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In San Diego, a criminal defense attorney has not tried to win an election to become judge since 2002 and one hasn’t actually succeeded since 1990.

But this year may be different. For once, a local judicial race is actually becoming quite interesting. 

In June, voters will decide between the well-known criminal defense attorney Tom Warwick and Deputy District Attorney Richard Monroy for a spot on the Superior Court. Warwick has successfully secured the endorsements of many judges and former Sheriff Bill Kolender, who bizarrely has actually endorsed both candidates.

This is a fascinating challenge to the person we recently described as the most powerful politician in the land: District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. The DA’s power has come from her ability to influence these types of races and she endorsed her deputy Monroy for the post. In the past, that would have been enough. Will it be now?

In other news:

  • Southwestern College is in trouble. The state’s accreditation agency put the college on probation Tuesday. Faculty members have been banned from campus for inciting students to rally against the college’s president. And three board who oversee the president are being targeted in a recall campaign.

    At the center of it is the controversial leader of the school, Raj K. Chopra. He had a reputation for turning school systems around when he came to the school in 2007, but not without conflict. Is he giving Southwestern tough medicine to swallow or the wrong kind?

  • We have a new edition of Fact Check TV up on the site today. Check it out — we review a local congressman’s worry that if gays are allowed to serve openly in the military, the floodgates will open for … well, we’ll let him tell it.
  • For the last several weeks, I’ve been rolling out a series of Q&As with local thinkers. The latest one is with City Councilwoman Donna Frye (who still won’t say if she’s running for a new job).  

    The series was meant as sort of a beginning-of-the-year exercise where I would ask them all the same questions about what they were looking forward to. Each received a few customized questions too. But I got such a tremendous response, it’s stretched into February.  I’ve been rolling them out as fast as I can, but there are more.

  • The Union-Tribune checked in on the rising tension between the city of San Diego’s Ethics Commission and the city’s elected officials — most specifically those elected officials who are getting fined by the commission. They are rebelling against what they say are excessive fines and unnecessary interrogation practices. But the commission didn’t create the laws it enforces. In a Q&A last month, the departing chairman of the commission gave an interesting answer to a question about its annoying fines.
  • In that U-T story, a certain former mayor we never hear from these days chimed in about the effectiveness of the commission he created. Since 2006, I’ve only seen him in two press appearances: One was a random Election Day sighting we caught of him going to the polls and the other was in CityBeat where the editor saw him at a concert with his son at the famous Casbah. Can you think of others?
  • The U-T, on Saturday, said it uncovered an audit critical of the county’s treasurer-tax collector. But the North County Times had the story the day before claiming an exclusive. That paper also got the official in question on the record. Someone either didn’t want the U-T to be the only one with the story or the U-T’s not right that it was the one to discover the situation.

A note to readers: We didn’t have room in Saturday’s Weekend Report for some weekly features. Here they are:

The Coffee Collection (stories to enjoy over a cup of joe):

One Counselor, 277 Students: As middle-school counselors in the San Diego school district go, Rafael Ocampo has it easier than some: He only has 277 students to look after, while others have as many as 500. Still, as our story shows, he has plenty to do — and plenty to worry about. His job, among many others, may be cut.

A Big Challenge for Cops: Crime rates are down, but San Diego cops are dealing with more suicidal people, and the police predict they’ll be coping with more of the mentally ill as services for them decline.

Quote of the Week: “Middle school is the Bermuda Triangle of education. Either we get a hold of them — or we lose them.” — Ocampo, the middle-school counselor.

— SCOTT LEWIS

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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