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Back in the olden days — say, before this year — getting into San Diego State University wasn’t a huge challenge for area applicants as long as they had the right educational background. In fact, the college guaranteed admission for locals who met the criteria.

Thanks to budget cuts, that’s no longer the case. But those who are getting rejected have an out: they can appeal. And hundreds are doing just that.

Our story looks at the applicants who rejecting their rejections and checks in with activists and community colleges that are leading the charge toward more appeals.

In other news:

** The county pays for 21,000 caregivers to help 25,000 low-income elderly, blind and disabled people, giving them a way to stay in their homes without having to go to a nursing home. But a budget squeeze and increased scrutiny from the state are putting the program in doubt: the governor’s proposal would eliminate services for about 87 percent of recipients.

“Having the constant threat of in-home services being taken away is terrifying people,” an advocate says.

We hear from a local man whose independence is a product of the program and we talk to his caregiver, who’s insulted by strict new requirements aimed at preventing fraud. On the other hand, a county investigator tells us that fraud is more rampant than the numbers show.

** Want to get some attention from the head honchos in the San Diego school district? It helps if you say things like this in a message: “How many more students have to be punched in the face? How many more [gifted] or regular ed. students must disenroll because they feel unsafe on our campus?”

Good gravy. What’s going on? As we report, the principal at Bell Middle School “says the problems we chronicled in a recent article about a gap between expulsion rules at San Diego Unified and some of its charter schools have only continued, with no sign of any change.”

** So here’s something you don’t hear every day: The mayor is crowing about how he doesn’t show up at City Council meetings.

Really? That’s a good thing?

Yes, in the eyes of Mayor Jerry Sanders, who’s pushing a “strong mayor” measure on the ballot next month.

“Very few people actually go down to council meetings. It’s the same people over and over and it’s certain groups,” Sanders said at a press conference yesterday. “While City Council members are at City Council, I have two and a half, three days where I’m out in the public all the time.”

In a related story, I’m not doing a lick of work for the rest of the week. You know, so I can meet with my public.

** So let’s say you’re a public official and you violate an ethics code by holding an inappropriate meeting. Then you do it again a few times. You did just one thing wrong in the big picture and therefore deserve just one fine, not a whole bunch of them, right?

The attorney for Nancy Graham, the disgraced former head of the downtown redevelopment agency, likes this line of thinking. As the epic Graham drama continues, we check in on the status of the ethics case against her.

** In an effort to show her cost-cutting credentials, a county supervisor candidate’s ballot statement says the San Diego school district’s central office cut more than 500 jobs. (The candidate is on the school board.)

Is that true? The San Diego Fact Check blog is on the case.

** San Diego Explained, our video series with NBC 7/39, takes a look at city budgeting and the woman who’s in charge of double-checking the mayor’s numbers.

** The San Diego People Project continues over at the Photo of the Day: meet a woman who lives in “La Jolla. But not like La Jolla, fancy La Jolla. More like by UTC.”

This may be the first time in history that anyone who lives near UTC has tried to distance herself from fancy La Jolla.

Elsewhere:

** General Dynamics/NASSCO has warned 900 of its 1,400 local workers that they might be laid off in July, the U-T reports. Another 250 jobs might be eliminated too. The reason? The shipbuilding industry is weak.

** The mother of slain teen Amber Dubois met with his killer yesterday. A spokesman said John Albert Gardner III was “nervous and respectful.”

** County Supervisor Bill Horn is recommending that the county look into an email system that would alert residents when ever a registered sex offender moves in nearby.

** There’s yet another twist in the bizarre story of the North County family that vanished: restaurant staff in Baja California thinks they saw the McStays a few months ago. The U-T says Mexican investigators are looking into the report.

** Ah, isn’t that sweet: an old gentleman goes to banks and robs them with a gun, frightening clerks and potentially putting plenty of people in danger.

No, not so sweet. Call me a grump, but come on: The Geezer Bandit doesn’t deserve one Facebook fan page, let alone the two that 10News says he has.

** Forbes Magazine, reports the U-T, says San Diego is the fifth most miserable sports town. Only fifth?

** Finally, Parade Magazine asked teen heartthrob Justin Bieber about a few of his favorite things. His answer: “I like spaghetti, the color purple, Beyonce, Tom Hanks, Will Ferrell movies, Paris and San Diego.”

San Diego? Really? Well come on back to town, Justin!

I really could use a break from all these crazed teenage girls hanging around my house and waiting for me to sing. (Back! Get back, I say! And leave the geraniums alone!)

 — 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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