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Stories by Brad Racino

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Earthquake Safety: Touring A Few Of San Diego’s Most Iconic Buildings

June 11
By Brad Racino / inewsource

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.

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San Diego’s Downtown Earthquake Fault, Kept Quiet For Years, Now Surfaces

May 2
By Brad Racino / inewsource

San Diego government agencies discovered an active earthquake fault nearly 10 years ago on the downtown waterfront, yet they didn’t alert the public.

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Investigations Continue Into HiCaliber Horse Rescue Despite Closing Announcement

April 24
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Local and state agencies are continuing their investigations into HiCaliber Horse Rescue, despite an announcement over the weekend that the Valley Center nonprofit is closing.

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HiCaliber Horse Rescue Shutting Down Amid Investigations

April 23
By Brad Racino / inewsource and Nicole Tyau / inewsource

HiCaliber Horse Rescue, a Valley Center nonprofit at the center of an inewsource investigation and multiple government investigations over allegations of fraud, animal abuse and improper veterinary practices, is closing, according to a Facebook post on Saturday.

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HiCaliber Horse Rescue Back To Fundraising After Filing Financial Paperwork

April 18
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The action comes about a month after the Attorney General’s Office prohibited HiCaliber from soliciting donations because it hadn’t submitted 2016 paperwork.

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Fourth HiCaliber Horse Rescue Board Member Never Saw Financials

March 28
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Another former board member of HiCaliber Horse Rescue has come forward to tell inewsource she never saw financial paperwork or detailed receipts while helping to oversee the Valley Center nonprofit. The horse rescue is at the center of multiple local and state investigations involving fraud, animal abuse and improper veterinary practices.

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Briggs Law Corp. Loses Supreme Court Appeal Over Wal-Mart Opinion

March 27
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The state Supreme Court has denied a request by San Diego attorney Cory Briggs and his nonprofit client, CREED-21, to unpublish a precedent-setting opinion involving the California Environmental Quality Act and a Wal-Mart project in Riverside County.

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Eyeballs, Del Mar And Manure: More On HiCaliber Horse Rescue

March 22
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The investigation inewsource began last month into HiCaliber Horse Rescue involved dozens of interviews and hundreds of pages of public records. Some of the material uncovered provides additional insights into how the Valley Center nonprofit operates.

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HiCaliber Donor Funds Used For Mobile Phone Spying, Weight Watchers; Documents Shared With District Attorney

March 15
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Michelle Knuttila, the founder of the nonprofit HiCaliber Horse Rescue, spent thousands of donor dollars intended for rescuing and rehabilitating horses on late-night fast-food and bar tabs, mobile phone spy technology, Weight Watchers and other purchases from October 2013 to March 2015, according to financial documents provided to inewsource.

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HiCaliber Horse Volunteers Say Disease Outbreak At Valley Center Ranch Not Disclosed

March 8
By Brad Racino / inewsource

An active outbreak of a highly contagious equine disease called strangles has occurred on the HiCaliber Horse Rescue ranch in Valley Center and is not being disclosed to anyone on the outside, including people who have adopted horses from the nonprofit over the past few months, five former HiCaliber volunteers told inewsource.

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Former Board Member And Veterinarian Details Problems With Finances, Medical Practices At HiCaliber Horse Rescue

March 7
By Brad Racino / inewsource

HiCaliber Horse Rescue’s former veterinarian and board member told inewsource Tuesday he has shared medical records and his concerns about HiCaliber’s founder practicing veterinary medicine without a license with the California Veterinary Medical Board.

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Attorney General’s Office Halts HiCaliber’s Fundraising, Spending For Failing To File Tax Docs

March 5
By Brad Racino / inewsource

HiCaliber Horse Rescue, a Valley Center nonprofit embroiled in allegations of fraud and animal abuse, can no longer raise or spend money until it submits proper financial disclosures to the state.

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HiCaliber Horse Rescue Ensnared In Allegations Of Animal Cruelty, Fraud

Feb. 28
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Horse enthusiasts from across the country are accusing HiCaliber Horse Rescue, a Valley Center nonprofit, of animal cruelty and fraud based on first-hand accounts and the organization’s social media posts. Local and state authorities are looking into the allegations.

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Cory Briggs’ Law Firm Asks State Supreme Court To Review Precedent-Setting Decision

Feb. 5
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The Briggs Law Corp. has asked the California Supreme Court to review a ruling that ended a lawsuit filed by local attorney Cory Briggs, drew the attention of the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and established new legal precedent.

