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The Sheriff’s Department has launched a $125,000 program to put four camera-equipped drones in the skies above us to watch what we’re up to in certain situations, and it did so without bothering to bring the public into the discussion beyond saying it was considering a program.

The ACLU advised that the department get input from the public and the County Board of Supervisors, but no community meetings were held and the supes didn’t get to discuss the drones, our contributor Jared Whitlock reports. A sheriff’s lieutenant says the department “will not conduct random surveillance activities” and “any footage that’s not of evidentiary value would be destroyed.”

An ACLU rep says “there is no information provided about how this information will be shared with third parties and if the public can use this information, including criminal defendants.”

Imperial County has one of the 10 highest jail death rates in the country, although the number of deaths is relatively small. (Huffington Post)

Pollution Board Punts on Keep-Polluting Plan

A water quality board has postponed a decision about whether to allow pollution to continue to flow through mid-city’s Chollas Creek. “The board is now also considering a new regulation that could cost businesses in the creek’s 25-square-mile watershed tens of thousands of dollars,” our Ry Rivard reports.

As we reported earlier this week, local cities could save $1 billion in cleanup costs by changing the rules about what needs to be kept out of the toxic creek.

Politics Roundup: Probe for Hunter

A House ethics committee is looking into local Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, who’s been having quite a time of it lately amid a campaign spending scandal. (KPBS)

Throwing around words like “obnoxious,” “appalling” and “hypocritical” (wonder what they’re trying to say here?), a U-T editorial blisters four county supervisors for giving themselves a hefty pay raise without any discussion: “In moving to stealthily boost their pensions by potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars, the four look more like gluttonous pigs at the trough.”

Learning Curve: Race, Class and Charters

This week’s Learning Curve column profiles the expanding debate over whether charter schools are doing a good job of educating minority and poor students. The issue has divided communities of color, and “part of that may be due to the fact evidence suggests black, Latino and students from low-income families attending urban charter schools often outperform similar students in traditional public schools,” writes Mario Koran.

The county school board, now with a couple lame ducks, almost doubled the salary of its interim superintendent to a hefty $26,581 a month for reasons that are unclear; he will make as much as the former superintendent, who left under a cloud. (U-T)

Players to Sit Out Holiday Bowl?

Football players at the University of Minnesota are miffed about a sexual assault investigation linked to the suspension of 10 players, and they’re refusing to play until they get information that they’re demanding. “The team’s players said Wednesday that have not ruled out skipping the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27 against Washington State in San Diego,” the AP reports. “They asked the bowl’s committee to be patient while they work through the situation.”

Quick News Hits: And the Wind Cries … Hendrixii

The L.A. Times looks at “a tale of two droughts in California: Wetter in the north, still bone dry in the south.” Why does this matter? “Now water officials must figure out how to deal with the disparity and its implications for managing the drought.”

 The city and Waze, the popular traffic and navigation app, are going to work together and share data.

 City Heights community groups are transforming vacant lots into things like a food market, a bike repair outfit and a pop-up movie theater. Er, strike the word “transforming.” Too understandable, apparently. The verb of the moment is “activate,” as in a group “wants to activate … idle land for community events and recently signed a temporary lease for the space,” KPBS reports.

 My eternal whining about the wretchedness of Terminal 1 aside, Lindbergh Field keeps improving. It scores sixth among large airports in the nation according to a new J.D. Power study of airport satisfaction. (Bloomberg)

 Everything bad is good for somebody. Case in point: Those estimated 102 million dead trees in California are turning tree-cutting into a very lucrative business. (L.A. Times)

 Thanks in part to San Diego State researchers, a newly discovered plant only found in a small part of Baja California will be known as “dudleya hendrixii,” which reportedly translates into “Hendrix’s liveforever.” That’s in honor of Jimi Hendrix. One of the plant’s discoverers came across the plant while listening to “Voodoo Child.”

Oh man, I’m jealous. Fine. I’m going to record an endless loop of myself reading the Morning Report so this guy can listen to it while he’s out searching for undiscovered plant life. There’s gotta be a weed out there with my name on it.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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