In the world of police work, it’s an enviable statistic: San Diego detectives solved 41 murders during 2009 and 48 were cleared, meaning detectives identified an alleged killer or killers.

How’d that happen? Credit an unusually low number of murders — a far cry from the early 1990s when the total reached 167 during a single year — and the police department’s homicide detectives.


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The low number of murders has given detectives time to focus on crimes from the past. “There were so many back then, everybody had a homicide case,” a prosecutor tells us. “I remember going into my chief’s office and saying, ‘I’m ready for another one,’ and he’d have another one ready.”

In other news:

• It’s supposed to be the big dividing line of elementary education: by third grade, the assumption goes, kids learn how to read and can soon begin to use that skill to learn other things.

This mantra has become a myth, forcing schools to teach reading long after third grade, our report says. “Schools scramble to get kids caught up to a curriculum that races past their reading skills. The problem has lessened over the last seven years, but the gap between the goal and the reality remains striking.”

• A judge has given school board member Katherine Nakamura permission to begin gathering signatures to launch a write-in campaign, but it’s still not clear if written votes will actually count. Also: voters won’t be able to apply stickers with her name on it — spelled correctly to avoid problems — to the ballots.

• Nakamura got knocked out of the running by coming in third place in her race in June. And that wasn’t the only shocker for an incumbent in the school board race.

What happened? Were voters upset at the district, which some critics say is too influenced by unions? If that’s the case, how come the voters supported union allies?

Politics analyst Vladimir Kogan crunches the numbers from two elections and comes up with a theory to explain what voters were trying to say.

• In the Photos of the Day, you’ll find an adorable little canine and see one of our reporters take a ride on a tricycle used by a local seller of icy treats.

Elsewhere:

• A taxpayers group is suing to get its hands on certain county pension records. The U-T says recent court rulings have supported the public’s right to see pension records, but the pension system’s CEO has said any release would put recipients of pension funds under threat of identity theft and violence. (San Diego Metropolitan Magazine/U-T)

• KPBS has debuted a new blog, Home Post, that covers the military in San Diego.

• The OB Rag (motto: “Freaks, Uppity Women & Politicos”) takes a long and detailed look at the ongoing overhaul of the U-T and hears from the paper’s editor.

• Finally, the California state Assembly is cracking down on women who show up at the Sacramento chambers with bare shoulders or arms.

“Do we have to break out the burqas?” asks local Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña.

Only if they’re a nice poly-cotton blend. It’s hot up there.

— RANDY DOTINGA

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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