In 2015, the superintendent of Poway Unified district — which serves Poway and northern inland stretches of the city of San Diego like Rancho Bernardo — made the second-highest salary of any public schools chief in the state. District officials, proud of their high-performing schools in an affluent region, must have believed John Collins was worth it.
They sure don’t believe that now. By the summer of 2016, he’d been sacked, a fate that would be unusual for a teacher, let alone a superintendent. And then last week came an arraignment and a not-guilty plea to four felony charges.
What went wrong for this highly accomplished man who’s worked in education for four decades and now faces up to seven years in prison if convicted?
Our Ashly McGlone has been following the Collins saga and provides a big-picture view in a new story.
“His supporters and detractors disagree about the cause of his downfall,” she writes. “One camp believes a zealous slate of new school board members removed Collins without adequate cause, publicly and recklessly shaming him along the way. In the other camp, Collins is to blame, as well as an environment that lacked adequate accountability and oversight.”
One thing is clear: This wasn’t an instant debacle. The superintendent’s fall from grace, McGlone writes, “was more of a slow burn.”
Odd Couple, Part Deux
The folks at the New York Times’ California Today section interviewed Councilmen David Alvarez and Scott Sherman and published a Q-and-A this week. The Times called the two an “odd couple” who’ve teamed up to tackle housing issues.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because we wrote back in January that Alvarez and Sherman were … an odd couple who’ve teamed up to tackle housing issues.
Here’s a comment from Alvarez in the Times: Plans include “easing of granny flats beyond what state law required, and there are more proposals that we are bringing forward: Reducing regulations on infill housing, and the other (proposal) is about the nuisance of (environmental) appeals. The simple way of saying it is that we have streamlined the process to build more units and to not incentivize those who are looking to block construction.”
Sherman, meanwhile, says he’s “very vocal to some of the people in my district, telling them that just because you achieved the American dream you can’t keep it to yourself and let the Nimby (not in my backyard) attitude make you want to wall up your neighborhood. We are all in this together. We’re all one big San Diego.”
• Or not. A school for kindergarten-age kids has come to North Park, but a neighbor is anything but welcoming. This quote, per the Reader, is quite a humdinger: “The thing that concerns me is the kids screaming could potentially lower our property values.”
Chargers Fail to Jolt L.A.
Sann … Dee … Aaa … Go … Super-Charg … Oh never mind. No one’s singing that this year. The team has left us and gone away, playing its first preseason game this season at the StubHub Center near Los Angeles.
The game drew just over 21,000 people, the L.A. Times reports, less than half what the team drew here during last year’s preseason. For some reason, several thousand people bought tickets but didn’t show up, maybe because they wanted to stay home to watch “Games of Thrones” and reconsider their life choices.
• “The number of football players who have contracted chickenpox might be significantly higher than previously reported, according to a source close to the San Diego State football team,” the Daily Aztec reports. It seems to be as many as 15, the paper says, not five.
VA to S.D. Docs: Don’t Help Terminally Ill Patients Kill Themselves
Physician-assisted suicide is now legal in California, but the Veterans Health Administration has ordered its staff in San Diego to stay far away. The VA let clinicians here know that they must not help patients end their lives or refer them to anyone who will do so, I report in a new story for Clinical Psychiatry News. They can’t even fill out forms that might support a patient in that position, although the VA won’t withhold medical records.
However, the VA is also urging clinicians to not abandon their patients even if they choose to end their lives with the help of a physician’s prescription.
Culture Report: New Boss at Art Institute
The San Diego Art Institute, which has become a major player in the local art scene, has a new executive director in Jacqueline Silverman, who plans to continue on the path created by her predecessor. However, critics are upset because the interim director wasn’t chosen for the job.
That’s the lead story in this week’s VOSD Culture Report. Also: The Quartyard pop-up park is trying to reopen but has run into a hitch, you can watch the eclipse (weather permitting) at Fleet Science Center, artwork is spotlighting the black population in Tijuana and more.
Quick News Hits: My Last Column Was a Lemon
• The hepatitis A outbreak continues to take lives here. The toll is up to 11, up three from just a few weeks ago, the U-T reports, and many were homeless people.
• Here’s a way to focus the attention of the people in charge: The San Diego Unified district has found high levels of lead in the drinking water — and shut off some drinking fountains — at district headquarters, of all places. (NBC 7)
• Last week in this space, I pointed out that the cursive G in the lettering for Lemon Grove on the little city’s big lemon is mighty weird-looking. It didn’t look like any handwritten G that I could find, and a Twitter wag told me to leave Lemon Jrove alone.
Turns out I’d propagated some fake news. Multiple readers alerted me to the fact that the G in Grove is designed to look like the one on the covers of General Mills cereals.
Oh boy. As I mentioned here a while back, the biggest error of my journalism career came more than a quarter-century ago when I got La Jolla’s powerful Kellogg family mixed up with the Battle Creek folks. This did not go over well considering that my employer at the time was the La Jolla weekly paper whose publisher played tennis with a very-unamused Kellogg on a regular basis.
You win these rounds, breakfast cereal companies. But I’ll be bran. I mean, um, back.
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.