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— The most notable politico missing in action during last week's Super Bowl buildup was Susan Golding. When she was San Diego mayor, Golding devoted much of her time to serving the needs of Chargers owner Alex Spanos in hopes he would be a key financial backer of her ultimately failed run for the U.S. Senate. Getting the big game to come to San Diego was one of her top priorities. But today, done in by the Chargers ticket guarantee she championed for Spanos, Golding is a virtual nonperson, a political pariah unwelcome at any public event. In the ultimate irony, it was none other than ex-Democratic governor Jerry Brown -- a onetime political intimate of Golding's ex-husband, Dick Silberman -- who ended up in the Super Bowl spotlight. On Saturday, the Oakland mayor and failed liberal presidential hopeful posed for pictures with the Raiders cheerleaders, made bets with Tampa's mayor, and gamely accepted gifts of plush Shamu dolls from Golding's successor, Dick Murphy, while the cameras rolled. Silberman, the Jack In The Box fast-food mogul who ran Brown's political money operation before marrying Republican Golding, was also nowhere to be seen. Silberman ultimately wound up in federal prison as a result of a drug-money sting. His son Jeff is now married to the sister of Lisa Foster, wife of San Diego schools chief Alan Bersin ... L.A. Times sports columnist T.J. Simers, no big fan of the Spanos clan, was in town for the game and took a shot Saturday at the Chargers ticket guarantee and Union-Tribune "editor in chief" Herb Klein, along with another unnamed member of the San Diego sports corps. "The ticket guarantee was endorsed across the board at the time by the local media," wrote Simers, "which included an ex-Charger working in TV sports on all three major stations here, and the town newspaper run by a former Nixon press secretary who has been on very cozy terms with the Goofs, you know, Alex and Dean Spanos, who own the Chargers."

Politics as usual House Speaker Denny Hastert reportedly snuck into town on Wednesday for a five-day fundraising foray on behalf of congressional Republicans. The Hill, a Washington weekly, reported last week that Hastert and his pals, including GOP congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, had received an undisclosed number of game tickets at $500 face value, which they then packaged with golf, rooms, and parties, and sold to about 140 Capitol Hill lobbyists at an undisclosed premium. Qualcomm lobbyist Dan Mattoon, who is close to Hastert, was quoted by the paper as saying the company was hosting a dinner for lawmakers attending the game. "It is a working dinner. There will be a great deal of substance. It's an opportunity for the leadership at Qualcomm to discuss where the company is going." Democratic senator Barbara Boxer was also reportedly in San Diego for a fundraiser ... Burlington Northern Santa Fe parked a passenger train, made up of vintage sleeping and bar cars, at the Santa Fe Depot for the weekend festivities. A public relations woman for the company would not reveal who was aboard, other than to say they were the company's "special guests." Railroad staffers were spotted early Saturday evening loading a towering pile of golf bags aboard ... Glowing reports in the U-T about how spiffy downtown streets looked omitted mention of how many streetlights were dark along lower Broadway ... Channel 39, the TV station owned and operated by NBC, breathlessly reported last week that the vice squad was shutting down a lingerie show set for the mucho exclusive Access Hollywood Super Bowl party. A complaining party planner was featured prominently in the coverage. A defense was offered by the vice chief. Only at the end of the segment was it disclosed that the party was being put on by an NBC subsidiary.

End of the road The Auto Club is planning to move out of its longtime headquarters on the back of Cortez Hill and into new digs it wants to build in Mission Valley near the San Diego River on Hotel Circle Place off Interstate 8, just down the way from Old Town. Problem is, the club jumped the gun and began excavating before it had a development permit. Work at the site was forced to a sudden halt. "We got a building permit, but we didn't know we needed this separate permit. We relied on our contractor," says Carol Thorp, the club's managing PR director, who adds that the insurer hopes to move in by September. Not so fast, says Mission Valley environmentalist Randy Berkman. The permit is set for a hearing by the city planning department February 19, and even if the city gives its approval, the matter can still be appealed to the planning commission.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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