Murphy's outlaw

— Around San Diego's city hall, the more things change, the more they stay the same. It's been almost 17 years since Mike Turk, a Pacific Beach builder and business partner of then-mayor Roger Hedgecock, testified about his troubled deal with Hedgecock to build solar-powered condos in North Park. While candidate for mayor, Hedgecock frequently trumpeted the condos as an example of his environmental sensitivity. But the partnership cratered in the recession of 1981. There were a few sales -- financed by a friendly lender with close ties to downtown redevelopment -- to buyers such as Hedgecock's young campaign aide Tom Shepard. During his testimony at Hedgecock's 1985 trial for felony conspiracy and perjury, Turk maintained he couldn't remember ever having said he was willing to remodel Hedgecock's mansion for free: "I'd have been running off at my mouth...and it's certainly not true." Hedgecock, now a radio talk-show host, was ultimately convicted and forced from office, and Turk later pled no contest to a misdemeanor following a cave-in that killed two workers at one of his construction sites. But Hedgecock and Turk, according to public records, remain business associates to this day. In a document filed with the Nevada secretary of state's office this May 16, Hedgecock is listed as president of a limited liability company by the name of "THG Villas 1." Turk is listed as secretary. Now comes Mayor Dick Murphy, who last week put in a special appearance at one of Turk's latest developments in Mission Beach. "Mayor Dick Murphy today celebrated San Diego's first energy self-sufficient housing project by putting power back into the grid," said a glowing news release from the mayor's office. "The Mayor threw the power switch on one of seven energy self-sufficient homes recently built and actually sent power back to the grid." Turk was quoted as saying: "It's safe and reliable. The recycling of our land in the city in already urbanized areas and using sustainable energy will provide for future growth, and a clean environment." Murphy, according to the release, added that Turk was helping realize one of the mayor's top ten goals: "Goal #9 is to pursue energy independence and this type of project can make energy independence reality."

Bullish bear market The carnage on Wall Street is beginning to levy its toll on San Diego's ivory towers. Take, for instance, UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes. In 1999, Dynes joined the board of Leap Wireless along with his friend, Padres owner John Moores, who had just entered into an investment deal with Dynes's father-in-law, San Francisco venture capitalist extraordinaire Warren Hellman. In exchange for his board service, Dynes was awarded 2000 stock options, which, according to filings with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, have since been added to, for a total of 8000. In February 2000, the value of a share of the company's stock rose to a stratospheric $110. Moores left the Leap board during the Valerie Stallings influence-buying scandal, but Dynes remained. Earlier this week, the troubled company's stock was down to $1.28 a share. San Diego State University president Stephen Weber has an even sadder story to tell. For years he's been on the board of Budget Group, a Florida outfit that owns a chain of rent-a-car operations. According to SEC filings, as of this spring he owned about 35,000 shares in the company. Back in 1998 the stock topped out at around $40 a share. As of this Tuesday, it had dropped all the way down to 15 cents a share. The debt-laden company is reportedly facing bankruptcy.

Political food trip Tuesday potlucks are a tradition among Assembly Republicans, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, and each week a caucus member takes a turn supplying the food. Most furnish meals from expensive capital watering holes like Frank Fat's and Andiamo. Not El Cajon's Jay La Seur. His e-mailed advance menu to his fellows: "delicately breaded chicken with creamy mashed potatoes." But the buckets, according to the Chronicle, said KFC ... The University of Michigan's Jack Dixon is headed for San Diego, and some people at Michigan's new Life Sciences Institute, which Dixon heads, aren't happy about it, reports the Detroit Free Press. Dixon will become health sciences dean for academic affairs at UCSD's medical school. But his departure, some say, is ill-timed: the Michigan institute is right in the midst of construction and recruiting drives. Steve Sensoli, president of a Michigan biotech trade outfit, told the Ann Arbor News, "It's going to obviously cause an interruption in how things develop. To lose a person in a leadership position is what really hurts" ... Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris comes to town next Tuesday for a cocktail fundraiser on Bill Lynch's yacht, the High Spirits. She's running for Congress.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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