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Poway Unified is highlighting broken rain gutters at Rancho Bernardo High in its bid for a new $448 million bond measure in March 2020. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

If you want to get a sense of how truly astonishing the Poway Unified School District’s 2011 bond deal was, consider this: It got a bunch of community members and journalists to pay sustained attention to the intricacies of school bond financing. 

The deal, which netted the district $105 million for construction projects but will cost $1 billion to pay back, led to the ousting of multiple school board members and a new state law ensuring districts couldn’t take on such deals in the future.

Now, nine years later, Poway Unified is again asking voters to approve a bond deal that will add to the district’s debt obligation

“Poway’s new leaders say more money is needed, and point to crumbling infrastructure to justify a new bond, as well as a lack of state funding for facilities upkeep,” Ashly McGlone writes in a piece examining Poway’s new pitch and revisiting its bond history. “They also link quality facilities to educational outcomes and, in a familiar turn, argue there are new security needs in an era of school lockdowns.”

Poway’s superintendent told McGlone that people move to Poway specifically for its schools, and that prestigious schools make property values go up. 

Some of the projects on the list, McGlone notes, were also promised to voters as part of previous bond measures.

A New Critique of Smart Streetlights Emerges

Criticism has been building for more than a year over the city’s smart streetlights program – advocates have pointed out the technology was sold as a way to help mitigate traffic and environmental concerns but is now being used to aid in a growing number of police investigations.

City Councilwoman Vivian Moreno has flagged another concern, as Jesse Marx reports: Part of the program was funded by federal Community Development Block Grants, which are intended to aid low-income neighborhoods. 

“This is a clear case of the city using CDBG funding to simply backfill another priority,” Moreno said. 

The mayor’s office said it’s common to use CDBG funds on infrastructure projects in eligible areas. 

Moreno flagged other projects she said were worthy endeavors but that shouldn’t be funded by CDBG money.

How Much Local Candidates Have Raised

Local politics over the last few years has been loaded with examples of unlikely candidates beating the odds. Monica Montgomery won a seat on the City Council without support from the Democratic Party and major labor unions. Ammar Campa-Najjar gave Rep. Duncan Hunter a relative scare despite the 50th Congressional District being overwhelmingly Republican.

But let’s be real, money is important when it comes to running for office.

With a big assist from Mason Herron of Edgewater Strategies, we’ve updated our look at where local candidates stand in the fundraising race, including both fundraising totals and the amount the candidates have on hand to spend.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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