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After two years of talks, the city and its labor unions have reached a landmark deal to cut health care benefits for current employees when they retire. The mayor says the deal will cut $323 million from a $1.1 billion unfunded liability.
Don’t expect to suddenly see more cops on the street and libraries open longer because of a sudden influx of money. The city won’t get immediate savings. Still, said Mayor Jerry Sanders, “this settlement isn’t just a big leap, it’s a quantum leap.”
She’s There When Babies Meet the World
She’s not a doctor, but Karen Perdion has still delivered more than 2,000 babies in her career. She’s a certified nurse-midwife, who helps pregnant women who aren’t facing special health concerns as they give birth.
In this week’s Q&A, she tells us about building trust with patients, managing to do her job even though she hasn’t had children herself, and the joy of the end result of hours of struggle. “You don’t call it labor because it’s easy,” she said.
Judge Won’t Stop Teacher Layoffs
A judge declined to rap San Diego schools for sending out hundreds of warnings of possible teacher layoffs. Overall, more than 800 educators are in danger of losing their jobs.
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Stop Cursing Cursive!
Cursive handwriting has been on the decline as schools devote less time to teaching kids how to loop their letters together (and that a capital Q looks like a numeral 2), the NYT reports.
But a Spanish professor from the University of San Diego tells the paper that cursive isn’t just for writing. It’s also for reading, and kids should learn it. “Even if they cannot write elegantly, at the very least they should be able to appreciate firsthand old documents in our archives — or just read their grandmothers’ diaries.”
As If Black Widows Weren’t Bad Enough
Brown widow spiders — a menace to more than just their husbands — are on the march in the county, KPBS reports, possibly after hitching a ride on patio furniture from abroad. “They’re definitely dangerously venomous,” a bug specialist said. “They’re considered to be two times as venomous as our native black widow, but they inject about half the amount of venom as a black widow, so it kind of balances out so they’re about equal.”
One Crabby Egg Dish
The other day in this space I bemoaned a “San Diego Omelette” that I found on a diner menu in Manhattan, featuring ham, onions and — oh the humanity! — American cheese. Local food writer Susan Russo, whom we interviewed last week, had a better idea: “Forget the ham; it should have crab. How about a crab, cheddar, and green onion omelette topped with avocado slices and fresh cilantro?”
How about it indeed. If you make one yourself for Mother’s Day brunch, please note that I am your long-lost brother and deserve an invite.
What We Learned This Week:
• Criminal Charges for Accused Officials Two former officials with a city redevelopment agency were hauled into court this week, accused of a variety of charges in connection with a clandestine bonus scheme that enriched them with taxpayer money. Both pleaded not guilty.
• Council Heeds the People: The City Council this week indicated that it’s not willing to drastically slash hours at libraries and recreation centers. The big question now is how it will actually turn words into action as the city faces yet another budget crisis.
Guess which city department you might not expect costs more than the giant library system? It’s the city attorney’s office. The mayor wants to spend $42 million on it, $12 million more than on libraries.
• Arts Take a Hit: The City Council has rebuffed the mayor on library and rec center cuts, but it went along with his proposed suspension of a policy requiring the spending money on public art for city building projects. Behind the Scene TV has more.
Also in TV, San Diego Explained takes a look at the ongoing local brouhaha over medical marijuana.
The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to savor over a cup of joe):
• New Mission for SD Cops: Instead of focusing on their long-standing and well-publicized strategy to prevent crime through community outreach, the police are now devoting resources to a faster response when crimes happen. The city’s new budget will continue the trend. “They’re about to unravel several decades of really good work,” a researcher says.
• Critical Thinking as a Critical Mission: Come with us as we drop by two very different local schools as they try to teach kids how to think critically and deeply, even at very young ages. Sounds like bad news for every parent who likes to say “because I said so.”
• An Afternoon of Death: Ninety-three years ago this week, a riptide off Ocean Beach swept 13 men to their deaths, including several soldiers who were on their way to serve in World War I. The events of that deadly day prompted San Diego to turn lifeguarding from a sideline into a profession.
Quote of the Week: “Some day, it’s not just going to be a drill. It’s going to be real.” — City Councilman Carl DeMaio to a crowd of residents fighting library and recreation center cuts on how future budget battles will be different.