The editor of the Union Tribune’s editorial page, Bill Osborne made me laugh the other day. He ribbed San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilman Kevin Faulconer — both Republicans — about the fact that, while they kept working on a plan to reform San Diego’s pension via the ballot box, the Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, had already issued a detailed statewide reform package.
Osborne’s team followed that up Saturday with a brief editorial on Brown’s proposal. Short summary: They’re impressed. Brown’s proposal was surprisingly meaty. It includes a ban on retroactive pension boosts (like what county supervisors did in 2002, raising every worker’s pension by 50 percent — not from that point forward — but applied to their whole career).
• The governor also says he’s developing a proposal to cap pensions across the state — an idea similar to what Faulconer and the mayor are intensely negotiating with Councilman Carl DeMaio (He may not be in the room but he’s like the guy in the back room at a car dealership — you may think you’re just dealing with a friendly salesman, but you soon learn he has to go back and check with an invisible manager on every point.)
• That’s a big part of the pension initiative the mayor and Faulconer want DeMaio’s circle of friends to support. But the other issue on the table is the switch of all or some future city employees to a 401(k) style pension — a less risky system for the city and taxpayers. Faulconer and the mayor wanted to exempt police and fire from that idea. But DeMaio wants them all in the new system. Word has it that new fire fighters and lifeguards may join other new city employees with no guaranteed pension as negotiations proceed. Stay tuned.
• I’ve been giving the staff members who work for Faulconer and the mayor some grief for making the case publicly that future employees should take this 401(k) but not pledging to take that deal themselves. They’re either getting good pensions or on the path to getting them.
Rachel Laing, the spokeswoman for the mayor, offered perspective Friday: “You cannot leave the city’s pension system once you’re in. You have to opt out at the beginning, or you’re stuck for good.”
So there you have it. There’s no escape. It’s practically the Gulag.
From School to School
Ten-year-old Elizabeth Padilla has been to five schools in as many years. Economic stress and emergencies have forced her family to bounce around City Heights. And transportation fears and limitations have made it difficult for her to stay in the same school.
Marshall Elementary has watched kids come and go in an endless turnover that hurts not only them but their classmates. Emily Alpert tells the story of kids falling behind in City Heights while bouncing from school to school either because they don’t know they don’t have to or because there’s no other option.
We’ve also created a map of the schools with the highest mobility index — the most kids coming and going compared to others in the city. Marshall’s principal has made it her mission to change City Height’s high turnover. It’s not an easy task.
I’ll Keep My Brain, for Now
Jacopo Annese is a neuroanatomist at UCSD. What is that?
Well, he collects brains, slices them, scans them and helps scientists around the world make sense of them. He gained fame as he started to let the world know he’d someday have the brain of a famous amnesiac. But now, he has his sights set on people with well-functioning minds, including 92-year old Bette Ferguson, who seemingly remembers everything. Unfortunately, she wants to keep her brain for now.
So why is Annese working so closely with her if he can’t get to it? “If I just collect brains, but don’t know what the people did when they were alive, how am I going to make the correlation between the brain’s function and structure?” Annese said, in an enthralling profile of what he does and why.
There’s Apparently a Controversy about Seals in La Jolla
Every few months, San Diegans are treated to new developments in the ongoing legal saga regarding the Children’s Pool in La Jolla and the seal colony that now calls it home.
But the legal saga has not really clarified the issue on the beach and the Union-Tribune’s latest update describes how tense the actual beach situation has become.
But What Kind of Jobs?
A fascinating theme took hold at our redevelopment forum a week ago: What kinds of jobs was the construction subsidy helping create? Erik Bruvold, from the National University System Institute for Policy Research came with pretty good evidence they weren’t great jobs.
A leader from the city’s Centre City Development Corp. stood toward the end of the program and offered a response. First off, he said, economic development wasn’t CCDC’s job for many years. Now, he said, it is.
The U-T today cites projections that the region will add 350,000 jobs by 2018, but, again, they don’t look like very high paying ones. “Economists warn that if the trend continues, the county will be increasingly divided between high-paid corporate executives or engineers and lower-paid manual workers, with a dwindling middle class,” the paper’s Dean Calbreath writes.
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