A good writing coach will teach you not to obscure the truth with opaque, inaccessible wording. When you’re in a position of power, however, you don’t always want the truth to be so obvious.

Looks like that was the case in the Poway superintendent’s office when a consultant delivered a scathing report on problems with the school district’s technology management. The district refused to release that report publicly until it was threatened with a lawsuit.

Now we’ve learned that Superintendent John Collins personally revised the consultant’s report to soften its sharper edges before making it public. For example, the consultant’s report originally described some decision-making as “extreme and even chaotic,” but in the revised version, the decision-making was just “problematic.” Instead of saying “wasted money,” the wording was changed to “inefficient use of resources.”

VOSD reporter Ashly McGlone put together a PDF that shows all the red ink applied to the report before it was released.

Culture in Carlsbad

This week’s Culture Report highlights a funky bookstore and alternative arts center that opened in an old graffiti-covered garage in the Carlsbad Village in January. City officials might use zoning laws to force it to close by the end of the month.

Supervisor Race Heats Up

The rumor’s been out for a few weeks, but now it’s official: Kristin Gaspar is running for county supervisor, City News Service reports.

Gaspar was elected mayor of Encinitas less than a year ago; her two-year term will be up in 2016. Incumbent Dave Roberts of Solana Beach was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2012, but political insiders say he’s vulnerable now that former staffers have accused him of ethical lapses. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed has already begun his own campaign for the seat.

U-T columnist Logan Jenkins outlined the strategic obstacles and opportunities the three candidates will have to deal with to win the race.

Carlsbad Mall Fight Not Over Yet

Opponents of Caruso Affiliated’s plan to build a luxury shopping center on the shore of Agua Hedionda Lagoon are not giving up now that the Carlsbad City Council approved Caruso’s plan. A group of citizens has begun gathering signatures to force the issue onto the ballot.

Caruso supporters say Westfield Corp., which owns the Plaza Camino Real shopping center in Carlsbad, is aiding and abetting the citizen referendum drive. (Seaside Courier)

In a press conference last week, Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall told Westfield to cut it out and play nice, Times of San Diego reported.

A Westfield executive told the Union-Tribune they have nothing to do with the referendum drive and said Caruso officials are making stuff up.

Technically Not Double-Dipping

The state agency in charge of teacher pensions has ruled that there’s no problem with a retired Escondido football coach collecting both a state pension and a private salary. Coach Dennis Snyder retired from Escondido public schools a few years ago and now collects a pension of $118,700 a year. He also earns $104,500 a year as president of a foundation that helps fund several charter schools in Escondido. (Times of San Diego)

‘The Epicenter of All Things Succulent’

North County is succulent central, KPBS reports. The largest U.S. grower of succulents and cactuses is based in Vista. A specialty succulent grower in Rainbow has a national reputation. And a nursery in Poway says sales of succulents and cactuses have grown dramatically in the past few years: 25 percent in 2013 and another 20 percent in 2014.

Succulent booster Debra Baldwin, who lives north of Escondido, predicts we’ll soon see the development of new varieties of cactuses, including what she calls “caress-able cactus.”

Plant-lovers should be sure to watch the video for lots of images of beautiful and unusual succulents.

News Nibbles

• The chief executive of the development company behind Lilac Hills Ranch also sits on the board of the San Diego North Economic Development Council. When the board voted to support the Lilac Hills Ranch project, the Lilac Hills Ranch developer cast one of the “yes” votes. (VOSD)

• State agents raided a moonshine still in Ramona and arrested a man who told NBC San Diego he was only doing it for fun, not profit. (NBC San Diego)

• The longest zip line in California is set to open in the picturesque hills of the La Jolla Indian Reservation a few miles from Lake Henshaw in the northeastern part of the county. (Union-Tribune)

• With 14,000 students enrolled this fall, Cal State San Marcos has the largest student body in its 25-year-history. It’s a 9 percent increase over last year’s enrollment. (City News Service)

• New signs at San Elijo Lagoon in Cardiff say visitors could be cited for swimming or paddleboarding. (San Diego Reader)

• An Oceanside transient who allegedly pulled a knife on two cops and said, “I’m going to kill you” has been declared mentally fit for trial. (City News Service)

• Up to 8,000 Syrian refugees will arrive in the U.S. next year. Some may end up in the San Diego region. KPBS notes that North County already has a significant Syrian-American population.

• Despite unexpected rain in July, the Fallbrook Public Utilities District missed its water conservation target by 5 percentage points. Water customers in the San Dieguito Water District and Rainbow Municipal Water District also fell slightly short of their targets. (City News Service)

Fun Fact

Encinitas City Attorney Glenn Sabine and La Mesa City Attorney Glenn Sabine are the same person.

Jeremy Ogul is a freelance writer and editor in San Diego. Drop him a line at jsogul@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @jsogul.

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