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— It turns out that San Diego Unified schools chief Alan Bersin managed to have that cozy dinner with the district's three incoming board members last week after all. The locale was San Francisco's posh Postrio restaurant, where chefs Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal whip up high-priced gourmet fare. After incumbent board member John de Beck questioned the propriety of dining in private and suggested inviting along some reporters, he was dropped from the guest list and kept in the dark about the event. Bersin reportedly paid for the food, and the board members chipped in for their own wine ... Indicted political consultant Larry Remer says things have gotten so bad that he needs contributions for a newly formed legal-defense fund. "From a business perspective, the '04 cycle is a complete loss," he told backers in a recent e-mail. "This cycle you could have shot a cannon off in my office and not worried about hitting anyone.... In a very real way, we are all in this together; and, just as it is a mitzvah to help your neighbor in a time of need, there should be no shame in asking for aid when it is needed."

Live by the sword In the days of yore, when a newspaperman quit his job after a row with the boss, the poor ink-stained wretch would pack up his meager belongings and trudge silently into the night, most often never to be heard from again. Then came the Internet, making Everyman an instant cyber-publisher. Such an example presented itself last week in the form of James O. Goldsborough, 66, a left-leaning Union-Tribune columnist originally hired by Neil Morganwhen he was editor of the late San Diego Tribune. (Morgan was sacked by the U-T last spring.) For years, Goldsborough opined weekly about national and international politics, staying away from local controversies such as those surrounding the U-T's beloved Padres and Chargers stadiums and the bloated downtown convention center. "Although I never found anything particularly wrong with Qualcomm Stadium, until I visited PNC Park I had no idea how perfect a ballpark could be," he wrote in an October 2001 piece comparing the redevelopment wonders of Pittsburgh to the backwardness of San Diego. "The real contrast is in attitude. Even as Pittsburgh adjusts from its former life as America's steel capital, a combination of government, business, education, and philanthropy keeps it moving ahead. Unlike San Diego, Pittsburgh has always been governed by progressives and has the advantage of being financially well endowed.... A dentist told me this summer that half of San Diego's dentists are former Navy dentists. Like others raised elsewhere, they have loyalties elsewhere." Then last Wednesday word came via the website of Editor & Publisher magazine that Goldsborough had abruptly walked out of the newsroom after U-T publisher David Copley spiked one of his columns. According to E&P, Goldsborough said the offending column had talked about the large number of Jews who had voted for Kerry over Bush. "The publisher said it might be offensive. To whom? That's the question. The column is not offensive to Jews. Maybe to Bush," Goldsborough was quoted as saying. "I don't think I'm 'liberal,' but I'm certainly not pro-Bush, and I think this was payback." After bashing the paper a bit more, he added, "My own e-mail is five to one for my column. The newsroom prefers to run the [letters] that are critical, but that's not the community's view." The U-T waited until Friday to acknowledge the departure, urging readers to make do with its stable of syndicated liberal New York Times columnists while waiting for Goldsborough's promised replacement. Meanwhile, back in cyberspace, reaction was mixed. "I rarely get my news from the local media or television anymore," sniffed a contributor to the San Diego Urban newsgroup. "I get other media viewpoints from all over the nation and the world through Google News."

Out of court The campaign manager of county supervisor Ron Roberts's failed mayoral bid, Lisa Ross-Woolson, has cut a deal with the state's Fair Political Practices Commission to settle charges against her arising from 1997 city-council campaigns in San Marcos and Perris. Ross-Woolson "participated in a money-laundering scheme executed by her friend and employer, Colin Flaherty, by making five campaign contributions on behalf of Flaherty without disclosing to the recipients of the contributions that Flaherty was the true source of the contributions," according to the FPPC. She "then compounded her unlawful conduct by making statements to Commission investigators, denying that she had been reimbursed for her campaign contributions. Respondent had been engaged in a number of financial transactions with Flaherty during this time period. However, after re-examining the actual records regarding the reimbursements, Respondent recanted her prior statements, acknowledged that the reimbursements were for those campaign contributions, and cooperated in resolving this matter." According to the FPPC, Flaherty was laundering the money for Barratt American Homes. Under the settlement, set for approval at today's FPPC meeting in Sacramento, Ross-Woolson will pay a $7500 fine.

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