There’s a funny thing about educators: Their job is to educate kids and grade them on their progress. But educators themselves, from teachers to superintendents, often resist being graded.

It’s true that teachers and administrators face unique sets of challenges, and there’s an ever-lasting debate over how those should factor into any grades they may get. But the same goes for kids, and no one seems to mind that they get grades, and lots of them.

This brings us to the most important person in the giant San Diego school district: Superintendent Cindy Marten. We’ve been firmly insisting that she set goals for herself, and now — six months into her tenure — we’ve decided to give her a grade.

She gets a B in this first effort.

Our story examines the blend of enthusiasm and concern about Marten’s grand goals and her unusual hands-on approach.

So how are people grading us and our attempt to grade Marten? School board member Scott Barnett gives us a thumbs-down in the comments: “Having the VOSD staff grade Cindy Marten on education is like having the cast of The Big Bang Theory grade Stephen Hawkings (sic) on physics.”

For Mid-City, Money Comes Pouring In

To mix some metaphors, never mind that Bob Filner promised to make it rain in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods and then ended up being run out of town: As one advocate puts it, “2013 was the year of funding” for Mid-City residents.

Big chunks are still on their way to support projects like a skate park, free bus passes for students at several high schools and more streetlights.

We’ve compiled updates about the status of each project.

A Big News Year Was Full of Big Opinions, Too

VOSD should stop its “jihad” on the coastal height limit.

The Republican Party needs to do some big-time soul-searching.

Paying the fine is better than signing up for Obamacare.

Those are just some of the opinions that kicked up dust in our VOSD community and beyond in 2013. We take a look back at the commentaries that got people talking the most.

Quick News Hits

• The San Diego County Water Authority has a blog posted summarizing the issues at stake in its big court case against the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. It’s not exactly a neutral source, but the post gives a solid rundown of what’s going on: “In both lawsuits, the Water Authority asserts that MWD illegally assigns unrelated water supply costs … to MWD’s water transportation rates.

• The U-T is trying its darndest to promote the idea that the Chargers — with an unimpressive record of 8-7 — have a chance at the playoffs. But do they have a chance at avoiding a blackout next Sunday? Maybe not. And that’s a thumb in the nose of taxpayers, as our Scott Lewis noted in a commentary.

• The U-T spotlights the monstrosity — er, make that the joyous display of holiday cheer — that’s brightening the Rolando Park neighborhood thanks to a resident with electrical outlets to burn. From a 27-foot inflatable Rudolph to an incredible number of lights and displays, this is one amazing Christmas production.

Here’s hoping Santa comes down the chimney with a check to pay the SDG&E bill.

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 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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