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Secret meetings. Broken promises. Spiraling costs.

Our reporters spent the year digging and investigating, trying to report what people in power would often prefer that the public didn’t know about. Here’s a sampling of the big and small stories we’ve uncovered.

Without us, you wouldn’t know that:

1. The cost of affordable housing has spiraled out of control in San Diego. Public housing projects here are wildly more expensive than private developments. Though affordable housing is supposed to provide homes for working families, our investigation found a complex system that resulted in fewer homes being built than could be. The story has spurred reform efforts at the state and local efforts.

2. City leaders have repeatedly broken promises to fix San Diego’s broken, potholed roads. We tracked how the mayor and other top officials have under-delivered on their lofty promises to improve roads. Our in-depth story explained exactly why San Diego’s roads are so terrible and how they’re getting worse.

3. Trying to appear racially sensitive, a county supervisor wildly exaggerated his role in the civil rights movement. Bill Horn said he’d worked for a noted civil rights leader. Our story debunked his claim, and much more.

4. Leaders of a local water district have repeatedly met in secret, in what appears to be a violation of the state’s open meetings law. The Otay Water District has used a legal loophole for a decade and been able to avoid public scrutiny. The same water district refused to disclose who was investing in a major $500 million desalination plant planned in Mexico. Our repeated inquiries led to them finally announcing who stands to profit from the unprecedented public proposal.

5. One school board member isn’t sure where she lives. We found evidence that she was using an apartment outside of her district. When asked where she lived, she didn’t exactly give a compelling answer. The story didn’t stop there.

6. Many schools in San Diego County flagged for earthquake inspections a decade ago never got them. Many were in the South Bay Union School District, which decided to check its buildings for seismic safety after our story, a joint investigation with KPBS and California Watch.

7. A quiet policy change that was supposed to help San Diego fight foreclosure instead allowed a public agency to spend tens of millions on non-foreclosed properties with reduced oversight. Our story prompted calls for change.

8. San Diego Gas & Electric used a suspect solar plan to help justify building a controversial power line that cuts through private property and pristine wilderness along a 117-mile swath of San Diego County’s backcountry and nearby desert. Our story explained how the effort was always a risk, despite rosy assurances from the power company.

9. New rules meant to ease access to food stamps actually made it more difficult for eligible people to get the help they need. The county’s food stamp program has long been rated the worst in the nation in connecting eligible residents with aide. Nearly year after an advisory group made recommendations to improve that system, we found some key issues they identified have gotten worse.

10. A bad cop evaded detection. Although Anthony Arevalos was known to target female drivers, police kept him in a position of great power and limited oversight. He’s now been convicted of sexually assaulting women while on drunk driving patrol.

Bonus I:Our in-depth reporting into San Diego Unified School District’s financial problems has shed new light on the district’s self-inflicted wounds. Leaders have largely blamed the state for its woes. Watch for us to continue trying to unravel this mystery in the new year.

Bonus II: And, finally, an investigation we first reported in 2008 resulted in two guilty pleas from former southeastern San Diego redevelopment officials. The Southeastern Economic Development Corp.’s top two employees pleaded guilty to embezzling public money, a crime that our reporting brought to light.

Editor’s Note: We’re a nonprofit organization that relies on donations from community members like you. If you’d like to support this kind of reporting, please consider a donation.

Rob Davis is a senior reporter at voiceofsandiego.org. You can contact him directly at rob.davis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

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Rob Davis

Rob Davis was formerly a senior reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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