At last week’s big mayoral debate, our Scott Lewis asked all of the major candidates whether they would keep Chief William Lansdowne in the job. Two said they would. Two did not.

That’s in No. 9 of Lewis’ countdown of the 12 local stories to watch in 2012: The police.

The San Diego Police Department has faced unimaginable tragedy over the last year.

How will it recover? Will Lansdowne stay? Will future cops have guaranteed pensions? Will you have to do a bake sale to fund a neighborhood patrol?

Lewis urged you to read Keegan Kyle’s excellent summation of one scandal in particular.

“Imagine if that were your wife, sister or daughter. And then imagine that it happened, she complained and the department left the officer on duty, only to see other victims suffer the same fate.

“That’s what happened and — whoever’s fault it was — it’s unacceptable,” he writes.

• Here are his first three posts in the series. It’s a collection of the stories he thinks you should follow this year. 

No. 12: The Chargers; No. 11: The Convention Center; and No. 10: The city of San Diego’s financial problems.

Filner and DeMaio Bash Fletcher and Dumanis

Speaking of last Friday’s debate, Liam Dillon recaps it noting how Councilman Carl DeMaio wasn’t the focus of the majority of sharp elbows flying on stage with Congressman Bob Filner, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis:

Instead, the biggest hits came against Dumanis and Fletcher. They went after each other and DeMaio took on them both. This approach could represent a political calculus. San Diegans tend to elect moderate Republicans. See Sanders, Jerry. Dumanis and Fletcher fit that bill.

Dumanis (with her large pension as a potential weak spot) and Fletcher (potentially vulnerable on urban renewal and government openness) went after each other. DeMaio tried to ding them both, while Filner was full of wisecracks.

You can watch the full debate GOP debate-style. Maybe next time!

‘The Worst of Times in California Public Education’

Even if the state passes new tax hikes, it’s no time to celebrate, declared San Diego schools boss Bill Kowba in a message to the district’s staff members: “I am very concerned about Board meeting testimony and casual conversation that suggests that this will be a better budget cycle with new resources and minimal cuts. That is not the case based on current information.”

We’ve got a copy of the memo.

• Remember the big scare over whether the district would go insolvent and have to be taken over by the state? Sounds like it’s even less of a threat.

The state has a kind of early-warning system to alert people when school districts are in trouble financially. A new list is out, but San Diego Unified isn’t on it. Seven other local districts, however, are, Fox 5 reports. They include some larger ones, like Carlsbad and San Marcos.

Whopper of the Year Gets on County TV!

San Diego Fact Check TV finds that the campaign of District Attorney and mayoral candidate Bonnie Dumanis bobbled a claim about local schools. Meanwhile, we’ve got video of County Supervisor Bill Horn reacting with a gesture — not an obscene one, we think — to the news that he received our not-so-coveted Whopper of the Year award.

Sharp Elbows at City Hall over Snapdragon

The mayor vs. city attorney dustup is getting even messier. Yesterday, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith declared the mayor-approved stadium deal — to allow Qualcomm to temporarily rename the stadium after one of its products — is void. Well, make that retroactively void.

“While this may seem along the lines of closing the barn door after the horse got out, there figures to be more fallout to come,” our news partner NBC 7 San Diego reports.

There is a way out, Goldsmith said: the City Council could retroactively say the deal is fine. But, as NBC 7 says, there are still questions: “Would Council members want more money out of Qualcomm? Would the company be inclined to offer more? Either way, what happens if a Council majority won’t ‘sign off’ — a city Charter dispute, taken to court?”

And how would that work? Who would have standing to sue? We’ll keep watching (but not suing).

SDG&E Wants to Charge You for Its Errors

“For more than two years, San Diego Gas & Electric has pushed state regulators to allow them to charge customers for future wildfire expenses that insurance companies won’t cover,” KPBS reports. “Now, the utility has linked that request to billing customers for costs from the 2007 fires that its own lines started.”

News at the Speed of Brief

• The NY Times heads to Tijuana to chronicle the story of young Mexican residents who attend school in the United States, where they were born: “Called ‘transfronterizos,’ these students migrate between two cultures, two languages and two nations every day, straining the resources of public school districts and sparking debate among educators and sociologists over whether it is in American interests that they be taught in the United States,” the paper reports.

• Locals are miffed about the stench arising from bird and seal poop at La Jolla Cove, KPBS reports. “It’s a lot bigger than it ever was and it smells worse than it ever did and they’ve become a bigger problem than they ever were,” says one man who’s being driven positively scentsless.

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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