The Poway school district rose to infamy a few years ago when it sold $105 million in bonds with a promise to eventually repay a total of $981 million, including interest. The deal was reported nationally and ridiculed by many, including then-state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who in 2012 said, “I would fire staff that made a deal like this. And if I were a voter, I’d pick a different school board.”

The district seems to be ignoring that advice.

On Wednesday evening, the school board will vote on whether to again hire some of the same consultants who put together that notorious 2011 deal. They include tax consultant Dolinka Group and bond underwriter Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., which acquired Stone & Youngberg, the underwriter responsible for the 2011 deal.

The state has since tightened restrictions in a way that prevents any school district from making a deal like Poway’s in 2011, but the district has not yet answered questions about what it has in mind for its upcoming bond deals.

No ‘Hostile Takeover’ in Rainbow

You could be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Rainbow, the rural North County community with a population of 1,832. Rainbow’s water district serves just 7,200 meters, many of them on agricultural land.

County staff argued Rainbow’s small size made it ripe for a cost-cutting merger with the nearby Fallbrook Public Utilities District, which serves about 35,000 residents. One report found the merger could save more than $2 million a year. But Rainbow’s customers were adamantly against the plan, describing it as a “hostile takeover,” according to the Union-Tribune.

Rainbow won. In a vote Monday by the relatively obscure county Local Agency Formation Commission, County Supervisors Bill Horn and Dianne Jacob both voted against the merger, calling it unnecessary in the face of such virulent opposition by Rainbow’s ratepayers. Three others on the commission joined Horn and Jacob in opposition, while Escondido Mayor Sam Abed was among the three who voted in favor of the merger.

 Rainbow’s agricultural customer base is part of the reason its water rate structure is so different from other parts of the county, VOSD’s Ry Rivard notes in a recent article on soaring water rates.

In more urban parts of the county, the price of each unit of water goes up as you use more units. That variable pricing is designed to encourage conservation. Rainbow is different. The average water customer there uses six or seven times as much water as the average customer elsewhere in the county. Yet Rainbow’s pricing structure is more flat, which ultimately means that 100 units of water in Rainbow costs about half as much as 100 units in, say, Rancho Bernardo.

 Customers in Olivenhain Municipal Water District, which serves parts of coastal North County, could see their water bills go up by $35 a month over the next five years. Price jumps like that are driving local water agencies to explore alternatives, Rivard reports.

News from the Nuclear Front

 Unless the federal government acts, spent fuel from the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant will stay at the facility until at least 2049. San Diego County supervisors are pushing the feds to find a more appropriate home for the waste from San Onofre and other nuclear plants. (City News Service)

 The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced last week that it just can’t afford to study the possibility that living near nuclear energy facilities affects one’s risk of developing cancer. (San Diego Reader)

 After a series of investigative reports revealed suspicious backchannel communications between state regulators and Southern California Edison, many have urged the Public Utilities Commission to reconsider an agreement on who should pay the $4.7 billion cost of shutting down the San Onofre plant. Edison representatives told the state last week that re-opening the settlement agreement would cause “serious harm to the public.” (Los Angeles Times)

Also in the News

 Test scores in Oceanside, Escondido and Vista school districts were significantly lower than state and county averages. Only 35 percent of high school juniors in Oceanside Unified met or exceeded state English language and literacy standards; countywide, an average of 60 percent met those standards. (Union-Tribune)

 The county will pay $310,000 to settle claims by former staffers of Supervisor Dave Roberts. County supervisors issued a rare, rather damning statement that said Roberts exercised poor judgment and that the settlement would help them avoid lawsuits that could cost $1 million or more. The supervisors also released binders full of evidence and analysis of the county’s liability. (Union-Tribune)

 Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Escondido Mayor Sam Abed — both of whom are vying for Dave Roberts’ seat on the Board of Supervisors — appeared on NBC San Diego’s “Politically Speaking” to talk about why they’re interested in the job.

 A Carlsbad businessman was sentenced to 33 months in prison for running a Ponzi scheme. (San Diego Reader)

 The county Planning Commission approved plans for the controversial Lilac Hills Ranch development on a 4-3 vote. The final decision will be up to county supervisors next month. (Union-Tribune)

 Encinitas’ planning director has been tapped as the new planning director for the city of San Diego. (Seaside Courier)

 City leaders in Encinitas are pushing to adopt new rules for sober-living homes, but similar regulations in Costa Mesa have led to a lawsuit against that city. Newport Beach also had to settle after a long legal battle over its sober-living home ordinance. (Encinitas Advocate)

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

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