The Morning Report
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No way, no how. Not gonna do it. Nuh-uh.
To wit: Forget. It.
That’s been the no-nonsense, no-means-no position of San Diego’s mayor and city attorney on the prospect of municipal bankruptcy. One of their major arguments is a simple one: the city owes $2.1 billion for employee pensions, and going to bankruptcy court won’t help reduce that debt.
“You can’t touch the pensions, which is the big nut,” Mayor Jerry Sanders told us last week.
Is that true? As our explainer today makes clear, the situation isn’t too complicated for the above-average San Diegan (that would be you) to understand.
No one has ever wiped away guaranteed pension benefits in bankruptcy. It doesn’t appear likely that you would. But it is, at least in theory, possible. Some lawyers expect pensions to be challenged eventually — and the result will be a legal battle royal.
Unions and retirement systems might not want to risk the billions they have at stake in such a challenge, which could set legal precedent nationwide. And that, Liam Dillon writes, could force them to take a deal without forcing a judge to rule on the issue.
In other news:
- The San Diego neighborhood of City Heights has its eye on a big pile of federal grant money, as much as $10 million a year.
But, as our story puts it, “City Heights faces an interesting question: Should the community seek even more philanthropic investment than it already has, and can it handle it?”
- The San Diego Business Journal takes a look at how local banks are doing and finds that “As of early February, only four San Diego County banks had reported net profits for 2009. Thirteen others had announced net losses.”
- Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña is sponsoring a bill that “would require homeowners associations to allow installation of artificial turf. But in a nod to concerns about quality, the legislation permits those associations to establish design and quality standards for fake grass.” (U-T)
Guess that means you can’t cover the ground with shag carpet and paint it green.
- The parent company of the North County Times might find itself under attack: a labor union at its largest paper, in St. Louis, is threatening to launch a $500,000 “corporate campaign against Lee Enterprises,” possibly aimed at reducing advertising and subscription numbers.
- A new study reports that “California’s coastal fog has decreased significantly over the past 100 years,” although it’s not known if humans are at fault.
The decline in fog appears to be causing the air temperatures in coastal areas to go up.
So does this mean summers will soon be as warm in Imperial Beach as they are in El Cajon? (Gah!) Probably not. Even so, we’ll be trying to check in with the study authors this week to hear what their research says about San Diego’s weather.
- Finally, USA Today says a dog from San Diego known as a papillon has won an award of merit at the famous Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
The dog, named Jaca, knows more than 50 tricks and is unusual because he’s mainly a pet, not a show dog. His owner, Tylia Smith, “says he’s a total flirt, and he’s got the right attitude and ‘look-at-me strut’ in the ring.’”
Wow. It’s like I have a twin!