Dec. 28 2011 11:50 AM

Imagined New Year's promises are most likely DOA


“A New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.”


Spin Cycle, just to be clear, is no big fan of the New Year's resolution. As a political journalist, there may be nothing more cliché, a gimmicky trick pulled out of the hat in the waning days of a dimming year when little politically is going on.

Politicians, or their wannabe counterparts, often invoke The Resolution as a means to plant themselves in the public's subconscious. “I vow to spend more time with my family—and cut the sweets and government waste!” proclaims Politician X. “I vow to work harder for you!” retorts Candidate Y. Neither is likely, but sticking to a promise isn't the point. Making the promise, now that's what it's all about, baby!

But we can still dream, no? So, without further ado, Spin Cycle presents “New Year's Resolutions that Would be Great to Hear but We're Not Holding Our Breath”:

Papa Daddy Padre Patriarch Doug Manchester 

Resolution: “We will adhere to the highest standard of journalistic integrity and objectivity.”

Media-mogul-in-training Doug Manchester raised some eyebrows over the Christmas turkey last weekend when he issued a “Publisher's Note” in his new toy, The San Diego Union-Tribune, that actually proclaimed that very promise to readers amongst all the religious overtones.

“I pray,” Manchester wrote, “that ownership of the U-T will provide me the opportunity to support our community, promote the economic strength of the region and improve the lives of all San Diegans.” Spoken like a true land baron!

He ends the seven-paragraph message with his name, minus the usual “Papa,” and an unexplained postscript—“Congratulations Douglas and Lauren”—presumably familial in nature. Boy, buying a newspaper is sure one expensive way to send a note to the kids!

But after a while, once Papa's note appeared online near the stroke of midnight Christmas Day, readers' comments turned dark—not apparently Cheerleader Doug's style—and the commenting page was abruptly shuttered.

Perhaps snarky readers were being admonished for ignoring the headline of Papa's note: “A day to count blessings and share happiness.” But however you slice it, it was not a proud day in the annals of open debate and free speech in Manchester's self-proclaimed “finest city in the greatest country in the world.”

This is not to say that the U-T doesn't still produce journalism of a high quality—the recent coverage of a wounded soldier's struggles back home is a shining example—but let's not kid ourselves. The dude's a developer, a high-stakes one at that, with major bets burning a hole in the craps table. Sorry, folks, billions always trump millions.

Hard-headed philanthropist Irwin Jacobs

Resolution: “Hey, whatever you want for Balboa Park. Here's a check!”

Nope, not likely gonna happen. When Spin Cycle last January wondered in print whether billionaire Qualcomm co-foundercum-philanthropist Irwin Jacobs would walk away if his mega-plan to return the park's Plaza de Panama to pedestrian predominance was significantly altered, the peanut gallery scoffed.

But here we are, nearly a year later, and even less is certain about those controversial plans. Curiously to scant media coverage, a Superior Court judge on Dec. 15 tentatively ruled that the City Council-approved agreement—a so-called memorandum of understanding—between Jacobs's Plaza de Panama Committee and the city violated state law.

“The City needs the Committee to complete this project,” Judge Judith F. Hayes wrote, “and the Committee has clearly asserted it will not support the project unless it goes forward as proposed. This constitutes the very concern expressed in the basic tenants [sic] of [the California Environmental Quality Act], and in all likelihood will preclude meaningful analysis and consideration of project alternatives and mitigation measures.”

Alana Coons of Save Our Heritage Organisation, the preservationist group that challenged the MOU in court, said Judge Hayes won't issue a final ruling until she returns from vacation in early January.

In a recent interview published in the U-T, Jacobs says obtusely, about recent talks with SOHO, “There are a couple of things that I don't want to talk about that have come out of the mediation session, but there were some possibilities that have been raised that warrant further exploration.”

Jacobs also expresses surprise that criticism has focused more on the proposed bypass bridge off the historic Cabrillo Bridge than on whether reflecting ponds should return to the plaza. “I thought that's the area most people would debate,” he told the U-T, “but it hasn't worked out that way.”

If the ruling stands, does the city appeal? Or does Jacobs take his money ball and bail? Now, where has Spin heard that question before? …

San Diego GOP Chairman / Tech Geek Tony Krvaric 

Resolution: “I promise to play nice.”

It's been a tough year for San Diego's very own Tony Soprano of knee-busting politics. Tony Krvaric started 2011 by convincing his local GOP minions to skip out on the final six months of the party's headquarters lease in Sorrento Valley for the more selfishly convenient confines of his personal office suite in Rancho Bernardo.

He ended the year still smoldering and bitter that a U-T editorial in October referred to his antics on Twitter—his accounts were briefly suspended for hijacking the names of several local Democrats—as “childish.”

Oh, Krvaric will occasionally toss the world a nicety—he recently wished local labor leader Lorena Gonzalez a Merry Christmas and refers to his young daughter as “princess”—but that's a rare day. More often than not, he regards labor as “goon squads,” President Obama as “Dear Leader” and the Occupy Wall Street movement as a Socialist “kookfest.”

With 2012 viewed as a watershed election year by both major parties, will the amblings of a 40-year-old, video-game-addicted name caller make a difference? Only time will tell. But don't bet that he'll temper his game one iota.

Got a tip? Send it to or follow John R. Lamb on Twitter @johnrlamb.


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