Good meals don’t come cheap.

“Have you ever tried to eat on $25? I promise you it is very difficult to do,” the San Diego schools superintendent declared when asked about a $550-plus tab for food he and colleagues consumed at a conference. Their entrees included striped bass, venison and gourmet beef called wagyu. (Yes, we had to look up that last one.)

But the big tab isn’t even the big issue, as this investigative piece explains. The school district engaged in lobbying on the federal dime while in Washington D.C.

And the deputy superintendent now says that was inappropriate.

The San Diego City Council approved its budget, closing a $83 million gap with the help of the usual suspects: taxes, cutbacks, and piggy bank-raiding.

The council also embraced a compromise candidate for an open spot on the port commission. And the mayor is floating the idea of exclusive negotiations with a developer over a new City Hall.

On the commentary front, sports columnist Tom Shanahan finds support in high places for Don Coryell’s Hall of Fame bid and cartoonist Ashley Pingree Lewis imagines a solution to school funding problems.

On the lighter side: Presidential love letters. Tiny houses for tiny people. An emergency Space Shuttle landing. We explain what they have in common and highlight a San Diego bamboozler with a yen for fraud and a hotline to the afterlife.

For photo fans: An interview with street photographer Matt Mallams. Check out his photo of a crumbling bit of Obama-McCain artwork.

In letters, well known local political pollster John Nienstedt continues to hammer away at a poll for which Chula Vista paid $19,800 before deciding whether to send an emergency tax measure to voters. And another writer can’t figure out why schools that need experienced teachers are paying them to leave.

The Union-Tribune has a story highlighting Councilwoman Marti Emerald’s bid to stop pay cuts for City Council staffers. Another story tells the startling tale of a Black Historical Society of San Diego board member facing misdeameanor charges. You might remember Karen Huff-Willis, who made headlines when CCDC began to unravel the alleged conflicts of interest of its president, Nancy Graham. Huff-Willis and the historical society competed to develop a plot of downtown land with a company to which Graham had ties. Huff-Willis was always ready to criticize Graham. Now she’s using the same lawyer: Former DA, Paul Fingst.

The NCT checks financial statements of local congressional representatives and finds one owns homes in Mississippi and Montana while another may be worth $343 million. Guess which one.

On the health beat, KPBS-FM notes that prescription-drug-related deaths are on the rise locally. If you’re a numbers wonk, you can peruse the county medical examiner’s newly posted 2008 death-statistics report for yourself here.

This is a new feature from voiceofsandiego.org that we are sending out with our new Morning Report e-mail. We’re publishing it here for the next two weeks. But to receive it after that, you’ll need to sign up for the Morning Report.

— RANDY DOTINGA

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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