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Has the San Diego City Council, not especially famed for its intelligence, outsmarted itself again? So suggests the Sacramento Bee in a story about the council's hiring of Kevin Sloat, a "high-profile Republican" and former Pete Wilson aide who is getting $150,000 annually from San Diego taxpayers for the next two years to represent the council as its Sacramento lobbyist. Only problem is, Wilson is gone and the Democrats who now control the statehouse might not be all that receptive to the special pleadings of a Republican hired gun. Sloat, whose partner is Maureen Higgins, another ex-Wilsonite, reportedly got the San Diego gig after acing out Jeff Marston, an amiable San Diego Republican without as much clout with the city council. To bolster his standing with Democrats, Sloat told the Bee he's hiring Kelly Jensen, an ex-California Chamber of Commerce lobbyist who formerly was top aide to Democratic state Senator Charles Calderon of Whittier. Calderon was once a key ally of state senator Steve Peace when they were in the assembly together and took on then-Speaker Willie Brown for control of the place. They ultimately lost that battle, and now, ten years later, Peace is threatening to run for mayor of San Diego, which has caused more than a few shivers in local Republican ranks. In any case, Sloat claims that Kelly's hiring has nothing to do with the fact that Democrats have overrun Sacramento: "I was looking at [Jensen] irrespective of the election." Concludes the Bee: "With Democrats in control, industry insiders say those contract lobbying firms who have strictly tied their fortunes to Republicans and operated on a strict partisan basis are at risk. The need to diversify to cover all bases in a Capitol that has more younger people and greater numbers of women and Latinos in the Legislature also is a concern."

Mrs. Munger Strikes Back

Don't fool around with old photographs of folks from San Diego without their permission. That seems to be the message of two separate lawsuits recently filed against the Walt Disney Co. and Corel Software over the allegedly unauthorized use of shots from a yearbook and a diving contest. In the first instance, Edward Jackson, a systems engineer from San Diego, is suing Disney for its use of his 1975 middle school yearbook photo in an animated bit called "Mrs. Munger's Class," a 30-second comedy feature that has been running for the last 15 months as part of the Disney-owned ABC television network's Saturday children's lineup. According to an account in last week's Washington Post, the cartoon was created by a former classmate of Jackson's at the Woodbridge Middle School in Washington. It poked fun at his sixth-grade class by using computer animation to superimpose talking lips and exaggerated facial features on the standard yearbook mug shots. Jackson, five other ex-students, and their teacher, whose real name is Kathleen Foresman, filed suit in Los Angeles, claiming they had never given their permission for use of the photos, which they allege "ridiculed and humiliated" them. Jackson, who is black, also argues that the show portrayed him in a racist fashion. "When I look at this, I start thinking of some of these old minstrel shows," he told the Post. "It just makes me want to punch the wall, knowing somebody could get away with this." He says he found out about the cartoon when a ten-year-old niece spotted him on TV. In the wake of the lawsuit, ABC has pulled the show. In the other case, filed in San Diego, Karla A. Lyon is suing Corel for using her photo from a 1992 diving contest in a Corel-published CD-ROM and on its company Web site. Corel is a Canadian company that sells so-called "clip art" to be inserted into such things as brochures and newsletters. According to the Software Law Bulletin, Lyon claims she had no idea her photo was being used until a friend told her about it. Her lawyer, David J. Gallo, has turned the case into a class action suit on behalf of what he estimates to be more than a thousand other people whose pictures were used by Corel. Actress Hedy Lamarr has filed a similar suit against Corel in Florida.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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