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— And it was published before reality set in and long-held, rosy convictions were shattered. San Diego beginning in early 2004 went through an agonizing cognitive dissonance. Citizens learned that the city had never accounted for that Republican convention on its books. Worse, it had drained money from the pension fund to help pay for it. In return for underfunding the pension pot, city employees were granted those juicy benefits. So those government workers did not get those generous benefits because the city was rich, as people were told. It was because the city was in fact poor.

Some people in city government realize that bankruptcy looms unless these ultraliberal employee benefits are reduced. But the municipal employee unions -- the ones Kotkin claimed were impotent -- are putting up a helluva fight.

The city's supposedly spotless government was illegally failing to report the pension underfunding in its bond prospectuses. It was also overcharging residents for sewage service and undercharging businesses. This practice subjected the city to a possible loss of $266 million in grants and loans, and that was not reported in bond prospectuses, either.

The beloved Chargers reneged on their agreement to stay and now want a new stadium, although they really want a home in the Los Angeles area. The Padres never built the promised hotels and retailers, instead selling the land to developers who built condos, which provide insignificant tax benefits. So Petco Park is a big drain -- $300 million down and $20 million a year. The great irony is that both teams could make the playoffs in their current seasons, generating excitement except among those who realize the city has been cuckolded. Such agony.

Just as many city residents are finally realizing they had clung to fairy tale beliefs, the county's façade begins to crack. Yes, San Diego is truly the Capital of Cognitive Dissonance.

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