In an ideal world — wherever that is — a school district’s budget process should be as smooth as a master class in ballroom dancing. Reality can be much different. This year, San Diego Unified has been jitterbugging up a storm with a bunch of new steps to learn on the spot.

While the district is still set up to spend more than it takes in, good news in January convinced officials that they’d have enough money to beef up services. But then came a big financial hit in May, forcing drastic measures that left teachers furious.

“I’ve done the best I’ve done putting this budget together with bubble gum and scotch tape,” says Superintendent Cindy Marten. The school board unanimously approved Marten’s first budget Tuesday evening. We’ve got all the details on what it will do.

• Marten’s budget gives $200,000 to fund a program that gives free bus passes to students, even though the City Council recently took a pass on doing the same thing.

• Another big development for San Diego Unified Tuesday: The district announced John Ross, currently the interim leader at Lincoln High, will officially take over as principal.

Ironically, Ross will be tasked with stemming the exodus of teachers and staff from Lincoln — though he himself was one of those staff member who left just a few months ago, Mario Koran reports. Ross left for Mira Mesa High, but Marten called him back when Lincoln’s polarizing principal, Esther Omogbehin, left the school.

When Inflation Is a Controversial Calculation

When Council President Todd Gloria trimmed his proposal to boost the city’s minimum wage, it seemed like he may have been too eager to compromise with critics in the business community. After all, many of them still oppose the idea of raising the minimum wage above the level set by the state, even if it’s only to $11.50 in a few years.

But there’s more to the revised proposal than meets the eye. As our Scott Lewis writes, it still includes annual adjustments to the minimum wage based on the cost of living. And the specific measurement it uses is one friendlier to workers.

• A news site devoted to restaurants profiles the national debate over tipping in the wake of various lawsuits against restaurants.

Politics Roundup: Del Mar as Red Light District

• A new report on climate change highlights the hazards facing business and the risks for San Diego, NPR reports. The San Diego Foundation recently examined the issue too.

• As expected, county supervisors approved giving themselves $2 million apiece each year to spend on various community organizations of their choosing. That’s up from $1 million each. (U-T)

One supervisor wants more openness in the program, which has been controversial for a variety of reasons, including illegal grants to right-wing organizations. Check our story here for background.

• Another news site, Scientific American this time, is exaggerating what’s in recycled sewage. Its headline: “Drinking from the Toilet.”

Our recent story titled “San Diegans Are Already Drinking Pee” would like a word with you, Scientific American! Urine big trouble!

•, a news site that covers driving issues, reports Del Mar is on the verge of becoming the latest local city to dump red-light cameras. The city is apparently losing money by trying to ticket drivers who run through red lights, and a sheriff’s detective devotes two days a week to dealing with tickets and testifying in court.

“I know people want to try to get the detective to help supplement the beat, respond to calls,” a sheriff’s captain said.

• Correction: An item in yesterday’s Morning Report linked to a U-T interview with the head of a local housing agency. It’s the San Diego Housing Federation, not Foundation.

Food 4 Less Agrees to Do More

“Food deserts” around the country have gotten lots of attention in the last few years: They’re defined as communities, often in inner cities, where it’s hard for residents to find convenient supermarkets with healthier foods like grains and produce.

Southeastern San Diego seems to be a food desert, although there’s debate about that. One thing’s clear: The service and selection at the local Food 4 Less supermarket didn’t make some local residents happy. But now, KPBS reports, the supermarket is shaping up. And it didn’t even drag its feet.

“We went down the list of some of the things we were concerned with, and they got right on it,” a community advocate tells KPBS.”There was no pushback, there was no pointing fingers, no stalling, it just went extremely smooth.”

Miniature Skateboarders Think Pink

The New York Times has a mini-documentary about the “Pink Helmet Posse” — local little girls who like to skateboard in pink tutus.

Culture Report: Away with the Ché?

If UCSD’s Ché Café was a cat, it would have gone through its nine lives and need to buy a few more at wherever excess cat lives are sold. (Bloomingdale’s? 7-Eleven? The swap meet?)

But after many near-death experiences, things may finally be kaput for the Ché, a longtime local institution for edgy music lovers and vegetarian types. Wait, wasn’t this the case earlier this year? It was, and it is again. As VOSD’s weekly Culture Report notes, the Ché is still fighting with the university and students but finally preparing a goodbye concert just in case.

Also in the Culture Report: Art Pulse flatlines, the Mingei catches some waves and a record store closes but will live to spin again. Meanwhile, an art gallery in South Park embraces “loneliness and internal disconnection.” Hey, everybody! It’s the Feel-Bad Hit of the Summer!

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president-elect of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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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