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— As the race for San Diego city attorney heats up, termed-out incumbent Casey Gwinn has gone to bat for his protégé Leslie Devaney, who is running against civilian attorney Mike Aguirre. Gwinn has been bashing Aguirre and putting an upbeat spin on his own eight years in office. But Gwinn's tenure has been fraught with controversies, especially over whether he's bungled some expensive cases, including the Roque De La Fuente Otay Mesa inverse condemnation trial -- which resulted in a multimillion judgment against the city -- and those costly sports-subsidy deals for the Padres and the Chargers. One rap against Gwinn is that he's lazy and allows his staff to put in the short hours he does, resulting in lots of bad lawyering. The city attorney has denied the charges. Now a recent book, called America's Greatest Places to Work with a Law Degree, intended to praise Gwinn, seems sure to reinforce those doubts about his stewardship. Written by Kimm Alayne Walton, the chapter on San Diego begins by saying, "The excitement in the office comes from the very top; the City Attorney himself is the dynamic and highly respected Casey Gwinn..." Walton goes on to extol the congenial hours and other generous perquisites Gwinn offers his lawyers. "I had heard that working for the government had many benefits but did not look into it immediately out of law school," says one of the many anonymous testimonials cited in the book. "The expectation was to be at the firm all the time -- especially late at night -- where you could be seen working. This expectation made it difficult to parent a young child." Another says, "I no longer have billable hours. I still work an extraordinary amount of hours, but I do not have to keep track of every .6 hours of work that I do. More importantly, I can leave at 5:00 p.m. to pick up my son, without fearing that I will not be seen working at the office into the late hours. The office trusts that whatever work I have, I'll get it done." Another lawyer blessed Gwinn for relieving them of the burden of discovery, the exhaustive fact-finding about legal opponents, crucial to winning big civil cases. "I was looking for another job and heard about an immediate opening at the City Attorney's Office. I applied and within a week I was hired. The move from private practice to public law was a blessing. I was no longer stuck in petty discovery wars that seemed to last for years." Recounted another: "The first year I worked here, the new attorneys formed the '5:01 Club.' Every Friday at 5:01 we went downstairs to the local pub and socialized. Our bosses were always invited and often joined us." Added another, "I had to leave at 5:05 to catch the 5:20 trolley. I felt bad, at first, because sometimes our meetings at work ran past 5:00 p.m. I went into my boss's office and let him know my situation. He assured me that it was no problem, and whenever I needed to leave early it was fine." And another. "If you want a life, go government! At 11:00 p.m., after I have been home for four hours, eaten dinner, and gone to a movie with my husband, I call my friend Susan. Susan works in a private firm. She is still in the office." The deputy city attorney added that the money wasn't so bad either. "We just bought a home in our first year of marriage. We are able to make the loan payments with our government salaries -- as well as take care of the mortgage... The loan companies love government workers and they will work with you!"

La Jolla crime watch Coupon clippers of La Jolla, beware. A memo, dated June 25, from Scott Wilson, managing director of the La Jolla branch office of stockbroker Merrill Lynch, gave clients the bad news. "The protection and security of our clients' information is the cornerstone of our business. It is therefore with regret that we wish to inform you that there was a break-in the weekend of June 19 and 20 at the La Jolla Branch U.S. Post Office, which is where our office maintains a mailbox. The Police and the U.S. Postal Service are currently investigating this event. Some incoming client letters may have been taken; however, we do not know which clients, if any, may have been impacted by this event. In order to determine which, if any, clients may be affected, we thought it was necessary to send this letter to all clients who we believe may have sent us any mail at this post office during certain dates. Please note that this event did not occur at a Merrill Lynch office, but rather occurred at a U.S. Post Office location." ... Yet another school-bus accident involved a San Diego Unified bus going to Alcott Elementary via Highway 52 last Thursday. "A truck made contact with the bus and the truck rolled over on the freeway." No injuries to the two students on the bus or the driver were reported ... With library funding slashed to the bone, the Friends of the San Diego Public Library have mailed out a letter with a new appeal. "Your gift of $25, $50, $100, or whatever you can afford will make a big difference for the library right now as we face the likelihood of a significantly reduced book and materials budget for the upcoming year."... Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen's $100 million yacht, Tatoosh, was tied up last week at the Broadway Pier. Interior photos are under wraps, but it's said to feature a lobster tank and an on-deck swimming pool.

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