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George Gorton, Mayor Susan Golding's ex-boyfriend and current campaign guru, is raising eyebrows in state political circles. It seems that Nelson Communications, the public relations and lobbying firm Gorton has gone to work for in San Diego, has received big contracts from the Port Commission and the city-financed convention center to handle polling and other politically related activities here. As of this June, the latest date for campaign finance disclosure reports, Golding has reported paying Gorton nothing for his services. Meanwhile, a one-time Gorton tenant, pornography kingpin Reuben Sturman, died last week in federal prison, where he was doing time for tax fraud and extortion. In the mid-1980s Sturman and his control of the San Diego porn business were the targets of repeated federal investigations; his indictment by a federal grand jury in Cleveland was announced by Attorney General Edwin Meese III. Until his conviction and imprisonment in 1989, Sturman, 73, controlled a pornography empire extending from Cleveland to San Diego, with Las Vegas, Reno, and San Francisco in between. He also happened to run the Pleasureland Adult Book & Video Store on the ground floor of a Victorian building owned by George Gorton and ex-presidential son Jack Ford in the Gaslamp Quarter. Even after Sturman was safely behind bars, the shop was transferred to a new owner - whom the feds claim was a Sturman front - and continues to operate to this day, causing occasional political embarrassment for the two gop stalwarts. Gorton has claimed that the smut shop has an unbreakable long-term lease, which he and other partners tested in court.

Murder on bio-tech alley

The murder of Japanese researcher Tsunao Saito and his 13-year-old daughter in the driveway of their posh La Jolla estate remains unsolved more than 18 months after it happened. Now his widow has filed a lawsuit in Japan, demanding that 39 media companies there pay her 180 million yen in damages as well as make a formal apology for TV reports and magazine articles linking her to the slaying. Shizue Saito claims that stories in the Japanese media saying the couple was on the brink of divorce and that they had financial troubles were false. She was in Europe when her husband, a 46-year-old expert in the biochemistry of Alzheimer's disease who was working at the ucsd Medical Center, and their daughter were gunned down as they returned home from his laboratory late one night in May 1996. San Diego police, who never named a suspect, have repeatedly refused to discuss the case.

Keep the faith

"If Chula Vista really wants the Padres," argues one city hall wag, "maybe they'll take the Chargers and the Union-Tribune along with them." ... Speaking of the U-T, sharp-eyed readers note that a story last week about the departure of San Diego Deputy City Manager Coleman Conrad left out a key part of history. Two years ago, a 50-year-old male water department supervisor won a $350,000 age and sex discrimination verdict against the city after he charged that Conrad's live-in girlfriend had been unfairly promoted over him. The case is still on appeal.

Pledge night

KPBS, the public television station run by San Diego State University, had high hopes when it laid out $50,000 to help bankroll a feature-length film by one of its freelance producers. Now station officials are saying never again. Love Always, a quirky, anti-establishment romance featuring the likes of Moon Unit Zappa, was pelted with critical disdain upon its long-anticipated release last month and sank like a stone. "LOVE ALWAYS A BOX-OFFICE BUST; FILM FAILS TO DRAW VIEWERS EVEN IN SPOKANE," headlined the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Some of the picture had been shot there, much of the rest was filmed in San Diego County ... Look out, San Diego, here comes the national "Sex Panic Summit," dedicated to the proposition that America is succumbing to a right-wing conspiracy against free sex. Sponsored in conjunction with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's annual conference here, it's set for November 13.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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