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As we told you earlier this month, the school district in Ramona is in a pickle because it borrowed money to pay for school construction but couldn’t convince voters to approve paying off its loans with a bond.

Now, the district is asking teachers to cut their salaries by as much as 10 percent, in part to help pay off those loans.

How much of a part? Not much, says the district’s chief. But teachers, who have been at an impasse with the district, say they shouldn’t shoulder the burden at all.

Our story has more details.

Fact Check TV: How Big Is Small Business?

Following up on a report by San Diego Fact Check, Fact Check TV examines a councilman’s claim that more than 60 percent of local workers are employed by small businesses. Figuring out the truth is complicated.

Culture Report: New Airport Art, McAnuff Ponders Future and More

The Culture Report, our weekly look at arts and culture, links to stories about the death of local icon Ravi Shankar, new (but temporary) artwork at the airport, some changes in the career of famous stage director Des McAnuff, and more.

Taxpayer Dollars and Street Maintenance

New City Councilman Mark Kersey was handed a tough job: To address the city’s huge backlog of facilities, roads and other structures that are falling deeper and deeper into disrepair. 

He may want to consider overhauling the approach almost all cities, including ours, take. 

A professor writes in the Atlantic Cities blog that there’s a better approach: “Cities should manage public infrastructure the way one manages a large personal asset — by setting aside in a monthly budget a reasonable sum of money for basic repairs, maintenance, replacement, a new paint job.” And that’s not all: he thinks the money should be set aside when something is built, akin to including repair costs in the price of a new house.

Should Schools Borrow Bucks to Pay for iPads?

EdSource, a non-profit news site that covers education, takes an in-depth look at a debate that’s rocking California school districts: Should they borrow money (and let taxpayers pay it back) in order to buy things like iPads instead of the usual expenditures on new and renovated buildings?

“Unless the financing is structured carefully, taxpayers could end up paying interest on 25- or 30-year bonds used to buy devices that only last a few years,” EdSource reports. “The average life of an asset, whether a building or furniture, should match the length of financing as a rule of thumb. If financed with a 25-year bond at, say, 4.5 percent interest, a $500 computer would accrue $1,000 in interest expense by the time it’s paid off.”

But the picture is a bit more complicated since districts can fiddle with their borrowing schemes to make their finances healthier.  

We earlier examined the San Diego school district’s borrowing to pay for iPads.  

Quick News Hits

• If you have a working shotgun, rifle, handgun or assault weapon, the Sheriff’s Department will buy it back at an event on Friday for a grocery store gift card of $50 or $100. Previous local gun buy-backs have taken a reported 851 guns off the streets, a county press release says. The weapons will be destroyed.

• Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom, my new pen pal, tells me that she called a special meeting of the Lemon Grove City Council last night to discuss supporting anti-gun legislation that Senator Dianne Feinstein plans to introduce in Congress.

• The Reader finds that being an outspoken (or downright obnoxious, as many put it) politician is in the Filner blood: our mayor’s nephew, Mat Filner, is involved in Minneapolis politics, where he unsuccessfully ran for City Council, and is making waves with a commentary slamming his former foe.

What’s he mad about? Politics over a football stadium. Sounds familiar…

• Tijuana is the “world hub” for the manufacture of flat-screen TVs, the Guardian reports. The city is also making it big in the world of aerospace and medical equipment manufacturing, the paper says, and “expensive bars and restaurants have followed, putting the city at the crest of a wave of optimism about Mexico’s economic future.”

• Non-Californians often assume that one of these days, an earthquake will detach our state from the continent and turn us into an island.

It hasn’t happened yet, at least as far as I know. Has anyone traveled east on the 8 since that quake last week? Just checking!

Anyway. Back in the day, as in the 17th century, mapmakers often assumed California was an island. Now, a Stanford University collection of 800 maps depicting California as an island are “making a splash in academia,” the LA Times reports. “To both California lovers and haters, it promotes the sentiment that the state, even if not a physical island, remains a cultural and political one.”

Just think: Yuma could have been a beach town!

And El Centro would have been near the water too, potentially turning it into one hot property instead of just an extremely warm property. Oh well. They can enjoy their local delicacy, the special quesadilla (yum), and dream of what might have been.

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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