The San Diego school district and its teachers union have reached a tentative deal that will save 1,372 teacher jobs but keep shortened school years and postpone scheduled across-the-board raises.

If a proposed statewide tax hike fails at the ballot this fall, the district will continue to put teachers on five-day unpaid furloughs and knock another two weeks off the school year. Also, the district is offering a deal to certain experienced teachers: retire in return for $25,000.

By postponing raises and extending unpaid days off, “the district can save enough to rescind about one-third of the layoffs. If the taxes pass in November, that would rescind an additional third,” our reporter Will Carless writes. “Most of the remaining 500 or so layoffs will be rescinded as teachers agree to take leaves of absence or retire. But, as long as the deal is approved, all of the laid-off teachers will be back in a classroom by Sept. 1, and San Diego Unified will continue to enjoy relatively low class sizes.”

Our 2011 story explains how the district got into this mess  in the first place.

A Presidential Boo-Boo

We’ve fact-checked some national figures over the past few years, from the autism-statistic-bungling Jenny McCarthy to the journalist who muffed the threat posed by coconut-dropping palm trees here. We even called Robin Leach to check a claim he supposedly made.

We haven’t looked at a former president, however, until now. A few days ago, Bill Clinton went on TV and touted UC San Diego: “Their acceptance rate was as low as Harvard and Yale this year.”

Wow, sounds like my alma mater is pretty picky. (At least pickier than when they let a rube like me in to the joint.) But the claim, San Diego Fact Check discovers, isn’t actually true. Not by a long shot. However, there may be a good explanation as to how Clinton made the error. 

At the Airport, a Lindy Hop

You know that big 1997 painting at the airport of Charles Lindbergh holding a model airplane? The one that makes him look like he’s wearing the world’s biggest jacket?

It’s being taken down — perhaps temporarily — to make way for construction on the Commuter Terminal, KPBS reports. If it doesn’t return, here’s hoping the airport finds another way to honor its namesake.   

That’s just one of the stories we highlight in this week’s Arts Report, which includes looks at UC San Diego’s whimsical Fallen Star exhibit, the local artist behind the cover of an upcoming collection of Red Hot Chili Peppers vinyl albums and the actor who’s playing a guy who’d give up his kingdom for a horse.

Letters: Lawless Cyclists, Balboa Park Reversal

• The debate over bicyclists on our site continues with a letter from Tom Davis of Chula Vista, who says “Bicyclists as a class of vehicle operators are, to my observation, second only to motorcyclists as bad drivers.”

He adds: “While there are undoubtedly good bicyclists that observe the traffic code out there, the vast majority operate their bicycles in a dangerous manner guaranteed to raise the ire of motorists.” In 45 years, he writes, he’s only seen three of hundreds of bicyclists stop at an intersection next to his house.  

Commenter Nathan Doyle, however, isn’t convinced: “How about some facts to back up the rant? Your observations are not really enough for anyone to go on here.”

• Scott Kovacik of University Heights, a San Diego native and Balboa Park booster, writes that he’s opposed the plan to remodel the western part of the park since the beginning. But a meeting last week changed his mind.

He writes: “There is so much more than just the creation of the bypass bridge and parking garage — the project in its entirety is performing major improvements to all the areas that will be handed back over to pedestrian traffic — and I was pleasantly surprised by the scope and magnitude of not only just how much park area pedestrians will re-inherit, but at the extensive landscaping and near-period street repaving that goes along with it.”

San Diego Property Being Snapped Up

When my landlord put the Mid-City duplex where I live up for sale earlier this spring, I figured it would languish on the market for months. Well, not so much. A buyer snapped it up almost immediately and bought the for-sale house next door for good measure.   

Turns out there’s a lot of this going on, KPBS reports. The local housing inventory is in a slump, leading to bidding wars over the properties that are for sale.

Quick News Hits

• Here comes the judge: Gary Kreep, the “birther” and legal advocate for conservative Christian causes, has won his bid for a judgeship. (U-T)

• Two legal decisions, both victories for labor, mean “the state’s Public Employment Relations Board can now move forward with its investigation into a labor complaint that city leaders violated state law by helping craft Proposition B as a citizens’ initiative,” the U-T reports. That’s the pension reform measure that won at the city ballot box.

• The Sweetwater school district — which runs middle and high schools in South Bay — has tentatively reached a deal that would knock as many as 13 days off the school year, depending on whether state voters go for higher taxes in November, the U-T reports.

And in San Marcos, the school district and its teachers have reached an impasse in negotiations, the NC Times reports. That means a state mediator may have to step in. At issue? The scheduling of negotiations.

• A deal to reorganize the Utility Consumers’ Action Network, the local utility watchdog, has fallen apart, the U-T reports. It’s another twist in the bizarre controversy at the nonprofit that earlier this year announced it was under federal investigation.

• In recent years, it’s become extremely rare for congressional districts in California to switch parties. But then along came the Census and redistricting. Now, there are some real races to watch, including our county’s own battle between Rep. Brian Bilbray and former Councilman Scott Peters. Bilbray is getting a $1.7 million boost from the National Republican Congressional Committee for TV ads, the NC Times reports.  

• NPR checks in with Javier Plascencia, the Tijuana star chef who’s been getting oodles of positive press lately.

• The U-T brass is still trying to sell the paper’s widely dismissed and mocked waterfront plan, the Reader reports.

• Foie gras — from livers of fattened ducks — will be illegal in California come July 1 due to concerns about animal cruelty, KPBS reports, and some restaurants are none too thrilled, although they are trying to make a killing by offering last-minute delicacies like foie gras milkshakes.

Foie gras “will become extremely expensive” and become available underground, warns Bertrand Hug, owner of Mille Fleurs and Bertrand at Mr. A’s: “Like drugs!”

Oh dear. I can see it now: Foodies heading to dark alleys in search of the good stuff. “Psst! Know where I can get some foie gras cotton candy?”

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:

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