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The city owes more money to pay for pensions — more than $2 billion — but that’s actually good news. The city’s annual payment is about $27 million less than expected, which will lower the size of the pending deficit. Still, pension payments will suck up about 16 percent of the city’s day-to-day annual budget.

Cruise Line to Skip Town:

Carnival Cruise Lines is pulling its last ship out of San Diego, the U-T reports, a move that the port estimates will hurt our region to the tune of $54 million a year. The ship will be based in Australia instead.

This isn’t very good timing for the port, which just completed a $28 million cruise ship terminal and has been facing a major dropoff in cruise business. Critics are already at work. CityBeat editor Dave Rolland waxed Reaganesque: “Mr. @MayorSanders, tear down that terminal!” Our Scott Lewis chimed in with “Free the waterfront and stop trashing it.”

Could Local Control Be Going Too Far?

The head of the San Diego teachers union accuses the district of “using the budget to inspire panic and division among educators and parents” by allowing individual schools to get more influence over cost-cutting. He doesn’t think teachers should get to decide which jobs are cut, but he doesn’t want a central office to make all the calls either.

No Suit, at Least Not Yet:

The county is still in negotiations mode and hasn’t filed a lawsuit against the city over the hugely controversial state legislation that paved the way for the downtown redevelopment agency to keep holding onto a big chunk of property tax proceeds. The county will lose money that will continue going to the agency.

Double-Checking Hate Crime Statistics:

A prosecutor told an audience in Hillcrest that about one in five hate crimes in the state involve people targeted due to sexual orientation. The San Diego Fact Check blog finds that the statistic is true.

She Defends the Seemingly Indefensible:

Time magazine probes the career of San Diego attorney Judy Clarke, who’s made a career out of defending domestic terrorists and now has a new client in the Tucson shooting case. “A lot of her clients are poster boys for the death penalty,” says one fan. “She quietly saves lives.”

The brother of the Unabomber, whom she defended, said this: “Judy is not only a brilliant attorney; she is a good human being … I remember her saying, ‘David, you have a very special brother.’ She was saying, in one way, ‘He’s a real pain,’ but she also saw deeply into Ted. He is unusual, and she saw that his being different put him in a place where he was quite alone. His specialness and uniqueness enlisted deep compassion in her.”

A friend adds this: “Judy knows no one wants to be measured by the worst moment of their lives. She can reach into people and find the human being inside, no matter how the rest of the world looks at them.”

Hizzoner the (Thinner) Mayor:

The newly svelte Jerry Sanders makes multiple appearances in the Photos of the Day, taken during this week’s State of the City address.

We’ve also compiled our coverage of the previous five State of the City addresses.

A Hard Row to Hoe:

The City Council this week voted to smooth the way for residents to create community gardens, but it’s still a process full of red tape (if not red tomatoes). We explore the ins and outs of neighborhood planting in the latest episode of the San Diego Explained TV series. 

Unread It and Weep: An annual report says San Diego is only the 38th most literate big city in the country. That’s still better than L.A. (60th) but way behind San Francisco (6th) and Washington D.C. (1st).

Our library system’s woes sure can’t have helped our score, which took things like bookstores, education and the Internet into account. Then again, warm-weather cities (with the exception of Atlanta) don’t score well. Is that because we’re all at the beach? Or is it so sunny – with sunsets like this one – that our brains are fried?

But there’s some good news, maybe. Another report says San Diego’s has an uptick in college graduates.

That Guy’s a Real Pain in the…

Ouch.

The critically unappreciated TV sitcom “$#*! My Dad Says” – based on the Twitter feed of a young San Diego man whose blunt father says funny things – recently used an unflattering anatomical term to refer to a certain East County burg. “At least the show mentioned us,” sighed El Cajon’s mayor to the U-T.

Here’s hoping those incoming college grads will give us a reputation as a place where the best writers can do more than type in 140-character snippets.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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