KFMB-TV's Graham Ledger gets "dart" from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Free eye surgery

Graham Ledger, KFMB-TV's weekend anchor, has drawn a dreaded "dart" from the Columbia Journalism Review. Last February, the magazine reports, Ledger appeared in a two-part television series about a laser fix for nearsightedness -- featuring himself as patient. Then in July, the Review says, Ledger appeared in an ad in the Union-Tribune, hyping a "no charge" consultation offered by the doctor who did his surgery. "This is amazing," the ad said. "It's a miracle. I went from 20/2000 in each eye to 20/20 in each. It's like being reborn." The Review reports that the ad failed to mention that Ledger's $3000 operation was done gratis. Ledger, however, denies he got the surgery for free, although he won't disclose exactly how much he paid. "That's confidential, between the doctor and client." As for how he got into the advertisement, Ledger explains the copy was lifted from the TV feature. "We had absolutely, positively zero connection to the ad. It's [the doctor's] ad. They requested to use my likeness and picture, and the station management and I had no problem with it." ... A Laguna Beach man who made millions as a mechanical subcontractor for Chargers owner Alex Spanos has been sentenced to nine years behind bars for failing to report almost $7 million of income to the Internal Revenue Service. Lonnie C. Christensen, 48, was convicted in May of using his Las Vegas construction business to hide personal expenses like trips on his private jet, a Nevada mansion for his girlfriend, a backyard fish pond for his collection of rare Japanese koi, and his cable television bills.

Political education

Two Southern California congressmen and their wives, along with a congressional aide, took an all-expenses paid junket to Egypt courtesy of the San Diego State University Foundation. San Bernardino Republican Jerry Lewis, who continues to say he might be interested in running for U.S. Senate against Susan Golding, and Riverside Democrat George Brown were sent to a symposium in Alexandria, ostensibly to study "arid-land agriculture." Lewis, his wife, and aide Letitia White spent $18,000 of the nonprofit foundation's money during the trip. Brown did not report his expenses ... Democratic Congressman Bob Filner wants to spend $123 million of federal money to re-open the San Diego & Arizona Eastern railroad between Tecate and points east to Yuma. But Arizonans aren't convinced. "Vic Smith, vice president of the Yuma Vegetable Shippers, said growers switched to trucks years ago," reports the Arizona Republic.

Free and not so free

Free and not so free Local media who managed to be awake and functioning by 6:45 on Monday morning got a free ride on the new trolley to the stadium, along with a free catered breakfast, courtesy of the Metropolitan Transit Development Board ... What does $7500 buy? If you're a fat-cat sports fan, you could have gotten a table for seven at Monday's Super Bowl lunch with NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. But wait, there's more. Also included in the package were two tickets to the Super Bowl, two tickets to the "Gold Club" at a Charger game, along with a chance to personally meet Dean Spanos and Tagliabue himself, plus a host of other goodies, including admission to the "Taste of the NFL," the big wine and cheese bash at the Super Bowl. For those who couldn't afford the full freight, $2500 bought just the table for eight and the Charger game. Proceeds went to the Super Bowl host committee.

Town without pity

Billy Preston, the Grammy-winning rock singer who was busted for cocaine possession, may soon be heading south. In ordering Preston back to prison last week for violating probation on his cocaine conviction, a Los Angeles superior court judge recommended Preston be dispatched to a San Diego lockup for drug rehab ... The mysterious death of a financier from Vancouver, Canada, has widows and orphans there wondering what happened to the millions of dollars they gave him to invest in a San Diego condo project. More than $3 million taken by 50-year-old Kerry Dix, ostensibly to purchase limited partnership shares in the Bay Villas project, has "gone missing," reports the Vancouver Sun. Dix was found dead two weeks ago in his $2 million West Vancouver mansion. Police won't yet provide details.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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