This week, we’ve been getting national attention for Will Carless’ story Monday about the $105 million borrowing at the Poway Unified School District that will cost $981 million to pay off. 

Poway, however, is not alone. Districts in San Diego and Oceanside — plus the district that runs elementary schools in Escondido — have borrowed money in similar schemes that don’t require any payments for many years.

The borrow-now-pay-later-when-many-of-us-are-dead deals are known as capital appreciation bonds. Property owners don’t pay higher taxes now, but instead, as Carless explains, “the burden for paying for the bonds is pushed to future generations, who are left on the hook for loans that are wildly more expensive than conventional bonds.”

The San Diego district’s loan — which requires $1.25 billion worth of payments later to borrow $164 million now — won’t be paid off until 2050. 

Carless notes something else: “all three of those bond measures were floated for the same reason: To finish off previous bond programs that had been started in the districts years before but hadn’t yet finished because of cost overruns and delays.”

You can watch Carless talk about the deals — including the one that he uncovered in the Poway district — on CNBC (whose host called Poway’s “probably the worst loan ever”) and listen to him on public radio’s “Marketplace.”

By the way, if you’re following this story, keep in mind that the Poway district doesn’t just serve Poway. Parts of San Diego, including Rancho Bernardo, are in the district too.

Fact Checking the Military’s Role

You’ll often hear people in suits talk about how big of a role is played by the military here. But how big is it? Are we home to the largest concentration of military in the country?

San Diego Fact Check is looking into the question and we have some — but not all — of the answers.

By the way, we’re changing how we handle Fact Checks. As our Keegan Kyle explains, “rather than Fact Check a bunch of claims about different topics each month, we want to try to set themes over a period of time, allowing us to drill deeper into issues. This allows us to build expertise rather than just hop between topics.”

Women’s Role in the Arts

At our Meeting of the Minds event, one of the speakers was Javier Velasco, artistic director for the San Diego Ballet, who spoke about the wide-ranging contributions women make in local dance and theater. You can watch the video here.

Also in culture news, check out our weekly Arts Report, which recaps the Meeting of the Minds event and notes the latest news about the Museum of Arts prank mess, George “Lt. Sulu” Takei’s new play at the Old Globe, Mission Hills murals and more.  

Comments on ‘Papa Doug,’ the U-T and the Car Museum

Our story about the U-T’s new vintage car museum at its headquarters — the city’s investigating whether it has permission to exist — spawned anti-U-T comments along with a critical take on VOSD’s coverage. “We should just anoint Doug Manchester Czar of San Diego and let him do what he wants,” writes Dennis Michael of the newspaper’s brash new publisher; another commenter conjured up Mel “It’s Good to Be the King” Brooks. But Christy Scannell, a board member of the local Society of Professional Journalists chapter, wrote that “this article is slanted in its language and implications.”

The media blog FishbowlLA noted the story and made an observation that has crossed more than a few minds: “the idea of an automotive showplace at a daily newspaper office makes no sense whatsoever.”

Quick News Hits

• The Padres have been sold to the O’Malley family, which used to own the Dodgers. The team was pricey ($800 million), despite its poor performance, and there’s talk that the team may finally get a budget to buy top players. The U-T puts it this way: “Baseball’s Prince Charming just kissed a toad.”

• SDG&E would like ratepayers to fund its capital investments at a rate of 11 percent, but an independent government regulatory agency thinks that’s a bad idea and believes a 8.5 percent return is more like it: “It is unwarranted for SDG&E to charge its customers a rate of return for its investors that is out of line with the current market conditions.” (NC Times)

• “Jay will be missed,” U-T sports writer Don Norcross wrote the other day. Sports editor Jay Posner has been transferred: He’ll be the paper’s Arts & Entertainment section editor.’s Larry Graham has been hired to be the U-T’s executive sports editor.

• The first woman in history to referee an NFL game will make an appearance at the football stadium on Thursday night when the Chargers go up against the Packers in preseason play, NBC San Diego reports. But don’t get too hopeful: this isn’t a sign of the NFL becoming woman-friendly. Turns out that the league has locked out the regular referees.  

Will the referee, Shannon Eastin, have to fend sexist comments and jerky players? Our own Sally Ride, who passed away last month, sure did. As we noted, her pioneering ride into space in 1984 was met with jokes and insulting questions.

If Eastin can avoid all that nonsense almost three decades later, it’ll be out of this world.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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