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— For years, uppity La Jollans have talked about divorcing themselves from the hoi polloi of San Diego by seceding from the city and creating their own. Now the Orange County Register has done it for them. The paper recently reported that a local son, Foothill High School '97 graduate Jeff Dodge, has graduated from UCSD, where he was president of the Associated Students. The Register went on to report: "He has accepted a position on the staff of City Councilman Byron Wear of District 2 effective June 15. He will be a liaison with the city of La Jolla for the councilman." ... John Frieda, that 50-year-old hairstylist who allegedly roughed up a first-class cabin boy on an airline trip from New York to San Diego to attend a trade show here last week, is the ex-husband of '60s pop star Lulu ... The arrest of a UCSD researcher and his lover at Scripps Research Institute last week, on charges they stole millions of dollars of research results from a Harvard lab and attempted to sell them to a Japanese biotech outfit, has revived speculation about another crime involving a UCSD scientist. Jiangyu "Jonathan" Zhu, a Chinese national, and Koyoko Kimbara, a Japanese citizen, were busted by the FBI at their La Jolla apartment Wednesday. More than six years ago, late on the night of May 7, 1996, a sniper killed UCSD researcher Tsunao Saitoh, 46, and his 13-year-old daughter Loullie in the driveway of their posh home across from the La Jolla Country Club as they returned from an evening at his laboratory. The murder set off speculation that it had been carried out by scientific rivals who stood to make millions of dollars from his research into a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Others claimed it resulted from his affair with a former laboratory assistant. Ever since the slaying, university officials have been closemouthed, and San Diego homicide detectives have never been able to crack the case.

Half-truths San Diego mayor Dick Murphy took the microphone at a news conference late last month to announce that the Padres had sold $135 million of notes in order to pay for the team's portion of the new downtown baseball stadium. "I would hope today that the ballpark naysayers will finally acknowledge they were wrong when they said the Padres would not finance this project," Murphy, under the gun for having secret meetings with Padres owner Dean Spanos regarding a new football stadium, chided his critics. "It wasn't easy for any of the parties committing funds for the ballpark's construction to secure their financing," the Union-Tribune paraphrased ex-banker Peter Q. Davis, who ran against Murphy in the 2000 mayoral primary, as saying. Among lenders, Davis was reported as saying, removal of blight is "a very low priority. Getting their money back is a high priority." Just how high a priority can now be revealed. According to a 35-page document entitled "Ballpark Consents and Intercreditor Agreement," dated May 15, nine days before Murphy's news conference but not disclosed to the public, the city has surrendered much of its so-called "security interest" in the stadium project, allowing the private lenders to foreclose on the property and putting taxpayers in second place if the Padres don't make their payments. "The City is willing to subordinate the City Padres Property Lien to the Note Padres Property Lien," according to the document's legalese, "in order to facilitate the financing of the Private Contributions." Critics contend the agreement, signed behind closed doors, may portend yet more trouble and controversy for the $465 million project ... Local TV stations, including 10 and 51, reporting on the troubles at Peregrine Systems in Del Mar Heights, have conspicuously failed to mention that the company is closely linked to Padres owner John Moores.

Ensnared by the Web LEAD San Diego, a nonprofit outfit that says it specializes in training San Diego's future leaders, put out a news release last week. "The Leadership Trust is made up of LEAD graduates who will act as an advisory council, brain trust, and program design office to identify and pursue ways to help us fulfill our mission of strengthening the region's leaders," said a statement from president Kevin Cottrell. "Our goal is to advance the prosperity of the greater San Diego region through a growing network of connected, able, and highly knowledgeable community leaders." The release directed interested parties to the group's website, where visitors were greeted with an empty page and a single sentence: "Our site is currently in the process of being redesigned to better serve you."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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