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— Stoorza, Ziegaus & Metzger, that politically well-wired downtown public relations and lobbying shop, is expanding its empire once again. This time, the Republican-based firm that has handled clients such as the Union-Tribune, Susan Golding, Pete Wilson, and John Moores's new Padres stadium, is opening an office in Riverside County, staffed with ex-legislative aides and the son of a county supervisor. Stoorza honcho Al Ziegaus, who began his career in San Diego almost 30 years ago as city hall reporter for the old Tribune and has become a millionaire playing the PR game, told the Riverside Business Press last week that "about half of Stoorza's business relates to governmental affairs and politics" and "although the 2000 elections are not among the reasons for the current expansion, Ziegaus acknowledged the firm is well positioned to handle local political campaigns for next year's various races." Riverside County staffers include Lou Monville, former Inland Empire office director for ex-governor Pete Wilson; Neil Derry, once senior aide to Ontario assemblyman Fred Aguilar; Greg Morrison, former aide to state senator Ray Haynes; and Tom Mullen, son of Riverside County supervisor Tom Mullen. "A great deal of development is going to be occurring out here," Derry told the paper. "We offer the contacts and the connections with the cities. Many of these developers are from outside the area, and we offer the ability to quickly fill the potholes along the way."

Our TJ

A German scientist who ran one of Tijuana's biggest clandestine drug labs has been sentenced to ten years in federal prison by a judge in New Mexico. Forty-six-year-old Friedhelm Wilhelm Koenig was busted three years ago after undercover drug agents discovered his Mexican operation was pumping out millions of "ecstasy" tablets, the hallucinogenic methamphetamine derivative, for shipment to the Southwest and beyond. According to an account in last week's Albuquerque Journal, Koenig produced the drug at Euromex, a Tijuana factory that ostensibly made pesticides destined for Guatemala and Belize. "This drug operation was one of the largest ever found and dismantled as a result of prosecution by the U.S. government," a prosecutor told the judge ... While Washington worries about Chinese spies, high-tech thievery, secret donations to Al Gore, and surprise attacks on Taiwan, Tijuana is welcoming its biggest maquiladora run by a Chinese multinational. As reported in last week's New York Times, the Konka Group of Shenzhen, a boom town near Hong Kong, is building a 30,000-square-foot factory to make high-definition television sets for the U.S. market.

Tagging in Reverse

The Logan Heights Family Health Center has been awarded a $450,000 grant from the California Youth Authority to remove tattoos from reformed gang members. "Offensive gang-related tattoos often interfere with young people gaining employment and leading productive lives," according to a news release from the CYA. "Studies have shown that by removing these tattoos and facilitating positive activities to encourage productive citizenship, public safety can be enhanced." The grant includes a tattoo removal machine and covers sufficient operating costs to eliminate at least 250 tattoos a year ... A judge from San Diego has ruled that the last surviving member of the old Platters singing group has exclusive rights to the name and can keep the widow of an ex-member from using it. Platters founder Herb Reed got into a legal wrangle with Martha Robi, widow of Paul Robi, who split from the group back in 1965 after he was busted for drugs. She set up her own Platters group in the 1980s and sued Reed, who was also using the name. Last week, U.S. District Judge Judith Keep of San Diego, serving as a temporary member of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, wrote that "allowing Martha Robi to organize a rival group called 'The Platters' and allowing it to perform music as that group would lead to confusion among reasonable consumers."... San Diego State University graduate Rex Babin, 36, has been named editorial cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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