Not accustomed to nightmares – as I am usually a good sleeper – I had a horrible one last night and just have to share it with you – my San Diego nightmare.
I had gone to sleep at my usual time, falling into slumber some time between Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show with John Oliver and its first commercial – a truly deadly time for me. I was dreaming of rolling sheets of ocean waves, so pretty … when I noticed a pale figure emerge out of the surf and begin to walk towards me.
The figure got closer and I noticed it was a tall woman wearing long, thin robes. She approached me and got closer – when all of a sudden she was sitting at the foot of my bed.
“What the …” I started to say, partially sitting up, when she shushed me with a long bony finger to her pale lips, glancing over at my sleeping mate.
“Who are you?” I managed to squeak out.
“What?” I said.
She repeated herself.
“I’ve seen the past scandals of San Diego, from the days when ol’ man Sprinkles ran the town, from trolleys, electricity to donuts and city councils, he controlled the place. And I was there when Mayor Frank Pomegranate had to resign because of the Yellow Cab scandal; and yes, I was around when Mayor Roger Headpock was forced out; and oh, I was in the audience when Mayor Susan Goldearring gave away the City so her Republican pals could hold their convention here ….”
Settling in on my elbows, I stared at her, my mouth hanging open.
“I’ve come to warn you about Scandals Present — the mother of all scandals” she said.
Oh, of course, I thought – the Mayor Bob Filet scandal. “We already know…” I started to say.
She waved a ghostly hand to silence me. “Not that one,” she scolded. “The other one. The REAL one.”
“What real one?” I mumbled.
“Listen, I don’t have much time,” she said, as she started to light a thin, pale cigarette.
“Please don’t smoke in here,” I said.
“I’m not – remember? This is a dream,” she said.
She started talking, her voice rising and falling. She spun her tale long into the night, revealing truths I had never heard before.
“You know,” she said, “that there are powerful Democrats and Republicans who have been running San Diego for years, for decades.”
“Well, sure,” I started to answer. But she ignored me.
“The old-boy network,” she grimaced, “we know how that works. It was they who powered through a strong mayor system to assure their influence and control over the city. … Then along comes Bob Filet. All of our other mayors took good care of big business. But, oh, not Bob. Filet committed the crime of focusing on the neighborhoods, and the needs of the residents. And in doing so, he’s pissed off a lot of San Diego’s elites, a lot of very important people.”
I smiled at her use of words.
“And they conspired to bring him down and get him out,” she said.
“Who’s ‘they’?” I managed to ask.
“They?” she asked rhetorically. “They? The hoteliers, the Port District, the tourism industry, the developers, the bankers. And don’t forget Baron Jacobin, San Diego’s own billionaire who tried to build a Park bridge to nowhere.” The ghost was grinning but it was a cheerless grin. “I’m getting ahead of myself here,” she paused.
“Yeah, but Mayor Bob did it to himself,” I whispered harshly. “His behavior toward women stinks!”
“Exactly,” she said. “They knew Bob and all they had to do was wait for an easy opportunity to run him out of office. Sure enough, he handed it to them on a silver platter.”
“Wha … ? There’s a conspiracy to get Bob?” I asked incredulously.
“Where have you been?” she threw back at me. “You do live a sheltered life.”
“Now just a moment,” I started to protest. “All those women, they all can’t be wrong.”
“Right,” she said. “Exactly.” She paused. “What do you know about those five women who have all come forward just lately?” she asked, blowing perfect smoke rings above my head.
“Well, the U-T said they’re professional … and reliable,” I answered, my brain twirling.
“Yeah, one of them was a Navy admiral, who’s proud of her ‘big girl panties.’ Her name’s Ronnie Toandfroman. Her motto’s Suck It Up. She was a winner for the COO job under Mayor Sinners. But get this: a single stroke to her cheek brought this big girl close to tears of fear.”
Not skipping a beat she added “The other four are firmly ensconced in the old-boy club with ties that bind to the Port District and tourism industry or to the military-industrial complex.”
She wasn’t finished. “What do you really know about Irene McCommunicator? Uh huh, a professional who worked for 25 years at the U-T – need I say more? – before she moved over to the Port District and then hooked up with the Filet team. Funny, isn’t it, that her sidekick intern had the ability to penetrate walls and find misbehavior down long dark corridors.”
My mind was racing and I wanted a pull from that cig. “No, they all couldn’t be in on … ” I sputtered.
