To read the headlines, San Diego County is lining itself up for further pension woes.

In recent months, officials made moves to take on higher risk in the county’s pension investment strategy to boost performance and – hopefully – have more money to pay what’s promised to retirees.

“San Diego’s approach is one of the most extreme examples yet of a public pension using leverage – including instruments such as derivatives – to boost performance,” the WSJ said.

VOSD’s Ari Bloomekatz explains the strategy, and gives some much needed perspective on why the county needs to make so much money. Pension fund officials have fought back against criticism, saying the new plan is “purposely designed to be no riskier than traditional pension fund asset allocation strategies.” For Sean Karafin of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, this does not bode well for the average Joe: “Somebody’s going to have to pay and taxpayers are on the hook if things go south.”

A Biz Community Divided

The law as it stands will raise San Diego’s minimum wage to $11.50 over the course of three years. High-profile leaders like Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, and on the other side former chairman Mel Katz, have piped up, either to rally the troops to squash it or give it a chance. Members of the anti-wage hike Small Business Coalition have for the most part declined to identify themselves publicly out of fear of harassment.

But we’ve heard here and there from business owners on the ground. Lisa Halverstadt gives a window to where both sides stand on how the raise might affect their workers, businesses and customers.

City Heights Kickflips the Planning Process

You might not immediately think of public health when walking past a skate park in your neighborhood. But folks in City Heights are starting to.

Megan Burks had previously reported on the approved grant funding for a new skate park in the community, and now regional planners are heeding suggestions from the community group that backed the park in the first place. “There are more and more studies linking our built environment with public health,” said Colleen Clementson, a principal planner with SANDAG.

She said the potential impact of a project on an area’s obesity rates – by encouraging or discouraging walking – are now as important to planning discussions as air quality considerations.

Quick News Hits

• We’ve been following the state’s worsening drought, and we’re not the only ones. Check out this ProPublica round-up of some stellar, thirsty reporting.

• After a state investigation called them out, San Diego State University administrators are rolling out new policies on sexual assault. KPBS reports rape survivors and advocates are wondering what took so long.

• A Liberian doctor treated with the experimental Ebola drug manufactured by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical has died. (KPBS)

• UC San Diego tops Washington Monthly magazine’s list of “socially conscious” universities, “which emphasizes such factors as enrolling and graduating low-income students, supporting research and encouraging students’ public service.” (L.A. Times)

• Chargers radio host Hank Bauer (on 105.3 KIOZ) lobbed an anti-Semitic joke at the expense of his play-by-play partner Josh Lewin. Deadspin isn’t optimistic any punishment will come of the incident.

• State Sen. Ben Hueso voted in favor of a bill that would seriously handicap services like Uber and Lyft, just hours before getting arrested for drunk driving Friday morning. (Techdirt)

• Looks like that honeymoon phase is over. Mayor Kevin Faulconer takes heat from the San Diego Free Press for inaction on potholes in Golden Hill.

• Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, the Mexican businessman at the center of San Diego’s campaign finance scandal, suffered a bit of a setback in court Monday. He was hoping evidence would show a flawed investigation against him, but a federal judge called his requests for materials irrelevant and vague. (U-T)


Catherine Green was formerly the deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handled daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects.

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