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— Toilet-to-tap, that less-than-appetizing plan to convert raw sewage into drinking water, was banished from the San Diego City Council's agenda after a storm of public controversy erupted more than two years ago. But this week the American Water Works Association is at the Sheraton on Harbor Island, hosting a conference called "Biosolids 2001: Building Public Support." Keynoting the jam-packed menu of "solids, stabilization processes, and biosolids success stories" is Margaret N. Maxey, an ex-nun and conservative professor at the University of Texas, Austin. "She will discuss how public opposition to the use of recycled wastewater effluents amounts to an embarrassing contradiction for a nation that professes to embrace a policy of recycling," according to the program. "How officials should interpret and then attempt to remedy such a contradiction takes us beyond technical matters into the realm of philosophical ethics and even religious assumptions." Other topics include "Dressing Biosolids Up for Trade: The Right to Remain Silent on Label Warnings of Improbable Risk," "Suitability of Biosolids for Use as a Topsoil Substitute in Urban Reclamation Projects," and "Growers' Needs, 'How to Spread It.'"

TV news lite Is KNSD, the hapless San Diego TV news operation owned by NBC, in for even more draconian budget cuts? So says Broadcasting and Cable magazine: "Further layoffs are likely later in the year when the station moves -- NBC plans to 'hub' Southern California operations into its facilities at KNBC-TV Los Angeles -- and jobs are eliminated." The magazine quotes station general manager Phyllis Schwartz as saying, "These things are never easy. It's tough on the people who were asked to leave and tough on the people who are staying." ... After recent national publicity, a tight lid has been placed over the bitter legal war between Union-Tribune cartoonist Steve Kelley and M. Larry Lawrence widow Shelia Davis. Last week, reports the Washington Post, Kelley withdrew the "intentional affliction of emotional distress" case he had filed in San Diego Superior Court against Davis, the mother of Hayden Kelley Davis, their out-of-wedlock, 22-month-old son. Meantime, an Albemarle, Virginia, Circuit Court judge closed all proceedings in the couple's nasty custody battle over the child there ... Jack Douglas, a St. Pete Beach, Florida, carpet cleaner, told the St. Petersburg Times that he sank a chunk of his inheritance into Qualcomm and Cybersource, another California high-flier, after hearing them touted on cable TV's CNBC. "His $29,600 investment in the two stocks has dwindled to about $7200."

Capital gang San Diego Democratic congressman Bob Filner showed up in conservative Bob Novak's column last week. Per Novak, "the very liberal" Filner "telephoned the president two weeks ago and asked whether he could accompany him on his forthcoming state visit to Mexico. Bush responded, quickly and courteously, that though he was taking no congressmen on this trip, he wanted to include Filner in future U.S.-Mexico discussions. Filner had not been treated that nicely by Clinton over eight years."...Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Mary Margaret McKeon plans to move her chambers from Seattle to San Diego. McKeon, a Democrat who once served as a White House fellow under Ronald Reagan, was mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee had Al Gore become president. Her transfer to San Diego, reportedly because her husband is getting a job at an unnamed university here, may clear the way for defeated Washington Republican senator Slade Gorton to fill the Ninth Circuit vacancy in Seattle, reports the Recorder ... Speaking of the Ninth Circuit, as a result of that court's recent ruling, Cox Communications has stopped paying a portion of its franchise tax fees to the City of San Diego. So far, though, Cox subscribers aren't sharing in the windfall. According to Mark Jaffe, the city's cable specialist, Cox is withholding that portion of the franchise fees previously levied on cable-modem service because the court held that modems aren't cable TV service. The city is losing out on about $300,000 a year, says Jaffe. Cox cable-modem users are still paying about $40 monthly.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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