It sounds like a pretty simple proposition: the city, as the mayor is suggesting, cuts funding for public art projects. In return, the city has more to spend on services like parks and libraries and all that jazz. Okay, done, so let’s … oh wait just a minute. It’s not so simple.

As City Council members learned this week, the much decried cuts in arts funding — which forestall criticism that the city’s spending its sparse money on sculptures instead of firefighters — don’t necessarily mean money will trickle back and be spent on, say, a cop’s job. Arts editor Kelly Bennett recaps the intricacies of why arts cuts might not be big budget gains.

Join thousands of San Diegans who get the day’s news in their inboxes every morning. Get the Morning Report now.

Preparing for the Almost-Worst:

The school board president says it’s “absolutely impossible” to get ready for the worst-case scenario of dips in state funding for schools. Instead, the board approved plans to deal with rosier scenarios. “Rosier” still comes with plenty of thorns: one plan calls for $120 million in cuts, meaning the elimination of dozens of school bus routes and layoffs of some 1,300 employees. Another plan anticipates a better outcome, but it assumes that statewide voters will approve tax hikes next summer. And we’ve seen how well tax increases have gone over lately.

Let There (Not) Be Light:

The inner-city Hoover High School wants to use school bond money to build lights so teams can play at night at its stadium. Sound good? No, say local residents who fear lights will bring noise, traffic and crime. (Now that’s not an argument you hear very often: Keep it dark!) So they’re suing.

The ‘Vacuous Nonsense’ Guy’s Ideas:

A physics teacher named Chris Lawrence caught the attention of education reporter Emily Alpert when he attended a panel moderated by her and complained of its “vacuous nonsense.” Instead of being deeply offended like a normal person, Alpert sought him out to hear more of his perspectives.

In this week’s Q&A, Lawrence talks about the problems with high schools and the ways to fix them, such as focusing more on arithmetic, getting parents involved through online means and helping kids understand finance. He adds: “We have to get away from this fetish with physics, chemistry and biology. People don’t learn science that way. They learn science through the Discovery Channel and the world around them. If all you do is talk about some abstraction, people think, ‘What do I have to do to get out of here?’”

Setting Sail for Urban Legend Debunkery:

San Diego Fact Check has another bit of sad news for those who like to believe outrageous urban legends: no, the convention center is not floating on water and you’ll never be able to sail it to Coronado. But there is a bit of truth to the idea that the convention center is more than a little bit tied to the water: the city spends $700,000 a year to pump water away from the underground parking area. There are 16 pumps, one that works all the time and 15 backups; the system hasn’t failed once. (Just my luck, it’ll happen someday and while my car is innocently parked there.)

Guilty Weatherman:

“TV weatherman Joe Lizura pleads guilty to lewd act,” says the U-T headline. Lizura was accused of doing something inappropriate in front of a woman in Normal Heights; he reportedly said he was just adjusting some blinds.

The KUSI weatherman, who’s long been on the local airwaves, has quit his job, but not, as is often said in these kinds of situations, to spend more time with his family. The station says he “resigned to pursue his own business.”

My What a Big Lens You Have:

It was, one journalist said, “the greatest item of interest to the civilized world in twenty-five years, not excluding the World War.” What was the object of this hyperbole? The making of the telescope at the observatory on North County’s Mt. Palomar, reports The Atlantic.


We may have a winner in the Morning Report search for the most pretentious street name in town thanks to Erin Knight, who submits Walton Heath Row in Bernardo Heights. “It also happens to be the street where I spent most of my childhood,” Knight says. “And no, children were not permitted to ride their bicycles, skateboards, scooters or rollerblades on the street, or really have any sort of fun at all. The street clearly lived up to its pretentious name!”

Knight says there’s a close second and third in Royal Birkdale Row and Royal Lytham Square.

Streets fit for a king, even if the only throne is in the loo.


What We Learned This Week:

So That’s How It’s Done: Documents gave us — and you — a front-row seat to see how the state got stuck with a bill of hundreds of millions of dollars during the secret negotiations before the big downtown redevelopment deal.

In a new story posted later, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher explains how this is actually a good thing for local schools. “I would have had great concern if there had been an argument that somehow education was going to lose out of this arrangement,” he said. City Hall reporter Liam Dillon checked with the school district to see what they think and to provide some caveats.

Also: a former city councilwoman who’s now a state senator wants to do away with state subsidies to support redevelopment.

How well have you been paying attention to all this? Check out our opinion section quiz about redevelopment and see how you score.

We’ve got more about redevelopment in our graphic illustration called the Downtown Money Tree: it shows how the downtown redevelopment agency — whose job is to promote urban renewal — will spend $462.5 million. The downtown library is getting a ton of funding, as is affordable housing. Smaller amounts — but still multi-million-dollar amounts each — go to public art, administration, marketing and consulting.

Woe is Chula Vista: In a series of posts about the troubles in the South Bay city of almost a quarter million, we examine what’s been cut and how pension trimming may help the city budget.

The $10 Million Boo-Boo: Let the blames begin! Somehow, the city misunderestimated (to borrow a term) the deficit for the next fiscal year. It’s $10 million more than the city thought due to mathematical error: revenue from certain hotel taxes got counted twice.

Well, there’s a simple way to resolve this. Every tourist who comes to town needs to bring a guest to get another hotel room. Problem solved!


The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to savor over a cup of overpriced organic coffee)

The Non-Downgrade Downgrade: Funny thing about San Diego schools. Some employees can get demoted without losing pay (at least for a while). Does that sound odd to you? It may to the district’s money-crunchers.


Quote of the Week: “If you make $2,000 a month and you go to $1,200 a month, that’s a huge impact on your family. This gives them some time to adjust. It’s not going to be there forever.” — Sylvia Alvarez, president of a San Diego school district employee union, on the practice of demoting employees without immediately cutting their pay.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

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

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