The Weekender for May 19, 2018

The Weekender for May 19, 2018

Let’s talk about impact. At inewsource, we measure the success of our reporting on the social, political and cultural changes it can bring to the real world.

This week, we experienced some of that impact. Here’s what happened:

Four days after reporter Megan Wood revealed that the San Diego Unified School District lost out on a grant for its homeless students because of a missing signature, Rep. Scott Peters asked the state to reconsider.

In a letter, Peters requested the state superintendent to reevaluate how California’s Department of Education reviews grant applications and notifies districts of problems with them.

Let’s be clear: Besides the letter, nothing has happened yet.

Still it’s reaction like this that tells us, and you, that investigative reporting can reach beyond just the web. In some cases, it can bring about changes in behaviors, policies, practices or legislation.

—Shyla Nott, inewsource

Congressman pleads to state to reconsider homeless funding

Reporter Megan Wood filed a story Friday about Congressman Scott Peters pleading with the state to reconsider a San Diego Unified School District grant application for $750,000 in homeless funding.

Peters apparently read our recent story about the district missing out on the funding due to a missing signature on the grant application.

Megan filed the story from Los Angeles, where she’s attending the Education Writers Association national conference on a scholarship.

A quick recap of her series:

State education officials did not respond to requests from inewsource on whether Peters’ plea to help San Diego Unified might succeed.

Read Megan’s newest story here or a quick overview of five things to know about student homelessness in San Diego County.

Search our homeless student enrollment database here.

SoccerCity vs. SDSU West

Two ambitious proposals for the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley could result in the biggest overhaul of city-owned land since a private developer built Liberty Station at the former 235-acre Naval Training Center nearly two decades ago.

It’s six months before the general election, and reporter Leo Castañeda found three campaign committees have already raised more than $7.4 million to spend on the ballot measures.

There will be blood.

Carl Luna, a political science professor at San Diego Mesa College, said he expects the campaign to turn into an expensive and nasty one.

“What you’re going to see is a blitz coming in after Labor Day, and it’s going to be a fairly negative campaign,” Luna said. “I don’t think either has a major way to say that they’re better than the other, so they’re gonna try to make the other one look worse.”

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Outside spending in the district attorney’s race

Our money-in-politics reporter Jill Castellano is burning the midnight oil, making sure to stay on top of the biggest campaign finance news in one of the most contested races in the 2018 election – the seat for San Diego County district attorney.

Eight political action committees are raising and spending money in the district attorney’s race – and they’re doing this without the candidates’ help or permission. Note: This is totally legal.

Political action committees can spend unlimited amounts of money from anywhere in the country to influence local elections.

Jill spoke to both candidates and found they appreciate the support they’re getting from PACs and are unconcerned that they can’t control the groups’ messages.

New and useful data

We made a big splash recently with our first-of-its-kind searchable campaign finance database for county elections.

This week, we unveiled two new databases:

  • City of San Diego campaign finance transactions. Search every itemized contribution made from Jan. 1, 2017, through April 21, 2018, to support political candidates, ballot measures or independent expenditure committees that have raised or spent more than $10,000 in San Diego campaigns.
  • San Diego County District Attorney’s Race: Outside Spending. Eight political action committees have spent more than $1 million on mailers, commercials and other methods in the San Diego County district attorney’s race. Scroll through or search the table to see which committees are spending money in the race.

And while it’s not exactly new, we did push out our interactive Mello-Roos database this week for readers who may not have been aware it exists. Mello-Roos taxes are additional property taxes intended to pay for specific capital projects, like schools and roads.

San Diego County property owners have paid almost $1 billion since 2011 in Mello-Roos taxes, and not all are created equal. Homeowners in the same neighborhood can pay vastly different amounts. Some people may pay into one Mello-Roos district; others pay into as many as seven separate districts.

You can use our map to find your home and see what you’re paying – or search your neighbors’ addresses to see if they’re paying more (or less) than you.

In the community

inewsource Executive Director Lorie Hearn and board President Karin Winner talked to about 40 members of the Coronado Democratic Club this month about fake news, how to detect it and where to go to find credible news.

(Of course, we’re at the top of the “credible” list)

We made many new friends who will be following our work and hopefully giving us feedback. If you belong to an organization that would like a presentation about today’s news landscape, please email Lorie at loriehearn@inewsource.org. We’d be happy to accommodate!

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shadow-ornament

We'll let you know when big things happen.

About Shyla Nott:

Shyla Nott
Shyla Nott is a social media web producer for inewsource. To contact her with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email shylanott [at] inewsource [dot] org.