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And away they go: Hundreds of them. San Diego’s Lincoln High School is struggling academically, and now it’s struggling numbers-wise: its student population has fallen dramatically.

What’s going on? New VOSD reporter Mario Koran examines the issues that are pitting teacher against teacher, dividing parents and leaving administrators under fire.

Pop Goes the Pension

City officials had hoped to get a nice $25 million surplus next year thanks to a reduction in the money that the city has to pump into its fund to pay pensions to retired workers. But now, things are looking grim for the prospects of extra funds to pay for things like expanded library hours. (The new Central Library, for example, is only open past 5:30 p.m. twice a week).

The city will be more conservative about how much it expects to make each year on its investments. The decision will be up to the city’s pension board, not the City Council.

On the other hand, such a move by the pension board could be good news in the long run if it means the city is better protected against slumps in its investments.

Faulconer Stands Behind Managed Competition

“Managed competition,” a system that allows city departments and outside companies to bid to provide services, has had a bumpy rollout in San Diego. An auditor’s report and a draft internal review both recently rapped the program, which voters put into place in 2006.

So where do the mayoral candidates stand? They haven’t made it a big issue with the exception of Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who remains a big fan.

“It’s a new program in this city, it’s a change of business as usual for this city,” Faulconer told us. “What we cannot do is stop that program. What we should do is to make sure that’s working the best that it can, make any changes that are necessary to make sure it’s implemented, and implemented correctly.”

• Faulconer has released a “Neighborhood Fairness Plan” and “vowed Monday to reduce fire and ambulance response times citywide by the end of 2015,” the U-T reports.

Our investigation last summer uncovered rampant cases of late arrivals to emergency calls, especially in Southeastern San Diego. “Nowhere in San Diego has a greater chance for delays than five neighborhoods within 9 ½ square miles south and east of downtown, including some of the poorest and brownest parts of the city,” we reported.

Faulconer calls for more ambulances, more fire stations and a temporary fire station to improve response times right away.

• Faulconer’s campaign has debuted a new TV ad featuring former Mayor Jerry Sanders. It includes a snippet of video of a road crew behind text that says “Kevin Faulconer/Fixing San Diego’s streets.”

Look at the top right of this screenshot: Is that a nearby mountain with snow on it in the background? I don’t recognize that view, but maybe I’m missing something. Drop me a line if you recognize where the video was taken.

The Latest in U-T Weirdness

U-T CEO John Lynch sent staffers a cryptic email last week about rumors that the paper might buy, of all things, the San Diego Reader alternative weekly, CityBeat reports.

The publisher of the Reader, Jim Holman, said he told Lynch earlier that he wasn’t interested in selling. Holman also said the two communicated after the Reader ran a story about U-T owner Doug Manchester and his supposed “Siberian bride-to-be,” and Lynch made “what I interpreted as a threat.”

As for Lynch, he tells CityBeat that “the UT will have a statement at the end of the month with regard to an acquisition. (10 days).” For the record, U-T brass have a long history of talking about buying papers that they don’t end up buying.

No Opponent, but Issa Banks Big

• Congressman Darrell Issa, who represents a chunk of North County and is one of the most high-profile House representatives in the nation, has raised almost $2.7 million in campaign funds, the U-T reports. Funny story: He has no opponent yet for 2014, and it would be a huge shocker if he ends up facing serious competition.

• He can do magic! A spokesman for congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, who’s running for the seat now held by Rep. Scott Peters, told the U-T that DeMaio would have made a difference if he’d been in the House during the whole shutdown mess: “He’d be a voice, and we wouldn’t be in this ridiculous situation in the first place.”

DeMaio would have voted to reopen the government, the spokesman said. Many Republicans, including local Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, did not.

Quick News Hits

• The transient convicted of killing 12-year-old Stephanie Crowe in Escondido in 1998 — one of the most wrenching and high-profile murders in the county’s history — is scheduled to face a retrial beginning this week, KPBS reports.

The initial investigation and arrests were botched, and the transient was ultimately convicted of the murder. But his sentence was overturned on a technicality, and KPBS reports that his attorneys will blame the three boys — now men — who were arrested for the crime and later exonerated.

• Doughnut shops have been struggling lately, but plenty of them are still around these parts. Just listen to the locals in the San Diego “subreddit” of Reddit.com: they’re debating which shop is the best.

Stardust, VG, Golden, Krispy Kreme and Peterson’s donut shops are all here, along with newbies like downtown’s Donut Bar (popular among foodies), Donut Touch (get it?) and even the old stand-by of Winchell’s.

As for me, I’ll have a cruller, two glazed with sprinkles, an apple fritter and an angioplasty, please.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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Randy Dotinga

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

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