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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
Dueling opinions over big debt transfer, miffed teachers union,
ex-arts critic joins museum and the SD roots of Regis.
Here’s a handy way to pump more than $9 million a year into San Diego municipal coffers: transfer the city’s debt for the convention center to the redevelopment agency. Voilà! A debt is off the books. (Well, sort of). Totally fine, said the city attorney. But now, another legal opinion that we got our hands on says the opposite: Totally not fine.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith says his opinion remains correct and the other view — whose existence has been hinted at, a practice that raises its own questions — is wrong.
At stake: the city’s projected $53 million deficit this year, which threatens to cut even further into services like cops, fire protection, recreation centers and libraries.
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School Union Issues Warning:
The San Diego teachers union’s president has been unhappy about the district’s new approach to budget cuts, which focuses on giving local schools more leeway about what (and whom) will get the ax. Now, the union is warning the district to make sure that local schools understand the rules regarding staffing ratios for counselors and nurses.
Speaking of those cuts, it’s no secret who will lose their jobs at a small San Diego school if officials there decide to cut teachers. Knowing the identities of the two teachers in jeopardy at Serra Mesa’s Juarez Elementary make decisions even more personal for everyone involved.
“Weighing these choices in such a short period of time has been stressful for employees,” education reporter Emily Alpert writes. “The talks over what to cut have grown increasingly tense, as people question the accuracy of budget information. A wrong number could mean a wrongful cut, so teachers are poring over the budget, checking the math.”
“We were texting each other over the weekend saying, ‘Does your stomach hurt too?’ ‘Yes, my stomach hurts too,'” said a third-grade teacher who also serves as the school’s union representative.
“San Diego city officials have recommended Elite Show Services keep the 24-hour security contract at Qualcomm Stadium even though five other companies offered to do the work for less money,” the U-T reports. The company will get to make a bundle through other services it will exclusively provide, such as ticket-taking and ushering.
The U-T previously reported that the city planned to give the company a contract until 2035 with no bidding. The city then changed its mind and allowed bidding.
(Not) Making the Grade:
Only about four out of every 10 high school graduates in the county graduate with the classes need to apply to the state’s public schools. What gives? We check out what students need, class-wise, and what’s gone wrong, in the latest edition of San Diego Explained.
Critic No More:
The local arts community had a collective nervous breakdown when the U-T laid off longtime critic Robert Pincus last year. The fuss culminated in a bitter flap over a newspaper arts blogger who used her first and only post to rip the U-T apart upon belatedly hearing of Pincus’s departure. Now he’s going to work for one of the institutions he used to write about: Pincus will take a fundraising and grant-writing post with the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
In a brief interview, he says the world of arts criticism in San Diego — whose main blow has been losing him — continues to lack a certain something. “I still think there’s a vacuum here in terms of art criticism that needs to be filled. That remains.”
Sheriff Wasn’t Blowing Smoke:
It sounds like it might be an outlandish claim: Was the air in Escondido really less dirty than usual on the day that the “bomb factory” house was burned down? The sheriff said so. San Diego Fact Check finds that the claim is true: smog was lower on the day of the burning than the day before. It’s not clear if the air was cleaner because Interstate 15 was closed.
A Different Kind of Smoke:
Where exactly will it be legal for marijuana dispensaries to operate? Today the San Diego Planning Commission hashes out a proposed ordinance that would bar dispensaries closer than 1,000 feet to schools, playgrounds, libraries, child care facilities, youth facilities, churches, parks, and other dispensaries. Universities may be added to the list, too. (NBC San Diego)
The Photo of the Day captures singer Miss Erika Davies as she’s bathed in red light during a performance.
Ron Reagan’s San Diego Flub:
Ron Reagan, the son of the late ex-president, made the news the other day by claiming in his new book that his father seemed to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease while in office. And that wasn’t all: he wrote that doctors thought they saw signs of the illness in his brain during surgery on Reagan in 1989 in San Diego after an accident in Mexico.
Reagan’s surviving associates promptly went to battle stations and knocked down both stories, saying Reagan didn’t undergo brain surgery in 1989. After all, it would have taken quite a grand conspiracy to keep that quiet. Now, Ron Reagan says the surgery wasn’t in San Diego after all. It was actually, he said, skull surgery at the Mayo Clinic. (For more about his book, check my lukewarm review of it in The Christian Science Monitor.)
Who’s ‘Pretty Pathetic’?
A San Diego prosecutor got in the face of a burglary suspect during a trial, suggesting that he’s “pretty pathetic” and “pretty despicable.” And there was more. “According to a state appeals court in San Diego, the prosecutor also questioned the defense lawyer’s integrity, suggested the attorney had coached Higgins, and described a defense psychiatrist as a hired gun who had ‘attacked a victim in a rape trial,'” the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
All this sounds more “Law & Order” (or “L.A. Law” for you old school types) than real life. An appeal court is not amused: it’s thrown out the guilty verdict and ordered a new trial.
TV or No TV:
A television icon who got his start in San Diego is taking a powder. Regis Philbin worked at KSON-AM and KFMB-TV/Channel 8 prior to hosting a late Saturday night talk show on KOGO-TV/Channel 10 (now KGTV) in the early 1960s. This week, he announced that he’s retiring from “Live with Regis and Kelly,” but he’s not done with show business.
Sounds like they’ll need someone to replace Regis. Maybe, say, someone also who got his start in San Diego and knows how to inform and entertain people every morning. A guy who’s brilliant and funny and debonair.
Kelly Ripa: Call me.