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— The Partnership for Student Achievement, the political committee that last year funneled more than half a million dollars into a negative TV advertising campaign against San Diego Unified School District board member Frances Zimmerman, is still in business and raising more money. The partnership's activities became controversial after it became known that local political fat cats like Padres owner John Moores, Wal-Mart heir John Walton, and Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs had pumped six-figure donations through the group. According to the partnership's latest filing, Irwin's son Gary gave $10,000 earlier this year. Walton gave another $30,000. Manpower of San Diego, a temporary-employment firm owned by Phil Blair and Mel Katz, was given $30,000 by the group, apparently a partial payback for a $100,000 loan the company made to the group so the committee could pay its bills last year. Katz, Blair, and the committee's other financial angels are expected to spend more than a million dollars during the upcoming school-board elections, which could decide whether Superintendent Alan Bersin goes or stays.

The names Arrest rates last year were down around most of San Diego County, according to the latest report from SANDAG, the regional planning agency. Coronado dropped 30 percent from the year before, El Cajon fell 17 percent, and National City was down 8 percent. San Diego posted a 1 percent increase, as did Oceanside. But there was one big exception to the trend. The San Diego Harbor Police reported a jump of 239 percent, from 31 arrests to 105. Another notable trend: while drug-related arrests in the county were down by a total of 2 percent, those for marijuana possession at local schools soared 17 percent.

On the waterfront The funeral of Stanley Foster, the wealthy father-in-law of San Diego Unified School District superintendent Alan Bersin, attracted many famous and powerful locals, including Dick Silberman, the one-time financier and ex-felon once married to ex-San Diego mayor Susan Golding. Silberman's son is married to Foster's daughter... Ex-San Diego city councilman and attorney Mike Schaeffer, who has been disbarred in Nevada and may soon face the same fate in his home state of California, can claim at least one victory, reports the Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper. Schaefer, who has run for -- and lost -- more than 50 political offices, ranging from mayor of Baltimore to city attorney of San Francisco, sued the City of San Francisco, claiming the city's barring of write-in votes in runoff elections was unconstitutional. On October 30, a state appellate court agreed and struck down the ban. Meanwhile, Schaeffer, who once was convicted of three misdemeanor counts of battery against his Russian-born wife, faces scrutiny by the state bar, which is examining the charges leading to his Nevada disbarment.

Diamonds in the rough Global Diamond Resources, that La Jolla diamond-trading outfit with close ties to the family of Osama bin Laden and Yasin Al-Qadi (a Saudi businessman linked to bin Laden's financial support network), says a court order to liquidate its South African subsidiary has been set aside by a judge there. Global claims it "has over 100 million tons of in situ diamondiferous resources containing large high quality gemstone diamonds" on its properties in South Africa. But the operation owes millions of dollars to creditors, which Global says it will pay back. Al-Qadi, who U.S. officials say ran a charity that funneled millions to bin Laden's terrorist operations, invested $6 million in Global back in 1998, buying 17 percent of the company... A Greek-born neuroscience professor from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland who was heading for a convention in San Diego last week got yanked off his plane after fellow passengers reported he was "acting strange" and "seemed uncomfortable," reports the Portland Oregonian. Thanos Tzounopoulos was in seat 19C waiting for takeoff when an Alaska Airlines employee told him to get off. The professor packed up his notes for his planned San Diego lecture and went home. He told the paper his subsequent calls to the airline went unreturned. "These are strange days, but we need to stay rational and stay democratic. These are our weapons."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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