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— At least one rich local Democrat won't be climbing on John Kerry's bandwagon anytime soon. Developer, ex-state horseracing boardmember, and former port commissioner Harvey Furgatch, who lives in a house on the beach in Del Mar, says he's backing Ralph Nader and has already contributed $2000. "Nader's the only one who's talking about the issues that matter to the average American," says Furgatch, who was campaign chairman of Democratic governor Jerry Brown's 1980 presidential bid and a founding member of the San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union back in the mid-1950s. In 1987, he joined in the successful fight against a Del Mar ballot measure that would have banned smoking on the beach and other outdoor areas. A year later, Furgatch filed a complaint against Pat Robertson, alleging that the conservative television evangelist had failed to file timely campaign-disclosure statements for his presidential bid. Robertson ended up paying a $25,000 fine. In recent years, he's sued the Port of San Diego over what he alleges is a gift of public funds being used to subsidize the Padres' downtown baseball stadium.

Furgatch rejects the notion that a vote for Nader is a vote to help reelect George W. Bush. "I never bought the argument that Nader cost Gore the election last time. Al Gore couldn't even carry his own state. It had nothing to do with Nader. The Democrats are irrelevant. Both parties take money from the same people, and the big corporations are more powerful than ever. The Democrats and Republicans, in cooperation with the press, want very little dissent. They avoid talking about the war, they tippy-toe around all of the many constitutional issues that have been raised. They don't talk about health insurance either. That's why Nader should have a voice, so he can go on talking about things that are important. Kerry is not doing that. It's not like I haven't given a lot of thought to it."

Let them drink wine Assemblywoman Christine Kehoe, San Diego city councilwoman Toni Atkins, and the three members of the Palm Springs City Council who comprise its gay majority are staging a lavish wine and cheese reception tomorrow for the San Diego Democratic Club and the National Stonewall Democrats at the Balboa Park Club. The event is sponsored by the Villa Resort of Palm Springs and Wine Lover San Diego ... Another event mixing wine and politics is set for this Saturday, when UCSD and the San Diego Press Club (with an assist from "The San Diego Gastronomically Correct Chefs," led by Marine Room Executive Chef Bernard Guillas) honor Neil Morgan, "our region's favorite journalist." Vino will be poured by "the region's finest wineries," including Orfila, a vintner oft-praised by Morgan back when he still had his Union-Tribune column. ("It's no longer a retiree's toy: 15,000 cases a year, 34 employees, 510 medals since 1994, phone sales across the United States. Orfila's big winners: San Giovese, Shiraz, and Merlot.") Bazaar del Mundo's Diane Powers, another old Morgan friend ("Her 12 shops and four restaurants are a dazzle of color, folk art, and Hispanic goods amid a cluster of tidy restorations..."), is furnishing a mariachi band. Other tunes will be supplied by ex-Morgan writing assistant Tom Blair, now San Diego magazine editor, "and the Society Beat Band." The tab is $45 for those who buy tickets early, $60 at the door. Nowhere in the promotional materials is there mention of the U-T or the circumstances of Morgan's firing this spring, after which was circulated a six-page statement outlining the rise of U-T publisher Helen Copley from humble origins, ostensibly under Morgan's personal tutelage ... The U-T is using its news racks on city streets to plug Jack Daniel's and Friday concerts the whiskey distiller is promoting at the Del Mar track, in apparent violation of city sign laws.

No strong mayors Hillcrest's Mel Shapiro isn't waiting for fall. He's already set up an official campaign-finance committee to defeat Mayor Dick Murphy's strong-mayor ballot measure in November and made the first $1000 contribution himself ... More fuel for the rumors that Alan Bersin may soon be on the way out: several dozen framed photographs featuring portraits of the San Diego Unified School District chief with smiling students at various schools were removed with no explanation from the second-floor hallway outside Bersin's office at district headquarters ... Jeff Lee, onetime candidate for San Diego school board who decided to become a chef, has received an internship in the kitchens of Carlsbad's Four Seasons Aviara resort. His wife Mitz is now running for school board against Miyo Reff ... Ex-League of Women Voters president and onetime state assembly candidate Kathleen McIntosh has settled some unpleasantness with the San Diego Ethics Commission. In a stipulation last month, McIntosh, a lawyer and "self-employed lobbyist," acknowledged that earlier this year she filed her lobbyist disclosure statement 50 days late. "This is not the first time that Respondent has failed to timely file a quarterly disclosure report. Respondent was 19 days late filing her disclosure report for the second quarter of 2003," according to the document. She agreed to pay a $500 fine. Records show McIntosh has one client, the Burglar & Fire Alarm Association.

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