It was the perfect day for a dip, Labor Day weekend, in the middle of the day. But the City Heights Recreation Center’s pool sat empty.

The city didn’t have the money. The pool wouldn’t be open for a while.

For all the talk about pensions, outsourcing and the like, this is the real reason we pay so much attention to city finances. If we don’t get these problems fixed, we’ll continue to lose the services City Hall provides.

That’s why Scott Lewis’ latest installment in the 12 stories to watch in 2012 is “the broke city.” He explains what to watch for, including the mayor’s final plan, the race for his successor and why we still might hear bellyaching on the pension for years to come even if reform passes.

• Mayor Jerry Sanders’ final budget just got a whole lot easier to put together. Because of booming stock market gains, the city’s pension bill did not grow as much as feared, we learned Friday. That means a $30 million-plus deficit shrinks to $12 million.

Liam Dillon takes a look at what that means for the mayor’s last try to fix city finances, and the extent to which those finances are at the mercy of Wall Street’s whims.

• On Friday, Lewis helped moderate the first mayoral debate with all four major candidates participating. Here’s the best rundown of the discussion.

As MLK, Jr. Day Approaches

• Come hang out with us (and much cooler people) on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for the 24th Annual All People’s Breakfast at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront at 7:30 a.m.

This year’s keynote speaker is journalist José Antonio Vargas. He was already well-known in journalism circles but exploded into the public consciousness in June when he revealed in an essay in The New York Times that he’d been living nearly his entire life as an undocumented immigrant. It’s definitely worth a read.

We’re going to be working with a group of citizen bloggers to live tweet the event if you can’t make it. Follow the hashtag #allpeoples. If you’re interested in coming, click here for more info.

• The Black Storytellers of San Diego have a story to tell: that of the black migration to San Diego from the South.

We did a video interview with founder Annjennette McFarlin, who remembers taking segregated trains at the age of nine, for Behind the Scenes TV.

The group will be at Balboa Park’s History Center at 2 p.m. to show off a documentary and do what they do best — tell stories.

• We’ll be closed Monday for the holiday and will return Tuesday with our regular publishing schedule.

• A quick recommendation for something else to do on Monday: walk the promenade adjacent to the Convention Center. Engraved in the sidewalk along the walk are some of MLK’s greatest quotes. My personal favorite: “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

Just Hope This Guy Never Names You

We’ve had the Geezer Bandit. The Ho-Hum Bandit. And the Monkey See, Monkey Do Bandits.

Apparently, getting to name these guys is just another perk of being the FBI’s bank robbery guy. We talked with him about how he comes up with the names and a bunch of other bank robbery trivia.

What We Learned This Week

Chicano Park Is Getting Brighter: After four decades, the artists that made Chicano Park the landmark it is are returning to touch up — and in some cases substantially redo — their murals. We explored the return to the revolution with words, photos and video. Ironically, the government is now funding what were once outlaw works of art.

The Mayor Says He’ll Put the Pension to Bed: In his seventh and final State of the City Address, the mayor sealed his shift from caretaker to dealmaker. While he promised to fix the city’s financial problems once and for all, his speech focused most on the big-ticket projects (stadium, Convention Center, library and Balboa Park) that have become the bedrock of his administration. He also, in the process, left a disturbing image about what life will be like in neighborhoods. You can see what he looked like while doing all of that with Sam Hodgson’s photo essay.

Don’t Write Your Protest Down: Police arrested four Occupy San Diego protesters who interrupted the speech. But they didn’t just book them on suspicion of the standard misdemeanor public disruption. Instead, they accused them of felony conspiracy, a more serious charge. SDPD told us it did this because the protestors had displayed clear signs of having plotted the outburst, including written-down chants. At the debate, Friday, Councilman Carl DeMaio panned Occupy’s tactics but said that a felony charge was inappropriate. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who joked that she hoped City Attorney Jan Goldsmith would handle it, declined to take a stand until the facts came to her.

The General Plan Update Isn’t General, and It Might Not Be Updated: It took 13 years and $16 million, but the county Board of Supervisors is already considering a total overhaul of its controversial new rules for development in the backcountry. (North County Times) If you want to know more about what we call the Really Fascinating Blueprint for Growth, or you just want to see a city boy in a suit walk around the backcountry, watch our video explainer on the new rules.

Sweetwater Is Full of Allegations: A week after a group of its current and former leaders were charged in a bribery case, eight cafeteria workers are now under investigation for theft and nepotism. (U-T San Diego)

Quote of the Week

“We’re at a moment in our history when San Diegans must embrace the Trevor Hoffman inside all of us.”

— Mayor Jerry Sanders, in his State of the City Address, urging residents to close the deal on the major projects he’s pushing.

Number of the Week

27

— The number of times Sanders said “success” during his speech.

I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at andrew.donohue@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0526.

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