Benjamin Kelso, a black detective sergeant in the San Diego Police Department, knows some of his fellow officers wonder how loyal he is. He says some cops gave black officers the stink-eye when they appeared at marches in support of Trayvon Martin, the victim of an infamous killing in Florida.

“We get dirty looks from officers on the periphery that are watching the thing wondering, ‘What’re they doing there? Are they with them or are they with us? What is going on?’” And what would happen, some wondered, if there was a riot? Which side would the officers be on?

Such is life on the force for an officer who’s black and who’s outspoken. But, as our  interview with Kelso reveals, he’s not just a source of criticism. He has praise for the department, warnings for black kids and suggestions about improving race relations in the community when it comes to policing.

We spoke with Kelso as part of our investigation of the police department’s failure to track whether racial profiling is a problem.

• The Fronteras Desk follows up on our racial profiling coverage with a look at the situation in Phoenix, where the sheriff’s department (yes, the one run by celebrity lawman Joe Arpaio) has been accused of targeting Latino drivers.

The Best School District? C’mon!

As we noted in the Morning Report yesterday, a prominent education reformer just declared that San Diego Unified is the “best urban district in the nation.” As they say online: O RLY?

If that’s true, VOSD’s Scott Lewis weeps for the nation. In a new commentary, he points out the district’s weaknesses, criticizes its recent back-patting puffery and says we need to gather evidence of improvement so a celebration down the line will be worth something.

• The U-T reports on the continuing drama at San Diego’s troubled Lincoln High, which parents have abandoned in droves. It’s perceived to be the worst high school in the district despite a much-touted renovation and retooling. Now, a new principal is in charge, and she wants to bring community college classes to the high school through something called a “middle college.”

• The state is moving closer to offering “universal” pre-school classes for 4-year-olds. (Sacramento Bee)

• We reported recently on concerns about high suspension rates in schools for certain racial groups. Now, the feds are out with new guidelines that urge “educators across the country to move away from approaches that suspend students for minor infractions and fall hardest on minority children,” The Washington Post reports.

In Service of Restoring Services: The Candidate Records

You can expect the mayoral candidates to wrangle about who’s done the best job of restoring (or partially restoring) city services like libraries, parks and police that underwent big-time cutbacks during the recession.

But what’s the truth? We take a look in a new story that examines the city’s budget over the last few years.

• Here’s your non-surprise of the day: Leftie alternative weekly CityBeat says you should vote for David Alvarez, the Democrat, in the mayoral election. His opponent Kevin Faulconer, the paper says, “is your garden-variety economic conservative who wants to privatize government as much as possible and is hostile to people who need the most help.”

• Faulconer is making a major push for minority votes: He announced (again) the support of the conservative-led Latino American Political Action Committee and opened a campaign office in Lincoln Park, notes CityBeat. And his new ad released Wednesday is a Spanish-language spot.

Quick News Hits

• Last year, we told you about the degrading programming on U-T TV, the local cable channel created by the U-T for $3 million. Then the station somehow got even worse. Now, there’s good news: The channel is turning toward a newsier and less fluffy format, NetNewsCheck reports. The bad news: It’s also just shed about 10 staffers.

• Local medical groups — allied doctors — don’t score too well in a new Consumer Reports ranking, KPBS reports. No local one scored higher than 73 on a 100-point scale.

• Mayors are betting over football again, the U-T reports, as the Chargers face the Broncos in the playoffs. The Denver mayor is betting green chili, while San Diego’s interim Mayor Todd Gloria “wagering some of San Diego’s best Mexican food: California burritos from Ortiz’s Taco Shop in Point Loma, carne asada fries from Lolita’s Taco Shop in Kearny Mesa and deep-fried catfish tacos from Mama Testa Taqueria in Hillcrest.”

I just don’t know. In San Diego, how good can Mexican food be if it’s not from a shack with -bertos in its name? In a related story, I’m now making it my lifetime mission to find out.

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

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