Computer cash

— Contributions to the campaign of county supervisor Ron Roberts, a San Diego mayoral hopeful, from county data-processing contractors keep rolling in. According to disclosures made public last week, employees of Science Applications International who gave the maximum $250 to the Roberts general-election fund include chief executive officer J.R. Beyster, chief financial officer William Roper, along with vice presidents John H. Warner, Jr. , Richard A. Cooke, and Nancy Pabers. A year ago Roberts voted with a unanimous majority of the board of supervisors to award SAIC and Computer Sciences Corporation a $650 million contract to provide computer services to the county. Another recent Roberts donor is listed as Jay Emmett, the Padres boardmember and alleged bag man in New York's infamous Westchester Premier theatre Mafia case. Back in the 1980s, Emmett copped a plea and testified against his codefendants in federal court. Today the Manhattan resident is said to be a key point man for the San Diego baseball team and its troubled downtown-stadium deal.

No water, no power

San Francisco's Pacific Gas & Electric Co., eager for new electrical power to sell to energy-starved San Diego, wants to build huge new generating plants in the wilds of Nevada. Pro-growth state officials there are eager to accommodate the giant utility, but there's one hitch: water. Last week PG&E announced plans to build a 1000-megawatt, natural gas-fired generating plant in Moapa, 45 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The utility has a deal to buy 4000 acre feet of water from a nearby rancher, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but needs even more, and is counting on the Moapa Valley Water District to free up some of its reserves. But Nevada state water officials are balking. "If you were to build a power plant, and that power was to be exported to California, you're basically exporting that water through the power lines to California," Robert Coache, chief engineer with the Nevada Water Resources Division, told the paper. Nevada law bans export of water out of state. Another proposed generating plant would be built by an outfit called Calpine on the Moapa Paiute Indian Reservation. The Paiutes claim sovereign rights to the 7000 acre feet of water needed for that plant, but various governmental agencies have filed environmental challenges to the plan. San Diego's own Sempra Energy wants to build a plant at Boulder City and claims it has all the water it needs.

No truth for the wicked

The mother of Hal Fuson, vice president and chief legal counsel for the Copley Press, recently totaled her car. So reports the State Journal-Register of Springfield, Illinois. According to the paper's account, Fuson made the revelation in a speech during which he compared small-town newspapers to the Union-Tribune. Fuson "described how his 97-year-old grandmother only learned of her daughter's two-car wreck without injuries from Galesburg's Daily Register-Mail. Like many small-town papers, it reports all traffic accidents." If the wreck had occurred in a big city, Fuson added, "Grandma would never have found out. Mom would have been able to deceive her mom. But in Galesburg, no." The small paper "even publishes public records of new car purchases, including prices paid." Concluded Fuson: "If that happened in San Diego, all hell would break loose."

Premature death

A La Jolla securities dealer who faked his suicide has pleaded guilty in a New Jersey federal court to wire fraud. Prosecutors say Daniel H. Fichtler abandoned his car at a La Jolla cliff with a note saying, "I ruined everything! There is no hope!! There is NO WAY out . ... The FEDS are after my ass -- too much pressure, too much pain!! They are coming to get me soon." Fichtler was later arrested in Kentucky. He was tripped up by an FBI sting in which the government set up United Currency Exchange, Ltd, a fictitious company based in Princeton that was actually operated by federal agents. Working out of a New Jersey boiler room, the telemarketers were instructed to call "customers," who in reality worked for the government, and sell them bogus securities.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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