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A hair-raising and toupee-flipping week at City Hall finally ended yesterday with the Deal to End All Deals, a combo package of revenue and reform geared to prevent the city from losing cops, fire stations and libraries.
With the mayor on board, meaning he won’t derail things with a veto, the City Council voted 6-2 for a plan that would ask voters to approve a hike in sales taxes that would begin once the council accomplishes cost-cutting reform — in pensions, retiree health care and outsourcing.
Supporters, including labor, say the measure will help prevent the sacking of hundreds of cops and closures of half the fire stations. But critics — including Republicans and business types — don’t believe higher taxes are the price to pay for reform that’s been a long time coming. Check our photo slideshow — smiles, everyone! OK, almost everyone — to see how City Hall folks reacted.
The next step: Figure out if the whole thing is legal.
Wait, shouldn’t they have done that before? Ideally, yes. But this deal has come together in a matter of hours, leaving little time to lawyer the details.
If you’re haven’t been obsessively following this week’s events like we have (there’s a reason we’ve been called breathtakingly wonky), here’s a rundown of what else happened:
• The San Diego school district will still ask voters in November to boost their property taxes through a parcel tax. City officials had pressured the district to cancel its money-raising measure so voters wouldn’t be hit with a bunch of requests for money. It sounded like the district might fold in return for questionable concessions from the city, but it didn’t.
• Despite pressure from those who wanted to avoid bringing the citizenry into the debate, the council voted to ask voters in November to approve a $294 million new City Hall. The mayor, who supports the City Hall, wielded his veto. Now, the council will need to figure out what to do: override the mayor (putting the City Hall at risk of voter rejection) or take a vote themselves (it’s not clear which way they would go).
• Some councilmembers want the city to restore fire cutbacks, which were blamed for the death of an infant last week. The mayor’s office said no, and the issue appears to have been shelved, at least for the moment.
In other news (holy cow, there’s still other news?):
• He has one of coolest names you’ll ever hear and respected expertise in both jazz and local architecture. In this week’s Q&A, Dirk Sutro tackles topics from the new downtown library/school’s dome (it fits in with San Diego), the links between jazz and architecture, and the utter fabulosity of a new UCSD concert hall.
• Your education is brought to you by … Nike. Maybe Pepsi.
Sweetwater district high schools, which serve the South Bay and produced such illustrious talents as me, will plaster their campuses with ads. The district website will do the same.
• Real-estate news: “The former owner of downtown’s W Hotel — which they walked away from and has now foreclosed — wants to take over the Manchester Grand Hyatt.”
• Carolyn Smith, the disgraced former head of the southeastern San Diego redevelopment agency, is suing the agency, claiming she’s owed severance and benefits. (U-T) She was ousted in the wake of a scandal uncovered by voiceofsandiego.org over hundreds of thousands of dollars in secret bonuses that she approved for herself and other agency staffers.
• In a headline, the NYT asks camera-ready readers to “cover the waterfront” — a phrase that first made it big in San Diego. “I Cover the Waterfront” was the title of a movie set here (starring Claudette Colbert) and a jazz standard sung by Billie Holliday, both inspired by San Diego Sun reporter Max Miller’s bestselling 1932 book with the same title.
It begins this way: “I have been here so long that even the sea gulls must recognize me. They must pass the word along about me from generation to generation, from egg to egg.”
A journalism scholar calls the book, which is back in print, “an undiscovered treasure for journalists who love human interest. The ‘waterfront’ is home to the improbable combination of sentimentality and cynicism.”
That’s the best combo there is. Well, OK, after combination #8 at that Mexican restaurant down the street.
• AOL.com has the story: “Pioneering Weird News Agency Calls It Quits After 30 Years.”
It’s San Diego-based FlashNews, which provided tidbits about strange happenings and wacky people to morning disc jockeys and late-night talk shows.
Copley Press — yes, the folks who owned the U-T — sold FlashNews to one of its contributors a while back, “in part because of controversy stemming from a piece he did with Princess Diana’s gynecologist that ended, ‘At your cervix, your Majesty.’”
I’m sure that joke had readers in stirrups. I mean stitches.
What We Learned This Week:
Build It and They Will Come (To Be in the Photo): A panoply of politicians showed up for the groundbreaking at the new downtown library/school project. Much of the after-event buzz, however, was about how former U-T publisher David Copley is looking mighty svelte these days.
On the Horn: The government isn’t supposed to spend money on religious organizations. But CityBeat found that County Supervisor Bill Horn, whose office denies wrongdoing, funneled taxpayer dollars to what it calls a religious anti-abortion organization. Its vice president’s husband calls it a “ministry.” (By the way, I incorrectly referred to this person as the organization’s vice president yesterday.)
The Coffee Collection (stories to read over a grande coffee bold with half and half, three sugars and cinnamon):
Jolt, Jam, Jump, Chaos!: No, that’s not a description of the events at City Hall this week. These words come from San Diego’s most well-known and colorful geologist, who gets profiled in an entertaining story.
Play Ball!: You’ve most likely seen the colorful murals of Chicano Park as you drove past on I-5 above. It seems like the worst place to put a park ever unless you enjoy the sweet smell of car exhaust in the morning.
But plenty of locals love to spend their time there. We catch up with the men (and woman) who are regulars at the handball courts.
Quote of the Week: “A source just told me: ‘I have it on really good authority that (a name deleted city official) has gone f*ing insane.’” — our City Hall reporter Liam Dillon, via Twitter. After this crazy week, the official could be just about anyone.