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It’s great to be here in the Café! With your indulgence, I’d like to manage the Café today the way Mike Myers’ Linda Richman character used to run “Coffee Talk” on “Saturday Night Live.” I’ll give you some topics, you all talk amongst yourselves, and then I hope at least some of you will feel sufficiently motivated to write back and get things rolling. Hopefully no one will become verklempt during the day!

  • Why don’t more people demand that those civic leaders who relentlessly defend the status quo at the Qualcomm Stadium site also defend the revenue system that now supports the Qualcomm site: nineteen million tax dollars that go to subsidize that site every year; public responsibility for more than $50 million of deferred maintenance on the aging stadium; and a bond payoff schedule stretching all the way to 2027 — in all, hundreds of millions of dollars that taxpayers are on the hook for between now and the end of the Charger lease in 2020?
  • If Al Gore decides to run for President, as many people fervently hope he will, will the media continue to treat him and his ideas about global warming, terrorism and the Iraq War seriously? Or will my successor as his campaign communications director (I had that job in 2000) be forced to deal again with what now seems to be a bizarre fascination with Gore’s personality and his purported “exaggerations?”
  • Why hasn’t the post-partisanship philosophy of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg taken any root whatsoever in San Diego city politics? The governing fundamentals of Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg have proved both wildly popular and extremely successful, yet we see scant evidence that these post-partisan principles have even begun to penetrate our civic discourse here in San Diego. Does San Diego need its own Bloomberg or Arnold to emerge for this to happen? And how likely is that in a civic environment that seems to thrive on disputes, insults and innuendo?
  • Why is it that more people don’t pay attention to the significant power that certain members of the mayor’s staff wield around town — power that even by the standards of big city mayors’ offices seems somewhat out of proportion? Now, this isn’t necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but isn’t it certainly a thing that deserves some attention from the media (a profile now and then, anyone?) and some public discussion?
  • Why aren’t more people openly puzzled by San Diego’s so-called “strong mayor” reforms — reforms that allow the City Council to override the mayor’s veto with exactly the same number of votes the council used to pass the vetoed measure in the first place?

How come many people from both parties seem genuinely unexcited by most of the presidential candidates for 2008? After all, this is an historic election: No incumbent president or vice president, a time of war and international crisis, and great divisions in the country. Is the lack of enthusiasm at this point simply an indication that the nominating process goes on too long? Or is it that we often have difficulty visualizing a candidate as a president until they actually win the election? (Wait a minute … that can’t be it … I’m still having trouble seven years later visualizing Bush Jr. as president!)

As Linda Richman would say, “discuss!”

MARK FABIANI

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