Commentary

Carlsbad Sign Good, Wyland Dolphin Bad

by The Editors on November 4, 2013

Cbad Sign

For the record we’ll just say this: yes, it would be nice for Carlsbad to have a proper sign over Coast Highway like many of San Diego’s neighborhoods, but please, please, please don’t put a silly Wyland dolphin on it. You know what should be on the sign, right? The icon of Carlsbad. The Encina Power Station standing mighty and tall.

[Link: UT San Diego]

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Get Riehl: City Leaders Envision Carlsbad 2025

by Richard J. Riehl on January 28, 2013

Carlsbad LogoAt 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. [click to continue…]

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Get Riehl: Sandy Hook Could Happen Here

by Richard J. Riehl on December 19, 2012

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.” [click to continue…]

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Get Riehl: Charter School Flunks Again

by Richard J. Riehl on December 14, 2012

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. [click to continue…]

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Get Riehl: Confessions of a News Addict

by Richard J. Riehl on December 4, 2012

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. [click to continue…]

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Get Riehl: Pay Now or Pay Later for Schools

by Richard J. Riehl on November 17, 2012

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. [click to continue…]

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Get Riehl: Voters Crash Tea Party

by Richard J. Riehl on November 8, 2012

No TeapartyYou 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.

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Get Riehl: City Manager “Retires”

by Richard J. Riehl on October 30, 2012

HildabrandLast 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. [click to continue…]

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Get Riehl: R.I.P. NCT, Hello Big Brother

by Richard J. Riehl on October 17, 2012

Ut NcYesterday 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. [click to continue…]

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Get Riehl: Showdown at Sage Creek

by Richard J. Riehl on October 10, 2012

Sage Creek-1According 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. [click to continue…]

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