Want the news summarized?
Subscribe to The Morning Report.
You might remember that last week, mayoral candidate Bob Filner abandoned his proposal to refinance the debt the city’s employee pension fund has built up.
This came after he announced his support for Proposition B, the ballot initiative passed in June that seeks to freeze the employee salaries that are applied to their pensions and eliminate pensions for future employees. Filner had called it a fraud.
So we were surprised to hear what Filner said at a downtown Kiwanis Club of San Diego meeting on Tuesday.
“I propose refinancing our debt,” Filner said. “I save $500 million in 10 years. No new taxes. Five hundred million dollars. That’s a lot of money. Why don’t we do it?”
Well, Filner had issued a statement that this plan was no longer relevant. His renewed support for it on Tuesday left reporter Liam Dillon scratching his head.
So Dillon spoke with Filner after last night’s mayoral debate (which you can catch up on here).
Infographic: Is This Wildlife Management?
Last month, reporter Rob Davis noticed that a little-known federal program, called Wildlife Services, is very busy in San Diego County. Since 2005, the USDA program has killed nearly 19,000 animals without any kind of comprehensive explanation.
The investigation is part of an ongoing project to answer questions about the agency’s motives and shed some light on the lack of publicly available data surrounding the initiative. We’ve put together an infographic to illustrate the variety and volume of animals that have been killed by the program. You can find all of Rob Davis’ recent environmental coverage here.
School Administrators Join the Call for Budget Cutbacks
The agreement may be a symbolic gesture, but the decision to implement pay cuts for San Diego Unified school administrators will serve as a much-needed olive branch in negotiations with local teachers.
The cuts will only save the district the equivalent of budgetary pocket change — about $4.5 million — but the decision does soften the blow of divisive accusations prompted by recent pay raises for principals and district officials.
The announcement comes on the heels of a recent editorial from John Evans, president of the San Diego Unified Board of Education, heralding the district’s ability to find practical solutions to an awful situation.
The agreement with administrators is similar in form to the agreement ratified by the teacher’s union in June, which was the subject of a recent San Diego Explained video segment.
VIDEO: This is Not a Giant Guitar
If you missed our “Meeting of the Minds” event last week, you can catch up on the latest watercooler fodder with a video from one of the evening’s most popular presentations.
Jory Herman is a double bassist for the San Diego Symphony and a volunteer with the San Diego Youth Symphony’s Community Opus Project. In his talk, he discussed the state of music education in California, his personal love for the instrument and local initiatives to get kids involved with music.
Three videos have been posted from the “Meeting of the Minds” event and expect more to follow. Click here for those clips and all of Kelly Bennett’s recent arts coverage.
Poway Unified Prompts Discussion of Fiscal Shock from School Bonds
The Financial Times decided to weigh in on our big Monday story about expensive debt at Poway Unified school district. Our coverage of the bond issue received national attention earlier this week when we explained the risk and eye-popping long-term obligations associated with these types of financial maneuvers.
Our lead investigator Will Carless had a “pow-wow” yesterday with Fox Business to discuss the details. You can find full video featuring Carless’ signature coif and charisma on the Fox Business website and all of this week’s education coverage here.
Rev Your Engines: The Municipal Bankruptcy Fight Is About to Begin
The Sacramento Bee reports that two financial firms are challenging Stockton’s bankruptcy filing on the grounds that the city hasn’t put a stop to paying out millions of dollars to public employee pensions.
Our reporter Liam Dillon received considerable blowback from city officials earlier this year when he brought up this exact issue regarding pensions in San Diego. We recently reported that California law currently requires that pensions be protected in bankruptcy proceedings, but the Stockton case will undoubtedly influence proceedings throughout the state. Stay tuned.
U-T on U-T’s New Auto Museum
Earlier this week, we reported that the city was investigating the U-T over the new “auto museum” of vintage cars and driveway at its headquarters in Mission Valley. A city spokeswoman told Randy Dotinga that a city inspector tried to visit the museum last month to see if it was in compliance with building regulations, but the newspaper staff “did not allow access to the ‘car museum’ area. UT staff told the inspector that this area is a converted office.”
Dotinga asked U-T CEO John Lynch about whether the newspaper had the proper permits. “Get a life,” Lynch responded in full.
Now we’re learning more about the “U-T Auto Museum” and getting a new perspective on the paper’s dealings with the city. According to Lynch, a new U-T story says, “the city inspected the space after construction was completed and asked the U-T to obtain a permit for the new ramp built into the exterior wall. No fines were levied, he said.”
Dole Signs Up for Long-Term Lease at San Diego Port
The tally man can mark one up for the Port of San Diego. The San Diego Reader reports that the Dole Fresh Fruit Company is in talks to sign a 24.5-year lease to continue operations.
This would ostensibly throw a wrench in the No. 1 priority for U-T San Diego, which several months ago announced it had no bigger goal than to rid the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal of those kinds of cargo operations. The paper would like to replace them with a new stadium, sports arena and other resort amenities.
Retaining the port’s largest tenant is a major win for the city, which stands to benefit from the nearly 100,000 containers that unload on San Diego docks annually. The Port of San Diego has agreed to provide major energy upgrades for the fruit giant that will reduce its dependence on diesel generators and markedly improve local air quality.
How do you like them apples? Err, or bananas.