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Remember Prop. B, the ballot measure that aimed to reform how the city supports its employees after they retire? An administrative law judge just threw it out. Now, the city wants to pull it back in, and it sounds like it can do just that. (Paging Al “I Thought I Was Out” Pacino!)
We’ve written a primer to get you up to date on everything from the basics (what the heck is an administrative law judge?) to what’s next and the city attorney’s plan to move ahead until someone in a robe tells him to knock it off.
• In related news, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association released a study of the costs of employee pensions around the county.
Justice Department Hits Former Mayor with Big Accusation
Former Mayor Maureen O’Connor is facing a federal money laundering charge, according to U-T San Diego. There’s not much more detail than that other than she’s going to be in court this morning.
Amid Federal Probe, San Diego Hospice to Close for Good
The end has come for San Diego Hospice, one of the largest and most respected hospices in the country and a major beneficiary of local philanthropists. Plagued by a Medicare probe, facing the likelihood of having to return millions of dollars to the federal government, the hospice announced yesterday that its bid for bankruptcy will be come with its closure.
Scripps Health, which already announced that it would step in to help the struggling hospice, will buy the hospice’s headquarters and offer services to patients. The hospice expects to shut within 60-90 days.
The hospice normally has about 1,000 patients at any one time, but that number dwindled to 600 in recent months amid a Medicare investigation and bad publicity. Our major story, published last month, explains what happened. We followed up with a story about the hospice’s bid for bankruptcy.
Why Normal Heights Has Shaky Sidewalks
Why are the sidewalks in Normal Heights in such shoddy shape? An engineer tells us it has to do with something called a “mudstone” that makes the neighborhood a terrible place to build.
The mudstones can lift building foundations off the ground, the engineer says, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. (Indeed, homes in Normal Heights have foundation problems.) “Something as simple as a poor parallel parking attempt could be enough to ruin a curb built on top of Normal Heights mudstones,” our Liam Dillon reports.
Don’t look at me. While I live in Normal Heights, I’m an excellent parallel parker. (Please don’t fact check.)
A city spokesman, however, dismissed the idea that mudstones are a huge contributor to crumbling sidewalks.
Watching What’s Next in SD Schools
We’re checking in on three San Diego education issues that we’ve been following: a new approach to funding special education, the merging of funding from two bond measures to raise money for school construction, and the question of whether the district should replenish its depleted reserves.
Correction on Councilman’s Statement
Due to an editing error, Wednesday’s Morning Report said that Councilman Scott Sherman announced his support for a proposed affordable senior housing complex in his district. Sherman said he would “probably” vote in favor of the project, and that he was “heavily leaning in that direction.”
Balboa Park Limbo
John Lamb, a columnist at CityBeat, pens an open letter to Irwin Jacobs, the billionaire philanthropist who says he’s taking his troubled massive Balboa Park project and going home.
Lamb urges Jacobs to not give up on San Diego: “There will always be room for heroes among us.”
Meanwhile, a friend of Jacobs explains the genesis of the Balboa Park project in a letter to the U-T.
Quick News Hits
• “Federal regulators Tuesday disclosed they are considering changing requirements set last year to restart the San Onofre nuclear power plant in San Diego County, another potential hurdle for the company that wants to return the troubled plant to service,” the AP reports.
• A deputy DA was found guilty in a ticket-fixing scandal (NBC).
• Three City Council members announced that it was “Dave Maass Day” in honor of the departing CityBeat writer, who’s headed to a new job in San Francisco. Good luck, Maass.
• Metrolink, the mass transit system that serves Oceanside with low-rent but cheap train service (along with a big chunk of the rest of Southern California), has a financial scandal. A top official has resigned under fire. (LA Times)
• The San Diego Regional Data Library, which is launching soon, has posted a look at all of the city’s street lights and plans to try to find links between lighting and crime. You can get a glimpse here.
• Someone hacked into the Emergency Alert Systems of TV stations in Montana this week and aired a warning that “bodies of the dead are rising from their graves.” Eek! Run for your … Oh wait. The warnings weren’t real.
That’s funny. This isn’t: we could be in trouble if there’s an emergency that silences radio stations, as happened during the 2011 blackout. As I reported in a 2009 VOSD story, “The number of radio journalists in San Diego is declining at a rapid clip, raising questions about the medium’s ability to cover disasters that could silence all other forms of media.”
If the zombie apocalypse does come, I’ll take on an important duty of the media: reporting on early speculation and getting the initial details wrong. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it!
Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.