Trying to keep up with the daily crush of information can be chaotic. To keep it simple, we're putting together a series of guides on the big issues.
Before we jump into the week in review, here are the two latest guides: the Curious Voter's Guide to City Elections and the New and Improved Reader's Guide to Prop. B.
What We Learned This Week
The Best and Worst Case Scenarios for Our City: This election season has been rife with plenty of utopia and dystopia, but not enough. Liam Dillon and I did our best to describe what San Diego would look like under each mayoral candidate's vision — in both the best-case and worst-case scenarios. While they oversimplify a bit, the scenarios do provide shorthand for each candidate's ideas and the chief concerns about them.
We also have candidate guides if you're still trying to figure out who to vote for. Or skip the homework and just go by the boxing nicknames we gave each one in the aforementioned voter's guide: The Plan Man (DeMaio), the Rogue Agent (Fletcher), The Crusher (Filner) and the Big Boss (Dumanis).
Bugs (Made Here) Could Save the World: Craig Venter is one of San Diego's most famous dreamers and doers. He's back with his latest idea: synthetic bugs can save the world. The New York Times Magazine devoted a major spread to Venter, who's currently constructing a $35 million lab at UC San Diego.
"Right now, Venter is thinking of a bug. He is thinking of a bug that could swim in a pond and soak up sunlight and urinate automotive fuel. He is thinking of a bug that could live in a factory and gobble exhaust and fart fresh air," the story reads.
How Junior Seau Spent His Final Days: The former football star suffered from sleeping problems for years before his suicide a month ago, USA Today revealed Friday in an in-depth look at his last days. The newspaper talked with more than 50 friends and family members, and tells the story of his use of sleeping pills, his strong connection to Oceanside, his family relationships and how many around town still don't believe he could've taken his own life.
How Layoffs Are Impacting Schools: When people say that school policies do disproportional damage to schools in low-income neighborhoods, this is what they mean: Fay Elementary in City Heights is set to lose 26 of its 27 teachers because of budget cuts. While those positions will be filled by others, teachers from the school this week wrote about why keeping that group in tact has been so important to turning around the school. Down the street at Central Elementary, 26 of 47 teachers face layoffs. When San Diego Unified and many other districts do layoffs, they get rid of the teachers with the least tenure, not taking into account things like teacher performance or school chemistry.
In the letter, Fay's teachers urge the district and teachers union to move swiftly on a compromise to avoid layoffs, before it's too late.
• The union took another step closer to having those conversations this week. In another sign of its changing direction, the San Diego Education Association agreed to inspect the district's books to search for savings. The union wants to do that before it begins talking about pay concessions, and as we learned recently, a similar move proved to be a key step in building what's become a model relationship between the district and teachers union in Poway.
Another Big Name Out at U-T San Diego
U-T San Diego fired columnist Tim Sullivan yesterday, he announced last night on Twitter. Sullivan was known for his smart, sharp and sober work. He wasn't a homer or a cheerleader.
A quick snapshot of reactions from Twitter:
"The UT fired its best sports writer," KPBS reporter Tom Fudge.
"I'm better for having worked beside Tim Sullivan. Craftsman, truth seeker, unfailingly fair. A journalist in the finest sense of the word," U-T Chargers writer Kevin Acee.
Friday's Election News
• A lead credit rating agency says it might have to downgrade San Diego's credit score if it passes Proposition A. That's because doing so could jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding and that, in turn, could put the city's everyday budget on the hook for construction costs. (U-T San Diego)
Here's our five-step guide to understanding Prop. A.
• The police officers union launched a scathing ad against mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio this week, accusing him of voting against benefits for the widows and children of fallen officers. DeMaio's camp responded by warning TV stations that the ad could be libelous.
So did DeMaio make that vote? KBPS says yes, he did, but quotes DeMaio saying he would've voted for it had it not been part of a larger labor package he disagreed with.
• "What a load of bull." Yep, these are the things our readers say in the comments section. Find out what that was all about in our weekly roundup of some of the best comments on our site.
• Today the media collaborative Speak City Heights hosts an event on teen safety, bullying and curfew sweeps. Our Keegan Kyle will be leading the conversation on curfew sweeps. Check out our weekly roundup of work from the collaborative for more details.
Quote of the Week
"I respectfully decline to cooperate in any way with what I consider to be an enemy of the United States. The People's Republic of China is a repressive and evil communist regime that runs a Police State. I fought in Vietnam to stop communism and will fight communism until the day I die. Please accept me as a very determined enemy, as I assume you to be to me."
-- Santee Mayor Randy Voepel, writing to a Chinese person who asked for his autograph.
I'm the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0526. Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewDonohue.