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The revolving door at the head of San Diego’s Purchasing and Contracting Department just keeps spinning and spinning. Scott Lewis reports the current department head, Dennis Gakunga, has been ousted.
An “investigative report released in late June by the city auditor… alleged abuse of the city’s leave policy,” Lewis writes. A new leader to step into his role on an interim basis, “its fifth director in seven years,” Lewis notes.
Last year, Lewis uncovered that a “personnel matter” in the department derailed a major replacement of city parking meters. A tough evaluation of the department led to reforms and things were looking up — until now.
Indispensable Guide To Solar
We’ve recently been on the hunt to answer the biggest questions people have about installing solar panels on their homes. Lisa Halverstadt returned from the field bearing lots of important nuggets, and she pulls them all together in this reader’s guide to going solar.
Potential solar customers have a lot of choices to make, like how to pick an installer or whether to buy brand-name panels. And then there’s that nagging question of what can go wrong when you go solar. “Many of those fears are overblown,” Halverstadt writes.
• Encinitas Union School District is going solar at all of its elementary schools, the U-T writes.
Fuzzy Graduation Rates
San Diego Unified gets to say that it graduates 90 percent of its students, which is a good number that sets it high in the rankings of graduation rates in California. But Mario Koran points out that many such statistics in education are numbers games, so you have to look a little deeper to really understand what the graduation and drop-out rate means.
“In Texas, the state with the highest graduation rates, thousands of students leave school without being classified as dropouts,” Koran writes. Each state defines a drop-out differently. Graduation rates in California? “Students who take a nontraditional route are not included in the overall grad rate,” Koran reports. That includes GED earners, or students who take more than four years to graduate. Those students aren’t calculated as drop-outs, either.
Why 70 Is Better Than 90
The San Diego Housing Commission recently rejected private proposals for a low-income housing project because it was too expensive per unit, and then turned around and embarked the same project at a higher price-per-unit.
In a follow-up, Andrew Keatts and Ry Rivard explain why the agency chose to build fewer units than the project they thought wasn’t worth it before. The commission decided each unit should be as much as three times bigger than the ones developers had proposed. That eliminated 20 units, driving up unit price.
When asked about it, the commission’s general council replied, “So what?” Just try to argue with that.
Runoff Rules: San Diego Explained
Water restrictions are in effect, but you already know about those. If you don’t, your neighbors will probably rat you out soon enough. But there’s another set of water regulations that fewer people know about: storm water regulations.
These affect you if you have water running off your property because of a leak or even because you’re washing your car. Ry Rivard and NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia went to the streets to talk storm water rules in our most recent San Diego Explained.
Colleges Stumbling On Private Justice
A San Diego Superior Court judge recently ruled that UCSD improperly suspended a male student who was accused of sexual harassment.
The decision “sends a strong warning that schools under federal pressure to better address rape should not forget to respect the rights of the accused,” the Associated Press reports, noting the judge found “that UCSD did not hold a fair trial.”
Colleges around the country, including here in San Diego, have been struggling to figure out how to respond to allegations of sex crimes while keeping it within the college system. On Thursday, a judge ruled that University of San Diego improperly dissuaded a female student from reporting a rape allegation to police, according to the San Diego Reader.
Police Videos Kept Hidden
Years after a police shooting in the city of Gardena near Los Angeles, the police video of the incident is finally being shown in public after media organizations sued to get access to the video.
It depicts officers shooting two men with raised hands after one of the men took his hat off. The police department defended the officers involved, who are still on the job, and refused to release the video. Now that it’s out, they still think it should be secret. “Gardena Police Chief Ed Medrano opposes the video’s release even after the fact,” CityLab writes.
Recently we’ve covered the San Diego Police Department’s own intractable position on releasing police videos.
• A California bill headed for the governor’s desk will end grand jury investigations of police shootings and cases of excessive use of force by police. (San Diego 6)
• Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez says those grand jury investigations are too secret and not transparent enough. (Twitter)
• No, UCSD did not hack the University of Southern California to get access to its Alzheimer’s data, a judge ruled. (Xconomy)
• After months of controversy, San Diego County’s public employee pension system has finally severed ties with one of the companies that helped manage the system’s investments. (PIO Online)
• The Che Cafe has been repeatedly threatened with closure and eviction from its location on the campus of UCSD. Its most recent eviction notice has once again been suspended. (NBC 7)
• The makers of the most sensational costume at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, a full body ensemble of the Rancor monster from “Return of the Jedi,” explain how they did it. (Geek.com)
• In a sign of our impending dystopia, people are flocking to National City to take advantage of the free drinking water being given out from a well that is publicly owned. (NBC 7)
• Thanks, TripAdvisor. Yeah, we know. Best zoo in the whole wide world. Don’t forget to try the craft beer while you’re there.