— City-planning commissioner Geralda "Gerri" Stryker last year cochaired the "Yes on C" ballot campaign that convinced voters to approve the downtown stadium deal. Two weeks ago, after three out of seven planning commissioners disqualified themselves because they had financial ties to Padres owner John Moores, Stryker voted to approve the final ballpark plan, saying she had no financial interest in the project. The stadium carried 4-0; without Stryker's participation, the commission would have failed to muster a quorum. An examination of Stryker's statement of economic interest, filed under state law, shows that in December of last year she got a series of gifts from John Moores and his wife Becky, including a "Two Volume book on Lane Field," a "Commemorative Wine Bottle," and a "'98 Player Photo Album." Stryker said the book was worth $25, the wine was worth $30, and the album was worth $215. The grand total of $270 is $30 short of the $300 threshold that would have disqualified her from voting on any matters affecting Moores for a year after receiving the gifts from him. However, other officials who have reported receiving some of the same collectors' items from Moores have valued them higher. County supervisors who reported getting the wine bottle, for instance, said it was worth $50, and city councilwoman Valerie Stallings valued her book at $35. Using those values, the total worth of Stryker's Padres trove comes to exactly $300. Another planning commission vote on the stadium project is scheduled for today.

Shipping Out

San Diego's Southwest Marine may be on the verge of another change of ownership. According to an account in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, the Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C., investment firm that bought Southwest about two years ago, is shopping the shipyards around ... Darnell Hayes, the ex-Mesa College marketing instructor convicted along with two others in a City College grade-selling scandal, has lost his appeal. By a 2-1 vote, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the government did not violate Hayes's rights when it secretly taped him talking to coconspirator Sam Koutchesfahani, who acted as a go-between in selling grades to foreign students at local community colleges. Koutchesfahani later became famous as the owner of the Rancho Santa Fe house rented by the suicidal Heavens Gate cult ... Lobbyist and ex-San Diego congressman Bill Lowery, linked to the savings and loan scandals of the 1980s, is set to pick up the Riverside County city of Murrieta as his latest client. The tab: $18,000 for eight months.

Battle of the Snow Buddies

Encore Group, a Poway outfit that makes ceramic figurines called "Snow Buddies," has gotten a federal court order to impound the output of a Corona company, which Encore says is stealing its designs. According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, last week a brigade of United States Marshals swooped down on Cast Art, Inc. of Corona and carted off boxes of "Dreamsicles" and "Northern Lights" figurines, all of which feature "wide, childlike eyes." A hearing in San Diego federal court is set for October 18 ... Students from Camarillo High School in Ventura County are having a tough time delivering the 4428 pairs of used shoes they collected for orphans in Tijuana. According to the Ventura County Star, the local Rotary club, which took the shoes down to the border last weekend, got only 200 across. A spokesman for the Mexican consulate in Oxnard told the paper the shoes were held up "primarily for health reasons, since the shoes are used. We are especially grateful for the donation, but we must protect the health of our people and the shoes must be clean."... Chicago-area papers owned by La Jolla's Copley Press have joined forces with two major competitors to create a regional classified-advertising website. Crain's Chicago Business reports that Copley Chicago Newspapers has partnered with Hollinger International, Inc. and Paddock Publications, Inc. in an effort to battle Internet-only competitors like Monster.com.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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