With most of the city's "official" political pundits off vacationing in Aspen (or wherever those sorts tend to go) we were forced to rely on our own batch of local know-it-alls (or "cognoscenti," as one of them asked to be called) to pull together the requisite "looking back, looking forward," end-of-the-year list. It's by no means comprehensive and in no way reflects the views of CityBeat .
CityBeat : What were the most important local issues this year?
Pundit No. 1: (clears her throat) Well, to name a few, the local effects of state budget cuts, the Danielle Van Dam saga, more police shootings and that stupid new stadium.
Pundit No. 2: The raid on Steve McWilliams' home-not only because all that great weed went to waste, but also because local authority was usurped by the federal authority-and that's just plain bullshit. (Pundit No. 1 rolls her eyes at Pundit No. 2.)
Pundit No. 3: The Blueprint for Student Success. You know, I think I saw a documentary about something like it that was tried in the 1930s, but it was hard to understand because the narration was in German. (Pundit No. 3 goes back to flipping through the most recent issue of Mother Jones magazine.)
Pundit No. 4: The way landlords kick people out of Golden Hill, South Park and North Park just to double the rent for the next people. (Everyone applauds.)
Pundit No. 5: The council elections-creating what appears to be a six-member "super majority" of labor-backed council folks. (Pundit No. 3 asks if this so-called "super majority" will be anything like the "Superfriends" cartoon series from the '70s. Pundit No. 5 starts making up character names....)
CityBeat : Which issues didn't get the attention you thought they deserved this year and why?
Pundit No. 3 (talking out of order, but we let him go anyhow): The gentrification of just about every neighborhood with character in this so-called "City of Villages." OK, so housing prices got attention, but very little was devoted to why prices were going so high (the dot-com burst and the preference for so-called "tangible" investments fueled big money buying homes and land instead of single families) and to the destruction of our "culture centers" by the infusion of soulless capital. No one made much of a stink about the closing of the Juke Joint, which I think represented a trend in general over the years of our neighborhoods becoming less and less culture-friendly and more and more yuppie-strip mall-development-friendly. (Stops to take a deep breath.)
Pundit No. 1: (Clearly excited by the ravings of Pundit No. 3.) Ways to conserve water so San Diego might not need so much from the Imperial Valley under the big transfer that went bust. Why didn't we hear about it? Because the people in charge were probably too busy leaving the water running while brushing their teeth. Water is too cheap to conserve-I'm borrowing that phrase from so-called "experts" much smarter than I (sarcasm evident through waving of hands and rolling of eyes)-and that needs to change if we're going to continue living in the desert in a sustainable way.
Pundit No. 2: When, oh when, oh when is Pink Froyd going to change their name to a more respectable Pink Floyd tribute band name like "The Machine" or "Have a Cigar" or "The Wall." (Based on this answer, Pundit No. 1 asks Pundit No. 2 if he's even qualified to participate in this survey.)
Pundit No. 4: The fact that David Westerfield is a Pisces sun with a Mars in Scorpio. That makes a person think they can flow through everything and get anything they want-even life instead of death penalty.
Pundit No. 5: The questionable detention of Muslims under the veil of "homeland security." Why? Because it's offensive to the foundation of this country, and John Ashcroft prefers to work in secret.
Pundit No. 6 (who's arrived late): Qualcomm's falling market share and valuation, guys. A large local company has obviously kept its name out of the U-T through muscle and hush money as its stock price falls and it faces becoming the next Enron. (All other pundits raise eyebrows simultaneously.)
CityBeat : Who made the biggest press-related goof this year? We're talking someone deserving of the Trent Lott Prize For Speaking Without Thinking.
Pundit No. 1: I think one of the biggest goofs in general this year came courtesy of the San Diego City Council, which voted to change the name of the four-lane Ardath Road to La Jolla Parkway because there is also a two-lane residential street named Ardath Road-and spend $20,000 in the process to change a bunch of signs on Route 52. Apparently these two streets being called the same thing has caused confusion since 1966, when the four-lane Ardath Road was named. It takes a community 36 years to get this "problem" remedied? Sounds like not much of a problem if it took them 36 years to muster the troops to lead the drive to change the name of the road. Do you know how many hungry people $20,000 can feed? How many homeless people $20,000 can shelter? How much medical care $20,000 can provide to uninsured parents and their children?
Pundit No. 2: Are you single?
Pundit No. 3: Probably the company that's developing the so-called Park at the Park thingy (editor's note: That company would be the San Diego Padres).
Pundit No. 4: Bonnie Dumanis, for asking deputy DAs to help pay off her campaign debt.
Pundit No. 5: Byron Wear, for Reading Without Thinking-his embarrassing departing speech last month. See "Spin Cycle" in the Dec. 4 CityBeat ( CityBeat thanks him for giving props to the paper.)
Pundit No. 6: The idiot who ran against Filner and called him a flag burner. Even my 2-year-old daughter was insulted by her Sesame Street-like campaign ploys.
CityBeat : What will be the talk-of-the-town in the year to come?
Pundit No. 1: I hope, a solution to the mystery of whatever happened to Jahi Turner. And, on a less-serious note, Ed Decker becoming a devout Catholic. I'm still praying for you, Ed.
Pundit No. 2: (snorts) Van Dam family, via Gloria Allred, will sue David Westerfield in civil court, thus putting Allred in the local and national spotlight, once again, where we will have a debate about the merits of the lawsuit, and also debate whether there is anything more disgusting than extreme close-up camera shots of Allred's horrific, pointy nose.
Pundit No 3: Real estate trends, both downtown and in the so-called renovated neighborhoods like North Park and El Cajon. Some say we're cleaning up our run-down neighborhoods, others say we're killing all the charm and character. I'd say we're probably doing both and you're only gonna hear of more debates and conflict. Electing pseudo-environmentalists like Michael Zucchet should make things interesting... I hope.
Pundit No. 4: The impending traffic disaster that will accompany the new ballpark. OK, I'm getting ahead of myself-that's for 2004.
Pundit No. 5: Legal troubles for ex-Port Commissioner David Malcolm, who parlayed his vaunted spot at the port into a lucrative consulting contract with port tenant Duke Energy. With friend Paul Pfingst out of the DA's office come Jan. 6, watch the new squad under Bonnie Dumanis turn up the heat. On a different energy topic, whether Mayor Murphy suffers a power outage. (Pundit No. 1 raises a finger to ask if this was meant as a joke, but she's cut off.) The debate on a living wage initiative-continuing tough economic times might make this a tough sell politically. We'll see. And John Moores-will he finally agree to a CityBeat interview? (He claps his hands in delight.)
Pundit No. 6: Dean Spanos and John Moores, who are both attempting to become city developers as well as owning baseball teams. Their personal tastes will affect how lots of San Diego looks in the future.
-edited by Kelly Davis