As the president dreams of walls, owners of a mammoth piece of property at the border have another goal in mind: A cross-border hub that brings people together to work and live instead of dividing them.

Our Maya Srikrishnan reports: “The plans include moderate-priced housing meant for both San Diegans and Tijuanenses. They include industrial space for Tijuana’s manufacturing industry, which developed in part because of its proximity to the U.S., as well as expansive green space and nature preserves, something lacking in Tijuana and influenced by the efforts to conserve such spaces on the other side of the border.”

What about the White House and its anti-Mexican rhetoric? One of the people behind the project says that won’t be a problem. If the United States won’t play ball, she says, the project will go forward with the help of the next country willing to work with Mexico and build maquiladoras there.

Translating S.D. Unified’s Spin

To hear San Diego Unified officials tell it, their $124 million shortfall isn’t all bad. It’s a “plan for school stability” that will result in #strongerschools.

Of course, hundreds of people may lose their job in the process. Poor schools will be affected the most, and there’s an uncomfortable truth — the district had been told that it was spending too much and would face a crisis.

To catch you up on the reality vs. the spin, our Adriana Heldiz and Scott Lewis put together a handy video to explain how we got here and what’s happening.

• The local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has given its “Wall Award” to San Diego Unified, accusing the district of stonewalling journalists. You can read about the district’s failings on the open government front here. The chapter says “the district’s actions lead us to conclude that it doesn’t value openness and transparency.”

The chapter gave the exact opposite honor, the “Window Award,” to Lauren Mack, a very helpful spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And our contributor Brooke Binkowski won the Sunshine Award, “which honors efforts to make government more transparent and hold elected leaders accountable.” She’s managing editor of the fact-checking website

Issa: I’m Not Who You Think I Am

Here’s an unexpected headline about one of the most prominent and endangered members of Congress: “Rep. Darrell Issa tells protesters outside his office that he’s not as conservative as people think.” (L.A. Times)

Wait, is the grand inquisitor of President Obama really a closet liberal? Well, not quite. But says he is the 30th most liberal Republican out of 237 House representatives based on his record from the 2015-2017 congressional term.

Water Official Decries Outcry Over ‘Scum’ Tweet

A board member with the Otay Mesa Water District, which serves about 220,000 people in the South Bay and has a $92 million operating budget, has sparked an outcry from the public and colleagues after making anti-Muslim remarks via Twitter, such as “Let’s pressure our legislators to prevent #subhuman #scum from #USA to #MAGA” and “This is how the left learns #Muslim #Islam #Sharia aren’t compatible with any form of #civilsociety #equality.”

The board removed board member Hector Gastelum from committees and banned him from water district events, but he’ll still be on the board and able to attend monthly meetings. (NBC 7)

He’s told 10News that “it’s never my intention to be hurtful,” an intriguing comment considering that he called people “subhuman scum.” (The Reader says there’s dispute over whether he was talking about all Muslims or just terrorists.)

Hundreds of local schools are testing lead in their water, a huge uptick, in the wake of revelations about high local lead levels, NBC 7 reports.

“Prior to NBC 7 Investigates series ‘Safe to Drink,’ very few schools had accessed the free program across the city and state,” the station reports. “As of March 29, the latest state data available, more than 300 schools in San Diego County had reached out to their water utility to set up the tests.”

NBC 7 has a map of the results as they come in.

Port Dumps $44M Headquarters Plan

The waterfront is home to a glorious old public building (the art deco County Administration Building, formerly City Hall) and a not-so-glorious old public building (the staid, window-challenged Port District administration building).

Looks like the second building will be serving its purpose for a while longer. The port has dropped plans for a $44 million replacement, the U-T reports, amid concerns that replacing the current building with something else wouldn’t be cost-effective.

Also, “the port board officially tapped OliverMcMillan and Sunroad Enterprises to recycle the old rental car lots on east Harbor Drive, which were vacated last year when a new rental car building opened on Pacific Highway.”

Missing Activist Is Alive in Mexico

Hugo Castro, a local advocate for migrants, has been found and is alive after making a harrowing online video saying that his life was in danger, KPBS reports. In the video, he said he was on a highway near Mexico City and being hunted by criminals.

Culture Report: The Scams Haunting Artists

It’s become quite common for authors to pay someone to publish their work, turning self-publishing into an acceptable, if often profit-free, way for writers to try to make money. And many writers write for free on sites like Huffington Post, seeking “exposure.” But, as a someone once said, you can die of exposure.

Artists often find themselves confronted by a similar option: They can pay to enter a show and exhibit their work. As this week’s VOSD Culture Report notes, there’s plenty of debate about whether this is a scam.

“The whole pay-to-play scheme is just that, a scheme to get participation fees, jury fees, submission fees, entry fees, whatever up front money they can squeeeeeze the artist for under the guise of ‘well-known curators,’” one artist wrote on Facebook when our arts editor Kinsee Morlan asked for perspectives. But another artist says submission fees can be perfectly appropriate.

Also: City Council members are fighting back against cuts in arts funding, the Timken Museum and the San Diego Symphony have war on the mind, and art from Rep. Duncan Hunter’s Congressional Art Competition will be on display. Yes, that’s the same guy who made a big stink by taking down a winner of another congressperson’s Congressional Art Competition. Go figure.

Quick News Hits: Calexit Leader Takes a Powder

• Delores A. Jacobs, longtime CEO of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, is stepping down. “During my tenure as The Center’s CEO,” she writes, “I became a parent for the second time, legally married my wife and became a grandparent for the first time. It’s simply time for me, and my family, to begin the next chapter.”

• Here’s something else to worrry about: the breakdown of coastal flood insurance. (N.Y. Times)

• The teeny, tiny city of Del Mar won’t allow vacation rentals. (NBC 7)

• One of SeaWorld’s only two polar bears has died after a sudden illness. (NBC 7)

• Remember the 30-year-old local guy who moved to Russia (after failing to beat Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in the election) and created a campaign supporting the secession of California from the United States? His rivals in the Golden State secession complex — I’ll hold while you let that sink in — muttered that he was cozying up to Russians.

“Hands off California, Putin,” another group tweeted. “We won’t take orders from your puppet Moscow Marinelli.” (For his part, Marinelli says he has a Russian wife and went to college there. However, he’s mum about his perspective on Vladimir Putin.)

Now, Marinelli is back in the news, this time to announce from Russia that his role in his Calexit plan is kaput, and the project seems to be done-ski too. “He says he’s staying there for good and ending his association with the movement,” the L.A. Times reports.

He writes that he’s sick of “anti-Russian hysteria” and he looks forward to a future that’s “detached from the partisan divisions and animosity that has thus far engulfed my entire adult life.”

Fortunately, he’s in Russia, where partisan divides are so early 20th century.

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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