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— Public radio station KPBS talking head Tom Fudge is steamed that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won't appear on These Days, his morning radio talk show. "Maybe it's that so-called liberal reputation we've got," Fudge writes on the KPBS website. "Maybe Arnold thinks public radio is for weenie girlie men who drink Chardonnay and couldn't possibly bench-press their weight. Maybe I'd have a better shot at landing an interview if I smoked cigars and sprinkled my conversation with phrases like 'pump up.' " Fudge says he wanted to talk to the governor so desperately that he called rival Roger Hedgecock's radio show during a recent gubernatorial appearance. "I dialed KOGO's call-in number twice before anyone picked up. When I finally got the call screener on the line she asked me what I wanted to talk about. I identified myself and told her I wanted to ask the governor why he won't come on my show. The screener had poor people skills and -- if you ask me -- not much of a sense of humor. Using a very frosty tone, she said she wasn't taking my call and hung up the phone." According to Fudge, "I'm a big guy and I can survive telephone rudeness. But the governor's avoidance of serious press interviews bugs me. No offense to the Hedgecock show, but nobody could reasonably call his interview with the governor a journalistic exercise. It was basically a pep rally for Schwarzenegger's latest initiative campaign."

Of course, Fudge has his own critics, who argue he is a politically calculating lightweight who often talks to hand-picked guests like ex-San Diego city manager Jack McGrory, and other icons of the local establishment. Critics also note that KPBS -- which recently drew fire from Del Mar literary agent Sandra Dijkstra for abruptly dumping Dirk Sutro and his evening talk show -- rigorously screens callers to its own programs, filtering out opinions offensive to the downtown financial and educational interests that support San Diego State University. KPBS keeps the names of some of its biggest donors a tightly guarded secret. And the university, which could lose millions of dollars due to state budget cuts championed by the governor, controls the station.

Cake eaters Downtown redevelopment honcho Pam Hamilton says the long-delayed groundbreaking for that controversial museum tower adjacent to the Santa Fe Depot is just around the corner. It's been almost a year since the city ordered a big chunk of the depot demolished in the face of preservationists opposed to plans by La Jolla's Museum of Contemporary Art to erect a garish boxlike structure on the north end of the historic building. The well-heeled museum does not lack for cash to put into the project. IRS records show that museum director Hugh Davies, close friends with Union-Tribune publisher and museum benefactor David Copley as well as Rancho Santa Fe millionaire Pauline Foster, got an unsecured $44,500 loan from the museum back in 2002. Under "purpose of loan" was written "Membership dues for country club to be used for business purposes." The museum also has extended Davies a million-dollar line of credit on his La Jolla abode. As of the museum's most recently available tax return, Davies was earning a salary of $235,570, along with $29,148 in employee benefit plan contributions and a $55,816 annual expense account.

Copley, Davies, and a few other intimate museum friends jetted into New York a few weeks ago to party in honor of Copley's favorite artist, Christo, his wife Jeanne-Claude, and their Gates installation in Central Park. "Their jaunt included a dinner party in the Astor Court at the St. Regis Hotel the night before Sunday's park tour, and a luncheon at the Hotel Carlyle after it," reported the U-T's Burl Stiff. "The Copley visit was blessed with a flawless day: brilliant sunshine and clear skies. It was cold but not too cold, with moderate breezes that, as Jeanne-Claude put it, made the flags 'dance.' "

... Price Club founder Sol Price's name has once again surfaced in connection with long-rumored plans to turn Montgomery Field into a warren of high-rise condos and office towers. Two years ago, the Daily Transcript reported that Price and downtown real estate mogul Malin Burnham had their eye on developing the city-owned private aviation airport, but nothing seemed to result. Now comes word that the lease of Gibbs Aviation Service, one of the airport's most venerable tenants, has run out, and owner Buzz Gibbs must close down and vacate the premises by April. Suspicions abound that backstage maneuvering will eventually turn the airport into the city's latest real estate giveaway.

Pete's bronze tan How much does it cost to immortalize ex-San Diego mayor Pete Wilson? Plenty, according to the IRS filings of "Horton Walk: San Diego's Walk of Fame," a nonprofit "charity" set up by downtown real estate man Stephen B. Williams to commission a series of bronze statues commemorating those who have helped pave paradise. First in the line was the late shopping-mall developer Ernie Hahn, whose likeness stands at the entrance of his Horton Plaza. Across the street is Alonzo Horton, the father of all downtown speculators. Wilson is scheduled next. Among its charitable "accomplishments," the foundation lists "fundraising and installation of Ernest Hahn sculpture" ($8477) and "fundraising for Pete Wilson sculpture" ($12,879). A "Walk of Fame dinner" grossed $135,000 but ran up $90,534 in expenses, netting $44,466.

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