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— Some well-established faces are set to speak at a "Leadership Conference" critiquing the media and its coverage of the war in Iraq, to be held for the edification of county high school students next month at Qualcomm Stadium. Bankrolled by the Union-Tribune, which staunchly backed the hostilities, and La Jolla's Audrey "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, the event is supposed to explore such topics as "Whether it's okay for the military and the government to restrict the flow of information because of national security," and "Should the media report everything they see and hear?" Judging from the panel, students looking for anything other than a pro-government spin probably should play hooky that day. Participants include none other than Marine Corps colonel Dave Brown, FBI agent Jan Caldwell, and U.S. Magistrate Leo Papas. On the media side of the ledger are U-T Metro Editor Ellen Bevier, KFMB reporter Robert Santos, and L.A. Times San Diego chief Tony Perry, who himself was embedded in a Marine unit as it closed in on Baghdad. (He's often filed stories favorable to Pentagon brass.) On the other hand, students will learn all about the evil ways of the Eastern media, a regular theme of the right. "At a major national newspaper, how much credibility is lost when a reporter makes up facts and misleads readers about important stories like the sniper killings near Washington, D.C., and the rescue of a POW? What if that reporter has a history of making mistakes, but is on the fast track to higher assignments at the paper?" Clever students will probably deduce that the topic is the infamous Jason Blair affair at the New York Times. And who is set to vet those serious journalistic transgressions of the Times? How about U-T editor Karin Winner, whose professional résumé before getting her current gig includes editing the "Currents" section at the U-T and serving as West Coast editor of Women's Wear Daily. Joining Winner are such local broadcast heavies as KNSD-TV news director Greg Dawson and Phil Farrar, reporter for right-of-center KOGO radio (owned by Texas-based Clear Channel and home of fallen San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock). Kent Davy, editor of the North County Times brings up the rear. Featured lunch speaker is KNSD anchor Marty Levin, whose gushing interview with NBC anchor Tom Brokaw in the months leading up to the war featured a raft of video clips that looked as if they came from the North Island public relations department ... Those in attendance at this past weekend's Cruz Bustamante dinner held by local Democrats say that the biggest introductory applause went to indicted city councilman Michael Zucchet ... The 49ers-Chargers game cost taxpayers $1,378,491. But that didn't stop Chargers fan and deputy city manager Bruce Herring from calling it a $149,000 hypothetical "savings."

Gambling man Next big controversy for National City is said to involve details of that pact with the Sycuan tribe to build a 170-room, nongambling resort hotel downtown. During the city council's vote in favor of the project in August, Councilman Louie Natividad, elected a year ago, "stated that he abstained due to his previous and potential future involvement with Sycuan," according to minutes of the meeting. Natividad is on the staff of San Diego city councilman Charles Lewis, and in June was called to testify before the federal grand jury that in August indicted his boss for allegedly taking bribes from Cheetahs strip-club owner Mike Galardi. Adding to the intrigue, the mayor of National City is Nick Inzunza, brother of San Diego city councilman Ralph Inzunza, also indicted in the case. Natividad did not reveal the nature of his connection to Sycuan ... Who is the mysterious Charles Tappe, indicted by the feds for allegedly dealing in machine guns with John D'Intino, the ex-Cheetahs manager who has copped a plea relating to the government's bribery case against the three San Diego city councilmen? A licensed California private eye, Tappe has, over the years, filed a number of fictitious business-name statements, including those for the "California Criminal Fraud Task Force" and "Intercepot Engineering." State records show he first got his P.I. license in August 1986, and it's set to expire in November. A related firearm permit expired in 1999 ... Democratic congressman Bob Filner, left on the back benches by the GOP's takeover of Congress, has been popping up on cable news networks. On a recent CNN Crossfire, with Tucker Carlson -- son of onetime San Diego mayoral candidate Dick Carlson, who lost to Roger Hedgecock -- co-host Robert Novak called Filner the biggest liberal in Congress.

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