A coalition of people fed up with San Diego schools has launched a push for a ballot measure to drastically change the makeup of the school board by adding four members who aren’t chosen by voters.

This kind of hybrid system — with five board members chosen by voters, as is now the case, and four by a committee — would be unusual in the United States. But supporters say it’s necessary to overhaul a failing school district.

Is this an attack on the district’s labor unions — which won’t have a direct say over the identities of the new board members — and the existing board? The head of the group says no.

The next step: Collecting petition signatures and figuring out when the measure will appear on the ballot. It might not be for almost two years.

In Other News:

• Many of you were touched by our two-part series about a young deaf refugee from Burma who’s lived almost a quarter century without the benefit of sign language. Now, a whole new world has opened for him.

We’ve compiled the stories into a handy PDF that you can download and read. And we’ve also posted another moving story. This time, we look back at how our reporter and photographer discovered Har Sin and learned how to tell the story of a man who could only communicate through facial expressions and a few hand gestures.

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Would he even be able to understand that journalists wanted to write a story about him? He found ways to send messages — through a grin or rolled eyes, through picture drawings, and through misunderstandings that became, well, understandings.

• As we told you, the state legislature has paved the way for a downtown football stadium to move forward with redevelopment money. In the bigger picture, the move allows downtown to sequester more property tax dollars than other areas of the city, county, and state, which the downtown folks say will work out well for everybody.

This move “steamrolled counterparts at the county who were negotiating with the city and it threw into question the credibility of city officials at exactly the wrong time,” as our columnist and CEO Scott Lewis puts it.

And, as Lewis writes, it put one particular councilman in an especially awkward spot during an especially awkward City Council meeting yesterday. Would he take the way out offered by his colleagues, which would seem to be in line with his previous comments about the secretive state deal to smooth things for the stadium? Or would he head down another path?

Meanwhile, the U-T examines the legal issues spawned by the secret state deal and says lawsuits are still a possibility.

• The county got lots of heat a few months ago after we revealed that it had failed to apply for a big federal grant for jobs. Now, a county supervisor (and candidate) says the county did get one large federal grant, and it was the biggest in the whole country. Wow. Is that true? We check it out.

• Our Blood Work series continues with a look at how the young entrepreneur we’re following managed to raise a big bundle of money.


• It’s a political hot potato that scorches the hands of city leaders just about every year at this time: Homeless shelter, homeless shelter, who wants the homeless shelter? The cold months are coming, and for the moment there will be no place for local transients (including an estimated 1,000 of them downtown) to go: the council deadlocked yesterday on a downtown winter shelter, meaning it’s a no-go for the time being. (CityBeat)

• A San Diego federal judge yesterday ordered a halt to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gay servicemembers. Last year, we interviewed a local former soldier who became one of the faces of the pro-gays-in-military movement. While no one asked and no one told, he suffered gay-baiting abuse at the hands of fellow sailors while serving in the Middle East.

• In the U-T: “The Corky McMillin Companies has dropped plans to build 350 hotel rooms and 30 new houses at the Liberty Station development in Point Loma.”

• A City Council candidate has returned a donation from a man linked to Amerland, the affordable housing developer whose extensive troubles we have profiled. (SD Rostra)

• NBC San Diego, our news partner, reports on the apparent demise (at least for the moment) of the Gay & Lesbian Times, a longstanding weekly local newspaper that serves the gay community.

• Confusion Alert! The San Diego Sports Arena will now be known as the “Valley View Casino Center.” But it will still be a sports arena, not a casino.

Well, it could be worse: at least it’s not the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Center. Uh-oh. Did I just give somebody an idea at the attraction formerly known as the Wild Animal Park? Just forget I said anything.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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