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What’s the largest law enforcement agency in the United States?
The CIA? The FBI? Naw. Try U.S. Customs and Border Protection, whose new commissioner is a man very familiar with the needs of San Diegans. After all, he served as both U.S. attorney and schools superintendent here.
In an interview, Alan Bersin talks about the flak that his agency receives, human trafficking and the state of border security.
In Other News:
• The San Diego school board looked at hefty possible cuts last night — including cutting 1,000 jobs and closing 10 schools — and decided to punt. It won’t make the choices for now.
• A councilwoman is on his case and so is a good-government advocate who says his last-minute hiring of three cronies — each of whom worked for his or his brother’s campaigns — is “why people have no confidence in government.” But soon-to-be-ex City Council President Ben Hueso isn’t apologizing and instead lashed out at his critics. Meanwhile, there’s a new tidbit: two of the hires are still owed money for working on the campaigns.
• San Diego’s city attorney is elected on his own and, as is becoming obvious this week, he doesn’t work for the mayor. He’s hopping mad about the now-infamous secret downtown deal the mayor helped develop, and he wants an L.A. attorney who played a role in negotiations to cough up all the related documents in his possession.
• It’s a pretty powerful argument: Councilman Carl DeMaio says pay in the local private sector has slumped over the last few years, so city employees should have to suffer too in order to keep services afloat. Are his numbers correct? They are, but San Diego Fact Check finds there are reasons to only rank his claim as “mostly true.“
• Until recently, you could put the unwanted distribution of phonebooks in the category of “everybody complains about it but nobody does anything about it.” Anti-phonebook activists tried to get the state of California to crack down but they failed.
Then along came Seattle: it approved a measure that orders phone companies to comply with stop-these-dang-things-already requests from residents or else. Now, the yellow pages people are suing on First Amendment grounds. We’ll keep an eye on this: the case could determine whether cities can do anything about those clunky directories that land on your doorstep.
• As we told you yesterday, if you live in San Diego, you’re now free to recycle your yogurt and cottage cheese containers, detergent containers and even lawn chairs. We answer a bunch of follow-up questions: So where does this stuff go? Why didn’t the city collect it before? And what about plastic bottle caps? Unanswered: What would recycling enthusiast Kathleen Turner in “Serial Mom” think of this?
• Moral victory time: It looks more and more like a tiny majority of voters approved the failed measure that would have imposed a per-parcel tax on property owners in the San Diego school district. But a majority vote wasn’t enough.
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How’d other districts do? One in the South Bay had better luck, sort of: 58 percent of its voters approved its parcel tax, but that was still below the required two-thirds. And all the four local school districts that asked voters for permission to borrow money got at least the required 55 percent.
• In arts, our Guide from the Inside blogger Dani Dodge tells us about an an evening at an art gallery (well, a temporarily converted chiropractor’s office) during North Park’s popular monthly Ray at Night art walk.
Dodge, an artist who has her own work on display, interviews the visitors who drop by and describes the gigglefest that erupted over a nearby painting of a heavenly nude angel.
• Computer problems are stalling the city’s annual audit and “preventing San Diego from balancing the city’s books,” the Watchdog Institute reports.
• The Geezer Bandit must have a fast golf cart or an Oldsmobile that’s ready to roll: he struck again last week, all the way up in Bakersfield. (ABC News)
• In CityBeat: “Even though San Diego County canceled a grant to an organization that produces fundamental Christian educational materials, the group continued to use the county’s logo on its promotional materials.”
• Finally, the U-T reports that a small number of students have filed claims against South Bay’s middle and high schools over items like iPods and skateboards that were confiscated and then vanished.
Speaking of history, regrettable photos clearly show that my dignity disappeared while I went to high school in the South Bay in the 1980s. (The Flowbee hair, the giant eyeglasses: good heavens.) So where do I file my claim?