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— Once again, the first Tuesday of November turned out to be a dismal day for the Union-Tribune's high-profile editorial endorsements. The paper's choice for district attorney, Paul Pfingst, was beaten in an upset by Judge Bonnie Dumanis. The U-T's two San Diego city council candidates, Dwayne Crenshaw and Kevin Faulconer, were also soundly rejected by voters. In the race for San Diego Unified school board, billed by the paper as a life-or-death struggle for the controversial policies of Superintendent Alan Bersin, the paper got down and dirty and managed a split. Bersin critic John de Beck triumphed easily over Clyde Fuller, a retired FBI agent whom the paper and the local Republican establishment had endorsed. Jeff Lee, the retired Navy officer repeatedly excoriated by the U-T for an allegedly abusive military record dug up by the paper, fell to U-T choice and Bersin backer Democrat Katherine Nakamurad. Not content to rely solely on the paper's editorial attacks, U-T editorial chief Robert Kittle went on KPBS radio and Cox cable television to further sully Lee's reputation, and neither broadcast outlet gave Lee a rebuttal. In the end, first-time candidate Lee, his military history repeatedly pummeled by a barrage of last-minute direct-mail hit pieces paid for by Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad -- along with a volley of radio spots funded by downtown real estate mogul Malin Burnham -- failed to counter with any mail of his own and lost by a healthy margin. Meanwhile, over at San Diego city hall, Mayor Dick Murphy also had egg on his face after his school-district endorsement of the failed Fuller as well as his backing of losing Second District council candidate Faulconer. Some attributed that defeat to Murphy's announcement the week before the election that he would appoint Second District council two-term incumbent Byron Wear to a salaried position on the new regional airport commission. The move galvanized anti-Wear forces to further work against Faulconer, who was widely seen as a Wear clone. Only Charles Lewis, Murphy's choice for the Fourth District council seat being vacated by George Stevens, managed to get elected. Democratic Assemblyman Juan Vargas also managed a failed endorsement with a reelection flyer featuring himself standing alongside D.A. Pfingst in Chicano Park underneath a large headline that said, "Vargas and Pfingst take on the Gangs."

Mike's money The strange case of Mike Madigan has taken yet another intriguing turn with the revelation that he purchased yet another downtown redevelopment-area condo last summer. The saga began a few weeks ago when it came to light that Madigan, the city's so-called Ballpark Czar, was departing city hall, allegedly because he had purchased a condo in the Park Loft project next to the new baseball stadium. But county property records show that the condo was actually purchased by his wife Laurie, who paid $731,000 in a transaction that closed on September 25. The same day, according to the records, Madigan executed a deed that gave Laurie sole ownership of the unit. A month before, on August 29, records show that Madigan closed escrow on a new condo as his "sole and separate property" at the Porto Siena project in Little Italy. The deed shows that the sale date was February 25, 2002, and the price of the unit was $335,000. Also on August 29, documents show, Laurie deeded her interest in a unit on Kettner Boulevard, the couple's third downtown condo, to Madigan as his "sole and separate property." Laurie Madigan is a registered lobbyist who has represented some of the city's biggest special interests, including landowner and construction-materials giant H.G. Fenton, Inc. She is listed as a "senior partner" on the website of her company, MNA Consulting, along with her fellow senior partner David Nielsen. According to Nielsen's lobbying disclosure statement on file at city hall, he just happens to represent the Padres, along with a long roster of regional heavy hitters including Sea World, Pardee Construction (Mike Madigan's old employer), the Roman Catholic Diocese, and the San Diego Zoo.

Wearing out Departing city councilman Byron Wear, who was forced by Mayor Dick Murphy to abandon his appointment to the new regional airport authority board after he agreed to settle charges brought by the ethics commission, can no longer count on that six-figure salary to tide him over as he looks for new work, presumably as a consultant or Sacramento lobbyist. But at least his wife, Bridget Cantu, is bringing home the bacon. According to financial disclosure reports, Cantu, a former fundraiser for the Old Globe, makes between $10,000 and $100,000 as an employee of the Lux Art Institute of Rancho Santa Fe. The nonprofit foundation is building a $4 million museum and exhibition center designed by Santa Monica architect Renzo Zecchetto near San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas. The museum also produces traveling exhibits to offer children "the transformative experience of real art," according to its tax return. "We currently have three traveling valises. The bird hub steamer trunk, the naturalist's suitcase, and the bird palace." Presided over by North County socialite Ramona Sahm, the board features the likes of Joanne Warren and Chris Calkins, a lawyer for Carltas, the real estate development company owned by the flower-growing Ecke family. Among donors to the foundation are Warren, who gave $40,000; Suzanne Figi, who kicked in $20,000; the Wells Fargo Foundation, $40,000; and Sempra Energy, which came up with $10,000.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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