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I had some stray quotes and such left over from today’s column.

When I asked Donald Cohen, the executive director of the pro-labor think tank the Center on Policy Initiatives, whether the ever-more-populist Steve Francis would appeal to him as a mayoral candidate, he had much more to say than I included.

Cohen hasn’t been too happy with the mayor but…

“Just because I hate George Bush does that mean I want Osama Bin Laden to be president,” Cohen said. “Steve Francis is a climber, he wants to climb. I’ve never met a person who had more hostile and silly political rhetoric.”

He was pretty upset, especially that Francis would lobby against the city’s living wage ordinance, which mandates at least a $10-$12 per hour wage for workers under city contract depending on their health care benefits. Francis’ think tank, the San Diego Institute on Policy Research has done some work studying the topic.

I actually had asked Francis about the living wage ordinance.

He said he didn’t have a problem with the city having it but City Hall simply couldn’t afford it right now. He said the City Council had decided in 2002 to give “luxury” retirement benefits to its employees and just paying for those will be hard enough.

“If you’re going to give luxury benefits there has to be a downside. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I don’t have problem with the living wage ordinance as long as you can afford it,” Francis said.

And finally, there was Aguirre, who assured me his name-dropping of Francis as a possible alternative to Mayor Jerry Sanders didn’t mean he had turned against the mayor completely.

He said the Sunroad controversy had changed things.

“I haven’t lost faith in the mayor, but out of that lesson can come some wisdom and hopefully we can take that bad experience and turn it to the advantage of the entire city,” Aguirre said.

I suppose Aguirre no longer thinks the mayor is corrupt. After all, I sure wouldn’t have faith in someone I thought was corrupt.

SCOTT LEWIS

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