Fortune Cookie

Two quick predictions:

For all the horserace drama the Massachusetts special election is generating my bet is, when the fortune cookie crumbles, Coakley and the Democrats hold on to Ted Kennedy’s ancestral seat and Barack Obama keeps his thin filibuster-busting sixty votes in the Senate.  As far as I can tell (and I may well be wrong on this, as I often am), the touted polls showing Scott Brown up a by a few percent over Martha “Makes Bland Seem Exciting” Coakley have been of “voters” and not “likely voters.”  The turn out tomorrow is going to be bleak, comprised of party stalwarts who actually care enough to brave the thirty-something freezing rain to vote.  While Brown is doing well with independents. Both Bush and Obama have shown that independents matter far less than getting the party base out.  And Democrats have a three-one advantage in their Bay State base.   Brown has gotten a lot of out of state support.  But getting Rudy “I’m from New York and You Know How Much People In Massachusetts Love New York” Giuliani to campaign for you is a far throw from getting Bill “Show Me the Love One More Time Massachusetts” Clinton to stand by you.  Throw in the Obama Express stop yesterday and the Mass Senate race begins to resemble the Owens/Hoffman row last fall in New York’s 23rd Congressional.   If Coakley wins—even by a narrow two or three percent—Obama celebrates his one-year anniversary with a second major congressional victory (which he can claim as his own due to his quick visit) and National Republicans look like they’ve blown yet another one.

Of course, if Brown does pull it off and upsets Coakley Republicans go into the spring fundraising season invigorated and on the offensive, Healthcare gets filibustered to death by the Republicans, despite whatever Nancy Pelosi may Pollyanna-ishly hope, Republicans score big victories in November and Barack Obama faces the real possibility of becoming the Democrats first Jimmy Carter of the 21st Century.  So relax, Democrats.  Nothin’ on the line here.

Closer to home, I’ve got to disagree with long time Charger Voice Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton’s observation on “These Days” this morning that the Charger’s Disappointment Bowl loss yesterday won’t impact the franchise’s quest for new digs. Going all the way to the Big Dance in the Big Easy was the Charger’s best chance in years to rally Bolts fans—particularly the “We only pay attention to the Chargers when they win” fans, aka the “independent voters of the sports world — to support a new stadium at the ballot box.   In disappointing defeat, Bolts fans are more likely to balk—and bolt—at any municipal effort to throw public money at a team who didn’t deliver on the publics hopes.  Will this make the Bolts more likely to bolt themselves?  Maybe.  Though any reality of a bolting is years in the future.  For know Dean Spanos had better suck it up fast and launch a determined “Just wait’ll Next Year, San Diego!” campaign, replete with a willingness to throw a few million more at team building over the next year.  John Moores at least knew enough to buy a guaranteed championship team before he hit the voters up for big bucks.  It’s time for Spanos to put up and shut up—or sell the team to someone willing to do what it takes to make San Diego winners.  That is, if they want a big, new home for the Chargers.  If not, just keep doing what they’ve been doing.

This & That

This & That

This:  There was an excellent piece last week (by KPBS’ always excellent radio journalist, Alison St John, on proposed redevelopment of the bay front south of the convention center.  The link to the podcast is here.  The story underscores the central issue of what has driven much of local development policy in recent years:  sacrificing the long-term security of middle income jobs to gain increased tax revenues from real estate development.  Case in point, the desire of some in and out of government to eliminate, move or modify cargo operations the Tenth Avenue pier to make room for expansion of the convention center, more hotels and restaurants and, maybe even (fingers crossed, Spanos family?) room for another sports stadium on the bay.   The plan is to double deck the current port operations (cargo facilities down below, four star cuisine up above.)  Maybe it’s doable.  But, if they try and discover it really doesn’t work, push comes to shove, which jobs do you think are going to be shoved off the docks?  The middle income dock workers or the hotel profit-generating low income service workers?   Years ago someone paid to put somewhat obscure ads on municipal busses calling San Diego “The Last Plantation Economy.”  Seems they were correct, if a tad premature.

