The Senanator?

Speaking of Arnold the Rino (from my earlier post today) check out the The Politico exclusive interview with the Gubenator that just posted today. I’ve said for some time now it is inevitable that His Arnoldness, movie career moving rapidly into the retrospective, will eye another office after his bout as governor winds down. Given how much money he is raising, how high profile he remains, how high his approval rating is and the overall tone of the interview is that, come 2011, Arnold will reprise his role once again as the Running Man.

Two notes to the Gov:

1. Forgot about Mayor of LA. You are big time political star material. It’s the Senate you’ve got to play next.

2. Don’t sit on the fence come the California Primary. You can be the barbarian king-maker for either Giuliani or McCain — and whomever you deliver the Golden State to will owe you –big.

STeve FRANCIS of the City

Okay. I had to bend over backwards to get the pun in the title in place. But it’s Lent, the season of atonement and forgiveness, so give me a break. Yet it does look like Steve Francis has his heart set on trying to save the City of San Diego one more time – even if the City is not particularly warm to his kind of saving.

So what does a millionaire who already blew a million (or two) on an abortive run for mayor do during this, the off-season between elections? Why, pump more time and money into his own think tank, of course. Like Carl DeMaio ideological cousin, the Performance Institute, Francis’ San Diego Institute for Policy Research serves the same basic goal – self promotion of its founder in the guise of promoting a retro-Reagan agenda. (Question of the day: Just how many neo-conservative think tanks can this berg float?)

It’s been long rumored that DeMaio has been trying to segue his think tank work into a run for City Council. Might Steve Francis still be nursing the political bug as well?

Last Thursday’s $50 a plate luncheon hosted by Francis’ institute was more about reminding San Diego that he was till around than it was about serving up the neo-conservative Dinesh of d’day—oh stop it already!—Dinesh D’Souza to wax poetic about all things illiberal in America. (Most disappointing that Dinesh didn’t extend his vein of thought about how American slavery actually made life better for their modern descendents. Like Iraqis will all benefit in the future from all the deaths because it will tighten labor markets and lead to higher wages! After all, D’Souza has made a career out of that sort of facile reasoning.)

Or, at least, it was about Francis reminding the audience of largely conservatives(and potential political donors) that he was still around. And willing. Though for what he has been less than clear. Perhaps this is what precipitated Jerry Sanders dropping playing coy and telling supporters three weeks ago that he was in the reelection race: letting Francis and other potential rivals know the lay of the land.

Meanwhile Francis does seem hot to trot the political runways again. Last time around, much of Francis’ support–including a number of key campaign staffers–came from outside of San Diego. His strongest local booster was then San Diego Republican County Chair Ron Nehring, who strong-armed an unusual party primary endorsement of Francis.

Isn’t it interesting that Francis’ local patron has now moved up to the State chair, a position from which he could steer even more support to a Francis run—for whatever.

Perhaps California’s state Republicans, still dominated by die-hard conservatives, see a win with Francis in San Diego as a flexing of clout that could serve as a possible offset to the rising clout of Arnold the RINO?

In any event, STeve Francis of the City bears watching.

Shaddup Already

Now that the debate to non-bind has concluded in the House of Representatives and moves to the Senate, I have only one thing to say to Congressional Republicans. All that “sending the wrong message to the troops,” emboldening the enemy stuff,” and similar debate-equals-debacle rhetoric?

Shaddup already!

Note to Republicans and media apologists for the Bush Administration far and wide: Democratic debate is not the first, middle, nor last casualty of war. Not, at least, in a true Republic.

Says who? How about history? The Federalist Party (ancestor of the modern Republican Party) was so incensed with Madison and the Democratic Republicans leaning toward France over England in the lead up to the War of 1812 that their more reactionary members even concerned New England sucsession from the pro-French rest of the country.

During the Civil War election year of 1864, not only was the “savior of the union” Abraham Lincoln challenged for re-election, he was challenged by one of his own former military commanders, General George McClellan, who vociferously criticized his commander in chief for failed military policies in dealing with the South.

