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U-T San Diego’s Maureen Magee tweeted this morning that the San Diego Education Association, the city schools’ teachers union, was voting on concessions that would avert massive layoffs in coming months.

Teachers had been expecting across-the-board salary increases this year, in addition to the regular pay increases about half of them would receive. But with one-in-five teachers in danger of being laid off, the district and others in the city (including even labor-friendly CityBeat) have pressured the teachers union to forego those across-the-board increases.

The New Republicans

In December 2010, Scott Lewis pointed out how weird it was for the leader of the Republican Party of San Diego to say he was taking a stand against the establishment. Republicans haven’t exactly been in the oppressed minority.

But that party now has completed a dramatic transformation. Fueled by support from builders, Realtors, restaurateurs and a cadre of passionate young operatives, the Republican Party is new and strong.

Yet it had ostracized some folks. And before Tuesday’s election, the Republicans faced an existential threat with Nathan Fletcher’s independent candidacy for mayor.

They squashed it.

Now, in Lewis’ latest piece, he explores how they get to be the ones who stand for San Diego’s conservative business community and not the loosely right-of-center coalition that had grown distant from the party as it coalesced around a new leader: Councilman Carl DeMaio.

Not so fast, says San Diego Free Press’s Frank Gormlie. “San Diego conservatives are celebrating way too early,” he writes.

• The U-T’s Craig Gustafson poked fun at Lewis. You see, it wasn’t that long ago that we called District Attorney the most powerful politician in the county. Then she came in last in last-week’s four-way mayoral contest.

Gustafson quipped: “The Voice just called the Republican Party the ‘most potent political coalition’ in county. Their downfall, thus, is imminent. See: Dumanis.”

Touché.

More Results: Switch in Closely Watched Judge’s Race

While the mayoral race was decisive, other races are still up in the air. Scott Peters’ and Lori Saldaña’s race to challenge Brian Bilbray in the 52nd congressional district remains tight, with Peters widening his lead to 790 votes as of last night (UT San Diego). One seat on the County Board of Education also remains extremely competitive, and a race between Gary Kreep and Garland Peed for a Superior Court judgeship continues to defy prediction.

“This evening the tides turned,” CityBeat reported last night. “We’ve got new numbers that give Peed a 154-vote advantage over Kreep, with 108,000 ballots left to count. The next batch of results will be available on Friday, June 8 at 5 p.m.”

Election Contest (and Lunch) Winners

It’s probably not surprising that two of the top political observers in the city nailed our election contest. Vince Vazquez, an analyst for the National University Institute for Policy Research and Chris Reed, an editorial writer for the U-T, both correctly predicted the results in our contest.

Now Scott Lewis has to buy them, and writer Liam Dillon, lunch.

U-T Backtracks on Sports Columnist Firing

Columnist Tim Sullivan was unceremoniously dismissed from U-T San Diego recently, causing an uproar among his fans and counterparts. He tweeted something interesting yesterday.

“So the guy from HR calls and says I am now ‘on vacation.’ I’m reading that as an olive branch from U-T. Thanks to all who spoke up for me.”

As CityBeat columnist John Lamb replied, perhaps it was just a misunderstanding: “Ahh, they said, “You’re tired” not “You’re fired” — simple miscommunication. ;)”

Romenesko has more including a memo from the U-T’s top brass to its sports team.

Music On Your Mind

Imagine the song of a trumpet, and then imagine the same tune coming from a cello. Can you describe the difference between the sounds? We have an instinctive ability to discern between the sounds, but to describe those differences, Kelly Bennett asks, “what words do you use? The trumpet sounds more … trumpety?”

Bennett dives into the intersection of music and the brain while covering “Mozart and the Mind,” a recent event where a musician played music while having his brain activity mapped (yep, there’s a picture).

“Scientists are testing to see whether there’s crossover between perceiving human emotion in someone speaking and the emotion inherent in music,” Bennett writes. “Perhaps our ability to discern differences in sounds — like the trumpet and cello — comes from those early days when, in the dark of night, early mammals needed to distinguish between the kinds of bugs they wanted to eat.”

