A critical SANDAG vote on a huge, $200 billion transportation spending plan is scheduled for Friday. At stake is nothing short of the next 35 years of transportation planning for the entire San Diego region. Leaders from all over the county will register their support or opposition to the plan, which could impact everything from highways to bike lanes for decades to come. But Mayor Kevin Faulconer won’t be there to cast a vote, Andrew Keatts reports.

Instead of voting on how transportation is going to be developed in San Diego for the next 35 years, and whether $200 billion is being spent in the right way, the mayor has opted not to attend the vote “because of a previous commitment to appear at an event at the Veterans Village of San Diego,” Keatts writes. Faulconer will delegate City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf to vote, instead.

Faulconer says he supports the controversial $200 billion plan, though many environmentalists say it clashes with Faulconer’s own bold Climate Action Plan for the city. A spokesman for the mayor says his support for the SANDAG plan doesn’t conflict with his own climate plan — but he still won’t be voting on the former.

• Not all city leaders support the plan. Leaders from San Diego and National City on Thursday urged SANDAG to vote the plan down. (KPBS)

What Is SANDAG, Anyway?

SANDAG has been referred to as the “United Nations” of San Diego-region governments. Representatives from neighboring cities all have representatives on the SANDAG board and they make decisions about transportation needs both big and small. As Keatts has reported, they often show remarkable agreement despite being from different parties and representing different interests.

It’s a powerful group, made even more so by the amount of money they have access to. Scott Lewis and NBC’s Monica Dean break down how SANDAG works and where the money comes from in our most recent San Diego Explained.

The Urbanist Pitch for City Attorney

Rafael Castellanos is an attorney who works with developers to get their projects built and realized. But he’s got his eye on the city attorney seat opening up in 2016, and he thinks his experience in developing urban, walkable neighborhoods is exactly what San Diego needs.

Castellanos is the latest candidate for city attorney to be interviewed in a special podcast episode by Scott Lewis, who has already put questions to candidates Gil Cabrera and Mara Elliott, with more interviews to come. Castellanos told Lewis that having a land use-savvy lawyer in the city’s top legal position is critical if we want to build a city for the future. “I think it’s really, really important right now when millions of dollars are at stake and people’s way of life,” Castellanos said.

The Learning Curve: Teacher Swap Edition

Around this time every year, parents of school-aged children may notice something amiss in their child’s classroom. That’s because this is the time when the school district performs the dreaded “teacher shuffle;” some teachers must be moved to different schools or some classes must be combined due to student enrollment numbers settling down. All that teacher movement is hugely disruptive to classrooms, Mario Koran reports in the latest Learning Curve.

“Kids need to readjust to a new educator. Teachers need to establish a new set of classroom norms,” Koran writes, which essentially erases much of the progress those students have made since the beginning of school in September. The district has tried to explain why it does the shuffle, and how, but the process still leaves parents with a lot of complaints. We could fix the whole thing by just hiring more teachers, Koran assures us. “But that will cost us – $36 million to be precise.”

SeaWorld: Big Tanks Yes, More Whales No

SeaWorld was back in spotlight on Thursday after the California Coastal Commission ruled it can go ahead and build huge new tanks in which to keep their captive orca whales. In return, the commission extracted promises from SeaWorld that the park won’t house whales taken from the wild after 2014. “SeaWorld also agreed to not increase its orca population except through occasional captive births or rescues authorized by government agencies,” according to Fox 5.

Issa Might Be Eyeing Top House Job

Thursday saw confusion descend onto the House of Representatives after the top candidate for the speaker of the House election abruptly dropped out of the race “as lawmakers ate barbecue and sipped sodas during what was expected to be a pro forma vote,” the New York Times reports.

As a result of uncertainty over who will be next to lead the House, word around the way is that San Diego’s own Rep. Darrel Issa may want the job, according to The Hill.

Let’s Do Some Governing

This week from the pen of G. Jerry Brown flows never-ending ink, as he sits daily approving or vetoing the pile of legislation that has arrived on his desk recently. He’s got until this weekend to sign or nix all the bills passed this session.

• A bill by Speaker Toni Atkins to allow fishers to sell their fish directly at fish markets got passed. Last year, we were the first ones to report on how San Diego fishermen were struggling to break through all the red tape to open their dockside market. Local lawmakers took note, and helped the market open. Atkins’ bill is a shot at replicating that success around the state.

• A bill by Lorena Gonzalez designed to rein in Civic San Diego got the thumbs-down, with Brown saying it’s a local issue not deserving of a state law. After business groups failed to get the bill shot down in the Legislature, they plowed huge efforts into lobbying the governor directly. In response to the veto, Gonzalez vowed the bill would rise again, even in the face of what she called “an army of lobbyists.”

• The Hanford Sentinel dove into a list of what they call “useless” bills they are glad Brown has vetoed.

News Nibbles

• Sen. Dianne Feinstein released a report on drone safety in California. One of the report’s findings: San Diego is near the top of cities with the most incidents of “reckless consumer drone use.”

• City Councilman David Alvarez thinks the predicted El Niño weather warrants declaring a state of emergency now so we can “perform channel maintenance.” (KPBS)

• A new study found that when the city taxes stuff, the result is that the city then gets money. (NBC 7)

Share the Road

At a meeting of four local mayors on Thursday, the mayor of Poway admitted he rides his horse in bike lanes. The problem with mayors who ride their horse in the bike lane is that they don’t follow the same rules of the road as all of us bicyclists have to. Bike lanes are for cyclists, period. Horse riders, people on Segways, rollerbladers, rickshaws, unicycles, dog sledders, skateboarders and pedestrians would all ideally compete for space on the sidewalk, kind of like “The Hunger Games.”

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at voice@s3th.com, or better yet follow him on the Twitters: @loteck.

Seth Hall

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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