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— Lawyer Lisa Foster, wife of controversial San Diego Unified School District chief Alan Bersin, didn't give any money to the campaign of Governor Gray Davis, who just appointed her a Superior Court judge, but her mother and husband did. On August 19, Pauline Foster, widow of wealthy San Diego County real estate mogul Stanley Foster, gave the Davis campaign $2500. A week before that, Bersin also kicked in $2500. In June, Lisa Foster herself gave $1000 to Senator Barbara Boxer. In addition, Bersin gave $250 each to the New Hampshire congressional campaign of Democrat Katrina Swett, the congressional campaign of Palm Springs Democrat Elle Kurpiewski, and the North Carolina congressional campaign of Janice Cole, like Bersin an ex-United States Attorney. All three lost ... When Fred Schenk was appointed to the Del Mar Fair board by Governor Gray Davis last week, he had at least two things going for him. The 49-year-old San Diego attorney is the brother of Lynn Schenk, longtime friend and chief of staff to Davis. And on September 9, he gave a healthy $25,000 to the governor's already well-funded reelection campaign. When Pete Wilson was governor, he appointed to the board Robin Parsky, wife of GOP fat cat Gerald Parsky, whose fundraising was financially indispensable to Wilson's campaigns. The fair board members are drawn predominantly from the ranks of lawyers and wealthy real estate developers, and the board's ambitious development plans for the fairgrounds are in perpetual conflict with Del Mar environmentalists ... Schenk and the Foster clan weren't the only San Diego locals to make big personal contributions to Davis. Others include La Jolla's Leon L. Tan, chief executive officer of the Pacific Millennium Paper Group, a large but obscure private company doing business in China and Southeast Asia. Tan gave Davis $50,000. Ex-port director, gay activist, and El Cortez Hotel developer Peter Janopaul gave $25,000, as did Premier Food Services honcho George Karetas, who has a Del Mar Fair connection of his own. Premier holds the liquor license for the fairgrounds and two years ago had a brush with controversy when a temporary nightclub on the grounds was shut down following an investigation into drug dealing and underage-drinking allegations. Dan Epstein, CEO of the Conam Group, which owns and operates 40,000 apartment units, gave Davis $15,000.

Piper's penalties First it was Houston's Denny Piper, who traveled west last year to assume the reins of the county's data-processing operation. Trouble was, Piper left his job as Houston's technology chief in the middle of a nasty influence-peddling scandal, and he was later accused of stealing $250,000 from yet another ex-employer. After repeated assurances from San Diego County officials that Piper was an okay guy, he quit his job here and returned to Texas to face criminal charges. Now comes the case of Parvesh Singh, the new financial-aid director of Alliant International University, formerly known as United States International University, in Scripps Ranch. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week that Singh is up to his ears in a financial scandal at Atlanta's historically black Morris Brown College, which, the paper says, is being investigated by federal auditors and is in danger of losing its accreditation for mishandling student financial aid, as well as having a $27 million deficit. The school's ex-president, Dolores Cross, who quit to return to her hometown of Chicago, told the paper, "I took steps to replace Parvesh," then Morris Brown's financial-aid director, after problems spiraled out of control. Singh told the paper he had nothing to do with the problems and blames ex-financial officer Jonnie Brown for much of the trouble. Brown has filed a wrongful-termination suit against the school, alleging that Cross paid a housekeeper, chauffeur, and personal shopper out of school funds. Singh could not be reached for comment.

Murphy's pistol-packing posse Locals might not guess it from the menacing appearance put in by Mayor Dick Murphy's bodyguards during last week's Holiday Bowl parade, but Murphy is said to be one of the least protected mayors in the U.S. At the parade, Murphy, riding in an open car, was shadowed by two beefy men, one of whom held his hand just inside his suit coat, as if fingering a pistol. But the Detroit Free Press reports that Murphy has nothing on Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who boasts a force of 30 full-time cops to protect him and his family. The Free Press quotes Murphy press secretary Colleen Rudy as saying Murphy has only 3 police protectors. "Even if there were that many available, I don't think our mayor would take it," said Rudy about Kilpatrick's guard numbers.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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