Morning Report: Another Shoe Drops in School Board Scandal
Chula Vista tries to woo builders westward, NFL gives S.D. the bum's rush, Poway schools consider a new bond with the same old crew, art exhibit highlights 1915 rainmaker floods and what lurks in airport's lost & found
San Diego school board president Marne Foster recently distanced herself from a $250,000 claim filed against the school district. Her son’s father made the claim, accusing the district of harming her son — said to have run up $10,000 in trauma counseling bills — via a negative college evaluation.
She said she was not a party to it and wouldn’t comment on it.
Mario Koran was able to contact the father, John Marsh, who said Foster wrote the claim herself: “She brought me a blank complaint form and said, ‘Sign it.’ So I did. And I didn’t think twice about it until there was backlash.”
The district denied the claim, and no lawsuit was filed.
It was yet another alarming revelation as we try to unravel what happened at the School for Creative and Performing Arts.
As we reported earlier this week, the counselor who wrote the negative evaluation was suspended for 9 days and is still upset (“I was punished for telling the truth”). The principal of the school was also removed and told Koran it was because of Foster’s anger about the evaluation.
And that brings up what might be the most important question still unanswered: Did Superintendent Cindy Marten have a better reason to punish the counselor and remove the principal than that a school board member was mad about an evaluation her son had received?
Chula Vista’s West Side Rethink
In the olden days, a railroad might separate the the fanciest parts of town from the rest. Now, freeways often play that role.
In Chula Vista, the county’s second-largest city, I-805 is the dividing line. To the west lie the oldest parts of the city, a mix of middle-class and poor residents in apartments, trailer parks and classic SoCal houses. On the other side of the freeway you can find the sprawling modern homes and schools of the master-planned Eastlake community.
The city may give a boost to the west side, which is congested and dumpy in parts. As VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan reports, the plan is to woo new housing developments to the area via nice deals on building fees.
“For years, building new homes and apartments on the west side of Chula Vista didn’t pencil out for developers because they couldn’t charge enough for the end product to turn a meaningful profit, stagnating growth and furthering the divide between the east and west sides,” Srikrishnan reports. Now, the city might allow builders to avoid paying fees for 10 years.
• Time for a time warp: Check out this 1986 L.A. Times story about the debut of Eastlake, a community directly inspired by Irvine. “Housing in the first-phase neighborhoods of EastLake Hills and EastLake Shores will be produced by eight builders and will range in price from $49,900 to more than $300,000,” the story says.
Then-Mayor Greg Cox, now a longtime county supervisor, raved about the project: It “adds an element of prestige to the community and will be a standard for development in Chula Vista for years to come.”
• The city of Chula Vista wants a consultant to help it figure out how to offer ultra-fast Internet service in a big new development along the bayfront.
NFL Won’t Open Doors to S.D.
San Diego officials wanted to head to Chicago next month to make their case for a football stadium to NFL officials. Sorry about it, the NFL says. That’s not gonna happen.
An NFL vice president tells us that the meeting “is not the forum where something presented by outsiders gets a full discussion with questions.”
What now? A mayoral spokesman says “to better allow for an in-depth presentation, the NFL is looking at having hometown cities present to a smaller setting of team owners.”
In other words, no meeting is happening with either the full owners group or a committee.
Meanwhile, a sports reporter tells Mighty 1090 that the NFL may only want to move one team to L.A., not two. If true, this would put the Chargers into a pickle because there’s still talk that the Rams and Raiders want in on Los Angeles action too.
• The NCAA is investigating San Diego State’s men’s basketball program, CBS Sports reports. But SDSU doesn’t seem to know anything about it.
Poway Schools: Look Who’s Back
“A slew of consultants who brokered Poway Unified’s notorious $1 billion capital appreciation bond deal in 2011 are up for more bond work Wednesday night — though it’s unclear how much they stand to make,” VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reports.
It’s also not clear how much property owners will have to pay in the district, which encompasses part of the city of San Diego in addition to Poway: “How much in special tax bonds the district plans to sell and how much each firm will get paid isn’t disclosed on board documents. The district did not respond to a request for the amounts.”
Environment Roundup: Sonar Stifled
• “The Navy agreed to limit its use of sonar and other training that inadvertently harms whales, dolphins and other marine mammals off Hawaii and California in a settlement with environmental groups approved Monday.” Among the restrictions: “Sonar… is not allowed in blue whale feeding areas near San Diego, according to the environmental groups.” (AP)
• County residents are doing fine on the water-conserving front. (City News Service)
But other drought news isn’t so good. A new report says the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada hasn’t been this low in 500 years. This is based on evidence from tree rings. (KPBS)
• The NY Times has an explainer about the devastating Northern California fires.
Baywatch? Well, Close Enough
• The cops want to keep an eye on Ocean Beach via a dozen surveillance cameras, NBC 7 reports, although the 24-hour live feed won’t be monitored 24 hours. While video surveillance of the public is common in many cities, this is apparently the first feed of its kind in the city.
It’s unclear from NBC 7’s initial reporting whether this is an extension of Operation Secure San Diego, a surveillance network of private cameras around the city that the department tried — and failed — to put together, as VOSD’s Andrew Keatts reported last year.
While that program was never robust enough to spark a real conversation about the civil liberties concerns demanded of expansive, all-inclusive surveillance networks, our reporting last year turned up an issue that could prove significant now that this Ocean Beach-specific network has materialized: The department never outlined how it would safeguard residents’ privacy while it pursued these technologies. At least, it hadn’t done so as of a year ago.
Opinion: Stop the Trash Truck Glut
In a VOSD commentary, port commissioner Bob Nelson calls on the city to dump the system that sends a crazy quilt of trash trucks over streets in the older parts of the city. “A partially filled trash truck puts as much strain on city pavement as thousands of passenger vehicles,” he writes, but the city retains a system that allows multiple trash haulers to serve multiple types of customers.
“If noise and road congestion were the only issue, it might not burn so much. But the destruction of public property — taxpayer property — to keep the trash cartel quiet is more than I can tolerate.”
Culture Report: The Skies Opened
The Culture Report spotlights “Rainmaker,” an art exhibit at the downtown library that opens up this weekend. With the help of works by modern artists, it spotlights the City Council’s 1915 decision to hire a cloud-seeding rainmaker (said to ‘tickle the clouds to tears”) and the mass chaos that followed when the skies opened.
Also: A debate over a grand (and free) new modern art museum in L.A., a mural inside a mini-Target, and in-person voting for the annual Orchies & Onions architectural awards.
Quick News Hits: Missing a Scapular?
• Fresh off a new owner (Tribune Co.), a new sister paper (L.A. Times), the U-T now has a new publisher. Now, there’s buzz that the LAT and perhaps other papers in the Tribune chain will face newsroom cuts. (Poynter)
• A very unfortunate incident — an iPad left on a plane — sent me to Lindbergh Field’s Lost and Found department, which has a helpful online database listing thousands of found items. (Not so helpful: American Airlines, which sent me to the airport, which sent me to American Airlines.)
San Diegans and visitors, pick up the white courtesy phone if you’re missing a scapular (“a Christian garment suspended from the shoulders”), marriage license (paging S. Codrington and L. Gregory), or “gum” (type unlisted).
And hey, Lindbergh Field? About that “charm” you found on Sept. 9. Is it winsome and personally magnetic? Yeah, that’s my charm. I’ll pick it up.
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.