The Morning Report
San Diego news and info
you need to take on the day.

You could call him a babysitter, a guardian, a glorified hall monitor.

You can also call him expensive: it’s cost San Diego $1.8 million over the last three years to hire a securities attorney whose job is to monitor how the city reports its finances to the public and investors.

In a Q&A, we talk to Stanley Keller about why he’s worth it (he says his pay “is a drop in the bucket compared to the total cost that the city has incurred as a result of the problems of the past”) and what he thinks of how the city’s government is handling its finances (“the question is stepping up, being transparent about what’s going on. I think the city gets credit, rather than demerits, for being up front”).

In other news:

  • Motivated by her young son’s struggle with cancer (check out the adorable photo of him), a local scientist has co-founded a center devoted to seeking better treatments for pediatric cancer, which strikes an estimated 11,000 kids under the age of 15 each year.

    Ultimately, she “wants to use genetics to customize treatment for individual children. Genetically, every cancer — like every patient — is unique, and even within a tumor cancer cells can differ from each other.”

  • City Attorney Jan Goldsmith had more to say yesterday about his belief that city employees could end up being responsible for paying part of the $2.1 billion unfunded pension liability. (An attorney for the city pension system says he’s wrong.)

    What does it mean if Goldsmith’s opinion rules the day? “Employees would not be responsible for half the city’s pension deficit because the city has unquestionably guaranteed at least some of that debt because of previous underfunding. Still, employees could be responsible for much more than they are now.”

  • The City Council postponed its discussion of a proposal to require some new apartments and condo buildings to install individual water meters. The discussion will happen in April instead.

    The San Diego County Apartment Association likes the idea, but are there good reasons to oppose the proposal? (Not a good reason: you’d like to live in an apartment and not be responsible for your own water use.)

  • Earlier this week, we examined the rampant drug activity in downtown’s East Village neighborhood. We’ve got follow-ups. One post shows where drug arrests are most common in San Diego. El Cajon Boulevard, the southeastern part of the city and Ocean Beach are among the hot spots.
  • We also examine the possible effect of the winter homeless shelter on arrests (it’s hard to tell if there is one).
  • Hello, you must be going: The board of the San Diego teachers union has recommended endorsing a Republican — yes, you read that right — to unseat a longtime school board member who’s annoyed teachers lately.
  • The U-T’s editorial board has heard about a plan to give raises to San Diego teachers three years from now (furloughs would come first) and thinks it’s crazy talk, a “twist that appears to be almost without parallel elsewhere in the United States.”

    Our Fact Check department is giving this claim a once-over: Do you have any information that could help us figure out if this statement is accurate?

  • Real-estate columnist Rich Toscano only has a single chart today. (Is there some sort of chart shortage?) He reports that housing inventory remains low while existing home sales in February fell below January’s, following that month’s steep decline.
  • The Photo of the Day captures a woman taking up arms — well, maybe just an arm — against “hate” at UCSD.

Elsewhere:

  • A judge issued a gag order in the case of John Albert Gardner III, accused of killing missing teenager Chelsea King, and postponed his preliminary hearing until August. This means many mysteries probably won’t be resolved for weeks, if not months. One of them: Authorities still haven’t confirmed that the body discovered last week is that of King. Why?
  • Meanwhile, the U-T obtained a probation report in connection with Gardner’s 2000 conviction of child molestation.
  • Back in 2006, CityBeat reports, City Council candidate Lorie Zapf ripped into gays in an email exchange, saying they don’t belong in public office and declaring her three (!) gay cousins to be living “in sin and frankly all are very unhappy people and had horrible childhoods as well.”

    They should sell tickets to the next family get-together. I’ll bet it will be quite a show.

    Anyway, Zapf now apologizes for her words and says they “do not accurately reflect my views or actions then or now.” So what did they reflect, exactly?

  • The Wall Street Journal looks at a local company that creates mock Afghan cities and uses special effects to “replicate the look and feel of the war in Afghanistan to help train U.S. forces preparing to deploy there.”
  • Finally, we take a look at a house in Point Loma that’s been under construction for years and looks like it may be done by the time Malia Obama is running for office. Maybe.

Our housing reporter is looking for stories of other partially completed houses that have been stuck in limbo-land. And I’d like to hear anecdotes about your own home remodeling projects that went on, and on, and on. Who, what, where, when, why? I’ll mention any amusing stories later this week in the Morning Report.

Just drop me a line. And don’t procrastinate (for once!).

— RANDY DOTINGA

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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