Not much happened in the way of significant decision-making at last night’s mammoth San Diego school board meeting, but there was still plenty of brouhaha as parents, teachers and kids showed up to give trustees the what-for about potential school closures.

They were treated to a presentation on how poorly the state of California funds education, with the district’s financial woes — including the possibility of insolvency and a state takeover — as the backdrop.

In 2007, California ranked 46th in the nation in per-student funding. “And that was the high-water mark,” a district financial advisor said.  That year, funding took a 15 percent drop, he said.

One thing to watch for now: what the district cuts to deal with a deficit estimated last night to be between $100 million and nearly $120 million. How it handles those cuts could determine if it can continue to get loans and stay afloat.

Board member Scott Barnett pushed for cuts in bussing but was booed (“Did anybody pay attention to the fact that this district could soon be insolvent?” he responded) and his views were rejected by a board majority.

The board didn’t make any decisions on closing schools.

New Questions in Officer’s Trial

Testimony in the trial of former San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos, accused of sexual misconduct while on duty, raises questions about whether police had warnings about his behavior earlier than was previously known pubicly.

A woman testified that she told a city cop in 2009 that Arevalos tried to get her to provide a sexual favor in return for not arresting her for drunken driving. The earliest warning that police had acknowledged previously had come in 2010, when Arevalos was returned to patrol after the district attorney chose not to press charges.

Hopefuls on Potholes

We’ve got answers from the mayoral candidates about how they’d deal with the city’s bad roads. Among the major rivals, Councilman Carl DeMaio said he’ll tackle “a lack of funding and a dysfunctional bureaucratic structure that is incapable of managing the city’s street repairs.” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis promises to create a team to take on delayed repairs and look into how other cities are handling things. Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher says he’ll “install a new culture of accountability at City Hall” and appoint an infrastructure czar.

Park Your Change to Help the Homeless

Here’s an unusual idea: a downtown coalition has installed parking meters around Horton Plaza, but the money you put into them won’t get you a space for two hours. Instead, the dollars (via coins or credit card) will support the homeless, CityBeat reports.

Finally, a Food Stamp Assist

The county is hiring 65 new workers to help process food stamp applications. As we’ve reported, applicants have had a devil of a time getting through on phone lines.

A Defense of DeMaio

Sometimes, it seems like Councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio gets more press — good and bad — than all the other councilmembers combined.

This week, he’s been getting plenty of buzz about things like two high-profile endorsements from men who have hardly been friends of the gay community and the wacky virtual reality interview set-up on his website. (“Humanizing a candidate by literally turning him into a robot,” says our Liam Dillon. Commenter David Hall jibes: “What an incredible simulation. Just like the real Carl DeMaio, when you ask him a question he doesn’t like, he ignores you.”)

Now, a Democratic columnist for, a gay publication owned by DeMaio’s boyfriend, is defending the councilman — a “rare gem” — with gusto and accusing detractors at a rival gay newspaper of having a “bitter, personal” vendetta. The columnist also notes that supporters of the other mayoral candidates are not friendly to gay causes. 

By the way, if you ask the Virtual Carl the question “Are you gay?”, he responds with “Hey, let’s keep this a civil dialogue. San Diego deserves that for the future of the city.”

• The local chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican organization, has endorsed Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher. (Union-Tribune) He’s the only one of the three major Republican candidates who isn’t gay, edging out DeMaio and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis for the nomination.

Is Shamu a Slave?

PETA has sued SeaWorld for the release of its famous orcas, arguing that their captivity constitutes slavery and is unconstitutional.

“Each of these five wild-captured orcas was forcibly seized from their homes and families and are held captive in concrete boxes that causes them great stress and illness,” a PETA attorney. “They’re forced to perform tricks for SeaWorld profit and have been turned into virtual breeding machines to create more performers for SeaWorld shows.”

Does This Look Like Music to You?

Lighting bolts. Things that sorta look like musical notes. And a giant symbol that looks like it might be a cousin of the weird way you’re supposed to write a capital Q in cursive.

Does all this make you think of symphony music? It should if you’re a musician: the capital Q-like thing is a bass clef. The lightning bolts are an interpretation of new-fangled contemporary music notation. And the things that look like notes are indeed notes, just in a medieval style.

The question is whether non-musicians will have any idea what’s going on in this sculpture, which is proposed to be built in front of the rather drab front of the San Diego Symphony building.

Our readers are giving the sculpture mixed reviews. “The designs are marvelous! I live near the hall and know how easy it is for passers-by not to recognize it,” says one, while another simply declares “Love it! Love it! Love it!”

Another cautions that the red color is “too dynamic for this orchestra that tends to program carefully on the safe side.” That’s a good point: could the sculpture be more exciting and provocative than the symphony itself? A couple other readers go further, using words like “clunky,” “tacky” and “UGLY.”

One thing is clear: the sculpture would be a grabber. If you’re like me, though, you’re going to have to be careful to not walk right into it. Symphony sculptures are all fun and games until you hit the double-bar line!

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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