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Daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Saturday)
Pension debt at the city was piling up.
So in 2012, voters overwhelmingly approved a reform initiative getting rid of guaranteed pensions for most new city employees in exchange for 401(k)-style retirement benefits. The switch has made a dent in the city’s future retiree liabilities.
Former San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis was among those who supported pension reform. During her failed mayoral run in 2012, she said she wanted to go even further and get rid of guaranteed pensions entirely for new hires.
Dumanis herself collects a county pension of $269,000 annually after 35 years of work. Now she’s running for a seat on the County Board of Supervisors, and in a recent interview she said her staunch support of pension reform doesn’t extend to the county.
As VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reports, “though the county pension system has a $3.5 billion unfunded pension liability, or gap between assets and accrued liabilities for current and former employees, and a 76.3 percent funded ratio, Dumanis said she is not concerned.”
Dumanis noted that county supervisors have already lowered pension benefits for new hires. She also said that the county has a $2.9 billion reserve, some of which is intended to pay for pensions.
Stories from the Washington Post and the San Diego Union-Tribune have raised fresh questions about hotel magnate Doug Manchester’s tenure as the U-T’s publisher.
The U-T and The Washington Post wrote about the uncomfortable management style and alleged mistreatment of female employees by the real estate developer, who prefers to be called “Papa Doug.”
VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga has five takeaways from Papa Doug’s #MeToo moment.
For one, it’s terrible timing for Jeff Light, the editor and publisher of the Union-Tribune. Light’s worked for a few different owners. He’s now in the middle of navigating another big shift as Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong takes the reins. The Post’s report included an anonymous complaint that said Light ignored complaints about offensive behavior by Manchester. Light was cleared of any wrongdoing by an in-house review, but the criticism comes at an uncertain time.
One of the biggest repercussion of the allegations, though, could be President Donald Trump pulling the plug on his nomination of Papa Doug to be the ambassador to the Bahamas. Or not.
In case you missed Sunday’s recently launched Politics Report: Lots of people are talking about the “blue wave” that’s about to hit the 2018 elections as anti-Trump sentiment translates into big wins for Democrats, but in California a political data maven told VOSD’s Andrew Keatts and Scott Lewis that the big blue wave will likely be more like a little blue trickle. Among other reasons, he said the state has its own political climate and will likely be insulated from any big shifts.
Also in our roundup of political news: An update from signature gatherers, a potential riff in unions on the supervisor race and a new YIMBY club.
• Correction: The original version of the Politics Report post claimed the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 135, was the largest union in San Diego County. It has 14,000 members. But it’s not the largest. The largest of San Diego’s unions is the United Domestic Workers, the Home Care Providers Union. It has 17,000 members in San Diego County.
• About that new Yimby club: In a new op-ed for VOSD, Maya Rosas the club’s president, describes what happens when she started showing up to the meetings of her community planning group to argue in favor of building more homes in the neighborhood, not less. She also explains the impetus for the new YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County group she started.
Writerz Blok is a legal graffiti park in southeastern San Diego. As one of the first-ever of its kind in the nation, the place has gained prominence and some of the world’s best graffiti artists have made a point to stop by and paint a piece there when they visit San Diego.
The art world was rattled when the park was temporarily closed last year by its nonprofit operators, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation. But fear not arts supporters: Writerz Blok’s future is starting to come into focus.
I wrote about the planned reopening, plus packed in lots more arts and culture news in this week’s Culture Report.
• County Assessor Ernest Dronenburg spends a lot of the public’s money for the convenience of being able to change his flight plans at the last minute. He told the Union-Tribune that his “ever-shifting schedule and workload” is behind the heightened cost he pays for plane tickets. The paper found that he has spent $90,000 on more than 100 trips in the last five years. Dronenburg’s opponent in his re-election bid, Democrat Matt Strabone, issued a response Tuesday afternoon, saying if elected he would spend his time showing homeowners how to save their tax money “instead of using it to pad a Hyatt rewards points account.”
• For decades, there’ve been loads more students clamoring to get into San Diego State University than the school can admit. Now SDSU’s university architect is saying they’ve essentially built all they can build on the main campus and the university won’t be able to meet the ever-growing demand for enrollment unless they can build their proposed satellite campus in Mission Valley on the site of the former Chargers’ stadium. (Union-Tribune)
• The California Public Utilities Commission wants a federal judge to issue sanctions against San Diego attorneys Michael Aguirre and Maria Severson for pressing forward with a lawsuit related to San Diego Gas & Electric’s handling of the 2007 fires. (Union-Tribune)
• County Supervisor Ron Roberts sounds a bit like an overly enthusiastic car salesman when he talks about the future of electric vehicles and their environmental benefits. (KPBS)
• This explainer on the criminalization of homelessness across the country includes references three Voice of San Diego stories, a few Union-Tribune stories and other news sources.
• El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells on Tuesday announced he was running for Congress, challenging embattled Republican incumbent Rep. Duncan Hunter.
• San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced plans to expand a neighborhood cleanup program. (Times of San Diego)
• Escondido city leaders just say no to marijuana. (KUSI)
• Qualcomm made “its most defiant move” yet in its defense against a hostile takeover bid from Broadcom. (Reuters)
• Padres’ new player Eric Hosmer said on Twitter that he’s never had a California burrito and fans are freaking out (he said he’s looking forward to trying one).