Minds are being boggled by the epic failure of the school reform initiative. The mayor was on its side, and so were other politicians and top businesspeople. Boosters paid to gather a whopping 40 percent more signatures than they needed to put their measure on the ballot. Yet they failed to make the cut when it came to the requirement that they gather about 93,000 signatures.

They fell a few thousand short when more than 39,000 signatures were deemed invalid. “Seventeen percent of all the signatures came from people who weren’t registered to vote,” Emily Alpert wrote. “Eleven percent were duplicate signatures. The rest were for a scattering of other reasons, including being in the wrong district or not including an address.”

How did that happen? The error rate is high, say those who know about such things. But the full details of what went wrong remain elusive. Supporters paid a firm at least $300,000 for the campaign.

“I think it’s incumbent upon them and incumbent upon us to figure out what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again,” said the president of the group behind the measure. “It’s a tremendous loss in terms of time and dollars.”

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• There’s another big petition drive out there, this one to gain enough signatures to put the GOP-supported petition reform initiative on the ballot. Could it face the same kind of massive problem with bogus signatures?

Nope, supporters say. They’re even paying extra money to scrub the signatures to make sure the signers are playing by the rules. You might think that would be routine, but apparently not.

DeMaio Clocks in with $540,000

Mayor’s race news: First, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher surprised observers by saying he’s raised an impressive $300,000 during the first month of fundraising. Now, Councilman Carl DeMaio has topped him with a $540,000 haul of his own, but that includes $270,000 of his own money. It’s no coincidence that the amount is half of $540,000: he agreed to match donations from his own pocketbook.

It may seem like DeMaio is rich, although his spokesman last month said he’s not “extremely wealthy.” Asked again yesterday, the spokesman had this to say “As far as Republican politicians go, he’s not extremely wealthy.”

Feds Rap Coast Guard in Fatal Accident

Federal transportation officials blamed the Coast Guard’s management policies for the December 2009 crash in the bay that killed an 8-year-old boy during the holiday Parade of Lights. In a report, say the causes were the high speed of a Coast Guard boat and the guard’s “lack of effective oversight of its small boat operations both nationally, and in Coast Guard station San Diego.”

A National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman added this zinger: “I find it ironic that the Coast Guard is in the position of evaluating all of the other folks in the boating community to determine if they are complying with the rules. But then when they are in a position, they are essentially saying, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’”

The Coast Guard said it’s been making changes. (U-T)

Issa Not Quite the Inquisitor People Expected

After the GOP took over the House in last fall’s election, Democrats warned that Rep. Darrell Issa (who represents a chunk of North County) would start making the Spanish Inquisition look like small papas. As the new chairman of a powerful House committee, he was expected to torture the Obama Administration by launching investigations galore against a long list of targets. A really long alphabet-soup list, including the SEC, ACORN, TARP, USPS, IT systems, FEMA, and many more.

Made sense: Issa claimed Obama “has been one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times,” a bold claim he ended up wiggling out of.

So how have things been going? The Washington Post took a look, finding that he’s been busy and backlogged. The committee, though, “has produced few major investigative breakthroughs.” A Democrat congressman says this: “At times we see the statesman Darrell Issa and other times he has reverted to the very petty, partisan Darrell Issa.”

Local Gay Couple Takes Adoption Case to High Court

A five-year-old San Diego boy has two daddies. The question now is whether the state of Louisiana has to officially agree, and the U.S. Supreme Court will make the final call.

The gay couple who adopted the boy from Louisiana wants the state to include both their names on an amended birth certificate, but officials refused and will only allow one.

Attorneys for the men say there’s a long list of good reasons to include both men on the gift certificate, including matters of medical decisions, inheritance, and school registration. There’s also the touchy matter of who would get custody if the men were to break up.

A state appeal court rejected the arguments, and now the men want the Supreme Court to overturn its ruling. If the Supreme Court declines to hear the case, the appeal court’s decision will be final.

This Time, Cardiff Kook’s Makeover is Official

Encinitas has a mixed reputation as an art-friendly place. On the one hand, it ordered the removal of the illegal Surfing Madonna mosaic, whose creator had dared to prettify a train bridge without permission. But the city also doesn’t get upset when creative types started putting fabulous costumes on the Cardiff Kook, the beachside statue of a boy on a surfboard.

You’d think its sculptor wouldn’t want to be seen around the widely mocked $120,000 statue, whose critics say it’s girly and unrealistic. (A bit like my last Halloween costume.) But he’s returning to fix some broken parts of the statue, while the city will add some lighting, the U-T reports.

A councilman says the lights might encourage more games of dress-up: “The city doesn’t really want it to stop.” But the city’s arts administrator wasn’t so tolerant: “Hopefully the public will be less inclined to dress up the statue.”

Maybe they should dress up the statue as that guy. We could call it The Party Pooper.

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

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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