Vice as a virtue

— The man who ran San Diego's vice squad during the Cheetahs undercover operation that netted this summer's indictment of three city councilmembers, along with guilty pleas from Cheetahs' owner Mike Galardi and manager John D'Intino, is heading back to the street, but officials insist the timing is only a coincidence. SDPD Lieutenant Bob Kanaski is one of four lieutenants to volunteer for patrol duty under an initiative fostered by new police chief William Lansdowne, according to police department spokesman Dave Cohen. Asked last year about persistent claims by competing clubs that a rogue cop was giving strippers at Cheetahs early warning of vice raids, Kanaski replied, "Not that I'm aware of." He went on to insist that inspections of strip clubs were randomly conducted. "It's not something that we do every day. We may do one or two nights a month...that's exactly what both our teams would do. Other than that, we've got other duties that have more of a priority than, say, going into an establishment of this nature to see if there are things that are going wrong." After the FBI raided city council offices in August, searching for evidence in their bribery case against the three councilmembers, it was revealed that a federal undercover agent had posed as a member of the vice squad during the two-year-long probe. Kanaski has been succeeded at vice by Lieutenant Robb Hurt.

Their daily bread 'Tis the season to be fundraising: Deputy City Attorney Deborah Berger, running to succeed her termed-out boss Casey Gwinn, is out with a money plea signed by former state Senator Lucy Killea, Jaguar dealer and Susan Golding intimate Steve Cushman, and ex-chief of police Jerry Sanders. Mike Madigan, forced out of his job as downtown ballpark czar in the wake of conflict-of-interest allegations, is listed as an endorser. "Two candidates have emerged as front runners," they write. "One is a well-known class-action lawyer with unlimited personal funds, who has cost us millions of dollars by his initiation of questionable lawsuits against both our city and county." That would be Mike Aguirre, who was cocounsel in Bruce Henderson's unsuccessful 1998 legal battle to stop the Chargers ticket guarantee, which has since cost city taxpayers more than $30 million ... In his pitch, Democratic Congressman Bob Filner pleads poverty ("Frankly, I have very little cash with which to begin my campaign") and then reminds liberal supporters, "I was outspoken against the war in Iraq and voted against it." San Diego councilman Jim Madaffer, who collected big checks from Cheetahs' dancers and other strip-club insiders during his last race, is turning to downtown real estate mogul Malin Burnham, partner of Padres owner John Moores, who is hosting a soirée tomorrow in the 26th-floor Emerald Plaza penthouse of developer Sandy Shapery.

In big brother we trust Customers thinking of signing up for a new cable box from Cox Communications might consider the fine print found on the company's website. "In the future, Cox may develop the capability to capture certain additional information about actions performed by the digital set top, such as commands to record, pause or erase programming; however, this information capture will be done on an anonymous basis that does not identify any personal information about the subscriber or household that uses the digital set top." ... After a spate of rumors about the absence of Union-Tribune editor Karin Winner from the newsroom during the big fires, Editor & Publisher ran a blurb on its website saying Winner had "hitched a ride with a Mexican mail truck" back from a vacation in Tecate but was unable to return "immediately" because of fire-blocked roads. That provoked another round of in-house murmurs about Winner's purportedly leaving her car with another U-T editor who was with her at Tecate's Rancho La Puerta spa, and thus being unable to drive the long way home via Palm Springs. Winner did not respond to requests for comment ... The U-T set up a special "fire weblog" on its website. But one contributor isn't exactly a U-T staffer: a Monday entry on the blog said "San Diego City Councilman Jim Madaffer forwards links to photographs he took, including aerial tours of damaged areas, and from behind the fire lines." Readers who clicked on the link found that the shots included one of a smiling Madaffer, currently up for re-election, happily seated in a helicopter and giving the thumbs-up.

-- Matt Potter

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