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In 2006, when the Airport Authority was making its push to get voters to approve a meekly worded go-ahead to eventually put a new airport at Miramar, the amount of misdirection and garbage about the facts was positively overwhelming.

It was hard to argue against the airport proposal because the proponents of it were so squirrely — simultaneously imagining a massive new airport while insisting the Marine Corps Air Station could keep functioning alongside without a hitch.

Of all the supporters of the plan, though, I did know I could always talk to John Chalker. While some of his colleagues were flying away, the investor Chalker was tethered to reality.

I thought we could see what he was thinking about 2010. (Remember, to catch up on what I’m doing, you can read the intro here along with the interviews with: Marco Li Mandri, Marco Gonzalez, Lorena Gonzalez, Dianne Jacob, Gil Cabrera, Tom Shepard and Walt Ekard.)

Do you think the city of San Diego should renew the strong-mayor form of government this year?

Absolutely, the strong mayor form of government provides the third leg (executive, judicial, legislative) of government to ensure a credible check and balance system of government.

Should we eliminate the airport authority?

Absolutely not, but we need to concentrate control of the airport. The current governance structure is unworkable and an impediment to moving forward. Airport boards are usually controlled by the city where the airport is located; regional representation is very unusual. The city of San Diego should have appointment authority over most if not all of the board seats. A case may be made to include appointment authority from the governor’s office since the airport sits on state tidelands. But what if the airport was relocated off of state tidelands?

If you could solve one problem to help the local economy out in 2010, what would you do?

Provide better access to financing and capital for small businesses and start ups. They create the new jobs and innovate to develop new products and services.

What decision will you be paying attention to the most in the coming year and who will be making it?

I have two local decisions to watch carefully. The first concerns the city’s decision to commit public funds to a new Chargers stadium, and this is going to come from the Mayor’s Office. The second concerns the leaders of the city’s various employee unions and their position regarding future contract adjustments that would address the burdensome pension and health care benefits which are strangling the city’s financial position.

Who is the most promising leader in San Diego these days and what do you think he or she might do in 2010?

I do not see any promising new leaders on the horizon in San Diego. I consider Sanders, Frye and DeMaio as established leaders, the others follow the herd.

What else are you looking forward to in 2010?

Economically, I’m looking forward to increased credit availability by banks and commercial lenders and a sustainable economic recovery. Politically, I’m looking forward to the 2010 mid-term elections.

Chalker’s ranking of major projects:

An Expanded Convention Center — #1 priority, a true investment with real economic return

A New City Hall — desperately needed for productivity; and why don’t they include the library here?

A Different Airport Infrastructure — another key investment for a tourist based economy located on the Pacific Rim.

An Expanded Mass Transit System — visionary but also unaffordable for several years

A New Stadium — a tough sell that will be decided by the availability of private sector financing

A New Wastewater Recycling System — sooner or later we’re going to have to pay up for this project

A Performing Arts Center — even less likely than a stadium

A New Central Library — a needed but expensive and unaffordable luxury in 2010

Chalker’s ranking of local civic problems with most worrisome at the top:

Municipal Budget Shortfalls —  it’s time to discuss the core functions of local government

School Budget Shortfalls —  education is the key to remaining competitive in the global economy, need objectivity

Water Reliability Concerns —  this can kill us economically but it’s dominated by state and federal issues

Homelessness — a symptom of society’s problems, especially economic and healthcare related

Infrastructure Decay — a primary role of government to provide transportation, water and energy infrastructure

Mass Transit Shortcomings — not desperately needed, yet

Library Cutbacks or Eliminations — what is the vision for a 21st Century library?

Drug Use — permissive use of drugs undermines the social fabric

Water Pollution

Parks and Recreation Cutbacks — this is the least of our problems

Local Ecological Damage

Crime

Fire Protection Shortfalls — some natural events cannot be altered regardless of resources

— SCOTT LEWIS

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