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If you haven’t been reading some of the watchdog coverage from the Union-Tribune of the Sweetwater Union High School District, take some time and give it a read. It’s a good example of how persistent reporting and public records tell us important things about what government is up to:
• Today the U-T broke the news that public relations consultant Scott Alevy charged Sweetwater for time he spent running a gala for a nonprofit that he leads.
The paper previously found problems with Alevy’s billing, too. It talked to people Alevy had billed the district for meeting with, only to have them say they didn’t remember meeting with him or remembered the meetings differently than he did. The school district hired a former U.S. attorney to probe the billings.
• Superintendent Jesus Gandara has a meals allowance, but was still racking up thousands of dollars in meals on a school district credit card. The school district decided to cancel the credit card after the news broke.
• Gandara said cutting up the credit card would curtail his community outreach. But the U-T found that most of those meals went to the Sweetwater board. Gandara said he was reporting back to them on outreach.
Kudos to Ashly McGlone, Wendy Fry and former reporter Tanya Sierra for their work. Know of other things we should be digging into, in Sweetwater or elsewhere? Please let me know!