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Editor’s note: We know you’re very busy and, we assume, extremely important. To make sure you’re up to date, we’re recapping the biggest stories of the month and highlighting the best local reporting on our site and elsewhere.

November’s Big Story: San Diego’s crumbling finances spawned plenty of news coverage this month, and no wonder: city leaders are trying to get a head start on dealing with an estimated $200 million budget deficit. But what — and who — should get sliced?

A behind-the-scenes advisory board to Mayor Jerry Sanders is right in the thick of things. We obtained a draft of the panel’s report, which put the situation in pointed language: “Stop the half truths, unfunded mandates and budgetary gimmicks.”

The final report could be quite different. But this one says that the city should begin laying the groundwork for bankruptcy and indeed file for it if it can’t complete a long list of difficult reforms.

Later, the mayor issued his own recommendations about cutbacks, but he acknowledged that many of them are one-time fixes. In fact, he wants to postpone some expenses that can’t be eliminated — putting him directly at odds with his group of advisors.

Other November News:

  • They may be bleeding money at City Hall, but at least they’ve put a tourniquet on their water use.

    With water scarce, some of San Diego’s biggest users are cutting us a break, according to our review of San Diego’s biggest water users. The city of San Diego, for example, is letting places like the golf course in Balboa Park go brown. Then again, their savings is offset some by a 15 percent increase by another major user — the Navy.

    Maybe they’ll have more incentive to save now: water rates are going up in the city, and more hikes are inevitable, as water managers are forced to go to greater lengths to ship water to us here in arid San Diego.

    “There is no more cheap water,” as one water manager put it.

  • San Diego schools face major cutbacks too, but they don’t seem ready for a possible financial armageddon.
  • Also this month, the drama over the future of the Chargers continued: Now all eyes are on a possible site in downtown San Diego. This came as news to the people who own the building that’s now there.

    Meanwhile, an L.A-area city is wooing the Chargers to move north, but it has its own challenges.

  • On the medical front, local paramedics have adopted a “six-foot rule” when it comes to patients who may have swine flu. And in politics, Congressman Bob Filner may have taken dictation from biotech lobbyists.

Your Favorites: Readers told us they enjoyed our stories (here and here) about a City Heights man who’s turned his decrepit property into a horticultural oasis. They also liked reporter Emily Alpert‘s chronicle of her service as “boss lady” at a local school.

Asked and Answered: In our weekly Q&A feature, we talked to a literary agent about the iffy future of publishing, a neighborhood advocate about the iffy future of community centers, and a biotech bigshot about the iffy future of venture capitalism. And we checked in with an infamous scam artist from the 1980s who now tries to find crooks who do what he did..

Also this month, we profiled a police crisis negotiator who’s learned how to calm the suicidal and a man who’s spent 40 years channeling the energy of troubled kids into music.

Lessons Learned: If your dad is really funny, you can make a bundle like a young San Diego guy by posting his earthy sayings on Twitter.

The Best of the Rest: The U-T continues to do fine investigative work regarding local Assemblyman Joel Anderson, who’s under a cloud over campaign funding and now faces questions regarding a taxpayer-funded mailer.

CityBeat examined Congressman Brian Bilbray’s habit of putting relatives — his daughter and wife — on the payroll. And both the LA Times and San Diego Reader took a look at Alan Bersin, the former San Diego schools chief and U.S. attorney who’s in line for a big job.

Photo of the Month: It’s this remarkable shot of a homeless veteran, whose life story is written on his face.

Quote of the Month: “GOOD MORNING, CALCULUS!” — Crawford High School calculus teacher Jonathan Winn, greeting his first class of the day with a scream. The hugely popular class upends expectations about the kinds of kids who would ever take an advanced math class.

— RANDY DOTINGA

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