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Roundtable: DeMaio Fundraising, Public Records Access, Teacher Training Grades

Evening Edition

Aired 6/21/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

HOST

Mark Sauer

GUESTS

Claire Trageser, KPBS News

Scott Lewis, Voice of San Diego

Kyla Calvert, KPBS News

Transcript

Carl DeMaio Running Again

After Carl DeMaio lost the race for Mayor of San Diego last year, he continued to raise funds for his political advocacy group, Reform San Diego.

For this type of group, there are no upper limits to contributions. He relaunched the group in January with no cap on the funds he could collect. But that’s over now.

DeMaio announced last month he would run against Scott Peters for the 52nd District Congressional seat. Federal election law prohibits raising unlimited funds to even “test the waters” for a possible campaign, to say nothing of actually running for office.

So, the funds he collected for Reform San Diego cannot be used directly for his campaign, but his campaign may benefit indirectly from those funds.

DeMaio asserts that the Reform San Diego funds and his campaign funds are completely separate, even through they shared a P.O. box and a phone number. The day the inewsource/KPBS story was published, the phone number on Reform San Diego's website was changed to a different number from his campaign number.

Public Records Act A Moving Target

Evening Edition

The California Public Records Act, which was in danger of becoming useless by becoming voluntary, has been given a last-minute reprieve. The law mandates that local governments and agencies comply "in a timely manner" with all requests for public records.

There was a howl of criticism, mostly from the press, at the proposals to make compliance with the law optional. The California Assembly blinked first, on Wednesday rescinding its decision to gut the law, which was going to the Governor as a rider to its budget bill.

The State Senate at first said it would hold fast to its own rider weakening the law, but it caved Thursday, as did the governor.

The need for making the law optional was said to be budgetary, as the state must reimburse local governments when they comply. But some wonder if it's really an excuse to keep sensitive information out of the public eye.

Teacher Prep Program Rankings Criticized

The National Council on Teacher Quality and U.S. News & World Report, which ranks U.S. colleges each year, have issued a report for the first time ranking teacher preparation programs.

Just 9 percent of the 1,200 programs in the U.S. received three or four stars, the highest ranking. One of these was UC San Diego, which received a high ranking for its high school teacher training program.

Officials at UCSD, however, were skeptical of the results, which were based on documents and curricula only. Those conducting the rankings did no site visits or interviews.

Two-thirds of California’s programs were given the report’s lowest ratings. Many institutions, including San Diego State University and the University of San Diego, also had concerns about the methodology so they participated only minimally, through required public records. The same was true for many public universities in other parts of the country.

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