It was big news at City Hall yesterday: a coalition of businesspeople and top Republican politicians have reached an agreement on a ballot measure that will get rid of the city’s pension system for most new employees. This could — note those italics — lead to major savings and help the city recover its financial health. But there are unanswered questions.

First of all, if voters go along with the plan, how much will this deal save the city? One thing’s clear: the supporters don’t have the correct figures. As Liam Dillon reports, “supporters of the measure released a brief financial analysis for savings over the first five years to be $362.8 million. But that estimate attributes $135.4 million of those savings to something that’s largely been done.”

Is the plan legal? Well, attorneys signed off on it, apparently, but an earlier legal opinion cast doubt on the idea of a pay freeze and a financial specialist tells us he’s skeptical about it too. Even so, it’s part of the current plan.

There are a couple other big unknowns: Will the City Council’s Democrats come up with their own proposal? Although they’ve been on the sidelines of the pension issue, the Dems actually dominate the City Council. And will voters go along?

Bonuses for County Workers

The county board of supervisors approved a 2 percent bonus for thousands of county employees, the NCT reports. The money — an estimated $12.3 million in the next fiscal year — comes on top of the existing raises that some workers get as their levels of experience increase. Even the county’s chief administrative officer will get a bonus of $5,489 over a base pay of $274,497.

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Mayor Fumbles Layoff Number Again

Mayor Sanders went on national TV and declared that San Diego has laid off 17 percent of its municipal workers. As San Diego Fact Check finds, he’s off by a long shot. The actual number of workers laid off isn’t 17 percent.

Since 2007, the city has laid off 38 classified employees, less than 1 percent of its entire workforce. It has cut its workforce by 10 percent — the equivalent of about 1,194 full-time jobs — but that’s typically been through attrition: workers leave and their jobs aren’t filled.

It’s not clear where the 17 percent figure came from.

Missed It by This Much

The U.S. Census Bureau miscounted the number of residents in San Diego by mistakenly including 6,000 service members in the city’s total instead of giving them to Coronado. The military types serve on aircraft carriers and officially belong to the Crown City.

Out of Prison, on to ‘Oprah’

The high-profile “fugitive mom” who was nabbed in San Diego after escaping from a Detroit-area prison in 1976 will appear on “Oprah” tomorrow, the AP reports. Susan LeFevre — now going by Marie Welsh — became a mother of three and was in her 50s when authorities found her living in Carmel Valley in 2008. She served a prison term in Michigan and was released in 2009.

Her website,, says she has a new book coming out. Is she apologetic? Well, you be the judge: her site says “she became a voiceless pawn shuttling across country on a prison-bound bus back to the confines of Michigan’s notoriously cruel penitentiary system.”

When a Personal Ad Becomes Public

A state appeal court upheld the San Diego school district’s decision to fire a middle-school teacher and dean of students who put an anonymous personal ad on Craigslist along with sexually explicit material, the LAT reports.

That’s a Whole Lotta Moose

North County authorities have recovered a pilfered 600-pound moose statue, which was found in a field in Ramona, but a bunch of other statues stolen from lawns remain missing, the LAT reports. The statues on the hoof include “a cast-iron woman in a flowing dress (stolen from Del Mar), two bronze horses (Solana Beach), a Thai buddha (Vista), a life-size lady with a water pitcher (San Marcos), a Virgin Mary (Ramona), a dolphin (San Marcos) and more.”

Anybody Got a Brain I Could Borrow?

Due to a cut-and-paste mishap, yesterday’s Morning Report dropped the last few letters of the surname of the local woman who wants to donate her brain to science. She’s Bette Ferguson.

Play Ball!

The Padres played their home season opener yesterday and won against the Giants. An 80-year-old fan named Barbara Votel planned to be in attendance: she’s been to every opening game since the team’s first in the major leagues back in 1969.

“I love the team and I’ve loved them all along,” she tells “I’ve been a baseball fan my whole life. We moved here in 1967 from Redondo Beach. But I could never root for the Dodgers.”

Bless her heart. By the way, you may not believe the name of the pitcher who helped the Padres win one of the team’s first few games back in ’69: His name was Johnny Podres.

Sue Me, Sue You Blues

Local geneticist J. Craig Venter is in hot water with the estate of author James Joyce: it’s mad because his team used one of his quotations — “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life” — “as a watermark to distinguish … synthetic DNA from that occurring naturally in the bacterium into which it was transplanted,” the Guardian reports.

This is interesting news. I declared “To eat or not to eat” while standing in front of the fridge the other day. If Shakespeare has an estate, I’m totally busted for near-plagiarism.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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

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