Double the Money:

Newsletter, September 18, 2013: Vaccines, mayoral fundraising and a government response

Dear friends of inewsource,

We know you value an independent, nonpartisan, credible version of events. Just the facts, no opinion. That’s inewsource!

Now you can show your enthusiasm by joining our team. Be one of the first to become a member of inewsource. Our investigative work would not be possible without people like you who believe in what we do and in the important role we play in democracy. Are you a “News Junkie?” or an “Inside Source?” Click here to find out and sign up!

While you’re at it, take a look at this nifty tracker we’ve built to monitor contributions in the mayor’s race every day. Also, browse our interactive map to find out how schools in your neighborhood are faring in the on-going debate over immunizations. You’ll also see how a government agency has responded to our reporting about special taxes. Keep reading to learn more.

Support our mission. Please forward this email to a friend.

— Lorie Hearn, executive director

loriehearn@inewsource.org

Government response

Reporter Joanne Fayron continues to hold government officials accountable for how they spend those special tax dollars we’ve been telling you about called Mello-Roos. These can be hefty property tax additions — up to $10,000 — paid by homeowners in new developments for infrastructure, such as schools, roads and community facilities.

Some of Joanne’s reporting over the past couple of months has focused on bad calculations that resulted in over- and under-charges. Poway Unified School District responded to those reports this week with a website that will enable homeowners to see whether they are paying the correct amount in Mello-Roos. The site is expected to be up and functioning by the end of the week.

These special taxes have been permitted by the state of California for 30 years. Now, thanks to Joanne’s reporting, tax payments are being reviewed and some people are getting refunds.

Catch up on the stories.

Tracking the money — every day!

Follow the money with us by using the tracker we launched this week to monitor contributions in the special election for San Diego mayor. You can see names, occupations and where the money is coming from in simple, easy to understand bar charts and graphics.

Reporter Joe Yerardi built the tracker and is updating the contributions daily. This is possible because of a new city law that requires candidates to report $1,000-per-person donations every day. We round up the latest filings and funnel them into the charts, making it a snap for you to follow the race.

By the way, almost $200,000 has been reported so far among contenders David Alvarez, Kevin Faulconer and Nathan Fletcher. Faulconer and Fletcher are neck and neck, and the deadline for declaring candidacy (running) hasn’t even passed — it’s Friday.

Listen for Joe on KPBS radio (89.5) Thursday morning. He’ll be reporting the latest on spending in the race.

Vaccine routine

Reporter Ryann Grochowski, our former data reporter now freelancing from New York City, teamed with Claire Trageser from KPBS to bring you the latest trend among parents in the debate over childhood vaccinations.

Our analysis and reporting show more and more parents stretching out the vaccine schedule for a variety of reasons. This means more kindergarteners are not fully vaccinated when they start school, a concern among public health officials.

Ryann spent several weeks crunching the numbers from hundreds of schools and building a map (that looks a little like a measles outbreak) so you can learn what the immunization rates are at schools across the county. Type in your address to find the ones near you!

We'll let you know when big things happen.

About Lorie Hearn

Lorie Hearn is the founder and executive director of inewsource.