Report from the front

— Inside word has it that retired Rear Admiral Veronica "Ronne" Froman, hired back in August 2001 as chief financial sidekick to San Diego Unified School District superintendent Alan Bersin, will shortly be departing the district. "She will bring great credibility to this community," said Bersin when Froman, who had retired in 2000 as head of the Navy Region Southwest after three years at the helm, became the district's new "chief of business services." Back then, Froman's business expertise was heavily touted by Bersin, and she was awarded a juicy four-year contract, extending until September 2005, which paid $150,000 the first year, with raises to $160,000 the second year and $175,000 the third year, along with "incentive compensation" of $30,000 the first year, $40,000 the second year, and a whopping $61,250 the third year. Determination of whether to award the incentive pay was, according to her contract, to be "mutually agreed to by" Froman and Bersin. In addition, Froman picked up a $25,000 "signing bonus." Her contract also called for her to get a $50,000 "annual retention incentive" for each of the years of her contract, payable "upon the completion of five years of service." Froman's biggest "achievements," says a district source, were awarding an exclusive contract to Office Depot for supplying schools, buying $25 million worth of software covering "student information systems, human resources, and finance," and giving exclusive franchises to Coke and Pepsi. No word yet exactly why Froman is leaving ... Last Saturday, the Union-Tribune ran a piece touting the benefits of Junior ROTC programs at local high schools, in particular Point Loma High's Naval JROTC. "In San Diego County, there are dozens of Junior ROTC units similar to Point Loma's, although most high schools offer Army JROTC," the U-T noted. The paper failed to point out the local high schools that don't have JROTC, including some of the district's wealthiest: La Jolla, University City, Mission Bay, and Clairemont. Poorer schools like Morse and Hoover are active participants.

Meet and greet A San Francisco State University student from San Diego is in custody after being arrested for allegedly molesting a 13-year-old girl in Merced last November. Twenty-three-year-old Jennifer Duncan, an English and creative writing major busted on campus last week, is charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. Prosecutors say Duncan met the alleged victim in an Internet chat room and arranged to rendezvous with her at a Motel 6 in Merced, where the alleged molestation took place. The minor's mother tipped off the cops after noticing her daughter's cell phone bill was higher than usual. "This is something we didn't see a year and a half ago," Merced County Deputy District Attorney David Sandhaus told the Modesto Bee. "Now they're popping up all the time."...Newly reelected Las Vegas Municipal Judge George Assad, from a Christian family living in Syria, was a Vegas busboy and waiter before becoming a craps dealer. His savings put him through law school at the University of San Diego, where he graduated in 1987 ... Facing more heat over use of ephedra in its products, Kearny Mesa-based Metabolife International, Inc., has hired two Washington lobbyists. One of them, according to Roll Call, has been lobbying for the company all along but didn't officially register until last month. That would be Garry Mauro, who lost to George W. Bush in the 1998 Texas governor's primary.

Bombs away The "Mighty 1090," a local radio station run by Rancho Santa Fe's John Lynch, has put up a garish advertising banner at the top of downtown's new Hyatt hotel tower, touting itself as "The Home of the Brave," complete with an image of Old Glory ... La Jolla's Audrey Geisel, widow of Ted "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, has made millions from the late author's estate by cracking down hard on those she regards as infringing on the brand. Latest miscreant: One Fish Two Fish, a small seafood emporium on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The Seuss lyric goes, "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," and Geisel, who is contesting the restaurant's 1985 trademark registration, argues the eatery's name constitutes "dilution, likelihood of confusion, and fraud." ... Accused North County rapist Don Wilson Hawkins, 43, was executed last Tuesday. Back in 1985, Hawkins and an accomplice were arrested in Sacramento for three rapes, kidnappings, and multiple armed robberies around Encinitas. He was eventually extradited back to Oklahoma City to stand trial for murdering Linda Ann Thompson, a microbiologist. His last words: "I'm truly sorry I got everyone into this. The state needs vengeance for the crimes I've done. They're going to punish my body, but Jesus has forgiven me."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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