The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

May 5, 2010
Textbook mistakes and parking lot scams

The latest Public Eye column published in The Bee takes on the powerful textbook industry and wins -- plus warns innocent drivers of an ingenious parking lot scam.

Math books replete with errors will be replaced at area school districts at the cost of publisher Macmillan/McGraw-Hill.

It has offered to replace its elementary math series, which includes student and teacher textbooks, teacher resource guides and student workbooks, at both Sacramento City Unified and Folsom Cordova Unified school districts.

Sac City Unified spokesman Gabe Ross said the district had paid the company $1.3 million for the books. Folsom Cordova Unified spent $600,000.

Staff at both districts voiced concern over errors found in the math series in a Bee story last month. Teachers said math problems didn't add up, lesson plans did not connect to homework assignments and the answer key had mistakes.

McGraw-Hill spokeswoman Mary Skafidas said the firm contacted every California school district that adopted the math series and offered to replace the materials. "Our intention is always to provide programs with the highest quality," Skafidas said.

New materials are expected to arrive the first week of August.

Ross said "McGraw-Hill has been very responsive to the situation and has gone above and beyond to rectify the situation."

- Melody Gutierrez and Diana Lambert

PARKING LOT WATCH

Check out parking lot attendants' badges, IDs

If you use a downtown Sacramento parking lot, beware of people posing as parking attendants to collect parking fees.

A Sacramento woman is out $10 after paying a man who directed her to a parking space in a lot operated by Priority Parking at 16th and J streets a week ago.

She was in a hurry to attend a luncheon. As she drove into the lot, she said a man approached her. He was wearing a black jacket with a patch on it, similar to those worn by security guards. He directed her to a parking space, followed her to the spot and said the fee was $6. When she gave him a $10 bill, he said he didn't have change. The woman told him keep the $10 and asked for a receipt. The man said he would give her the receipt when she returned.

Instead, she came back to find a $23 parking ticket from Priority Parking on her vehicle. She was told by the company she should have deposited the parking fee in a machine in the lot and displayed the ticket, or receipt, in her vehicle. The company waived the $15 penalty, but told her she would have to mail in $8 for the parking fee.

Irma Gomez handles parking violations for Priority Parking, which operates 50 downtown lots. The company has parking attendants at some lots, but Gomez said, "All of our people have logos on their shirts. They wear white shirts with their names and a badge with their photograph."

Gomez said reports of people posing as parking attendants are rare. If attendants collect fees at a lot, they always provide a receipt, she said, because the receipt must be displayed in the vehicle. She said drivers always should note the name on the badge.

- Cathy Locke

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About The Public Eye

Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

The Public Eye

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