Its staff has dwindled from 23 to seven, its budget has fallen drastically and it’s failed to ask some of its longtime donors to give money again.

The Coalition of Neighborhood Councils, a onetime major player in southeastern San Diego, seems in danger of abandoning its role as a voice for some of the city’s poorest residents.

What’s next? Plenty of minds are considering what to do, but there are still bad feelings: In the eternal cry of every organization under fire, the coalition’s board chairwoman asked residents this week to “feel free to do something except critique.”

Our story looks at the crisis that has engulfed the nonprofit since its board mysteriously fired its executive director last year and took over daily operations.

In other news:

• Prepare to get a Ph.D. in election mathematics?

This week, the registrar of voters announced that Councilman Carl DeMaio’s major ballot initiative didn’t have enough petition signatures in a sample count to make it onto the November ballot.

But wait. If you extrapolate the number of valid signatures in the sample count to the full number of filed signatures, it looks like the initiative is way ahead of the number needed. So how did it fall short by a big margin?

The answer lies in a complicated mathematical formula that tied the reporter (me) and an actual statistician in knots until we finally figured it out. The story explains it all.

Meanwhile, CityBeat dug up some interesting dirt on the funding of the petition drive. As it reports, financial disclosures show the committee Reforming City Hall with Carl DeMaio” paying $16,000 to a local company called Hale Media Inc., also for signature gathering. Hale Media is owned by DeMaio’s boyfriend, Johnathan Hale.”

What did Hale Media do? Hale said he didn’t do anything paid himself, but a campaign spokeswoman said Hale’s company served as a kind of payroll service because the campaign’s treasurer is in Orange County.

That answer didn’t add up for the experts CityBeat consulted.

• In education: The San Diego school board nearly failed to pass a budget “because three board members said they were uneasy with the choices they made — including the choice to use federal funding for disadvantaged students to pay for counselors and graduation coaches at its poorer schools.”

We examined the legally questionable move earlier this month and have been trying to get more answers since then.

• There’s another bit of (mostly) good economic news: the local economy continues its growth, led by a surge in building permits and an increase in help wanted ads.

On the other hand, the value of all properties in the county dropped in 2009. This sounds bad (at least for those who might want to sell at some point), but the good news is that most property owners will see a modest decline in their property taxes. It’s bad news, though, for local governments and public schools.

• Fact Check time! Sheriff Bill Gore said this: “San Diego County has the highest percentage of knowing where the sex registrants are of anywhere in California. I think it’s something like 98 percent of all the registered sex offenders are known and tracked regularly.”

Is that true? We’ve issued a verdict.

Elsewhere:

• Will San Diego voters get a chance to pull the city out of its financial mess by raising their own sales taxes? They might, the U-T reports. There’s talk at City Hall of a half-cent tax increase on the November ballot.

Voters may have a lot to think about, money-wise. A ballot initiative that would ask voters to approve a $293 million City Hall is continuing to move toward the November ballot. A City Council committee unanimously pushed it ahead  yesterday. (CNS) And San Diego Unified has been talking about a parcel tax, too.

• In the U-T: “Federal attorneys cleared the way Wednesday for the son of Hamas’ cofounder and security chief to remain in the United States after immigration officials had spent three years opposing his request for political asylum.”

• A judge refused to intervene to force the city to quickly put up a rope barrier to protect the seals at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool. The mayor says there’s no big hurry. (CNS)

• Kerry Steigerwalt, the attorney who’s seems to appear in local TV commercials about once every 30 seconds, is closing down his big law firm. (NBC San Diego)

• CityBeat ponders columnist Tom Blair’s much-heralded return to the U-T after 15 years.

• The local chapter of the ACLU is one of 32 around the country that have issued a “travel alert” for the upcoming holiday weekend. It is warning people against traveling to. . . Arizona.

• Finally, UCSD sociology professor James Fowler, who’s frequently been in our pages, is out with research suggesting that divorce may be contagious among people in the same social circle.

In a related story, Al Gore and Tiger Woods have suddenly become very popular among people who want their spouses to cut them loose.

 — 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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