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I just got back from City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s press conference on the judge’s ruling. He said he was optimistic, saying: “We’re not leading, but we’re not behind.”

Aguirre said the ruling showed the judge was contemplating the structure of how exactly he would go about voiding employee pension benefits if he found pension deals in 1996 and 2002 to be illegal. Aguirre noted that some critics never thought a judge would even get that far.

The city attorney said his team of attorneys anticipated the questions raised by Judge Jeffrey Barton and is busy preparing responses for Monday’s hearing.

While I was gone at the press conference, Mayor Jerry Sanders left me the following comment on my voice mail:

“I’ve wanted to see a resolution of this through the courts, and I think what the judge ruled today gives the city attorney and [the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System] and the rest of them an opportunity to argue in the court Monday,” he said. “I just see this as another step in the process.”

Barton will hear arguments on the ruling from Aguirre, the pension system and union on Monday morning at 9 a.m. The city has asked Barton to make a summary judgment, which essentially would be an expedited ruling that would avoid a lengthy jury trial. The city attorney said even if he did lose Monday’s arguments, the case would go to a full trial.

We’ll be trying to gather comment from the pension system and unions. Check back later for more.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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