We’ve gotten many awesome shoutouts and nice notes acknowledging Andrew Keatts’ work investigating SANDAG over the past year, in the wake of the news this week that SANDAG Executive Director Gary Gallegos plans to step down.
They’re so, so appreciated.
But as they say, when it rains, it pours. (See, San Diego, that’s an adage referring to a watery substance that often falls from the sky in other locales.)
By that I mean, that wasn’t the only instance this week in which a central figure in a long-running investigation of ours paid a price for his actions.
John Collins, former superintendent of Poway Unified, was charged with five felonies relating to accusations he misused funds and improperly paid himself.
As the U-T noted this week “the scandal also shows how crucial transparency is to fighting corruption. Collins might still be on the job if not for Voice of San Diego’s digging into district affairs.”
For years, VOSD has been doggedly investigating financial issues at Poway Unified, beginning with Will Carless’ blockbuster revelation that it had taken out a $105 million bond that would take $1 billion to pay back – news that eventually sparked a change in California law.
In the last few years, Ashly McGlone has led the charge, and has some uncovered some major findings – many of which directly implicate Collins: He was leading district negotiations over managers’ contracts that would impact his own salary. Collins also toned down and removed criticism of a report on the district before he released it to the public.
That latter story took extraordinary effort and fight on McGlone’s part to get, and included VOSD threatening Poway with a lawsuit then carefully negotiating with outside lawyers to get access to the report.
Both stories included moments where we were locked in fights, for weeks or months, over public records that would shed crucial light on what was going on.
So on top of giving props to Ashly and Andy, kudos to our lawyer Felix Tinkov, who has worked tirelessly to help us access records that we – and the public – should not have had to fight tooth and nail for.
What VOSD Learned This Week
Pot is ripe for good stories, y’all. The state and local governments are working furiously to formalize regulations for the green rush that is coming with legalization of commercial activity.
The DA’s prosecution of a local marijuana business attorney has lawyers in San Diego and beyond worried attorney-client privilege is under attack.
In Lemon Grove and La Mesa, entrepreneurs looking to open pot businesses are offering cash and deals to day cares willing to move.
San Dieguito Union High School District officials proposed a questionable arrangement that unsurprisingly angered many parents: The district wanted middle-schoolers to move into a gleaming new campus at Earl Warren Middle School, but proposed students in an adult transition program should squeeze into cramped portables.
Suicides at the Coronado Bridge are climbing – a fact that might push talks about a suicide barrier at the bridge forward.
San Diego Police are required to offer a shelter bed to homeless people they encounter – and the person must refuse an open bed – before officers can cite them for certain violations. But there’s a Catch-22 in the arrangement: Because police often cite the homeless, the homeless are wary of any help being offered by police.
What I’m Reading
• This is an excellent and timely explanation of how federal grand juries work. (Popehat)
• A compelling case for how Democrats can win over rural voters without abandoning their values. (Washington Monthly)
• An ingenious use of public records: One reporter scoured FDA and USDA recall alerts to figure out which companies are actually making Trader Joe’s snacks. (Eater)
• This sounds like it’s straight outta “The Americans,” but it’s real life and it happened to U.S. diplomats in Cuba. (Associated Press)
• Ladies, your Going Out Top misses you. (The Hairpin)
Line of the Week
“I know you think Guy Fieri is just a day-old Hot Pocket filled with Smash Mouth lyrics, but what if he’s actually good?” – The internet has come up with some great Guy Fieri descriptions over the years, but this might be the best.