Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins has officially joined the rest of the state’s leadership in being unwilling to say much of substance about the controversial Vergara ruling, in which a Los Angeles judge declared that teacher employee protections produced poor educational opportunities for some kids and therefore violated their civil rights.

The teachers union is going to appeal the ruling. But the state hasn’t decided whether it will join.

Atkins would not take a side, Saturday, when she sat down with Scott Lewis at Politifest.

Lewis breaks down what she would say in a new commentary. Atkins thinks there should be a better process for firing teachers who aren’t performing well but she wouldn’t go much farther than that.

The Dean’s Take

Paula Cordeiro, dean of the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education, told a crowd at Politifest that the fix to the teacher tenure mess may lie in ivory towers.

The problem: Teachers get tenure after two years, and then it becomes very difficult to sack them for reasons of performance. While tenure was created for good reasons — to protect educators from being fired for expressing unpopular opinions, getting married or assigning controversial books — critics say it overly protects teachers at the price of a quality education for children.

As we report in our story about Cordeiro’s comments, she believes districts should take a page from universities, which take more time to grant tenure to professors and expect more from them to achieve it.

Gov. Brown’s Rival Speaks at Politifest

Yes, Virginia, there is a governor’s race. The polls and the conventional wisdom may have already declared him to be an also-ran, but the GOP’s Neel Kashkari is still in the hunt to convince voters to fire Jerry Brown, the ’70s outlier-turned-’10s insider.

Kashkari appeared for a Q-and-A at last weekend’s Politifest, and we’ve compiled a few of his more notable remarks in a story here along with video snippets.

Among other things, Kashkari talked about his week-long stunt (playing a homeless person in Fresno to challenge the idea that California is “back”), his goals to cut back at state regulations designed to protect the environment, and his criticism of boosting the minimum wage.

VOSD Radio: Special Politifest Edition

If you’re looking to hear even more about two of our favorite topics, beer and biking, check the special Politifest edition of the VOSD Radio show. Guests include advocates for cycling, better U.S.-Mexico relations and the brewery business. We also hear from PR maven Mindy Fletcher, who talks about the challenges of getting anything done in local politics.

Petco Builders Have a Convadium Idea

“The builders of Petco Park have unveiled a $1.4 billion plan that could produce more space for conventions and a new stadium for the Chargers at less cost than if built independently,” the U-T reports.

Meanwhile, the U-T finds that the convention center staff is a family affair: The CEO’s son and daughter-in-law work there. And Councilman David Alvarez’s op-ed about a lack of transparency on the project provoked an interesting back and forth with the head of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation on Twitter.

Quick News Hits: Now That’s Scary

• “The San Diego company behind an experimental Ebola treatment given to two American health workers last week is now out of the drug,” KPBS reports.

• The L.A. Times checks in on the local Iraqi Christian community and its fears about friends and relatives back home.

• Fast Company looks at a “live online command network” for firefighting that’s housed at UCSD, accessible anywhere via the Internet, and mostly funded by the feds. The idea is to give a boost to firefighters in an era where wildfires have become harder to tame.

The Next-Generation Incident Command System is the brainchild of a local retired Air Force colonel who’s a whiz at military command tech.

• The Comic-Con vs. Comic Con battle is heating up in court, as the venerable San Diego version is taking on an upstart in Salt Lake City for allegedly stealing its name. (Hollywood Reporter)

• San Diegans could recycle about 75 percent of their trash, but they only bother recycling about 25 percent of it, City News Service reports.

• There’s something about holing up in the boonies that makes people want to tell ghost stories. Thanks to summer camp programs, generations of young San Diegans gathered around campfires at places like Cuyamaca and heard scary tales about boogeymen like the Proctor Valley Monster.

Anyway, the U-T says something called the “Great Horror Campout” is coming to North County’s Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center this weekend. It’s a 12-hour “camping adventure in which you can choose to experience terrifying obstacles like diving into a pit of cadavers or being trapped in a coffin.”

Fun! But they’d better recycle all their cans and bottles up there. Interactive freak shows may be frightening, but global warming is the ultimate horror show.

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 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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