Bill Kowba, who took over San Diego Unified School District three years ago after a string of superintendents came and went, has decided to step down. He’ll be gone after June.

Will Carless provides a reading list of sorts for Kowba’s career at California’s second-largest school district along with some context on the financial problems that certainly didn’t make the job very easy.

The school board hopes to have a replacement before Kowba leaves. Here’s Kowba’s letter.

Businessman Candidate’s Business Suspended

Barry Pollard, a local businessman considered a favorite in the race to replace Councilman Tony Young, has some problems on the business front: the city yanked his business license due to unpaid taxes, we discovered, and he owes the state several thousand dollars in fees.

Pollard, whose human resources company has one employee, him, says he’s paying the state and didn’t know about the city problem. So does this mean he’s less-than-ideal as a potential councilman? Nope, he says: “being on this end of it increases my sensitivity to people staying on top of it, as well as the city.”

Report on Auditor to Come in March

A spokesman for a councilman says a council committee is expected to decide by the end of March about how to handle accusations of wrongdoing lodged against the city’s auditor and his top deputy.

Councilman Sits Out Housing Vote

Councilman Scott Sherman was the Man Who Said Too Much. (If we find a local Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitchcock-style, we’ll let you know.) After overly expressing his views about an Allied Gardens senior housing project, he sat out the council vote. The project passed.

• The City Council also redid a vote to support the unusual extension of a lease of the Bahia hotel property in Mission Bay.  

Culture Report: ‘Kiss’ Statue Makes National News

Former U-T arts critic Bob Pincus appeared on NBC’s national “Today” show to bash the horrific “Kiss” statue that’s now a permanent fixture on the front. “The ultimate in bad taste,” he sniffs. (Not quite. This, by the same artist and now horrifying passersby in Palm Springs, is even worse.)

The continuing kerfuffle over the statue is one of a number of stories that we highlight in this week’s Culture Report. Also: The ecstatic reaction to the Oscar win for a short documentary about a local homeless teen, big drama over the big theater in North Park, salsa-dancing homeless kids and more. (Also of note: a carpetbagging L.A. firm is working on the 2015 celebration in Balboa Park.)

Active Voice: No Class Size Endgame, SD’s Table Scraps

In Active Voice, our new feature:

• Education blogger Oscar Ramos continues to frame the debate over class sizes: “we should be able to work with the business sector to determine what students need to learn, and then we can focus on the staffing, student-to-teacher ratios, assessments, etc., that will help us achieve those goals.”  

• Food writer and independent journalist Clare Leschin-Hoar talks to a local restaurant owner who tried to do the right thing by sending compostable food containers to the city’s compost facility. But a funny thing happened on the way to environmentally friendly decomposition.

Letters: Homelessness, Prop. B and More

In letters:

• Sylvia Hoskins of Chula Vista says our quest to understand homelessness convinced her to volunteer: “I think many of us give to our churches and feel we have given to our community, and have done our job. By you putting more of a face on homelessness, it’s made me want to get involved.”

• B. Chris Brewster, who lives in Pacific Beach, ponders what the city should do about an early judicial strike against Prop. B, the pension reform measure.

• Connie Lambert of Hillcrest calls for a big government program, WPA-style, to provide jobs and repair things like roads.

Quick News Hits

• San Diego’s pension fund earned 13.9 percent over the first six months of the fiscal year, meaning that the city’s pension bill might be smaller than expected. These bills have a lot to do with whether the city has to tighten its belt and cut down on services.  

• Stung by an intensely negative reaction to its mammoth and potentially ultra-risky school bond, the leadership of the Poway school district says it wants to be more open, reports. But, as we’ve noted, the district has a way to go on the transparency front.

• Also in education, the U-T has details about how public school standards will change next year. On the way out: rote memorization (yes, we’ve heard of its demise before) and multiple-choice questions: “The shift will drive changes, some of them dramatic, from kindergarten through high school.”

• The U.S. attorney, who helped make sure hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in the region were closed is now targeting the delivery services that replaced them.

• Downtown property owners are still waiting for delayed property tax refunds. (KPBS)

• In case you were worried, you can relax now: a top U-T official says the paper won’t make a bid for the troubled Tribune company, which owns the L.A. Times. (Chicago Tribune)

• The East County town of Jacumba (gesundheit!) will now be officially known as Jacumba Hot Springs, the U-T reports. It’s all about drawing tourists to a place that’s probably best known for a nudist resort and for the fact that even longtime county residents pronounce its name wrong. It’s “Ha-Coomba,” the U-T tells us.

You say Ha-Cumba and I say Ha-Coomba, let’s call the whole thing… Wait, there’s a nudist colony? Glad those springs aren’t cold.

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

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Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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