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— That pricey new four-year contract awarded to San Diego Unified schools chief Alan Bersin last week turns out to be only the tip of the district's administrative-salary iceberg. At least 12 top-ranking bureaucrats at district headquarters are pulling down six figures in salaries and benefits, including Bersin himself, who will earn more than a million dollars over four years, counting bonuses. Others in the district's top money-making ranks include Bersin's right-hand man, district chancellor of instruction Anthony Alvarado, $189,727 annually; executive officer to the chancellor Mary Hopper, $156,174; chief administrative officer Henry Hurley, $189,406; chief business officer Veronica "Ronne" Froman, $189,406; deputy administrative officer Deberie Gomez, $167,732; controller Rick Knott, $167,732; public relations man John Spelich, $160,019; deputy chief operating officer Scott Patterson, $152,504; general counsel Joanne SawyerKnoll, $168,527; chief operating officer Louis Smith, $201,687; Bersin chief of staff Terry Smith, $170,983; and executive administrator Luis Villegas, $153,213 ... Russell Harding, who was president of the New York City Housing Development Corporation under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is on the hot seat for going on a lame-duck, high-priced travel binge paid for by taxpayers, according to the Village Voice. The paper reported that Harding was accompanied by his "close friend," agency senior vice president Luke Cusack, and their itinerary included two separate trips to the Hotel del Coronado: one last April, when the pair spent $5300; and again in early December, when they dropped a total of $7000 for lodging, dining, and car rental. Total travel and food budget for Harding and Cusack was $250,000. Harding is the son of Liberal Party boss Ray Harding, one of the state's most powerful politicians.

Unlucky Lindy If you've found yourself standing around San Diego airport longer than usual lately, you're not alone. According to a new travelers' survey by the Travelocity website, Lindbergh Field ranks number four on the list of major airports "having overall waits of 60 minutes or longer due to increased security measures." First is Oakland, followed by Indianapolis and San Francisco. Conversely, ranked by "greatest degree of improvement" in waiting times, San Diego was fourth from the bottom, at number 37. The survey was conducted between March 11 and 14 ... At least two lucky San Diego city councilmembers have much less of an airport wait. After last week's item here about San Diego city councilman Jim Madaffer being the only one to report getting a free parking space at Lindbergh from the port district, a staffer from the office of Madaffer's fellow councilmember Toni Atkins called to note that Atkins, too, had claimed the coveted freebie ... Jimsair, the private jet terminal at Lindbergh and its Windsock restaurant, famous as the backdrop for Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in the movie Top Gun, has been torn down to make way for a new $3.9 million facility. According to port-district spokesman Steven Shultz, the new Jimsair, scheduled to be finished before the January Super Bowl, when corporate high rollers from across America will descend en masse, features three stories and a bigger restaurant. The improvement is being privately financed, says Shultz.

David's hot wheels Omitted by the Union-Tribune in its coverage of publisher David Copley's La Jolla bust for drunk driving: Copley was driving a red 1999 Ferrari, according to an Associated Press dispatch ... Attorney Jim Dawe, who is in charge of a new foundation being set up to raise money to build a new downtown library, says the group is about ready to accept its first contribution, $1 million from the City of San Diego, intended to pay for fund-raising and other foundation activities. The city contribution was announced last summer by Mayor Dick Murphy. City library board chairwoman Mary Walshock is said to be writing letters to wealthy donors in an attempt to jumpstart the campaign ... City Clerk Chuck Abdelnour has set up a city hall display of Arab memorabilia from city archives ... Chargers honcho Dean Spanos and his wife Susie have contributed a total of $5000 to the reelection drive of District Attorney Paul Pfingst.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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