Author Archive for Richard J. Riehl Archive Page 0
At its annual retreat last Tuesday Carlsbad’s City Council decided to forego listening to the usual parade of reports from department heads. They engaged, instead, in a creative visioning exercise, imagining the year was 2025 and Time magazine planned to do a cover story on the city. Council members were to suggest headlines and teasers for the story.
One headline declared the city “An oasis of prosperity, quality of life, and innovation.” Among the teasers were, “How a small city is raising its future workforce in its own world class university” and “Recession proof your city a la Carlsbad.”
One council member drew characters on a white board depicting a father working in a high tech company, his wife shopping, their kids reading books from a world class library, and their dog running unleashed in the city’s open space. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: City Leaders Envision Carlsbad 2025′
It could happen here. In fact, it did happen here two years ago, on October 8, 2010, when a mentally ill gunman jumped a fence, entered the Kelly Elementary schoolyard and began firing at kids ranging from 7 to 11 years old. Two seven-year-old girls were struck in their arms. It was a miracle nobody died. Had the shooter been carrying the same semi-automatic rifle used by the Sandy Hook Elementary School killer the result would have been a tragedy of the same magnitude.
Yesterday, after several days of grieving for the families who lost loved ones in that small town in Connecticut, we were greeted by a press release from the Carlsbad School District reporting that a high school student had “threatened to cause harm” to other students on December 21. The threat had been made “prior to” the Sandy Hook tragedy. The student has been identified, and school officials say there is “no reason to believe the student has the means to act on this threat” and that they’re keeping in “close contact with the family and school authorities to determine the appropriate next steps in keeping the campus safe.” Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Sandy Hook Could Happen Here’
A San Bernardino County charter school failed for the second time this year to win approval to open a campus in North County. Carlsbad school district trustees voted unanimously last week to reject the Oxford Preparatory Academy’s charter proposal. In January the Oceanside school board took the same action on OPA’s bid for a school there.
Charter school supporters often claim school district opposition is driven more by union and administrative protectionism than what’s best for students. On December 6 the newly politicized version of the North County Times, for example, reported the charter school proposal had been turned down mostly because it contained overly-optimistic enrollment and budget projections and a lack of interest shown by local teachers.
But closer look at the facts shows how rejecting the school’s proposal was clearly in the best interests of Carlsbad students. It was not a matter of school district protectionism. In fact, a review of OPA’s curriculum and the students it already serves at its Chino and Capistrano campuses reveals how the school fails to live up to the legislative intent of California’s 1992 Charter School Act. Carlsbad and Oceanside school officials were right to give it a failing grade. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Charter School Flunks Again’
My name is Richard and I’m a recovering newspaper junkie. After trying the more fat, less filling version of U-T San Diego’s North County Times Lite, I canceled our subscription last month.
They didn’t make it easy for me, continuing to deliver the ad-bloated pages of self promotion posing as a newspaper at our front door for two more weeks in hopes I’d fall off the wagon.
I now get my regional news fix from sources free of U-T San Diego’s political agenda: San Diego NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, Voice of San Diego and San Diego Reader; and neighborhood news from The Coast News, Carlsbadistan.com and Carlsbad Patch.
I’ve kept my withdrawal symptoms under control by succumbing to the sensual pleasure of what the New York Times calls “the tuck,” “the delivery,” and “the crinkle,” with a subscription to the Sunday edition. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Confessions of a News Addict’
After comparing their school test scores with statewide results you’d probably agree Carlsbad’s 5th graders, like their Lake Wobegone classmates, are all above average
When No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2002 it was supposed to produce 100 percent grade level proficiency in English and math for all students by 2014. But to this date only 59 percent of California 5th graders have reached proficiency in English, only 63 percent in math. By comparison, 79 percent of Carlsbad’s 5th graders are proficient in English and 80 percent in math.
