Unless you've been in a cave, you've seen the breathless coverage of the final Padres games at Qualcomm Stadium. Old-timers tipped their caps for the last time in Mission Valley. Mayor 1Goal lugged a concrete-laden home plate into a Humvee and zipped downtown to the new ballpark. And, of course, the Padres lost.
One media-swamped event surrounded the final night game Sept. 27, when the stadium lights were turned off in a quasi-official ceremony. We're not sure why being drenched in darkness is exciting, but the fans seemed to like it.
Apparently, they weren't quite so thrilled with our carefully scripted mayor. One observant fan in the crowd had this to report on the festivities. Here's where those of you who are thinking of running against the mayor in the next election should pay attention:
“After the game, [Padres owner] John Moores and Dick Murphy went on the field to have the ceremonial turning off of the lights,” the observer writes. “When Murphy was introduced to the still-large crowd, there was a large amount of booing. I mean, really noticeable. (I was kind of shocked by it, actually.)”
In case you think we added the emphasis to the words “large” and “really,” think again. Naturally, none of the media coverage of the Padres' final days at the Q made mention of the fans' reaction to the hometown mayor, which shouldn't surprise anyone.
And it's also been pointed out that after a game, fans-particularly following a loss-aren't usually willing or even able, depending on beer intake, to greet the city's top politico with anything but hostility.
But this is a mayor who has tap-danced to the rhythm of the Padres for some time now, and it must have been disappointing to him not to receive a warmer welcome-or even his favorite approving response, the single clap. (For newcomers, Murphy has a policy at City Council meetings that audience members should show their support for a speaker by clapping only once. Put two claps together in chambers, and you might be admonished-unless, of course, it's Mayor 1Goal speaking.)
The Murphy 2004 re-election team, which appears to be trying to put cleats into the shins of anyone even remotely thinking about challenging the city's official home-plate lugger, is no doubt relieved that voter-opinion polls aren't generally conducted at ballparks.
“It was a very heavy home plate,” 1Goal confided to his council colleagues afterwards. “They told me they were going to knock off all the concrete, but they didn't.”
Councilmember Michael Zucchet said he saw the replay of the lugging ceremonies on Channel 4, the mouthpiece TV outlet for the Padres, and joked, “Well done, but keep your day job.”
The mayor wiggled, grinned and replied, “I didn't see the replay, so I don't know how I did.”
John Kern, Mayor 1Goal's chief of staff and top campaign honcho of the 2000 campaign, was said to be on the rampage last week. If it's my fault, I humbly apologize.
“It is hard to believe that Spin Cycle could get so much wrong in one sentence regarding me and Gemini Group and SeaWorld,” the sharp-tongued former reporter wrote in an e-mail.
Kern was responding to last week's column, which delved into the new information unearthed by California Earth Corps suggesting that a significant portion of SeaWorld might be sitting atop an abandoned toxic dump at the southeast end of Mission Bay Park.
My primary error was in including Gemini Group, a political consulting firm headed by Jennifer Tierney that until December 2001 listed Kern on its website under “Executive Profiles,” certainly giving the impression that Kern was a full-fledged Gemini Group operative. Before Kern's bio was pulled in early 2002, the website even noted that “John is currently on a leave of absence from the firm to serve as Chief of Staff to San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy.”
As Kern notes, Gemini Group did not exist in 1998, when voters narrowly approved Proposition D, which exempted SeaWorld from the city's 30-foot-height limit. Clearly, Prop. D was Kern's baby, not Gemini Group's, and for that I'll gladly take my lumps.
But I'm still puzzled by Kern's continued insistence that, as he wrote, “I have no financial interest either directly or indirectly in the Gemini Group and I never have had any financial interest.”
I lightheartedly wrote back suggesting that someone listed as a company executive on leave to serve at the pleasure of the mayor might be hard-pressed to prove that he's never had a financial interest in a company that only exists because Kern was legally obligated to get out of the political-consulting business when he stepped into his job at City Hall.
“I'd choke on my Cheerios if it turns out you didn't make a dime at GG,” is how I put it.
Kern's response: “Call 911 before you eat your next Cheerios. You are going to choke a lot. I'll say it one last time. I have no financial interest in the Gemini Group and I never had. Not a dime, not a penny.”
He said it's common for small companies like his and Gemini Group to “put the résumés of people with whom they had done business in brochures or on websites.” That doesn't explain the leave-of-absence bit, but Kern didn't get back to me on that one.
I also wondered why Tierney, the town's hottest consultant of late, who lives in Virginia, is still registered to vote at Kern's University City home and not back east like her husband. Kern, a divorcee, replied that Tierney and family used to live there.
“I moved in after they moved to Virginia,” Kern said. “As you know, they don't have positive [voter-registration] purges anymore in California and registrations often stay after people move.”
In San Diego's case, however, a county Registrar of Voters official reports, “Generally, we conduct two purges after each November election. Our latest purges were initiated in February and June 2003.”
Sorry, still puzzled. ©
Talk to us: spincycle@SDcity beat.com.