San Diego city schools board member Shelia Jackson told us last week that, despite some evidence to the contrary, she was living within the boundaries of her southeastern San Diego district. The schools trustee, one of five on the board that oversees one of the largest districts in California, said she’d been staying with a school administrator for a couple of years.

She admitted she hadn’t been paying rent. Free rent has been generally considered a gift that public officials must disclose to help the public watch out for conflicts of interest.

The person who Jackson says gave her that free room and board, Gwendolyn Kirkland, was at the heart of a bitter and bizarre battle for the top job at Fulton, a K-8 school in Bay Terraces. The board, including Jackson, had made Kirkland the interim principal. Records show Jackson herself got involved in the debacle, meeting in private sessions with the board and the system’s top administrator to discuss what was happening.

Last week, Jackson said she tried to stay out of the controversy that had some teachers furious.

“Yet records and interviews reveal that Jackson was still involved in the debates over Fulton. She sat in school board talks behind closed doors about the Fulton principal. Her calendars show two meetings with Superintendent Bill Kowba to discuss Fulton. Teachers say she often showed up at the school,” Emily Alpert writes.

Kirkland did not end up getting the permanent job at Fulton.

Tourism Taxes and Football

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San Diego may seem tax-averse, but the San Diego City Council is about to pass a 40-year extension of a 2 percent hotel-room tax hike it set in motion in 2007. And if proponents get their way, the council will eventually increase it by another 1 to 3 percent, depending on where the hotel is in the city. The money from this latest boost would go to fund a new Convention Center expansion.

How is this possible? After all, in 2004 voters citywide twice rejected increases to the hotel-room tax. Now the comparably low tax rate will be closer to what other rival cities charge.

It’s possible because conservatives on the City Council like this tax, and they speak glowingly of how using the money to promote tourism is worth the tax.

The Convention Center levy is still just a proposal. But as I noted Friday, boosters of a new Chargers stadium downtown appear to be eyeing it, hoping to redirect it to some kind of Convention Center-stadium hybrid.

• The Chargers themselves posted an update on their stadium progress. Special counsel Mark Fabiani reiterated the type of rhetoric I picked up on: With the governor and state having severely curtailed redevelopment, a new revenue source is needed for the stadium and it appears that source could be the Convention Center.

• As Liam Dillon pointed out, Convention Center boosters are still uncomfortable with this train of thought.

• The U-T’s Matt Hall summarized things well here.

Socialization of Private, um, Highways?

The experiment of private infrastructure that was State Route 125 having gone sour, the San Diego Association of Governments has agreed to buy the beleaguered toll road and likely lower its toll (Los Angeles Times). Sandag Chairman Jerome Stocks said the high toll was dissuading drivers from using it and they were clogging smaller streets. (Union-Tribune)

Smuggling for Sinaloa

The LA Times posted a fascinating profile of Carlsbad pilot John Ward, who set out to become the best drug smuggler around.

“He’d fly across the border skimming treetops to evade radar. He’d land in the desert, at improvised airstrips where his crews laid generator-powered runway lights. For engine troubles, he packed a tool bag with fuses and wrenches. For human problems, he tucked a 9-millimeter handgun in his waistband.”

Supes’ New Districting Isn’t Legal, Say Civil Rights Activists

Governments across the state are redrawing their political boundaries. At the state and city level, independent commissions do the dirty work. But here, at the county level, the Board of Supervisors draws its own.

The supervisors are expected to do just that on Tuesday, and civil rights activists say the map violates federal law because it doesn’t envision a district that gives Latino and black candidates a better chance of winning election. (North County Times)

The story contains one of the most oft-written context nuggets by us local journalists, noting the board “consists of five white Republicans who have served together since the mid-1990s.”

Just four Latinos and one black candidate have run for supervisor in the last 20 years, the ACLU says.

Professor DeMaio

Liam Dillon yesterday tweeted a couple observations from his day watching Councilman Carl DeMaio try to drum up signatures for the city’s pension reform initiative.

He included this hilariously dry take of an encounter with a constituent: “An woman handed carl a book she wrote called ‘Asian slim secrets’. ‘I help people to lose weight,’ she said. Carl said he loves Asian food.”

I also talked to Carl on Friday about a few things. He is trying to differentiate himself from his rivals for mayor, who he thinks have more long-term political ambitions beyond San Diego City Hall. So I asked him what his ambitions were if he were to be victorious.

He said he’d want to get elected, “fix” San Diego and then become a professor so he could teach what he learned.

I wonder what Professor DeMaio’s course would be called. Any ideas?

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

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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