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New showerheads and toilets. Rock landscaping. Artificial turf.

Two years after an embarrassing story revealed overall above-average water usage, the members of the San Diego City Council — including some new faces — are putting their bathrooms and lawns on a liquid diet.

The eight council members in single-family homes have all have found ways to reduce their water usage or at least keep it below average.

How do you get Mayor Jerry Sanders, owner of the aforementioned new showerheads, to lighten up? Make sure his daughter is in the room.

This approach worked for photographer Robert Benson, who coaxed a half-smile (some might say a smirk) and a twinkle out of Sanders in a revealing black-and-white photo. Benson explains his technique in our latest profile of a local shooter.

The mayor, among many others, is certainly wondering about the future of the U-T. Will it get better or worse under new ownership?

While the layoff ax cut hundreds of jobs, much of the U-T newsroom management is still in place, and the paper’s direction hasn’t changed much so far.

Canadian publisher David Black, who’s playing a major role as the U-T tries to right itself, tells a newspaper there are no plans to restore the U-T’s shuttered D.C. bureau. He seems to brush off the prospect as a “perfect world” fantasy; perhaps he ranks it with unicorns and calorie-free cheeseburgers.

The story adds that “Mr. Black’s papers are mostly of the decidedly no-frill variety.”

Considering all it’s been through, could there even be fewer frills in the U-T?

Speaking of news bureaus, our correspondent in Sacramento provides an extensive list of the projects that local legislators are working on, from pushing for a new state university (Cal State South Bay?) to creating a musical alternative to PE.

Closer to home, our latest hire has a familiar byline. Former intern Adrian Florido is our new neighborhood reporter.

Please feel free to get in touch with Adrian and all the rest of the voiceofsandiego.org team. Why? Because we rely on you, our extremely intelligent and amazingly well-informed readers, to help us tell stories about San Diego and the places that surround us.

(We also trust you to see through shameless flattery. Unless, of course, it comes from us.)

Elsewhere in local news, the AP reports that the San Diego City Council threw its support behind SDG&E’s plans to shut off power to the backcountry during dangerous wildfire conditions. But how much sway does the city actually have?

The U-T, meanwhile, has the sounds that the city considered using to shoo away those pesky Children’s Pool seals.

Also, labor reps aren’t applauding the San Diego school board’s latest move on a labor agreement, and the county airport authority has a new chairman.

Finally, the governor of Montana is offering to buy San Diego from California for a cool $450 million. A warm-water port could turn the state of fewer than one million into “a world power,” he said, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

We can think of 1.354 million people who might object, especially if we have to pick up and leave.

Even if we could stay, do we really want a governor who wears bolo ties, never starred in a single blockbuster movie and probably hasn’t been stuck in a traffic jam of anything more than two cows and an F-150?

— RANDY DOTINGA

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