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— San Diego and Florida have sunshine, cigars, con men, and drug runners in common. Now both can claim a couple of money-hungry politicos. Republican governor Jeb Bush and his probable Democratic rival Janet Reno are headed into town next week to put the bite on local supporters at two separate fundraisers. First up is Bush, the president's younger brother, and his wife Columba, who have set a June 20 breakfast at the U.S. Grant Hotel downtown. Back in 1999, Columba failed to declare $19,000 of clothes and jewelry when she went through U.S. customs on her way back from Paris. She ended up with a $1400 fine. Tickets to the San Diego event are going for $150 each, or $250 a couple. Anyone who wants to put together five tables for a total of $7500 "will have a private meeting at 7:30 a.m. with the governor prior to the VIP Photo Opportunity and Breakfast." Those who "raise and contribute" $1500 can go to the photo op and breakfast only. Co-chairs include Charles "Buzz" Dupont, a longtime opponent of rent control in Escondido, and La Jollan Ted Gildred III. Meanwhile, Democrat Mel Shapiro reports that he got a personal phone call on his answering machine from former Clinton attorney general Reno wanting him to donate $5000 to attend her dinner to be held June 25 at Del Mar's L'Auberge resort and spa. Because Reno is asking for so-called "soft money," to be routed through Florida's Democratic party, the fundraising limits of Florida law, which Bush is following, do not apply. Shapiro, whose recent complaint to the city clerk forced onetime Clinton aide Mark Fabiani to file a lobbyist statement disclosing his activities on behalf of Republican fat cat and Chargers owner Alex Spanos, says he doesn't plan to shell out for Reno's event, despite her personal plea ... Cuban artist Tito Gomez is suing San Diego-based Bahia cigars in Miami federal court, claiming that the company and its owner, Tony Borhani, failed to get copyright permission to use Gomez's artwork in its advertising, reports the Miami Daily Business Review. Gomez, known in some quarters as "Cuba's Picasso," labored for years on the streets of Havana before immigrating to South Florida in February 2001, where he promptly filed suit against Borhani. "He had no recourse while living in Cuba," Vivian de las Cuevas, a partner at Ferrell Schultz Carter Zumpano & Fertel in Miami, told the paper. Borhani claims the work was authorized. "Tony Borhani provided Gomez with original ideas and parameters for the creation of artwork," according to court filings quoted by the paper. "Relying upon Borhani's original concept and ideas, Gomez painted works of art specifically for Borhani's use." Borhani, who is trying to get the case moved to San Diego, plans to relocate his business to Miami, the paper says.

Backfield in motion The Chargers are looking for Junior Charger Girls, "young women ages 7 to 15," according to the team's website. The recruits will be part of a halftime show alongside their mentors, the buxom Charger Girls. Notes the website: "No experience is necessary to participate, and the Charger Girls teach them all there is to know!"...The NFL Experience, the football-themed carnival set to coincide with next January's Super Bowl here, may go downtown, but nothing is certain yet. The city's first choice for the event was a piece of property across the San Diego River from Qualcomm Stadium. That idea was ditched after plans to build a bridge were successfully opposed by Mission Valley watchdog Randy Berkman. The city is now talking up the old Campbell shipyard site on land controlled by the Port of San Diego behind the convention center, but a port spokesman says a proposal for city use of the site isn't expected until next month. Under the city's deal with the NFL, it must supply a site to the league at no charge.

Where they are now Art Skolnik, the high-energy Seattle planner who back in the 1980s came to San Diego to revive the once-faltering Gaslamp Quarter, has become executive director of Seattle's Kalakala Foundation, which seeks to restore a Depression-era art deco ferry abandoned in Kodiak, Alaska ... Former National City police chief Terry Hart has been fired from his job as chief of police in West Linn, Oregon, reports the Oregonian. "I have been separated from service," he told the paper. "I am an at-will employee, and they can ask me to leave at any time. They didn't explain any reasons, but I'm not overly concerned about it. It really doesn't have any effect on my pension or my finances."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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