But the greater concern about these scores is the lingering achievement gap separating students by family income. Californian’s should care because 59 percent of the state’s 5th graders come from low income families. Only 47 percent of them are proficient in English, 55 percent in math. That doesn’t bode well for the state’s future workforce, which will need higher level skills than today’s workers. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Pay Now or Pay Later for Schools’
You could hear a collective sigh of relief in school district offices throughout California after voters approved Prop 30 on Tuesday. Not that happy days are here again for school funding. The Carlsbad school district has already cut costs by $6.1 million this year. Teachers, managers and other school workers pitched in with $2 million of that amount in pay cuts.
If Prop 30 had failed to pass, another $4.8 million would have been slashed from city schools, amounting to a hit of nearly $11 million in a single year.
But the best news from Tuesday’s election results is that the air is beginning to leak from the anti-tax Tea Party balloon. Maybe it’s the irony voters are beginning to see in the public’s eagerness to contribute millions to political campaigns to support candidates who pledge not to raise their taxes by a dime and who hate government so much they’ll say or do anything to win a seat in it.
Last week Carlsbad City Manager Lisa Hildabrand unexpectedly announced her retirement, effective at year’s end. But inside information from reliable sources speaking off the record suggests the occasion won’t be marked by a gold watch and tearful goodbyes. In fact, if you listen closely, you may hear city worker bees humming a tune sung by Munchkins in the Land of Oz.
On Tuesday, October 16 Hildabrand met with city council members for her annual performance review. Following that meeting she began negotiating a separation agreement with City Attorney Ron Ball. It provides severance pay of $192,000, equaling 10 months of her current salary, to be paid in a lump sum no later than January 15, 2013. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: City Manager “Retires”’
Yesterday afternoon I went to the North County Times online to ask for a vacation hold for a couple of days while we’re out of town. The website no longer recognized me as a subscriber, so I had to resubmit my street and email addresses.
This morning I got an email in reply, thanking me for “subscribing to U-T San Diego’s digital only edition. We know you have several options in how you receive your news and are glad you chose us.” It was signed “Papa Doug Manchester.”
That reply and the death of the only other choice of a daily newspaper in North County sealed my decision to extend that vacation hold request to forever.
The first three days of the North County Times under Manchester’s ownership reveals its new brand: just an added section to U-T San Diego, gratuitously carrying the familiar blue NCT masthead (adding “U-T” to it) dishonestly designed to reassure North Countians they haven’t lost their daily newspaper. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: R.I.P. NCT, Hello Big Brother’
According to a local newspaper columnist, allowing Carlsbad’s new high school to sit empty for at least a year is the answer to the district’s financial woes. But T.K. Arnold’s argument for delaying the opening of Sage Creek High is about as watery as the school’s fictional namesake. A closer look reveals how his politics trumps his punditry.
Calling Prop 30 “Gov. Jerry Brown’s blackmail ballot” tells you all you need to know about Arnold’s political bias. But what’s equally troubling is his reasoning. In a facts-free claim, he says the district could “save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year” in operating costs that could be used to close a gaping budget hole as high as $11 million” if Proposition 30 fails. The mixed metaphor (I’m trying to picture a “high” hole) could make you chuckle if the subject weren’t so serious.
Arnold doesn’t bother to estimate the cost of letting a $104 million high school campus remain vacant for at least a year, as well as the loss of learning opportunities to students denied access to new facilities. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Showdown at Sage Creek’
Getting fan mail from elected officials is one of my pet peeves. They want “my opinion on the issues,” they say. But what they really want is the answer to a question not included in their questionnaires: “Do you still love me?”
To add insult to injury, I’m paying the postage for their reelection campaign.
If politicians made decisions based on their deeper understanding of the issues, rather than their popularity, their newsletters would be more informative and voters could make better choices at the polls.
It’s doubtful the Civil Rights Act would have won the popular vote in the general election of 1964, the year Congress passed it into law. Our elected representatives had the courage to do what was right, at the risk of popular opinion. The Democrats lost the Solid South because of it.
Fast forward to this year’s Election Day in Carlsbad. By putting Proposition A on the ballot, the City Council found an easy way to shirk their responsibility for making tough decisions. What could be better for elected representatives than being allowed to decrease city employee benefits, but requiring a vote of the people to increase them?
It’s a politician’s dream. Continue reading ‘Get Riehl: Prop A is Council’s Sweet Deal’