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— Down in National City, Mayor Nick Inzunza, who recently announced he's running for the 79th District state assembly seat being vacated by Juan Vargas, has ramped up his campaign with an anti-fat theme. "Mayor Inzunza helps National City residents reclaim Las Palmas Park and choose fruits and vegetables," says a news release inviting local media to attend the city-backed "Reclaiming Las Palmas Park Nutrition Fair" last Friday. In addition to a speech by Inzunza about cracking down on street crime, gangs, and empty calories, "visuals" at the event were to feature "children and adults coconut-bowling, melon weight-lifting and having fun learning about fruits and vegetables." The release went on to assert that "with over fifty percent of Latinos in California overweight, there must be something done to create communities that are safe for walking."

Inzunza is the brother of ex-San Diego city councilman Ralph Inzunza , convicted in July's Cheetahs trial and facing sentencing in November. According to campaign finance documents filed in August, Ralph continued to collect thousands of dollars from his backers in the months prior to the verdict. The money was used to pay his lawyer, Michael Pancer. Donors included ex-Dick Murphy aide John Kern, who gave $250 on May 2; California State University trustees board chairman and La Jolla financier Murray Galinson, April 5, $250; Juan Vargas chief of staff Colin Rice, May 2, $250; SDG&E vice president Buz Schott, April 27, $250; Sempra government affairs chief W. Mark Nelson, June 9, $250; and PR man and lobbyist Al Ziegaus, May 16, $250. Codefendant Michael Zucchet also collected his share of cash from the likes of lawyer Bob Ottilie, who successfully fended off Donna Frye's challenge to Dick Murphy's November mayoral victory, and from former bail bondsman Marco LiMandri, now a business district consultant.

Bloodied Councilwoman Donna Frye has sent a query to city manager Lamont Ewell and city attorney Michael Aguirre requesting more information about the city's role in the testing of PolyHeme, that controversial artificial blood substitute covered on these pages in July. "Please include in the report a history of the city's involvement in this clinical trial, the reasoning behind the city's involvement in the study, whether the city is actively participating in any other such trials with non-consenting trauma patients, and an analysis by the City Attorney's Office of the legal ramifications of such an arrangement between a city agency and a university that has signed a confidentially agreement with a private company." So far, according to Frye aide John Lamb, no response to the August 18 memo has been forthcoming. ... Downtown may be in the midst of a condo-construction boom, and beer-swilling baseball fans may still swarm in the Gaslamp Quarter, but is the Horton Plaza shopping mall -- the onetime crown jewel of the city's redevelopment miracle -- about to tarnish in its 20th-anniversary year? No way, says Roger Brazil, regional marketing manager for Westfield, the mall's owner. But a survey conducted recently among mall customers has tongues wagging. The most prominent question on the two-page survey form: "Would you still shop at Horton Plaza if there were no Nordstrom department store here?" Brazil says the survey was just asking "standard questions" about customer service and denied that plans were afoot for Nordstrom to pull out of the mall. But he said he didn't know when the store's lease was set to expire.

Hard sell San Diego is in dire financial straits, so perhaps it's not surprising that officials are casting about for ways to raise cash. One of the more interesting examples is a marketing deal the city has cut with Cardiac Science, maker of automated external defibrillators, devices used to jump-start hearts that have gone into arrest. "The current Marketing Partnership Agreement with Cardiac Science is for a term of one year with four, one-year renewal options," says a report from the city manager dated July 19. "Under the Agreement, Cardiac Science will pay the City an annual marketing rights fee and an incremental marketing fee based upon the sale of AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) in San Diego County." The report adds that "Cardiac Science will [also] pay the City $95,000 in year two of this Agreement and in any subsequent annual extensions to this Agreement to fully fund a Program Coordinator and fund one-half the cost of a clerical position for San Diego Project Heart Beat."

It hasn't taken long for the city to get its sales act into gear. A "media advisory" dispatched by the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's PR man last week announced that the city was putting on a media event "honoring volunteers of 9/11 and now those helping with Hurricane Katrina and the effort of Ultra Star Cinemas to help save lives in our community." The release went on to say that Ultra Star, which runs the movie house in Mission Valley's Hazard Center, was installing Cardiac Science defibrillators "in all their theatres." Heart Beat coordinator Maureen O'Connor (no relation to the ex-mayor) says that all funds raised from the Cardiac Science deal are used to offset costs of the city's defibrillator program, which rents offices from the Firefighters Union, Local 145. She added that she could not say how much that lease was worth.

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