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— The Union-Tribune has been scooped once again in its coverage of Padres owner John Moores's attempts to expand his sports empire away from San Diego. Last month, the U-T waited three weeks to report, without attribution, the Orange County Register's story about Moores dickering with Anaheim officials over the possibility of a new National Football League team for the Mickey Mouse city. Then last Saturday, again without acknowledging the original source, the U-T chased a week-old story in the Las Vegas Review Journal about Moores going to New York with Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman to pitch the NHL and the NBA on a new downtown Vegas arena. Insiders speculate that members of the U-T brass are less than eager to report on the out-of-town wanderings of Moores, whose controversial San Diego activities are being heavily subsidized by local taxpayers. The U-T's story on Moores's Anaheim venture got the green light only after activists opposed to the San Diego stadium deal called a news conference to criticize the Orange County foray. Meanwhile, word has it that SDG&E has agreed -- at least until an October 14 hearing -- to back off on its plans to use a downtown incinerator to burn toxic chemicals recovered as part of its ongoing cleanup of the stadium site ... San Diego subscribers to Yahoo's online chat clubs have been getting spammed by the Padres, who offer a free computer mousepad featuring a rendering of the new downtown stadium, along with an optional avocado. "Love to tailgate at those Padres games?" the junk e-mail asks. "Have some great recipes you want to share? Submit your favorite recipe using genuine California Avocados and receive a coupon for a free avocado!"

Buck-stopping Bird

San Diego attorney Charlie Bird, a partner at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, has become Governor Gray Davis's designated flak-taker from lawyers who don't get appointed judges because they are deemed unqualified. But Bird says it's all in a day's work, according to American Lawyer magazine. The move came after ex-L.A. city attorney Burt Pines, who is the governor's judicial appointments secretary, decided he wanted to duck the unpopular task of telling fellow lawyers they didn't make the cut. So the State Bar agreed to turn the chore over to its Judicial Nominees Evaluation commission, which screens candidates for the bench and recommends to the governor who gets picked. Bird, who chairs the JNE, told the magazine, in so many lawyerly words, that he doesn't mind being the fall guy. "This is certainly a reasonable step. The historical process can be analogized to a court asking the Legislature to give notice of entry of a judgment." But the move drew criticism from state senator Charles Poochigian, once Pete Wilson's judicial appointments secretary, who said he "felt it was useful to the person hearing this bad news to hear it from the governor's office. I was very sensitive to the fact that it would be very difficult news to hear." ... In Biloxi, Mississippi, an outfit calling itself Point Cadet 2000 wants to build a $3 billion commercial development, including, of course, a casino, on state-owned land along the Mississippi Sound. Partners include Anne Taubman, who has a big stake in San Diego's Seaport Village, and Barry Keenan, who did time for kidnapping Frank Sinatra Jr. back in 1963.

Government Work

San Diego-based criminal defense attorney Mike Pancer has won another big victory against U.S. prosecutors. A U.S. district court judge in Texas has ordered the government to respond to Pancer's charges that prosecutors suborned perjury and hid evidence in its 1996 case against Pancer's client, Juan Garcia Abrego, accused kingpin of the Gulf drug-smuggling cartel, according to the Houston Chronicle. Pancer is seeking a new trial for Abrego, who is serving a life sentence ... The Naval Audit Service is shutting down its San Diego offices, resulting in the loss of 58 jobs here, according to the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk ... San Diego police have lost their bid for a million-dollar grant to track neighborhood crime using sophisticated computers. The money will go to Seattle instead, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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