Ex-San Diego mayor Pete Wilson: "We drove out the schlock developers"

Judith McConnell portrayed as a gay-rights activist

— The all-too-familiar scenario of a Super Bowl team demanding a new stadium and threatening to leave town is being repeated in Denver, where, as in San Diego, the major daily newspaper is leading the charge for taxpayer subsidies. "Taxpayers don't have to contribute to a new stadium if they don't want to, but if they don't, a new facility will not be built," the Rocky Mountain News editorialized last week. "And if one isn't built, the Broncos will someday leave the city. No amount of tough talk by Denver officials about the team's 'unbreakable' long-term lease at Mile High Stadium will change that reality." The newspaper urged that an elaborate, domed stadium be erected to accommodate other events as well as football. "Of course, putting a retractable dome on a stadium boosts the up-front costs, too -- by up to $70 million," noted the News ... Qualcomm, which has invested millions in a Super Bowl-based marketing campaign, is hyping its $18 million stadium-naming deal on a special Web page directed at national news media, featuring "streaming video which shows Qualcomm Stadium's grand opening to the delight of San Diego citizens."

Forget the music, just do the poll

Mayor Susan Golding's on-again/off-again attempt to repair the broken San Diego Symphony will cost city taxpayers at least $100,000. That's the price of a consulting contract awarded by the city last month to the San Diego Foundation, which is supposed to perform such tasks as "fundraising feasibility studies" and "market research studies," along with a "community survey." Another "service" of the consultant: "coordination and plan development of a new Symphony Orchestra in San Diego."... Golding is out of the senate race, but her erstwhile political sugar daddy, Stockton mega-developer Alex Spanos, won't be sitting out this election season. The Chargers' owner has signed on as campaign chairman for former Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle's bid for California state treasurer. Pringle had been expected to run for state controller but reportedly switched races at the urging of incumbent Treasurer Matt Fong, another Spanos favorite, who is running for U.S. Senate. Pringle's surprise move in the treasurer's race casts a large pall over the campaign of Poway assemblyman Jan Goldsmith, who also has been seeking the job. He may now switch into the controller race.

Reinventing history

As he heads into his final year as governor, Pete Wilson has been tripping down memory lane, with a few crucial gaps. Last week, he reminisced about his years as San Diego mayor with Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters. "We drove out the schlock developers," Wilson said, describing what he recalled to be the effect of his mayoral "managed growth" policies on San Diego. He then told Walters he was fearful that today's local officials don't know how to control growth like he did. According to Walters, the governor advised them "to be tough on bad development." Wilson didn't mention his biggest flip-flop as mayor: allowing construction of the vast North City West housing development west of Del Mar after developer Pardee gave him thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and hired his top aide Mike Madigan away from city hall. The then-mayor also accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from other developers, who critics say got red- carpet treatment. Wilson and his people also told Walters that local officials were too easy when it came to giving pay raises to their employees. A few days after the Bee story ran, it was revealed that Wilson had accepted a pay increase to $131,040 -- an increase of about $20,000. Aides were quick to note that the governor had accepted a pay cut to $114,000 in 1991 and had remained at that level until December 1997.

Sexual politics

A San Diego judge is said to figure heavily into Republican plans as the party plots its strategy against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell was one of Boxer's 13 recommendations for federal judgeship, but McConnell's name was withdrawn by Clinton after conservatives portrayed her as a gay-rights activist for awarding custody of a Palm Springs teenager to his dead father's gay partner instead of the boy's mother.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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