If you don’t live in the South Bay, you may not be familiar with the Sweetwater school district. But if you’re a parent or grew up there, you likely know all about it: The district, one of the largest in the state, runs the middle and high schools throughout Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach and San Ysidro, a huge area that ranges from the upscale homes of inland Eastlake to the poor neighborhoods near the coast.

But it’s not the same district it used to be just a few months ago. Four of five board members are gone along with the former superintendent — now heading to jail — and his replacement. Many of the departed are victims of the massive South Bay corruption scandal, which ensnared several education officials and contractors.

In a new story, we examine the major obstacles facing the new superintendent, whose job is temporary. He’ll need to regain trust, listen to residents and be prepared for what comes next when the board gets around to hiring a permanent chief.

It’s a Whale of a Summer

Whale-watching used to mainly be a winter affair: Get your warm jacket on and head out to catch some waterspouts. But things have changed over the past few decades, and — especially — over the last several years. The San Diego coast has seen bumper crops of blue whales in the summertime, and this year is no different.

In a new story, we ask a whale researcher about what we can look forward to seeing off the coast. We also update you on sharks (one attacked a swimmer off L.A. this past weekend) and the two whale-watchers who were dumped overboard by whales in search of food last week.

Politics Roundup: An Operatic Donation

• As the resurrected San Diego Opera cuts costs by sacking almost a third of its employees and moving its headquarters to cheaper digs, the city is helping out with an extra $100,000 of taxpayer money. In total, the city will give $260,000 to the opera this fiscal year; that’s much less than it had been set to get. (Los Angeles Times and KPBS)

• The centennial celebration at Balboa Park is set for next April, the U-T reports. For background about the entire centennial celebration debacle, click here.

• The city is hiring a chief data officer.

Drought? Well, I’m Gonna Pout

• Two letter writers in the U-T are taking slightly different approaches to water conservation during this drought, but they both agree on one thing: The community at large isn’t taking things seriously.

“My highest monthly water bill this year was $55. Meanwhile, they are planning to build another golf course and 170 luxury homes in the Rancho Santa Fe area. Kind of makes me wonder,” writes a woman in Spring Valley, while a Valley Center man says he’ll start conserving when “there is a moratorium on new construction,” among other things. Another letter or two sound similar themes.

• Speaking of construction, the U-T notes that Escondido voters this fall will consider approving a development with as many as 430 new homes. Will they soak up a lot of precious water? Well sure, but they will replace another water hog — a golf course.

• The Sacramento Bee reports on the state’s secrecy regarding well drilling. It matters because “while our knowledge of rivers and reservoirs is exhaustive, we know far less about water stored inside the earth, including how much can be safely pumped without depleting aquifers and sowing long-term harm.”

Quick News Hits: Pot Goes Back

• “An Arizona lobbyist has agreed to a $5,000 fine in connection with an illegal $300 donation to the 2005 campaign of former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders,” the U-T reports.

• Here’s a story you don’t hear every day: The sheriff’s department is returning more than 20 pounds of marijuana to a dispensary in Vista, months after a raid that didn’t result in charges, NBC 7 reports. The pot may not be good anymore.

A bigger issue seems to be whether sheriff’s deputies were too brazen during the raid. “I don’t think that we needed to have assault rifles held to our heads,” the owner said. “I think we could have been served paperwork.”

• Yesterday’s Morning Report included a couple personal asides from yours truly, and both drew unexpected responses from readers. To clarify, I was praising my neighbor who told annoying firecracker-throwing partiers to cut it out or she’d call the cops. No snark intended! She’s a hero in my book, and I’ll tell her so once my hearing returns.

Meanwhile, my mention of the influential Skyline megachurch in La Mesa — which I attended as a kid — brought an email from none other than a chipper Pastor Jim Garlow. We’re now pen pals, and he wants me to drop by. He’d better not drill me on Bible verses.

• A clothing shop at San Diego State is trying to trademark the phrase “I Believe That We Will Win!” which somehow transformed from a chant at the Naval Academy and SDSU into a nationwide World Cup phenomenon.

It sounds a little better if you say it quickly, but it’s still less than inspiring. Let us say it loud and say it proud: “We believe we need a chant that sounds less clunky and doesn’t include the word ‘that’!”

Totally catchy.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and 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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