On Monday, the mayor, city attorney and a county supervisor got together to announce that a possible thing is possible: A special citywide election could be held this year on whether a plan for a new football stadium should go forward.
This was mighty peculiar. Who holds a press conference to announce they could do something that everyone knows they could do? The three men clearly did this to send a message: Hey, Chargers, we can too move quickly to give you what you want, even if we have to hold a costly election.
VOSD’s Scott Lewis writes: “They don’t want to have a vote in December. They aren’t ‘aiming for’ a vote in December.” The statement, Lewis writes, is purely a rebuttal to a skeptical football team.
In fact, county supervisors aren’t willing to say they’d change their rule requiring county voters to weigh in. Most of its leaders have said nothing about a vote for the hundreds of thousands of county residents who live outside the city. Supervisor Dave Roberts told us, though, that he won’t support using county funds without a countywide vote.
Lewis explains some of the many other issues that remain unresolved.
• Nobody seems to have figured out how much a special mail-in election would cost, but a $2 million figure is floating around. (It’s very expensive to hold an election when one isn’t scheduled.) That may not sound much for a huge city, but it’s roughly the amount that the City Council added to the newly approved budget this week to boost library hours.
SD Schools Skirting Law on Space for Charters
The San Diego Unified school district is going to give a friendlier welcome to charter schools thanks to a court ruling that declared Los Angeles campuses weren’t doing enough to allow charter schools to share space. As VOSD’s Mario Koran reports, it all has to do with adjusting policies so that charter schools won’t be short-changed when it comes to space. It turns out San Diego Unified was calculating space for charters in the same way L.A. Unified was — and the state Supreme Court tossed that method out.
“The end result could open up more space to charters,” Koran writes. “That would be good news for the local charter school community. Especially in cash-strapped early years, it can be financially impossible for charters to purchase their own buildings. And without a school, it’s more difficult to attract parents, build enrollment and bring in the funding that follows students. It’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma.”
Even when a new charter school does find space, it may have to share it with a regular public school. That can be more than a little awkward.
• CBS 8 examines how San Diego schools may start before Labor Day next year.
Transit System Scores Well
MTS doesn’t lose as much money per passenger ride as many other transit systems. That’s the word from CityLab, which checks out a report on transit system losses.
CityLab notes that subsidies for public transit have plenty of critics, but buses and trolleys and trains help with environmentally friendly density. And, it claims, “drivers don’t pay enough in gas taxes to cover the cost of road maintenance and expansion, nor do they pay any fees at all for the massive annual social costs they impose through congestion, pollution, and safety.” (Of course, public transit causes those same things.)
$320M for Drought Relief Sits There
“More than $320 million that was supposed to be rushed to drought-stricken California communities sits unspent in government bank accounts more than a year after lawmakers voted to use the money to provide water, protect wells from contamination and upgrade outdated water systems,” the AP reports.
Culture Report: Veterans Speak
VOSD’s weekly Culture Report focuses on how military veterans are telling their stories through a locally based public radio series called “Incoming.” The show, heard on KPBS, is looking for national distribution on public radio, and a live stage reading is coming up next week in South Park.
Also in the Culture Report: Plenty of news about arts in Tijuana, donuts, John Lennon’s guitar and a positively pissy mural.
Quick News Hits: Popped
• Another former employee is lobbing accusations against embattled Supervisor Dave Roberts. (NBC 7)
• The Port of San Diego might be getting its first-ever female CEO. (Pacific Maritime Online)
• The long-troubled Sweetwater school district, which runs middle and high schools in the South Bay, has a new superintendent. The district is still recovering from a massive corruption scandal. (City News Service)
• Hmm. This sounds familiar: Stand-alone homes in San Diego are selling for a bundle. In May, the median sale price — not the average — was a hefty $530,000, up $10,000 just from April. “The most expensive listing sold in the county in May,” City News Service reports, “was a six-bedroom, six-bath, 4,000-square-foot home on the coast in Del Mar, which went for $11 million.”
• Burned popcorn set off a fire alarm at the County Administration Building Tuesday, forcing an evacuation. Meanwhile, a hungry hawk carrying a snake got electrocuted when it collided with a power line and set off a fire near General Atomics.
The hawk didn’t make it. No word about the ultimate fate of the snake, who may have escaped ending up in a stomach. Or the popcorn, for that matter, which may have avoided the same fate.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.