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Picture this: You’re a senior manager at a store. But there are layoffs and consolidation, and you get bumped down to assistant manager. Would you expect to keep your old pay?

Probably not. But things don’t work that way for many employees of San Diego’s public schools: even if they get bumped to a lower job classification, they can keep their old pay for months and months.

It’s not an unheard-of practice, but it’s not standard either, as education writer Emily Alpert reports. Now, as the district faces an avalanche of possible layoffs, there are questions about this way of doing things and whether it’s fair for those who don’t just get bumped down but actually lose their jobs.


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Mayor Lays Out Arts Cuts:

The mayor wants to suspend 15 public arts projects, meaning that some would be halted in the middle of progress while others won’t begin at all at least until the end of fiscal year 2012.

Fairgrounds Might Not Be Sold After All:

The governor isn’t hot on the idea of selling the Del Mar Fairgrounds, potentially killing a deal that’s divided officials at the fairgrounds and in local cities.

Embarcadero Plan Gets an OK, but…

Downtown’s redevelopment agency has approved a $30 million plan to give a makeover to the area around the cruise terminal, but appeals in court could stall things for quite a while.

On the Port of San Diego’s page for the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan there are images of an artist’s conception and computer-generated fly-throughs of what the terminal area may look like. A mayoral spokeswoman notes that the project includes benches, landscaping, a road-widening and restrooms. On the map there’s an esplanade, a promenade, and, presumably, a cafe that sells lemonade.

But who are those people in this artist’s image? As our arts editor Kelly Bennett put it on Twitter, some appear to be backpackers, “disembarking every hostel-stayer’s fave form of transport, the cruise ship.”

A New York Times Magazine article from last weekend calls them “scalies,” “people textures” and “populating images” — pictures of humans added to architect’s renderings to make it easier to see how homo sapiens fits into the design. Apparently architects can buy 120 people-textures for $70 to insert into their work.

Sleep Right or Else:

Will a handful of beds for the homeless make a difference downtown? The city wants to find out: under a new settlement, it will make a few beds available with an eye toward making it possible for cops to begin ticketing transients for sleeping in public. That’s been legally iffy in the past because there weren’t other places for the homeless to sleep. CityBeat is bewildered about what’s exactly new here.

Chula Vista Under the Microscope:

Investigative reporter Will Carless has spent the past couple weeks in Chula Vista, our county’s second largest city and the sprawling home to almost a quarter-million people, a far cry from its modest size in the 1970s and 1980s when there wasn’t much to see (except maybe the Proctor Valley Monster) east of the 805.

Now, the South Bay behemoth is “a city in crisis mode,” Carless writes.

“It has stripped back almost all city services, from graffiti abatement, to senior and recreation centers, to the trimming of city-owned trees and bushes. It’s frozen police officer and firefighter hiring and pay increases and, in the last couple of months, Chula Vista’s finalized agreements with unions to roll back the benefits that were once one of the city’s main bragging points.”

Raised Eyebrows in La Mesa:

The city of La Mesa has been loaning money to its redevelopment arm and charging it a big interest rate — 12 percent! Patch.com talks to redevelopment specialists who say this kind of thing is unusual. Apparently, such loans — essentially from one city government agency to another — typically aren’t so costly. (Note to self: No borrowing money from La Mesa.)

Planting a Seed:

A legal change that would make it easier for community gardens to sprout in San Diego is moving forward in the City Council.

Wait, a Local Dem Voted for the Patriot Act?

In the House, plenty of Democrats and a few Republicans voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act this week. (It’s still likely to pass.) But there were some Dems who voted yes, including, in a bit of a surprise, local Rep. Susan Davis.

A Saintly Shinbone:

A shinbone said to be that of St. Mary Magdalene is going on a tour of California thanks to a Del Mar woman who’s a member of a local parish. The relic has been venerated since its rediscovery in 1279 and is maintained by the Dominican order in France.

Mary Magdalene is one of the most controversial figures in the history of Christianity. Last year, I interviewed a local female priest who helped create an unapproved San Diego parish that’s named after the saint.

Trashed:

The other day, we told you about the garbage found on local beaches last year. Try this on for size: A tire for a sports car. Empty packing boxes, paper napkins, an unopened DVD, and food remnants — a potato chip, a bit of candy, a pretzel — stuck in the carpet or splatted onto a baseboard.

Where was all this junk left? At the local GOP headquarters, CityBeat says, after the party abandoned its lease early.

A ‘Wikipedia Weasel’ at City Hall?

Councilman Carl DeMaio seems to have made a priority out of manipulating his Wikipedia page, even holding a meeting on the matter. Nothing wrong with that: plenty of people try to bend the user-edited online encyclopedia to their will. But CityBeat says his minions have violated Wikipedia rules: “Right now, veteran Wikipedia editors are battling against DeMaio’s staff, anonymous supporters and ‘sock puppets’ (fake accounts created to make it seem like a point of view has greater support) to maintain the page’s neutrality.”

So wait just a minute. Does this mean it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to use Wikipedia to declare myself the World’s Most Respected, Admired and Beloved Journalist?

Phooey.

Banishing the Darkness:

Though our next membership campaign is a few weeks off, on Monday we asked for donations to help fund a new camera lens. Here’s part of photographer Sam Hodgson’s reasoning:

“I’ve struggled recently with the broken, consumer-grade wide-angle lens I’ve been using for years. It’s the most important tool in a photojournalist’s bag, because it allows us to get very physically close to people. It doesn’t come cheap. A new, $1,300 Nikon wide-angle lens will help me produce great images in low-light situations, which I often find myself in.”

Thanks to your generous support, he’s on the way to brightening up his photography on our pages. We immediately raised $795 with the help of members Maddy Kilkenny, Maria and Joe Penny, April Bolduc, Jere McInerney, Frances O’Neill Zimmerman and Joan Gabriel.

Can you help us get to $1,300? If you appreciate our emphasis on photography, consider donating now at any level.

Thanks. And here’s a big hug from the Morning Report for all of you who support us. (Don’t worry. Contrary to what you may have heard, we’re not all hands.)

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

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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