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— The name of a familiar San Diego politico has surfaced in connection with a controversial Arizona ranch for wayward boys and girls. George Gorton, once Governor Pete Wilson's top political handler and ex-boyfriend and advisor to Mayor Susan Golding, turns out to be on the "advisory board" of the Arizona Boys Ranch, also known as the "Last Chance Ranch," which does a brisk business in housing juvenile delinquents dispatched from California, paid for by state taxpayers. After a Sacramento teenager died on the ranch in March, the Sacramento Bee investigated and found that the boy had died from an undiagnosed lung infection while being forced to do push-ups and carry pails of his own vomit. "They did things to him that you just don't do to a human being," the boy's probation officer told the newspaper. The incident drew a recent apology from ranch director Bob Thomas, who told the Bee, "We feel horrible about it. We've all lost sleep. It's something I'll have to live with for the rest of my life." Besides Gorton, the politically well-connected ranch boasts names like ex-Arizona governor Rose Mofford. "I'm very proud of the progress there and the board seems to be quite supportive," she told the Bee ... New Orleans officials, anxious to host the next Republican National Convention, are dissing San Diego for financial promises made and never kept to the GOP. Up against mighty New York City, where Mayor Rudy Giuliani is promising the Republicans a $40 million subsidy, New Orleans councilwoman Suzanne Terrell, who heads that city's host committee, says the GOP shouldn't get greedy. "Our bid is in the $20 million range, and it has happened in the past where cities didn't meet their bid and the party was shortchanged out of millions of dollars," Terrell said, citing San Diego.

Have Bloods, will travel

An alleged member of the notorious street gang called the Bloods is behind bars in Providence, Rhode Island, accused of fatally gunning down a patron at a Father's Day rap concert. Twenty-eight-year-old Wesley N. Hanes, a.k.a. "Squirrel," moved east from San Diego about six months ago, according to the Providence Journal Bulletin. The shooting came outside a nightclub called Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in downtown Providence after the victim accidentally stepped on Hanes's shoe as both were exiting the concert. In 1995, Hanes was held by San Diego police but ultimately never charged after a similar apparent gang-related shooting outside the Bacchanal ... Irv Kass, former news director of NBC-owned KNSD-TV here, has been tapped to take over as interim news head at Fort Worth's KXAS, another NBC affiliate. Kass's predecessor was sacked when the station was sued for $2.2 million by Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin and Erik Williams after KXAS aired what turned out to be false rape accusations two years ago .... Big tobacco is said to be fighting hard to consolidate several anti-smoking lawsuits for trial in U.S. District Court here. San Francisco city attorney Louise Renne, who is representing that city in the country's first-ever municipal anti-tobacco suit, is opposing the move to San Diego, which is perceived to have a jury pool friendlier to smokers and big business in general and a less probing news media.

Strokes of fate

Padres vice president Charles Steinberg told a reporter for the Seattle Times last week that the Padres are using the Mariners' successful gambit of paying big player salaries for a "magical" season to convince voters to approve a new stadium. "We watched with keen interest the Seattle season that so dramatically changed, or affected, the mood of the citizens and ultimately allowed the franchise to remain in Seattle," Steinberg said. "The Seattle model of 1995 remains the portrait we point to."... The National Gambling Impact Study Commission is bringing its traveling roadshow to San Diego July 29, but one of its star members might not be able to make it. James Dobson, the evangelical minister who runs Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, suffered a "very mild" stroke at his home last week ... Jacques Ligne, ex-manager of Coronado's Le Meridien resort, is now general manager of the Watergate Hotel in Washington.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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