Wow. Looks like City Councilwoman Toni Atkins does have her sights set on a specific City Hall-ish job when her current gig ends more than six months from now.

She has apparently applied for the job of president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission. And she took the extra step of asking the Ethics Commission whether she could serve her role on the Housing Authority while applying for this job.

Yeah, apparently the answer wasn’t obvious.

This is rich because Atkins exploded at a report in January that she was aiming for the job. John Lamb, San Diego CityBeat’s columnist, wrote this back then:

Several City Hall sources say Atkins covets taking over the helm of the San Diego Housing Commission in order to give herself a public platform from which to spring into the 2010 race to replace termed-out state Assembly Member Lori Saldaña (pending Prop. 93).

Atkins, who considers affordable housing a top priority, was mysteriously absent during council deliberations Jan. 15 on the process of choosing a replacement for longtime Housing Commission doyenne Elizabeth “Betsy” Morris, who recently retired amid much fanfare. I say “mysteriously” because earlier that day, Atkins was practically attached to Morris’ hip as she and Mayor Jerry Sanders alternately read from a proclamation declaring it “Elizabeth C. Morris Day” in San Diego.

Hours later, the council minus Atkins, acting as the Housing Authority, decided to create a “review team” — two housing commissioners, a mayoral appointee and Councilmembers Ben Hueso and Jim Madaffer — that would recommend to the full council a candidate to fill the post by mid-year.

Perhaps Atkins feared creating her own Dick Cheney moment. (For those confused, Cheney headed a group charged with picking a vice president for the current president. You know the rest.) Whatever the reason, she was back in her seat for the next agenda item. Atkins also was not available for comment.

After the column ran, she had time to comment. CityBeat ran an editor’s note with her avid denial. This is classic:

City Councilmember Atkins called late Wednesday to respond to this column. She said she’s not, as the column suggests, interested in the top post at the San Diego Housing Commission.

“It’s never crossed my mind to do it,” she said. “This one sort of hit me from left field.”

Atkins says she’s been asked if she’d be interested in the job, most recently held by Betsy Morris, but “I ruled it out early on because the timing is not right.” (So, obviously, it crossed her mind at some point.) She said she believes other city officials want that job filled before the end of 2008. “I am in office through the calendar year,” she said.

“Sort of hit me from left field.” Give me a break.

Anyway, in case you hadn’t clicked over yet, yes, the Ethics Commission rightly advised that it would be inappropriate for her to participate in any discussions about the Housing Commission while she’s applying for a job there.

SCOTT LEWIS

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