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One of the big problems with the negative spiral is that it not only prevents us from seeing good ideas, but it destroys confidence in whether the ideas can ever be realized. These can have real-world effects.

The public-private model we’ve relied on heavily for the past decade to accomplish large projects always seems to generate a wave of accusations that the public’s input wasn’t heeded or that the city was getting the short end of the stick.

Some of this is normal, healthy watchdogging. But some of the folks who oppose projects keep at it, in absence of all and any court or governing body victories, apparently out of sheer stubborn spirit.

The sad irony is that some of the so-called watchdogs tie up a project for so long in the courts that the developer is then forced to modify the project because the delays cause costs to rise significantly. (The time = money maxim is truer in no industry more than land development and construction.)

And what does the watchdog do when the project is modified to bring costs in line? He yells and screams that there’s been a bait-and-switch, and decries fellow San Diegans for always “settling.”

I wonder how much longer this same tune can play before no one smart even tries to do business with the city. What is abundantly clear from the most recent public-private partnerships with the city — the ballpark and the NTC redevelopment — is that working with the city of San Diego puts you in the crosshairs and all but ensures a stain on your corporate reputation, no matter how beautifully the project turns out or how many San Diegans enjoy it.

The consequence of that, as we’re seeing with the Chargers, is that an entity with a choice will choose to take its business elsewhere. South Bay cities are probably rubbing their hands together greedily as they watch Aguirre’s daily press conferences. Those folks would love to get in on some of the action that San Diego has seen, and every time Aguirre announces an investigation and simultaneously announces an unsupported conclusion that there was corruption, they are one step closer.

You see a lot of letters to the editor in the U-T and comments on Voice saying we don’t need no stinkin’ NFL team. Well, maybe so. But we shouldn’t look so blithely on the reasons for their decision to pursue a deal with another regional city.

We also might want to consider the profoundly positive effect the other major sports team’s new edifice has had on our city. With well over $3 billion in private investment, you could almost argue that there’s something to this whole dealing-with-rich-sports-team-owner thing.

RACHEL LAING

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