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What's the worst thing an opponent can say about an Idaho politician? That he's from San Diego. Such is the plight of Dirk Kempthorne, GOP nominee for governor. During a candidate's debate, one of Kempthorne's would-be Democratic rivals called him "a slick from San Diego." Actually, his friends say, Kempthorne is an okay guy. He was only born in San Diego ... Developer Doug Manchester, who owns the bayfront Hyatt Regency and Marriott hotels downtown and funneled at least $350,000 into June's successful pro-convention center campaign, also spends much of his time in Idaho. Among other holdings, including an enormous lakefront mansion, Manchester owns the famous Shore Lodge in McCall. And just like his plans to expand the Hyatt and Marriott in San Diego, he wants to enlarge the Shore Lodge to the tune of $5 million. Manchester, who regularly plays host at the hotel to his friend, nbc sportscaster Dick Engberg, is seeking to install a 43-foot-tall peaked roof on the building, tack on a 94-foot-tall clock tower to house an elevator, and build a promenade deck overlooking the Payette Lake waterfront. The only problem is that the expansion would exceed McCall's 35-foot-height limit, and restive residents are organizing a campaign against it -- shades of the wealthy downtown San Diego denizens who opposed Manchester's expansion of the Hyatt because it blocked their views.

Non-ring of truth award

Union-Tribune columnist Diane Bell usually gives prominent play to the doings of one-time America's Cup yachtsman Bill Koch. Items during the past 12 months have included such juicy tidbits as "Former America's Cup champion William I. Koch entertained friends, including Netscape co-founder Jim Clark, in a Q sky box" and "Luminaries in the audience included Mike Wallace, Walter Cronkite, Tommy Tune, film director Robert Altman, former America's Cup winner Bill Koch," and "'92 America's Cup winner Bill Koch decided he liked the name 'Dare and Go' and put down $100 to win. He collected over $4000 in the first horse bet he's ever won." But Bell was silent the other day when the bad news arrived from Omaha that Koch had lost his nationally heralded billion-dollar lawsuit against his brothers, David and Charles, who control Koch Industries, the nation's second-largest private company. Koch had charged that his brothers cheated him when they bought his Koch Industries shares. Koch is appealing the verdict, and he's filed a new suit against his brothers, this time claiming that they cheated an Indian tribe out of oil royalty revenue. Koch's longtime lawyer? Diane Bell's husband Roy.

Farrah's fallen angel

Faithful readers of the supermarket tabloids already know by now that ex-Charlie's Angel Farrah Fawcett shed her lover from Del Mar, 31-year-old tennis pro Martin Barba, when she discovered that he had pled guilty to sexual battery in connection with a 1992 incident at a Del Mar hotel. That Fawcett and Barba were an item was first revealed by the Globe tabloid, which obtained exclusive shots of their romantic weekend at the Four Seasons resort in Carlsbad. Fawcett was even thinking of marrying Barba until she hired famous Hollywood private eye Tony Pellicano, and a few quick flicks of Pellicano's computer keyboard turned up the '92 case. It involved a woman Barba had picked up in a bar and then took to his room at Del Mar's Inn L'Auberge. She claimed he raped her; he said she became enraged after he wouldn't perform when he discovered she wasn't on birth control.

Not so fast

The Union-Tribune recently trumpeted the news that several anti-tobacco cases were being consolidated in San Diego Superior Court. But that was before San Francisco torts lawyer Joseph Cotchett filed his latest motion, attempting to keep the tobacco-liability actions on his home turf. Last week Cotchett petitioned a San Francisco judge to coordinate his case on behalf of some union-welfare trust funds with the anti-tobacco case brought by the City of San Francisco. If he gets a favorable ruling, the cases might stay in the Bay Area, where plaintiffs' lawyers think the judges are more favorable to their anti-tobacco position than the conservative and notoriously wired San Diego bench.

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