Back at the beginning of the school year last fall, before lead was discovered in the water of multiple schools in San Diego, a parent at Sunset View Elementary in Point Loma requested that officials test the school for lead.

Indeed, lead was discovered in a device at the school through which all water passes before it reaches sinks and faucets. What did San Diego Unified officials do with that knowledge? Officials told one person: the parent who’d asked for the test to begin with. They did not notify parents schoolwide, or take any steps to address the issue.

That’s because, officials say, the lead level didn’t trigger any further action. The lead detected was at 15 parts per billion, a number that, if it popped up now, might have caused a different reaction: “When the State Water Resources Control Board announced a new lead testing program in January – three months after the tests at Sunset View – it used a tougher standard, the 15-parts-per-billion standard, which was already used by the state’s Division of Drinking Water to ensure the safety of municipal drinking water supplies,” Ry Rivard reports.

The district said it has evidence that the drinking water within the school was not contaminated, “because five samples taken at fountains inside of the school showed lower levels of lead in the water.”

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher has introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would require schools to notify parents about any test that showed more than 15 parts per billion lead in school water.

City Uses a Loophole Around Prop. B Requirement

The city of San Diego is facing a budget deficit of more than $80 million, and Mayor Kevin Faulconer is pondering controversial moves like big cuts to arts funding in order to close the gap.

A major reason the city, as well as other government entities, are facing big deficits even as the economy stays strong: pension obligations.

And despite a 2012 voter-approved measure aimed at reining in pension costs, Prop. B, the city is still doling out raises to employees.

Prop. B mandated a five-year freeze on “pensionable pay” but left a loophole: “The ballot measure allows the city’s top brass to increase pay, significantly if they desire, for workers who get promotions,” reports the Union-Tribune. Since Prop. B, the city has given out large raises “by utilizing two existing job classifications — program manager and program coordinator — with unusually high salary maximums.”

A spokesman for the mayor said the promotions are lawful, and that they also fit within the spirit of the law, which was never intended to discourage merit-based promotions.

Crowe Case Lingers Over DA’s Office

Much of the discussion surrounding the likely appointment of Summer Stephan as the next district attorney has centered on the process: By hand-picking her successor, the thinking goes, current DA Bonnie Dumanis is handing Stephan a tremendous advantage when she runs for a full term in 2018.

A new Union-Tribune piece focuses on another peculiar piece of this puzzle: Dumanis won over then-DA Paul Pfingst based largely on criticisms of the explosive Stephanie Crowe murder case. Yet Dumanis now wants Stephan, the lead prosecutor on that case, to become DA.

Under Pfingst’s leadership, Stephan tried to prosecute Stephanie Crowe’s brother for the girl’s murder. That case fell apart when Crowe’s blood was found on the shirt of a transient who was in the area the night of the murder.

Crowe’s mother is upset at Dumanis for endorsing Stephan. “Another sucker punch from someone who promised to be on the side of justice, but turns out only cared about my murdered daughter as a campaign prop,” said Cheryl Crowe, Stephanie’s mother.

Dumanis said that Stephan inherited the case, so it’s not fair to blame her for it.

The Day in Ocean News

• After the tragic death of a Syrian refugee teenager who was visiting a San Diego beach, a nonprofit has begun offering swimming lessons to refugee families. (NBC San Diego)

• The uptick in shark sightings off of San Diego beaches can be traced in part to a 1990s ban on near-shore nets. (NBC San Diego)

 Can the vaquita, the critically endangered Mexican porpoise, be saved? (Union-Tribune)

Quick News Hits

• Our Scott Lewis spent three segments with NBC 7’s Gene Cubbison and Tony Perry to discuss national politics, local ballot measures and the ascendancy of Summer Stephan as the so-far uncontested candidate for district attorney. Lewis also appeared on KPBS’s Roundtable.

• Dana Littlefield dug into the county grand jury recommendations on how to better protect inmates in county jails from committing suicide, and the Sheriff’s Department’s response. (Union-Tribune)

• Traffic headed into San Diego on Interstate 15 is getting worse. (Press-Enterprise)

• A San Diego Superior Court judge has led a team tasked with finding ways to modernize California courts with the help of technology. He talked to the San Francisco Chronicle about what his group found.

• Sadly the San Diego Gulls hockey team did not advance in the playoffs this weekend. However, our region has a team advancing to the semifinals of a elite professional sports league: The Xolos are one step away from appearing in the championship match of the Liga MX.

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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