“Really?” she looked at me with a weary smile. “You don’t believe that the good-old power brokers in this town, the establishment Dems and their Republican friends, would conspire to set Filet up for a downfall? Haven’t you noticed Nathan Flatter keeping warm in the wings? Of course he’s not the only one salivating with political anticipation. They might settle for Todd Glorify. Who knows, even Kevin Vulturer, who’s just waiting to pounce.” She paused for a moment to let this thought sink in.
“Just a moment,” I said. “Wasn’t it the home team who fingered Mayor Bob for sexual harassment?”
“Yes, indeed,” she said. “That’s right, attorneys Marco Gonzo and Gory Brinks along with Donna Fryingpan were the first to demand Mayor Filet’s resignation.” She was getting frustrated with me. “Open your eyes! Don’t you see the connections? A labor pact joins Marco’s sister Lorena Gonzo at the hip to Nathan Flatter. Marco is Donna’s lawyer.”
She wouldn’t let me off the hook. “Think carefully. Would upstanding lawyers like Gory and Marco resort to crowd-sourcing in the court of public opinion for their own private-paying clients? Yet that’s what they’ve done to bring down Mayor Filet. Naturally, they’ve got Papa Doug Maneater and John Lynchpin blowing their bull horn loud. And louder. Day after day after day.”
I wasn’t sleepy anymore, just very confused. “What about all those accusations of sexual harassment?” I pressed.
“You know,” she said, “I talk to a lot of women. Most have been around the block once or twice. They’ve been in the workplace and seen it all. And you know what they say to me? ‘Is this it? This is the scandal? We’re throwing a once-in-San Diego’s-lifetime change agent baby out with the bathwater?’ ”
“Here’s the rub. We’re hearing about chronic clumsy overtures from an overgrown wannabe Lothario. And we’re hearing general outrage based on quaint, outdated claims of helplessness and humiliation. After decades of consciousness-raising among sisters, this is where we’re at? Seems to me this can’t be the last word on the status of San Diego women in the 21st century.”
She paused just a second. “Honchos of all political stripes are hell-bent to bring this mayor down. And they knew they could count on Allen Judas to speed it along from the inside.”
I was shaken and stunned but she wasn’t done with me yet. “And the mayor’s chief of staff, Vinnie Hawk? He gets to walk out, free and clear and angelic,” she smirked.
“What do you mean?” I asked – more puzzled.
“Think about it. Who is supposed to manage the staff? The chief of staff, of course. Vinnie Hawk was at the top of the mess in the office. And it was truly a mess – as a manager Hawk was out of his league. Inept. He treated the staff roughly. Badly. He kept Filet isolated. When he finally got the boot he called it a ‘resignation.’ Amazing, just amazing! And that’s not to say there weren’t others in the office … people who may not have wanted Bob to succeed,” she hinted glumly.
I wanted names. “Okay, there was the consultant Tommy Goatsherder, who came in to direct Bob’s campaign,” she said. “Sure, we’d all heard of him, the hotshot Republican kingmaker who distrusted Carl DeMadeup so badly he was willing to work for a Democrat.”
“What?” I sputtered, “you’re telling me Goastsherder hung around even after the election? And he even had an assistant, Cuttothe Chase?”
“Sure. And not only them. There were others closely tied to them. Watching. Waiting. Biding their time ….”
“Waiting for Bob to be Bob,” I finished her sentence.
“Yes, and swooping in to mop up when the time was right. You see, it’s not just Mayor Filet who’s been railroaded. Voters have also been set up.” Her voice was low but angry. “This corrupts the democratic process,” she warned.
“They’re staging a coup. They’re trying to get rid of a democratically-elected chief executive of a major city without criminal charges, without a civil trial, without due process. This, my friend, is the REAL scandal.”
She sighed deeply, and I whistled softly. My partner was stirring. “It’s the same ol’ San Diego,” I groaned.
I glanced over to check on the covers, and looked back, and in that instant the Ghost of Scandals Past had gone.
“Wha’s … goin’ on?” my partner asked, half-awake.
“Oh, it’s nothing,” I said, ” I just had a horrible nightmare – about San Diego.”
“It’s just a dream,” he said.
“I know,” I replied with a heavy sigh, falling back into the pillows, “it’s just a dream … it’ll never happen.”
“Hey,” he mumbled, “what’s that smoky smell?”