Morning Report: San Diego Unified’s Transparency Problem - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: San Diego Unified’s Transparency Problem

San Diego Unified parents (and, um, Voice of San Diego reporters) have had lots of questions as the district’s announced a $124 million budget deficit, hundreds of layoffs and other cuts.

Yet, as a group of PTA parents at Gage Elementary in San Carlos has found, the district’s been slow to provide answers.

Our Mario Koran recently spent time with Gage parents who’ve grown frustrated as they try to understand the reasons behind the district’s big budget shortfall and how it might impact their children’s school.

A VOSD analysis drives home the challenge they and others face accessing information. Koran dug into the data on the district’s responses to formal public information requests and found it often takes the agency more than 200 days to respond to formal queries from reporters and everyday San Diegans.

Koran learned even district leaders haven’t always had an easy time getting information.

Kevin Beiser, a school board member the Gage Elementary group consulted in hopes of getting answers, confessed he’s sometimes had to repeatedly request information from Superintendent Cindy Marten before he gets it.

“Without a doubt, I think we can do a better job of providing information promptly when people ask for it,” Beiser said.

• The San Diego Society of Professional Journalists chapter, of which I’m vice president, recently named San Diego Unified the unlucky recipient of its annual Wall Award for the district’s repeated withholding of documents and confrontational encounters with reporters.

North County News: Issa Protests on the Move

Vista officials are trying to move hundreds protesters who’ve been lining up for weeks outside Rep. Darrell Issa’s local office.

VOSD contributor Ruarri Serpa reports the city cited safety concerns when protesters sought a new permit and ultimately told them they’ll need to stand on a dirt patch across the street rather than the on the sidewalk and lawn outside the building.

In other North County news, Serpa sheds more light on the potential reasons for Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood’s abrupt leave of absence and The Coast News’ continuing search for a new editor.

 10News reports the state Public Utilities Commission is weighing whether to allow SDG&E to replace a North County gas pipeline. Our Ry Rivard previously wrote about why environmentalists and advocates are wary of the project.

Balboa Park’s Needs to Get a Closer Look

Balboa Park’s long been called the city’s crown jewel but it needs some TLC. Some of the beloved park’s iconic buildings are falling apart and only about half of the plans laid out in the park master plan approved in 1989 have actually been implemented. Meanwhile, the park also lacks dedicated funding to support it.

City Councilman Chris Ward, who promised to champion Balboa Park investments during his campaign last year, is now kicking off an informal process to gather input on park plans, ideas and priorities in hopes of pitching a plan for future fixes. He’s set to host a meeting next Tuesday at the San Diego Museum of Art to start the conversation. Ward’s expecting to discuss how to pay for the park’s major needs later this year.

“This is the beginning of some public outreach to get everybody on the same page,” Ward said.

News Nibbles

 Turns out many retired city employees hired back part-time are the same folks enrolled in a controversial program that previously allowed them to collect retirement funds while they remained on the job. (Union-Tribune)

 San Diego State’s now officially got an interim lady boss at the helm. (Los Angeles Times)

 City Attorney Mara Elliott has concerns about the SoccerCity initiative that could end up on the November ballot. (NBC 7)

 The City Council has decided to post long ballot initiatives online rather than mail out printed ones in a bid to save cash. (Union-Tribune)

 Candidates are apparently lining up to replace now-former Port Commissioner Bob Nelson, who stepped down last week citing conflicts. (CityBeat)

 District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has filed charges against a Kearny Mesa medical marijuana store owner just two weeks after she was ordered to return $100,000 seized from the business owner and his family. (Union-Tribune)

Our Culture Report maven and engagement editor extraordinataire Kinsee Morlan made an appearance on a podcast featuring interviews with notable folks on both sides of the border. (Cura Caos)

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