You’ve probably heard a lot recently about how pay raises for teachers in the San Diego school district are in jeopardy. As the district claims poverty, it is pressuring the teachers union to help it avoid massive layoffs by foregoing raises that are scheduled for the next two years.

Here’s something you may not know: about half of the district’s teachers will still get raises no matter what happens as they get more experience or gain advanced education. These are separate from the 2012-2014 across-the-board raises that the school district would like to avoid.

The automatic raises, known as step-and-column raises, aren’t in danger. It looks like teachers will keep getting the automatic jumps in pay regardless of how the district’s financial crisis is resolved.

Their existence creates a dilemma for teachers, as investigative reporter Will Carless writes: “settle for the guaranteed annual raise, and help hundreds of teachers stay in the classroom; or hold onto the extra raises they’ve been promised and watch class sizes balloon. If they choose the latter option, most of those teachers will see their salaries rise more than 16 percent over the next two years.”

There’s another twist for the district: If it has to lay off hundreds of its lowest-paid teachers, it will be left with plenty who have been around for years and have seniority. They’ll also be more expensive than the young teachers and continue to climb up the pay scale until they reach the top.

For a refresher, here’s a simple graphic illustrating how the current labor deal impacts the district’s budget. And here’s our story from months ago about the trouble that deal set in motion.

Not-So-Measured Spending in Proposition Battles

Union-friendly spenders are way ahead of their foes in the money race over Proposition A, which would largely ban the city from signing labor-friendly “project labor agreements” on construction projects, Investigative Newsource reports.

The main anti-A committee has raised $1.18 million, while the main supporters committee raised $755,000.

Not quite sure what Proposition A is? Here are our five steps to understanding it before you vote.

Pro-union types, however, haven’t been spending as much to defeat Proposition B, which would relegate most new San Diego city employees to uncertain retirement packages from 401(k)-style benefits instead of guaranteed pensions.

The main anti-Prop. B committee has raised about $182,000 this election, plus $53,000 in non-monetary contributions, while the main pro-B committee has raised about $1.5 million plus $323,000 in non-monetary contributions.

Sullivan’s Sacking at U-T Makes More Waves

The nation’s sports writers — and fans of sports writers — are still reeling from the U-T’s sacking of widely respected columnist Tim Sullivan on Friday. We pointed to some reaction in the Morning Report on Saturday, and here’s some more, courtesy of

“It is insane that the SanDiego U-T let him go. He is a brilliant columnist,” said Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Scott Miller of wrote: the firing “takes ‘dumbing down product for readers to embarrassing low. Owner dumber than readers.”

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports wrote that Sullivan “is one of the most talented, decent and intelligent columnists in the country. What a thing.”

Sullivan himself wrote on Twitter: “Losing my job has shown me that I have more friends than I knew. It’s humbling, and it’s helping. Thanks to all.”

(The U-T has been on a columnist-trimming kick lately. Just a few weeks ago, the paper fired city columnist Tom Blair, who says he was told “the Tom Blair Era with the U-T has ended.”)

Meanwhile, U-T editor Jeff Light told staffers that an alleged email from the paper’s CEO John Lynch was a hoax. “Please let everyone know that this is just a mean prank intended to embarrass the company,” Light wrote.

• In other U-T news, the paper published a story touting its new online video operation. It said the paper had not found a home on cable or satellite for the broadcast, which will be talking about San Diego “every moment of the day.”

The writer of the post, Tanya Mannes, later wrote on Twitter that Lynch had told her they were “really close to a deal with one of the cable stations.”

The paper had initially planned to debut the TV operation in April.

Nuttiest Board in County May Get De-Crazied

Dysfunction, thy name is Tri-City Healthcare District. That’s the government agency that run’s Oceanside’s Tri-Hospital, which serves that city along with Vista and Carlsbad.

As we told you last year, the district’s elected board has become our region’s wackiest government body. That’s no understatement: there have been years of lawsuits, furious claims and furious counterclaims, and general mayhem (including supposed fears of violence). Now an ex-top boss is suing the CEO, saying he mistreated unhealthy employees.

U-T columnist Logan Jenkins checks in on the latest bad blood at the hospital and sees some actual hope for the return of sanity: Local councilmembers are running for the board in November. “This is like top-rated heavyweight boxers joining what for years has been a laughably inept lucha libre ring,” Jenkins said.

Now now, Logan. What did lucha libre ever do to you to deserve being compared to this board?

An Independent as SD Mayor? Been Done

There’s a chance that we’ll end up with an independent mayor of San Diego, for the first time in a long time, if Nathan Fletcher wins.

For better (and maybe for worse), we’ve had at least two independent mayors in the past.

In a History Man flashback story, I take a look back at these two men. The most recent one, Harley Knox, was in charge in the late World War II era and was appalled by the evolution of local politics into a numbers game on the financial side. He still has a sterling reputation as a dedicated mayor who didn’t take the job as a stepping stone to something bigger. (This, apparently, is possible. Or, at least, it was.)

The other guy, Ocean Beach co-founder William “Billy” Carlson, is still our youngest mayor ever — he was 29 when he took over in the 1890s. The fast-talking boy mayor promised just about everything to just about everybody and, like at least one other San Diego mayor, eventually ended up in the slammer.

Two other very early mayors may have been independents, but they’re not exactly good examples for Fletcher. One seems to have been the city’s first corrupt official (now there’s a legacy for you!) and the other lynched a horse thief while in office.

The feds came to town to investigate the lynching, and the mayor told them to scram. And they did, rather than face the prospect of being his next victims.

Things have changed. Nowadays, the most the mayor can do about annoyances from Washington D.C. is send a sternly worded letter. Or failing that, make cracks about how we have better weather here.

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

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.