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Sanction Involving San Diego Attorney Cory Briggs Creates Legal Precedent In California

Dec. 28, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

A state appeals court has affirmed punishing sanctions in a lawsuit involving local environmental attorney Cory Briggs for failing to obey court orders. The decision ends a lawsuit Briggs filed on behalf of a nonprofit against a Wal-Mart in Riverside County and establishes legal precedent.

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Developer Addressing Methane Problem At Otay Ranch Housing Project

Dec. 21, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource and Brandon Quester / inewsource

The Otay Water District has reached a resolution with HomeFed to install water meters at the developer’s 450-acre Escaya community in Otay Ranch.

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Remedial Classes: A Community College ‘Segregation Machine’

Dec. 14, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource and Meredith Kolodner/The Hechinger Report

Hundreds of thousands of community college students are placed in remedial classes every year, and few get past them, especially black and Latino students.

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Methane Found At Multimillion-Dollar Escaya Housing Project In Otay Ranch

Dec. 11, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Methane and volatile chemicals such as benzene have been discovered underground at a yet-to-be completed Otay Ranch project that is marketed as one of the largest planned housing developments in the U.S.

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New Law In San Diego Firms Up Government Transparency

Dec. 5, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Monday to fix a vaguely worded law requiring anyone doing business with the city to disclose their identities.

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San Diego Makes Big Stride Toward Government Transparency

Nov. 1, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

After more than a year of inewsource stories on the topic, the San Diego Rules Committee on Wednesday firmed up a vague law called Section 225 that mandates everyone doing business with the city disclose the financial interests behind the deal.

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Gompers Investigation Prompts Ambitious Search For Graduates

Oct. 23, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

inewsource weaves together news with a behind-the-scenes look at how they investigated the Gompers Preparatory Academy.

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San Diego Contracts, Business Deals Closer To Transparency

Oct. 3, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The City Council and Mayor’s Office are working to fix a vague but important law meant to make business between local government and private companies more transparent.

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North County Bus Drivers, Mechanics Allegedly Owed Thousands From First Transit

July 28, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Bus drivers and mechanics for San Diego’s North County Transit District allege they are owed thousands of dollars in accrued vacation, sick and personal time from First Transit, a national company that operated NCTD’s bus service for the past seven years under a $178 million contract.

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Teacher Of The Year Urges Gompers’ Community To Be Accountable

May 26, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

More than 25 teachers and students have come forward to talk about allegations of grade inflation and unrealistic academic expectations detailed by inewsource last week in an investigation of Gompers Preparatory Academy.

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Familiar Faces Vie For Seat On Powerful Port Of San Diego Board

May 25, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The departure of public relations executive Bob Nelson from the Port of San Diego’s board has sparked a rush to fill the spot at the powerful government agency.

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Gompers In The Spotlight: Teachers And Students Speak Out

May 17, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The association tasked with accrediting charter schools confirmed Tuesday it is looking into allegations of grade inflation documented in inewsource’s investigation of San Diego’s Gompers Preparatory Academy.

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Data, Teachers' Allegations Undermine Gompers' College-Ready Promise

May 15, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource and Brandon Quester / inewsource

When Vincent Riveroll swings an outsized bell to signal the start of the school day at Gompers Preparatory Academy, the director is sending a powerful message to the students and the community. Our kids are valued. Our kids can do it. Our kids are college bound.

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Port’s Tuna Harbor Proposal Disappoints San Diego Fishermen

April 28, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Commercial fishermen who expected that a proposed redevelopment of the San Diego waterfront would include land set aside solely for their industry found out Thursday that the Port of San Diego may have other ideas.

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inewsource Launches New Data Center To Help Public Track San Diego Stories

April 24, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource and Brandon Quester

Data is at the heart of inewsource’s work. Now, the newsroom has made it easier and more fun for readers to explore.

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Stop Ignoring Transparency Law, Grand Jury Warns San Diego

April 13, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The San Diego County grand jury urged city officials Thursday to move forward “with haste” in enforcing a long-ignored transparency law that requires companies doing business with the city to provide details about the financial interests behind the transactions.

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Crafting A Future For San Diego’s Tuna Harbor

April 12, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Plans to develop San Diego’s waterfront have birthed an unlikely alliance determined to wake a once-powerful industry from a long sleep.

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Financial Interests Behind San Diego Deals Worth Billions Still Undisclosed

March 13, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Despite overwhelming voter approval in 1992, three separate city attorney recommendations and an inewsource investigation, the city of San Diego is still not following a law mandating government transparency.