During the run up to and after American entry in World War I Congressional Republicans were staunch critics of both Wilson’s war and post-war policies. Republicans ran candidates critical of FDR’s pro-English stance war record in 1940 and against his domestic and foreign policy record in 1944. (And, least we forget, across the Atlantic, the English people fired Winston Churchill in July of 1945 while war still raged in Asia.)

Republican isolationists like Robert Taft vocally criticized both Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower from the floor of the Congress for their international commitments to stop the Soviets after World War II. Ike himself was elected to the Presidency in large part for his repudiation of Harry Truman’s Korea strategy. Was Ike, therefore, guilty of emboldening Mao Zedung? Richard Nixon, meanwhile, ran for President in 1968 with the promise to get us out of Vietnam (though it would take seven more years to do so), attacking LBJ for getting us into that quagmire. And, in each case, American boots were on the ground in harms way.

More recently, least we forget, many of the same Republicans whom today excoriate Democrats for criticizing a GOP commander-in-chief tripped over each other in their rush to criticize Bill Clinton’s military policy when he had boots on the ground in Somalia, troops in the air over over Haiti, troops on the ground in Bosnia, and planes in the air over Kosovo. I don’t remember Democrats attacking Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott (and the rest of the chorus of Republican partisan patriots–e.g. when we do it, it’s for America, when Democrats do it, it’s against America, regardless of whatever “it” is) for “emboldening” Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda when Republicans attacked Clinton for trying to off Bin Laden with cruise missile attacks in 1998 on Sudan and Afghanistan.

Or how about the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, as an expert on how Congressional debate over foreign policy affects our military. Just a day before the debate began he said:

“Fundamentally, debate in the Congress of the United States is good for the health of our democracy, All of us who wear the uniform … believe that, fight for that, and would be very upset if anyone tried to take that opportunity away…The problem is that our enemies, who have no clue what democracy is all about, don’t understand that debate. The trash heap of history has a lot of corpses on it, of nations that misunderstood the will of the American people. The ( enemy ) should not repeat the mistake that many have made about our country.”

What part of any of that don’t Republican Congressman (and their AM squawk radio apologists)—the vast majority of which have never worn the uniform–get? I love hearing all these Republican politicians whose closest experience to combat have been junkets to Iraq and Afghanistan where they get the VIP Universal Studios behind the scenes tour and come back to Washington sounding like they’re George Patton. (Which is, to me, the ultimate in “I’m not an expert on democracy and the military—but I did stay at the Baghdad Holiday Inn!”)

But these are modern Congressional Republicans we’re talking about, for whom facts, history and truth always takes a back seat to ideological dogma and political expediency. These are the guys and gals who, confronted with four solid years of evidence to the contrary, still like to slip in innuendo that Saddam Hussein had nukes (he just slipped them into Iran or Syria) and was best buds with Osama. (And these are the same crew that are already rushing to their war drums to back up their commander-in-clueless’ march to war with Iran.)

So, I conclude my little tirade by actually withdrawing my original plea to Republicans to shut up and stop squelching legitimate democratic debate.

Let Republicans condemn anyone with the audacity to use their First Amendment rights to criticize a war policy gone incredibly bad all they want. All it shows is their fundamental ignorance of, and contempt for, the very principles of Democracy our soldiers are trying to bring to the peoples of the Iraq. All it shows is just how craven Congressional Republicans are in putting the interests of their own Party, around whose neck the legacy of a horrifically failed Iraqi policy hangs like a millstone, ahead of that of both our soldiers in the field and the American people back home.

Then the American people can remember how Republicans put partisan politics first, the good of our soldiers in the field and our nation as a whole a distant second come November, 2008.

Now that’s democracy.

