It’s the fifth-largest private employer in the county and spreads money around through political lobbying and sponsorships of events like the Holiday Bowl. But just a few years ago you probably wouldn’t have known it. Neither would have its many critics, including a U.S. senator who called it “an absolute scam.”
The company is Bridgepoint Education, a for-profit company that owns two universities and educates 99 percent of its students online.
“Criticism of the company centers on its remarkable ability to attract students and remarkable failure to graduate them, all while receiving hundreds of millions in federal student aid dollars,” Liam Dillon and Will Carless report. “The complaint: Bridgepoint has set up a system to use federal dollars to line investors’ pockets rather than enrich students’ minds.”
Bridgepoint matters locally because of its jobs, money, and influence. One study concluded that Bridgepoint added, directly or indirectly, more than $500 million to the local economy. Since that report was written, the company has grown even bigger, which means Bridgepoint’s ability to withstand lawsuits and attacks from critics will have a direct impact on San Diego’s well-being.
NTC/Arts Solution Still Out of Reach
The former Naval Training Center has a new arts district and something else of note: big and unexpected tax problems that threaten its status as an affordable place for arts and cultural organizations to call home. State legislation might help, but that prospect is in limbo at the moment and might not happen at all. Meanwhile, higher rents — the result of those higher taxes — will kick in for some arts tenants within weeks, and the price may be too high for some of them to pay.
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Pension Talks Falter
Global pension talks between the city and labor leaders have been called off, the U-T reports. The city attorney tries to helpfully provide a definition in his letter to the unions: “Negotiation means give and take on both sides and success requires the willingness to stick one’s neck out to support solutions that include things that some folks may not like. We never got to such discussions.”
Actually that sounds more like compromise, which is often — but not always — part of negotiation.
For $20M, Your Name in ‘Shhh!’
Now here’s a costly ego boost: The U-T notes that it’ll cost $20 million to put your name on the new downtown central library. Not quite so wealthy? A total of 50 sites in the library are up to be named in return for donations of as little as $25,000.
Sadly for me, $100 won’t get my name on one of those annoying automatic toilets.
Call Box Shell Game
Remember highway call boxes? Back in the day — the pre-cell-phone day — they provided a handy service to drivers with pooped-out engines and overflowing radiators, not to mention those who’d just been in accidents. They’re still around, but there are fewer of them and they’re not used as often.
But a $1 vehicle registration fee for them remains. And, as CityBeat reports, it’s still pumping money into San Diego Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies, which is spending your taxpayer dollars on “flying fire engines, lackeys in cell-phone costumes and a Big Brother transportation system.”
A couple new City Council members are questioning the spending. Even a county supervisor on the authority’s board acknowledged some questions: “There was a time about 10 years ago, maybe a little bit more, that we thought, Maybe the thing for us to do is drive this agency out of existence,” he said recently. Now there’s an idea.
Hizzoner on the Tube
Mayor Jerry Sanders made an appearance on public TV’s “Charlie Rose” show the other night along with other mayors, including New York City’s Michael Bloomberg. Among other things, Sanders talked about pension reform.
No Intercoms for You
With an assist from the county grand jury, San Diego Fact Check reports that the North County public transit agency misspoke when its website said there are emergency intercoms on the Coaster trains. There aren’t any such intercoms, but they should be installed soon.
Titanic Deck Chairs, Disposable Youth, ‘Tertium Quid’
A roundup of opinion and commentary finds the commentariat buzzing about integration (or the lack thereof) in local schools, a battle between opposing newspaper publishers in Rancho Santa Fe (maybe they’ll have a duel and shoot servants at each other!) and the explanation of a legal term that sounds like it has something to do with British money.
The Quote of the Day (as judged by me) hogs the spotlight: it’s a reference to “the two biggest pigs in local faux journalism in a catfight to the death.” Mixed metaphor alert! Meooo…Oink!
Padres Need a Prayer
According to Forbes magazine, only three Major League baseball teams lost value over the last year. They’re the Mets, the Indians and the Padres. Overall, the average team value is $523 million, with the Pads at $406 million. But the team tells the U-T that it disputes a Forbes claim that the team’s operating income last year was tops in the league.
And This Little Piggy Went to the Laboratory
New research co-authored by the chief of UCSD’s global health division finds that the level of nicotine in people’s toenails offers clues into whether they’re at risk for lung cancer or heart disease.
According to WebMD, the UCSD researcher first measured nicotine in hair but then learned colleagues had collected a large number of toenail samples from medical professionals.
A collection of clippings? Huh. I’ve been looking for a new hobby. Maybe this is it! Sure beats scrapbooking.