San Diego Unified School District is facing three scenarios that may lead to the layoff of 1,300 school employees including 500 teachers — or worse. The first is what the school board hopes for: The governor is able to get state tax extensions on the ballot, and voters approve them, and the deficit they face won’t be as breathtaking.

The second is what they seem to be preparing for: Those tax extensions don’t pass. They aren’t even guaranteed to get on the ballot. This would lead to 500 teacher cuts.

The third scenario is a nightmare: Those tax extensions fail and the state makes even further cuts to education.

The Union Tribune today touches on one potential program on the brink: music.

Newly elected school board member Scott Barnett persuaded his colleagues to open up talks with the teachers union. They’re in the middle of a closed three-year contract. But it doesn’t seem to be going well, Barnett reported on his Facebook page. He acknowledged that the school police have been willing to talk. But other employee groups?

“So far we have not had any real movement on any discussion with all the rest. This is …so far a failure of both school board and union leadership which we are all responsible for. It takes both sides to lead,” he wrote, in a discussion that opened up on his page.

Last week, education writer Emily Alpert and NBC San Diego took on the teacher layoffs for San Diego Explained. The so-called “last hired, first fired” rules mean that if the layoffs do come, they’ll affect the least senior teachers and therefore usually lower income-area schools. Alpert touched on how a civil rights lawsuit in Los Angeles, which was supported by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has challenged the teachers union and the seniority rules.

The New York Times explained that issue Friday.

Last Stand

KQED’s John Myers reports that the California League of Cities is launching a radio ad campaign to try to save redevelopment from state cuts. You can catch up on our latest posts about the dilemma on our redevelopment page.

Myers said the cities are again alleging the state is stealing cities’ money. But regardless of how you feel about the issue, this is how it works: The state replaces money for schools that’s lost to redevelopment. That means it’s simply a state expenditure. And like many others, it’s being cut or threatened. 

Is cutting something equivalent to stealing it?

What Is a Socialist?

That’s the first question I asked  the chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego, Tony Krvaric, for this week’s radio show (audio link). On Friday, I’ll have Ann Tartre, the new executive director of the Equinox Center.

If you missed Tartre’s recent piece on transportation that we ran, it was worth a read.

“The good news is that in the past few years the number of miles we each drive daily has declined. The bad news is that this is mostly due to the impacts of the recession,” she wrote.

  Mr. Dynegy, Tear that Thing Down!

Chula Vista leaders only wish all they had to do was huff and puff to blow the South Bay Power Plant down. As we explain, it’s a lot more complicated than that, and yet South Bay’s future is waiting on it. It’s likely that even if everything goes smoothly, disassembling the plant will not begin until at least 2012. And that’s if the resources are there to pull it off.

Our partners at NBC San Diego did their own take, featuring our Will Carless, on why the money set aside for this effort is something Chula Vista and the port may want to scramble to protect.

Professor Hamilton’s Blog

UCSD’s professor James Hamilton has one of the top 25 economics blogs, according to Time Magazine. Hamilton’s blog, Econbrowser, focuses on “business cycles, monetary policy and oil economics, the last of which has made Hamilton a must-read as of late.”

San Diego’s Homeless

The Sacramento Bee profiles female veterans who had trouble transitioning to civilian life in San Diego and became homeless. While NPR profiled David Ross, the so-called Waterman in San Diego, whose trademark gift of water bottles to local homeless is one of many of his efforts.

We, along with our partners at the Media Arts Center, did a series on Ross last year.

Broke City, USA

Finally, you may have noticed a quote from me in The New York Times Magazine Sunday: “I think the city is dissolving.” A few readers asked me what I meant.

You can read more about what I mean in this recent post and here, from a Q&A last year.

Alex Roth, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders razzed me on Twitter a bit when the article first appeared.

“I’m sitting in my office, watching my desk, chairs and computer dissolve before my very eyes,” he wrote.

I said we should send photographer Sam Hodgson to capture it. Roth said he’d better hurry because his lower extremities had started dissolving as well.

I reminded him that, hilarity aside, it is actually the mayor’s official position that City Hall is falling apart, right?

He joked: “I won’t say it’s falling apart but I will say every time I step in the elevator I brace myself for an 11-story free-fall.”

You can contact me directly at or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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