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— Ex-Nevada high-roller Steve Francis, who has vowed to spend what it takes to get elected, is not your usual candidate for mayor. In addition to the million dollars or so of personal money he's expected to dump into the race, the health-care executive has been hitting up a raft of his former Rancho Santa Fe neighbors for campaign cash. They include developer Bob Buie and wife Pam; builder Harry Collins; contractor Dick Doan; and failed Home S&L magnate Kim Fletcher and wife Marilyn. Maybe the most unique set of Francis donors are affiliated with an San Diego-based outfit called WealthTV, which describes itself as "a new 24/7 high-definition cable television network devoted to taking viewers on a journey of how wealth is achieved, used and enjoyed."

Launched last year, the channel features such shows as Envy ("Shot around the globe, Envy is what you want -- hip, sexy, and funny. A magazine format featuring stars, cars, bars, destinations, and fast living."); The Best of Everything ("Enjoy the very best of everything as we journey to luxurious and exotic destinations around the globe with Marc Cummings, a modern day renaissance man."); Private Jets ("Few people ever experience what it is like to fly 'better' than first class. Viewers find out in WealthTV's exclusive series on private jets."); What to Wear ("Find out what the hottest fashions are as we visit with top designers from around the world."); WOW ("What do Beverly Hills, Aspen, La Jolla, & the Hamptons all have in common? All these communities offer a unique and highly sought after lifestyle."); and Let's Shop ("Host Cheryll Gillespie will take you around the world from the Chang Tea Shop in Shanghai to the finest boutiques on Rodeo Drive."). The channel is the brainchild of Robert Herring, Sr., its president, who over the past year has funded an eclectic set of political causes. Last October, WealthTV sent out a news release announcing it had coughed up $15,000 to pay for a Del Mar appearance by anti-Bush documentarian Michael Moore after Cal State San Marcos bumped him on political grounds. Then this March, Herring garnered national headlines by offering $1 million to the husband of comatose Floridian Terri Schiavo if he would turn custody over to her parents rather than pull her feeding tube. "I've been following the Terri Schiavo case for the last couple of years, watching it on TV," Herring, who made his own big money in electronic circuit boards, told reporters. "If you read what doctors say today, her brain cells are repairing and are in better condition now than they were."

Power to the eaters This just in from Fernando Suarez del Solar, the Escondido anti-war activist who set up a peace scholarship fund after his son was killed in Iraq while on duty with the Marines: Pacific Bakery, a donor to the cause, says Trader Joe's has dropped some of the company's products. Suarez urges backers to "Purchase the SPELT WHITE CINNAMON RAISIN BREAD as often as possible in the coming weeks at Trader Joe's...Tell them in your own words that you want to buy Pacific Bakery Kamut White Bread AND Spelt White Cinnamon Raisin Bread from Trader Joe's. Be sure to specify those two breads only." ... The son of John Moores, the downtown property czar and Padres owner, is himself a budding movie mogul, at least to judge from the buzz in the blogs. "I'm continuing to work on The Thief, a project produced by John Moores, Jr.," writes jazz singer Lorraine Feather. "Joe Church, of Lion King fame, is doing the orchestrations. Our first songs were recorded, with a 20-piece orchestra and a dozen ace Broadway singers, in March. The next round is coming up in late June." Like his formerly Democratic dad, 41-year-old Moores, Jr., is a faithful giver to the cause of GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Evade and conquer The Coalition to Keep San Diego Working, the shadowy political committee that sent out thousands of hit pieces against city councilwoman Donna Frye in the waning hours of last year's mayoral race without disclosing who paid for them, has taken a new tack. According to filings with the Federal Elections Commission, the group, which calls itself KEEP PAC, has morphed into a so-called 527 committee, which under federal law can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns as long as it doesn't directly coordinate with candidates. Before filing with the feds, the committee was registered with California's Secretary of State. The group's purpose, according to its federal filing, dated March 31, is "to contribute to candidates and measures that support employment opportunities."...Trustees at the San Diego Unified School district have tossed out yet another pet project of departed superintendent Alan Bersin. The "Public Education Leadership Project" involved junkets by members of Bersin's inner circle back to his alma mater Harvard, at an annual cost of $30,000. Bersin had promised to pay for the trips from his so-called superintendent's fund, a cash trove donated by unnamed backers, but never turned over the money.

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