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Six years ago, Jesus Gandara resigned as the superintendent of the Sweetwater school district following a series of stories of malfeasance and corruption. An investigation by the District Attorney into the period eventually landed convictions of bribery and conspiracy.
It was, for good reason, a high profile story throughout the county, and reporter Ashly McGlone was in the thick of reporting on all of it.
Now, McGlone is telling the story of the people responsible for making the whole thing come to light.
Six regular people demanded accountability from the district, went to the DA for help, and the rest is history.
“I felt like if we didn’t do it, nobody else would, and these folks would continue to get away with crimes,” said Stewart Payne, a Sweetwater parent.
In a new, special podcast, McGlone has pulled an engrossing oral history together to give you the previously untold story behind the Sweetwater scandal.
• Meanwhile, Sweetwater approved a budget Monday that managed to avoid major cuts, but that will force its adult education program to serve 1,000 fewer students next year, as Megan Burks reports for KPBS.
The district is cutting classes at a school for adults by 10 percent, classes that include areas like Engligh-language, parenting and citizenship.
City Council Dems Move to Sell Qualcomm Stadium Land
Four San Diego City Council members asked Council President Myrtle Cole to docket a discussion about declaring the land under and around Qualcomm Stadium “surplus” land. She obliged and scheduled the discussion for July 25.
In short, SoccerCity proponents not only failed to win over a Democrat for the special election it hoped to hold for the site, now the council majority is acting feverishly against them.
If the city declares the land surplus — an “unneeded parcel” — other government agencies within the city of San Diego have 60 days to put in offers for it. Obviously, all eyes would turn immediately to San Diego State University to see what offer the university can make.
It is a needed parcel for a while: SDSU’s lease to play football at Qualcomm Stadium runs through 2018.
FS Investors, the group behind SoccerCity, had tried to highlight legal concerns and hassles the city would face if it pursued open bidding for the property.
But the leader of the City Council is determined.
“We should know our options!” Cole tweeted late Monday.
Border Report: Trump Trying to Climb Border Wall Hurdles
Construction was supposed to begin last week on a prototype for President Donald Trump’s border wall at a field in Otay Mesa.
Congress funded the starter project, but last week came and went without anything breaking ground. Turns out none of the bids on the project have been approved yet, either.
In this week’s Border Report, Brooke Binkowski looks at the delays already facing that project, plus looks at a persistent foul smell at a beach in Tijuana and the grim march to extinction facing the vaquita, a once-common porpoise off the Baja coast with a population that now numbers below 30.
She also looked at a major story from The New York Times showing that an Israeli company helped the Mexican government spy on reporters with a program that was intended to combat terrorism.
The fact that the Mexican government had that capability, and that it came from Israel, was previously reported by former VOSD reporter Liam Dillon two years ago in a sprawling investigation into Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, a Mexican national convicted for orchestrating over $500,000 in illegal campaign donations to San Diego politicians in 2012.
Azano was the middleman between Mexico and the Israeli company, as Dillon reported at the time, after he won a $355 million defense contract with the Mexican government.
San Diego Hasn’t Built Enough Homes (Still)
Two reports came out Monday reinforcing something that was never really in doubt: San Diego hasn’t built enough homes for all the people trying to live here, which is why the rent is so damn high.
The San Diego Apartment Association announced Monday that the vacancy rate for apartments throughout the county fell yet again this spring, to 3.7 percent from 5.4 percent in the fall, as City News Service reported. The vacancy rate is a rough measure of the supply of homes, and as it moves down prices tend to increase.
The national arm of the Apartment Association, meanwhile, released its own study Monday on how hard it is to build new apartments. San Diego came in as the 11th hardest place to build new units, as U-T reporter Phillip Molnar reported.
New building permits issued this year have plunged from the rate last year, too, compared to their rate a year earlier.
In Other News
• The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday a chance to review a San Diego County case dealing with concealed weapons. The case, Peruta v. California, dealt with the extent to which the 2nd Amendment preempts California’s “good cause” restrictions on receiving a concealed-carry permit. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld the state’s restrictions. The Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case means that ruling stands. (New York Times)
• The city of San Diego beginning Saturday will give $100 subsidies to people with low incomes who struggle to pay their water and sewage bills. It’s the first program like it in the county and revenue for the program comes from donations, rather than existing or new public funds. The money came from private companies, a consumer activist group and a generous city employee. (U-T)
• The San Diego and Salt Lake Comic Cons trademark dispute is approaching a tense moment. (Deseret News)
• The Vista City Council will consider Tuesday a plan that would let a few medical marijuana sellers set up shop in town, a reversal from the city’s current prohibition on such dispensaries. (U-T)