On the Waterfront

Two weeks ago, former state Senator and current John Moores “senior advisor” Steve Peace and perennial (or is that centennial?) county Supervisor Ron Roberts presented their bayfront dream. The plan is nothing if not ambitious: reconfigure Lindbergh Field by moving the terminals over to Pacific Highway, close off a big hunk of Harbor Drive and create a bayfront promenade of parks and public spaces mixed with complementary commercial enterprises from Shelter Island to National City. One can only applaud any public figures who suggest something approaching comprehensive planning be applied to what has, since the days of Alonzo Horton himself, been the hodge-podge development of the municipal asset that Roberts calls “San Diego’s front porch.”

But it’s what lies behind the plan—the plan for the plan, if you will—that intrigues me. The history of San Diego’s waterfront development over the last decade is a lesson in political pointillism: lots of separate, discrete individual dots that, together, make up a comprehensive image. And if you connect all these dots, the dominant image they create is the logo of a candy company: M&M. Only in this case the two Ms refer to San Diego’s two behemoths of development, John Moores and Douglas Manchester.

Peace sees his initiative as a natural extension of the California Independent Voter Project that he spearheads (with a helpful infusion of John Moores’ money.) The primary interest of the CIVP, Peace says, is to stem the tide of increasing voter disengagement. Peace blames voter blasé on, as he puts it, “the binary world” of negative political posturing that has replaced civic dialogue in recent decades. Peace recently told me that, in his view, the whole purpose of the bayfront initiative is to try to develop a citywide (indeed, regionwide) positive dialogue on a critical civic issue—the waterfront—and then measure if such a positive dialogue can, in fact, improve citizen engagement. Thus one way of looking at the Peace-Roberts initiative is a sort of political-science experiment writ very large.

But this is Steve Peace we’re talking about here: a man with a history of good intentions that have, on occasion, initiated events that have quickly grown beyond their initiator’s controls. Like energy deregulation that became the Enron fiasco and the San Diego Airport Authority that spawned the waste of public time—and monies—that was the Miramar initiative.

And now the Peace and Roberts initiative, however nobly inspired, is stirring up the always-troubled port waters with possibly unforeseen consequences. One of these seems to be the potential—if not the reality—of increased friction between the two biggest players in downtown San Diego.

Moores and Manchester are the two biggest-league players in the San Diego municipal ballgame. Indeed, with the passing of the matriarchy of Joan Kroc and Helen Copley, they are the new heads of a San Diego patriarchy, the crown princes of civic leadership and philanthropy.

Manchester came on the San Diego scene the old-fashion way, working his way up from humble local origins, building a real-estate empire project by project over the last four decades. Moores’ rise is more endemic of the modern route to wealth, riding the new wave of high-tech money in the 1980s and converting it into a real-estate empire in the 1990s and ’00s.

The two men have many similarities. Both are family men (score: Manchester 5, Moores 4). Both are nationally renowned philanthropists (though Moores wins this match-up having made some of the largest public university donations in U.S. history.) And both have been the dominant players on the San Diego waterfront for the last decade or three. On that score, though, Moores is the latecomer to the majors. Manchester built his waterfront empire in true monopoly fashion, assembling contiguous properties and building hotels on each one. Moores built his on the transformation of East Village, which flowed from his quest for a new home for his newly acquired Padres.

And therein lies another similarity between the two men. At the core of both their empires are major civic projects around which their private developments could flourish: the San Diego Convention Center for Manchester, Petco Park for Moores, with each man being a prime booster of the public projects that would, in turn, boost their own prosperity.

So how did San Diego’s titan twins end up in potential conflict? The two magnates co-existed peacefully enough in the 1990s. Like multimillionaire versions of Germany and Russia back in 1939, they maintained a cordial development détente, dividing up downtown into spheres of influence like a municipal Poland. Manchester focused on building out his waterfront holdings around the convention center while Moores did the same around Petco. But their two zones rubbed right up against each other on Harbor Drive. And where there’s rubbing, there’s friction.

