Before the big fires, ex-county supervisor Jack Walsh cut brush around his mountain retreat without talking to the forest service. He ended up paying a $4000 fine ... The San Diego City Schools Police Officers Association, the union representing school police, is blasting school chief Alan Bersin for slashing cops at some of the district's biggest schools, including La Jolla High, Scripps Ranch High, and Clairemont High. "We have been told that the 12 positions were 'inadvertently removed from the budget you approved in May of 2003,' " says a letter to the board of education last week from union president Alfonso Contreras. "A loss of 12 budgeted positions is a 30 percent staffing decrease in direct police and safety services to our schools. Already this year, there have been five school-related shootings in this country, including one in our district." Alfonso goes on to say that school administrators are already planning to make the cuts permanent in next year's budget. Insiders note that there have been no school drug busts during Bersin's tenure, reflecting a serious lack of enforcement ... Meanwhile, San Diego Unified staffers are ramping up their effort to develop a big chunk of district-owned property on Commercial Street in Barrio Logan. Next Wednesday night, the public is invited to a district-sponsored review of two contenders for the site: MAAC Project and Bronze Triangle. MAAC's ex-chairman is current city councilman Ralph Inzunza, and the nonprofit group is believed to have the inside track. The multi-acre site is said to be worth millions of dollars, and district chief Bersin is expected to argue that the district needs the money to balance its troubled budget, reported to be currently $14 million in the red ... Bob White, the ex-Pete Wilson aide from San Diego playing a big role in governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger's new administration, is reportedly heading back to San Diego to set up his own political consulting and lobbying practice. But White, known as a dandy-dressing European shoe hound during Wilson's mayoral days here, has another headquarters, this one at his own $750,000 second-home hideaway purchased last year in ritzy Palm Desert ... Ex-GOP congressman Claire Burgener, who developed and named Clairemont after himself, is now a victim of Alzheimer's disease and is being honored at an upcoming fundraiser by the Lincoln Club.
Disconnect The signs around downtown say "Bandwidth Bay," but computer-savvy travelers attempting to log on to the free wireless computer network purportedly offered at the Santa Fe Depot say they're unable to connect. Not to worry, says Matt Spathas of Sentre Partners, which has set up promotional wireless "hot spots" at office buildings and other public places around downtown. Spathas promised to investigate, explaining the depot is served by DSL, which he says is more prone to trouble than the rest of the system, but as of two weeks after he said he'd look into the matter, the depot's wireless was still off-line ... Mitz Lee, wife of Jeff Lee, who narrowly lost his 2002 school-board bid to Katherine Nakamura, is running for an open seat in district A, which was redrawn by allies of Superintendent Alan Bersin to evict incumbent Frances O'Neill Zimmerman. After his defeat at the polls, Jeff Lee gave up politics and is now enrolled in professional culinary classes at Grossmont College, where he has a scholarship from a national chefs' organization.
Corporate effluent It's a wake-up call for those naïve enough to think that the plan to turn raw San Diego sewage into drinking water is really dead: the San Diego regional chapter of the "Water Reuse Association" scheduled a luncheon meeting yesterday at Cuyamaca Gardens in El Cajon. The major topic: "Beneficial Reuse of Reclaimed Water for Industry, Irrigation, and Aquifer Recharge in the State College, Pennsylvania Area," by David Yoxtheimer, of USFilter, the huge water-treatment contractor. Also on the bill was a speech by John Ruetten of Resource Trends: "Public Perception of Indirect Potable Reuse." Decoded, that means "toilet to tap": taking sewage effluent and treating and filtering it enough to be put into the groundwater supply for later pumping as drinking water. An attempt by the Susan Golding-led San Diego City Council to set up a similar toilet-to-tap plant was beaten back by adverse public opinion, but that hasn't stopped engineering companies like USFilter from continuing to pitch the idea. Public officials attending the water-reuse presentations in El Cajon were invited to a free lunch by the company ... Much has been made about the late Joan Kroc's donation of $5 million to local public broadcaster KPBS and $200 million more to National Public Radio. There was a glowing write-up in the New York Times of how KPBS fundraiser Stephanie Bergsma repeatedly chatted up the hamburger heiress in the months before her death. No mention in any media, however, of the fact that KPBS is not a nonprofit institution per se, but actually licensed to state government and ultimately run out of the office of SDSU president Stephen Weber.
-- Matt Potter