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There are lots of perks to being a VOSD member. Last week, members got to compete in a special Spring Campaign News Quiz with some pretty high stakes. Today, we’re announcing the winners.

In first place, winning a $500 voucher for a UC San Diego Extension class, is Nara Lee. (I’ve taken a bunch of UCSD Extension classes, even learning how to act on stage and not just, um, act up. I can confirm that they’re a great bargain.)

Public relations maven Gayle Falkenthal took second, earning a $50 gift card to Donovan’s Steak and Chop House (take me! take me!), and Daniel Horan came in third, winning a VOSD “Be the Beacon” t-shirt.

Congratulations, winners! We’ll be in touch with all the details.

Members are the heart of VOSD. They hold the organization accountable, demand excellence and provide crucial sustainability. During our spring campaign to raise $100,000, we’ll be spotlighting different members and how they’re making a difference in the VOSD community and beyond. Check out our first “shout out” at the end of today’s Morning Report. And, if you’re not a member, please join now.

We’ve tried to provide perspective in a series of stories about the role that private foundations play in San Diego schools and the issue of equal access to a good public education. Now, we offer a quick primer of five lessons we’ve learned about how things work.

One of the most important lessons: “The books are awkward and messy.” The San Diego school district hasn’t made a priority of closely tracking foundations, and some parents haven’t done a good job of keeping up with paperwork.

Meet the New (and Soon-to-Be-Ex) Councilman

Meet the new San Diego City Council member, not the same as the old council member. Kevin Faulconer left his seat representing some of the city’s beach communities to become mayor, and the City Council yesterday appointed lifeguard Sgt. Ed Harris, a lifeguard union official, to replace him until the elections later this year.

Harris won’t be able to run to hold the seat permanently.

A long list of other locals were in the running for the temporary seat, including former council candidate Bryan Peace, former mayoral candidate and preservationist Bruce Coons, and Jane Gawronski, a former North County school district superintendent.

Peanut Gallery Wants Opera Director’s Head

Ah, the sweet refinement of opera, free from the raunchy chaos of rock music performances… Unless it’s not. I’ll let KPBS explain: “Ian Campbell, general director of the San Diego Opera, was heckled and booed before Saturday night’s opening performance of ‘Don Quixote,’ perhaps the last opera to be staged by the storied company.”

Were the critics in the peanut gallery — yes, the upper balcony — just tilting at windmills? (Sorry, it’s impossible to resist Don Quixote humor.) It’s not clear, but efforts are afoot to save the opera from its surprise demise.

Operation: Obliterate that Party!

Quick: What’s the third-largest political party in California? Hmm. The Green Party, maybe? Nope. The Libertarians? Nope. The Prohibition Party? Nope. Your booze is safe from 1920s-era shenanigans! (Although the soberest party of all is still around.)

The third-largest party is the American Independent Party, which stands for… Um… LA Weekly, a little help? What do leaders of this party believe? “Politically, you’re somewhere to the right of the Tea Party — pro-gun, pro-God, anti-gay and anti-immigration.”

Huh. Many party members aren’t white (“although the party at has roots in George Wallace’s segregationist presidential campaign”) and aren’t even natural-born citizens. What gives? A political consultant thinks many of the party’s 470,000 members in the state signed up by accident, thinking they were registering as independent, and he’s trying to do something about it.

Quick News Hits: Park It, Buddy!

• Here’s a not-so-little dirty secret about driving in San Diego: There are almost always places to park near where you want to go. This is the case in Balboa Park, Hillcrest and Balboa Park, to name a few hotspots, if you’re willing and able to walk a few blocks. (I know, I lost a whole bunch of you with that last sentence. Walk a few blocks? Horror upon horror!)

But what about downtown, where parking rates can be quite high and cheaper metered spaces hard to find? An app — at last — may come to the rescue, NBC San Diego reports.

• The late-night “Conan” show, seen on cable, will broadcast from the Comic-Con this summer.

U-T Honcho: Selling? Actually, We’re Buying!

Is the U-T for sale, as has been rumored by rumormongers? The best thing for journalists to do with a rumor is to ask someone who knows instead of just reporting it. (If only every local media outlet followed this philosophy.)

Luckily, John “Dial-a-Quote” Lynch, a top official at the U-T San Diego newspaper, doesn’t mind talking to reporters. He told the new online publication Times of San Diego that the paper that “the UT continues to be in an acquisitive mode.”

Acquisitive? That’s an unusual word. Drawing upon my intrepid-journalist powers, I looked it up. The word means “excessively interested in acquiring money or material things.”

Me, I’ll just stick with being inquisitive. Or an inquisitor. Nobody expects one of those!

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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