The chief financial officer of the San Diego school district is on leave. And he may not be back.  Stan Dobbs, who has learned what happens when you speak your mind in public, is being discussed as a possible candidate for an interim superintendent job with a Bay Area school district.

What Could Get in the Way of Tech San Diego?

We hear a lot about the value of innovation to San Diego’s economy, but it’s not clear exactly what it is — what about a company that’s high-tech but doesn’t do anything new? — or how best to support it.

That’s where we come in. In our next “quest” to help you better understand a local issue, VOSD reporter Kelly Bennett is launching an in-depth look at innovation: “What could stymie the kind of invention and innovation that San Diego strives to be known for? Let’s learn together how innovation shapes San Diego, now and in the region’s history, and what could impede discovery from continuing to happen here.”

Check the introduction to the quest here and let us know what you’d like to learn.

Behind the Balboa Park Appeal

A major part of the push to remodel Balboa Park’s heart was the desire to get it done before the big 2015 celebration. But boosters of the project that a court shot down months ago say they hope to revive it but for after 2015.

Meanwhile, Mayor Bob Filner told KPBS that the project is “moot.” And the Reader reports that a preservationist group has an appeal of its own in the works, geared toward getting a verdict on issues that were rejected or left unresolved.

One issue they’re pushing: Can a park that’s supposed to be free have paid parking? If it can’t, what about paid admission to museums and events? Or a nice steak at The Prado?

•  Also from the big building projects front: The city attorney says Mayor Filner overstepped his bounds by halting a huge construction project in the College Area called Centrepoint (U-T San Diego).

SD Explained: Border Blocking

San Diego Explained, our video series, explores the history of fences at the border.

Stumblr: Sidewalks Are Even Bad in Carmel Valley

Neighborhoods outside of central San Diego don’t get much attention in the Stumblr, our blog of decaying sidewalks. If the sidewalks are indeed in better shape in places like Rancho Bernardo and University City, the charitable interpretation is that they may be newer, unlike decades-old sidewalks in places like Hillcrest.

Well, now we have a Stumblr sidewalk report from Carmel Valley, and it’s a doozy. Liam Dillon explains why some sidewalks get fixed with ugly asphalt.

Meanwhile, we tag along with a wheelchair-bound man as he tries to navigate the sidewalks of Hillcrest. Turns out that curb ramps aren’t bliss when you live on wheels, especially when they’re not entirely smooth.

Happy Days for City Pension Fund?

Over at The Plaza, our website’s new conversation forum, VOSD reporter Lisa Halverstadt notes that the city’s pension fund has been doing well financially this year, potentially meaning that the city will need to dump less money into it.

Comments: Good Luck Getting a Straight Answer

Carrie Schneider, a reader, responds to our investigation of the huge and mysterious variations in local hospital prices with a tale of her own about trying to find the price of a procedure that she may have had to pay for: “Concerned, I called the hospital and Aetna several times to find out what I would be paying and it was impossible to get them to give me an answer.”

Her personal story is one of our Comments of the Week.

Quick News Hits

• San Diego has a new council member: Myrtle Cole, who won an election last month to fill the seat of former Councilman Tony Young, was sworn in yesterday, NBC 7 San Diego reports. She is the first black woman to serve on the council.

• In two stories, KPBS explores the challenges facing homeless kids and families as they try to survive on the streets here.

A worker at an emergency shelter says the first question of mothers is often “where do we go during the day?” There’s no good answer: “I have nowhere to tell them ’cause there is no place.”

The families, some with babies (like the 9-month-old child of the woman profiled in one of the stories), often end up spending the day in parks.

For more about homelessness, check our recent coverage of this issue.

• The LA Times examines the role of bond underwriters who boost the campaigns of school districts that want to convince voters to let them borrow money for construction: “Do they play an unfair and improper role in pushing bond measures? Is it against state law?”

• An LA Times reviewer isn’t terribly impressed by SeaWorld’s Aquatica San Diego, a revamped version of the former Knott’s Soak City in Chula Vista. It’s a rather ordinary water park, the writer says, without the frills that helped a sister park in Orlando set “a new standard for excellence and excess.”

At least the writer didn’t say the water park is all wet.
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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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