The East County town of Ramona, which shares the name of the heroine in a popular 19th century novel, sounds like it should be a bucolic place. But not these days. Ramona’s little school district has big problems thanks to tight-fisted voters and big loan payments.

We’ve been following the drama out there. It appears to be coming to a head, our latest Ramona update reports. Miffed teachers have called a strike vote for next week amid anger over pay and benefits.

When It Comes to Zoning, Beer Guru Hops to It  

We’ve published an interview with the outspoken Jacob McKean, owner of soon-to-open Modern Times Beer in Point Loma, who talks to us about the bureaucratic challenges facing businesses like his: “the city needs to decide in a holistic way how it wants to integrate manufacturing into its future.”

The Border Patrol’s Conundrum

We’ve heard this line before: Immigration reform may finally be happening. But this time it might be for real since the GOP is more willing to make the Latino community happy.  

If a Senate reform bill passes, however, there may be a sticking point, the L.A. Times reports. The paper asks: “Immigration reform would require the Border Patrol to be 90% effective in stopping people who cross illegally, but how can it know how many got away?”

For more, check a recent AP story about the challenges of figuring out how many border crossers got away.

• San Diego’s international trade is on the upswing, KPBS reports, and Mexico accounts for almost 90 percent of the total.

• In other news on the international front, local resident Mitt Romney won’t lead a bid to bring the Olympics to San Diego-Tijuana, U-T San Diego reports, but he’s willing to provide advice.

U-T’s Readership Doesn’t Meet Expectations

• The U-T’s average daily circulation (both print and digital) is up 9 percent, or about 20,000 readers, over last year’s at the end of March, according to the organization formerly known as the Audit Bureau of Circulation. The paper’s average circulation over the six months up until March 31 is 250,678. (It has more readers since its print editions are often read by more than one person.)

That’s good news for the paper, right? Well, not necessarily.

The U-T reported last year that its purchase of the North County Times merger would make the U-T one of the nation’s 10 largest daily papers.

That didn’t happen. It now ranks at 23rd among daily newspapers.

Political Tidbits

• A conservative think tank says California’s local governments may owe more than $1 trillion, the Sacramento Bee reports.  

• Former Mayor Jerry Sanders held his nose big-time when he made an endorsement in last year’s mayoral race, throwing his support behind one bitter enemy (Carl DeMaio) instead of another (Bob Filner). But now, Sanders (who runs the regional Chamber of Commerce) and Filner are getting along and even traveled together to Mexico City to talk to business leaders.

The San Diego Reader notes that lobbying rules raise questions about the kinds of communications that Sanders can have with city types.      

Lights, Camera, Drama!

I’ve been gone for a week to oversee a writers conference in New York City for 650 people. (And boy, are my words tired!) Anything fun happen while I was gone?

Yup, especially on the on-camera front. Here’s a rundown:

• The Tony awards will be televised soon, and viewers will hear about two nominated plays with local origins: “Chaplin” and “Hands on a Hardbody.” The nomination news is a highlight of this week’s VOSD Culture Report.  

• “The Company,” a drug cartel born in Coronado (of all places), is in the news. U-T columnist Logan Jenkins, a Coronado High alum, recaps what happened: “Sun-bleached surfers, our former classmates, started small with offshore kilo runs from Tijuana in the early ’70s … the Company would import more than 90 tons of marijuana and hashish from Mexico, Thailand, Morocco and Pakistan.”

Twenty conspirators would end up in the hoosegow. The ringleader, a swim coach and former Spanish teacher, would get away and stay that way.  

With George Clooney’s help, the Company could make it to the big screen.

• The U-T asked readers to name the best film shot or set in San Diego, and came up with a list of 20 from the famous (“Some Like It Hot,” “Almost Famous,” “Citizen Kane”) to the obscure (“Scavenger Hunt,” which I actually remember).

The U-T must have young readers. The top vote-getters as of yesterday evening were “Anchorman” and “Top Gun.” 

• When it comes to local members of Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa has a way of sucking all the oxygen out of the room. The other four congressfolk don’t get much media attention. Not even Duncan D. Hunter, the son of former Rep. Duncan Hunter. Until now, he’s been best known for a flap over his weird comments during the gays-in-the-military debate and for tying for top “Party Animal” in a Washingtonian magazine.

But the Internet is now buzzing over how Hunter got taken to the cleaners after trying to tangle with a four-star general during a congressional hearing.

It’s hard to figure out who’s right and who’s wrong in the verbal tangle. But one thing is clear: Hunter became the hunted, and he got bagged. Big-time.

Correction: An earlier version of this post listed UT-San Diego as 23rd in circulation among seven-day dailies. The paper ranks 23rd among daily newspapers, some of which publish five days a week.

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

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