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Online “credit-recovery courses” have become crucial for San Diego Unified School District. Last year, 20 percent of the graduating class took online classes to catch up on credits they needed to graduate.

Our reporter Mario Koran visited a high school and students showed him how easy it was to cheat these courses.

Quizzes are online but students have easy access to Google to search for answers. They watch required lectures with the sound off while they do something else and even getting credit for typing gobbledygook as answers.

“Everyone is cheating,” a student told him. “Left and right. Up and down. No matter where you are, someone is cheating. That’s a given.”

Principals and teachers say they can’t stop the cheating. The district started the program with a company called Edgenuity in 2015 and have since expanded it.

• The San Diego Unified school board cut the number of teachers who will need to be laid off by buying out veteran educators who agreed to retire. But the savings don’t last and the buyouts will end up costing more than they save.

Now our Ashly McGlone reports district staff recommended “the same payout for 600 of the district’s administrators, police and other non-teaching staff in both white-collar and blue-collar jobs Tuesday, and they were approved 5-0 Tuesday.” But that program has far more unknowns on the cost.

Why Money Is Staying in Mexico

The president is boosting patriotism in Mexico, KPBS reports, and that’s keeping some retail spending south of the border. (An estimated $4.5 billion in annual retail and entertainment spending flows from Baja California into our county.)

“The neighborhood of San Ysidro, which sits on the north side of the border, used to be a magnet for Tijuana shoppers. Not anymore,” KPBS finds.

As we’ve reported, local business leaders are worried about costly disruptions in our cross-border financial ties.

• U.S. immigration arrests and deportations are up by more than a third in the first months of the Trump Administration.

• Local Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is urging the U.S. secretary of state to take action regarding Mexican sewage spills at the border, which he says is sickening Border Patrol agents and disrupting Navy training.

State Politics Roundup: Newsom’s an ‘Early Favorite’

According to legend, a vice president once said that the VP job isn’t worth “a bucket of warm spit.” His actual quote was reportedly a bit earthier, although the relevant body fluid remained warm.

The California lieutenant governor position is almost as worthless. Many residents may not even be able to name the guy who holds the job now. He’s Gavin Newsom, and he’s an early frontrunner in the 2018 race for governor.

The LA Times checks in on him: “Newsom, 49, has deftly used his office as a platform to call for tighter gun control, legalized marijuana, a ban on new offshore oil drilling and rollbacks of university tuition hikes. Next up: universal healthcare.”

There are some weak spots. The ex-mayor of San Francisco has had a tabloid-friendly love life (just like his potential rival, former LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) and he likes to talk in tech jargon (“big is getting small, and small is getting big”). Also, he runs a group of restaurants, managing things like the “design palette of a new venue,” an unusual role for a politician.

• A state legislator is pushing a bill that “would make it a form of rape to remove or tamper with a condom during sex without consent.”

• A columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News follows up on news that it costs $70,000-plus a year to house a prisoner in California. The blame, the columnist believes, belongs to greedy prison guards. “An officer who retires at age 50 after 30 years on the job takes home 90 percent of his salary for life. How can the rest us get a life sentence like that?”

The columnist says almost nothing (only that it’s “nasty job”) about the risks and stress prison guards face.

North County Report: More Cigar Spending for Hunter

This week’s North County Report leads with a look at pending ballot box battles over marijuana and then takes note of the U-T’s reporting that never-ending questions into Rep. Duncan D. Hunter’s campaign spending continue to never end. Now comes word of $353 in spending at a cigar lounge in Alpine and about $2,000 at a hotel in Las Vegas.

Also in the North County Report: Ambulance rides in Vista may get pricier (running $1,700), the beach around Oceanside Pier is trashy (literally) and more.

Opinion: SDPD’s Why SDPD Can’t Keep Its Cops

As part of his proposed budget for the next fiscal year, the mayor wants to spend $150,000 to figure out why the San Diego Police Department has trouble keeping and recruiting officers. In a new VOSD commentary, Cornelius Bowser, a bishop at Charity Apostolic Church, says the SDPD must make pay and benefits the best in the state, but he thinks that’s only part of the picture.

Quick News Hits: On TV, Life Is Ruff

Attorney Cory Briggs, who drives local governments nuts with his many open-government lawsuits, is going after local water officials for holding private meetings. (U-T)

In a story for The Guardian, VOSD contributor Kelly Davis chronicles the highly visible blight of homelessness in San Diego, noting that a U-T columnist describes it as “a tableau of squalor and suffering.”

San Diego remains the fifth biggest convention destination in the country, according to a new report, lagging only Orlando, Las Vegas, Chicago and Atlanta, the U-T reports.

“Hoteliers and tourism leaders have repeatedly said San Diego is losing out on lucrative business without having an enlarged center,” the story notes, but it doesn’t mention that there’s been a glut of convention space amid huge construction over the past couple decades.

 The Reader drops by the Normal Heights neighborhood, where there’s a fuss over a “poop slinger,” aka “poop thrower,” aka guy who dared to “chuck a poop bomb.”

According to reports, a dog walker forgot to bring a “poopy bag” and went to his car to get one after his pooch left a deposit. Meanwhile, a miffed neighbor threw the left-behind poop on the dog walker’s windshield.

In other canine news, Dog TV, a network devoted to entertaining dogs that which went worldwide after a successful debut here a few years ago, is offering some self-obsessed programming. “Here’s my dog watching dogs watch dogs on DogTV,” tweets one fan. And yes, that’s what the dog appears to be doing.

Who’s a good TV dog network? You are!

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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