A note from us: Our website will be going through a major transition this afternoon and there might be some problems. Some of the links below, in fact, might not work after 1 p.m. That’s not the plan, but we’re bracing for unexpected problems. 

There will be a short video on the front page of the site walking through how to best read our work and share your voice. 

Similarly, we’ve switched to a new e-mail service for the thousands of people who receive this Morning Report. Some of you, for example, can probably see this for the first time in a long time because of longstanding technical problems with the old system. Welcome back! Judging from the feedback we get, the Morning Report is now indispensable to many of you. We’ll make sure to keep it that way. 

Now, on with the news.

Swindlers often target people who have something in common. Charles Ponzi, whose name became forever linked with investment scams, reached out to immigrants like himself. San Diego’s own infamous J. David Dominelli, who died this year, ripped off local movers and shakers. And most recently, Bernie Madoff found victims among fellow Jews. 

Now, federal officials allege that a local Somali immigrant tried a similar trick. The feds say the man, now reportedly under arrest, convinced Somalis to take part in a $3 million-plus pyramid scheme.

An alleged victim, who says he learned about the investment scheme from leaders and worshipers at a City Heights mosque, tells us that it appeared acceptable under traditional Islamic law. 

The true extent of the money lost may never be known. 

In other news:

  • For decades, migrants have been drowning by the dozens in an Imperial County irrigation canal. Now, activists are calling for new safety measures to prevent more deaths, and they’re targeting water officials, including those in San Diego. Why? Because the water we use here has something to do with the water they use there. We explain.
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  • How do you tell an innocent recreational fisherman from a smuggler who’s bringing immigrants to American soil via boat? Look at what the boaters are doing, what they’re wearing and whether they have bait on hand, an immigration and customs special agent tells us in an interview.
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  • In education news, “some San Diego parents are pushing California to change its laws for a shot at a second dose of school stimulus money.” But the school board may go in a different direction. Also in education, school district auditors are under fire.
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  • The mayor’s mood made our pages again. We had quoted his spokeswoman as saying he “was being a bit cranky,” and she contacted us to emphasize that she wasn’t speaking about how he’s feeling in general. Instead, she said, he “took a sharp tone” over the way a task force’s draft report was characterized in a question from us.

    Whatever it came from, hizzoner’s crankiness made the Wall Street Journal’s bankruptcy blog.

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    Elsewhere:

    • Score a victory for the medi-pot folks: a local jury partially exonerated the proprietor of a popular medical-marijuana dispensary. An activist called it “a historic and victorious day for all patients and concerned citizens in San Diego.” (U-T, CityBeat)
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    • Finally, Tuesday brought unsurprising news: Karin Winner, the editor of the U-T, is stepping down from the newsroom’s top job after almost 15 years. (Her goodbye memo is here.)

      Unlike editors at some other newspapers who become the public face of their employers, Winner was more reclusive. She rarely spoke publicly, leaving room for others to define and question her leadership.

      During her tenure, though, the U-T won two of only five Pulitzer Prizes ever awarded to San Diego newspapers. 

      In addition, Winner managed to stay in the top job despite the challenges posed by two complicated publishers, hordes of impassioned U-T critics and a newspaper industry dominated by male executives. Most recently, she remained in place during wrenching cutbacks and a conversion to new ownership. 

      Her legacy is debatable. But one thing isn’t: She’s a survivor.

    — 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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