The Poway Unified School District, which serves a large chunk of inland North County, is hiring a forensic accountant to look into its controversial plan to borrow $105 million and repay nearly $1 billion.
How much does it cost to hire a forensic accountant? Good question. We can’t find out. The district superintendent “didn’t say how much the review would cost the district, when it was due or why the district chose the firm it did,” our Will Carless reports.
We sent a public records request asking for information. The superintendent responded that it doesn’t have “responsive documents.” We sent more questions and are awaiting answers.
The U-T’s purchase of the North County Times continues to reverberate, and not just among the people who work for the two newspapers and face potential layoffs.
Some readers have been canceling their subscriptions, in many cases after taking the paper (and either of its predecessors) for decades. Some North County Times readers pledge to do the same thing.
We won’t know for a few more weeks whether all the hullabaloo since Manchester bought the U-T has actually affected its readership levels. But there’s more to consider about the future of newspapering in the county now that the two daily papers will have the same owner. Our Rob Davis offers four takeaways about what readers should know.
Among them: “We can say goodbye to the Times as an important second newspaper voice in the county.” Having two papers has “meant more reporters trying to right wrongs or simply tell the community what’s happening around it.”
Beware: Just like when the Union and Evening Tribune merged in 1992, you will now hear happy talk about how the combining of two papers is great for the community. In fact, having fewer sources of news wasn’t good then and it isn’t good now.
• The Times has posted a story compiling comments from U-T CEO John Lynch and publisher/owner Doug Manchester about their philosophy of newspapering. It won’t please reporters who feel their job is to, as the old saying goes, afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. Instead, the two say they support putting a positive spin on stories, especially about businesses that employ lots of people.
“All we ask for, and this is the first thing I said on Dec. 8 (after their purchase of U-T San Diego) … report the news without the oomph,” Manchester said.
How does Manchester define oomph? It’s worth a read.
• Lynch also is reported to have hinted to a forum of CEOs that the U-T is interested in buying the Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times, among other papers.
You can hear discussion about the U-T purchase of the NCT in the latest edition of VOSD Radio.
• A column by our Scott Lewis titled “The Two Faces of Papa Doug” — exploring how the publisher likes to promote positivity while slicing his foes in the U-T’s editorial pages — is our most clicked-on story of the week. Check out the others here.
(Disclosure: I’m a freelance contributor to the North County Times.)
Fact Check TV: DeMaio’s Mexico-Friendly Claim
Medical Marijuana Sales Aren’t History
Due to an editing error, yesterday’s Morning Report incorrectly said all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city of San Diego had been closed. A couple are still operating, including the Holistic Café. Sorry about that.
Quick News Hits
• A race for a judge position that would normally be low-profile has become newsworthy thank to a lawsuit, a possible gaffe and more, KPBS reports: “Local tea parties have endorsed, illegal immigration has a role and the who’s who of the legal community is fired up.”
Back in June, an obscure judge race pitted a member of the establishment against a conservative iconoclast. The right-wing candidate, a birther named Gary Kreep, won. This race has a similar dynamic, but this time leading politicians are acting to protect the establishment candidate. “I think what we are seeing now is an assault on the judiciary,” warned District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, one of his supporters; his rival accuses the legal community of rallying behind its own.
• The Daily Transcript offers a profile of mayoral spokesman Darren Pudgil with an eye on his future after the term of Jerry Sanders ends. The Transcript also explores Councilman Tony Young’s bid for more council authority under the administration of the next mayor.
• PBS airs a documentary tonight called “Death and the Civil War” about how the country coped with the loss of some 670,000 soldiers and civilians (and perhaps even more). I just interviewed the president of Harvard University who wrote the book that inspired the film.
Meanwhile, yesterday was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam, still the bloodiest day in American history.
Did San Diegans die in the Civil War? It’s hard to know for sure. Southern California was sparsely populated in the 1860s, and San Diego County was largely sympathetic to the South even though the Golden State was officially on the North’s side. Still, thousands of Californians did fight in the war.
What we do know is that dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of Civil War veterans are buried here. A site called findagrave.com lists 110 in North County cemeteries alone.
• A local biologist who’s won a federal grant is working to figure out how to “grow replacement organs inside of an animal,” KPBS reports. The scientist says he’s been inspired by Dr. Frankenstein — the creator of you-know-who — since fourth grade.
The good doctor’s work inspired me too. That’s why I lurch around every day saying “RAAAAAAA!”
Oddly enough, lately I’ve seen some North County Times newsroom employees doing the same thing.