The former chief of Poway Unified schools, once the second most highly paid superintendent in California, is now facing felony charges that accuse him of ripping off the district. A year after he got fired, a new audit finds that the district still lacks proper internal procedures to prevent fraud, abuse and waste.

The $50,000 audit report found 53 cases of problems with what people in the accounting world refer to as “internal controls” — policies and procedures that are supposed to prevent money from going astray.

“In addition to creating a third-party fraud hotline, the firm recommended Poway Unified add whistleblower protections and retaliation prohibition language to its existing grievance policies,” our Ashly McGlone reports.

For more, including details about how the district blew off our in-person request to see the report, check our story.

Search Starts for New SDPD Chief

San Diego Police Shelley Zimmerman, whose term as the city’s top cop has been rocky, must quit as of next March because of her enrollment in a voluntary retirement program. The city is now starting a national search for her replacement, the U-T reports.

A secret panel will interview the candidates. The names of who is on the panel won’t be made public until after the new chief is chosen. There will be four community meetings to solicit input on the decision.

That’s not enough for some City Councilmembers and activists. Several legal and community organizations including the ACLU and Alliance San Diego criticized the plan and promised a press conference Wednesday morning. “We also believe that four community meetings are insufficient to gather input from our large and diverse city. We continue to call for and support a 15-member panel appointed by community stakeholders and additional forums to be held in Districts 8 and 9, where we know communities of color have disproportionate contact with police,” read a joint statement from the coalition.

Mayor Faulconer did not do a national search for a police chief after winning the mayoral election in 2014. At that time, he immediately chose Zimmerman to replace the former chief, who’d resigned under pressure.

Opinion: Don’t Let Chula Vista Become Pot-a-Palooza

In a VOSD commentary, Chula Vista Councilman Mike Diaz — who opposes the sale and use of marijuana — writes that city leaders should consider coming up with their own voter initiative regarding pot sales now that two have been submitted.

“The best path may be to create our own initiative that legalizes the production, cultivation and sales of marijuana in a more responsible way…,” he writes. “The difference is that our initiative would be focused on protecting the community.”

Petition Calls for Removal of Confederate Memorial

There’s news on the Confederate monument front.

Last week, we told you that there’s another Confederate monument in San Diego beyond the marker for the “Jefferson Davis Highway” that was immediately removed from Horton Plaza last week after local leaders realized it was there. The monument sits on a privately owned plot.

Now, the activist who initially called for the eviction of the Horton Plaza marker is gathering petition signatures calling for the cemetery monument to be removed, City News Service reports.

Culture Report: Kid-Unfriendly ‘Children’s Park’ to Get Hand

Downtown’s 2.1-acre Children’s Park, by the convention center, has become a no-kids zone thanks to its occupation by homeless people. They use a fountain to wash their clothes and concrete sitting blocks as a convenient space to dry their outfits.

Now, “city leaders hope new public art and a redesign will attract a bigger mix of people and help turn things around for the urban park,” writes our Kinsee Morlan in this week’s VOSD Culture Report. Construction is to begin next year, and the art alone is slated to cost about $70,000.

Also in the Culture Report: An AIDS memorial is in the works for a small new park in Bankers Hill, the San Diego Underground Film Festival is here, and the Oceanside Museum of Art wants to talk scars, a beer festival in Mira Mesa and more.

• As we’ve told you, a CityBeat columnist bashed the upcoming inaugural San Diego Book Festival for featuring a seemingly overwhelmingly white lineup based on their profiles and photos. She did not, however, suggest who should have been included or get any comment from the organizers about whether they sought diversity.

A commenter is not impressed: “I’m Hispanic, I’m light skinned and blue eyed. And if my bio was part of the Festival of Books I would be labeled a ‘grossly vanilla hipster.’”

Still, the Grossly Vanilla Hipsters would be a good name for a band.

Snopes: Breitbart Botches Tuberculosis Claim

Breitbart ran a story earlier this month saying El Cajon is a hot spot for tuberculosis based on the results of a UC San Diego study of refugees. The rate of TB in the refugees was “more than 100 times greater than the incidence of active TB among the entire population of the United States in 2016.”, the fact-checking website, ran the numbers and finds that the Breitbart story misunderstood and exaggerated the study findings.

Quick News Hits: Dept. of Lame Neighborhood Names

• A local state senator’s legislation to move last call closer to first call is getting the bum’s rush from public safety groups, the U-T reports.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other organizations oppose the bid by East County state Senator Joel Anderson, a Republican, to allow communities to let bars serve booze until 4 a.m. instead of 2 a.m. Any city could leave the earlier time in place.

Supporters think it’ll be a boost to the economy, but critics fear a variety of closing times will send boozed-up people out bar-hopping in search of very-late-night liquor.

• Presented without comment: “The man who wanted to split California into six states now wants to make it into three.” (L.A. Times)

• Presented with comment: Oh jeez. “Compact, cozy StubHub Center could be just the ticket for a unique fan experience and a Chargers rebirth,” says an L.A. Times columnist.

• The Reader’s Neighborhood News section is known for putting both the hyper and the local in hyper-local. Case in point: A new article titled “Lakeside Nextdoor monitor adrift after online kerfuffle.” It features this quote from a woman who got into a snit with her East County neighbors on the Nextdoor online service: “The first thing I’m doing is dropping the ban-hammer on you for personal attacks.”

The article features a map of the Lakeside area that identifies various neighborhoods with exceedingly dull names: Winter Gardens, Via Diego, Golden Ridge, Morning View. None of them, however, have quite the non-cachet of Mira Vista, which roughly means Look, View.

Mira Vista is not a very common name for a community, although it does grace a nudist colony in Tucson. That seems appropriate. But hey, let’s drop the ban-hammer the next time we see someone give a local community a Spanish name that sounds positively goofy in English. Looking at you, El Cajon!

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 ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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