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Education observers and even staff of the largest school district in the region are scratching their heads over a perplexing whodunnit. The victim: A planned charter school called Thrive that had lots of support until the last minute when the majority of the San Diego’s school board decided to stop it in its tracks.

In lieu of Hercule Poirot (or Encyclopedia Brown), we put VOSD reporter Mario Koran on the case. Who killed the charter school and why? It was an unexpected snuffing-out since parents, district officials and the superintendent herself lined up behind it. And charter schools must go through plenty of hoops before the board gets involved.

Our new story identifies three curious reasons why the charter school got shot down. The board rejected the school even though its organizers had adjusted plans to meet district concerns. But the school isn’t necessarily finished. Its organizers can appeal.

The State of State of the City Speeches

San Diego’s annual State of the City addresses don’t have quite the same gravitas as the State of the Union. Then again, interim Mayor Todd Gloria — who’ll give the speech tonight — isn’t likely to be interrupted by a congressman yelling “Liar!”

So what will Gloria talk about? We preview the speech and point out things to watch for. Spoiler alert: Gloria is likely to talk about borrowing money — lots of money — to repair things like streets and sidewalks. We may hear him complain about “ballot-box governing” and tout progressive reforms too.

Speaking of infrastructure, the City Council agreed yesterday to borrow $164 million for “new or replaced fire stations, libraries, water and sewer lines and road and sidewalk repair… as it nibbled away at a multi-billion backlog in infrastructure needs,” the U-T reports. Check our previous story for details on how the funds will help the city do a better job of responding to emergencies.

• Turns out that the city’s mayors (and at least one temporary mayor) have been giving the speeches since 1964. Contributing writer Jonathan Heller digs into a half-century’s worth of the speeches and reports on the intriguing and amusing nuggets.

There’s a tradition of mayors saying and doing weird things, from the wackadoo video debuted by Jerry Sanders in 2012 to Susan Golding floating some very peculiar trial balloons. On the serious side, Sanders took city staff to the woodshed in 2005 (“as best I can tell, the operating philosophy around City Hall involved one of these three words: delay, deny or deceive”), while Pete Wilson came with high hopes (for downtown) and left with high hopes (for his political career).

• Related: “State and local governments are being urged to stop using budget gimmicks that obscure the true extent of their money problems,” the NY Times reports. A high-powered federal task force is doing the urging. Two issues are on the front burner: Reducing complexity in finances (so people can figure out what’s going on) and figuring out how to make governments be more open.

A Big Border Investment

We’ve put together details and background about federal funding that may be on its way to finish construction on border-crossing projects. “The influx of money could eventually speed up border lines: Phase III specifically would expand southbound roadways and border facilities,” writes Catherine Green in the roundup of handy links.

Culture Report: Barrio Logan’s Renaissance

The Culture Report, our weekly review of arts and culture news, spotlights the artistic renaissance in Barrio Logan, which has “carved its position as a must-see destination for San Diego art.”

We also have news about Cheech & Chong figurines (don’t smoke them), the “Ecosystems of San Diego County” (plot twist: I’m my own personal high-pressure system), and East County’s Unarius Academy (get your extra planetary vibes right here!).

Quick News Hits

• “Once called courageous by San Diego’s police chief, the woman who first accused former San Diego Police Officer Anthony Arevalos of sexual misconduct is now being accused of bribery by lawyers defending the city in a federal lawsuit,” the U-T reports.

• The U-T has an update on former Mayor Maureen O’Connor’s attempts to repay $2 million that she stole from a foundation. She’s won part of a big settlement in an unrelated civil suit that will help her pay the money and avoid being sent behind bars.

The U-T story includes a photo of O’Connor taken yesterday outside the courthouse. She’s smiling, a far cry from the devastating news photo of her that appeared when the news of her troubles broke almost a year ago.

• Interim Mayor Gloria went on Twitter the other day in search of songs for his State of the City playlist. We won’t suggest “Another Bites the Dust” in honor of all this mayor shuffling. The Morning Report has some standards. “Please Don’t Go” is a bit too rosy.

Hmm. Hey, here’s the ticket! In honor of Gloria’s return to the presidency of the City Council, let’s hear from Elaine Stritch: “I’m Still Here.”

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:

Randy Dotinga

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

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