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— Well-connected observers say the next big controversy to hit city hall will involve the city's secret new lease agreement with Sea World. Officials in the city's real estate assets department say that a hush-hush copy of the new lease, drafted by attorneys for Sea World owner Anheuser-Busch, has been handed to the city for "review" prior to further "negotiations." But inside skeptics say the deal is done and it's a sweet one for the beer giant; some are even calling it a "giveaway" of valuable city assets. So far the city attorney has stonewalled requests to supply key public records on the deal ... City hall regulars say that it's no accident the city council's regular Monday meeting has been canceled for each of the past several weeks, including this past Monday. It seems Mayor Susan Golding, who sets the agenda, has been using that time to campaign for U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, out on the hustings, Golding, whose last private-sector job was working for boyfriend George Gorton's Del Mar newspaper back in the mid-1970s, is suddenly trying to distance herself from government. The two-term mayor, who has been a city councilwoman, county supervisor, Republican gubernatorial aide, and wife of ex-convict Dick Silberman (a one-time influential Democratic money man and close aide to Jerry Brown) last week told the Riverside Press-Enterprise, "I've never become part of the government because I try to keep in mind the point of view of the average person."

Taxing sin

A big "sin tax" on cigarettes and liquor, barely approved by voters, paid for the new high-tech baseball stadium in downtown Cleveland. That information and other scary details of the nation's stadium-building business can be found via the Padres' own Web site, which has links to Web pages for some of the country's most lavish and expensive new stadium projects. A proposed Houston stadium includes a retractable glass roof ... Destinet Service Corp., that San Diego ticket agency which just lost the big Yosemite reservations contract amid allegations the company failed to turn over fees to the park service, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A spokesman for Destinet, which also sells tickets for the Colorado Rockies and Pikes Peak International Raceway, told the Denver Post that the company had "a cash shortfall from its electronic reservations systems for outdoor campsites in the United States and Canada." Meanwhile, the San Francisco Examiner reported last week that the company's reservations contract with California state parks has also been cut off.

Bag man

Democrats on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee are using internal memos from the San Diego Host Committee for last year's gop convention to show that Bill Clinton wasn't the only one putting the bite on fat cat contributors. "Every company should be asked for $250,000. We are willing [to] take $100,000, but every company on this list can afford to give a minimum of $250,000 and therefore we would like to start asking for this amount," wrote host committee fundraiser Fred Bush in the May 23, 1996, memo. Among companies hit up by Bush: Boeing, Coca-Cola, Farley Industries/Fruit of the Loom, Hewlett-Packard, TRW, and Viacom. According to Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper that broke the story, "an accompanying chart listed each company's giving history to the GOP."

Wired

The National Electric and Magnetic Fields Advisory Committee is bringing its traveling road show to San Diego. Topics will include a controversial National Cancer Institute childhood leukemia study. The two-day meeting, beginning Thursday, November 13, is to be held at the Maritime Museum on Harbor Drive downtown ... A woman who regularly flies with her pet Yorkie from Cleveland to San Diego is attempting to collect frequent-flier miles for the pooch. Nancy Nadler-Frank told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that she pays United Airlines an extra $100 per round-trip to let the dog ride under her seat when she flies to San Diego. "Discriminatory!" proclaims Nadler-Frank. "It would have to be a living, breathing human to get miles," replies the airline.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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