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— How much is it costing to convince the federal Securities and Exchange Commission that it's safe for investors to buy all the debt the San Diego City Council wants to encumber taxpayers with? Plenty, according to billing records obtained from city hall regarding the services of Boston lawyer Stanley Keller, who is advising the council on compliance with conditions the SEC laid down in a November 2006 settlement following its investigation of the City's fraudulent disclosure practices. The council earmarked $4 million to retain Keller and associates, a sizable chunk of which, the expense reports show, has been spent on travel, food, and incidentals.

"Lunch at Bonjour," "Hotel stay for San Diego," "Dinner at Dobson's," "Parking at Logan Airport," "Limo Cab fare to hotel in San Diego" are among the expenses listed in a $809.73 entry for January 21 of this year. Total costs in January were $70,351.33. On February 7, the report attributed $1039.60 to "Travel & Related Expenses for Walter St. Onge's airfare ticket." On February 13, a $935.72 expenditure by St. Onge, one of Keller's legal associates, included "Dinner with Stan Keller," "Breakfast with Stan Keller and Jay Goldstone," and "Various tips throughout the trip." Grand total in February: $63,608.23.

On March 20, St. Onge was reimbursed $880.41 for such items as "Meals Coffee; Meals Dinner; Hotel the Westgate Hotel."

Of course, there was also some work involved. For instance, on April 25, it took 3.3 hours for Keller to "Prepare work plan and budget; prepare Audit Committee guidance; review City Attorney Report on internal controls," and have "discussions regarding Interim Report number15." At Keller's hourly rate of $700, that session cost $2310. At the end of a hard day, it was back to an unidentified hotel for St. Onge. "Dinner-$31.49; pink lemonade-$2.90" were among costs included in a $1295.93 expenditure for St. Onge, dated April 25. The total for April was $63,364.22.

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