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Perkins Elementary School in Barrio Logan overlooks downtown San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

We have good news, and some bad news when it comes to the state’s list of worst-performing schools..

Seven out of nine San Diego Unified schools included on the list last year improved enough to get their names off this year. That’s great. But, as those schools improved, new data shows even more fell behind.

According to a new analysis by Voice of San Diego, 12 of the district’s traditional schools will automatically be added to the statewide list of underperforming schools. That happens when schools rank worst and next-to-worst in each of several categories measured by the state, reports Will Huntsberry. This includes factors like test scores, suspension rates and chronic absenteeism.

Those schools are then targeted for extra support and funding to help improve outcomes. 

Huntsberry dug into the list to see which schools were included, and why.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of San Diego Unified schools on the list.

Newsom Won’t Call Special Election in 50th District

Gov. Gavin Newsom will not be calling for a special election following the resignation of San Diego Rep. Duncan Hunter, reports the Associated Press.

Hunter announced his resignation, effective Jan. 13, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Gavin Newsom Tuesday, almost six weeks after he pleaded guilty to a felony involving the misuse of campaign funds.

Because the filing deadline for the March primary ballot has past, Newsom was left with two options: leave the seat vacant until the November election or call a special election.

Based on the timing, said the governor’s office in a statement to KPBS, a special election would not be called.

‘We Are Simply Asking for Data’

This week, Lisa Halverstadt reported that MTS officers wrote 61,560 fare evasion citations in 2018 — more than double the citations from just two years earlier. That’s much higher than other large metro systems polled by VOSD, including San Francisco, Denver and Washington D.C.

In a new op-ed, John Brady, director of advocacy for the Voices of Our City Choir, and Mitchelle Woodson, executive director of Think Dignity, say they’ve repeatedly asked MTS to provide data that would shed light on the true cost of its fare enforcement. So far, they’ve heard nothing.

“We are not saying that the San Diego MTS should not be proud of its low fare violation rate, nor are we saying that regular fare scofflaws should not be penalized,” write Brady and Woodson. “We are simply asking for data so the people of San Diego can understand what the true costs of fare violations are.”

What McNamara and Diaz Agree on

Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara announced his support for Measure A this week. Despite their rocky relationship in recent weeks, McNamara echoed City Councilwoman Olga Diaz’s reasoning for supporting the measure.

If passed, it would require voter approval of most development projects seeking an exemption from the county’s general plan. Both Diaz and McNamara say a similar citywide rule in place in Escondido has worked out well.

Also in the North County Report: Officials named a culprit for the Poway water debacle and Oceanside residents turned in signatures to place a referendum on the ballot that could allow voters to reverse the City Council’s decision to approve North River Farms development.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Accusing Unions of Extortion, Bribery

After fighting with hotel and construction unions over attempts to expand its Bahia resort on Mission Bay, Evans Hotels filed a lawsuit more than a year ago arguing organized labor’s lobbying and political practices amounted to extortion and bribery.

A district court dismissed the suit this week, siding with unions that argued they merely exercised their First Amendment rights, as the Union-Tribune reported.

Evans Hotels alleged Brigette Browning told a City Council member that the union she runs, Unite Here Local 30, would withhold future campaign contributions unless they opposed the Bahia expansion plan, or if Evans agreed to remain neutral on any unionizing efforts at the hotel. Among other allegations, the company’s lawsuit also argued unions killed a deal Evans Hotels had with SeaWorld after unions threatened to oppose future SeaWorld projects, unless Evans struck a deal for the Bahia expansion.

But U.S. District Judge William Hates ruled the behavior fell under the First Amendment’s rights for citizens to petition the government, and the lawsuit would have infringed on that right.

He said the allegations did not amount to bribery.

“Payments to public officials in the form of . . . campaign contributions, is a legal and well-accepted part of our political process,” the judge ruled.

Evans Hotels said it is assessing its options, including appealing the ruling.

In Other News

  • SeaWorld’s attendance is on the rise according to its new CEO, Serge Rivera. In a memo to employees, Rivera said theme park attendance grew by 2 percent during the last quarter of 2019. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego State Aztecs’ head football coach Rocky Long is retiring. The university announced Wednesday that Long will be replaced by Brady Hoke, the team’s current defensive line coach. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego Unified is following several other Southern California school districts in suing Juul. The district alleges the the company has played a role in “cultivating and foresting an e-cigarette epidemic” that disrupts education throughout the district. (Business Wire)

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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