Of race and riots

— Ex-San Diego city manager Sylvester Murray, who lost his job in 1986 after saying in a newspaper interview that "I get an orgasm just being a boss of police," has been hired by Cincinnati mayor Charles Luken to help calm that city's simmering racial turmoil. Murray, the only black city manager in San Diego's history, also holds the record for shortest tenure, having been appointed in the fall of 1985 by a city council led by Roger Hedgecock, himself forced from office in early 1986 by campaign-finance scandal. That June, Murray, the product of a Miami ghetto who had come to San Diego after serving seven years as Cincinnati's city manager, granted a wide-ranging interview to Los Angeles Times reporter Ralph Frammalino. "I will be powerful," Murray told Frammalino. "I will be no more powerful than the law allows, but I will assume all the powers of this office." He also chastised San Diego blacks for being reticent about questioning authority in the wake of the Sagon Penn case, in which Penn had killed a cop. Testimony at Penn's murder trial alleged that the police officer had beaten the black defendant before the shooting. "The reaction has been basically...blah," Murray told Frammalino. "Except, I think, for a while there, there were some pickets around the courtroom. It has not generated publicly the issues of police brutality or nonpolice brutality, blacks, racial strife, that I just know it would have generated in Cincinnati or every other place. Blacks in San Diego are just as conservative as whites. Blacks in San Diego are just as concerned about not rocking the boat as whites do not want the boat to be rocked." Four months later, Murray was out, fired by a city council led by then-mayor Maureen O'Connor. He returned to Ohio and became a professor of urban studies and director of Cleveland State University's public-management program. In September 1998, Murray made headlines in the Washington Post when the District of Columbia financial control board asked the FBI to investigate allegedly fraudulent invoices. Hattie Portis-Jones, a member of a university-sponsored consulting team, had submitted a $69 invoice through Murray for a night's stay at a hotel called "Spann's Place," which turned out to be a relative's house. "I hear that someone is questioning the lodging for Hattie," Murray wrote in a memo to the board. "She stays at her sister's house and wants to pay her sister the same $69 per night you pay Days Inn."

On the road again The controversial "Chancellor of Instruction" at San Diego's Unified School District has been raking in thousands of dollars from out-of-town speaking gigs. According to a recently filed disclosure, Anthony Alvarado has collected between $1000 and $10,000 from Wake Education Partnership in Raleigh, North Carolina; the National Staff Development Council in Oxford, Ohio; the Achievement Council in Los Angeles; the Fund for Educational Excellence in Baltimore; Mayerson Academy for Human Resource in Cincinnati; and the L.A. Unified School District.

Power shortage The First Call/Thomas Financial Insiders' Chronicle is reporting that Padres owner John Moores, along with fellow board members and executives of Moores's Peregine Systems, has been busy selling off his shares in the company. "Known for frequent and heavy selling in the past, Peregrine insiders had been inactive since they disposed of shares ahead of last year's sell-off," the publication says. "That they are now parting with shares with the stock trading more than 60 percent off its highs hardly seems promising. And while insiders have sold like this before, it's more disheartening to see these kinds of reductions at today's prices. Director John Moores, Peregrine's former chairman and current owner of the San Diego Padres, received more than $70 million in proceeds by trimming his position by 50 percent." Meanwhile, Padres co-owner Larry Lucchino has been bashing his adoptive home state of California. In an op-ed piece for the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Lucchino opines. "It is harder to do a ballpark in California than any other place I know by a factor of ten because of the rules, regulations, challenges, etc., that are abundant in California."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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