— With Mayor Jerry Sanders mired in all manner of controversy, from Sunroad's office tower to his draconian cutbacks of public services, keeping a "protocol officer" on the payroll might seem superfluous, but apparently somebody's got to do it. And that happens to be Lynn Renee Hijar, who once worked for the city-subsidized World Trade Center as a trade research specialist. Hijar, a 1998 graduate of the University of San Diego who got a master of science degree from the school's "Global Leadership" program last year, may be better qualified for the gig than Mission Bay hotel mogul Anne Evans and Jeanne K. Lawrence, ex-wife of now-deceased Del Coronado hotel owner M. Larry Lawrence. That wealthy pair established the office for Mayor Maureen O'Connor and served together as "chiefs of protocol" back in 1989. They were assisted by O'Connor's "director of protocol," Cheryl Ayers, a former PR woman for Mission Valley's Neiman Marcus department store.

O'Connor's people were kept busy shuttling international visitors around town during her Russian Arts Festival, during which the late Malcolm Forbes personally flew in a sampling of his bejeweled Fabergé eggs to regale the masses. Hijar's duties, to judge by a recently filed statement of economic interests, are a bit more plebian. Instead of hobnobbing with billionaire New York magazine publishers, Hijar has been supping thanks to the San Diego Business Journal, which paid for her to go to three events last June, September, and October, worth a total of $205. The Fleet Week Foundation paid $135 for her ticket to a Star Salute Gala in September. She was a guest of the "San Diego Military Affairs Council" at one breakfast and two lunches, worth a total of $80. Hutchens PR anted up a $150 ticket to a Flag Officers Gala, and the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau gave her a $130 freebie to attend a gala for outgoing honcho Reint Reinders. Hijar's biggest international moment came last November, when the French Navy treated her to a shipboard reception valued at $70.

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