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— This hasn't been the best of years for San Diego State president Stephen Weber. Budget Group, the big Florida-based rental-car outfit on whose board he sits, was forced into bankruptcy, and the company's stock fell to a penny a share. Fundraising at his KPBS radio and television operation, chary of taking on local political controversies dear to the hearts of the downtown establishment, is struggling. Then there is the embarrassing matter of Monty Montezuma, the politically incorrect Aztec-themed school mascot, which Weber has been gamely trying to ditch but refuses to go away. Now comes word that Playboy magazine has rated SDSU its number-ten party school in America. Weber has long labored to banish such traditional SDSU antics as pot smoking, binge drinking, and fraternity orgies, with distinctly mixed results. "Women are known to throw off their bikinis, streak, and indulge in group lovemaking," says Playboy. For hard-core partying, Playboy ranked Arizona State University first, followed by California State University Chico ... Ex-San Diego mayor Pete Wilson, whose backing of the anti-immigration Proposition 187 and clumsy attempts to straddle the abortion issue dashed his hopes for the presidency, was back in San Diego last week, speaking to the downtown Rotary Club. The former governor, a Beverly Hills denizen who hasn't lived in San Diego for 20 years, came down squarely on the side of controversial San Diego Unified School District superintendent Alan Bersin in the ongoing battle over his policy-remodeling agenda.

Sheepish Reporters are being banned from a high-end conference on the hot-potato issues of stem cells and cloning set for October 8 at UCSD. "I instituted this years ago as some members of your profession have caused irreparable...damage with speaker relationships and in some cases their companies over coverage," Mark Alexay, an executive of conference sponsor Strategic Research Institute, said in a recent e-mail to the Associated Press. "Hence no coverage. Over and out." Scheduled topics include Dolly the cloned sheep ... Rancho Santa Fe's Gerald Parsky, the investment banker who is chummy with Vice President Dick Cheney and the rest of the Bush White House, but not as fond of GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon, gave $125,000 to the Republican National Committee on August 8, reports show. Billionaire John Walton, the Wal-Mart heir who has a house in Bonita and dabbles in local school-board politics, gave the RNC $100,000 two days later ... Republican congressional candidate Bill Van De Weghe, who is running against incumbent Susan Davis, is drawing support from the Club for Growth, a GOP political action committee for supply-side conservatives. According to the National Journal, the club is targeting "second tier" candidates on the National Republican Congressional Committee's list. "We're very interested in him because he's very pro-growth," club president Stephen Moore told the journal. "When we get involved we want to have an impact." Records show Van De Weghe has gotten $1500 from the club. GOP congressman Darrell Issa's committee gave $2000.

The mouth that sues Public relations maestro Alan Ziegaus, who is reported to be working feverishly behind the scenes to burnish the image of San Diego city schools and its superintendent Alan Bersin during the current school-board election cycle, has been suing his old firm, the now-defunct Stoorza Communications, in an attempt to collect on a $132,459.36 promissory note from April of 2000. According to a case filed this April 12 in San Diego superior court, Stoorza defaulted on the note, signed by Stoorza president and ex-Ziegaus partner Gail Stoorza, in August of last year. In a response dated this June 20, Stoorza's lawyers said Ziegaus had defaulted on the "performance of his contractual obligations" and had engaged in unspecified "improper conduct." The matter was dismissed for lack of prosecution on September 6, and a subsequent attempt by Ziegaus to revive it was dropped September 19 ... James R. Arnold, a professor emeritus at UCSD and a senior advisor to the Apollo man-on-the-moon program back in the 1960s, is also a big Democratic campaign donor. Records show he's given a thousand dollars each to Senator Paul Wellstone, Chellie Pingree for U.S. Senate, Senator Max Cleland, Senator Tom Harkin, Senator Max Baucus, Shaheen for Senate, Waters for Senate, Senator Jean Carnahan, Alex Sanders for the U.S. Senate, Mark Pryor for U.S. Senate, Strickland for Colorado, and Friends of Margaret Workman. He's anted up for Emily's List, the Peace Political Action Committee, Council for a Livable World, and a host of congressional candidates for a grand total of $66,000. He also gave $1000 to GOP senator John McCain's Straight Talk America PAC. Arnold declined to discuss the donations, saying, "It only encourages more of them to ask for money."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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