Morning Report: The DA's Donation Dilemma | Voice of San Diego

Morning Report

Morning Report: The DA's Donation Dilemma

JMI deals a blow to a waterfront Convention Center expansion, why you shouldn’t get excited about the district’s latest test scores just yet and things keep getting crazier in Sacramento.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis finds herself at the center of a campaign finance scandal. Again.

On Monday, Liam Dillon uncovered at least $23,000 in questionable donations to San Diego politicians from the towing industry. Now Dillon turns the spotlight on Dumanis, who received more than half that cash during both her failed 2012 mayoral run and successful bid for a fourth term as district attorney.

Dumanis isn’t herself accused of any wrongdoing, but nor is she a stranger to campaign finance snafus. The feds charged a Mexican businessman with making an illegal $150,000 donation to her 2012 mayoral campaign and another $100,000 to a political action committee supporting her bid.

In his latest story, Dillon details Dumanis’ past and present campaign cash woes and how she’s dealt with them.

About That Convention Center Plan

JMI Realty isn’t interested in helping the city bankroll a waterfront Convention Center expansion with a new high-rise hotel.

The developer had proposed building a 1,600-room headquarter hotel near the city-owned Tailgate Park. It’s singing a different tune now that Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s pushing a waterfront expansion and a hotel-room tax increase.

VOSD’s Ashly McGlone breaks the news on JMI’s bottom line: It isn’t interested in helping facilitate a waterfront expansion.

New Tests, Same Gaps

I enlisted my colleague Mario Koran for his hot take on Wednesday’s release of state test scores:

For the past several months, school districts and public relations teams have been trying to tamp down expectations tied to the release of the first standardized test scores tied to new Common Core State Standards.

Repeatedly, we’ve been warned not to compare the new scores to the old scores.

Indeed, the new scores are out and they’re not great. Most students in the state tested below standards. But things could have been worse.

According to San Diego Unified’s  numbers, the district scored as well or better than the county average, and better than the state, overall. Superintendent Cindy Marten said on KPBS Midday she takes heart in the fact that the San Diego Unified scores were second highest in the state, among large urban districts.

Don’t get too excited. Only 51 percent of all students in the district met or exceeded the standards in language arts; 41 percent did so in math. The results are worse for Latinos, black students and English-learners — in that order. Only 19 percent of English-learners in the district met or exceeded the standards in language arts; 17 percent in math.

In short: New tests, same problems. Stark disparities continue to exist between district schools. At Scripps Ranch High, for example, 64 percent of students met or exceeded the standards in language arts; 61 percent in math. Not too shabby.

At Crawford High, on the other hand, 22 percent of students met or exceeded the standards in language arts; only 6 percent met the standards in math.

News Outta North County

Encinitas’ years-long struggle to settle on a path to put it in compliance with a state mandate to provide low-income housing headlines this week’s North County report.

VOSD contributor Jeremy Ogul offers up more links and context on the region’s top stories there each week.

An Impromptu (and Targeted) Fact Check

In a new CityBeat op-ed, attorney Chad Peace decries the coming South Park Target, which he says will rob the neighborhood of its small business charm. Peace also claims “you can’t find a chain store or even a supermarket in one of the city’s coolest and most culturally conscious communities.”

Insta-fact check ruling: False. A 7-Eleven store is just steps away from the soon-to-be TargetExpress and a Starbucks is also nearby.

News Around Town

• A San Diego Superior Court judge put the kibosh on a lawsuit that questioned the legality of inewsource’s lease with San Diego State and KPBS, deciding it was the result of inewsource’s investigation into prominent attorney Cory Briggs. (inewsource)

• The Escondido Union School District is investigating why it took Oak Hill Elementary School officials 14 minutes to call police to report a man carrying a gun on campus. (Associated Press)

• The perpetually delayed $1.2 billion Navy Broadway Project in downtown San Diego is now just one lawsuit away from moving forward. Project developer Perry Dealy talked about plans for a museum, public parking and other developments on KPBS’ Midday Edition. (KPBS)

• The county planning commission is expected to hear from a large crowd Friday when it revisits the proposed Lilac Hills Ranch project, which aims to replace 600 acres of farmland with 1,700 homes and other developments. (Union-Tribune)

Sacramento Brings the Drama

• Gov. Jerry Brown has big climate change fighting dreams and a piece of his agenda just fell apart. State Senate Leader Kevin de León and Speaker Toni Atkins announced Wednesday they’d be removing a key portion of a bill meant to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase both energy efficiency and renewable power sources. A planned 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2050 got axed because it didn’t have enough support in the state Assembly. (Capitol Public Radio)

Brown was furious. Money quote: “My zeal has been intensified to a maximum degree.”

• Brown’s $3.6 billion plan to pay for state road repairs also appears on the rocks. (L.A. Times)

• The state Assembly approved a bill to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives. It’s now headed to the state Senate. (Associated Press)

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