San Diego schools chief Cindy Marten was back in front of a microphone this week for her second annual State of the District speech, and it was a switch from the colorful “Wizard of Oz”-themed production of a year ago.

This time around, Marten — who was plucked from a principal position to run one of the nation’s largest school districts — is past her honeymoon period and has become a veteran of the district’s perennial bitter infighting.

“She described the balance the district tries to strike between feeling good about the work that’s been done and the sense of urgency that’s still needed,” VOSD’s Mario Koran reports in a run-down of what’s similar and what’s changed in Marten’s public face over the past 12 months.

City May Get Permanent Shelter

Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants the city to open a permanent homeless shelter with 350 beds, replacing temporary tent shelters. “A significant hurdle facing the proposal is that the city doesn’t plan to provide a building for the new shelter, seeking a nonprofit agency to step forward to provide space and run the facility. (U-T)

As we’ve seen with the Connections Housing facility, though, a permanent structure isn’t necessarily a cure-all.

We’re No. 3! We’re No. 3!

Just a couple days after the New York Times shamed the ultra-upscale Rancho Santa Fe/Solana Beach region as being the biggest water hogs in the entire state, a new report says they’ve dipped to No. 3. KPBS has the details about the water numbers for the month of October, which say the residents in the Santa Fe Irrigation District use an eye-popping average of 518 gallons of water a day.

Statewide, they fall behind only a couple water districts that serve parts of Riverside and Orange counties. Locally, several farming regions like Rainbow and Valley Center have high levels of water use, while residents of the city of San Diego only use an average of 76 gallons a day.

Body Camera-Palooza

The San Diego Police Department is experimenting with body cameras to monitor cops as they do their work, and there’s plenty of buzz about cameras locally and across the country. El Cajon, East County’s largest city, is looking into adopting the cameras for its police force, and Chula Vista has already approved cameras. Meanwhile, New York City is debuting body cameras as soon as this week.

Is all this a good trend? Maybe. But, as the tech blog Gizmodo noted last month, “the troubling reality is that some police departments are going to work to keep footage out of people’s hands when we need it most. And when it suits them, police can try to get the footage thrown out of court, too.”

One of the examples of cop intransigence mentioned in Gizmodo’s post: SDPD. On the other hand, groups like the ACLU point to privacy concerns for members of the public, who will be caught on camera in some of the most wrenching and vulnerable moments of their lives.

• The Texas city of Austin is looking to hire cops here in San Diego, which has had its own challenges trying to keep its police offers from skipping town.

Winner by a Nose in Chula Vista

We have a winner, finally: Sweetwater school board member John McCann has won a race for Chula Vista City Council with two votes — yes, two — over former Mayor Steve Padilla. A recount is possible, but whoever asks for it will have to pay $40,000. (NBC 7)

• La Mesa’s blunt and occasionally newsworthy mayor is stepping down after 24 years. Voters booted him in the election. (U-T)

Quick News Hits: No Cup for You

• San Diego won’t get the America’s Cup race in 2017. One of the architects of San Diego’s bid for the race blames California’s regulatory environment. (Associated Press)

• The problem with using civil disobedience to protest something is that it often comes with a civil punishment. Case in point: Reality star “Steve-O” has been ticketed for high-profile stunt of defacing a local freeway sign as part of a protest against SeaWorld. He probably succeeded in the tough task of making people actually feel a bit sorry for SeaWorld. PETA, it turns out, will pay his fine. (U-T)

• The weekly VOSD Culture Report provides links to stories about an art project spotlighting the homeless, a museum exhibit about local architects, and San Diego’s Death Cafés.

Yes, Death Cafés, which have become a worldwide trend in recent years. They’re discussions devoted to death and dying over tea and cake.

No word on whether any Death Cafés will be held at El Cajon Boulevard’s landmark Rudford’s restaurant, where plaques at several tables memorialize diners who have passed on. The diners were elderly, which is a good sign. Otherwise, I’d be staring at the patty melt with some deep concern.

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 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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