In 1999, the two men became embroiled in a convoluted tussle over the Campbell shipyard property. Located right next to the convention center, it was the natural site for Manchester to next expand into. But Moores’ JMI Realty had already entered into a preliminary agreement with the Port District to build a hotel on the property. Then the Port District deselected JMI and switched award of the project to the Manchester Financial Group. A JMI spokesman at the time said that JMI’s only interest in the property was to get a hotel built on the site to generate transit occupancy tax revenues needed to offset financial obligations generated by Petco Park. But the series of legal and environmental hassles that followed ultimately resulted in the Port of San Diego paying Manchester a hefty $5 million (including a $3 million profit) to buy out his interests in the development deal. Meanwhile the hotel project remained derailed and the TOT dollars desired by JMI never materialized. Neither man was reported to be particularly pleased with the matter.

M&M may be generating friction again, this time over differing views of developing the waterfront north of the convention center. Manchester has focused his energies in recent years on two key projects: development of Lane Field and redevelopment of the Navy Broadway Complex. The Peace/Roberts vision would, if adopted, significantly impact Manchester’s plan and even cancel large portions of it. At a minimum, simply starting this new dialogue, as Peace calls it, has the potential to stir up a hornet’s nest of public action and “dialogue” that could bog down Manchester’s projects for years. As a man self-described as given to emotion, this cannot be a prospect that’s easy to swallow. Manchester was being unusually understated when he complained to Voice of San Diego that he wished “Ron and Steve would have come to us a year ago, before spending $3.8 million and going through the 28 public hearings.”

All of this could result in a win-win situation for Messieurs Manchester and Moores, of course. Manchester has a penchant for making lots of money even off of failed development projects by suing public entities—in addition to the port settlement, he got $2.2 million from the city of Oceanside over a development deal gone south. Litigious lawyers must even now be salivating at the thoughts of the size of the settlements Manchester might muster over the even bigger Navy and Lane Field projects.

Moreover, it can be certain that Manchester will be able to secure a lucrative slice of whatever development opportunities the Peace/Roberts “dialogue” might generate. And Moores can clear a spot on his shelf for the kudos he’ll receive for being a visionary force in creating a livable San Diego waterfront for generations of San Diegans to come.

Peace strenuously points out that he and Roberts are acting without overt collusion with Moores. (Though he does say the whole idea for the waterfront initiative came about over a breakfast between “four old white guys”—himself, Roberts, Moores and the project’s conceptual architect.) Moreover, he denies that their plan will maim Manchester in any way. Peace, in other words, comes in peace.

Peace also points out that Moores’ interests downtown are altruistic. Yes, Moores lives downtown and has extensive business holdings there, but, Peace says, he has moved into his Bono phase of life, more interested in philanthropic projects like AIDS and stem-cell research than getting involved in a big, downtown imbroglio.

But therein may lay the rub. To Moores, San Diego is a nice place to live and rake in a few extra tens of millions from real estate and sports ventures—all the better monies to give away in his new role in life as a global philanthropist. But “Papa Doug” Manchester takes a more paternal view toward his San Diego projects. He doesn’t just live in San Diego; his entire business identity is San Diego. His San Diego projects are, in their own way, his professional children. And Moores, directly or indirectly, unintentionally or not, is messing with two of Manchester’s babies.

Thus on this, Valentine’s Day, it would seem there is little love to be lost between M&M down on the tangled political turf of the San Diego waterfront.

It Must Be Something In the Water

Okay, what gives. First our City Council goes a little bonkers and practically votes the City into bankruptcy in a series of under-funded pension deals. Then Mayor Dick Murphy goes bonkers and fails to recognize or admit how bad the resulting City finances are. Then the Voters go bonkers and re-elect the Murph who murphed the City financial crisis. Then the Murph de-bonkers, realizes all is hopeless, and resigns, and the City again goes bonkers in a recall election. Along the way several City Council members go really bonkers and start hanging out too much with a way-bonkers strip club owner. Then, a new and improved stronger Mayor in place, the Council and Mayor go bonkers over the division of power.

Okay, bonkers government I can understand. I don’t like it, but I understand. Bonkers government is more the norm than rational government. At least here bonkers government does not end up in car bombs going off.

