It was hard to look at the budget San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders proposed yesterday and not feel a punch in the gut.

The Union Tribune told me to be angry. I dutifully complied.

We did a graphic of what will have happened to library hours over the last decade if this really becomes the spending plan for next year. It isn’t pretty. Libraries may only be open 18 hours a week. I asked what the point of even opening them was.

Liam Dillon put the story of the budget into context of recent history (Sam Hodgson’s photo is also chilling). But I thought the most interesting thing he decided to do was get a quote from former City Manager Jack McGrory about libraries and recreation centers.

The situation is so bad that the city might have to consider turning them over to nonprofits, said former City Manager Jack McGrory.

Under Sanders’ plan, McGrory said, “you’re basically waving a white flag and saying we’re giving up on the operations of libraries and rec centers.”

First, this is interesting because it points to a future of a city dissolving more — leaving it up to private groups to provide services the city once did.

But also, McGrory is Sanders’ former boss. Nothing like your old captain sneering that you’re surrendering the ship.

I couldn’t help but wonder what McGrory, the “smooth operator,” thinks he would have done. It was he, after all, who first came up with an ingenious plan to sustain a great city without raising taxes. He pioneered the uniquely San Diego concept of giving employees higher pension benefits while at the same time allowing the city to underfund their retirement trust.

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The city “saved” money and still kept employees happy. Win-win!

That option is definitely not on the table any longer.

133,000 Signatures

Sanders — no stranger to big time press conferences lately — will be leading another one today to announce that a group of education reformers has collected 133,000 signatures and will be turning them into the city clerk. Their plan will, among other things, add four appointed people to the five-member San Diego school board, and set up an independent commission to decide who those people will be.

For background: The leader of the campaign made his case to us “separating fact from fiction” about it. And a response from one of his critics. And here are two fact checks we recently ran ourselves.

Behind the Scenes

Arts Editor Kelly Bennett and writer Roxana Popescu launched a new feature last night called “Countdown to Curtain” where they’ll track the week leading up to the opening of the San Diego Opera’s “Faust.”

“So whether you’re a classical music or live music fan, an economist, an organizational psychologist, an active or recovering drama camper, if you’re curious about what happens backstage in the arts, or if the idea of working on a team in the shadows for a greater cause rings a bell, then take a look inside with us.”

They had me at “organizational psychologist.”

Get Your Housing Graphs

Rich Toscano has a bunch of new graphs for you housing nerds to peruse.

“After a fairly brutal few months into the beginning of 2011, the median price per square foot of San Diego resale homes managed to increase for a second month in a row in March,” he writes.

Well, Look What We Found

Police ride-a-longs for journalists are notoriously uneventful. Yes, every once in a while, the writer tagging along with officers witnesses some excitement. A friend of mine was in a major car accident during one years ago.

But, as Rob Davis wrote on Twitter: “I think the (Union Tribune) just won the award for Best Police Ride-Along Scoop Ever.”

He was talking about this rather stunning story. Two U-T reporters were tagging along with a backcountry sheriff’s deputy when they came across this:

“Miles deep into the largest Indian reservation in San Diego County, a company with ties to at least one former Blackwater Worldwide executive is building a training facility with firing ranges, a helipad and what was described as mock Afghan villages.”

Speaking of mock military facilities …

When All Else Fails, Start an Army

A special unit of uniformed troops marched in a parade and took a tour of the U.S.S. Midway museum in San Diego. They trained at a building in Temple City, near Los Angeles. They were the so-called U.S. Army/Military Special Forces Reserve.

And they were apparently the victims of a strange fraud. CNN reports that unit is not part of any U.S. military effort.

“The recruits were provided with phony U.S. Army uniforms, fake documents and fraudulent military identification cards, authorities said.” And it was all to line the pocket of someone who was definitely not “supreme commander.”

VOSD on the Radio

Andrew Donohue is on KPBS’s Editor’s Roundtable this morning at 9 a.m. to talk about the mayor’s budget. I’m going to use this opportunity to plug a new feature Grant Barrett created. If you want to follow our own radio show or our appearances on local radio, you can see them all pop up here in our audio section. Don’t miss the latest post: Kelly Bennett’s rundown of the weekend in art.

Also, you can automatically download our weekly KOGO AM 600 radio show and recordings of our public forums by directly subscribing to our new podcast feed or getting it on on iTunes.

NFL Commish to Talk to San Diegans

Roger Goodell is the commissioner of the National Football League, which is not only in a paralyzing labor battle but also seems to be creeping closer and closer to moving the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles.

Goodell will likely address those two issues in a conference call with San Diego season ticket holders today.

Do you think those season ticket holders are more worried about there not being football next year or there not being football in San Diego the year after?

Yesterday the mayor’s spokeswoman, Rachel Laing, wrote on Twitter that his staff has spent more time trying to save library hours than to finding a new stadium for the Chargers.

The way that turned out for the libraries, stadium dreamers might want him to just stay out of it.

You can contact me directly at or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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