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Roundtable: Leaked Memo, Surplus ‘Q,’ SDUSD Staffing, Sweetwater Scandal Revisited, Zoo News

Leaked Memo, Qualcomm Stadium, SDUSD Staffing, Africa Rocks


Roger Showley, growth & development writer, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Ashly McGlone, investigative reporter, Voice of San Diego

John Wilkens, feature writer, The San Diego Union-Tribune



The Story

The San Diego City Attorney's office wrote a confidential memo to the mayor and City Council on June 15, outlining possible strategies for dealing with the Qualcomm Stadium site.

Only the memo wasn't so confidential. It was eventually given to Nick Stone of FS Investors — SoccerCity developers — who passed it on.

City Attorney Mara Elliott is, to say the least, not happy.

Meanwhile, a discussion arose in the City Council about whether Qualcomm (at age 50, a veritable Methuselah in stadium years) should be declared surplus city property. If so, it could be sold or leased right away.

The council's four Democrats would like the Q to be declared surplus when SDSU's contract expires at the end of 2018. The mayor, however, said the stadium will be surplus but not the land.

The Conversation

–What might happen should the Qualcomm property be available for lease or sale now? Who would determine what goes there?

–What do the Democrats on the council want to see happen with Qualcomm stadium?

Related: San Diego City Attorney: SoccerCity Memo Leaker Should Resign

Related: Is the 'Q' surplus? Future of SoccerCity, SDSU may depend on the answer

Related: Declare the Q surplus, say 4 City Council members


The Story

San Diego Unified School District has been losing students to charter schools and elsewhere at least since 2002.

But even as enrollment declines, the numbers and cost for staff have risen.

The district has said it will cut more than $124 million from its 2017-18 budget, which — just weeks ago — meant laying off somewhere around 1,000 employees. The numbers of projected layoffs have been shrinking, but the basic problem of increasing staff while enrollment declines remains.

Voice of San Diego attempted, beginning March 6, to get the actual numbers of filled positions from 2007 to the present, but the district has so far not provided them all.

The Conversation

–Does SDUSD acknowledge that staff has increased as enrollment has declined?

–Aren't the people laid off every year the most recently hired?

Related: Fact Check: San Diego Unified Has More Staffers but Fewer Students


The Story

The firing six years ago of Jesus Gandara, the disgraced superintendent of Sweetwater Union High School District, eventually metastasized into a big pay-for-play scandal.

The scandal resulted in felony charges and jail time for Gandara and others and exposed systemic corruption within the district.

Six community members who demanded more and better of their school district played a large role in exposing the corruption.

The Conversation

–What is the status of Sweetwater union High School District today?

–How can parents ensure their school boards and officials are on the up-and-up?

Related: The Untold Story Behind the Sweetwater Schools Scandal


The Story

This weekend, the San Diego Zoo will open the first section of Africa Rocks, an installation that will eventually cover eight-acres with a $68 million natural-looking habitat.

Africa Rocks replaces the former Dog and Cat Canyon, a group of smallish caves and grottoes carved into the hillside in the 1930s.

Times are changing for animal attractions. SeaWorld recently replaced its Shamu show when it was swamped by criticism sparked by the film “Blackfish.”

The new zoo exhibit arrives amid debate over whether zoos are needed at all. But the San Diego Zoo is still popular, arguably the San Diego institution best known worldwide.

It influences the way the public feels about animals in captivity and the way other zoos present and house their collections.

The Discussion

–Could captive animals become a thing of the past? If so, would it hasten the demise of endangered species?

–Is there evidence that the public is getting the zoo's conservation message?

Related: San Diego Zoo gets ready to open $68 million Africa Rocks exhibit

Related: Back Story: San Diego Zoo's new Africa Rocks exhibit

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