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Scrutiny just got a little tighter for bond underwriters who make big donations to school bond campaigns, then ink lucrative deals to underwrite the bonds. The municipal bonds market has long been suspected of nefarious activity, and now a federal agency has stepped in to regulate the process by which school districts are allowed to choose the banks that lend them money.
The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board announced this week it will require bankers who buy and sell municipal bonds to disclose the contributions they make to bond campaigns. We discovered some alarming patterns in contracts awarded to big donors to school bond campaigns during our four-month investigation.
Introducing: The Sports Report
Ladies and gentleman, please give a hearty welcome to The Sports Report. This marks the first installment of our new weekly series about everything related to San Diego sports in all shapes and sizes. Sports blogger John Gennaro will be manning the ship and looking for tips under every bleacher and sweaty gym sock.
In today’s Sports Report, you’ll find news of fan frustrations over the steady stream of Padres pitching injuries, updates on the pending lawsuits surrounding the suicide of Junior Seau, and more sports news from around the county.
Goldsmith’s Big Case Is About to Get Heated
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith rolled some serious dice in his latest pursuit against city pensions. He hasn’t been shy about his goal of dismantling the current pension structure: He wants to make the defined benefit program so unattractive to city workers that they voluntarily jump ship, taking on a personal contribution program like a 401(k).
He plans to do this by forcing city employees to put a lot more skin in the game, but it won’t be an easy fight. He hopes to obtain a “substantially equal” risk between employer and employee. Scott Lewis has been covering this story in detail, and his latest report explains why the outcome of this case will go a long way toward determining Goldsmith’s legacy.
San Diego Explained: The Marijuana Tax
Mayor Bob Filner is floating an idea for a new scheme to tax medical marijuana sales around the city, but there’s one small problem with his proposal: Nobody can figure out how this would work.
Our recent San Diego Explained discusses what a medical marijuana tax would mean for the city.
Cal Western Law School and Brian Banks’ Rekindled NFL Dream
In 2002, Brian Banks was a 17-year-old linebacker at Long Beach Polytechnic High School with a promising career set to begin at USC. Soon after the school year ended, his entire life came to a screeching halt with a devastating rape accusation that put him behind bars for five years.
After serving his time, the story took an interesting turn. Banks’ accuser recanted her claim and a private investigator caught the whole thing on tape. The young prospect, now 27, suddenly had a clear record and a shot at getting into the NFL, and this year he signed with the Atlanta Falcons.
Without the persistence of the Innocence Project at California Western School of Law in San Diego, it’s possible that Banks name would never have been cleared and he would never have gotten back to where he is today. Active Voice contributor Beau Lynott reports on the important role that Cal Western played in the case.
Reader Commentary: The Big Read
Amy Locklin, director of San Diego Writers Inc., is the latest to discuss Ray Bradbury’s dystopian saga “Farenheit 451” as part of our opinion series pegged to The Big Read. She takes stock of what the novel meant when it was released, and to readers today.
KPBS Investigation Shows U-T May Have Broken Election Laws
An investigative report published this morning by KPBS in partnership with inewsource has found major discrepancies in U-T San Diego advertising rates during the 2012 mayoral race. Documents show that opponents of Mayor Bob Filner were given deep discounts on advertising spreads in San Diego’s largest newspaper, a policy that may violate campaign laws.
Quick News Hits
• The New York Times took on America’s Finest City in its famous “36 Hours In” series Thursday. Featured in the generally positive account of San Diego’s “easy, breezy Southern California casualness” are photos from VOSD photographer Sam Hodgson.
• ABC News reports that the manufacturing interests of San Diego and Tijuana have partnered and are gaining a dubious distinction as the “center of the burgeoning drone industry.”
• The Center for Investigative Reporting released a thorough and terrifying investigation of Border Patrol applicants who admit to rape and kidnapping.
• The U-T published an interesting take on California’s reputation as a crumbling dysfunctional hellscape in the national media, noting the important fact that we are all still very much here and it is generally not that bad.
• Chicago takes a bite out of The Stumblr, with it’s very own Chicago Stumbler, documenting the broken sidewalks of the Windy City. And speaking of The Stumblr, its founder, sidewalk chronicler Liam Dillon, was honored Thursday by Walk San Diego for his coverage of the city’s crumbling sidewalks.