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In a facility devoted to the well-being of animals, one of the toughest chores is choosing which pets are adoptable and which are not.

Consider the adorable but wheezing cat and the friendly pit bull that doesn’t play well with other dogs: At the county animal shelter, pets like these with “manageable” conditions end up in a gray area between adoptable and not adoptable.

In many cases, their fate is grim, and lately their numbers have been rising, perhaps because the economy makes such high-maintenance pets a burden. Still, the shelter has done a remarkable job over the past decade of lowering the number of pets put to death.

In other news:

  • In the world of science, DNA has long been the star attraction, while RNA lurked backstage. But now, local researchers are singing the praises of RNA, saying it might be the key to better treatments for diseases like cancer, Huntington’s disease and AIDS.
  • A $100 dinner at a $600-a-night hotel in Switzerland. An $84 prix fixe spaghetti dinner. Duck confit for $80.

    With apologies to Mel Brooks, it’s good to be an employee of the local airport authority: You can get primo meals on the public tab.

    On Thursday, the authority board will consider new expense policies for board members. They may get something called a “per diem” — perhaps you’ve heard of it. After all, it’s as routine a part of business life as a briefcase.

    But employees aren’t covered by the proposed rules.

    As our work has revealed, the airport authority is anything but a stickler about extravagant spending.

    Meanwhile, the U-T continues to advance the story, reporting today that records show that at least seven businesses call board Chairman Bob Watkins’ Brant Street townhouse home, in apparent violation of city regulations.

  • In education, we’ve got a guest blogger in the house. The topic is a touchy one: merit pay.

    Rick Beach, president of the San Diego Science Alliance, contends that standardized tests are too flawed to measure the quality of teachers.

    Question: If teachers shouldn’t be judged by test scores, why should students?

  • Local biotech firm Sequenom sacked its CEO and three other executives after a probe into the mishandling of test results regarding a blood test for Down syndrome.

    We followed this saga last spring, when the bungling sent the company’s stock down a whopping 76 percent.

  • Want to meet the Frugals? Just look the mirror. San Diegans, says a financial website, are among the most penny-pinching people in the country, at least judging by its criteria.
  • It looks like there’s a reason we’re frugal: San Diego County’s poverty rate climbed to a half-century high at 12.6 percent, according to new Census data. (NCT)
  • Chargers brass say Monday’s meeting with a developer interested in partnering on a stadium project in Escondido went well, although no one’s naming the developer. (NCT)
  • Elsewhere: The doctor accused of facilitating Michael Jackson’s death has a colorful past, and it includes time spent in San Diego that he’d probably rather forget. (NYT)

    Finally, an AP story uses tony Rancho Santa Fe to prove that a million dollars goes further than it used to, housing-wise. “Now, foreclosures and financially distressed homeowners account for about 15 percent of sales,” the story says, “and home prices are down 30 percent.”

    A 2,200-square-foot home, for example, is available for $800,000.

    Welcome to the new frugality.

— RANDY DOTINGA

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