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— How much does it cost to shut down expansion of a convention center? Late last month the City forked over $250,000 to contractor Golden Turner to stop expansion work that hadn't even begun. Sources say City Manager Jack McGrory wanted the bulldozers warmed up and ready to dig in as soon as the state supreme court rejected Dick Rider's lawsuit demanding a public vote on the project. Trouble is, the court accepted the case, and McGrory was left holding a very large bag. Taxpayers are also paying another consultant $15,000 to assist in the "demobilization" of McGrory's ill-fated blitzkrieg ... How much will a new baseball stadium cost? Nobody knows yet, but San Diego taxpayers have already started coughing up. First bill: $75,000 to the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche to "provide sports consulting services." The contract isn't clear about what the firm is going to do, but sources say the job involves creating a financial rationale for building the huge sports palace demanded by Padres owner John Moores ... How much for the city council to "study" the pending merger of San Diego Gas & Electric with Southern California Gas? So far, $95,000, although contracts with three separate consultants warn that expenses "may have to increase" to unknown levels.

Endorsement Jocks

Mayor Susan Golding may have San Diego sports czars Alex Spanos (Chargers) and John Moores (Padres) on her U.S. Senate campaign finance team, but rival Matt Fong claims Jack Kemp and George Bush. Fong touts the endorsements in a press release claiming that Bush has said he has "three political priorities left- help his two sons get elected to governorships in their respective states - and electing" Fong to the Senate. Fong, the state treasurer, also says ex-Charger and vice presidential candidate Kemp has hosted dinners that raised more than $700,000 for Fong's campaign ... Meanwhile, the campaign of Vista car alarm magnate Darrell Issa, another GOP Senate wanna-be, has run into a bit of turbulence up in San Bernardino County, where Chuck Williams, a Rancho Cucamonga political consultant hired to help organize Issa's campaign, is drawing conflict-of-interest flack. Seems Williams is also chairman of the county Republican Central Committee, and Fong partisans say Williams's dual role gives his wealthy client an unfair edge.

Gay time

After Andrew Cunanan, what next? A new chain of restaurants called Out on Main, a sort of homosexual Planet Hollywood founded in Columbus, Ohio, and dedicated to "making heterosexual customers feel comfortable dining in a restaurant that is dedicated to gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals." Nation's Restaurant News reports that the company soon hopes to open a San Diego outlet, complete with "celebrity memorabilia and vivid murals depicting famous gays throughout history."... San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn has leapt to the defense of Councilman Juan Vargas, sued for slander by sex club owner Thad Poppell over remarks Vargas made at a news conference near the club last fall. Poppell had just won a $200,000 federal court judgment against the City for illegally harassing his business, but Vargas claimed Poppell was connected with drugs, prostitution, and other evils, charges the club owner says were false and defamatory. Now comes Gwinn, a Vargas political ally, who argues in a court filing that "California defamation laws are unconstitutional."

Hand that man some scruples

Union-Tribune editorial cartoonist Steve Kelly sometimes fights with his bosses over the content of his material. But he knows how to beat a hasty retreat. "When you fight with an editor, you have to remember that you're spending capital. You can't go hammer and tongs over every cartoon you do," he told a recent cartoonists seminar, according to Editor and Publisher magazine. Besides, reports E&P, Kelly thinks cartoonists have to "realize that there are times when the editor is right and the cartoonist is wrong."... Indian-born, La JollaPbred wellness guru Deepak Chopra is returning to his roots, offering meditation and stress-management courses for upscale Indians at a coastal resort in the state of Goa.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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