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The TV news trucks lined up outside San Diego’s Lincoln High School Tuesday, but they weren’t in search of an ordinary first-day-of-school story. They were there to check in on a troubled high school that the district superintendent says is our nation in miniature: “What’s happening at Lincoln is at the heart of the struggle in America. When we get Lincoln right, we get America right.”

We dropped by Lincoln High too. As we report in a new story, “district leaders are trying flip public perception that’s soured since this school opened the 2007 school year with a sparkling $129 million campus. Since then, students have fled and test scores sank to the bottom of the district.”

Now, the school has a new principal and a new partnership with City College. VOSD contributing photographer Jamie Scott Lytle was on hand and chronicles the first day of school with a series of photographs accompanying our story by reporter Mario Koran.

During Drought, Almonds Are No Joy

In a new story, we look at products that are especially troublesome during a drought. Almonds, for example, require more than 1 gallon of water each, and avocados suck up a lot of water too. Production of craft beer, a San Diego favorite, requires a lot of water too. Then there’s bottled water, which is largely produced in drought-stricken California.

• In the L.A. Times, a commentator urges readers to understand what dams can (and can’t) do to help during a drought: “They hold on to water when you can’t use it to make it available for when you can, but they don’t give you any more water than you had before. They might help farmers keep their acreage alive during a couple dry seasons, but they can’t justify expansion of acreage or growing more water-intensive crops.”

Politics News Roundup: Giftgate?

• Inewsource finds that the county doesn’t do a very good job of enforcing rules that are supposed to prevent recipients of grants from giving gifts to county supervisors.

• Special elections in San Diego County could become all-mail affairs with even the postage already paid for. (KPBS)

• “Plans to have most of San Diego’s future housing projects get built within existing neighborhoods will face a key test this fall when community leaders and the City Council consider a controversial mixed-use development proposed for the center of Carmel Valley,” the U-T reports in its latest story about the controversial One Paseo project in the Carmel Valley region.

• The L.A. Times profiles a local Republican candidate for Congress who has no chance of winning against incumbent Rep. Juan Vargas in the Democrat-heavy district. So why care about candidate Stephen Meade? Because, the paper says, he is unusual. “I’m straight, but I just have this thing about loving ladies’ clothes,” he tells the paper.

Hey, L.A. Times: It’s not 1955 anymore. Lighten up on the tittering.

L.A: It’s Like We Have a Twin

Meanwhile, the mayor of Los Angeles wants to expand the minimum wage for workers in the city to $13.25 by 2017, the L.A. Times reports. The San Diego City Council hasn’t gone that far: It boosted the minimum wage to $11.50 by 2017, although a petition drive is afoot to put the issue to voters.

The Times story notes a study that says “the most pronounced impact on prices will be found in the labor-intensive restaurant business, where prices might rise a total of 4.1% over the three years — driving the price of a $10 meal, the study says, to $10.41. On the plus side, the higher minimum will cut down on worker turnover, which is a cost even in low-wage industries.”

Culture Report: Jehu-va’s Witnesses

VOSD’s Culture Report, our weekly look at all things artsy, leads off with a weekend performance at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion Sunday by the “seminal post-hardcore band” Drive Like Jehu, reunited after 19 years. “The sheer number of Jehu-va’s Witnesses in attendance to catch this moment of rock ‘n’ roll history was mind-blowing,” raves Culture Report scribe Alex Zaragoza.

Also in the Culture Report: More woes for the performing arts in East County, new details about Steve Martin and Edie Brickell coming to the Old Globe and a new musical courtesy of Greg Evans, the San Marcos-based creator of the comic strip “Luann.”

Evans isn’t the only prominent newspaper cartoonist to have called San Diego County home. Brad Anderson, the creator of “Marmaduke,” lived in Escondido for several years, although he’s apparently since moved away.

“Marmaduke is a real dog, not a talking dog,” Anderson told the LA Times in 1991. “You won’t find any balloons with words over his head except when he’s thinking about a nice big roast or pie to eat.”

Step away from that pie, Marmaduke, and nobody gets a stern talking-to. Good dog!

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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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