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— President George W. Bush has his fat cat Texas "Rangers," who have corralled $250,000 or more each for the Bush cause. Now presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry can claim 171 "Patriots," each of whom has raised at least $100,000 for the Democratic National Committee. Four San Diegans are among them: Former congresswoman and Gray Davis honcho Lynn Schenk; her brother's law partner, David Casey; along with friends Stephen McIntee and Robert Meinzer. In addition, attorney Mike Thorsnes is listed as one of 17 "Kerry Victory 2004 Trustees" who each have raised $250,000 for the committee ... Other big Kerry fans from San Diego who have given at least $1000 include Schenk's husband, law professor C. Hugh Friedman; UCSD neurosurgeon Dr. John Alksne; UCSD "cosmochemist" James Arnold; Qualcomm government-relations man William Bold and his wife; Scripps Institution of Oceanography researcher David Cutchin; Metro Audi owner Jonathan Halberg; ex-Susan Golding aide Maryanne Pintar; drug entrepreneur Ivor Royston; Price Club founder Sol Price; political consultant Bill Wachob; Scripps newspaper heiress Ellen Revelle; attorney Paul Peterson; UCSD protein chemist James McCammon; and classical pianist Aleck Karis ... Insiders say that La Jolla-based political consultant and Chargers lobbyist Mark Fabiani hasn't been seen as much lately at the dragged-out negotiations between the city and the Chargers over that deal to eliminate the ticket guarantee in exchange for a posh new taxpayer-subsidized Mission Valley stadium project. But he's definitely not out of the political action. Federal campaign filings show Fabiani was paid $78,500 this spring by the Democratic presidential primary campaign of ex-general Wesley Clark. Then there's the "war room" that the former Clinton White House staffer is reportedly running for director Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 hit on George W. Bush. Fabiani also labors for Republicans. Besides Alex Spanos, Fabiani has been working on behalf of publishing magnate Rupert Murdoch's effort to beat down a new TV-rating system run by Nielsen Media Research. Murdoch is mad about Nielsen's electronic "people meter" system because it shows that his Fox TV network is getting lower ratings than those measured by previously used Nielsen diaries.

Graduation daze This Wednesday's scheduled commencement ceremony at La Jolla's Preuss School is expected to be a warm and fuzzy reunion for San Diego Unified School District superintendent Alan Bersin and University of California president Robert Dynes, the former UCSD chancellor. But they weren't always such chums. The charter high school, sponsored by the university, is a model of academic achievement and is billed as a way to get more of its poor and ethnic students into fancy colleges. To achieve its mission, Preuss must bus the majority of its students from ghettos south of Interstate 8. Two years ago last month, Bersin moved to cut district money for the buses, which drew a stinging letter to Bersin from Dynes, who argued that slashing the funds would "violate not only the spirit but the letter of the partnership struck between UCSD and the District" and "put in jeopardy the viability of the entire program." In closing, he concluded, "We believe that the District cannot break trust with its past commitment to Preuss School students living south of Interstate 8 on that basis. I urge you to reconsider what we believe to be a direct breach of the District's commitments to UCSD." Dynes lost that argument, and the school had to find its own bus contractor. Last month, one of the buses turned over on the I-5 as it neared Clairemont on its way to school in the morning; 36 of 41 students aboard were taken to the hospital. The highway patrol says it is still preparing a report of its investigation.

Jinxed The draft of Mayor Dick Murphy's controversial strong-mayor government charter amendment has at least one curious feature. A numbered list of the mayor's "additional rights, powers, and duties" jumps from 12 to 14, omitting the unlucky number 13 ... City councilman Michael Zucchet is reported to be holding weekly Friday meetings of an ad hoc "advisory committee" to discuss the future of the Sports Arena. Some local residents fear that the sessions, held at 7:30 in the morning in the city's small community room at 3740 Sports Arena Boulevard, are a prelude to tearing down the venerable venue and building high-density condos, meanwhile, clearing the way for an expensive new downtown arena favored by wealthy area sports developers and Zucchet backers ... Neighbors say a for-sale sign has gone up in front of school superintendent Bersin's two-story Spanish-style home on Point Loma. An open house was held on Sunday. One local who went in to look around reports she saw a framed photo of Bersin beside his old friend ex-president Bill Clinton on the wall. The house is listed at $1,350,000.

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