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The San Diego school board voted Tuesday night to kill a plan to close campuses to resolve budget problems and then agreed to look into the idea of asking voters to levy new taxes on property owners.

The backtracking on school closures made many parents happy but the fact that the idea came up in the first place left some embittered.   

• Meanwhile, a surpise idea surfaced. The board voted to pay a local consulting firm $30,000 to examine the possibility of putting a new multibillion-dollar construction bond on next November’s ballot. Voters approved a $2.1 billion bond in November 2008.

“The new bond, which would be funded by an increase in local property tax, would ostensibly be used to pay for billions of dollars in deferred maintenance and infrastructure projects,” Will Carless reports.

There’s a twist, though: “But there were also hints that it could help free up everyday spending money for the district, something these construction bonds typically do not.”

• A second ratings firm in as many weeks downgraded the district’s credit rating, a move that will likely increase the district’s interest rates when it borrows money. Standard & Poor’s cited the district’s tight budget and looming pay increases for workers next year as its reason for the downgrade.

Multiple Misdonduct Claims Against Ex-Cop

A total of at least six people have filed claims — precursors to lawsuits — against the city of San Diego, claiming they were victimized by former San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos, the U-T reports.

At least three of the claims ask for more than $1 million in damages, and some of them say the department had prior knowledge of Arevalos’ behavior.

We’ve been following the trial of Arevalos with an eye on what it may tell us about the inner workings of the Police Department when it comes to allegations of wrongdoing. Check our story from Sunday for details about what we’ve learned from the trial so far.

Taxi Driver Shootings Spark Safety Concerns

Taxi drivers are calling for more attention to their safety in the wake of another shooting, the U-T reports. A cab driver died in Lemon Grove last weekend in an apparent homicide, and another cab driver was shot to death in La Jolla in September.

Other cities have required cameras in taxis, for example. Any requirements could lead to higher taxi costs in the city.

San Diego already has the highest cab fares in the country.A five-mile trip with a five-minute waiting time here would cost $20.40, the survey said, compared to $18.48 in L.A., $16.15 in San Francisco, $12.72 in Chicago (where gas prices, like San Diego’s, were among the highest on the list) and $11.50 in Washington D.C.

Bodyguards for a School District Boss

There’s talk that the state may take over the San Diego school district and if they do, they’d bring in a new boss, known as a trustee. School board member Scott Barnett this week warned the district needed to take drastic action to avoid this fate, warning that things can get ugly once that trustee starts making unpopular decisions.

“In Oakland, the trustee had two bodyguards following him around,” Barnett said.

We put that line through the Fact Check and determined it was Mostly True. Among other threats, one angry parent had exclaimed that “bullets are going to fly … and I hope there’s one for people like you.” 

Now Here’s a Winning Idea: A Cross-Border University

This isn’t the normal way you’d win an Idea Tournament — by coming up with an idea that one of the judges thinks is absolutely, positively unworkable. “Never going to happen,” the judge wrote of the idea of an international university.

But still, Christopher Yanov won over two other judges and an audience at our Politifest event back in September and came away with the top honor. How’d it happen? Our Scott Lewis explains: “Put simply, he’s not in the business of talking about what’s feasible. He’s in the business of changing reality.”

Yanov has done it already. He’s the founder and CEO of Reality Changers, which provides scholarships and helps kids get ready for college. It says it gives more scholarships to local kids than any other organization.

A cross-border university, of course, sounds like the longest of  long shots. “He fully admits that putting a college right on top of the border is nearly impossible to imagine. There’s no money. Where would it actually go? Who would build it? Who could attend? How would you handle cross-border security and immigration issues?” Lewis writes. “What he points out is that the problems on the border seem equally overwhelming.”

Are there cross-border universities anywhere else in the world? If you know of one, drop me a line. And if you missed the Idea Tournament, here’s a real-time recap of what was being said on Twitter.

Newsy Bits: Public Safety & Public Transit

• San Diego and Sacramento have been left out of the $98 billion first phase of high-speed rail construction in the state. Supervisor Ron Roberts isn’t too happy the second most populous county in the state, and a major tourist destination, isn’t included. (Associated Press)

• Authorities are warning that today will be the first major Santa Ana windstorm of the season, heightening wildfire worries. (U-T)

• A safety alert at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was lifted yesterday evening after an ammonia spill. (North County Times)

The Tops in Eats

The Zagat people are out with a list of the top 10 restaurants in the county, the U-T reports. Sadly, none of my favorite greasy spoons are on it. (What, is there something wrong with patty melts and French dips?)

The top eatery is Del Mar’s Market, where the menu is different every day. (They can do that?) It’s followed by restaurants devoted to sushi and French, Creole, California and Italian cuisine, among other specialties.

I checked prices and found the entrees at several of these restaurants run from $25 to $45. Hmm. Oh garçon, do I get a discount if I bring my own silverware? How about my own plastic wine glasses? Hey, why are you giving me directions to McDonalds?

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

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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