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We’re not insolvent! That was the reaction yesterday from San Diego school board president John Lee Evans to the proposal from a fellow trustee to declare the district broke and let the state take over.

“One board member is panicking and saying we need to declare insolvency,” Evans said at a press conference. “I am here to say that we will balance the budget and we will do the very best we can academically with our limited resources. We must avoid denial and panic.”

Our Will Carless points out that the district superintendent noted just a few months ago that the district was “at the edge of the cliff, looking over and down at insolvency.” In many ways, the district is in even worse straits now.   

On Wednesday, trustee Scott Barnett told Carless that the district needed to stop digging a deeper hole and cancel its planned layoffs. Yes, the medicine of insolvency is harsh, he said. But his colleagues were unable to deal with the problems and the state needed to intervene.

The district faces the loss of 2,500 employees next fall, and a widely praised program for high school students known as International Baccalaureate is on the chopping block, as KPBS reports. The number of schools in the district with an IB program has gone from one to eight in the past 11 years, but it costs extra money that may not be available this year.

At Arts Colony, a Painful Goodbye

ARTS: A Reason to Survive is a nonprofit organization that trains kids whose lives are difficult due to poverty, homelessness, illness and other problems. It would love to continue being housed at the former Naval Training Center’s arts and culture district in Point Loma, where it was one of the first tenants. But it’s abandoning ship and heading south to National City, which is offering much more space and much less rent.

“Emotionally, we like being here,” says the organization’s leader, whose group was one of the founding tenants at NTC. “Pragmatically, it’s not the best.”

Things could get worse for the fledgling NTC, which is facing competition from other cities and neighborhoods that want to woo non-profit groups and have good deals to offer.

Promises, Promises, but How Will They Pay for Them?

When Mayor Jerry Sanders took office, he said he was surprised by how bad things were financially at City Hall. We don’t want that to happen again.

So Liam Dillon explored the somewhat hidden financial challenges that will face the next mayor. “[F]or the most part, the mayoral candidates aren’t dealing with this unfortunate reality,” Dillon writes.

Did the Whole County Support the Labor Ban?

“In 2010 November they passed an initiative then that banned project labor agreements at the county level. Every precinct in the county voted in favor of banning project labor agreements,”says Eric Christen, executive director of The Coalition for Fair Employment in Construction. He’s talking about union-friendly agreements that have been falling away in recent years thanks to voters.

San Diego Fact Check finds his claim is Mostly True. All but a small collection of tiny absentee-only precincts went for the ban. A similar measure is on the city of San Diego’s ballot next month.

Update on Dale Akiki, Victim of 1990s Witch Hunt

If you lived in San Diego and paid attention to the news in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a few names should stick in your brain: Sagon Penn. Betty Broderick. And Dale Akiki, the man who faced a witch hunt that ended in his acquittal and a voter revolt against the district attorney.

They all stood accused of horrific crimes in trials that dominated front pages. Akiki, however, faced something truly unusual: a witch hunt. “Our system tormented Akiki as cruelly as could any hooded Elizabethan executioner,” writes local scribe Fred Dickey in a column in the U-T.

Akiki, who has a genetic disease that deformed his body and face, was accused of 52 charges, including child abuse and kidnapping, at a church in Spring Valley. A jury ultimately found him not guilty of a massive and bizarre molestation scheme. The belief in his innocence was so widespread, Dickey writes, that “when Akiki was released to cheers and news coverage, he was driven home in a stretch limousine. It was paid for by 20 deputies at the jail.”

“District Attorney Ed Miller was soundly voted out of office, largely as an outgrowth of this case,” Dickey writes. Now, Akiki, 54, lives in Mira Mesa, a widower and “soft-spoken, devout man” who will retire this year.  

Quick News Hits

• The AP examines the pension reform efforts afoot in San Diego and San Jose. “The results in San Diego and San Jose are being closely watched in California,” the AP reports, “as more cities and counties struggle to pay pension obligations while still finding enough money to pay for adequate police and fire services, keep libraries open, maintain parks and make payroll.”

• A memorial service will be held today to honor former Charger Junior Seau, KPBS reports.

EPSN.com takes a closer look at the cursed 1994 Chargers, the AFC championship team that has suffered through one tragedy after another, with players killed by lightning, a major plane crash, natural causes and more.

Dumanis Wants Women in Her Corner

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis seems like a bystander in the mayor’s race, but she tells KPBS that she’s not concerned and notes that she has a history of beating expectations at the polls. KPBS also looks at her efforts to attract women voters; she says she’s “been active and involved in women’s issues and broken glass ceilings as a woman.”

A U-T poll this week found that 40 percent of women voters surveyed — a higher number than men — were still undecided. Still, only 9 percent of women (compared to 7 percent of men) said they would vote for Dumanis.

The Park-It Ploy

It looks like Minnesota is keeping the Vikings football team, and the LA Times reports that the team’s owner may have upped the pressure by parking his jet in Southern California, where L.A. really wants a team of its own. This sort of pressure ploy has happened before.

It’s a fascinating negotiating tactic — you watching, Mr. Spanos? — and inspired me to think about doing something similar myself the next time I want a raise. However, I don’t know if parking my Chevy at the bus terminal would have quite the same effect.  

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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