Padres owner John Moores and his wife Becky were scheduled to throw a fundraiser last night at their estate in Rancho Santa Fe for a new initiative being sponsored by Ward Connerly's American Civil Rights Coalition, according to an invitation to the $500-per-head event. The statewide ballot measure, entitled the Racial Privacy Initiative, would ban "racial classifications and, with limited exceptions, prohibit questions probing one's racial or ethnic identity on state and local government forms," according to coalition executive director Kevin Nguyen. "Census 2000 recognizes 126 racial and ethnic categories. That is about 125 too many. In a state where more 'multiracial' children are born than 'black' children, it just doesn't make sense to stuff people into these racial boxes." Moores and Connerly are both regents of the University of California, Moores appointed by Democratic governor Gray Davis, to whom he gave more than half a million dollars in campaign funds, and Connerly by former Republican governor Pete Wilson, who met Connerly when Wilson was San Diego mayor and Connerly, an outspoken foe of affirmative action, was a city-housing consultant. Wilson is listed as an "event sponsor" on the invitation, along with Jim Woodhill and Peter Schaeffer, two Texas software entrepreneurs with close ties to Moores. Schaeffer is a founder and former chief technical officer of Neon Systems, the outfit at the center of the Valerie Stallings influence-buying scandal. Woodhill recently joined the board of Neon after selling his software start-up to the company, according to a company press release. Another UC regent appointed by Wilson, La Jollan Peter Preuss, is also listed, along with conservative intellectual and American slavery-reparations foe David Horowitz. Rounding out the bill is the event's master of ceremonies, radio talk-show host Roger Hedgecock, the ex-San Diego mayor forced from office in a 1980s campaign-contributions scandal. Listed as "premium sponsors" of the fundraiser is Colorado brewer Joseph Coors and his wife Anne.

Gateway-gate North Carolina Republican and U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Dole, who was once reported in a newspaper society column here as dining at Donovan's steakhouse with Ted Waitt and fellow directors of troubled Gateway computers, has been making less friendly Gateway news back at home. Gateway is the subject of six class-action shareholder lawsuits alleging insider trading, shredded documents, and wasteful spending during the long slide of Gateway stock and bond value. The stock once traded at $70; now it's down to around $6. Dole was on the board for 17 months before resigning her $24,000-a-year position in the fall to run for Senate, reports the Winston-Salem Journal. Political opponents are expected to use the Gateway debacle against Dole. "It's a problem if you were on the board," Alan Palmiter, a professor at Wake Forest University School of Law, told the paper. "If you are on the board, you have a responsibility to know what's happening and exercise some supervisory authority. It raises questions about the supervisory, managerial function that directors in a corporation should be doing." ... Chuck Nathanson, executive director of UCSD Extension's controversial San Diego Dialogue program -- the cross-border think tank-cum-lobbying operation closely tied to Tijuana's financial establishment, which has had a powerful hand in everything from maquiladoras to siting a proposed regional airport to San Diego Board of Education politics -- has been undergoing chemotherapy and is on a six-month medical leave of absence, he confirmed this week.

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