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— San Diego mayor Dick Murphy's "blue ribbon committee on city finances," promised in last year's state-of-the-city speech and appointed last April, has reached its final conclusions and is ready to report to the mayor, says the group's chairman, retired Air Force colonel and government-contracting consultant Joe Craver. As his primary charge to the group, Murphy asked the rhetorical question, "Can we afford to do all this?" referring to his ten goals, including fixing broken sewer mains, repairing potholes, and building a downtown baseball stadium as well as a new library. "The committee itself," the mayor continued, "will consist entirely of bankers, accountants, economists, and other professionals who are not city employees. Its task will be to make an independent evaluation of the current fiscal health of the city and make any appropriate recommendations." The mayor said the group was supposed to "immediately begin an intensive six-month review of the City's budget process and evaluate and report on the fiscal health of the city." In the end, no bankers or economists were appointed, and one of the panel members, Andrew Poat, a public relations specialist who worked for troubled Stoorza Communications, later joined the city as its director of governmental relations. City Hall watchers also noted that seven of the group's nine members were loyal Murphy campaign donors. Craver says one of the reasons the study took longer than expected was the September 11 terrorist attack, which drew city resources and attention away from the task. Murphy was scheduled to see a Powerpoint presentation on the study this past Monday but canceled out. The briefing is now set for sometime in the next few weeks, Craver reports. After the mayor signs off, the results will be made public.

Local business The death of an ex-government official linked to the use of products by San Diego diet-drug maker Metabolife is causing a stir in Atlanta, Georgia. Randy Poynter, 47, an ex-Rockdale County commission chairman, was discovered dead two Sundays ago by his wife Libby; authorities concluded he had died in his sleep. Poynter's sister, Andrea Poynter McDaniel, told the Atlanta Journal and Constitution that he had been taking Metabolife's ephedrine-containing diet drug to lose weight. "I was concerned about it, so I talked to him about it, and he said he had stopped," McDaniel, 46, a television news anchor from Virginia, told the paper, saying she was speaking on behalf of the Poynter family. "We don't think [Metabolife] had anything to do with why he died." But Stephen Boyle, the Rockdale County coroner, has ordered tests on Poynter's body for ephedrine. "We'll have to look at how much was there, and I'm guessing it would have to be a lot to kill you," Boyle said. "I think the final cause of death will be undetermined or accidental." ... The New York Times is reporting that John Moores made a killing on Peregrine stock last year. "Some of the biggest paydays have come at obscure companies that were once market darlings. John J. Moores, better known as the owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team, made $101 million last year selling shares of Peregrine Systems, on whose board he serves, before its shares fell by more than two-thirds."

Radio daze KFMB radio exec Tracy Johnson will moderate a panel entitled "Morning Shows, 2002: Personality Radio Redefined," at this year's Gavin Seminar in San Francisco, an event for radio insiders, according to a news release. On the same bill is something called the "Curve Ball." Says Gavin's website: "I'm still lining up drink specials and am open to ideas. Leading contenders right now are...'Cheap Sex on the Beach' or my current favorite, 'Multiple Screaming Orgasms.' " ... The conservative American Civil Rights Union is moving from San Diego to Washington, D.C., reports the Washington Times. "We are coming to Washington to get closer to the media in our debates with the American Civil Liberties Union," Robert Carleson, the group's chairman, told the paper. Board members include former Reagan attorney general and San Diegan Ed Meese III, whose Scouting Legal Defense Fund is a major project of Carleson's organization.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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