Good morning from Hillcrest.

  • The Agenda is bursting at the seams with news this morning. We’ll start with my piece on the easy, but complicated task of reforming the city of San Diego’s retiree health care plan. Easy in that cutting benefits are legal (unlike pensions) and don’t require public votes (like tax increases).
  • Meantime, the Union-Tribune editorializes that the city’s biggest financial problem isn’t the recession, but the fact the city consistently takes in less money than it spends — a “structural” deficit that includes massive retiree health care payments. We evaluated the recession vs. structural deficit issue back in October.
  • The U-T writes about a six-fold increase in permit costs for solar installations in the city. The increase pushed the city from third-lowest cost in the county to get a permit to second highest.
  • Mayor Jerry Sanders’ annual State of the City address is Wednesday, and the U-T says city watchers are hoping he addresses the city’s long-term budget problems.
  • County Supervisor Bill Horn says he used the royal “I” to refer to communication between his staff and a developer whose massive North County housing proposal failed last month. County law prohibits elected officials from talking to applicants prior to a vote. On Friday, fellow Supervisor Ron Roberts, who missed the last vote, requested a rehearing on the project by the full county board.
  • San Diego County’s treasurer and assessor are getting raises this year, while other elected officials aren’t. At least until after elections in June.
  • Chula Vista will continue to investigate an elections complaint against Councilman and mayoral candidate Steve Castaneda. The city’s outside investigator said she would need at least a month to evaluate the complaint’s merits. Also in Chula Vista news, a U-T editorial criticizes the timing of plans for new redevelopment zones.
  • This week’s point-counterpoint in the U-T is about medical marijuana. Proponents say legalizing pot will help the state’s budget deficit. Opponents argue legalization will cost far more than it helps.
  • A U-T editorial states the City Council was right to send medical marijuana zoning rules to a committee because there are too many unanswered questions.
  • District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis won’t receive the endorsement of a local public safety union umbrella organization, an interesting move given that Dumanis has no opponent. Dumanis, the subject of a five-part voiceofsandiego.org series last week, received heat from this U-T editorial to explain why she’s boycotting a judge.
  • The North County Times explains how you can be Facebook friends with your favorite North County politician.
  • Plagued by falling tax revenue, Escondido is looking at emergency cuts of 10 percent of its annual budget.
  • The Baltimore Sun takes a look at ousted Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s $83,000 annual pension and finds it below some other mayors, including Sanders.
  • A $44 million mixed-use project in City Heights, which includes nearly 100 apartments and 20,500 square feet of retail space is underway.
  • Pension blogger Ed Mendel has a thought-provoking story on a proposal to have state employees contribute more of their salaries to their pensions.
  • Our own Scott Lewis has the next two installments of his interview series with prominent San Diegans. County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is here and labor leader Lorena Gonzalez is here.
  • Last, but not least, is our weekly roundup of the San Diego City Council agenda. On tap are bid preferences for small and local businesses.

— LIAM DILLON

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