A soft-spoken young accountant named Samantha Ollinger isn’t demure about her love of cycling. She and her husband biked about 2,000 miles when they moved from the East Coast to San Diego in 2008, and she’s since become a major advocate for cycling here — so much so that she’s quit her job to speak for the two-wheeled crowd.

In this week’s Q&A, Ollinger talks about San Diego’s weaknesses as a bike-friendly city, the ways things are improving and the tiny amount of money slated to be spent on cycling in the region.

“Everyone who’d want to ride a bicycle would be able to,” she said. “Right now there’s a lot of people who want to but don’t feel comfortable. There isn’t a space for them.”

‘Tunnels Are Tijuana’

The New York Times posted a whimsy take on the cross-border drug tunnels law enforcement seems to be finding every few weeks.

It’s a sobering story about how intractable the problem is and just how determined the smugglers can be. “Tunnels are Tijuana. They have become an inevitable, always-under-construction or always-operating part of city life, as entrenched as cheap pharmacies and strip clubs,” writes Damien Cave. 

Chargers Top Brass (All But) Out

NFL analysts across the country are buzzing about this U-T story suggesting Chargers Coach Norv Turner and possibly GM A.J. Smith will be fired at the end of the season.

That will surely help them perform well for the rest of the season.

The Pain Behind the Lifeguard Settlement

The Union-Tribune profiles the ex-city lifeguard who successfully sued San Diego, alleging discrimination against women in the lifeguard ranks. “I don’t want to go to our beaches anymore, and I don’t want to run into people in the lifeguard service, and I get anxiety attacks when the trucks drive by,” she tells the paper.

Spending on High-Poverty Schools

A federal study finds that school districts spend less of their state and local money on campuses with poorer kids.

Is that the case here? Our Emily Alpert looked into it. “In every case, San Diego Unified is spending less of its state and local dollars on its higher poverty schools,” she writes. “The gap is most striking at its high schools, where it spends $2,973 per student at poor schools and $3,594 per student at better-off schools.”

So does this mean the poor schools are getting the shaft? Well, the picture is complicated. Experienced teachers, who make more money, tend to scram from disadvantaged schools.

Bankruptcy for Owner of North County Times

Lee Enterprises, the parent company of the North County Times, has announced that it will file for bankruptcy, but it plans to stay in business.

The company is making it sound like quite a painless move: “Vendors, subscriptions, employees and the company’s operations will not be affected,” says a story published by its sister paper in St. Louis.

Lee Enterprises has been making a profit, but it hasn’t been enough to soothe creditors. It’s been crushed by the weight of a $1.1 billion debt due to be paid off next year.   

The company bought the NCT, the only major daily in the county other than the U-T, in 2002. (Disclosure: I’m a freelance contributor to the NCT and formerly worked there. Also, VOSD contracts with a Lee Enterprise Company, TownNews.com, to provide its website and content management system).

Getting It Right

Yesterday’s Morning Report said the website OB Rag complained about an invitation sent by a local gay GOP organization. In fact, OB Rag was confused and meant a business group that leans Republican. They had it wrong but we still should have caught it. We regret the error.

A Meaty Dispute

International incident averted! The local Burger Lounge restaurant chain has managed to stop a Canadian burger joint from using the same name and even the same colors on its logo.

“We just don’t want to be bothered,” the owner of the restaurant in Windsor, Ontario told the local paper about why he caved. “It’s an American company and they are just going to keep bugging you.”

See? It pays to be pushy! Which reminds me: have you donated to voiceofsandiego.org lately?


What We Learned This Week:

Cutting Education Won’t Be Easy: While the teachers union thinks the concerns are overblown, the chief of San Diego’s schools has warned that the district may become insolvent. Cuts will be necessary to prevent that prospect, but limits on what the district can legally slash may make insolvency more likely. 

Andrew Donohue and Scott Lewis talked more about this on VOSD Radio. They also try to explain what exactly has happened to state funding for schools, offer up a fact check and made themselves laugh about the Hero of the Week.

We’re asking for your thoughts on what the school district should do as we ramp up for a week’s worth of discussion called “Schools on the Brink.” What would you do if the state put you in charge of city schools?

Be sure to tune into NBC 7 at 6 p.m. each night next week for special San Diego Explained segments on the issue and then come to the panel discussion Friday. It will also be focused on solutions.

• Future of ‘Wings’ Up in Air: Residents gave a mixed reception to the proposed “Wings of Freedom” sculpture on the waterfront at a public hearing this week.

For more about the towering sculptures, watch Behind the Scene TV (which includes interviews with proponents) and peruse our reader’s guide.

They’ve Got a Secret: The board of the water district that serves much of the South Bay has been holding subcommittee meetings in private, running afoul of the rules.

Continuing Journey for Deaf Refugee: We’ve checked back in with the young deaf refugee whose story moved so many of you last year. We’ve also posted a new photo essay about him. 


Quote of the Week:There’s no redeeming value… The height and the location are just extraordinarily wrong.” — County Supervisor and former architect Ron Roberts on the proposed “Wings of Freedom” sculptures.


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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