Not too long ago, voters in the Poway Unified School District were asked to OK a bond measure for school construction. They approved it, but only later did they get a glimpse of the actual bill: nearly $1 billion to pay a $105 million loan back over 40 years, all courtesy of taxpayers.
Voters didn’t exactly feel sticker shock. It was more like hey-why-wasn’t-there-a-sticker shock.
Now, transparency has entered the picture. As our Ashly McGlone reports, a new law requires school districts and community colleges to be more upfront with voters about how much they think it will cost to pay back bonds. “The number is non-binding, since exact bond costs aren’t known until after the new taxes are approved and all the bonds are sold,” McGlone reports. “But sharing the estimates with voters may put pressure on agencies to keep their bond deals reasonable and repayment terms low.”
What does that mean for bonds on the ballot this November? Community colleges and school districts want voters to approve $1.6 billion in bonds (borrowed money) that will require taxpayers to shell out an estimated $2.95 billion in years to come.
But not everything is changing. Guess who’s really, really, really supporting school construction bonds? Answer: The folks who construct schools. And they’re showing their support with much more than votes. “Business interests account for about 82 percent of the contributions in favor of the measures,” inewsource reports.
Meanwhile, our McGlone notes, “some local officials continue to blur the line and fraternize with contractors outside the workplace.”
Racial Profiling Study: Some Disparities Found
After a study of San Diego Police traffic stops amid concerns about racial profiling, “San Diego State University researchers found some racial disparities did exist among the traffic stop data for black, Hispanic and white drivers, but not always. The presentation also appears to show that among drivers pulled over, Hispanic and black motorists were searched more often than white motorists. It does not include the justification for the traffic stops, nor does it detail what prompted the searches.”
As we reported in 2014, the police department lagged in its approach to collecting data on who it stopped after gaining a positive national profile for being a leader in this area: “Officers here now track race in fewer than one out of every five stops and a sergeant in the department’s research and analysis division wasn’t aware that the requirement to gather the information still existed when we asked about it.”
• Attrition is still a major problem for the police department. A new report says about 13 officers are leaving the SDPD each month, while staffing has only grown by 30 over the last four years.
• The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the city of San Diego’s efforts to throw out two cases filed by family members of two men killed by San Diego police officers, reports NBC San Diego. One of the cases is over the shooting of Victor Ortega. We covered the inconsistencies surrounding his death and his widow’s claims against SDPD.
Opinion: Protect Juvenile Offenders from Prison
D’Andre Brooks, a resource manager at a local nonprofit, describes being sent to prison at the age of 17 in a new VOSD commentary. Brooks supports Prop. 57: “Our criminal justice system needs to stop prosecuting young kids as adults. [The measure] would transfer the decision of whether to charge someone as a juvenile or an adult to judges, instead of prosecutors. This is the right thing to do … it is a decision that should be made only after careful consideration by a judge.”
All T, No Shade: This Claim Is Misleading
A flier opposing Measure T in Encinitas claims that it “adds up to 4,000 high-density housing units.” That’s quite a lot for a city the size of Encinitas, which has struggled to meet a state requirement that it offer housing to people of various income levels. Is it true?
No, San Diego Fact Check finds. The claim is misleading : It “uses an unlikely, ‘worst-case’ number that combines a separate program out of Encinitas’ hands. There will be more homes, but it’s highly unlikely it will be that many, and not all of them will be the result of Measure T.”
Less Parking Here, Paid Parking There?
“Under pressure to shrink its carbon footprint, San Diego on Tuesday rolled out proposals aimed at encouraging commuters to curb their driving — from eliminating parking spaces to getting businesses to offer incentives for employees to walk, bike and take mass transit,” the Union-Tribune reports. But the City Council still approved blueprints for North Park and Golden Hill that prevent the neighborhoods from being fully “built out.” In other words, they won’t be as dense — as chock full of people and buildings — as environmentalists hope they could be.
• Want to park all day in the planned (and controversial) Balboa Park parking garage? It could cost you as much as $12. As the U-T notes, critics “have objected to charging for parking in the park, but supporters believe many visitors will willingly pay extra to park close to the park’s center.” (U-T)
‘Claw Back’ Is Pulled Back, for Now
Amid a storm of protest, the U.S. secretary of defense has halted the government’s bid to “claw back” bonuses and other forms of assistance that were improperly given to thousands of California National Guard members who were sent to Iraq.
“Ultimately we will provide for a process that puts as little burden as possible on any soldier who received an improper payment through no fault of his or her own,” said Secretary Ashton Carter, according to the L.A. Times. “At the same time, it will respect our important obligation to the taxpayer.”
North County Report: Obama vs. Issa
Our weekly North County Report leads off with money matters: Who’s throwing money around to oppose Measure B, which would allow a big housing developing in remote Valley Center? And how would the rivals for a county board of supervisors seat spend funds on art?
Plus: A city manager resigns, the president zings Rep. Darrell Issa and the U-T pulls back on its leftward tilt with a surprising endorsement.
Quick News Hits: Twit Talk
• A Carlsbad yoga instructor tried to post information about her classes on the Nextdoor app’s event calendar, but instead she accidentally spammed thousands of residents with more than 20 posts. A city councilman responded, entirely justifiably, by calling her a “twit.”
You won’t believe what happened next. OK, you probably will.
As a Coast News story explained, the councilman’s mild jibe infuriated the yoga instructor, who’d apologized for her spamming: She “said she has never encountered such offensive action from a city councilmember in more than 25 years as a resident.”
Things got even more out of hand. “Apparently,” the councilman told the paper, “many people don’t know what the word means, took someone else’s word for it, or worse, and attributed interesting meanings. Some are even stooping to use it as an occasion to mock religion.”
So is the accidental spammer actually a you-know-what? I’d ask the San Diego Fact Check crew to get on the case, but I’m afraid they’d just mutter something about election season and urge me to ponder who’s really a twit.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.