It’s become the San Diego school district’s mantra: Oh my gosh, we may have to close schools! Naw, just kidding. Campuses! Closing! Maybe! Never mind. How about we shut some campuses down to save money? No? OK then.

“For at least the last seven years, the board has been talking tough on closing small schools, but has only closed one,” reports Will Carless in his latest piece looking into school finances. Over that time, enrollment has dropped 11 percent and the district has experienced a financial meltdown.

It may seem like a natural place to find savings, but the prospect of school closures riles up parents, students and teachers. “Few decisions cut so immediately to the political jugular,” Carless writes.

The district now faces a deficit of between $60 million and $136 million and the possibility of insolvency. At this pace, it will have to make deep cuts to stay afloat, and there likely won’t be any easy remedies.

Meanwhile, board member Shelia Jackson tried to deflect criticism by saying that staff came up with the school-closure rules. In fact, that’s not true. “They are perhaps attempting to distance themselves from the decisions we made,” one staffer said.

Sheriff Admits ‘Unusual’ Treatment of Protesters

The sheriff’s department tells CityBeat that it indeed put arrested Occupy San Diego protesters in buses and vans that didn’t have restroom facilities. The protesters report that they had to relieve themselves in the buses and vans, as they were held in the vehicles for 4-6 hours.

“This unfortunate result is very unusual and it is currently being reviewed,” the sheriff’s department says in its statement.

Accused Cop Known for Arresting Women

His former boss said Anthony Arevalos, accused of asking women he pulled over as a cop for sexual favors, was known as the “Las Colinas transport unit.” That’s a reference to the local jail for women.  

We’d earlier reported that Arevalos arrested the highest proportion of women among police officers who made 20 or more drunken driving arrests in a 20-month period before he was sacked. The average officer arrested three men for every one woman, but Arevalos arrested almost equal numbers of both genders.

The testimony showed that Arevalos’ supervisor and other officers  did know of the pattern. “Still, Arevalos continued patrolling downtown San Diego and stopping women more often than his peers,” Keegan Kyle reports.

The Beers Are on Us

Our Brews & News event is coming up next Wednesday at Mission Brewery’s new location in downtown’s East Village. VOSD members will receive a free drink ticket, and there’ll be pizza and lively conversation.

If you’re a new member who joined during our Fall Campaign in October, you’re invited to a special introductory brewery tour and tasting.

Make sure to RSVP if you plan to attend. 

What Mayoral Rivals Think about Pension Reform

The pension reform initiative would advise the City Council to freeze all of the city’s pensionable pay for five years. We asked the mayoral candidates, “If you support the measure, would you still push for a freeze like this if it were to fail? And if you don’t support the initiative, would you support just this freeze?”

Carl DeMaio questions our question, saying the initiative “does far more than ‘advise’ these reforms be made.” Bonnie Dumanis says she’ll push for the freeze even if the measure fails. Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher says he’ll use his powers of persuasion on the council, and also says we can move on from pension talk once and for all if the measure passes.

Schools Could Reverse Plan to Help Poor Kids

The San Diego school board is poised to backtrack on its plan focus money for disadvantaged students on the schools with the absolute highest poverty levels. That leaves it “poised to undo one of its most bitterly contested decisions,” Emily Alpert reports.

The district had been planning to divert $21 million from an estimated 59 schools with fewer poor kids.

• An audit found that the San Diego district’s preschool program failed to collect more than $3.2 million in federal government money, forcing the district to find it elsewhere.

City Heights Intersection Raises Safety Concerns

Thanks to a new supermarket, more pedestrians are using the odd intersection at University Avenue and 54th Street, raising concerns about its safety. There were dozens of reported accidents at the intersection from 2000-2010, including several involving pedestrians or cyclists.

The city is looking into doing something.

A Ticket Too Far

We wanted to know how much you’re willing to cough up for performances and museums. Roger Jaffe is annoyed by Ticketmaster (like the rest of us) and its “convenience fees” that are anything but convenient, while Olin Hyde often avoids buying any tickets if that company is involved.

We earlier explained what goes into a ticket price.

There Goes the Neighborhood

Big magazines tend to have fact-checkers, but the ones that Vanity Fair must be asleep or pink-slipped. They missed the falsity of this claim in the December issue about our county’s second-largest city: it is a sputtering neon error of beauty academies and pawnshops, recently terrorized by a homicidal Tijuana drug gang skilled at dissolving bodies in chemicals.”

Chula Vista has just one beauty school and six pawn shops, not a whole lot for a city of 243,916, 10News reports. (If you want neon, beauty schools and pawnshops galore, try El Cajon Boulevard. Perhaps the writer went there by mistake. Those Spanish names all sound alike, dontcha know).

As for crime, Chula Vista’s is low, although it’s true that a Mexican gang was accused in a series of murders.

As for the “sputtering neon error” part, well, perhaps the writer is talking about the effervescence of folks from CV. Consider my natural bubbliness, for instance.

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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