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The governor came to the rescue yesterday, declining to lower the financial boom on California school districts as much some feared. But San Diego’s largest district is anything but in the clear.

The district estimates that it will still need to cut $73 million next year. “All the move really does is turn what was a huge problem into a really big problem,” Will Carless reports.

One big issue will be whether employees will agree to cut their pay or decide to face other prospects, such as layoffs. “A big part of the school district’s deficit next year is a double-whammy of promised employee pay increases and the expiration of five unpaid days off that will cost the district about $26 million next year,” Carless reports. “With the vanishing specter of the midyear cuts, attention may now begin to focus squarely on whether the unions will be willing to renegotiate that deal. Without such renegotiation, the district could have no choice but to resort to layoffs.”

Convention Center Booster’s Outlandish Claim

Steve Cushman, a major player behind the plan to expand the convention center, declared on TV that no general fund dollars will be used for the project. That’s the pot of money that pays for city core services. Think police, firefighters, libraries, parks and all the rest.

Cushman is wrong: funding for the expansion convention center would come out of the general fund.   

“At the very least, the proposal would siphon $105 million in revenue that would otherwise flow into the same pot of money that pays for police, firefighters, parks and libraries,” Keegan Kyle reports.

So what Fact Check verdict does Cushman deserve? We’ve given him a rare and uncoveted “Huckster Propaganda,” which we reserve for claims that people know are untrue but made anyway.

“By downplaying the project’s cost to taxpayers, Cushman dodged criticism of providing subsidies to private business as the city faces its own financial challenges. It’s the same criticism boosters originally hoped to avoid,” Kyle reports.

Dem Group Leaves Dem in Cold, So Far

Councilwoman Sherri Lightner is a Democrat, but she’s got an independent streak, as seen in her votes that didn’t follow the liberal line, at least as determined by a coalition of local labor groups. Now, the coalition appears to be making its displeasure known: it hasn’t endorsed Lightner in her reelection bid, even though it’s busily declaring its preferences in other races.

“To be real honest, I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the two of them,” said labor leader Lorena Gonzalez about Lightner and a Republican who’s running against her.

You can read more about how labor and environmental types aren’t ecstatic about Lightner in an October story from CityBeat: “From the outside, Lightner has appeared enigmatic, a Democrat unafraid of angering the Democratic base. Her 2008 campaign benefited to a degree from the support of unions and environmental groups, some leaders of which are now scratching their heads, unsure what to make of Lightner’s votes and largely disappointed in her tenure so far.”

Moby Dick: Trying Out for Ahab’s Boat

This week’s arts report is a good one. It leads with our peek at the tryouts for the San Diego Opera’s new production of Moby Dick. You can sign up for the emailed report (it comes every Tuesday) here.

News at the Speed of Brief

• Assemblyman Ben Hueso is recovering from an accident that occurred as he worked on a replica of an old ship for the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the U-T reports. He required 20 stitches and broke four teeth.

• Researchers meeting at Scripps Institution of Oceanography said the state “should expect more extreme storms, flooding, wildfires and species extinctions due to global warming over the rest of the century,” the U-T reports.

• The historic ad on the side of downtown’s rundown California Theater — it’s big, yellow and declares “Caliente! in Old Mexico/RACING EVERY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY” — is slated to disappear and be replaced by a beer ad, KPBS reports.

“The existing Caliente sign has no association with the historic California Theater and does not itself have historical significance,” a city senior planner writes. History fans disagree, and they’re gearing up for battle. “There’s a good case to be made that the sign itself is historic in its own right and important to the cultural history of San Diego,” says a preservation activist.

We wrote about the glorious and scandalous heyday of Tijuana’s Agua Caliente in the Prohibition-era of the 1920s in a 2010 interview with a San Diego State professor who died this year.

The Caliente ad on the theater’s wall is from the 1960s. I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad that people believe something born in that era is already a historic treasure. Pass the Geritol and lemme think about it.

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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