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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
Emergency planning lacking over at the Colorado River, the crime
rate dips again and Duke Cunningham dreams of a return to bygone
The Colorado River has been very good to San Diego and a big chunk of the Southwest: we get three-quarters of our water from it these days. But recently, there was a warning sign of major trouble ahead: a reservoir on the river hit its lowest level since the 1930s.
Since then, the water level in Lake Mead has risen. But climate change could severely reduce the amount of available water and there’s no formal plan to handle a severe shortage. No one knows who will give up water if there’s anything beyond a short-term shortfall.
“Strategies for keeping Lake Mead from dropping further,” Rob Davis reports, “could involve paying farmers to fallow fields, requiring urban residents to conserve, negotiating an agreement with Mexico to reduce its share or striking a deal with states in the upper Colorado that don’t use all they’re entitled to today.”
Maybe they’ll just target me and my over-10-minute showers. (Oh no. I’ve said too much.)
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School District Mulls ‘Quality School’ Plan
Every once in a while, you’ll hear about a program that makes you think, “Wait, this isn’t in place already?”
As the San Diego school district mulls getting rid of most school busing, it is exploring how to make schools better so students won’t have to take a ride across town to get a good education.
One idea, which was discussed at a board meeting yesterday, is to come up with measurements of what makes a “quality school.”
The board liked this idea, but there was disagreement over the district’s system of assigning teachers to schools. It often leaves principals with teachers they don’t want and hurts schools in poor neighborhoods because educators come and go.
The Curious Whydunnit Behind Crime’s Big Decline
Here’s a mystery: The economy has been in bad shape for years, and people keep losing their homes and jobs. Plenty of people live in poverty. Despite all this, crime rates keep dropping both here and across the country. In fact, San Diego has the second-to-lowest crime rate among major cities in the country, a new report says, with only San Jose ranking lower.
San Diego also had the lowest number of murders last year since 1963, a 29 percent drop from 2009 and the steepest fall of all the cities measured. The county’s murder rate has fallen too, the NCT notes, but North County is making up a larger percentage of the overall number.
Maybe lots of bad guys are behind bars. Nope: the imprisonment rate has shrunk, and even that fact hasn’t goosed the crime rate. That may be one bit of good news about the Supreme Court’s order that the state of California stop housing tens of thousands of prisoners in substandard conditions.
There’s not much else that’s good about the ruling, at least for those who aren’t prisoners. (As the U-T notes, they’ve had to deal with intense overcrowding “with as many as 200 prisoners in one gym and as many as 54 sharing a single toilet.”)
A state official says the plan isn’t to release any of the prisoners but instead divert them to county jails. That’s not going over well over at the county: In the U-T, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis says the state plan is a public safety recipe for disaster.”
Last year, a pending influx of parolees had southeastern San Diego on alert.
Reactions to an Inspection Outage
One commenter pointed out a fact that advocates of all stripes often fail to consider: when money is limited, spending more on one thing means that something else must be cut: “Is there any evidence that quality/safety went down when inspections were rolled back from annual to once every five years? If not, what’s the big deal?”
We’re looking into the data to try and answer his question about quality and safety.
A New Reason Never to Leave California
Disgraced former Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham is continuing his cry-me-a-river tour from prison, this time telling a TV news station about his woes. He says his assets — the ones boosted by bribes — are gone. Once released, he “just might end up living in a one-bedroom cabin by a lake to go fishing.”
Cunningham also provided an unexpected bit of news: “He said he is also considering another possible run for Congress in another state.” And it turns out he can actually make a bid for office: felons aren’t prohibited from getting elected to Congress.
Maybe he should think higher. Hey Duke, there’s a presidential opening next year! Uh-oh. I’ve said too much again.