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The legislature and the new governor are poised to rid the state of redevelopment agencies, which are supposed to boost rundown neighborhoods (at least in theory). What’s a soon-to-be-possibly-jilted redevelopment agency to do? The answer: Spend, spend, spend.

Several redevelopment agencies in the state are rushing to approve projects before their money goes away. Emergency meetings were held over the weekend and even on Monday’s holiday. It hasn’t happened in San Diego yet, although its redevelopment agencies are in trouble too.

Will San Diego join the club? The downtown football stadium project, for one, might flounder without an influx of redevelopment money. That may be even more crucial now that the prospect of a new L.A. football stadium — possibly wooing away the Chargers — is seeming more and more likely.


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“We have no specific plans right now, but the situation is very fluid, so we’re not foreclosing any strategy at this point,” a mayoral spokeswoman said.

The redevelopment crisis is just one of many things on the mind of Mayor Jerry Sanders. He’s also dealing, as always, with the city’s pension mess. Like other public officials, he has a personal interest in pensions: the former police chief got more than $91,000 in retirement benefit payouts in 2008.

Will he keep taking his pension? Absolutely. “I earned it over 26 years,” he said, adding that the city’s pensions made sense when he retired from the police department in 1999.

Pension Envy:

Who’s to blame for the city’s giant pension debt? If you blame labor unions, that’s hardly unusual on a national scale. The New Yorker notes that unions — which now represent just seven percent of privately employed people — are very unpopular, with some of the lowest approval ratings ever. Part of the problem is that “the recession has … magnified the gap between unionized and non-unionized workers”: people without pensions notice that union folks still have them, creating “pension envy.”

“This resentment is most evident in the backlash against public-sector workers (who now make up a majority of union members),” the story says. This resentment is a new phenomenon, raising the prospect that labor “may be caught in a vicious cycle, becoming progressively less influential and more unpopular.”

Shhh! Fundraising in Progress, Sort of:

They’ve got a year to raise about $32 million to support the new downtown central library, which is already under construction. So how much do library boosters have in hand? About $2 million.

Not to worry, a booster says, they’ll get there. But if they don’t, the city will be forced to step in with taxpayer money to finish the library — violating promises — or stop it mid-construction.

Loss of a Newspaper Leader:

Dale Fetherling, who turned the small and scrappy staff of the San Diego County edition of the Los Angeles Times into a journalistic force, has died at the age of 69 of complications from heart surgery. He helped create the edition in 1978, the LAT says. “Known as an aggressive and fair journalist, Fetherling took on the challenge of expanding the paper’s readership in San Diego County with only a dozen reporters to cover 4,000 square miles.”

The edition’s staff grew and made a name for itself through aggressive reporting. In 1986, for example, a Times investigation revealed that the police department’s brass dismissed thousands of parking tickets, “many of them for friends, relatives, former police officials, the media and prominent San Diegans.” In 1991, the Times discovered that newspaper publisher Helen Copley was the biggest residential water user in a drought-stricken San Diego.

The local edition of the Los Angeles Times closed in 1992.

PB’s Not that Drunken:

The other day, the U-T reported that Pacific Beach had “an alcohol-related crime rate 1,700 percent above city average and nearly 600 arrests last year for drunken driving.” Whoa. Could that possibly be true? San Diego Fact Check finds that the second statistic might be inaccurate and the first one definitely is: the paper “cherry-picked one extreme data point about a tiny, commercial section of Pacific Beach and said it described the entire neighborhood.” The U-T has corrected its story.

Making the Grades Speak:

Our investigation revealed that grades at a local high school don’t seem to correspond with test scores; the school’s been accused of grade inflation. We follow up with an explanation — caveats included — of how we analyzed the grades and scores.

We’ve also created a chart that shows the grades that kids get at local high schools. You can see if your kid’s school has a habit of handing out lots of As, Bs, Cs, or worse.

Speaking of grades, a reader responded to my query asking for someone to explain why it’s OK to grade kids but not grade teachers. “Who will grade them? The kids?” asks the reader. “They would give bad grades to any teacher who tried to make them earn their A’s. The parents? Their peers? The administration? Please tell me who? It is the major conundrum of reform.”

“Will these ‘graders’ have to attend college and get degrees in teacher grading?” another reader asks. “The teachers did. Who has the ability to grade the senior physics teacher? Maybe it is a school board member who is typically a successful insurance salesman with a high school diploma.”

It’s not a conundrum in the private sector, where employees often graded — through performance reviews and pay adjustments — based on how their bosses think they performed. In my case, my colleagues, readers and sources don’t get a direct say. (Although that’s never stopped them from giving me pieces of their minds.)

Wrong, Wrong and Whopper:

Fact Check TV zings two incorrect claims and announces the winner of the 2010 Whopper of the Year award.

Window Stopping:

The Photo of the Day captures a painting, a North Park furniture store window and Sunday night’s memorable sunset, all in one shot.

With Genes Like These:

Take a close look at your buddies, the guys you watch the game with or the women who join you for spa days. (Not too close. You don’t know where they’ve been.) They’re probably a lot like you, and not just in the way they look or act: even their genes may be similar to yours too

That’s the latest finding from James Fowler, a UCSD professor, and colleagues. As USA Today puts it, we may choose our friends “by their genetic endowment.”

So my genes are similar to those of the people I hang out with? Even my journalism colleagues? Oh dear. Somebody debunk this study, quick!

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

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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