San Diego Unified School District is on the ropes. Battered by bad bets, a poor economy and reckless financing from the state, parents are being asked to pick up the slack in wealthier neighborhoods and teachers face another round of potential layoffs.

Amid all of this, it is trying to shift away from educating students with disabilities in separate full-day classes toward a more inclusive model.

Investigative reporter Will Carless is on a quest to understand special education in the district: specifically, the successes, failures or complications of this controversial transition. And he has a plea for you:

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to figure out how successful San Diego Unified has been in making this radical transition.

My original goal was to write one story that would authoritatively answer that question. But I’m going to try something different, and I’m going to need your help.

I’d like to invite you to come and investigate this subject with me. Let’s work together. Help me as I search for conclusions about the successes and failures of San Diego Unified’s transition to inclusion.

You can email him at

Labor Pact Bans Banned

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Governor Jerry Brown yesterday signed into law a bill that will — stay with me here — ban bans on requiring project labor agreements.

First, what’s a project labor agreement? Here’s my video explainer from NBC 7 San Diego on how the agreements work and a recent primer Keegan Kyle wrote up.

Across San Diego County, contractor groups hostile to organized labor have successfully gotten voters to ban local governments from requiring these agreements for big construction efforts.

Now, charter cities that do something like that will be in danger of losing state funding for infrastructure projects unless they reconsider. A new initiative in the city of San Diego that just qualified for the ballot — which supporters dubbed the Fair and Open Competition Ordinance — may have some major consequences. Would funding to San Diego projects be threatened by the state and the new law, SB 922, if it passes?

The contractors who support this latest initiative answered that question in a recent FAQ with this: “There is no way to know the eventual outcome. It may face a legal challenge by one or more cities.” But in the Union Tribune story, Scott Crosby, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego, was more defiant: “To argue that all state funding would be blocked is absurd.”

Local building unions called the new law’s passage a “historic moment.”

Housing Prices Up But …

Housing and economics analyst Rich Toscano updated his home-price graphs and explains a recent uptick: “while actual prices might have risen a bit through July, the increase was solely due to typical July seasonal strength, and that prices would have actually fallen if it weren’t for that seasonal boost.”

An Awesome Odyssey

Arts Editor Kelly Bennett, who cultivates our Behind the Scene beat and the popular Tuesday Arts Report (sign up here!), was clearly inspired by the Old Globe’s community engagement for the musical “Odyssey” this weekend.

“I had a few people ask me why I’ve been spending so much time covering this play. I think the thing that really captured my imagination was this intersecting of groups and neighborhoods and races and specialties,” she writes.

‘Nother Nobel for San Diego Science

Scripps Research Institute scientist Bruce Beutler is one of three to share the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Beutler and Frenchman Jules Hoffman “made landmark discoveries in innate immunity — the fast, first-line defense against an invading bacterium or virus,” writes NPR. Canadian Ralph Seinman made a related discovery for “adaptive immunity.” The three were not working together. The U-T just posted an interview with Beutler.

SDG&E and Fire: Lot’s Happening

As we head into the height of fire season, Randy Dotinga pieced together a reader’s guide to both the background and latest news behind San Diego Gas & Electric’s four-year struggle with the fallout of the 2007 wildfires. The company has settled more than $1.1 billion of claims and gotten involved with fire prevention and even supported firefighting capacity. But when will the pressure on the company ease and how will ratepayers be affected?

Chargers Shine (in the Dark) on a Beautiful Day

For about a quarter of the game yesterday, locals with access to Direct TV’s NFL package could watch the Chargers game, even though it was blacked out in San Diego. The NFL must have figured it out as the feed soon went dark. But Sam Hodgson’s camera did not go dark and he’s got some great shots of the action you missed unless you were there (and as close as he was).

Triathletes Unite!

I finished my first triathlon at Mission Bay on Sunday. Later we discovered that mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher, a pretty elite athlete, had also competed in it. He was quite a bit faster than me but was apparently disappointed in the results.

I was thrilled I even survived. Fletcher may be a better triathlete for now but I bet I could beat him at a tweet-a-thon.

I’m an elite public affairs typist.

I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of Please contact me if you’d like.

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

Like VOSD on Facebook.

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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