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— Over the past two years, Poway contractor Douglas Barnhart, along with 13 relatives and employees, pumped $2745 into city councilwoman Barbara Warden's campaign war chest. During the same period, the Barnhart group gave a total of $2750 more to Warden's city council colleagues and city attorney Casey Gwinn, adding up to one of the largest group donations to city hall politicos. Warden says the Barnhart money came to her because many Barnhart employees live in her district. Now comes word that earlier this month, only weeks after a judge ruled against putting the Chargers contract on the ballot, Barnhart and two associates were quietly awarded a no-bid, $125,000 city contract to provide "schematic drawings explaining how the Cantilevered Seating" at newly christened Qualcomm Stadium "will operate." Cynics smell a rat, but city engineer Frank Belock insists Barnhart and two subcontractors, the architectural firm of Wheeler, Wimer, Blackman and the Latino Builders Association, actually came up with the concept for cantilevered seats back in 1995 when they were bidding for the stadium expansion contract. Belock says that after the Barnhart group lost out to the Nielsen-Dillingham construction company, the city decided to use the Barnhart seating scheme anyway, which is supposed to add 2100 additional seats above the east end of the field. Explaining the March 5 contract, executed by assistant city manager Bruce Herring and approved by Gwinn's office, Belock says, "the city needed to pay for their idea." Belock says the additional seats have already been figured into the 70,000 seat total and won't lead to cost overruns. As part of his all-cash deal with city hall, Barnhart and associates waived any future right to sue.

Musical chairs

Ex-congressman Clair Burgener's recent switch from University of California regent to member of the state's Medical Quality Assurance board means he'll make $75,600; regents are uncompensated. The move, engineered by Governor Pete Wilson, recalls the days of Jerry Brown, who put then-financier and Democratic crony Dick Silberman on the medical quality board. But in those days picking up the tab for the political plum was a little cheaper for taxpayers. Silberman, now an ex-con, only got $37,000 a year before he was forced to resign in 1989 ... Tom Goodman has popped up as a candidate to head the public schools of Omaha, Nebraska. In a glowing write-up in Omaha's World Herald, the ex-head of San Diego's unified school district claimed credit for a mentoring program that provides "the individual attention that motivates students to excel. The program now is used nationally," he said. No mention of Goodman's forced exit here in 1981 after it was discovered the district was inflating test scores by coaching minority students to take the test.

All the news that fits

The Wall Street Journal reports that La Jolla investor David Mages has installed the latest in yuppie toys in his garage: his very own $18,000 personal car wash, where he cares for two red Ferraris, a Jaguar, and a Miata. "I call it my automotive bidet," Mages told the paper. "You wouldn't go outside with dirty underwear, would you?" ... The Journal also reports that Del Mar resident Howard Cohen has been forced by lawyers for the New York Times to change the name of his web site, which parodied the paper. It used to be called "The New Times York." After Cohen got a nasty letter accusing him of "willful trademark infringement and unfair competition," he changed the name to "The Street Wall Journal."

It's the water

An Israeli firm is boasting that its sea water filtering system is cleaning up a dangerous situation at Sea World. Dror Kfir, marketing manager for Kibbutz Dorot-based Dorot Command and Control Sluices, told an Israeli business magazine that the company's contract to install plastic sluices for the park is worth $500,000. "Sea World management was faced with a serious problem of emissions of toxic poisons from the old metal filtering systems used at the site," according to the account. "The emissions were harmful to the whales, dolphins, and other sea creatures at Sea World." The company expects to get four additional contracts at the park.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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