The Weekender for June 16, 2018

The Weekender for June 16, 2018

Facebook recently changed its policy on political ads. The new rules were designed to prevent Russia and other foreign agents from meddling in U.S. elections, but the changes are hitting news outlets (including inewsource) pretty hard. In short, Facebook is lumping news organizations in with political and advocacy advertisers.

In the interest of transparency, we pay Facebook to advertise our reporting. We do this to boost exposure of our investigations in the hopes of informing a larger share of the public about what’s going on in San Diego and beyond. But for the past couple of weeks, our stories have taken a serious hit on the social platform because Facebook deemed them too political. Unfortunately, Facebook’s definition of political content is so broad that it has affected nearly everything we cover.

At inewsource, we believe that Facebook’s new efforts to screen political ads has by default censored high-quality journalism. And that’s dangerous for the future of a free and independent news media.

Our friends at ProPublica recently wrote about the issue and featured us in their article. You can read what they had to say here.

Until Facebook relents (or until there’s a better social platform for sharing news), we’re asking you for help.

Please share our news articles on Facebook. Share them with your mom, uncle, best friend, co-worker, neighbor, that random guy whose name you always forget.

Because when the truth is silenced, there are no winners.

—Shyla Nott, inewsource

‘Sufficient evidence’ of possible money fraud at San Ysidro School District

State auditors found ‘sufficient evidence’ that two former top administrators in the San Ysidro School District may have engaged in financial fraud and misuse of district funds, according to a new report.

During their 26-month stints in the district, Superintendent Julio Fonseca and Deputy Superintendent Jose Arturo Sanchez-Macias each cashed out about $161,000 in vacation days and life insurance.

The county schools superintendent originally asked for the audit in November – three weeks after reporter Leo Castañeda began publishing stories questioning the pair’s compensation.

Other findings from the audit:

  • Both administrators often used petty cash or funds intended for urgent expenses to circumvent the district’s fiscal controls. (Sanchez-Macias disputed this in a telephone interview following Thursday night’s San Ysidro school board meeting when the audit was handed down)
  • Auditors reviewed 78 payments and reimbursements connected to both administrators. All but one had problems.
  • The district paid more than $3,300 for a Fonseca trip that was prepaid with Sanchez-Macias’ personal credit card. No one attended the trip and the district was never reimbursed.
  • Sanchez-Macias was reimbursed for more than $9,800 for car repairs and a rental after he damaged his car on a school campus. He only provided a repair cost estimate and a receipt for a car rental.

What’s next?

County schools Superintendent Paul Gothold told the San Ysidro school board it has 15 days to hand over proposed actions related to the audit’s findings.

Continue reading…

Flawed applications cost more schools funding for homeless students

Last month Megan Wood reported how San Diego Unified lost out on thousands of dollars in federal funding to help its homeless students because its grant application was missing a signature.

It turns out the school district wasn’t the only one to mess up in San Diego County.

Two elementary school districts also submitted incomplete applications. South Bay Union failed to detail the number of schools in the district, its homeless student population and the amount of funding it was requesting. La Mesa-Spring Valley failed to include two copies of the original application, which the state required.

Of the 128 applications the Education Department received this year for the federal homeless student grant, 15 had incomplete applications and were automatically rejected.

Continue reading…

Touring old San Diego buildings for earthquake safety

It doesn’t take much to draw Pat Abbott out of semi-retirement.

The San Diego geologist has a flair for explaining complicated seismic topics and an overwhelming interest in earthquake safety.

Brad Racino’s recent story about an active downtown earthquake fault gave Abbott an idea: spend a day surveying old buildings to see how they would stand up to the Big One.

Take the tour…

A City Council incumbent underdog?

San Diego City Council incumbents almost always win re-election. None has lost since the early 1990s.

But for District 4 Councilwoman Myrtle Cole, getting re-elected could prove to be more difficult.

She barely came in first in the primary, capturing about 200 more votes than Monica Montgomery, who finished second in the four-person contest and has raised significantly less money for the race than Cole.

Continue reading…

Map the City Council results

We especially like maps around here. They make it easier to see and understand data.

This week we rolled out a new interactive map that lets folks explore the four City Council districts’ voting results by precinct or address.

Explore the maps…

News from Orlando

inewsource Executive Director Lorie Hearn and reporter Brad Racino spent several days at the annual Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Orlando, Florida, to catch up on the newest developments in journalism, hear tips from the best in the industry and network with partners.

Lorie participated in a panel discussion about the pros and cons of partnerships (inewsource has several partners, including KPBS, CBS8, Times of San Diego, The Coast News Group and PBS NewsHour).

Brad spoke to a packed room about how to investigate nonprofits and make sense of their paperwork. Many of his stories over the years have involved nonprofits, including an investigation into San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn, local attorney Cory Briggs and most recently HiCaliber Horse Rescue.

They’re both back to work on Monday, fresh with new ideas (and possibly slight tans).

Tell your friends to sign up for The Weekender here.

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.