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News In Numbers: What Happens To San Diego Institutions If Trump Guts Federal Arts Funding?

Jan. 30, 2017
By Brad Racino / inewsource

President Donald Trump’s staff is proposing to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency that has funded art performance, research and accessibility since its formation in 1965, according to a recent report in The Hill.

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Mapping San Diego’s Complaints: Bedbugs, Barking Dogs And Substandard Housing

Dec. 19, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Over the past three years, San Diegans have filed more than 15,000 complaints with the city alleging code violations. inewsource mapped them all.

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Google Earth Engine Shows San Diego's Changing Landscape

Dec. 7, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

See how the county has changed over the past three decades.

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More Change In Store For San Diego’s North Embarcadero

Dec. 1, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The port has laid out plans for changes at Navy Pier, parking and circulation improvements, and more public space along San Diego's waterfront.

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4 Things To Watch With San Diego’s New Seaport Development

Nov. 14, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

In light of the history of waterfront development in San Diego, here are four things to keep an eye on with the new Seaport project.

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San Diego’s Commercial Fishing Industry Skeptical Of Massive Port Makeover

Oct. 27, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The industry has been an economic, cultural and tourist boon since its beginnings in the early 20th century. But today it's a shadow of its former self. Can a $1.2 billion development proposal save it?

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Court Tones Down Language, But Won’t Give San Diego's Cory Briggs Attorney Fees

Oct. 19, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

A state court has modified its opinion concerning San Diego attorney Cory Briggs’ “criminal” behavior, but denied a rehearing on the issue.

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San Diego Attorney Cory Briggs Challenges Court Ruling That Slammed His Conduct

Oct. 11, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Paul Pfingst, who is representing Briggs, is confident language in the opinion concerning criminal behavior will be changed after the court recognizes it “made a mistake.”

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Cory Briggs’ Conduct ‘Unethical And Possibly Criminal,’ Appellate Court Says

Sept. 22, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

The state court of appeal has denied local attorney Cory Briggs more than $258,000 in fees he sought against the city of San Diego, citing “unethical, unprofessional, or even illegal conduct…”

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San Diego Ignores Government Transparency Law For 24 Years

Aug. 2, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Voters passed the 1992 law after the city almost signed a deal with an alleged mobster. It was designed to show who the people are behind the companies doing billions of dollars in business annually with the city.

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How San Diego’s Vision For A World-Class Waterfront Vanished

April 25, 2016
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Massive projects are moving ahead along San Diego’s waterfront but not as part of a cohesive plan. With so much at stake, inewsource zeroed in on the North Embarcadero to find out how it developed and what lessons might be learned.

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NCTD Releases Part Of Leadership Assessment After Court Ruling

Dec. 14, 2015
By Brad Racino / inewsource, Leo Castañeda / inewsource

The North County Transit District spent more than $100,000 to fight a public records act request, eventually producing a partial summary of a leadership competency assessment.

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NCTD Prevails In Harassment Lawsuit

Aug. 25, 2015
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Jury rejects claims that a former human resources employee at the North County Transit District was laid off because of her age and gender.

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North County Transit District's CEO Accused Of Harassment, Discrimination

Aug. 4, 2015
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Former NCTD managers went on the record alleging Matthew Tucker harassed, intimidated and bullied older female employees for years at the San Diego transportation agency.

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Crane Crash At NCTD Station Highlights Continuing Safety Concerns

July 8, 2015
By Brad Racino / inewsource

A recent crane accident at the Escondido Transit Center highlights ongoing safety concerns at San Diego's North County Transit District.

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San Diego Judge Warns Attorney Briggs About Possible Criminal Prosecution

June 3, 2015
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Judge Gregory Pollack said attorney Cory Briggs knew the nonprofit he represented in litigation over the San Diego Convention Center expansion had been suspended by the state. “Mr. Briggs may be in a whole heap of trouble,” Pollack said.

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Nonprofits Linked To San Diego Attorney Cory Briggs Flout State, Federal Laws

May 28, 2015
By Brad Racino / inewsource and Brooke Williams / inewsource

For years, the well-known environmental attorney has collected attorney fees and settlements on behalf of a network of charitable, nonprofit organizations he helped form. In many cases, the nonprofits repeatedly and persistently violated state and federal laws.

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Briggs Withdraws Subpoena Against inewsource

May 8, 2015
By Brad Racino / inewsource

Cory Briggs, a San Diego attorney at the center of an inewsource investigation, has withdrawn a subpoena he served on inewsource’s executive director in April.

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