Chargers owner Alex Spanos loses battle to have a road named after him in Stockton

Tom Cruise wild birthday at North Island Officers Club

— The matrons of Coronado will be shocked by a new book just out about the late Don Simpson, the coked-up producer of the 1985 movie Top Gun, starring cinematic heartthrob Tom Cruise and shot in San Diego. "Former assistants recalled Simpson arriving in San Diego, high on cocaine, driving a Chevrolet TransAm -- and, on more than one occasion, crashing it in the parking lot," writes Charles Fleming in his book, High Concept: Don Simpson and the Hollywood Culture of Excess. "The high point on the shoot was the celebration in August of Cruise's birthday at the North Island Officers Club. One assistant recalls: 'Don had brought in all these chicks from the beach. Tom had his girls there, and Kelly McGillis [the co-star] had her girl there. She's doing the entire Navy, plus has her lesbian girlfriend coming down on the weekend from Los Angeles! Tony Scott [the director] had his girls with the huge boobs, plus Brigitte Nielsen was there. It was insane.' The night culminated at the officers' club pool. McGillis stripped naked and jumped into the water. Her co-stars, and some of the pilots working on Top Gun, decided to throw Simpson and [Don] Bruckheimer in with her."

All Koch-ed up

San Diego lawyer Roy Bell, husband of Union-Tribune columnist Diane Bell, is making headlines in Topeka, Kansas, where he is representing William Koch in a nasty legal battle against two of his brothers over the family fortune. Bill and his other brother Frederick claim they were cheated out of a half-billion dollars by their siblings in 1983 when they sold their interests in Koch Industries at what the plaintiffs allege was a rock-bottom price. In one of the latest legal rounds, Bell alleges that Koch Industries destroyed five million pages of documents in an attempt to cover up the firm's theft of oil from federal lands. "The evidence of spoliation [document destruction] in this case is overpowering," writes Bell in a court filing. Bill Koch, of course, was America's Cup champ here a few years back, before New Zealand took the cup away from American Dennis Conner. In January, Diane Bell reported that Koch rented an entire skybox to watch the Super Bowl here ... Teledyne Ryan's latest remote-controlled drone, also known as an unmanned aerial vehicle, made a successful flight up at Edwards Air Force Base two weeks ago. If the so-called Global Hawk gets final approval, the Pentagon is expected to buy them for about $10 million a pop.

Name game

Chargers owner Alex Spanos has lost his epic battle to have a road named after him in Stockton, his home town. After months of battling irate neighbors over the fate of Eight Mile Road, Spanos this month finally let the county board of supervisors know that he was tired of all the bad publicity and didn't want the honor after all. The fight generated what the local newspaper called "a bilious river of splenetic letters to the editor" assailing Spanos. As an epilogue to the controversy, Michael Fitzgerald, a columnist for the Stockton Record, wrote that Spanos is "an inkhound. He not only hands over the check, he wants to be on TV when he does it.... It's called ego. Spanos wouldn't be such an amazing success story without a jumbo order of that; but in this case I think it served him poorly." Spanos backers are now talking about naming the Stockton airport after the wealthy developer, and the county's plans to name a street for Psycho star Janet Leigh, another famous Stockton native, are on indefinite hold.

Voices of the few

Padres owner John Moores, who may soon face a public vote on whether to give the team a taxpayer-financed downtown stadium, has signed on to a campaign to limit the power of statewide initiatives. Moores is joining with San Francisco attorney Robin Johansen to try to qualify the proposal for the 2000 ballot. Among other things, the plan would limit initiatives to 5000 words and require a summary understandable to voters with a high school education. It would try to discourage paid signature-gathering by extending the period over which signatures could be collected if the work were done by volunteers. It would also require 60 percent voter approval to pass a constitutional amendment, such as 1978's landmark tax-limiting Proposition 13.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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