We’ve been investigating the details of a 2011 bond deal made by the Poway Unified School District. Turns out, we aren’t the only ones interested. The IRS has been investigating the deal since February, according to a document obtained by our Will Carless.
“The Internal Revenue Service is examining the Poway Unified School District’s controversial 2011 bond deal to determine whether it complies with federal tax requirements,” it says.
The letter states that the investigation is routine, and asks for detailed records of how the proceeds were spent. Part of those proceeds, referred to as “premiums,” are under the microscope because there is a question as to whether they were spent legally.
The school district’s lawyer says that the investigation “hasn’t found anything of concern. It’s squeaky clean,” he said.
Fact Check: True Cost of School iPads
“Anyone can buy an iPad for $399 but the school board is paying $2,500 apiece,” claimed a widely-read press release from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. The claim is referring to how much San Diego Unified School District will ultimately pay under the terms of bonds issued after voters passed Proposition S in 2008.
Some of the borrowed money went into upgrading technology in classrooms, including the purchase of iPad tablets.
Our Lisa Halverstadt decided to check the numbers to see if the claim held up. It actually understated the total cost. Also, click on the story to see why a U-T editor took issue with the post and the Taxpayers Association.
Duffy’s DeMaio Support OK, Say Experts
After a private email from U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy criticizing Bob Filner for his behavior at a recent debate made it into public view, Filner criticized Duffy saying she “is illegally participating in the election.” Filner has been calling for Duffy to resign in the aftermath, KPBS reported.
Not so fast. Our Liam Dillon asked two former White House lawyers to look at Duffy’s actions, and they determined Duffy isn’t in any legal hot water. “Everything that she did, it looks like she painted by the numbers,” said Scott Coffina, a partner at Drinker Biddle law firm.
Public Funding, Private Profits
If voters pass Proposition 30 in November, schools may see an influx of cash that will spare them from billions of dollars in cuts. “Vote yes, or the kids get it,” wrote The Economist. But Mario Garrett, a professor at San Diego State University, wrote to say he thinks it still won’t fix the problem. “The problem is that whether the proposition passes or not, nothing changes in how we run our educational institutions,” he wrote. “[The] problems are primarily related to funding and management.”
• Jonathan C. Dean, executive director at O’Farrell Community School also wrote in to tell us what he thinks his school is doing right. “The school has cohesive grade-level teaching teams that spend much time in professional development sessions to improve their teaching,” Dean writes. “Additionally, a strong focus is put on ensuring all students are receiving support at the level they need.”
Poll Results Questioned
CityBeat wrote yesterday about the head-scratching results of a mayoral poll released by U-T San Diego last weekend that showed mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio with a 10-point lead over his opponent Bob Filner. That poll sharply contradicted other polls which have shown the race to be much closer, sometimes with Filner leading.
CityBeat noted that the poll deliberately excluded city workers and their housemates, significantly swaying the poll’s results. They reached out to The New York Times’ Election Analysis Desk editor, Marjorie Connelly, who was equally puzzled by the poll’s exclusions. “Actually I have never heard of excluding city employees from a poll,” she said. “They can vote, can’t they?”
“Vital” Storage Service for Homeless In Trouble
The Transitional Storage Center in the middle of downtown San Diego houses 250 bins where the homeless can store their belongings free of charge. But the city is turning the site into low-income housing, and the Center has not been able to raise the money they need to move to another site.
“The situation is very urgent, we’re looking at the 28th, this place closes down,” said Noor Kazmi, president of the Girls Think Tank, which runs the center.
10News reports that a shutdown of the Center would translate into “300 shopping carts full of stuff appearing overnight in downtown,” or “30,000 pounds of junk on the street.”
• The California Public Utilities Commission launched an “exhaustive” investigation yesterday into the nine-month outage at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which may ultimately lead to rate-payers being refunded, reported The LA Times.
• The Chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, Jess Durfee, accused City Council candidate Ray Ellis of violating campaign rules by coordinating with an independent expenditure committee, reported KPBS. “This is no small thing,” said Durfee. He’s threatened to file complaints with multiple agencies. Ellis’ campaign spokesman called the move a distraction and a “desperate partisan attack.”
• The San Diego Zoo’s contest to name the new Giant Panda cub comes to an end on Tuesday. You can choose between names like “Qi Ji” (Miracle) or “Yu Di” (Raindrop). (NC Times)
Kirk Horvath suddenly had an idea last week: he wanted to be mayor of Coronado. The deadline to get his name on the ballot had already passed, so signs immediately started going up urging voters to Write In Horvath for Mayor. Great.
Second, as a self-described seven-year “public service employee of the Coronado golf department,” Horvath is actually banned from running for public office. Coronado’s city employees can’t run for office as part of the personnel policy.
Violations of this policy subject the employee to dismissal from their job with the city.
Patch says it may well have been the shortest run for mayor in Coronado history.