California is known nationally for its strict earthquake safety standards for public schools. So if you’re in a school, you’re pretty well protected when the Big One comes, right?

Not necessarily. Private schools are exempt from the rules. So are preschools. And some charter schools don’t have to follow the law either.

Charter schools? Yup, like the one planned for downtown San Diego as part of the schoobrary. It’s exempt too, and officials had that in mind when they planned it: building a charter school instead of a regular school means the school district and city can potentially save a bundle by not following seismic regulations.

That’s “stupid,” says a school board member who has a way with words. But, as we report, “experts and legislators disagree over whether the law is needed to keep kids safe.”

Our story has more on the debate over how to keep school buildings from falling on kids.

In other news:

  • If you head into downtown from Highway 163, you can’t miss Vantage Pointe, the largest condo project in downtown. (You know it’s fancy because they spell “point” funny.)

    What you won’t see is the complex’s troubled history. (Or its annoying website that plays music. But I digress.)

    Now, as we report, the developers “haven’t met their deadline to repay their $210 million construction loan, putting them in default — a precursor to foreclosure.”

    We have details about what that means and how the developer is trying to extricate itself from a dicey situation.

  • Hear that silence? It’s the sound of kids applauding. Because … summer school is saved! The San Diego school board decided “to spend $4.6 million to keep its summer school programs intact this year, providing classes to all high schoolers who need to make up Ds and Fs, students at risk of being held back in grades 1, 3 and 8 and kids entering algebra at schools in a special math transition program.”

    But there was debate over whether summer school is actually effective. We examined the issue in depth earlier this month. 

  • Who was arrested the most in San Diego over a six-month period? Who made the most arrests? Do fat people get arrested more? How about brunettes compared to blondes? These are among the questions that readers sent us in regard to a big police database that we’re analyzing. We’ve got the answers
  • Yesterday, we told you about the clash of family dynasties in the race for San Diego’s Council District 8.

    In a follow-up post we examine the value of name recognition in the race: Will it matter to voters?

  • Our newest fact check analyzes a statement by Mayor Jerry Sanders, who said in a press release that “police and fire personnel have been laid off.”

    It certainly sounds like it’s true. The city has had lots of job cutbacks. But is it, in fact, correct? We’ll tell you.

    Also, we could use your help if you live or work in Rep. Bob Filner’s South Bay congressional district or know someone who does.

    Last week, the U-T quoted him as saying: “I’m not sure anybody in my district saved their home from foreclosure or a small business was saved from closing down by recovery funds.”

    (Yes, he’s still a Democrat, by the way, in case you’re wondering, even though he’s questioning the effect of stimulus money.)

    We’re checking whether recovery funds did indeed help homeowners or small businesses in his district. Drop us a line or call if you can shed light on this. 

  • The Photo of the Day, the latest edition of the San Diego People Project, is anything but down for the count.


  • Big news in the U-T: “The state Coastal Commission late Wednesday rejected a San Diego port proposal to revamp the downtown waterfront, saying planned revisions in the project would cheat the public of open space.”
  • The U-T also looks at a new wildfire alert system and a state bill that would ban openly carrying unloaded guns.
  • Few local politicians get as much bad press as county Supervisor Bill Horn. And few politicians are as unaffected by it.

    The latest snag for Horn: An NCT story that explores whether his office did anything wrong when it sent out an e-mail “promoting a Thursday anti-tax rally and giving tacit support to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.”

    “State law prohibits public officials from using government hardware for campaigning,” the NCT says. “But the rules get fuzzy when it comes to e-mail.”

  • Also in the U-T: the Marine who got in trouble over his Facebook page is back online.
  • The NYT has an obituary of Dr. Helen M. Ranney, a UCSD blood specialist “whose experiments in the 1950s elucidated the genetic basis of sickle cell disease, an inherited form of anemia that affects one in 500 African-Americans.”
  • The La Jolla Light checks in with UCSD researchers who spent a day examining earthquake damage in Mexicali and Calexico. The photographer captured damage to a Mexicali university and hospital.
  • Finally: By one estimate, about five million potential tourists avoided Tijuana, known for its “infamy,” in one year alone. TJ had a serious problem.

    When was this? Last year? Nah, it was 1959, according to a story in the April 14, 1960, issue of the Los Angeles Evening Mirror News that the LAT reprinted yesterday online.

    The article details the troubles that visitors found south of the border. For one thing, a couple tourists went looking for a “French movie” — use your imagination about that refers to — and paid $40 to see one. It ended up being a Mighty Mouse flick. How do you say “bummer” in Spanish?

    And a Pasadena man said he was overcharged, paying a whopping $6.75 for two orders of “inch-thick fried ham.”

    A tough place, that Tijuana.


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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