— Insiders say last week's carefully orchestrated release of test-score numbers by the San Diego Unified School District shows just how closely district superintendent Alan Bersin intends to work with Union-Tribune editors in the weeks leading up to this fall's school-board election. Instead of allowing all local media a crack at reporting the scores, Bersin provided the U-T with an exclusive advance release of the numbers, and the paper obliged with a glowing page-one article with a lead paragraph boasting that the district's schools had "improved their state test scores in nearly every grade, subject, and ethnic group, the latest results show -- offering a clear sign that the district's reforms are taking root." Not until the 11th paragraph did the story acknowledge that scores "are flat or down in some secondary grades -- eighth, ninth, and tenth -- an indication that more attention is needed in these areas, district officials said." The piece, run under the byline of Maureen Magee, also featured the laudatory comments of what it billed as two "education experts," including Michael Casserly, who runs the "Council of Great City Schools," a Washington D.C.- based urban schools lobbying group of which the district is a member. Bersin critics, who are many and vocal, were nowhere to be found in the story. The next day, the paper followed up with an editorial featuring its by-now-familiar praise of Bersin and his reform agenda.

Murphy's dilemma Don't look for any immediate help from state Democrats for San Diego mayor Dick Murphy's botched application for more than $20 million in state library grant money. Among the members of the special commission that has final authority over handing out the state cash is none other than San Diego's own Democratic state senator Dede Alpert. Murphy's problem is he's a Republican and is doing everything he can to help get fellow GOPer Kevin Faulconer elected to the city council in the second district over labor-union favorite Michael Zucchet. The mayor is also said to be thinking of running for governor, following in the footsteps of his one-time mentor, ex-San Diego mayor Pete Wilson. Thus Sacramento Dems are more than happy to allow Murphy's controversial downtown library plan to twist slowly in the wind.

Do as they say San Diegans for Clean Elections, a citizens group that tried but failed to qualify an election reform and public campaign-financing initiative for the local ballot this year, is having its own disclosure issues, says chief Cliff McReynolds. It seems the group's treasurer failed to note the dates of about six contributions and in one case left out the occupation of a donor, who turned out to be retired, says McReynolds. That brought down the wrath of the city's new ethics commission, which is seeking to have the group sign a statement admitting it broke the law and promising not to do it again. Despite the hassle, McReynolds says the group plans to make another stab at the ballot measure. "We failed miserably, but we learned a whole lot. We're going to need money, for one thing, and paid signature gatherers."

Subsidized skating While the San Diego Housing Commission is busy trying to obtain city financing for a plush $60 million headquarters and condo complex at 12th Avenue and C Street downtown, it has to find a use for some of the space it already owns on Newton Avenue in Barrio Logan. One eager new tenant is Rollerblade champ Jamie Burton. "I intend to use the 6000-square-foot warehouse space for the general purpose of training for competitive inline skating," Burton recently wrote the commission. "There will be a ramp that is 29´ x 60´ long and 6´ in height inside the space that will be used by fellow competitive inline skaters and trainers.... Myself or my fellow skaters will not use the outside common area for training. The noise level will be low and will not impact other tenants in the building. I look forward to a favorable relationship with you." Burton is paying $2500 a month for the space, according to housing commission records ... A news release from Interscope Geffen A&M Records says Steve Morris, guitarist from San Diego's Unwritten Law, was injured last week by a homemade bomb placed by a neighbor disaffected by "noise levels." Morris "sustained injuries to his arm and eardrums" and is canceling some concert gigs while he recuperates, his New York publicist confirmed.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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