New data suggests that San Diego Unified campuses are in worse shape physically than they were back in 2008. Well, that makes sense, right? Time passes, and buildings deteriorate. But wait, what about that $1 billion in spending thanks to two ballot propositions?

A new report says $1.25 billion is still needed for repairs.

Is the district actually worse off than when it started? “The answer lies in a combination of factors,” VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reports. “First, the district claims the original data used to pitch the bonds was understated, creating an imperfect benchmark by which to measure the progress officials say has indeed been made. But the district hasn’t yet produced any data to back that claim.”

On top of the urgent repairs that were the centerpiece of the bond pitch to voters, the district has also spent bond money on classroom technology, fancy stadiums and swimming pools.

And there are other factors like inflation and, yes, deterioration over time. There are billions more left to spend from the district’s two big loans approved by voters, but advocates and taxpayer watchdogs are concerned about the trend.

Politics Update: Bry vs. Ellis

The U-T has a rundown on the City Council race in District 1, which encompasses some coastal communities. Issues in the race, which could give the GOP control of the City Council: a minimum wage hike and Airbnb rentals.

The city paid for a survey of residents to see if we like where we live. We do! And what do we want? Better streets and other infrastructure and better handling of the homeless problem.

Why did they need to commission a survey to figure this out? Maybe another survey will help. (City News Service)

 “An apologetic San Diego City Council on Tuesday cleared the way for the development of a two-story steakhouse in Little Italy, despite a ruling last year by the San Diego Airport Authority that the project could endanger diners in the event of a plane crash.” (U-T)

 Labor might support lifeguard union leader and former interim Councilman Ed Harris in his bid for mayor of San Diego, the U-T reports, but Mayor Kevin Faulconer is still considered the odds-on favorite to win.

 The Sacramento Bee has a handy database of gifts given to politicians across the state. Check it to see which local elected officials got tickets to Disneyland, Del Mar racetrack tickets, a hotel stay in Pebble Beach and more.

Opinion: Transit Needs Better Customer Service

Jim Stone is one of those people who take public transit as a choice despite its hassles. He actually finds it more convenient in some ways. But, as he writes in a VOSD commentary, “as much as I prefer using public transportation, it’s getting more difficult for me to like it. The reason boils down to two words: customer service.”

He describes a chaotic mess produced by a service outage on the regional transit system, and he says it’s not unusual. “Fortunately,” he writes, “there are things MTS can do.”

 County Supervisor Ron Roberts is continuing his push for a gondola transportation system downtown (yes, you read that right), while a CityBeat columnist mocks it as a “tourist gimmick.”

U-T Editor Is Publisher Now Too

Last month, my mom ordered Sunday U-T newspaper subscriptions for my brother and I. The paper didn’t show up for weeks, even though my mother called three times to complain. She finally asked me who’s in charge: Was it the editor? No, the publisher. They’re totally different jobs, I explained: One oversees the newsroom and the other runs the whole paper including all its various departments like circulation, personnel and advertising. They’re not the same!

So much for that. Jeff Light, who’s run the U-T newsroom under various owners, is now the editor and the publisher, an arrangement that’s a bit unusual for a large paper. Davan Maharaj, editor of the L.A. Times, the U-T’s sister paper, has also been named publisher-editor as part of a Tribune Co.-wide shakeup under a new chairman. (The same thing is happening at other papers.)

 In case you’re wondering, I tweeted at the U-T about the subscription snafu, and got the attention of the paper’s customer service manager. The papers did show up last Sunday; a man in a suit and tie even visited my brother to make sure he got his edition. No word on whether that was Jeff Light.

 No mint on a pillow for you, Doug Manchester! Back when the hotel magnate known as “Papa Doug” owned the U-T, the newspaper regularly gushed over accolades given to his Grand Del Mar property. Now, the paper and the hotel have new owners (although Manchester still owns a share), and the U-T has actually published a story about the property that isn’t glowing, although it’s hardly negative.

Crime Update: Data Reveals Use of Force

• “Officers in the San Diego Police Department documented a 13 percent increase in instances where force was used between 2014 and 2015 — with a sharp increase in the number of times an officer pulled a firearm on an individual,” NBC 7 reports. The department has almost 16,000 reports of force being used in 2015, although that can include the actions of multiple officers responding to one call.

Incidents of “point firearm at person” grew from 1,027 in 2014 to 1,595 in 2015.

• The juvenile hall system is under fire. (U-T)

 A reward is being offered to find the killer of wild parrots in Ocean Beach and Point Loma. (KPBS)

What’s Next for Local Rubio Fans?

As the list grows of GOP big shots who speaking out against Donald Trump, with some refusing to vote for him now or in November, some local Republican stars may soon face a reckoning. Looking at you, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Rep. Darrell Issa, who both support struggling candidate Marco Rubio. (The region’s other GOP congressman, Duncan D. Hunter, is one of the only national Republican leaders to endorse Trump.)

 Local San Diego GOP honcho Ron Nehring, former chair of the state party, will be the national spokesman for presidential candidate Ted Cruz. (Politico)

North County Report: Mall Vote Post-Mortem

VOSD’s weekly North County Report focuses on the big ballot-box fight over a new shopping mall in Carlsbad that ended with victory for its foes: “Repudiation of the project became a repudiation of the City Council.”

Plus: Police body cameras in Carlsbad, “hot” neighborhoods in San Marcos, breweries in Oceanside and more.

 There’s talk of expanding the runway at North County’s Palomar Airport, which has the potential to become a convenient secondary airport for San Diego-area passengers (like Oakland, Ontario or Burbank) but today is a hub for small planes and corporate jets. The county is working on a 20-year plan (KPBS)

Quick News Hits: Whale! Excuse Me?

 Tijuana may get a 26-story medical building at the border, with a hotel next door, designed to woo Americans who want cheaper treatments and procedures. (U-T via L.A. Times)

 Thanks to a court ruling, people who lost their homes during the housing bust, even if they weren’t paying their mortgages, could win damages for wrongful foreclosure in California, the L.A. Times reports.

 “San Diego Lifeguards Seeking Permission To Save Entangled Whales Off La Jolla Shores,” says a KOGO headline. Look, sure, some of us are big and likely to get tied up in seaweed when we take a dip into the ocean, but that’s no reason to refer to us as … Oh wait. They’re talking about actual whales. Carry on.

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 ( 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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