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— Word comes from North Carolina, of all places, that lame-duck San Diego mayor Susan Golding is secretly attempting to fill a key city-hall vacancy before she leaves office at the end of the year. The saga began October 19, when word was leaked to the Raleigh News & Observer that Durham city manager P. Lamont Ewell was out in San Diego interviewing to become top assistant to city manager Mike Uberuaga. Then the Durham Herald-Sun reported that Uberuaga aide Donna Cottingham had confirmed that Ewell was indeed in San Diego, though Ewell himself, who would become the only black among ranking San Diego city administrators, would only say he had "been invited to interview for a position." He added that "at this point, this process is entirely exploratory and presents an interesting opportunity into which I feel obligated to look further for professional reasons." The paper added that San Diego had hoped to fill the position by October 20 but was "about two weeks behind schedule," delaying the possibly controversial announcement until after this week's election, in which two city-council members, Juan Vargas and Christine Kehoe, were on the ballot for state assembly. "Uberuaga was supposed to screen the semifinalists by October 17, assuming the delayed recruitment schedule. Ewell told city council members early in that week that he had been invited to interview for a job in Southern California but didn't name the job or jurisdiction." The paper added that "The job comes with a salary in the low $150,000s. In June, the city of Durham increased Ewell's salary 7 percent to $150,622.80." According to the reports, Ewell grew up in Compton, where his mother still lives, and was previously assistant city manager in Oakland. On October 31, the News & Observer quoted Ric Grinnell, spokesman for Golding, as saying that "the assistant manager position has drawn 'great interest,' and the mayor has been active in the search." Local Golding critics note that under San Diego's so-called city-manager form of government, which requires that the manager deal with personnel issues before bringing them to the council for final approval, Golding's actions might not be altogether kosher. As for Ewell, he told the citizens of Durham earlier this year he wasn't planning on moving west. "I said before and I'll say again that my intentions when I came here [in July 1997] were to stay for a minimum of five years," Ewell said then. Meanwhile, the Durham city council got so up in arms over the original leak to the Raleigh paper that they considered hiring a private eye last week to track down the source but later thought better of it and instead voted to "condemn" the unknown leaker.

On the move

The Padres have announced plans to play the last two of their exhibition games next spring at West Sacramento's new Raley Stadium with the minor-league River Cats. Why Sacramento? Gary Arthur, the River Cats' general manager, told the Sacramento Bee, "I think it's the facility. And I think it's the enthusiasm for the game you find here. This is not going to be like a regular spring-training game, in front of 5000 fans. This will be another packed house and another enthusiastic crowd." Others wonder if the Padres are trying to send a message that Sacramento wouldn't be such a bad place to move the team if San Diego doesn't ante up its promised stadium money. "I haven't heard that yet," Chuck Dalldorf, spokesman for Sacramento mayor Jimmie Yee, "but sure, everything's possible, though there would be a lot of hoops for them to jump through first."

Bad boys

Ex-Navy SEAL Jonathan Dean Cripe was sentenced last week by a federal court in Virginia to 63 months in prison and ordered to pay $50,000 restitution for trafficking in stolen military goods he had lifted while acting as "ordnance representative" from Coronado's SEAL Team 5. According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, Cripe sold items such as "flash-bang" grenades to a Virginia gun dealer and pawnbroker, who resold them. "I didn't know what my co-defendant was doing with the stuff," Cripe told U.S. District judge Robert E. Payne in a presentence plea for leniency. Walter David Disney, another Coronado SEAL from Team 3, was charged in August with similar, though nonrelated weapons-stealing charges.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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