San Diego taxpayers are on the hook for $500,000 the city must pay to a North Park school that sued — and won — when the City Council refused to OK its plan to expand its campus.

The school argued in court that City Councilman Todd Gloria pressured city staff behind the scenes, urging them to change a vital report that cleared the way for the City Council’s rejection of the project. A jury sided with the school.

Gloria denies any wrongdoing, but there is significant evidence to suggest he tampered in the planning process, Andrew Keatts explains in a new investigation.

Let the Budget Battles Begin

Municipal plans and the mayor’s promises took a bit of a hit yesterday as San Diego’s chief executive, Bob Filner, tried to balance the budget.

The challenge, part I: A deficit of almost $40 million. The challenge, part II: Filner prioritized spending on cops, lifeguards, libraries, cyclists, Balboa Park and the homeless.  

The solution, as our story explains: cutbacks to the city attorney’s office, whose chief Jan Goldsmith likes to sling insults at Filner. (The bad feelings are entirely mutual.) No big study of the city’s decrepit sidewalks. Also, there’s no Filner-promised skate park in City Heights in the budget.

Now the City Council, which hasn’t gotten along with Filner, gets to weigh in.

• Check our story here for more details about  how the mayor’s proposed budget would affect spending on streets and sidewalks.

• The latest Goldsmith barb about Filner comes via the conservative-leaning website SD Newsroom: “He’s erratic, he’s unpredictable, and he’s not the type of person who will share with you what he’s doing.”

Fact Check TV: Behind the New Chief’s Record

When the San Diego schools hired a new superintendent, there were rosy reports about the academic performance of the elementary campus where she served as principal.

Test scores did impressively improve over time, and the new schools chief, Cindy Marten, can be proud of them. But the thing is, as we recap on Fact Check TV, the improvement wasn’t as fantastic as the school district initially said it was.  

• On VOSD Radio, our reporter Kelly Bennett talks about the issue of homelessness, which she’s been exploring in recent weeks.  

The radio show also names Voice of San Diego’s “Heroes of the Week.” They’re the county agricultural inspectors behind an investigation that led to the suspension of a farmer from a local farmers market.

Our story about the suspension was VOSD’s most popular story of the past week. For the full list, click here.

Habemus a Tourism Deal

The battle over tourism marketing funding from hotel guest taxes is finally over after Mayor Filner signed a deal, KPBS reports. For background, watch our San Diego Explained video segment.

Lisa Halverstadt examines one of the only elements of the deal Filner seemed to like — the inclusion of more funds for the big 2015 celebration in Balboa Park.

As our story notes, “the 2015 celebration funding arrangement Filner signed off on is far from automatic — or simple. .. Organizers of the 2015 celebration must apply for funds like any other group seeking financial assistance from the Tourism Marketing District, and they’ll need to prove the event will inspire hotel stays.”

Quick News Hits

• Former Councilman Ralph Inzunza, the only councilman to have a conviction stick in the mammoth strippergate corruption scandal, is out of prison. He’s now living at a halfway house at an undisclosed location, U-T San Diego reports.

• The president of a local real-estate firm entangled in the debate over the city’s leases downtown defends the firm in a letter in the U-T. For background on the dispute, read our coverage here.

• Former U-T investigative reporter David Hasemyer shared a Pulitzer Prize Monday for “rigorous reports on flawed regulation of the nation’s oil pipelines.” The reporting came in an online publication called InsideClimate News.

We profiled Hasemyer’s local career as a muckraker after the U-T laid him off in 2009.  

By the way, the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a newspaper west of the Mississippi went to a San Diego reporter in 1924. Turns out there’s quite a story behind this San Diego Sun scribe’s award. As I reported in a history flashback, the sly young reporter won for producing a total eclipse of the truth.

• We could all use a brief distraction today after Monday’s events in Boston. Here’s one: has published photos from inside the La Jolla estate, called Foxhill, of the late U-T publisher David Copley.

The home decor is, shall we say, a bit eccentric. Warning: The colors are discombulating. Don’t look at the photos before operating heavy machinery.

 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

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

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