Curfew Claims Explained

In our latest San Diego Explained, Keegan Kyle explains what is going on with San Diego Police Departments curfew sweep program. The effort sends officers into specific neighborhoods to arrest juveniles who are out in public after curfew hours.

Police officials make some lofty claims about the program’s effectiveness. But Kyle’s investigation doesn’t turn up the same results. “Some of the biggest claims about their effectiveness and implementation are questionable or unfounded,” Kyle writes.

Your Voice, Raised and Heard

We’ve received a host of intriguing letters and comments recently that are worth your consideration. Glen Schmidt wrote in to thank Irwin Jacobs for offering to bankroll changes to Balboa Park, and to urge San Diegans to be more appreciative to private investors. “And then we need to learn how to work with him and other wealthy community-minded citizens in a way that encourages, not discourages, others to step forward,” Schmidt writes.

Schmidt is referring to a plan supported by Jacobs to empty Balboa Park’s Plaza De Panama of all vehicles. It envisions a bridge that routes cars around the Plaza, as well as an underground parking structure to house the cars. You can check out our San Diego Explained video about the project here.

Yesterday, the San Diego Planning Commission unanimously recommended the controversial project and sent it to the City Council for consideration. The City Council will vote on the project in July, reports KPBS.

Other readers wrote in on a variety of issues, including party politics, retirement plans, Pacific Beach partying and road requests. We’re taking all comers in our Letters section, so head over and have your say.

The Last Shall Be First… Laid Off

Fay Elementary School has been the focus of some of our coverage of the problems plaguing the San Diego Unified School District. It exemplifies the flaws in the policy of “last in, first out,” where the newest teachers are laid off first. In Fay Elementary’s case, it means that 27 of its 29 teachers will be laid off and that the school may open next year with a almost an entirely new teaching staff.

Teachers at Fay wrote to us last week, pleading with union and District officials to intervene in what has been dubbed the Pink Slip Blizzard.

Last night, the school’s principal, Eileen Moreno, told KPBS that she sees a common thread among the schools that will suffer the most teacher layoffs. “There’s a pattern that jumps out at you,” she said. “They’re the low poverty schools.”

“I think that the blame game can go around in circles,” she said. “Fundamentally, though, I think we have a problem with equity.”

Gary Cristofani wrote to us in support of some controversial ideas for education reform. What are your thoughts about the Pink Slip Blizzard? We’re looking for people who can help us tell the teacher layoff story, so send us your thoughts.

Quick News Hits

• NBC San Diego reports that a catholic priest who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery for allegedly groping a woman at his home earlier this year has been re-instated as an associate pastor at the same parish he was serving at when he was arrested.

• Officials at several Southern California water districts are facing questions about private meetings held by public officials where major decisions were made out of the public’s view. “According to a leading open-government expert, the legal justification used to hold those talks in secret doesn’t appear to hold water,” reports The Voice of OC.

• San Diego County’s websites were attacked on Tuesday night, right as the registrar of voters was releasing initial voting results from the election. The attack crippled the county’s websites, stopping many from seeing vote tallies until the attack stopped. The source of the attack hasn’t been determined, reports UT San Diego.

“Urine” a Lot of Pain

We’ve all fallen victim to our share of old wives-tales and myths. Drinking water while upside-down as a cure for hiccups, anyone? Great for onlookers, not always so effective for curing hiccups, or being able to breathe at all, for that matter. UT San Diego writes that one myth that pervades the beaches of San Diego has definitely been busted. If you get stung by a jelly fish, it’s best to use hot water and lidocaine, “not pee,” to cleanse the wound. You can thank a 16-page review from the Annals of Emergency Medicine for, um, relieving the confusion around this myth, and potentially saving you from an awkward scene at the beach this summer.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at voice@s3th.com or follow him out on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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