The chief of San Diego district schools issued a stark warning this week, the Union-Tribune reports. “We are facing the reality of midyear budget cuts that could be the starting point on the road to insolvency and state takeover,” declared superintendent Bill Kowba. “We are not bluffing,” said the school board president.
“San Diego Unified has called on its teachers union to consider salary and benefit concessions,” the U-T reports. “Under the district’s contract with the teachers union, this is the second and final year educators must take five furlough days. Next year, salaries are set to increase by 10 percent after furloughs end and delayed raises are paid.”
How’d we get to this point? To help you get a handle on things, we’ve compiled several resources that are full of background, including a video explainer in conjunction with NBC7 San Diego and our recent investigation of the district’s big financial bet.
Occupy San Diego Gets an Eviction Notice
Police told Occupy San Diego protesters to clear out everything but themselves from the Civic Center because a dance performance is scheduled this weekend, the U-T reports. As of late yesterday, some protesters had decamped to set up camp at Balboa Park. It seemed, at least for the moment, that a showdown might be avoided. Meanwhile, a potential battle loomed at the counterpart Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City.
• A similar eviction in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan was canceled.
More Clarity on How Taxpayers Will Pay Up
Speaking of gambles, it’s becoming more clear how the city wants to fund the big expansion of the Convention Center. The port may help out, although it’s not willing to contribute as much as a councilman suggested.
And money may come from the city’s general budget. There’s a gamble here: the mayor thinks increased revenue will more than make up for that, saying “We won’t move into something that doesn’t have the assumptions coming true.”
GOP Chair Roasted over Twitter Scandal
If local GOP chair Tony Krvaric wanted a national reputation, he now seems to be on his way to getting one. But being declared a “dingbat” may not quite be what he had in mind.
Under the headline Twitter Overlords Order San Diego GOP Chairman To Get a Life,” national political blog Wonkette bestowed that title on Krvaric. The zinger came after the U-T reported that he unapologetically registered the Twitter user names of local Democratic politicos and sent out messages from one of them. Wonkette also said he’s a “heroic numbskull” who’s “acting like a very superior weiner.”
“Online tomfoolery,” chided OB Rag. Even those sympathetic to GOP causes aren’t rushing to defend Krvaric. “My comment: Wrong. Wrong. Wrong,” writes Bradley J. Fikes on right-leaning local blog sdrostra.com. “Faking IDs is wrong. Also, Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.”
On our site, commenter Dale Peterson wrote: “as a member of the GOP (since the early 70’s), am I supposed to be willing to let this guy administrate my monetary contributions?“
San Diego, the Poopypants Poster Child
After the power went out last month, politicians rushed to congratulate everyone on how well things went. But that’s a myth: things were a mess.
The water system swooned. Two hospitals lost all or much of their power, potentially putting patients in danger and, in one case, forcing an emergency evacuation. And then there’s the not-so-minor matter of the city’s sewage system, which fell apart.
“Basically, the power went out and the city pooped itself. Beaches were closed all the way to Cardiff,” writes our Scott Lewis. “Nothing broke when the power went out in September, the system just stopped working.”
Lewis imagines even worse stinky scenarios, including an epic mess by the airport. But it’s costly to back things up. “Are we really just accepting that if power is knocked out by any of these forces or just a major grid failure, we’ll lose control of the city’s bowels?” he writes. “Yes, unless we decide not to.”
Foundation’s Steps into Trust Breach
If you don’t trust local government, join the club. Even some people in local government aren’t ecstatic about it. The San Diego Foundation is stepping in with plans to invest millions to create a long-term vision for San Diego and then implement it.
“People don’t trust government like they used to, and business is losing its credibility,” says the foundation’s CEO. “Not-for-profits are going to play a larger role in the future. It’s a reality. Our goal is to create a sense of urgency.”
More Renewal at Arts District
The NTC Foundation is moving forward with plans to spend $20.2 million to renovate eight more buildings at the arts/cultural district that used to be the Naval Training Center.
• Check out the thoughts of a reader about the artistic evolution of Southern California in light of the new region-wide art extravaganza: “I have enjoyed living in San Diego and watching the artistic shift from the elite and distant — like the Putnam Collection — to the common and close-at-hand — like the Hubbell house and the craft fairs of the ’70s,” Bill Harris writes.
“It has also been a pleasure to be near UCSD, Salk and our other campuses as the minds there taught us about cognition, variable perception and neurosciences — helping us to better appreciate the work of Robert Irwin, James Turrell and their lot.”
Endless Miles of Bad Road
San Diego Explained, our video series with NBC 7 San Diego, looks at why our streets are in such terrible shape. It’s not entirely a matter of missing money, as we’ve learned. Even when the city does have dollars in hand, it hasn’t been able to spend them efficiently, meaning we’re all going to have to keep paying for shock absorber repairs.
Carlsbad Schools Ask Pay Cuts over Layoffs
Employees of the Carlsbad school district is mulling a unusual solution to the state’s education budget woes: its leadership wants to slash pay and benefits for workers — everybody, even administrators — by 20 percent. The teachers union says it’s willing to talk and accept a pay cut.
Portable Panic Buttons Mulled at University
Cal State San Marcos officials are mulling the distribution of portable panic-button devices that will allow people on the campus to summon help by activating a “duress pendant.”
Teachers and students are raising concerns about privacy, and then there’s the matter of cost — $15 to $40 a month for the service. But the university, which is looking to update its security system, may go for the technology.
Remembering an Eccentric Encinitan
A celebration will be held this weekend to remember the late Encinitas Councilwoman and former Mayor Maggie Houlihan, who died last month of cancer.
Houlihan was a controversial figure with plenty of vociferous critics, including some who attacked her over a 2004 international incident that the U-T’s Logan Jenkins called “the most hilarious (but certainly not the worst) lapse of judgment I’ve ever encountered in a public official.”
It happened in Japan during a triathlon event featuring a visiting contingent from Encinitas. Houlihan, then serving as mayor, abruptly left the race to pick up an emaciated stray cat and find it some food. For a time, the Japanese hosts thought she’d gotten into an accident and been hospitalized; meanwhile, she tried to take the cat home until someone agreed to adopt it in Japan.
Jenkins pounced, mocking Houlihan and saying her “act of charity conveys a condescending message: Japan is a Third World nation that does not care properly for its cats.”
Animal lovers descended on the newspaper columnist while Houlihan got the last word. She stayed on the council for another seven years, ever-deserving of a furry salute from across the Pacific.
Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.