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Sewer story With San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders talking up the possibility of fee increases to pay for water and sewer projects, engineering and construction firms that stand to gain contracts worth millions and perhaps billions of dollars are circling. Part of the battle will involve making the right friends in the bureaucracy, and that may mean it will soon be time to ante up for a few more rounds of golf with decision makers.

According to the most recent financial disclosure forms on file at city hall, James A. Wageman, senior civil engineer in the city's Metropolitan Wastewater Department, was treated to a $75 round of golf on August 4, 2004, by Malcolm Pirnie, a wastewater consulting firm. That December 5 Wageman got a $50 ticket to a Chargers game from Lee & Ro, another engineering consultant. Six days later, the report says, Wageman received an $80 golf round from TOG Consultants, which the disclosure says specializes in "landscape construction." Wageman says the Chargers ticket was provided by a consultant who "is a very close personal friend." The golf rounds, he says, were in exchange for earlier rounds for which he had picked up the tab. "It was a wash."Alan Watkins, the department's information officer, reported that in August 2004 he bagged an HP Photosmart printer worth $210 from Wareforce, Inc., a "computer technology service provider." Watkins says the gift was a door prize at a data processing seminar attended by city workers. ... Lobbyist disclosure filings for the new year are in at city hall, and they reveal that San Francisco lawyer James R. Sutton -- who has advised many of the city's big-money political committees, including that of Mayor Sanders, about loopholes in the city's campaign and election laws -- has also become a popular influence peddler. Among Sutton's lobbying clients are the Building Industry Association; Lodging Industry Association; Qualcomm; the San Diego County Apartment Association; and Westfield Corporation, the shopping-mall owner.

Better late than never Is San Diego State University president Stephen Weber on the way out? Last month the New York Times revealed that Weber was in the running to become chancellor of the State University of New York, where he once served as president of the Oswego campus and in 1995 and 1996 was the system's interim provost. "Given my commitment to public higher education, my previous experience working in the SUNY system and the fact that New York is a special place for me and my family, the prospect of leading SUNY is a unique situation I feel I need to explore," Weber wrote in an e-mail to SDSU faculty after the story broke. He lost the job to SUNY acting chancellor John Ryan. Now rumors are flying that Weber's wife Susan is unhappy with life on Aztec Mesa, including Weber's ugly dustup with city councilman Jim Madaffer over the future of the Paseo redevelopment project and the Adobe Falls housing-and-hotel proposal rabidly opposed by Del Cerro residents. Though he's denied it, inside word has it that Weber could be gone within a year or two.

Hard knocks Embattled ex-San Diego city manager Lamont Ewell, who has resurfaced as Santa Monica's city manager, shared some newly gained wisdom with L.A. TV station KNBC: "The biggest lesson that I personally learned is to pay attention to the details." ... Speaking of details, policy chief Julie Dubick has the dubious distinction of being the first member of San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders's staff to get a notice from the city clerk's office for filing an incomplete personal financial disclosure report: "Please provide the 'general description of business activity and the nature of investment' for all businesses reported." ... La Jolla's William Barkett, the wealthy Democratic kingpin from the Central Valley whose wife was a last-minute Gray Davis appointment to the Del Mar Fair board, has recently been shoveling money into political causes, including $25,000 to the county Democratic Central Committee on December 8; $20,000 to Steve Westly for Governor on December 28; and $2100 to Friends of Juan Vargas for Congress on the same day.

Photo finish Incoming San Diego city councilman Ben Hueso has beaten fellow rookie Kevin Faulconer in the derby to be first to have his photo posted in the official council mug shot case near the elevator bay at city hall. Apparently taking a cue from President George W. Bush, Democrat Hueso is the only councilmember so far to pose with an American flag.

Meanwhile, Faulconer has just changed the name of his campaign committee to "Friends of Kevin Faulconer Debt Retirement." The successor committee's most recent filing, which reflected things up to last November 26, listed total debts of $24,291, with $5300 of that owed to Faulconer himself. ... Housing Development Partners, a nonprofit corporation controlled by the San Diego Housing Commission, has been sued by the survivors of Robert Vasquez, who died in a December 17, 2004, blaze at downtown's Mason Hotel, which the city had ostensibly rehabilitated for low-income housing. The wrongful-death case alleges that the hotel lacked an "adequate sprinkler system" and "proper emergency exits."

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