Some non-teacher workers in the Poway Unified School District have racked up years of unpaid vacation time each. In total, the liability for these employees is a whopping $6 million, our Ashly McGlone reports in a new story.
“The highest balance belongs to a maintenance supervisor with 238 days accrued, or at least nine years’ worth of accrued vacation benefits if given the usual 26 days per year, according to district documents obtained by Voice of San Diego through a California Public Records Act request,” McGlone reports. “The second highest balance belongs to an administrative assistant in the personnel office with 185 days.”
The news shouldn’t come as a surprise to the district: The district’s internal controls over vacation time were found lacking in two different audits over the last year, McGlone notes, and the former superintendent of the district is facing felony charges that accuse him, among other things, of cashing out vacation time he wasn’t entitled to.
The district is acting to get the vacation issue under control.
Opinion: Community Choice Over Power Has Benefits Beyond Price
In a VOSD commentary, Jim Wang, an environmental commissioner with the city of Encinitas who serves on that city’s community choice aggregation subcommittee, writes about the benefits of allowing cities to be in charge of buying power: “Arguments about these government energy programs are often dominated by price, because it is one simple number. But just as there are many factors to consider besides price when paying for transportation or lodging, there are many benefits of a community choice aggregation program besides price that are important.”
Ward Calls for Big Action on Homeless
Councilman Chris Ward is pushing for big changes to address the city’s homelessness crisis. In a memo released last week, he calls for:
• “Safe camping” zones at the football stadium and sports arena parking lot and at 20th and Broadway
• “Safe parking” zones at those places, at several places in the Clairemont/Kearny Mesa/Serra Mesa area identified by Councilman Chris Cate, and elsewhere
• Installation of mobile shower units and restrooms, “most immediately” at the old downtown library, Golden Hall and Mission Bay parking lots
• Provide shelter beds in Golden Hall for families, women and children
• Increase street cleaning, handwashing stations, sanitation, and security in areas especially affected by homelessness, such as Balboa Park, downtown, Pacific Beach, Hillcrest and others
Restrooms for Homeless Spawn Unique Solutions
Public restrooms are often filthy and can be hot spots for drug use. Father Joe’s Villages has a couple solutions: Restroom cleaning every two hours and large fans that will be installed to prevent people from lighting up, the U-T reports.
But a homeless man says public restrooms won’t help all his counterparts: “A lot of them are alcoholics that are too drunk or too wasted to go down the street and time it.”
• The U-T explores the various government failures that contributed to the deadly hepatitis A. Plus! Government types fail to admit that their agencies contributed to various failures.
• Charts in the U-T show how stunning this hepatitis A outbreak really is: There have been 444 reported cases as of last week, compared with 1,239 in the entire nation in 2015.
Also, an estimated 23 percent of people infected with hepatitis A during the outbreak are neither homeless nor injection drug users.
Uncrowding the Prisons
The Associated Press Times looks at attempts by the California Legislature — awaiting a final decision by the governor — to allow certain inmates to get out of prison early in order to reduce overcrowding. Local Assemblywoman Shirley Weber is one of the legislators who’s passed bills aimed at addressing the problem: “Weber’s bill would write into law a 2014 federal court order that requires California to consider releasing inmates age 60 or older who have served at least 25 years. Death row and other no-parole inmates were excluded by the judges, and her bill further excludes cop killers and third-strike career criminals.”
According to the AP, the state has six inmates older than 90. One is 101.
Merkel Loves S.D.
Guess who learned to love America here in San Diego? Answer: The chancellor of Germany, who visited our fair city — and the U.S., for the first time — in 1990 when her future husband worked here. Bloomberg reports that San Diego is where Merkel “cemented an emotional and political attachment to America.”
Padres Taking Step to Protect Fans
As if pro sports doesn’t have enough problems, now there’s a grim debate over safety in ballparks after a young girl was hit in the face by a 105-mile-per-hour line drive at Yankee Stadium last week. She was seriously injured.
Like most teams, the Yankees hadn’t taken an extra step — beyond that urged by league officials — to add netting to protect fans from wayward balls. The Padres didn’t go for the extra netting either, but the team has now announced it will make the change.
“It is worth remembering in all this that, for decades, there have been harrowing incidents at baseball games in which fans were injured,” the New York Times reports. “In 1970, a 14-year-old boy was killed by a foul ball at Dodgers Stadium. Many years and many injuries later, a Red Sox fan in 2015 was hit with a broken bat at Fenway Park and suffered serious injuries.”
Earlier this year, a woman was injured at the Padres ballpark by a bat accidentally thrown by a player.
Quick News Hits: Now a Word About Fossils
• A “San Diego federal judge has ruled in favor of the Border Patrol in a lawsuit that alleged the agency had a policy authorizing the use of deadly force against rock throwers — a policy that contributed to the death of a Mexico man at the border fence.” (U-T)
Meanwhile, authorities say they’re catching more Chinese nationals trying to head into the U.S. illegally from Mexico, although their numbers in the overall count is small. (U-T)
• Yes, the AV Club is absolutely correct: This year’s $54.95 “sexy Border Patrol agent” Halloween costume really is “in tremendously bad taste.”
It’s called the duck-billed hadrosaur Augustynolophus morrisi — “Auggie” to its pals. There are only two specimens, both at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. According to the legislator who introduced the state dinosaur bill (ahem), it’s a “native Californian, Los Angeles resident, older than Jerry Brown (barely), vegetarian and firm believer in science.”
Auggie even has a Twitter account. Won’t be long before she starts trolling the state bird. Quail strong!
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.