— Employees of the San Diego State University Foundation -- which is using the city's help to develop thousands of new residential units and a mammoth shopping area around the SDSU campus and has been criticized by some neighbors for using steamroller tactics at city hall -- have been giving mightily to the reelection bid of San Diego mayor Dick Murphy. In just one day alone, September 7, seven foundation staffers gave a total of $1750 to what now appears to be shaping up as an increasingly tough campaign for the embattled mayor. Givers include foundation chief executive officer Frea Sladek, chief financial officer Leslie Levinson, chief operating officer Steven Bloom, director of public relations Theresa Nakata, facilities manager Louis Haberkern, sponsored research services chief W. Timothy Hushen, project manager James Darish, and facilities development design head Norma Clark. The most generous giver of the group was none other than Fred Pierce IV, who has contributed a total of $500. In addition to his paid duties as the foundation's real estate development manager, Pierce is the controversial chairman of the city's troubled pension fund, now reportedly the subject of a wide-ranging investigation by the federal government. Under city law, the foundation workers must use their own money for the Murphy contributions; it would be illegal for their employer to later reimburse them. Meantime, Murphy's campaign has also picked up $500 from Jeremy M. Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Delaware North, whose father Lou started Delaware North with two of his brothers back in 1915 and endured years of accusations that the firm had mob ties. Delaware North, a big New York outfit that runs the lucrative (some say overpriced and unsavory) food concession at the city-owned downtown baseball stadium, also made local headlines by its takeover of Old Town's Bazaar del Mundo from its creator, hometown girl Diane Powers, who lost her state lease in the waning days of the administration of Democratic governor Gray Davis.

Rich and infamous Ex-Pete Wilson chieftain Bob White, the San Diego State grad now said to be a close advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, is making lots of dough as an unregistered Sacramento lobbyist. Last week the San Francisco Chronicle reported that White's firm, California Strategies, picked up a big contract from Omaha-based Kiewit Pacific, which wants a $1 billion-plus state contract to build the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland ... The downtown condo boom roars on, at least to judge by media hype. But there are signs that the party may soon be nearing an end. One small hint of trouble came last week, when the condo association at Park View, the massive highrise across the street from the old police station on Market Street, tacked up a foreclosure notice on the gate of a posh three-story street-side unit, demanding $12,000 in back condo fees from the owner ... The Lincoln Club, a group of wealthy Republicans, has been pouring money into the campaign to convince San Diego voters that they need a so-called "strong mayor." So far the club has spent $10,000 -- half going to the "Citizens for Strong Mayor Reform" and the other half being paid to the "Better Government Association," identified as "campaign consultants." Another $17,000 was spent on a July poll taken by Virginia-based Tarrance Group. Picking up the tab in part has been Science Applications International (SAIC), the La Jolla government contractor, which kicked in $10,000 on August 27, and New York-based Porter Novelli, the lobbying outfit, which gave $1000.

School cash Some familiar names are opening their checkbooks in support of candidates for the board of the San Diego Unified School District. Alliance Pharmaceutical titan Duane Roth is backing Miyo Reff, as is Matthew Spathas, the downtown real estate man whose company, Sentre Partners, has been involved in deals near the ill-fated school district food services site on Kearny Mesa. The district land, purchased for about $20 million in 2000, is currently listed for sale with C.B. Ellis. Reff has also been endorsed by the downtown chamber of commerce, which seeks a wider role for business in the district. Meanwhile, over in the county board of education race, San Diego superintendent of schools Alan Bersin gave $250 to Bob Watkins, the consultant who in 2002 was paid $10,000 by the district to draft a new contract for Bersin.

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