— Word around San Diego's city hall has it that the city council will almost certainly pick the so-called ballpark site for a new central library. Why? According to sources both in and out of local government, Padres owners John Moores and Larry Lucchino have laid down the law: no major new downtown development, public or private, should take place if it doesn't happen within the bounds of the ballpark district on the east side of downtown. Not coincidentally, that's where the new taxpayer-subsidized baseball stadium is to be built for Moores and where the city council has granted Moores and company lucrative rights to build new office towers and hotels. Even more intriguing is the fact that a company controlled by Moores purchased a half-block site within the ballpark district on the day after last November's election in which voters approved the ballpark project. That site is two blocks from the library site and just north of the stadium site proper and thus is not subject to the immediate condemnation that is the fate of those property owners unlucky enough to be within the footprint of the new ballpark. Using an arcane procedure called an "owner participant" agreement with the city, Moores is expected to retain ownership of his property for years to come, thus reaping millions of dollars in appreciation denied to those who get condemned by the city. Friends of Moores's, who have also purchased property in the ballpark district using complex escrows and Delaware limited-liability companies to mask their identities, are also expected to benefit from the city council's special treatment. What's in it for the council? To start, campaign contributions. Byron Wear and Barbara Warden are running for mayor. Christine Kehoe and Juan Vargas want assembly seats. Lame-duck mayor Susan Golding needs a job. When it comes to campaign money, Moores is currently the biggest game in town. He poured thousands into Kehoe's congressional race last year through direct contributions as well as money he and his friends gave to liberal political-action committees which heavily backed Kehoe, including the Washington, D.C.-based Participation 2000. All of the council's political aspirants are said to have their hand out for Moores's money and will do anything to stay in his good graces. -- M.P.

Entrepreneurial Minds

Leave it to a reporter from the National Enquirer to come up with the idea of salvaging old props from the movie Titanic, shot at a studio near Ensenada, and selling them off to rabid fans. According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, while working on a story, Larry Haley discovered a dump of Titanic cast-offs in Baja California and quickly began salvage operations. The reporter is now busy marketing the stash from his apartment in West Palm Beach ... David Copley is expanding his realm again. Though mom Helen Copley still owns the Union-Tribune, David has been busy with his own project: gradually acquiring all the houses on a block along Virginia Way. David has spent millions purchasing at least five houses and consolidating the north half of his block into a single parcel. Last month, he bought two more small parcels across the alley for a total of a million dollars. -- M.P.

Death of Note

Richard N. Rose, who once managed $3.3 billion of San Diego County employees' funds, killed himself two weeks ago in Baja California. Rose, 43, died in his hotel room in San Quintín, south of Ensenada, on April 22, according to Lorena Blanco of the U.S. Consulate's Information Service office in Tijuana. "The housekeeper found him around 2:00 p.m. He had hanged himself." Rose had served as chief investment officer for the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association, where he had worked since 1992. In November 1997, he was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting at a hotel gift shop in Scottsdale, Arizona. He resigned from his job soon after. His shoplifting case was later dismissed after he completed a court-prescribed remedial course. -- B.M.

Contributors: Bill Manson, Matt Potter

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