The National Review raised a few eyebrows recently when a commentary by an education think-tank denizen took aim at an unnamed “San Diego public charter school” and declared that “assaults on campus involving mostly black and Hispanic students occur almost daily.”

That would be shocking if true. It’s not.

San Diego Fact Check examined the claim after confirming that the school in question is Lincoln High, which has had more than its share of problems and whose struggles have been well documented.

But it’s not a charter school. And that’s not all. The claims about daily assaults seems to come from a student who spoke on TV, but whose face and full name weren’t revealed, and an unattributed claim in a newspaper column. The district’s official numbers about violence at the campus seem to be disturbingly high, but they’re far from what the commentary author depicts.

Commentary: Je Suis Charlie

In a commentary, VOSD’s Scott Lewis examines his feelings in the wake of the newspaper massacre in Paris: “some folks hate that world that I cherish so much that they’re willing to murder on behalf of an authority that you are not allowed to challenge. That scares me.”

He notes the messages of a Spanish satirical newspaper that he grew to appreciate while living in Madrid. The paper declared yesterday that “we are facing an attack on civilization itself, which took us so many centuries to achieve.”

• Poynter has a collection of newspaper front pages devoted to support of free press in the wake of the attacks. More than 30 American media organizations joined the Society of Professional Journalists in solidarity with our French counterparts, including Investigative Reporters and Editors, which has close ties to VOSD, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, which I serve as president.

Commentary: Focus on Kids and Concussions

Howard Taras, pediatrician and a professor at UCSD, writes in a VOSD commentary that athlete concussions in teenagers deserve special attention because “young brains are still developing and may be more susceptible to the effects.”

And he notes that concussions are a risk in a variety of sports, including “soccer, lacrosse, basketball, wrestling, softball, volley ball and cheerleading,” among others. “In fact, the rate of concussion may be underestimated in these sports because parents, coaches and the kids themselves aren’t as likely to anticipate this kind of injury.”

We examined the concussion issue earlier this week in a story about a La Jolla High football player who continued playing in a game despite an apparent head injury.

Commentary: No, Briggs, You’re Missing the Point

Richard Schulman, a land use attorney who’s often “butted heads” with fellow attorney Cory Briggs, Public Enemy No. 1 to local governments, takes aim at a recent VOSD commentary by Briggs. In his commentary, Schulman says Briggs misleads by saying California’s environmental law is primarily about disclosure: “The aim of that disclosure is to identify impacts so they can be eliminated. At the end of the process, government agencies must eliminate every impact or impose an offsetting benefit.”

A Ferris Wheel for the Waterfront?

What does the port need? Try a 400-foot Ferris wheel. Really. Proponents of a proposed $200 million project want the port district to discuss the concept next week, and they’re armed with 3 different ideas, the U-T reports.

The Ferris wheel would be one of the tallest structures in the city. Rides are expected to be pricey at $25-$30 each. The reception to the idea so far has been on the chilly side, reminiscent of the 2011 debate over a proposed 500-foot waterfront “Wings of Freedom” art project and there’s sure to be a lot of talk about whether the big wheel will block views.

Tiny Del Mar’s Big Message: Get Lost

Del Mar to One Paseo: Drop dead.

That’s the message from the elected leaders of the county’s tiniest city about the proposed $1 billion One Paseo project in Carmel Valley. For background, check our story about how the project fits in with smart-growth benchmarks.

L.A. Stadium Drama Continues

The owner of the St. Louis Rams has his eye on building a stadium in L.A. that could potentially be a new home for his team… or the Chargers. Now, the owner isn’t returning the calls of St. Louis city officials.

Sounds rude. But, as the L.A. Times notes, teams have long used the prospect of teams moving to Los Angeles to pressure cities into coughing up money for stadiums. The Chargers, in fact, are one of the most perennial players in this dance.

• Pro hockey coming back to San Diego? Get out. No, it might happen! (U-T)

Quick News Hits

• San Diego’s gay bars have a storied history as places where an underground community could gather as far back as the 1950s. But gay life is changing, and gay bars have become somewhat less central to the community, although the Hillcrest area is still home to several of them.

One venerable local gay bar, Bourbon Street in University Heights, is closing and may not reopen in anything like its current form. (U-T)

The Republicans are coming! They’ll meet here next week.

• Local Dems, meanwhile, are about to choose their party chair, and incumbent Francine Busby — a failed congressional candidate — has a battle on her hands. (CityBeat)

• Local legislator Toni Atkins, the state Assembly speaker, is pushing a bill to make it harder to sell ivory and easier to protect elephants. (SFGate)

• The arrest of a local attorney who allegedly threw a booze-fueled party for his underage daughter is getting national attention. More than 100 teens supposedly showed up at the party, dubbed a “a Playboy Mansion-themed rager” by one blog.

• “Columbian rainbow boa slithers out of toilet in downtown San Diego,” said the L.A. Times headline. Click. And may I add, clickety click click click.

“At about 5 pounds, the snake was underweight and shedding. Also a bit grouchy. It bit a handler,” the paper says. The snake appeared in an 1886 building that used to be City Hall.

Fun fact: That’s the building that a mayor-elect’s cronies actually broke into at 2 a.m. on the day of his inauguration in 1905 amid the prospect that a judge would prevent him from taking office. Once inside, the mayor-elect declared himself mayor, and that was the end of that, although a local paper said wasn’t “too amiable in spirit” that day.

Sheesh. Snakes, mayors: What is it that makes everybody over there so darned moody?

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

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