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— As new population floods into San Diego, clogging freeways and beaches, pro-growth advocates often can't resist boasting of all the jobs and money that will follow. During the election fight over whether to build the giant Legoland amusement park in Carlsbad, backers claimed the multinational toy maker would pour millions of dollars into the local economy. The pro-growthers won, and last week Legoland announced who would handle the park's $10 million annual advertising account: Asher & Partners, of Los Angeles ... Speaking of San Diego employment, a nuclear physicist who turned over secrets to the Chinese government and later lied about it to U.S. investigators is coming here to work. Peter Lee was ordered by a U.S. District Court judge to perform 3000 hours of community service and pay a $20,000 fine for his crimes. And since Lee has been offered a job in San Diego, the judge is letting him serve his one-year sentence in a halfway house here ... Watch out, Bill Gates, the Union-Tribune is signing up with CitySearch, an online city guide that's trying to compete with Sidewalk, Microsoft's own, well-hyped computerized guide to San Diego ... It paid off big time for Kimberly Hunt to get all tarted up for the Academy Awards "pre-show." The Channel 10 newsreader's glamour look garnered the station a 47.1 Nielsen rating, second highest among major cities' local affiliates. KABC in Los Angeles was first, according to Daily Variety.

Then and now

What a difference two years can make, and not just in the name of a stadium. Last week, Union-Tribune editorialists bitterly lambasted the San Diego City Council for continuing to accept skybox freebies at the stadium. "Councilmembers have failed repeatedly to grasp the voters' mounting frustration over their mishandling of a string of high-profile controversies related to Qualcomm Stadium," railed the U-T. "Is it any wonder the average guy holds politicians in such low regard, or that this council in particular is not trusted by San Diegans to make prudent decisions? Can voters be blamed for worrying now about what kind of cozy skybox deal the council will quietly slip into its proposal for a downtown ballpark?" The U-T's tirade was in marked contrast to its glowing endorsement of some of the very same councilmembers in a March 20, 1996, editorial that hailed the council's "ambitious plans to expand the San Diego Convention Center and Jack Murphy Stadium and to build a new downtown library after decades of aimless dithering over the issue." Proclaimed the U-T two years ago: "Considering the gains this solid City Hall team is making for San Diego, voters would be wise to give another term to all five incumbents on next Tuesday's ballot: Mayor Golding and councilmembers Judy McCarty, Christine Kehoe, Harry Mathis, and Barbara Warden."

You gotta have friends

Ex-San Diego city councilman Bill Lowery, who later got elected to Congress and then decided not to run for reelection after his connections to savings and loan crook Charles Keating became known, is now a lobbyist. Thanks in part to his friendship with Mayor Susan Golding, Lowery's firm has picked up a roster of lucrative, taxpayer-paid contracts, including the San Diego Association of Governments ($10,000) and the City of San Diego ($80,000). Lowery's firm is also bringing in $60,000 from the supposedly nonprofit, tax-exempt San Diego State University Foundation ... John Di Fronzo, a reputed Pittsburgh mob boss recently convicted of trying to muscle in on gambling at the Rincon Indian reservation, has gotten two lucky breaks: His attorney, Carl Walsh, appealed Di Fronzo's 37-month sentence and got it reduced to 16 months. Then a judge agreed with Di Fronzo's insistence that he be allowed to deduct $125,000 in legal fees from his income tax as a "business expense." The judge ruled that Di Fronzo's attempt at Rincon skimming -- which Di Fronzo had to admit to get the lower sentence -- proved that racketeering was indeed the 69-year-old gangster's primary business ... Staff Sergeant Ng Puay Hng, 28, is the first Singaporean to top the class of the U.S. Navy's SEAL combat school in Coronado. He beat 130 Americans and 9 Singaporeans.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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