It has long been held that San Diegans are reluctant to increase taxes. Yet, how does this square with the fact that property owners in more than 40 neighborhoods have each decided to increase levies on themselves?

They are called Maintenance Improvement Districts and they provide a way to pick up where the city leaves off in services.

A resident is challenging Golden Hill’s maintenance district in court, shining a spotlight on the role that the districts are playing in a city where it’s hard to increase general taxes but easy to form these neighborhood efforts.

They are good for the neighborhoods that can put them together, but are the ones who can’t doomed to deteriorate?

In education, the release of new test scores brought smiles to San Diego’s school district offices, where the superintendent lauded “very impressive” results. Indeed, students scored better than they have any time since the testing began.

But there are some caveats: 48 percent of students still failed to show they are proficient in English. And the gains may not be enough to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

We’ve also got a link to the scores so you can look up your child’s school and details on which schools had the biggest jump — and the biggest drop.

If you spend your time worrying about other kinds of tests, like finals and midterms and GREs, you may be the face of the federal stimulus package. Pell Grants for college students have accounted for more than two-thirds of the nearly 700 grants, loans and contracts that have flowed into San Diego County, a fact that mystifies a local economist.

Here’s another seemingly mystifying phenomenon: People are flipping homes in the middle of a still-struggling housing market. If you’ve flipped lately, or know someone who has, we want to know about it.

Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel looks at a federal patent backlog, which our science reporter David Washburn says spells trouble for the “innovation economy.”

On the local front, the U-T says a state appeal court ruling means the city of San Diego may have to refund millions in fees that it has charged to all businesses. Brutal for the city, but don’t expect a big refund: The fee is just $15 a year.

The U-T also has an update on a conflict-of-interest lawsuit that involves longtime Poway Councilwoman Betty Rexford: The city is paying a settlement, the council wants Rexford out, but she plans to stay.

Finally, Vista resident Candice Reed touched a nerve by writing a Dear John letter to the Golden State that ran in the L.A. Times on Sunday. It became the most viewed story on the LAT’s website.

“Dear California, I’m dumping you,” the headline reads. Reed lists the state’s ills: Prop. 13, foreclosures, job losses, water issues.

“I’m starting over, but I can see happy times ahead. Like we once had,” she writes. “Please don’t call my mother to try and find out where I live.”

We happen to be privy to the state of California’s response, which ends with this plea: “Please return the CDs you borrowed.”

— RANDY DOTINGA

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