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— It wouldn't be the first big lie to emerge during an election campaign, and it certainly wouldn't be the first one to appear in a Union-Tribune editorial, but Sunday's was one of the best in the memory of many longtime U-T watchers. "No taxes paid by San Diegans will be used to build the $216 million convention center expansion," the paper proclaimed. Well, not quite. The expansion bonds would require millions of tax dollars to service, with the money coming straight out of the general fund, the pile of cash consisting of property and sales taxes forked over by local taxpayers. Without that guaranteed source of payback money, nobody would lend the city a dime. Mayor Susan Golding says that increased tourist taxes would cover the cost; Golding critics say they won't. If the tourist taxes were insufficient, the general fund would have to ante up, resulting in cuts in services or new taxes. But you'd never know that from the editorials and news coverage in the U-T, which continually makes the tourist-tax claim without attributing it to Golding. Of course, stretching the truth isn't new to the U-T. During the stadium controversy in January 1997, the paper wrote: "Voters should be informed, for instance, that the improvements are being financed not by the city's general fund but by stadium users through higher rent and other fees." Months later, in November 1997, after it became obvious that the general fund was being tapped to pay debt service on the expansion, the U-T acknowledged that "the 60,000-seat guarantee is a subsidy and always has been. But with the very real threat of losing the team, city leaders chose a creative subsidy."

Let them eat Seinfeld

News readers and correspondents at NBC-owned KNSD spent much of last week hyping the final episode of Seinfeld. There were Seinfeld interviews and live appearances at Seinfeld bar parties. Nowhere on KNSD, however, was there any coverage of local politics, except for paid commercials. Conspicuous were $100,000 worth of ads for Prop A, the taxpayer-financed convention center proposal on the June ballot. Asked last week whether the station would provide any rebuttal opportunity to opponents of the measure, KNSD general manager Neil Derrough said, "If people aren't able to raise any money to buy their own spots, then that usually says something. At this point I don't feel that there's any reason to do anything. We're not in the business of giving free time away." Reached at his home in faraway Bristol, Rhode Island, station group chief Gary R. Chapman referred all questions back to Derrough, saying, "That station doesn't make much money for us."... San Diego public relations agencies are doing pretty well, judging from a recent survey conducted by a newsletter called O'Dwyer's PR Services Report. At the top of the pack is Stoorza Ziegaus & Metzger, with $7,599,275 of reported annual revenue. Then comes Nelson Communications at $3,444,000, and the Gable Agency, boasting a total of $2,102,980. But there was also bad news for Stoorza: the company's gross fell a reported 14.5 percent from a year ago, while Nelson's and Gable's jumped 9 and 8.7 percent, respectively.

Battle group

The Coast Guard is about to expand the security zone in San Diego Bay surrounding North Island. A notice issued last Friday says that "expansion of this security zone is needed to accommodate the homeporting of a third aircraft carrier" at the naval station. Comments are invited through July 14: "No public hearing is planned, but one may be held if written requests for a hearing are received and it is determined that the opportunity to make oral presentations will aid in the rulemaking process."... Florida gubernatorial candidate Jeb Bush, the son of ex-president George Bush, has picked up the support of Chargers owner Alex Spanos, who recently contributed $10,000 to his campaign ... Robert Booker, the head financial officer at San Diego County Schools, is leading candidate to become Baltimore's first permanent school chief executive, reports the Baltimore Sun.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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