Scott Chadwick, who rose to chief operating officer of the city of San Diego during the tumult of former Mayor Bob Filner’s final, beleaguered months, is leaving the city for Carlsbad, where he’ll be COO as well.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer has tapped Kris Michell to be the new COO. As our Scott Lewis reviews, this is a major change for the job, whose occupants traditionally handled the day-to-day operations of the city but left the politics and vision to the mayor and mayor’s chiefs of staff.
Michell was chief of staff to two mayors before Faulconer. She is not one to leave the politics to anyone else and she is close allies with the mayor’s current chief of staff, Aimee Faucett.
Most cities in California work with the city-manager form of government, where a manager reports to the City Council and the mayor is only a member of the City Council, not the chief executive of the city. Presumably Chadwick’s choice leaves him in a better position to eventually become a city manager somewhere like Carlsbad.
How Are the Pensions These Days?
The president keeps trumpeting about great times for Wall Street,and with good reason: Last year was a gangbusters year for stocks and investors. The year’s windfall gave a nice boost to the troubled pension funds of several local government agencies, but city and county funds still have large shortfalls.
Together, the funds are $6.25 billion short of the money they’re projected to need to pay for retirement benefits earned by current and former employees.
Our reporter Ashly McGlone explores the state of the two plans that over the years played a role in local politics. After all, the shortfalls only matter in so much as how much they cost to pay off and what sacrifices to services or taxes are needed to do that.
Our story also recaps the debate over whether it’s even a good idea for pension funds to be fully funded. “Since the county and city pension funds weren’t fully funded last year, each agency missed out on millions of additional dollars they could have earned from last year’s strong investment gains. But in bad years, being underfunded avoids additional losses.”
What Govt. Shutdown Means for Us
As of this Morning Report’s deadline, a large chunk of the federal government was still shut down for the first time since 2013. Locally, the Cabrillo National Monument was closed, and the region stands to suffer economically, the U-T reports.
We don’t know how an extended shutdown may affect the local unemployment rate, which remains at a record low level.
Report: Border Wall Prototypes Survive Tests
The Associated Press, based on an interview with an unnamed official, has learned that the military has been testing those eight border wall prototypes at the border to see if they can tolerate assaults with “jackhammers, saws, torches and other tools and climbing devices.”
Turns out they can because they’re tall, the AP reports, although the official says “see-through steel barriers topped by concrete” seemed to do the best. The president is a big fan of a see-through border wall.
Climate Change-Denying TV Weatherman Dies
Climate change scientists won’t have weatherman John Coleman to kick them around anymore.
Coleman, the man who helped create the Weather Channel and put the “Uuuuuuuu” in KUSI, died over the weekend at the age of 83, the U-T reports.
One of San Diego’s best-known TV personalities during his tenure at KUSI from 1994-2014, Coleman was outspoken about global warming. As we reported in a story a few years ago, “his narrative is distorted, riddled with holes, falsehoods and slivers of data that skew reality.”
Times of S.D. published a three-part series about Coleman last year, noting his new poker-filled life in Las Vegas and his dramatic surprise departure from KUSI, a station where he’d grown weary of the never-changing format and visuals. “It’s like they’re caught in this …. Groundhog Day over and over.”
The station praised Coleman when it announced his death.
Quick News Hits: Big Chill Isn’t the Chilliest
• The day after the Women’s March drew tens of thousands to downtown San Diego, the U-T reported that “a new county ordinance that gives Sheriff Bill Gore authority to restrict public access and take other measures to keep the peace during political protests is drawing scrutiny from civil-rights advocates and other activists concerned about how he wields his new power.”
• The U-T profiles Kearny Mesa’s efforts to become an Asian-themed home-and-business district along the lines of Little Italy instead of its current chaotic, traffic-congested mix of restaurants, car dealerships, warehouses, adult shops and more. “The overriding goal is to allow more commercial buildings and encourage more housing to make it easier to live, work and play in the same ZIP code,” the story says.
• Nighttime got pretty nippy over the last few days, hitting the mid-40s in Mid City. But we’re a far cry from the lowest temperature in San Diego recorded history — a bitter 25 degrees Fahrenheit on Jan. 7, 1913, 105 years ago this month.
Of course, that’s nothing compared to Chicago or even New York City weather. But, as I wrote in a VOSD story on the big chill’s 100th anniversary, San Diegans were mighty astonished and mighty eager to keep the news away from potential visitors. So discovered a guy who appeared at the Horton Plaza fountain, where kids were chipping off pieces of ice, and threatened to take photos that he’d turn into postcards to send back east.
“The cry was taken up by the crowd and the man’s camera was smashed,” the San Diego Sun reported. “Someone took a swing at him, but missed him, and he fled hurriedly down the street.”
Same as it ever was: Don’t you dare mess with the myth of our perfect weather!
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.