The San Diego school board got a grim view last night of how the future might look if finances are as bad as they fear: the equivalent of 700 layoffs, bigger class sizes, and fewer nurses, counselors and janitors.

Some of the cuts would come in the middle of this school year, with others in the next.

“The school district could also bargain with its labor unions to try to delay or undo raises that kick in this summer, which will cost $21 million next year, or to extend furloughs,” our Emily Alpert reports. “But San Diego Unified isn’t including that in its budget plan because it can’t make those cuts unless unions agree to them.”

School board President Richard Barrera insisted the district will avoid insolvency. “We are not going to turn this district over to the state,” he said.

• Those details build on what we know about the impacts of San Diego Unified’s financial mess. Those impacts are the subject of Part 1 of our five-part “Schools on the Brink” series of San Diego Explained videos. We explore the threats to education, our larger reputation and community, and offer up five recommended stories to help you understand San Diego schools’ insolvency threat.

The series is running during NBC 7 San Diego’s 6 p.m. newscast and on our site every weeknight this week.

It culminates with a live discussion on how to fix the problem tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in Point Loma’s Liberty Station. Come join us. We’ll have two school board members, a teacher and two parents in a discussion moderated by our Andrew Donohue and Will Carless. Click here for more info and to submit a question.

As part of this week-long effort, we’re also taking readers’ ideas on how they would fix San Diego Schools. Check out the new additions to that ongoing conversation.

Hotels Pay What They Want

The City Council set the maximum fees that hotel guests will pay to fund a giant expansion of the Convention Center, but it’s still not clear how much taxpayers will be on the hook for or whether there will be a maximum for them too. 

The hotels, meanwhile, aren’t all getting the same benefit. Their patrons will have to cough up extra fees even if they’re quite a ways from the convention center. “Some hotels, such as those next to the Convention Center and in Coronado, win big,” Liam Dillon reports. “Some hotels, such as those in Rancho Bernardo and San Ysidro, lose.”

Under New Management, U-T Is Late to Its Own News

The U-T switched over to new ownership on Tuesday, a few days earlier than initially expected, and debuted a new motto at the top of its printed front page: “THE WORLD’S GREATEST COUNTRY & AMERICA’S FINEST CITY.” The U-T is now owned by hotel mogul Doug Manchester, who prefers — even in communications with his new staff — to be called “Papa Doug.”

But it took a while for readers to get the news. It wasn’t until late in the day that the paper published an uncritical story about the transition under a headline and subhead that said “Union-Tribune returns to local hands/Manchester, Lynch want to raise standard of excellence.”

The delayed timing of the U-T story, which was old news thanks to a morning email to newsroom employees, was an early (and failed) test of the new ownership, one media expert said.

The U-T story says “terms of the deal are confidential,” although they actually aren’t. Manchester told us that he bought the paper for more than $110 million. The story also only vaguely hints at the controversy that erupted over comments by former local radio executive and new U-T CEO John Lynch, who told us he wanted to see news coverage that supported a new football stadium.

“We’re not going to try to impact the news standpoint,” he told the paper. “What we’re here to do is to challenge everybody in that newsroom to be great.’”  

CityBeat jibed at the new motto, saying the U-T has become “the galaxy’s corniest daily newspaper” and asking, “Does the new U-T motto make you nauseous, too?” (Answer: Yes.)

Have you got a better idea for a U-T motto reflecting the old-is-new-again era of local (and hopefully not yokel) ownership? Drop me an email, and I’ll mention the best and worst ideas later this week.

‘Wings’ Would Offer a New View, Supporters Say

Besides comparing it to all sorts of unflattering things, critics of the giant proposed Wings of Freedom sculptures on the waterfront have complained that they will ruin the view of the bay. But proponents told us in an interview that the skyscraper-sized titanium-and-steel sculptures would become the view

“The Sydney Opera House is a very beautiful view to people looking at it, permanent residents or visitors alike,” said businessman and philanthropist Malin Burnham. “The same thing will happen here. What if you lived in Coronado or Point Loma or Mission Hills, it will be the view. It won’t be blocking the view.”

The U-T has compiled a list of comments about the proposal. Hardly anyone seems neutral. Critics use terms like “abomination,” “dull” and “eyesore” and compare the sculptures to “giant donkey ears.” Proponents call it “beautiful” and a “fantastic idea for a fantastic city.”

Yup, You Can Get on the USS Midway for Free

“The Midway Museum currently offers no information on free public access to the bow of the Midway,” an arts blogger wrote in the U-T recently. San Diego Fact Check finds his claim is false: the floating museum, which is required to allow people to get on the aircraft carrier’s bow at no cost, does let visitors know about this.

But truth be told, the museum isn’t going out of its way to say: Hey, get on us for free! The signs are easy to miss and vaguely worded. The museum’s CEO has even defended not making a big deal of the perk’s existence: “It costs a couple million dollars a year to keep that ship looking as good as it does. And the reason why we’ve got that money is that people buy tickets.”

News at the Speed of Brief:

• Someone needs to get an F in geography. The Big East college football conference is poised to add San Diego State to its roster, the U-T reports, reflecting the university’s hope for more exposure and revenue. SDSU’s other sports teams would probably play in the Big West, where you might think all of them would belong.

The Bleacher Report blog is unimpressed by the new conference and suggests that it might be called “The Medium 10.” (Maybe they could call it The World’s Greatest Conference? Just an idea.)

• From one SD to another: the governor of South Dakota will be in town this week to try to woo businesses from San Diego to his state, the NC Times reports. Somebody ask him why they pronounce Pierre so funny.

• The Geezer Bandit is at it again, but he may bear the equivalent of a scarlet letter. A dye pack exploded after he robbed a bank in San Luis Obispo, the LA Times reports. “Such explosions leave the money soaked in red dye and can also burn the hands or face of the robber or leave dye marks that are difficult to wash off.”

You might notice some suspicious red spots all over me this week, but don’t worry, no need to call the FBI. It’s all due to an unfortunate incident in the paint aisle in Home Depot.

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

Randy Dotinga

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

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