But now the Chargers have gone bonkers? Okay, admittedly, the Charger management has been just a wee bit bonkers for the last few years thinking they could cajole/strong arm a new stadium deal out of a fiscally flushed out City. But with the firing Monday of 14-2 Marty Schottenheimer, all because he and general manager A.J. Smith couldn’t play well in the team sandbox and Dean Spanos lacked the huevos of his old man to wade in and read them both the riot act. E.g., suck it up, act like adults and take one for the team. Egad. That is bonkerism to the extreme.

(Note to Condi Rice: Forget Iran & North Korea. If you really won’t to show so diplomatic bona fides, go lead a team-building retreat in Murphy Canyon.)

It musts be something in the water. Not fluoride – I checked and we don’t get fluoridated water until this July. I know San Diego’s water infrastructure is a bit antiquated (hence all the fines and fee increases for progressively less efficient service.) You don’t think, to save money back in the ‘80s, the water department started to use lead-lined pipes, do you? That did in Rome, you know…..

What else could the explanation be?

Ignorance is Bliss

I read Council President Peters letter to CityBeat yesterday with grave concern. Councilman Peters accuses me of being “dangerously ignorant” of the form of government voters voted for in approving Proposition F. Councilman Peters further expressed that he was “surprised to see an expert in American politics so soundly reject shared governance, a hallmark of our country’s democracy.”

Oh, such a dart to my poor, professorial heart.

Alas, where did I ere so gravely in my understanding of San Diego and American politics? Have been teaching my students for the last eighteen years falsehoods? Have been writing mistruths in my missives to mislead my maligned readers?

So shaken was I by Councilman Peters rebukes that I found myself forced to call my primary mentor on American Politics, Jimmy “Hey, I only wrote it. What you do with it is your problem!” Madison. (And, given that he has been dead these last 171 years, that is one expensive roaming call on my Verizon cell phone!)

After we went through all the preliminary pleasantries (“How you doing, dude? What’s new?” ”Ah, I’m dead Carl.” “Bummer, dude.”….) I cut to the chase. “Jimmy,” I asked, “I’ve been through the Constitution and all those Federalist Papers and, for the life of me, I can’t find the phrase “shared governance” anywhere. San Diego Councilman Scott Peters says that “shared governance” is the “hallmark of our country’s democracy.” What am I missing?”

“Share governance?” Madison wheezed. (Which I attributed to the slight humidity that comes with existing amongst the celestial clouds…) “Never heard of it.”

“Shared governance, Jim. That’s where all the constituent groups in an organization to reach group agreement on decisions. Everybody tries to work together for the common good.”

“You mean so that if one of the governing groups doesn’t agree with the majority of others, that group ultimately has to compromise or just give in, even if it results in substantial forfeiture of that group’s rights?”

“Well, something like that.”

“Doesn’t ring a bell. What I did write was about dividing the functions of government into different departments, each with powers to constrain the actions of the others so as to protect the separate interests each department of government is designed to represent. To quote myself, ‘To what expedient, then, shall we finally resort, for maintaining in practice the necessary partition of power among the several departments, as laid down in the Constitution? The only answer that can be given is, that as all these exterior provisions are found to be inadequate, the defect must be supplied, by so contriving the interior structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.’ Now that’s not a situation built on cooperation at all costs, Carl. It means you divide power in such a way that ALL groups must compromise and respect each other’s rights.”

“So, I’m confused. Councilman Peters is basically saying that the Mayor of San Diego, the City’s chief executive, elected by all the people of San Diego, must ultimately bend to the will of the City Council, the legislative branch of the city, as the City Council represents the people, too.”

