Promises, promises. Seven years ago, the San Diego Unified district signed an agreement about how it would hire local workers as it launched billions in construction spending.

“San Diego County residents — not out-of-towners — would build all of the large bond projects, and at least 70 percent of workers would live within the boundaries of the school district,” VOSD’s Ashly McGlone explains. “Among them, 35 percent would come from poor, local neighborhoods.”

How’s it going? Not well. Only about 38 percent of workers come from within the school district, which encompasses a big chunk of the city, not the promised 70 percent. And the percentage from certain poor neighborhoods is short of the goal too.

“The shortcomings have not been a major point of concern for the elected school board or their 11 appointees to the citizen watchdog group that received the report on local hiring,” McGlone reports. And about that watchdog group: Its members cozily include two people who work for unions that have contracted with the district to supply workers.

• In other school bond news: The County Grand Jury is a volunteer watchdog group with a mandate to review public agency actions and make findings. It can’t do more than that but agencies are required to respond to the reports. The group has blasted the San Ysidro School District in a new report: “The district has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in long-term debt with little to show for it.” You can read the full  report here.

Politics: Meet the Non-Endorsement Endorsements

“Anthony Bernal, who is running to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, published a lengthy list of people who he said endorsed him,” KPBS reports, “but some of those people say they made no such endorsement.”

KPBS tracked down five people who say they don’t belong on the endorsement list; as of Monday, they hadn’t managed to get their names removed. Bernal’s campaign is not apologetic, and instead bizarrely referred to “confusion as to what constitutes support and what constitutes endorsement.” It’s not clear who’s confused or what they’re confused about.

The campaign also accused rival Chris Ward of trying to intimidate Bernal supporters into retractions; Ward’s campaign says that’s a lie.

• Councilwoman Marti Emerald is recovering from neck surgery that’s not connected to her recent bout with breast cancer. (Times of S.D.)

An Icon, for Better or Worse, in Tijuana Mayor’s Race

Julián Leyzaol, Tijuana’s former police chief, has been best known for methods that his detractors say are ruthless. Now, he’s running for mayor, promising less corruption and more safety, and riding in a wheelchair — one that he needs because violence struck him personally.

Last May, two hitmen shot him. He survived but was paralyzed. As VOSD contributor Roxana Popescu reports in a story profiling Leyzaol, he has new empathy for victims of crime, but that may be the extent of what’s different now. Says the man himself: “As far as my personal identity — my way of thinking, my ideology, my philosophy — that didn’t change.”

Opinion: Just Say Yes to Airbnb Rules

In a VOSD commentary, land-use consultant Joe LaCava and planning activist Vicki Granowitz take aim at Councilman Chris Cate, who’s defended residents who take in short-term renters via Airbnb. According to them, he misses the “the misuse of land for purposes that are incompatible with single-family neighborhoods.”

“Zoning must be respected regardless of the technology,” they write, “and the city should ensure that our neighborhoods are protected from the proliferation of mini-hotels.”

Post-Debacle, Even Gay Chorus Looks Bad

Somebody pressed a wrong button on Saturday night, the performance of the San Diego Gay Chorus at the Padres game got screwed up, and the entire Internet went bananas over a big nothingburger of a story. Various apologies later (including this one), an Esquire writer offers a fresh new perspective: Just about everyone involved is annoying. Yes, just about everyone. (Sounds about right in regard to most things, particularly this one.)

The writer dings the rude, the clueless stadium crew and the men’s chorus itself, which was offended by a specific catcall that’s “lays bare the misogyny at the heart of homophobia”: “If… we’re still taking ‘you sing like a girl’ as an insult, then we’re not worth our Pride Night Rally Towels.”

The proper response to “you sing like a girl” is, of course, “aww, thanks!”

S.D. Toward Top in New Businesses

Twenty large U.S. counties that make up just 17 percent of the nation’s population account for half of net new businesses, a new report says. San Diego County, the fifth most populous in the country, ranks seventh on the list with 4,160 net new businesses from 2010-2014.

Who’s above their weight class when it comes to business creation? Miami-Dade County, Orange County, and the counties that are home to Austin (Texas), Palm Beach (Florida), Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale), Brooklyn and Queens.

Who’s not doing as well as they should be based on their populations? Maricopa County (Phoenix), Cook County (Chicago) and Dallas County. (CityLab)

Culture Report: Gone Gallery

UC San Diego has had an art gallery for 50 years (news to this alum), but now it’s history: After losing funding and its sole employee, VOSD’s weekly Culture Report notes, the gallery is kaput, and critics aren’t buying the university’s defense that there are other gallery spaces on campus.

Also in the Culture Report: A circus in residence at the airport (prompting jokes galore), the end of a long tenure at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and disappointment over KPBS’s decision to not replace its departed arts editor. The U-T, meanwhile, isn’t replacing its arts and music critic. Plus: The I Love Poke Festival isn’t what you think. (U-T)

Quick News Hits: An Obit to Remember

• You’re not going to believe this. It’s just mindbending. But, hold on to your chair, water rates are going up again. To be clear, the agencies that actually deliver water to your homes could choose not to pass the increases along. This is the supplier, the County Water Authority’s, rates that we’re talking about. The agency says water conservation is hurting its revenue and imported water, along with desalinated water, is getting more expensive.

• The governor is trying to strike a blow in favor of housing supply and against NIMBYs. So who’s the opposition? Labor and environmentalists. (L.A. Times)

• UCSD, where students sports has traditionally meant little, is moving closer to becoming a Division I school thanks to a student vote. But the Big West division will still make the final call. (U-T)

• Shockingly, the NFL isn’t exactly trustworthy on concussion matters. (L.A. Times)

• The BBC drops by the border to gain insight into Donald Trump and his promise to build a larger border wall, but the reporter is challenged by geography: The story describes the border as being 20 miles south of San Diego.

• One corker of an obituary remembers a part-time San Diegan and “dysfunctional family” scion named George O’Donnell, who’s died at the age of 86, leaving behind “gallons of bourbon, vodka and gin that we have no idea what to do with as we are all sober.”

“He was self-indulgent, kind and curious, fond of jokes and unexplainable phenomenon… His good looks, joie de vivre, dancing skills and love of beautiful women led him on many romantic adventures and two more tries at marriage until he realized he was better off single and friendly,” the obituary says.

His ashes “will remain with family until we figure out what to do with them…,” the obituary says. “It would be very fitting if people had a drink of their favorite beverage to celebrate George’s passing.”

And perhaps you could enjoy that libation with someone who, like Mr. O’Donnell and others among us, enjoys being single and friendly.

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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