The year 2003 was a busy news year. But more than a few interesting developments somehow eluded that bastion of the local establishment, the Union-Tribune:

The Arts San Diego Symphony president and CEO Douglas Gerhart, credited by many with pulling the once-bankrupt organization from the jaws of financial oblivion, got into hot water with his wife of 17 years. In a divorce action filed in February, Stacey Gerhart declared, "I do not believe that it would be in the best interests of our children for Doug and me to continue to reside together in the family residence... Doug has an anger-management problem and can often be intimidating and verbally abusive... If he is angry, he sometimes misdirects his anger and is physically abusive to our daughter's dog." Gerhart quit his job and left town in June, less than a month after the story broke.Though he wanted to be head of the Pittsburgh Symphony, Gerhart later wound up in charge of the orchestra in Sioux City, Iowa.

Politics After a spate of rumors about the absence of Union-Tribune editor Karin Winner from the newsroom during the big fires, Editor & Publisher reported that Winner had "hitched a ride with a Mexican mail truck" back from a vacation in Tecate." That provoked in-house U-T talk about Winner's purportedly leaving her car with another female U-T editor, who was staying with her at Tecate's Rancho La Puerta fat farm. ... Ex-admiral Ronne Froman, a highly touted Bersin aide, mysteriously quit her job in April and went to work for the Red Cross after collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary and bonuses. ...The president's office at the University of California reported that attorney Charles La Bella is charging the university $324 an hour for his services as "liaison" to the federal government's investigation into fraudulent UC management of the Los Alamos National Lab. La Bella has worked for Padres owner and UC regent John Moores and his bankrupt Peregrine Systems. ... Some of the honorary host committee listed on the invitation to San Diego city councilman Scott Peters's summer fundraiser raised eyebrows. They included fellow councilmen Michael Zucchet and Ralph Inzunza, prime subjects of the federal investigation of Cheetahs strip-club owner Mike Galardi. Councilmembers Toni Atkins and Jim Madaffer, both called to testify before a grand jury hearing evidence in the case, were also listed as honorary hosts, along with Mayor Dick Murphy. ... Murphy, who has nominated himself the ethics mayor, jumped out of and then back into his race for reelection -- maybe because he has a family to support. According to summer campaign filings, Murphy's daughter Kelly received at least $5000 in "fundraising" fees from Murphy's campaign committee. ... In his latest personal-disclosure filing, city councilman Charles Lewis reported getting a free meal worth $110 in March from the Gaslamp's Lou and Mickey's bar and eatery. Explained Lewis in his July filing, "Received letter from restaurant to try out their new place for dinner."... Democratic assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, running for state senate, picked up $1000 from La Jolla's Norm Blachford, the wealthy Canadian inventor who played sugar daddy to Hillcrest's infamous Andrew Cunanan, killer of fashion mogul Gianni Versace. ... Ex-Pete Wilson campaign chief George Gorton and Wilson honcho Bob White both had key roles in the Schwarzenegger for Governor campaign. Gorton billed the campaign for $32,500. ... Longtime Wilson operative Marty Wilson (no relation), who now lives in a Sacramento suburb, submitted a bill for $25,000 in August. White, known as a dandy-dressing European shoe hound during Wilson's mayoral days here, has another headquarters, this one at his own $750,000 second-home hideaway purchased last year in ritzy Palm Desert. ... Mitz Lee, wife of Jeff Lee, who lost his school-board bid to Katherine Nakamura, is running for an open seat in district A, which was redrawn by allies of Superintendent Alan Bersin to evict incumbent Frances O'Neill Zimmerman. (After his defeat, Jeff Lee gave up politics and is now enrolled in professional culinary classes at Grossmont College, where he has a scholarship from a national chefs' organization.)

Crime and Criminals Ex-con Mark Ruzumna turned up dead in his Sorrento Valley condo before he could testify before the federal grand jury investigating the Cheetahs scandal. His roommate, Stuart Weingarden, told the coroner that he had "returned to the condo at approximately 20:30, 8-21-03 and found Ruzumna seated on the living room couch slumped forward into a coffee table and his face was resting on a hamburger. Weingarden claims he spoke to Ruzumna and that he received a response from Ruzumna. Weingarden then went to bed for the evening, and when he awoke the next morning encountered Ruzumna in the same position as the previous evening." ... Federal court judge Marilyn Huff okayed wiretaps believed related to the Cheetahs case that picked up 26,154 "intercepts," involving conversations of 1393 people, with 1227 of the intercepts said to be "incriminating." Total cost of the operation was $577,575. ... After a citizen's complaint, National City mayor Nick Inzunza, brother of indicted San Diego city councilman Ralph Inzunza, amended his statement of economic interest to reveal a raft of low-income multifamily units he and wife Olga own within his brother's council district in the city of San Diego.

-- Matt Potter

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