“Huh? Must be a bad connection here, Carl. You’re saying your city councilman thinks I wrote a Constitution in which the executive is to be subordinate to the legislature? Then why did I write ‘In order to lay a due foundation for that separate and distinct exercise of the different powers of government, which to a certain extent is admitted on all hands to be essential to the preservation of liberty, it is evident that each department should have a will of its own.’ That means the Executive must be independent of the Legislative, buckaroo. Moreover, when I wrote ‘But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others.’ I mean that, for government to represent all interest in society, it’s various branches must exist in a competition to guarantee that no one interest triumphs. Send your Councilmember a copy of my book. Doesn’t seem he’s read it.”

“So, what you’re basically saying, Jim, is that if San Diego’s Council-Mayor system is supposed to be based on the same principles of democracy as the system you envisioned, our Mayor, as the executive, should not just be a minion of the Legislature – the City Council—but should pursue a will of his own to represent the public interest?”

“Bingo! Speaking of which, I gotta run. Having a poker game with Franklin and the two Roosevelts.”

And with that our conversation ended.


When Councilman Peters says I “soundly reject shared governance, a hallmark of our country’s democracy” he’s incorrect. “Shared governance” is not a hallmark of our democracy. Checks and balances and separations of powers is.

Councilman Peters is correct in saying that Strong Mayor system adopted under Proposition F is is “analogous to the president and Congress, and the governor and state legislature.” The American political system is based on a competition between separate branches of governments representing differing interests. The House, for example, represents local districts. The Senate represents States. The President represents the American people in their totality. The Courts represent the rule of law. Each branch must tenaciously represent its constituency in a competition of power which must, for anything ultimately to be accomplished, result in a consensual compromise, least any branch veto the actions of the other. For Councilman Peters, shared governance consists of the City Council telling the Mayor what to do and the Mayor ultimately doing it. That is not the concept underlying either checks and balances or separations of powers.

And that has been the political problem in San Diego for too long. For the last decade there has been no-one in San Diego City Government to ultimately tell the City Council, no. As in no, you can not increase City liabilities, expand City services and costs and restrain City revenues indefinitely. As a result, for the last decade the City Council has spent and committed this City into fiscal failure. The council conned voters into going along with this strategy by telling voters they could have all the services and benefits they wanted with out paying the true cost. And this charade continued until the bonds markets finally called the council’s bluff.

When voters voted for the Strong Mayor system they did so with the intent of finally installing someone at City Hall with the power to tell the council “no” and instill some fiscal frugality into our municipal mess. The tragedy of Proposition F is that it did not delineate power between the Mayor and council clearly enough, thus the current conflict. Twere that San Diego’s political system truly reflected the principals of American Democracy Peter’s so extols. But that may take a further charter amendment to give the Mayor clear budget executive authority and a real veto power.

As to the issue at hand, Peter’s basically argues that, recently passed resolution limiting the Mayor’s budget authority notwithstanding, final authority over execution of the budget rests with the Council. If, as Peter’s indicates, our national political model is the measure, this is simply not true. Congress, like our council, passes the annual budget. And the President, like the mayor, is bound to execute the budget to the level of specificity contained within that budget. Congress does not pass a budget that details Federal spending down to the last Ticonderoga #2 penciled purchased at the IRS. Instead, Congress appropriates money in larger departmental, agency and programmatic increments. Beneath the level of spending Congress explicitly specifies, it is an established principle of the US government that the President, as Chief Executive, has discretionary powers to allocate resources.

If the San Diego City Council wants to micromanage Mayoral budgetary authority then it needs do the hard work and pass a budget that details to the finest level exactly what must be spent on what, right down to each and every Ticonderoga #2 bought by any City office. Should the Council be willing to do so, then, yes, the Mayor has no discretion over the budget.

But what the Council is doing with its recent resolution is saying, “Hey, Jerry, we’ll approve a budget and let you administer it as you see fit. That is, right up to the point you shift monies around and cut services that cause any of our constituents to kick up a fuss. Then we’re going to shut you down.”

In essence, in my (often dangerous and ignorant view, as Peter’s might characterize it) the Council has fundamentally violated the principle of separation of powers central to American Democracy. The Council is insisting that it has post-facto veto power over the the Mayor should the Mayor seek to use whatever discretion the Council has granted him in passing the budget in a manner the Council latter doesn’t like.

