Wondering if your school district has borrowed money using the get-money-now-pay-a-ton-later approach being used by Poway and others? Check our five-part guide to figuring out what taxpayers in your neck of the woods are on the hook for.

We got a number of inquiries from taxpayers, parents and journalists wanting to know if this goes on in their area after our story highlighting how the Poway district will pay nearly $1 billion to borrow $105 million. Let us know what you find.

The district, by the way, has issued a statement defending itself saying, essentially, that it’s important to look at the big picture of borrowing to fix schools and think about other funding.

Poway’s ultra-expensive borrowing continues to draw national attention. The Fox Business Channel network posted a story and aired two TV segments, which you can watch here and here.

Also: In response to a complaint from a blogger who’s been covering the Poway situation, we explain how we came across the story, and we give credit where it’s due.

Flawed Crime Stats, Again

We recently reported that crime stats used to bolster the police department’s desire for more funding were flawed. Two top police union officials wrote a letter in response, saying the media needs to be focused on the big picture. At the same time, they claimed “crime was up again in June, meaning it has been up for six straight months.”

We checked out that claim too and found that it’s false, apparently because of confusion. A police official tells us violent crime is up over the first six months of this year compared to last year.

Defending Contemporary Music

Anna Daniels, a retired librarian and writer for San Diego Free Press, appeared at our Meeting of the Minds event last week to talk about some of her favorite concerts presented by the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and show how modern music is anything but “inaccessible at worst and… terrible at best.”

You can watch a video of her presentation here. She was one of six presenters who offered up quick-fire takes on an art scene in San Diego. In case you missed the event, we’re posting all the videos here.

Letter: Affordable Housing

As our Fix San Diego focus on affordable housing continues Johnny Winkelman, a former building inspector who became a lawyer representing small builders, says he doesn’t have hope that cheaper homes will be built here.

“I simply have lost confidence that our elected officials can make the hard decisions necessary to promote success … Without a limitless supply of taxpayer funds San Diego will not have its share of affordable housing no matter how much rhetoric is pondered.”

DeMaio and Tony Young Team Up

The quality of education in the city and what to do about it were one of the big issues in the June mayoral primary.

Now, San Diego City Council President Tony Young, a Democrat, and Councilman Carl DeMaio, the Republican in the mayor’s race, announced they are planning a joint council meeting in September to talk schools, NBC 7 San Diego reports.

The pairing of the two council members is intriguing since Young has been cagey about whom he’ll endorse for mayor. The rest of his Democratic colleagues on the council have lined up behind Bob Filner. In the primary, young teamed with Republican-turned-independent Nathan Fletcher on education, but also didn’t endorse. 

County’s Top Man Out

Walt Ekard, the county’s top administrator, will step down in December after 13 years on the job “in which he used tight-fisted budgeting and multi-year spending plans to largely avoid fiscal turmoil gripping governments across the country,” U-T San Diego reports.

Ekard had this to say in a 2008 memo: “Believe it or not, there are many in the government business who are innovative and creative and clever and smart and honest and trustworthy and, frankly, more than worthy of the money you pay them. We bureaucrats are not just a bunch of incompetent pinheads who spend our days scheming to make your lives more miserable.”

(Well, OK. But I have to admit I’d jump for an application to be an incompetent pinhead who schemes to make people miserable. Sounds like fun!)

The board waived open-meeting rules and quickly appointed a successor, Ekard’s assistant, Helen Robbins-Meyer.

Quick Hits

• San Onofre nuclear plant news: “State regulators say they plan to study whether [Southern California Edison] should lose its ability to recoup the full $680 million cost for four replacement steam generators, which were installed in recent years at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and quickly developed problems that have shut down the plant since January,” the NC Times reports.

For a big picture look at the San Onofre troubles, check Rob Davis story from last month.

• Ten translators employed to interpret federal wiretaps are suing, saying the DEA forced them to take illegal lie-detector tests, CityBeat reports:

“Those who sat for the examinations, which reportedly lasted more than four hours each, say DEA agents ignored polygraph protocol by failing to provide appropriate notice or pre-test written documentation and by asking the subjects probing questions about romantic infidelity, personal finances, mental-health treatment and, in at least one case, whether the translator had ‘engaged in sexual activity with animals.’”

A Ghost of a Chance in Court?

The Whaley House in Old Town is said to be the most haunted house in the country. It’s feeling a chill these days, but not from any spirits. A company that makes horror films that go straight to video (always a sign of top quality!) is distributing a new one called “The Haunting of Whaley House.”

CityBeat finds the movie leaves a lot to be desired. And the organization that run the house — the Save Our Heritage Organisation — says the movie leaves a lot to be potentially litigated.

“The information available on the film depicts the Whaley House as a location of significant paranormal activity, which results in the exposure of visitors to unimaginable horrors and physical violence,” a rep says.

We certainly wouldn’t want to expose visitors to “unimaginable horrors.” That’s what junior high is for.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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