Well, this is a new one.

As Poway Unified School District officials were responding to a public records request from VOSD’s Ashly McGlone, they eventually came upon some documents in a desk drawer.

The docs showed a series of payments to some top district officials — separate from salary or pension plan contributions — that no one can remember the school board approving. The payments were cut off in 2015.

Marian Kim-Phelps, the district’s new superintendent, told McGlone that district officials have turned the docs over to district lawyers, and to the district attorney’s office.

“We really want to be transparent. We want to ensure that we put in best business practices … that there are checks and balances, so that if there is anything that is happening that is not legal or in compliance with board policy or board approval, that we address it and take action to correct it,” Kim-Phelps said.

Ex-Poway Superintendent John Collins appears to have received some of the payments. Collins has been charged with four felonies related to alleged misuse of public funds during his tenure; he’s pleaded not guilty.

New Homeless Lot Opens; Homeless Campground Now Home to Dozens of Kids

A third lot where the homeless can legally park overnight has opened off of Aero Drive.

“Last week, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced that Dreams for Change could use the Kearny Mesa parking lot, which the city owns and had been using to park emergency vehicles,” reports the Union-Tribune. “The 60-space lot brings the program’s total spaces to 150.” Other lots operate in Golden Hill and on Balboa Avenue.

San Diego has an ordinance that makes sleeping in a vehicle illegal – a law that one local lawyer is challenging. A similar law in Los Angeles was struck down as unconstitutional. Last year, San Diego also made permanent a law banning oversized vehicles like RVs from parking overnight on city streets without a permit.

Meanwhile, there are dozens of children living at one of the newly opened, city-sanctioned homeless camps in Golden Hill near Balboa Park, reports KPBS:

“Children are not the typical face of San Diego’s homeless population. They are rarely seen panhandling or pushing overstuffed carts. But a count taken in January found 976 homeless children in the county, with 169 sleeping without shelter.”

County Is Trickling Out Some Hep A Data

San Diego County officials are continuing to keep data on the hepatitis A outbreak under wraps, despite requests from media under the California Public Records Act and from city officials, including members of the San Diego City Council.

It trickled out some data to the Union-Tribune this week on the ages and genders of those impacted by the outbreak – but only “in summary form after weeks during which officials declined to release documents containing the information.”

Among the stats released were that the average age of those who’ve died so far is 56, 13 were “homeless, three of those also were illicit drug users,” and two who died were neither homeless not illicit drug users, the U-T reports.

Meanwhile, the county plans to ask Gov. Jerry Brown for emergency funds and other help to combat the outbreak, KPBS reports. The governor declared a statewide hep A emergency earlier this month.

One Giant Leap for a Former NASA Employee

Melissa Walter used to do design and illustration work for NASA, but now she’s a rising star in the world of fine art.

VOSD’s Kinsee Morlan talked with Walter about how she made the leap to become a full-time artist in a new episode of VOSD’s Culturecast.

And in this week’s Culture Report, Morlan talks car wash design and other local architecture highlights and lowlights being featured in this year’s Orchids & Onions Awards, events for Halloween and Dia de los Muertos and more.

Quick News Hits

• The city debuted a new web page detailing the guidelines for producing, cultivating, testing and delivering recreational marijuana.

• “A former firefighter recruit is suing San Diego for discrimination, harassment and retaliation because she was fired last year after speaking up about lewd comments and penis drawings in the Fire Academy locker room,” reports the Union-Tribune.

• San Diego recently approved a big pay boost for SDPD officers. How much were they making? “The majority of police officers – more than 70 percent – make between $100,000 and $150,000 annually in total pay and benefits,” reports NBC 7.

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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