That: Jerry Sanders avoided a November ballot showdown with the City’s workers unions by striking a compromise deal.  Good news for Jerry who probably has less political capital to spend than he thinks following the June primary.  Yeah, he won but Susan Golding (you remember her?  Last mayor to actually serve two full terms?) went into her reelection campaign winning the primary with over 70% of the vote and with no real opposition.  Meanwhile the deal seems to benefit the mayor and city more than the workers, introducing a two-tiered pension plan for newbie workers v. the old guard.  Hey municipal employees unions, remember how well that worked for the grocery workers a few years back?  The city unions have fallen victim to the old ploy of divide and conquer.  Except they’ve divided and conquered themselves.

(And yes, for those of you who actually clicked on the above link, I am an avid reader of “Global Pensions.”   Isn’t everybody in the know…..?)

As The Kids Say

Out of the Mouth Of Modern Babes

The question of the day on this morning’s KPBS radio was whether or not the Chargers doing well in the playoffs will affect their quest for a new stadium.

The answer, as the kids say, is a resounding “DUH!”

The Chargers spent 2007 preparing to clinch a playoff berth on the field while, off the field trying to clinch a location for a new stadium. Considering almost as many alternative locations as the Regional Airport Authority did looking to replace Lindberg (at least the Spanos family didn’t consider trying to build a floating stadium, though then again…) they zeroed in on Chula Vista—a city apparently in even worse fiscal shape than San Diego. The Chargers real end game is to put so much pressure on Jerry Sanders and Mike Aguirre in their respective reelection years—“What, you let them become the Chula Vista Chargers?”—that they finally get some concessions on their field of Dreams. And, just like the Padres understood, it doesn’t hurt to having a winning team while trying to woe the local pols and public. Meanwhile if Sander’s and Aguirre’s most likely serious challengers—that would be Steve “Let’s Spend Another Million” Francis and Alan “I’m betting the MEA hates Aguirre more than the SDTA hates me” Bersin, respectively—want a ready-made issue for June, Charger fever could become their best political lightening bolt.

Dream on Chula Vista – you’re just a shill in the Chargers’ end game.

Meanwhile, in case anyone is paying attention amidst all the Bolts’ hoopla, the Iowa and New Hampshire contests have come and gone and now its on to Michigan, South Carolina, Florida and Tsunami Tuesday and who are leading their respective packs? Ahem. That would be Clinton and McCain. And who has said since spring they were going to win the big enchiladas? Ahem.

This and That, Fire Style

Looks like this was my weekend to get quotes in the LA Times. In addition to Tony Perry’s piece on Jerry, I also got picked up for a quote in a piece by Perry and Kevin Baxter for the sports section on the Charger’s Sunday game at the Q.. Scheduling the game and pushing the fire refugees out was a chancy decision for the City and the Chargers, but seemed to pay off, not the least because the Bolts won. My question is now how this may play out to help the Chargers in their quest for a new venue.

And acknowledgement to loyal reader Mlaiuppa who succinctly commented to a previous post that Jerry is now teflon. How about we compromise and call him gold-plated teflon?

As long as we’re on the subject, a few more fire related links. The San Diego Institute for Policy Research places the cost of the fires at over $2 billion dollars. Read the report here. This figure includes almost $900 million in loses due to businesses being closed during fire week. My bet is that the reality will be that most of these businesses will recoup much of this loss by simply increasing productiviity to make up for lost time. And the rebuilding effort can only help the economy. Talk about the creative destruction of the market place.

And finally, for now, Murtaza Baxamusa’s blog for Cafe San Diego (hosted by Voice of San Diego) deserves a quick read. Once the euphoria over the fires being over ends, the harder questions will begin. But I think the City Council and San Diego’s rapid anti-tax advocates will take more of the heat from the fire (ok, couldn’t resist that pun) than will Gentleman Jerry.

At least they can’t hang this on Mike Aguirre. Though I expect people to try.
Meanwhile, surfs up and the Santa Ana’s are coming back. Let’s hope that most of what can burn has burned….

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?