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— Although the Chargers' fortunes are sinking, stadium expansion costs continue to rise. The city council says it's trying to pinch pennies by using volunteers to paint the place, but expenses are rapidly mounting elsewhere. Handicapped advocates have sued the city, charging that the stadium upgrade was unfriendly to the disabled. Nobody's yet saying what the ultimate cost of fixing problems with seating and access might turn out to be, but informed sources say it could be millions. An early harbinger: last week the city manager added another $6000 to an earlier $15,000 contract with Dealy Development, the consultant retained to review as-yet-unpublicized reconstruction plans. Meanwhile, costs for the city's controversial sewer-treatment expansion program also continue to rise. Insiders say that the hikes are so steep, the city is running out of construction cash and may soon have to issue more debt. "The reason the public doesn't know about it is that the city council doesn't want them to know," says a city source. "They are deliberately keeping the major contracts and decisions to spend more money off the docket so they don't have to discuss it out in the open."

Pound of horse flesh

Indicted Del Mar Turf Club regular Donald Bickerstaff is reportedly selling off his racehorses in England, where the several hundred thousand dollars in proceeds can be stashed away from angry U.S. creditors. Bickerstaff, who until September operated an investment advisory business out of offices in Rancho Bernardo, stands accused of 40 federal felony counts in connection with a scheme to bilk 75 clients out of at least $15 million, which was then allegedly squandered on horses, fast cars, jewelry, and a lavishly appointed Poway estate. The San Francisco Chronicle reported last week that many of Bickerstaff's alleged victims were from the horse racing world. "He ripped me off on the horses, threatening my livelihood, and stole my life's savings," the paper quoted trainer Jeff Bonde as saying. "Now he'll be a good little prisoner for three to five years and then go back to England and have a little nest egg waiting for him. It's very frustrating." A pretrial conference for Bickerstaff is set for next week.

Friend of Jack

The late Morris Shenker, whom Life magazine once called "Lawyer to the Mob," died at age 82 in 1989 owing the irs $55 million and bequeathing to his heirs a tangle of real estate deals in Nevada and California. During the 1960s Shenker, who represented the likes of Jimmy Hoffa, was buddies with JFK, and once owned the Dunes Hotel in Las Vegas, was a partner with Irvin J. Kahn in the sprawling Peñasquitos development, which was backed by loans from the mob-infested Teamsters' pension fund. The pair also owned a 451-unit apartment complex in Point Loma, called Loma Palisades, along with millions of dollars' worth of other land holdings around the country. Shenker died bankrupt, but he didn't die penniless. After years of wrangling, his daughter Patty, who lives in Malibu, reportedly established control of what remained of the empire. Last week the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported her latest coup, the sale for $8 million of 750 acres on the south shore of the Lake of the Ozarks to developers Dale Perkinson and Thomas Biggs. "Morris bought the land in 1979, and it was Patty's Loma Palisades Inc. of San Diego that sold it," the paper quoted a real estate broker as saying.

Zap, you're dead

A San Diego researcher has been granted the first patent for an honest-to-goodness phaser, a weapon that fires electric current down the path of a laser beam, says the British magazine New Scientist. Inventor Hans Eric Herr devised the ray gun, which is powerful enough to stun or even cause a heart attack in its victims ... The trial of David Craig Pettit, the ex-San Diegan accused of shaking his three-month-old daughter to death, began last week in Moscow, Idaho, with his wife testifying he had called the child "a parasite" ... Forget trying to get a reservation at Yosemite. Everything is first-come, first-served until a replacement can be found for Destinet, that San Diego reservations agency fired by the Park Service for allegedly failing to turn over fees to the government.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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