Every Wednesday during the 6 p.m. newscast on NBC 7 San Diego, we help put on an edition of San Diego Explained. 

For the month of April, each segment will explain what drives each mayoral candidate, what they do (and don’t) want to talk about, and what their challenge is going to be. 

First up: Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher

We examine the issues he loves to talk about (infrastructure, education, and himself), and those he’d rather ignore (inexperience, his old boss — the most corrupt congressman in history — and the sway of his supporters).

Next Wednesday: Councilman Carl DeMaio.

• You can catch up on all our coverage of the mayor’s race, the fact checks we’ve done, the columns we’ve run and everything else under the sun.  The top two vote-getters in the primary election in June will move on to the final election in November. That is, unless one of them gets more than 50 percent of the vote. 

Catch Up on Teachers Union Drama

Having trouble following the ongoing narrative at San Diego Unified School District and its largest union? The district has warned many teachers they may be laid off and the union is going through a leadership overhaul after taking a hostile approach to the rest of the district. 

Why does it matter?

Our reporter Will Carless decided it was time for a Reader’s Guide to help us all understand the problems facing the district, the issues that are engulfing teachers, and what to look for next.

Like San Diego Explained, this is all part of our effort to help you follow the big developments sure to come in the next few months.

Meet School Board Candidate Marne Foster

Marne Foster, a candidate for school board who wants to represent much of the city’s urban core, works as an educator with the city’s community college system. She tells us she wants to continue much of the work of departing trustee Shelia Jackson and hopes to look at how other districts deal with their problems.

“We have a disparity of resources and resource allocation. I want that to not exist anymore,” she said. “And I want parents to be empowered and involved like they are at some schools, in real partnerships for education.”

We previously spoke with her opponent in the race: Bill Ponder.

What do you think about the future of the school district? Post your thoughts here

Opinion: Pensions, Filner’s Education Cred, Student Protest

“When politicians want to do away with public employee pensions, claiming that most people nowadays have 401(k)s instead of pensions, they are leaving out one huge difference. Most people, if not all people in the private sector, are paying into the Social Security system…,” writes Carlynne Allbee in our Fix San Diego section.

(In case you missed it, our Scott Lewis pointed out how one mayoral candidate’s rhetoric about Social Security and new city employees has shifted a bit.)

Our commenters jumped into the fray in response to Allbee’s thoughts. One reader, Jon Osborn, has no patience for a contention by frequent commenter Jim Jones that city employees get paid plenty: “The only ‘evidence’ that their pay is generous is people like you repeating it over and over.” Zing!

Elsewhere in letters, Richard and Helen Nielsen-Eckfield write about a student protest against education cuts that’s scheduled for early this morning in Carlsbad. And Daniel Smiechowski says Rep. Bob Filner, a mayoral candidate, “is best connected to the interests of the rank and file” and has the best ideas about education.

Not only that, Smiechowski writes, Filner “has the conscience and courage of a lion.” Note to self: convince Smiechowski to become my personal publicist.

Quick News Hits

• The powerful fellas trying to build a new football stadium in downtown Los Angeles say they’ll abandon their plan … someday. That is, unless something good happens for them now. 

• “A court case that could cost Vista, Oceanside and Carlsbad millions of dollars will hinge on when the state has the power to trump city laws and whether boosting construction wages is a ‘statewide’ concern,” the state Supreme Court said this week, the NC Times reports.

At issue: whether cities with a charter form of government can ignore state laws requiring them to pay certain “prevailing” wages on municipal projects, such as Vista’s new City Hall. Vista says it saved $50 million on that project by blowing off the state law. 

• Step right up, U-T staffers! As CityBeat gleefully notes, employees at the paper have a great deal at the newspaper owner’s The Grand Del Mar hotel: for them, it’s just $245 or $345 a night.

We’ve Got the Whole World… In Our Staff

It’s turning out to be International Week here at the Morning Report.

I asked readers if they could identify the nationality of a sculptor named Steinunn Thórarinsdóttir (answer: Icelandic) and, for good measure, wondered if they could figure out the heritage of my last name. Wayne Dernetz, the former city attorney of Vista, was the first to get it right: It’s Dutch, courtesy of my immigrant grandparents. (The suffix -inga means “related to” in one of the languages spoken in the Netherlands.)

We’ve actually got quite an international crew at voiceofsandiego.org: Our news team includes a Canadian (yup, she’s awfully nice), a Kiwi, a Brit, a half-Uruguayan and a Cuban-Venezuelan. Stateswise, we hail from places like Wisconsin, Utah, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and we’ve even got some non-carpetbaggers from California.

This got me thinking about the mayoral candidates, and not just because they’re all non-natives. Any thoughts about the heritages of the last names of Dumanis, Filner, Fletcher and DeMaio?

I’ll take your guesses and then go find out. The last two seem like they’re the easiest to guess (British and Italian, maybe?) but we’ll see.

One more geographic note: Fletcher is from the delightfully named Arkansas town of Smackover. I’m not making that up. I am, however, taking every opportunity I can to mention it because it’s so fun to say. (Smackover!)

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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