pushing to allow officers to test for these kinds of drugs with a swab and an electronic device. (L.A. Times)
• The Reader has another update on the parrot deaths in Point Loma. Now, evidence suggests the killer is shooting parrots with a pellet gun.
• It’s not just San Diego place names that are fun to ponder. As we’ve noted before, we have plenty of intriguing street names too like Unida Place and Rondevoo Road.
I heard a new one the other day via @sandiegoscanner, a Twitter account that tracks the grim and grin-worthy in local police radio traffic. It said a suspect was arrested at Mission Valley’s Camino de la Siesta, over by the U-T building.
That’s a surprise. It’s usually such a sleepy neighborhood.
Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward as candidates for City Council District 1. They are candidates for District 3.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.