Follow the bouncing pension ball: City employees used to have good pensions. Then they got better. And even better on top of that. Yay for them. But now the ax could be coming down. Not on them, but on most future city employees who may get no pensions at all.

Scott Lewis puts this week’s grand GOP compromise into perspective: “It was an agreement to unite and to set in motion what could be the climax of a nine-year drama about the city of San Diego’s mounting pension liabilities. The city never set aside money to meet those obligations. And the bills due today are suffocating other city services while the distrust the decisions created destroyed the city’s ability to ask taxpayers to rescue it.”

Lewis also describes the “furry handcuffs” — comfortable! — that are supposed to tie the council’s hands regarding employee salaries, but aren’t as confining as they seem: they’re the kind of restraints that “you can escape from if you don’t like the game anymore.”

Fuzzy handcuffs, if you’re not aware, often come with a safety release, which sort of defeats the point. No, I didn’t know this, and no, I don’t think Lewis is trying to tell us something.

Speaking of messages, photographer Sam Hodgson was in plain sight during a pension-plan press conference Tuesday but still managed to capture the choreography behind the scenes. His black-and-white photos chronicle the orchestration of unity plus a few other things: a lady with really high heels, some passersby who look out of place, and a whole lot of unexciting neckties.

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Meanwhile, Liam Dillon chimes in with another pension FAQ that examines issues of legality, the role of Social Security and where elected officials fit in.

A $661 Millon Boon … or a Boondoggle

Boosters say the centennial celebration of Balboa Park in 2015 could bring $661 million into the city, but a political consultant tells Uptown News that he’s skeptical of both the projected income and the hefty costs to run a big national PR campaign. “The number being thrown around for revenue generation is incredibly high, almost to the point where it’s unbelievable,” he said. “It appears to me as being a major gamble for a very speculative opportunity to generate income.”

Motive Unsaid in Border Attacks

Mexican officials aren’t disclosing the motive, if they know it, behind the shooting deaths of two Americans at the border as they sat in traffic. One of the men had apparently been in a personal confrontation recently. Both worked here but lived in Mexico, reports the LAT, which explores their personal lives: one was a mixed martial arts fighter while the other lived with his girlfriend and adopted son.

A correction: Due to my misinterpretation of an AP story, Tuesday’s Morning Report incorrectly said a Tijuana newspaper editor was murdered with his two young children. He was attacked while with his children, but they were uninjured.

Who’s the Boss?

Charter schools are supposed to be independent, but there’s an inherent conflict: they’re also overseen by school districts. This has been a source of conflict in San Diego. “Now a new school board is seeking to keep its more than 40 charter schools on a tighter leash before problems emerge, testing its powers with new rules,” Emily Alpert reports. “Charter backers complain that the board is meddling and micromanaging them, reacting to a few scattered problems by making sweeping changes.”

O! He Doth Teach the Students to Burn Bright

Second graders in National City are taking sides. Capulet! Montague! And they’re learning lines too, stuff about a yonder window and doomed young love. These kids are acting out scenes from “Romeo and Juliet” thanks to a nonprofit group and a semi-retired actor. “I’ve played a few kings,” he tells a seven year old who’s playing a monarch. “Now let me help you out.”

This program won’t solve the problems facing arts education. But, as Kelly Bennett writes, “on this scale, for what this short production was, I think it leaves an important mark.”

Stuck in a Pot Hole

The city’s bid to shut down medical marijuana shops won’t be simple, CityBeat reports, at least to judge by the experiences of communities elsewhere in the state. One problem is that the city is trying to close an industry while allowing it to spring back up. “The city basically sat on its hands while these collectives remained open,” an attorney said. “A reasonable judge would question why the city suddenly believes all collectives should be shut down.”

The attorney, who represents medi-pot dispensaries, predicts that the existing dispensaries (there have been dozens of them) will be able to stay where they are unless they fall afoul of new rules restricting how close they are to places like schools and parks.

Public Defenders Rap Offender-Alert System

Public defenders are bashing a bill by local Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher that would allow authorities to notify people if a registered sex offender moves in next door, saying it “will breed hysteria and vigilantism,” CityBeat reports. Residents can already look up offenders in their neighborhood on a state website but they’re often in the dark if they don’t.

Meanwhile, Orange County is restricting sex offenders from going to many public areas like beaches and parks, the LAT reports, but the law may be too much for courts to tolerate.

Tattoos and Booze Galore in PB

“There’s a tattoo parlor, smoke shop, there’s another smoke shop, a bar, bar, another bar. There’s nothing to shop for on this block, absolutely no retail,” a surf shop owner tells the Reader during a drive down Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. He’s one of several residents and business owners who say the neighborhood isn’t meeting the needs of its residents who have left their teens and early 20s behind.

It may be difficult, if not impossible, to change PB’s retail mix, the Reader finds. On the bright side, those with an aversion to tattooed boozing smokers — or as I like to call them, “my parents” — know where not to go.

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

Randy Dotinga

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

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