The story behind San Diego Unified School Board President Marne Foster’s role in an ugly shakeup at her son’s school last year keeps getting worse as more details trickle out.

Mario Koran dug up the most damning information yet in the story he broke a few weeks ago. Kim Abagat, head counselor at School for Creative and Performing Arts, says she was suspended from her position because she wrote an honest college evaluation of Foster’s son.

“I was punished for telling the truth,” she said.

A replacement evaluation of Foster’s son by a different counselor was dramatically better, and said he ranked in the top five percent of his class, although his grade point average appears to rank him 100th out of 147 students.

Emails obtained by Koran, as well as copies of both evaluations, cast doubts on other elements of Foster’s previous defenses that she overstepped her authority.

This wasn’t Abagat’s first run-in with Foster over her son.

At the beginning of the year, Abagat was assigned as Foster’s son’s counselor, but Foster asked he be reassigned to another counselor. She said she’d look into it, which didn’t seem satisfy Foster.

“She just stood there and looked at me. And then she said, ‘Do you know who I am?’ I said, ‘Yes, you’re Malachi’s mom. I knew what she wanted me to say – that she was on the school board. But I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction,” Abagat said.

In Pursuit of Public Art

For better or worse, the most identifiable element of public art in San Diego might be the painted utility boxes adorning its neighborhoods.

But the process of making neighborhoods more interesting by letting individual artists repaint each box is pretty haphazard. In North Park, an owner of an art supply store named Jason Gould decided to go about it more deliberately.

“North Park is an arts district, right?” he asked me when I talked to him about his utility box project last year. “But where’s the art? I didn’t see it.”

His project has now encouraged a business organization on Adams Avenue and San Diego Gas and Electric to seek him out to keep making the city more interesting.

“Until someone tells me, ‘no, stop doing it,’ then I’m going to keep doing it,” he said.

One Voice at a Time with Shirley Weber

Assemblywoman Shirley Weber got a lot of people’s attention earlier this year when she implored her colleagues support a bill that would’ve required student performance to be used in teaching evaluations.

“If we are not about the business of improving the lives of children, in multiple ways, then what the hell are we doing?” she asked.

We’ll try to get to the bottom of just what the hell we are doing in California’s schools in a lengthy, candid, one-on-one talk with Weber tonight, from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Creative, Performing and Media Arts School.

Reserve your free ticket here.

University Researchers Solving City Problems

San Diego and UC San Diego are part of a new White House program called MetroLab Network meant to link universities with the cities they call home to help with basic municipal problems.

The idea is, cities would hand over the reams of data they collect on all the different services they provide, and university researchers would look to make improvements wherever possible.

San Diego’s partnership will focus on transportation, planning and infrastructure.

• Local civic-affairs fanatic Jeffrey Davis poked a little fun on Twitter at Mayor Kevin Faulconer, noting the conceptual similarity between this new endeavor, and the Civic Innovation Lab, which he shuttered upon taking office.

Chargers Keep Printing Money

Amidst the dire-sounding prospects of the Chargers getting a new stadium from San Diego, you might have thought the team’s ownership had been feeling down.

But according to a newly released estimate from Forbes, the franchise managed to increase its value by an astounding 53 percent last year to $1.5 billion.

Even still, that placed the Chargers at just 22nd on the list of NFL franchises. You know what they say about businesses in which you can threaten to relocate if your home city doesn’t agree to build you a $1 billion headquarters.

Keep the Receipt

Turns out, presidents at Cuyamaca and Grossmont College get a pretty nice benefits package. They have documentation-free expense allowances from their schools. The union for community college professors has objected to the policy letting school administrators collect $850 a month without showing any proof it went towards professional expenses, reports the Union-Tribune.

The Local Lawyer Who Represents ‘the Worst of the Worst’

The New Yorker is out with a lengthy profile of Judy Clarke, lawyer for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev, a client who fits her penchant for defending what the Supreme Court called “the worst of the worst.”

With dozens of people exonerated while on death row, it’s assumed many individuals facing execution are in fact innocent.

“Clarke does not represent such individuals. Her specialty is what the Supreme Court has called ‘the worst of the worst’: child rapists, torturers, terrorists, mass murderers, and others who have committed crimes so appalling that even death-penalty opponents might be tempted to make an exception.”

The San Diego attorney is driven by “an intense philosophical opposition to the death penalty,” the piece says.

Quick News Hits

• There’s another money laundering investigation into Jose Susumo Azano, this time in Mexico. If you happened to miss it, here’s Liam Dillon’s extensive investigation from earlier this year into the Mexican billionaire’s foray into San Diego politics.

• KPBS reports that Chula Vista is pursuing plans to offer obscenely fast Internet to help generate interest from developers to build in the area. Our Maya Srikrisnan last week covered another way Chula Vista hopes to attract developers.

• A La Jolla community group is making one more effort to stop UC San Diego from building more student and graduate housing on the school’s East Campus. (Union-Tribune)

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at

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