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The South Bay Power Plant cuts a menacing figure along the skyline of Chula Vista’s largely barren bay front.

That hulking maze of metal has come to define the public life of one man, David Malcolm. It’s the site of his great public triumph and his greatest failure. Now, seven years after pleading guilty to a felony conflict-of-interest charge, Malcolm has jumped back into the thick of it as officials prepare for the plant’s dismantling — a major step toward developing the valuable waterfront real estate.

He says he wants nothing from it, just to make it better. But his presence alone in discussions is making some jittery. Our Liam Dillon narrates the tale of Malcolm’s fall and his planned redemption, complete with Malcolm’s big idea for the bay front.

“Is it a crime for me doing it, or would the crime be for me knowing how to do it and not bringing it down?” Malcolm said.

Deferred Austerity

• The city of San Diego has a crisis to fix, a crisis that’s endured for years now.

And this city seemed primed to finally have a true discussion on what it takes to fix it. That’s why our Scott Lewis finds it baffling that Mayor Jerry Sanders has chosen to spend his energy and political capital on a major effort (ending new employees’ pensions and switching to a 401(k)) that will do little to solve today’s problems.

“Picture the mayor in a boxing match,” Lewis wrote in his latest opinion piece. “He already knocked out the new employees. Now he’s grabbing them by the hair for another kick in the teeth. Good thing those people don’t exist yet.”

• The city’s in its predicament largely because of its monstrous pension deficit. And the county suffers from a similar, if less scandalous, financial fallout. The promises they’ve made to their workers now weigh heavily on their budget, squeezing out the services they are able to offer.

Last night, CBS’ 60 Minutes said a “day of reckoning” is coming for cities and states across the country.

• And the city’s retirement system is doling out $700,000 to a controversial former labor leader even though a judge didn’t say it was necessary, according to the Union-Tribune.

• The man who used to craft how the mayor pitched his plans to the public, Fred Sainz, told The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd for her column this weekend that he’s been studying polling for a decade and believes a lesbian has a better chance of winning the presidency than a gay man. He said, though, that no matter what the first gay president would be anticlimactic.

“People expect this bizarro and outlandish behavior,” he said. “We’re always the funny neighbor wearing colorful, avant-garde clothing. We would let down people with our boringness and banality when they learn that we go to grocery stores Saturday afternoon, take our kids to school plays and go see movies.”

A Top Kill Vuvuzela Shellacking

Our own Grant Barrett co-authored The New York Time’s Words of the Year, having fun with the words that popped into our collective vocabularies this year thanks to the World Cup, BP oil disaster, Sarah Palin and that singing kid with the hair. 

News Flash!

Unless you had a really, really lazy weekend, you know that it’s been raining out.

You should also know that the city of San Diego’s efforts to clear flooding hotspots are running up against environmental regulations. The city is claiming emergencies allow it to dredge the waterways without fully reviewing the impacts but a judge agreed with environmentalists the claim is being used as an excuse to cut corners. (U-T)

Back from Swashbuckling

A unit that just returned to Camp Pendleton isn’t just any old group of 2,300 Marines and sailors.

“The unit was engaged in three high-profile missions: liberating a German freighter and its crew from pirates off the Somali coast, taking relief supplies to flood-ravaged Pakistan and providing close-air support for Marines in combat in Afghanistan,” the Los Angeles Times says.

 This Bandwagon Is Leaving the Station

Psst. Listen up. If you want to jump on the San Diego State basketball bandwagon, now would be a good time. (U-T)

What’s That Up in the Sky?

• Big Brother is watching. But don’t worry, it’s fine. He’s just guarding your holiday shopping from a big box that looks like a generic Transformer. (NCT)

• I never seem to hear about these things until after they happen, so here’s a celestial public service announcement: A total lunar eclipse should be visible tonight.

That is, if it stops raining here.

You can reach me at andrew.donohue@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0526. Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewDonohue.

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