Warmed-over Wilsonites

— Two major players with deep roots in old-time San Diego politics have an active but low-profile role in the ongoing Gray Davis recall battle. Democrat Lynn Schenk, top Davis aide and onetime congresswoman, is said to control much of the Davis day-to-day agenda and is a key member of his anti-recall effort, along with campaign consultant Garry South and pollster Paul Maslin, as well as Chris Lahane, ex-staffer to Al Gore. Schenk's most publicized recent appearance occurred in April, when Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Smith reported she had been seen wearing a cloth hospital mask on a Southwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Sacramento. A spokesman said she had a cold and didn't want to contaminate other passengers. A consummate insider, Schenk is in tight with Padres owner John Moores and is believed to have lobbied hard for the recent appointment of Moores friend and UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes to the presidency of the University of California. If Davis goes down, as is looking more and more likely, Schenk has a lot to lose. She's on the board of La Jolla-based Idec Pharmaceuticals, closely tied to UCSD, and is friendly with a host of other San Diego business types, including Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, who has relied heavily on technology transfers from the University of California. Schenk got the governor to put hundreds of millions of dollars into a UCSD-based wireless development center. Jacobs subsequently gave $50,000 to Davis in November 2001 ... Meanwhile, Republican George Gorton's star is on the rise. Chief political guru to Pete Wilson ever since the ex-governor was San Diego mayor in the 1970s, Gorton is now in big with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the movie star and gubernatorial wannabe who shares Wilson's liberal views on issues such as abortion and government spending. During last year's campaign for Schwarzenegger's taxpayer-funded after-school-program initiative, Gorton was reimbursed more than $13,000 for "Staff/Spouse Travel, Lodging, and Meals." Ex-Wilson chief of staff Bob White, another old San Diego pol known for high living, collected $7995 in "office expenses," along with $12,096 in travel and lodging. Pollster Dick Dresner, who has handled many local campaigns, including that of county supervisor Ron Roberts, made more than $66,000.

Star on steroids Tourists along the boardwalk at Seaport Village didn't seem to recognize him as his minder wheeled him over to dinner at the Harbor House this past weekend, but that bloated old man in a wheelchair was none other than motion-picture star and telethon kingpin Jerry Lewis. For years, the classic 1950s comedian has kept his boat at the Marriot Marina; he dropped over several times a year from his Las Vegas estate. In seasons past, Lewis could be heard belting out Broadway show tunes aboard the vintage wooden yacht. His comic antics continued as he walked to a limo that zipped him over to his favorite downtown steak house, Morton's, and entertained drinkers seated at the tables of bayside watering holes. But two years ago, Lewis's health began to fail, and he reportedly began taking the steroid prednisone for the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. The comedian is also permanently attached to an oxygen tank. Now 77, Lewis's face has swollen into what the Sun, the national tabloid, has called walrus-like proportions, as his appearance with 11-year-old daughter Danny at Seaport Village confirmed ... A programmer for a downtown website-development outfit has been raped and murdered while on a family visit to Kuala Lumpur. Canny Ong Lay Kian, 28, vanished a week ago last Friday after having dinner with her mother, sisters, and friends at a local shopping mall. On Monday, police confirmed they had found her badly burned body in a culvert about ten miles away. Before the discovery, coworkers at Interactivate put up a website in an attempt to find her: "The United States embassy in Kuala Lumpur has been reluctant to get involved because Canny is not a U.S. citizen. We believe that position can change if the right amount of pressure is applied in the right places."

Cash for DeLay House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's $1.5 million plan to get a GOP majority in the Texas legislature has been picking up heavy campaign support from San Diego types. The Texas Republican got $15,000 from PerfectWave Technologies, a local military contractor with ties to the nonprofit foundation of Brent Wilkes, a Poway defense entrepreneur who, along with his ADCS, Inc. has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to various congressmen and senators. The Barona Band of Mission Indians also kicked in with $5000. DeLay has vigorously opposed any new federal limits on Indian gambling ... A Colorado businessman is being investigated on suspicion of buying two high-speed digital cameras from a San Diego company and then illegally turning them over to a Chinese government weapons lab. Lee Yu, president of China Products in Fort Collins, has yet to be charged, reports the Denver Post, but search-warrant documents filed in the case say that the Beijing lab tried to buy a CR2000 camera from Sorrento Valley's Redlake MASD in September 2001 but was turned down. Lee bought the same camera, which takes more than 1000 images per second, a month later with a $51,000 check from his company. U.S. intelligence revealed that the Chinese lab had acquired a camera of the same model at about the same time, the document says.

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