Murder beat

There are two local connections to the grisly murder of two professors at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. San Diego's Hannah Essery is the 80-year-old grandmother of James J. Parker, one of the two Vermont high school students who police are holding for the stabbing deaths of Half and Susanne Zantop in their Hanover home. The German-born professors were said to have been active in anti-Nazi politics; according to a report on ABC's 20/20 last week, neo-Nazi literature was found in the home of Parker's co-suspect, 17-year-old Robert Tulloch, and the slayings coincided with Germany's Holocaust Remembrance Day. Interviewed by the Boston Globe before the pair were captured in Indiana last week, Essery said, "It doesn't seem to make much sense to me. This boy doesn't have a reputation for this sort of thing." She added that Parker had spent his summer vacation here with her last year and played Prince Charming in a family pageant. Parker's lawyer is San Diegan Douglas Brown, said to be a family friend. "I can tell you Jimmy Parker has nothing to do with any of that stuff," Brown told the Boston Herald regarding the neo-Nazi material. "I certainly don't know what was found in the other boy's room. He may have been doing a school project -- I'm speculating. I don't know, but certainly that's not an issue with Jimmy Parker."

Abortive campaign Chargers owner Alex Spanos has come up on the losing end of that bitter battle last weekend for the chairmanship of the California Republican Party. Conservative Shawn Steel triumphed over self-styled pragmatist Brooks Firestone 662 to 576. Spanos made a hefty contribution to Firestone's $100,000 campaign war chest against Steel, a Beverly Hills attorney, who was backed by the pro-life wing of the party. A former state assemblyman, Firestone was supported by the party's business establishment (including Rancho Santa Fe's Gerry Parsky and ex-President Gerald Ford), which wants to downplay abortion and other conservative issues in the interests of regaining the state GOP's political power ... The city is still trying to build a $150,000 sculpture at the entrance to its University City sewage-treatment plant. A year ago, eccentric Laurel Canyon artist Chris Burden, who had a friend shoot him in the left arm with a .22 caliber rifle as part of an art show back in the 1970s, was paid a $10,000 settlement fee to abandon his proposal for a fountain fed by processed sewage effluent. To replace Burden, the city has settled on Nobuho Nagasawa, probably most famous for his "Atomic Cowboy" installation, which chronicled the strange case of The Conqueror, a Howard Hughes movie of the 1950s. In the years after the movie's production, 91 of 220 crew members, including stars John Wayne, Dick Powell, and Susan Hayward, got cancer, which many in Hollywood attributed to the fact that the picture had been shot near the busy Nevada atomic-test site.

Professional sport Manhattan Beach sports consultant Daniel S. Barrett has been making big money peddling stadium advice to the San Diego City Council. Last spring, his company, Barrett Sports Group, was hired for $20,000 to try to find a way out of the Chargers' ticket guarantee. Since then, the city has upped Barrett's total compensation to $120,000, the latest raise of $50,000 coming in early December. According to the city's deal with Barrett, $30,000 of that went for consulting on the stalled downtown baseball stadium, with the balance being paid for consulting on Chargers matters. Meantime, San Diego taxpayers forked over another $200,000 last month to the San Diego International Sports Council, a private sports promotional and social club made up of some of the city's richest men. In past years, the group promised to sell Chargers tickets after getting tax money to pay for computers and other equipment. These days, council executive director Ky Snyder is lobbying hard for the downtown baseball stadium ... Another merger is on the horizon for the big downtown law firm of Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, according to the Recorder. The prospective partner is L.A.'s Riordan & McKinzie, the firm cofounded by outgoing Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan. But some lawyers think Gray Cary's last merger "may have dulled" the firm's "edge in the tech market."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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