Cindy Marten, the elementary school principal-turned-presumptive chief of San Diego Unified public schools, doesn’t bother with half-visions. She promises big.

“I am going to ensure excellence for every child in every school in every neighborhood,” she says in a Q-and-A with Voice of San Diego. “It doesn’t matter if I have $5, $500, $5 million or $5 billion, I have to spend those dollars in a way that’s going to make a difference.”

Marten also questions something we’ve been told by the district (that 92 percent of money goes to salaries and benefits), pledges to fight “fragmentation” and says statistics are used “as a weapon, instead of a tool.”

• Marten has gotten plenty of good reviews in the wake of the surprise announcement that she’d been tapped as the candidate for the superintendent job. But not everyone is impressed. In a letter, a resident writes that she’s the school board’s “politically aligned marionette.”

In Southeast SD, Healthy Food’s Hard to Find

Want local and healthy food in southeastern San Diego? Good luck. The neighborhoods tend to be dominated by cheap and fast food, even more so than other parts of town, and low on supermarkets where you can buy produce.

As part of our continuing look at District 4 before its City Council election, we talk to an advocate for healthy food about why the region faces so many challenges when it comes to eating better.    

Making a Deal at the City

In a new story, we examine the challenges facing Mayor Bob Filner as he tries to reach five-year agreements with city workers. “The mayor acknowledged last week that he doesn’t have the initial City Council support to pursue the long-term deals, which he says could lessen the city’s pension bill by $25 million next year,” our Lisa Halverstadt reports.

Fact Check TV: Raises for City Workers?

You’ll often hear politicians boast about how they put a lid on raises for public employees by freezing them. But cities, school districts and other agencies often keep on giving raises to employees when they get promoted or take on new responsibilities. 

Other workers, of course, don’t get these kinds of regular raises, if they get any at all. And they may end up doing more work for the same pay.

So what’s the situation in the city of San Diego? Fact Check TV recaps our findings based on an internal memo. Turns out almost half of city employees got a raise since 2009, after the city slashed salaries and benefits.

Active Voice: Sustainable Seafood, Sustainable Chargers

• Clare Leschin-Hoar, our politics-of-food blogger, examines the challenges facing local restaurants (and local eaters) if they want to eat seafood that’s been caught in the most environmentally friendly ways: “Rather than being a city synonymous with the fish taco, I’d like to see San Diego bump up its commitment to sustainable seafood.”

• In sports, Beau Lynott writes that the threat of the Chargers moving to L.A. has diminished.

How SD Border Lost Its Appeal to Illegal Crossers

The New York Times has a big story examining security along the border  and the dramatic evolution in crossings, which have become less common here and more common elsewhere: “A generation after San Diego was overrun with thousands of immigrants openly rushing into the city every day, experts, Border Patrol agents and deportees in Tijuana, Mexico, all say that the chances of reaching Southern California are remote, with odds of success at 1 in 10, or worse.”

Even so, San Diego continues to hog much of the Border Patrol’s resources compared with busier areas. 

To get a visual view of the situation, check out the NYT’s photos of the border fence at different points and a graphic that portrays the results of border enforcement in different U.S. cities.

Quick News Hits

The Culture Report, our weekly roundup, offers links to stories about dancers, architects, dramatists, sound experimenters and actors.  

• Our real-estate guru Rich Toscano looks at how home prices evolved in 2012, according to the latest Case-Shiller numbers.

• A judge agreed to move fairly quickly to make a ruling in the flap over tourism marketing money (courtesy of taxes on hotel guests) that pits the mayor against local hotel owners, NBC 7 San Diego reports. There’s also a question about whether the mayor will have to get his own attorney and, if so, who will pay for it.  

A ruling in another hotel tax case is expected Thursday, U-T San Diego reports.

• The City Council will talk today about those controversial appointments to the board that runs the Unified Port of San Diego, the U-T reports.

We described the controversy over port commission picks in a San Diego Explained video, and our Scott Lewis recently weighed in on Filner’s vetoes and views of the port commission process.

• In her Active Voice blog post for us, Clare Leschin-Hoar writes about how we can avoid pollution in seafood by sticking to fish that are lower on the food chain (like sardines and mackerels) compared with those that love to chow down on other seagoing critters. Those include tuna and swordfish.

The seemingly lowly tuna is a predatory fish? I now have more respect than ever for Mom’s casserole.

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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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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