In June, we explained how District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis was set to receive a pension approaching $250,000 a year — more than the mayoral hopeful ever earned in an annual salary in her 40 years of public service in San Diego County.

The exercise provided a window into how public pensions work. And it outlined a key challenge for Dumanis as she argues that people who follow her into a similar public service career don’t deserve a pension guaranteed by their employer at all.

Now Liam Dillon explains the pension Congressman Bob Filner is expecting as he races for the Mayor’s Office as well. It will be at least $82,000. Like Dumanis, Filner’s long career in several different government agencies — from San Diego State to the city and Congress — makes his payout complicated. And like many former city politicians, he benefited from a retroactive benefit boost in 2002, which was the subject of one of our first major investigative stories.

Unlike Dumanis, Filner is not calling for an end to public pensions for most new city employees. But he has also promised major pension reforms that will spare the city hundreds of millions of dollars on its pension burden. He said that plan will be released shortly.

• After months of avoiding public debates with other candidates, saying she would wait until the official filing deadline in March, Dumanis told the Union Tribune this weekend she’s now open to doing debates. The paper said her campaign has been “anything but smooth.” Reporter Craig Gustafson said expectations of her candidacy have been high and cited our series about how she is the county’s most powerful politician to drive that point home.

• One more point: Dumanis will be Andrew Donohue’s guest this week on VOSD Radio (AM 600 KOGO, Saturdays 7:30 a.m.) Send him any questions you want her to answer. Here are our interviews with the other major candidates: Filner, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher and Councilman Carl DeMaio.

Why We’re Following This Police Misconduct Case

We’ve been providing a lot of details about the trial for former San Diego police officer Anthony Arevalos. But it’s not his case in particular that fascinates us. As Keegan Kyle explains, we’re learning more and more about internal oversight at the Police Department. What did police leadership know about him and when? Why was he allowed to continue patrolling and potentially harassing, threatening or bribing women he stopped?

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Here’s Kyle:

Authorities have declined to answer major questions about the case, their past decisions and the supervision of officers. Police have also refused to release Arevalos’ emails, citing the ongoing investigation.

But some insights about those questions and his emails have come out in court, in a case that has raised the most serious concerns about lagging internal oversight following a misconduct scandal that rattled the department earlier this year.

What’s Behind the Ticket Prices?

Roxana Popescu, who months ago brought you this much-praised Behind the Scene series on a San Diego Opera production as it came to life, has a new project starting today. It’s about ticket prices for local performances.

Popescu describes the series:

“LivingSocial, Daily Deals, Google Offers and the legions of Groupon imitators make it easier than ever to fill auditoriums. But for how long, and at what cost?

In my next post, there are two things I want to understand: How do these institutions set ticket prices to begin with? And when someone is paying $2, or $20, or $200 for a ticket, how much of a performance or exhibit’s costs does that fee cover?”

Send Popescu along any questions or suggestions about the economics of local arts.

• The New York Times, by the way, has a brief about an interesting round robin between San Diego and New York opera houses.

The Salton Sea Mucking with San Diego Dreams

Last week, we pointed a story in the New York Times about farmers in the Imperial Valley letting their fields fallow in exchange for payments from urban areas like San Diego, thirsting for their water rights. Today, the Los Angeles Times proclaims that the historic water deal that makes this possible, the 2003 Quantification Settlement Agreement, is on the rocks. At the heart of the trouble is the beleaguered Salton Sea. If it recedes because farmers use less water, it could become an environmental disaster. Property owners around the sea also need assurance about where the water’s edge will be.

In short, saving the Salton Sea was a key part of the deal that allows San Diego to buy Imperial Valley water. And saving it required the Legislature to come up with potentially billions of dollars. That was much more plausible to imagine in 2003, apparently, than it is now.

The NY Times also picked up on the story.

Economics Links

The North County Times has the latest UCLA Anderson Forecast. It’s not so optimistic. In case you missed this last week, our Rich Toscano’s graph showed an uptrend in local employment still holding though.

Solar Turbines vs. Housing Deal

The Union-Tribune posted a story about a feud between a proposed housing development for the corner of Pacific Highway and Hawthorne. It’s 100 feet away from Solar Turbines, a company with thousands of employees. The company fears having residents so near may spur air pollution regulators to handcuff its flexibility and growth.

I asked the Mayor’s Office last week if he had taken a position on the project. He had not.

Perhaps the big wigs at Solar Turbines will occupy his office until he does.

I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of Please contact me if you’d like at or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):

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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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