San Diego Unified’s headquarters in University Heights seems stuck in the 1950s, and not in a hipster midcentury-modern sort of way. The building just looks tired. It’s dilapidated and has no air conditioning. But trustees have been reluctant to invest a dollar in it.
Now we have learned the staff wants to dump the property via a land swap. The district has sought proposals in which a developer could get the district’s valuable land and the district could get a new spot, close to a freeway for its 700 employees.
But a local attorney is crying foul.
He wants to know why they aren’t getting an appraisal of their land. And he “contends that this runs against the state’s Public Contracts Code, which requires large public works projects be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. The law aims to prevent favoritism and fraud and can help ensure the public gets a good deal for construction,” our Ashly McGlone reports.
Learning Curve: Child Development Centers to Close
In this week’s VOSD Learning Curve, our Mario Koran finds that “district leaders plan to close four more of the child development centers that offer preschool programs for children whose parents are working or going to school and meet income eligibility guidelines.”
The district says the reasons for the closures are low enrollment and a plan to reorganize early education programs. Koran chats with a parent whose daughter attends a child development program that’s not slated to be cut.
Plus: Answers regarding the district’s public records process are still pending, perspectives on charter schools and the environment, and more.
Homelessness Is ‘National Disgrace,’ Newspaper Says
“Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis is a national disgrace,” the L.A. Times says in the lead piece of a series of editorials tackling the causes of homelessness, including government inertia and ineptness, and the possible solutions.
“No matter where you live in L.A. County, from Long Beach to Beverly Hills to Lancaster, you cannot credibly claim today to be unaware of the squalid tent cities, the sprawling encampments, or the despair and misery on display there,” the paper says. Sound familiar?
Yesterday’s editorial asked: “How can a place with 58,000 homeless people continue to function?”
• KPBS checks in on efforts to move homeless from tent shelters to permanent homes.
• It’s common for advocates to help the homeless by giving them vouchers for stays at motels. What happens then? “Some are welcomed, some treated warily, some kicked out,” The Orange County Register reports.
Public Safety Roundup: Bridge Suicides Continue at High Pace
Last year, the number of suicides off the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge reached 18, the second-highest annual toll in history. As I reported in a VOSD story last week, suicide prevention advocates believe a barrier such as a fence or net should come before a $10 million project to dramatically light the bridge at night. But while preliminary efforts to explore a barrier are underway, there’s no sign that there will be an extra delay in the lighting project, which will make the suicide magnet more iconic.
But the suicides continue. Three people have jumped to their deaths from the bridge so far this year, the county medical examiner’s office reported yesterday when I asked for updated statistics.
• “Federal indictments unsealed in San Diego Wednesday charged 37 alleged gang members with heroin, methamphetamine and firearms trafficking, in many cases within feet of North County schools.” (City News Service)
• Oceanside, the county’s third-largest city, is thinking about boosting its sales tax by a half-cent to support public safety and infrastructure. (Fox 5)
• The number of tickets for illegal driving in local carpool lanes in 2017 more than tripled the 2015 total, reaching 4,547, NBC 7 reports. It’s not clear why the number has gone up by so much, but a CHP officer says it may have something to do with new freeway carpool lanes.
• A proposed state bill would ban purchases of rifles and other long guns by anyone under 21. (L.A. Times)
PLNU Grad Raps University Over Pastor Case
“A young San Diego woman is suing her former pastor, alleging he duped her into having sex in the guise of ‘sexual healing’ therapy, while he alleges in his own lawsuit that she made private, graphic communications between them public as revenge when he ended their consensual relationship,” the U-T reported last month. The pastor is John Wright, a professor at Point Loma Nazarene University and a now-former pastor at Mid-City Church of the Nazarene.
In a scathing new U-T commentary, Point Loma Nazarene University graduate Joel West, who made a name for himself as a local musician and is now a film composer in Los Angeles, writes that “my cynicism swelled as I watched him join the cowardly tradition of weaponizing the legal system as a response to bad behavior being made public.”
He adds: “Every day that this lawsuit remains active, and every day that PLNU and Mid City Church of the Nazarene remain quiet, a message to current and future victims becomes further solidified: that if they come forward, they will learn the hard way not to challenge someone’s privilege.”
N.Y. Times Shows Self-Awareness: It’s Alive!!
If you’re looking for a fun new parlor game, maybe try getting your friends together to search the N.Y. Times for insulting, out-of-touch and/or bizarre interpretations of life in Southern California.
Case in point: the paper’s recent outlandishly patronizing depiction of L.A. as a civic wasteland that “has not developed the political, cultural and philanthropic institutions that have proved critical in other American cities.” Los Angelenos roundly attacked the paper, with my favorite response coming from L.A. Times reporter Matt Pearce via Twitter late during the evening when the article appeared: “WAKE UP EAST COAST AND FIGHT ME.”
As we told you a few days ago. L.A. Times columnist Gustavo Arellano got on the case of the NYT about a geographically incorrect choice of words: “FOR THE TRILLIONTH TIME, WE DON’T CALL THEM BODEGAS HERE.”
As the Times put it in its daily California newsletter, “dozens of replies and hundreds of retweets later, consider the message received. We could have called it a ‘liquor store’ or simply, a ‘store.’”
Yeah, and “convenience store” or “corner store” would have worked too… right? Maybe not: “But that admission doesn’t really do this topic justice. The internet is full of pieces that lay out the subtle distinctions between ‘convenience stores,’ ‘delis,’ ‘liquor stores,’ ‘bodegas’ and establishments that would seem to blur the lines.”
Quick News Hits: Passive, Meet Aggressive
• Thousands of Qualcomm workers are helping to support businesses like restaurants, dry cleaners and dentists in Sorrento Valley. What happens if the company gets bought and leaves? The U-T explores the looming tough prospects.
• Consumer advocates don’t like the proposed San Onofre nuclear plant settlement. (KPBS)
• “It was almost like old times. Everywhere I looked Tuesday in a downtown San Diego courthouse, I saw a former California Coastal commissioner whose conduct is under scrutiny,” writes L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez. “Former Commissioners Wendy Mitchell, Martha McClure and Steve Kinsey were all there, with current Commissioners Erik Howell and Mark Vargas expected to join the party soon. The reason for the reunion is that they’re all being sued.”
• A court case is exploring one of the most bizarre deaths in San Diego history: the strange and notorious demise by hanging of a young woman named Rebecca Zahau at a mansion in Coronado. Her family says she was murdered by her boyfriend’s brother; the Sheriff’s Department ruled her death a suicide. (NBC 7)
• The Mira Mesa neighborhood has new playing fields at Mira Mesa Community Park. (Times of S.D.)
• California Dreamin’… of getting the heck out of here? A new U.S. News ranking suggests we might be quite miserable in the Golden State: It says we have the lowest quality of life in the entire nation.
“In addition to a healthy environment, a person’s quality of life is largely a result of their interactions with those around them,” U.S. News declares. “Studies show that when people feel socially supported, they experience greater happiness, as well as physical and mental health.”
Let us gather together as one state and, as is our wont, passive-aggressively complain about this poor ranking. We’re not mad, U.S. News. No, really! Sure, you just want everything to be so perfect and wonderful. But whatever you say is fine. It’s fine!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.