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— As John Kerry and George W. Bush conduct campaign warfare over their respective service records and how they are portrayed by those so-called Section 527 political action committees, monied forces on both sides show no signs of calling a truce. Chargers owner Alex Spanos got his share of ink when he pledged $5 million to the "Progress for America Voter Fund," a GOP-leaning group that has vowed to spend at least $75 million on a series of Kerry hits. Less noticed has been San Diego's own Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, the downtown law firm headed by Rancho Santa Fe's Bill Lerach. At last report, the San Diego branch of the firm, which specializes in suing corporate managers over alleged securities violations, has given a total of $850,000 to a 527 outfit called the "Coalition to Defend the American Dream." This summer the New York Sun reported that the committee, which is heavily backed by labor unions as well as plaintiffs' lawyers, is planning to dump millions of dollars into radio spots in battleground states bashing the Bush administration's unemployment record. In April, the Lerach firm, which split from its New York branch in May, also gave $25,000 to Focus South Dakota, Inc., whose mission is to help save the seat of embattled Democratic senate minority leader Tom Daschle. Another liberal 527 group drawing big local money is the "ACT Now PAC," which has so far raised $26 million to "support candidates and committees at the national, state, and local levels and to support national voter mobilization efforts." The biggest donor is George Soros, the Greek-born commodities magnate and Bush critic. La Jolla developer Sol Price kicked in $100,000, and Del Mar real estate investor and civic activist David Winkler gave $20,000. San Diego's Lawrence Hess, another real estate investor, contributed $35,000.

Metrosexuals As the November election approaches, the California League of Women Voters has posted an online guide to candidates on its SmartVoter.org website. Mayor Dick Murphy is well represented with his own page on the site, complete with beaming photo. Another Murphy page features endorsements, including those from ex-mayor and senator Pete Wilson; indicted city councilmembers Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet; the late indicted councilman Charles Lewis; a group of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transexuals; the Associated General Contractors; county Republicans; and a cast of hundreds more, many of them city-hall lobbyists. On yet another page, Murphy claims credit for such achievements as "eliminating the Chargers ticket guarantee" and reducing sewage spills. The website explains that the laudatory material was furnished by the mayor and is not vouched for by the League of Women Voters. Murphy's rival, Ron Roberts, apparently didn't bother to send anything in at all. His short one-line listing, sans even a photo, simply says "Occupation: County Supervisor" ... It's back to school at local universities, and for those students who aren't careful, it's also a return to sexually transmitted diseases. In response to a recent public-records act request, UCSD reported that cases of human papilloma virus -- otherwise known as genital warts -- diagnosed at its student health clinic have been up two years in a row: 79 in fiscal year 2002, 81 in fiscal '03, and 89 in '04. Diagnoses in other categories have been both up and down. There were 24 chlamydia cases in '02, 38 in '03, and 21 in '04. In '02, 6 cases of gonorrhea were reported; in '03, there were 9 cases, and in '04 just 4. The number of students discovered by the clinic to be suffering from herpes simplex virus was 80 in '02, 84 in '03, and down to 66 in '04. No syphilis was reported ... Sentencing of Cheetahs strip club owner Mike Galardi, who pleaded guilty in that city council bribery case, has been continued a month, from December 15 to January 10.

Kerry favors San Diego's city ethics commission conducted its annual random drawing to determine which two city councilmembers would face an audit of their campaign funds, and -- wouldn't you know it? -- Councilman Ralph Inzunza, already facing trial in the Cheetahs bribery case, was picked. Just one problem: the FBI has already made off with his campaign filing material, so the city review will reportedly have to await its return. Councilwoman Donna Frye drew the other short straw. The audit found that her 2002 reelection committee had violated the law by accepting five contributions over the $250 limit and five contributions from corporations or law partnerships. Only individuals may give under city law. Frye's people maintained those were only technical violations, according to the audit. ... La Jollan Lynn Schenk -- who has been both a congresswoman and chief of staff to former governor Gray Davis -- and Midge Costanza -- onetime assistant to president Jimmy Carter -- are co-chairs of the new California Women for Kerry.

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