It's never a bad year when local politicians get caught up in a titty-bar scandal. Toss in suck-ass seasons for the Chargers and Padres and all seems right in the world, the moons well aligned, as another year passes into history for the Des Moines of the West.
It's time to whip out the hanky as we take one last look back at 2003, a year of glory and wacky good times:
* After questions arose about the spending habits and effectiveness of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Mayor Dick Murphy rose to the group's defense, providing as evidence a Forbes magazine report that "ranked us the No. 1 city in America for business and careers." A week later, Forbes announced that San Diego had dropped to 27th on its latest list.
* During grand jury testimony on the strip-club scandal, the cool-eyed news assassins at the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a man walking into the courthouse with a paper bag on his head was "apparently on his way to a meeting of federal grand jurors." In fact, a correction noted the next day, "the man in the photo was a lawyer playing a prank on the media."
* San Diego in the media:
On Showtime's Street Time, a gangster portrayed by Billy Dee Williams reacted angrily at the thought of returning to the witness-protection program: "I'd rather die in the streets than live in mother-fucking El Ca-Hone," he said.
* In an online article, KPBS-FM talk show host Dirk Sutro noted that legendary sitar master Ravi Shankar, who lives in Encinitas, loves to eat at Coco's.
* Local bars dropped "ladies night" promotions after a lawsuit was filed alleging the discounts constituted a civil-rights violation against men. When one of the litigants told a bouncer he was violating his civil rights by not giving him the "ladies" price, the bouncer reportedly said, "Go tell the ACLU." Several bars agreed to pay $125,000 to settle.
* Miffed that TV news types expected the local TV critic to actually watch TV, relentlessly pompous Union-Tribune TV critic Preston Turegano lashed back. In a strident dismissal of his own job, Turegano wrote, "To any broadcaster who may feel ignored or dismissed, consider this truth: We as individuals ultimately are the only ones who know if we're doing a good job. Don't sit around expecting someone to tell you so."
* Frustrated by the number of people leaving the glamorous world of radio for jobs in real estate, former B100 personality John Fox wrote SanDiegoRadio.net to encourage radio professionals to instead consider careers in car sales, noting the similarities between selling cars and working in radio. "Stop and think about what it takes to be a successful radio personality," wrote Fox, now sales manager of an Isuzu dealership. "You professionally entertain, persuade and market yourself. I did. Guess what? I still do."
* Hoping to transform the business section into a vibrant, hard-hitting modern news gathering machine, Union-Tribune editors put a notice in the North County edition pleading for business owners to send in more press releases.
* News reports revealed that Cheryl Peace, wife of former state Senator and Gray Davis crony Steve Peace, earned $117,000 to sit on the board of the state's little-known Integrated Waste Management Board, although her only reported experience in waste management was changing her kids' diapers.
* San Diego in the media:
"Lisa, you made school even worse, and it wasn't exactly San Diego State to begin with." -Bart Simpson
* Apparently assuming that U.S. State Department officials were eagerly awaiting their viewpoint, self-important Union-Tribune editorial writers ran an editorial proclaiming, "Time to get tough with Myanmar's junta."
* The always lovable city of San Diego's transportation division was forced to snap into action when its new parking-meter smart cards started removing time from users' cards, when they were supposed to be refunding time. More than 4,800 meters had to be reprogrammed to fix the glitch.
* The County Board of Supervisors was faced with a dilemma when it was learned that the fabric for a giant yellow ribbon to wrap the tower of the County Administration building was made in France. Supervisors eager to pander to any form of public flag-waving switched to ribbon made by a Temecula manufacturer, which they dubbed "Freedom Fabric."
* Without noting the source, the Union-Tribune sports section reported as fact a bogus item from an Indiana web site about an honors student mistakenly receiving a basketball scholarship. The crack sports staff missed the disclaimer at the bottom of the site: "Indiana's first source for inaccurate news and commentary since 2003."
* Reinforcing the impression that just about any fairly perky Rotary Club speech contest winner with a good coffee buzz could be a disc jockey these days, Star 100.7 ran a "Supermouth" contest, offering a one-year, $50,000 job as an "on-air personality" on the station as the grand prize.
* Former KNSD-TV investigative reporter Andrew Resnick was arrested and charged with attempting to buy ecstasy at a Denver concert by former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. On a TV news industry message board, one of his compassionate colleagues expressed shock at the news. Nobody brings ecstasy to a Phil Lesh concert, he wrote. Everyone knows Lesh is definitely a reefer concert.
* KGB-FM morning show guy Dave Rickards, angered that Jeff and Jer producer Tommy Sablan made fun of his bosses when Jim McInnes was dumped, fired back when news reports said KFMB-TV dumped Ted Leitner. "How come you're not picketing, or staging mass sick-outs at KFMB to oppose this outrage?" Rickards wrote in an open letter to Sablan. "Won't you even squirt some tears? Or is that saved for the psychic who channels your dead cat?"
* Taking his legendary self-absorption to a new level, Leitner wailed in a San Diego Magazine article that he had not been fired, but simply walked away from his TV job after 25 years. More than anything, though, he wanted to make it clear that he didn't have any self-esteem issues. "I know I'm talented," he wrote. "No brag; just fact. Like Muhammad Ali said, "If you can do it, it ain't bragging.' I can do it."
* Not satisfied with images of a fiery holocaust sweeping through San Diego neighborhoods, during the worst of the Cedar fire, KGTV (Channel 10), desperate for any hint of emotion, repeatedly showed video of reporter Kim Edwards calling a homeowner on her cell phone to tell him his house was OK.
* Caltrans spent millions to launch a ferry route from Oceanside to San Diego, only to cancel the service when transit officials were shocked to discover that commuters weren't eager to jump on transportation that took longer than the train, was more expensive, had fewer scheduled departures and could make you puke during bad weather.
* Developer Doug Manchester asked the city of San Diego for permission to build his family's cemetery plot on the highest spot on the grounds of his Meadows Del Mar Golf Club.
* In an effort to fight its image as a stodgy, humorless corporate version of an alternative rock station, 91X executives wittily responded to a competitor by announcing, "At 91X, we think it's about the music, too. However, we also think it's about the truth."
* Cowering in the face of a complaint from "mental health advocates," the Del Mar Fairgrounds hastily reconfigured an insane-asylum scene featuring a character in a strait jacket in its annual "Scream Zone" and replaced it with a less offensive prison scene.
* Honoring one of its own as only it can, the Union-Tribune was forced to run a correction of the obituary for 30-year U-T journalist Joseph Thesken after it inaccurately reported the date of his retirement from the paper.