It’s a case of same-as-it-ever-was: As in the past, the layoffs planned by the San Diego Unified district will hit poor schools the most because they’re the ones avoided by teachers who have the seniority to get out of losing their jobs.

In fact, the 20 schools facing the most teacher layoff notices are overwhelmingly poor; at 16, at least 75 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunches. “Because teachers are placed in schools based on seniority, the more senior teachers generally seek more affluent schools with better test scores, and the system has a detrimental impact on the poorest schools,” our Mario Koran reports.

While the district and teachers union wouldn’t provide lists of schools with highest layoff rates, we obtained them. The percentage of teachers facing layoffs at the 20 schools ranges from 39 percent to 80 percent. Most are elementary schools, many with small numbers of teachers.

Opinion: Density Isn’t a Dirty Word, But …

San Diegans haven’t been big fans of density lately, as they’ve objected to several proposed developments.

So are we a bunch of anti-density Neanderthals who’ll continue scarfing up land and fossil fuels because we prefer it that way? Nope, writes John Horst, former chairman of the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group, in a VOSD commentary. Instead, he argues, “what folks don’t like is the traffic and other problems that come when new density and development aren’t preceded by necessary infrastructure upgrades.”

He adds: “Once permits are issued and development commences, there is currently no process in the city or county — nor political will — to enforce promises of infrastructure. The older neighborhoods where density is being proposed first need significant upgrades to streets, sewer, water systems and public facilities like fire stations.”

City Attorney Mara Elliott has signaled that she’s open to tiny homes as a possible legal solution to homelessness: “We’ll be watching San Jose, the first city to try this approach, to learn from their experiences,” Eliott tweeted Tuesday. For background, check the U-T’s coverage.

Convention Center Vote This Year?

Mayor Kevin Faulconer is pushing for a vote on a convention center expansion this year, the U-T reports. At issue: Should taxes on hotel guests be hiked to help pay for it? Two-thirds of voters would have to agree, a pretty big obstacle in tax-averse San Diego, even among the tiny number of voters who’d be expected to turn out. A mayor’s office official says the rush is to get it approved before construction costs go up even more.

The measure could include money for street repairs and help for the homeless too.

Politics Roundup: Brown Lays it Down

Gov. Jerry Brown is in Washington D.C, where he’s warning of armageddon and supporting legislation that would require the president to go to Congress and get approval before using nuclear weapons, reports the New York Times.

He’s also bashing the American Health Care Act, or Trumpcare, saying a big expense will come calling in 2020 under the GOP plan: “It’s real when you, all of a sudden, send a $6 billion tax bill to the state of California,” reports the L.A. Times.

Trumpcare Vote: Where Issa Stands

With the big House vote scheduled today on Trumpcare, one local Republican, Rep. Darrell Issa is now listed as “support or lean yes” by the New York Times, although he’s expressed skepticism recently, and the L.A. Times was still listing him as a possible no vote.

The other local Republican, Rep. Duncan Hunter, is a definite yes.

Wallethub is out with a ranking of larger American cities based on how much Trumpcare would affect people who buy their own health insurance instead of getting it through work or Medicare/Medicaid.

Residents in Yuma, Ariz., not far from us, would be the most devastated: The average tax subsidy there for those with individual insurance coverage is now $12,815 and would decline by $7,815 under Trumpcare. In Escondido, average subsidies would actually grow by $2,983; they’d grow by $3,458 in Oceanside and $5,000 in Chula Vista and San Diego.

A Shocking Death at the Border

Three years ago, a 16-year-old crossed the border into the U.S. at San Ysidro and was pulled aside. The Washington Post explains what reportedly happened next: “He was carrying two bottles of liquid that he claimed was apple juice. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers told him to drink it to prove he wasn’t lying, court records say. The teen took four sips. Then, he began sweating profusely. He screamed and clenched his fists.”

The boy, who was actually carrying liquid meth, died. Now, the U.S. will pay his family “$1 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit brought against two border officers and the U.S. government.”

An MTV podcast called The Stakes visits the border’s Friendship Park, “the only place where people on either side may meet face-to-face.”

The AV Club, a pop culture news site, summarizes the episode: It’s a “heartrending story focuses on many of the people who seek to make the park a sanctuary, from a yoga teacher leading binational classes to a pastor preaching salient messages of freedom. It’s the story’s central figures who offer the clearest picture of the awful and random nature of immigrant affairs today. They are a pair of recently separated siblings: one a legal U.S. citizen by birth, the other brought into the country at age 2 and recently deported during a routine status check.”

Remembering the Black Panthers in S.D.

KPBS explores the history of the Black Panthers in San Diego; the organization is now reactivating. In the 1960s, the group “provided meals for the elderly, opened health clinics and served food to the homeless. They also started a breakfast program for schoolchildren.”

But their rise was also marked by controversy and violence. “According to a U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report, FBI officials helped stoke rivalry between the Panther Party in San Diego and the United Slaves Organization. Two people were killed and four others were wounded as a result,” KPBS reports. “There was also an investigation into civil rights abuses by San Diego police officers against the Black Panthers.”

For Once, a Development Fight Has a Happy Ending

Here’s some news you don’t see every day: a happy ending over a high-profile development. An attorney tells VOSD’s weekly North County Report that a settlement agreement over a Carlsbad development in the Aviara neighborhood is an example of how “when parties are willing to work together, a project can benefit the residents, developers and the city.”

Also in the North County Report: More about Carlsbad’s Big Brother approach to monitoring drivers in the city and another housing lawsuit in Encinitas. And: County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar is taking the raise she didn’t support.

Real city, fake news! A new satirical story begins this way in The Onion: “ENCINITAS, CA — Intently scanning the room for signs of fatigue or excessive perspiration, local gym member Brian O’Grady reportedly kept a tally Monday of how many people were in worse shape than him.”

It’s like I have a twin!

Quick News Hits: All Un-Together Now …

University of California schools have already hiked their tuition by 2.5 percent, and now the powers that be at the California State University have raised tuition by about 5 percent, the L.A. Times reports. However, the tuition hike won’t affect about 60 percent of CSU students, the paper says, since they have scholarships or waivers.

Those retro black-and-yellow California license plates are a hit, with more than 230,000 issued in just a few months.

A bar in Kearny Mesa plans to expand to 14 private karaoke rooms where small groups of people can gather to sing poorly without getting mocked by bar patrons at large.

Oh man. How am I supposed to feel superior now? If this trend keeps up, I may have to resort to Plan B — silently heckling random people who hum on the street.

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 ( 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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