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— When 36-year-old San Diego native and longtime Pete Wilson operative Margita Thompson was named press secretary to new Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger two weeks ago, nothing was said in local media about her father, Barnard R. Thompson, a noted local consultant, columnist, and Mexican-affairs lobbyist. But the day after Margita's new appointment was announced, the Union-Tribune -- without mentioning the father-daughter relationship -- ran a column authored by Barnard on its op-ed page, blasting the state legislature of Baja California Sur for what Barnard described as its "asinine" move of declaring Schwarzenegger "persona non grata" for his support of the Wilson-era anti-immigrant measure, Prop 187. In the same piece, Thompson also took a swipe at Democratic congressman Bob Filner, calling him "an often mean-spirited politico" with "ties to" the PRD (in English, the Democratic Revolution Party) "that could allow him to influence anti-American politics" of party members. Thompson cited a story in a Tijuana daily quoting Filner as saying, "We know very little about Schwarzenegger, but one thing we do know is that his main political ally is Pete Wilson, the same governor who was clearly against the migrant community and who pushed for Proposition 187. The win by Schwarzenegger means that [California] will return to the climate of hostility that existed during the era when Pete Wilson was in power." Reached at his home by phone last week, Thompson said he was heading back to Washington to help his daughter -- whose last job was as political producer for CNN's Larry King -- pack up her belongings for shipping to Sacramento.

Union-Tribune's urgency There's been a recent posting on the Journalism Jobs website that faithful readers of the local daily might find a bit amusing: "The San Diego Union-Tribune is looking for a reporter who values covering public policy issues and explaining to readers the political reasons behind decisions made by the county Board of Supervisors and the bureaucracrats [sic] it supervises. San Diego County has a $4 billion annual budget and the supervisors' actions affect everything from tax collection to health care to agriculture to land use.... The county reporter must have keen watchdog instincts and the news judgment to zero in on issues important to residents. A sense of urgency and a competitive edge are essential. Strong writing and reporting skills are a must. Applicants should have at least five years of government/political beat reporting experience. Please send a résumé and five to 10 clips to Metro Editor Lorie Hearn." ...Yet another local agency is withholding information sought by a San Diego taxpayer under the state's Public Records Act: Rocco Versaci is suing the Palomar Community College District, alleging that it refused to give him a copy of "the eleven annual goals agreed to by the Governing Board" and Superintendent Sherrill D. Amador ... Democratic assemblywoman Christine Kehoe told the Union-Tribune last week that she was going to change her position and vote to repeal that controversial illegal immigrant drivers' license bill. It wouldn't be the first time that Kehoe, now running for state senate, has done a spectacular flip-flop. Back in 1998, when Kehoe was on the San Diego City Council and running for Congress, she repudiated her own vote to approve the costly Chargers ticket guarantee and Qualcomm Stadium deal.

Influence peddling on a full stomach It's turkey time again, and this year local legislators have lots to give thanks for. Take, for instance, Democratic state senator Denise Moreno Ducheny and Republican assemblywoman Shirley Horton. According to lobbyist disclosure records on file in Sacramento, each received at least one free meal from none other than Sempra Energy, the utility giant that owns SDG&E. On February 20, Horton got a meal worth $91.45 at downtown's posh Rainwater's restaurant. On September 9, Sempra picked up a Ducheny tab of $58 at Centro Cocina Mexicana in Sacramento ... According to an in-house memo from food services director Gary Petill, employees of the San Diego Unified School District are being offered "'ready-to-go' Thanksgiving Dinner" at a bargain rate. The menu includes "a complete dinner for 8 people," featuring a "10-12 lb. Oven Roasted Turkey w/Gravy" and choice of apple or pumpkin pie, "ALL FOR ONLY $39.99!" ... Atlas Hotels owner Terry Brown and wife Charlene were big donors to an effort earlier this year to gather enough signatures to put a hotel tax increase measure on the San Diego ballot. According to disclosure records, the couple kicked in almost $200,000 to the campaign from early August to late September. In October, a deal worked out between the competing hotel and city labor-union interests to put a 13 percent hotel-tax increase before voters in March was approved by the city council 6-3, with Mayor Dick Murphy voting no.

-- Matt Potter

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