At the national level this is referred to as a “legislative veto”: where the Congress passes a law post facto to effectively veto a previously legal action of the President. The Supreme Court struck down the legislative veto as unconstitutional. So should the Council resolution be treated, either by court action or, if necessary, by Charter Amendment.

As for Councilman Peter’s criticism of my attempts, failed or otherwise, at being humorous in relationship to this matter, let me state that, rhetorical flourishes aside, I am being as serious here as a heart attack. Or municipal bankruptcy which, the City Council and Mayor’s own protestations notwithstanding, is still within the realm of civic reality. Councilman Peter’s litany of the council’s actions to redress our now five year old fiscal crisis details a series of actions that have been years late and hundreds of millions of dollars short. By any objective standards, this City is still in a world of municipal hurt. And more is to come. That’s been Mayor Sander’s message. The council just doesn’t want to hear it.

And, finally, Councilman Peters refers to my characterization of the strong mayor system created by proposition F as “dangerously ignorant.” Now that is hyperbole. How can the musings of one lowly poli sci guy be dangerous? Am I preaching sedition? Am I leading insurrection? My viewpoint is only “dangerous” to the City Council and its contention that, passage of Proposition F notwithstanding, they are the final word on what this City will do. My argument is that Prop F did not simply convert the largely ceremonial mayor into a largely ceremonial mayor/city manager. The intent of Proposition F, at least as it was portrayed to voters, was to create more powerful mayor who could serve as a check and counterbalance to the City Council.

Hey? Maybe that is seditious!

Clash of the Titans

And I’m not referring to the cheesy 1981 takeoff on Greek mythology. If you recall, that camp flick showed us that even great stars like Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith are willing to suck it up every now and then be part of a real dog of a dog and pony show in exchange for a big paycheck.

No, I’m referring to our own local cheesy dog and pony show that hit the boards this week – the Peace and Roberts save the bay campaign. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud both of them for their efforts to dare suggest that some element of comprehensiveness be applied to how we treat the City’s single greatest natural asset.

It’s just that I’ve become a tad cynical over the years and always find myself, wanting to or not, asking the Columbo-style “why” questions.

Like why didn’t Peace, the father of the ill-begotten San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, bring up his ideas to transform Lindbergh and the waterfront several years ago before the SDCRAA embarked on its Quixotic Miramar quest . And, as Doug “I Don’t Own All of Downtown Yet But Give Me Time” Manchester said, it would have been nice if the Peace and Roberts show had rolled into town last year when the debate on the Broadway pier development was heating up.

Now I’m sure both Ron and Steve have the civic good of the city in mind. But I’m also sure both will milk this for whatever political advantage they can gain from it. Run for Mayor, Stevo? Tired of serving forty decades on the Board of Supers, Ron and looking for other employ – perhaps with JMI? All speculation, of course. But when you leave obvious questions unanswered, speculation runs rampant. (At least in this blog…..)

Which takes me to my final piece of Peace speculation. The former state senator, as you recall, is a “senior adviser” (great work if you can get it) to John “If Doug Manchester doesn’t own it chances are I do” Moores. Moores has presumably let Peace off his JMI leash to pursue his “I have a Bayfront Dream” campaign. (Even as Moores is a major contributor to the organization backing Peace.)

But John Moores is a very, very smart man. And he can connect the dots on Peace’s promenade plans. And these dots lead right to Doug Manchester’s Navy Broadway complex.

And Manchester seems more than a little irked at Peace’s Johnny (more)-Come-Lately entrée into the bayfront debate.

So one has to ask? Have our local development Zeus and Jupiter started throwing surreptitious civic lightening bolts at each other? Is Peace’s master plan proposal actually a quite declaration of war by his Master against his greatest downtown rival, the stakes being control of the City’s waterfront?

How exciting. I’m going to get myself a bowl of popcorn and see how this plays out.