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The North County city of Vista has long been divided between the middle class, many of whom live in the master-planned community south of Highway 78, and poorer residents who live in older sections of town to the north.

There’s a racial gap too, one that follows the same geographic lines. Whites, who make up many of those middle-class residents, have long  dominated elected positions on the City Council and school board.

Now, a new voice is speaking up for Latino parents, whose children make up the majority of students in the school district.

Eduardo Preciado, the man behind the voice, says things like this: “the reality is the school district’s not doing anything to help our children.”

Some parents, though, don’t want him to be that voice. Critics say he’s overstepping his role as leader of an English learners committee. But supporters say he’s the only one representing their needs.

Our story explores the debate over Preciado and the larger picture of Latino representation in Vista.

In other news:

• They’re called “lab rats,” but they aren’t rodents. These are the low-level employees who help the local biotech industry stay afloat by measuring things and labeling bottles.

Their numbers may grow as the economy improves. But, as our story puts it, the work is challenging (“it’s almost like working in a fast food restaurant, where it’s all churn and burn,” one says) and advancement can be difficult.

• Election day is right around the corner and we’ve got a debate brewing over Prop. D, which would make the strong-mayor form of government permanent.

First up: Former city comptroller Greg Levin, who argues that strong mayor hasn’t made the city more accountable.

Hold on, says Lani Lutar of the Taxpayers Association. She argues that abandoning strong mayor would send us back to a time when isolated bureaucrats ran City Hall. What do you think? Jump into the debate.

• Let’s catch up on some news we posted Friday.

First, a San Diego school board member is proposing that the school district cancel 112 teacher layoffs. As we report, he “said he finally got enough information from the school district to reassure him that the layoffs weren’t needed because it could cut positions that are vacated by employees who retire or move on. It is also eliminating jobs held by temporary teachers whose contracts end in July.”

Second, San Diego’s retirement system is changing “its calculation for the city’s annual pension payment, potentially sparking a lawsuit from the city’s police union.”

Elsewhere:

• The U-T has launched a series of editorials calling for reform of how the state deals with sex offenders. One interesting tidbit: the paper doesn’t like the idea, proposed by the father of Amber Dubois, of requiring special designations on the driver’s licenses of sex offenders.

• About a year ago, a new player arrived on the local news scene. The online-only San Diego News Network hired a young news staff and posted stories from dozens of contributors, including several journalists who had been cast off by the U-T.

SDNN aimed to rival the U-T’s website by offering stories on a huge array of topics from dating and science to politics to food. Armed with a battalion of top-level staffers (including a CEO, president, associate publisher, COO, controller and vice presidents) it hoped to spawn a national empire.

Last week, SDNN’s Orange County spinoff shut down. And over the weekend came news via the San Diego Reader that SDNN itself has run out of money and cut its staff and freelancers. It’s now reportedly for sale, and the future of a new print edition is unclear.

Earlier this month, the Reader reports, SDNN’s chief executive told staff members that “the sun has not set on this little adventure, in fact it is blindingly bright. . . my last piece of advice, though — be sure to use some sunscreen.”

• He’s the Kobe Bryant of the local environmental community, one colleague says of Marco Gonzalez.

“Marco is the superstar. He is like Kobe Bryant. He can be moody. He can be arrogant, but he backs it up,” Bruce Reznik told the U-T for its Gonzalez profile. “Not everybody on his own team loves Kobe Bryant but if you want to win, you want him on your team.”

If you crave more, we looked earlier at how Gonzalez and his sister Lorena, head of the Labor Council, had risen to such prominent positions before the age of 40. Check out Marco’s public dispute with Lorena over a City Council election in that story, it helps illustrate how he operates and their relationship. 

• U-T columnist Logan Jenkins takes a stroll down memory lane — well, maybe it’s more of a memory boardwalk — and recalls how “in a rare, if not unique, demonstration of regional solidarity, San Diego County would rise up nearly as one against Washington and the oil industry” in the late 1970s.

Local politicos and others were fighting oil drilling off the coast, warning of the potential for a beach-damaging spill. Among them: one Roger Hedgecock, a county supervisor and “‘progressive’ Republican (yes, that’s how he was known then).”

• Dennis Hopper, who graduated from La Mesa’s Helix High School, died on Saturday at the age of 74. KPBS takes a look at San Diego’s links to his work as an actor and as a painter and photographer. KPBS includes a great photo of Hopper at around the age of 18, sporting a brilliant grin while appearing in “The Merchant of Venice” at the Old Globe in 1954.

• Finally, a bit of sports news: the Bleacher Report blog lists the top 10 worst sports career moves of all time. Johnny Unitas clocks in at No. 9, with his move from the Baltimore Colts to San Diego Chargers in 1973. He had a poor season here, and it was his last.

Perhaps we should have just asked Baltimore to send us some crabcakes instead. Or John Waters. OK, maybe not John Waters.

 — 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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