Cocktails at six

— Mayor Dick Murphy, who's had much better luck staying ahead in reelection polls than building his long-promised new $150 million-something downtown library, is throwing an exclusive high-society bash tonight to hype yet another expensive design for the place. According to an embossed invitation sent to a list of local VIPs, the municipal schmooze-fest is being held to enable the mayor to "share with a small group of San Diego's leading citizens the final plans for the New Main Library." The invitation goes on to say, "Rob Wellington Quigley and his staff have been working with Tucker Sadler Noble Castro Architects for several years on what will be a community resource center and public meeting place -- a new icon for San Diego." Besides Murphy and his wife Jan, others set to attend include city librarian Anna Tatar and Jim Dawe, the lawyer and developer lobbyist who doubles as chairman of the San Diego Library Foundation. That's the tiny nonprofit to which Murphy and his city-council colleagues gave a cool million dollars two years ago, ostensibly to raise private money for the monumental new building. City records subsequently have revealed that the bulk of the money went to cover the fees of a professional fundraiser and other overhead, with little or nothing to show in the way of contributions gathered. And judging from tonight's invitation, the spending continues; the event, to be held at Symphony Hall, includes "Complimentary Valet Parking available at the entrances to Symphony Towers and Copley Symphony Hall" and "Cocktails at six o'clock."

Sharing their mothers The passing of Union-Tribune owner Helen Copley last month inspired none other than San Diego Unified school-board member Katherine Nakamura to mark the occasion in her own way. Nakamura, a faithful member of the board wing backing superintendent Alan Bersin, is considered by many to owe her 2002 election victory to the U-T, which ran a nasty campaign against her opponent, Jeff Lee. The heat was so intense he subsequently departed politics to become a gourmet chef; his wife Mitz is now running for the board in a newly drawn district. "Whether it was through their philanthropy or their quiet leadership, without a doubt both Helen Copley and Joan Kroc changed our region in ways too numerous to count, particularly for women," said Nakamura in a letter soliciting a number of female elected officials to sign a letter to appear (where else?) in the U-T. "With all sincerity, thank you for your leadership in San Diego," Nakamura wrote the women. "As each of us knows too well, it is not always easy when the decisions we face are so difficult, but this may be one issue on which we can agree." A draft of Nakamura's proposed tribute was attached: "There is an old saying, 'May you have many sons.' With respect to these two women's real children and appreciation to them for having already shared their mothers with us, we would like to note that Helen Copley and Joan Kroc will always have many daughters unto the hundredth generation." The letter ran Saturday.

Life in Copleyville About a month before Helen Copley's death, Chuck Patrick, fingered by fired columnist Neil Morgan this spring as the U-T executive who wielded the ax against him, purchased a $1.7 million house on Oakridge Cove in Del Mar. Back in April, he sold his Rancho Santa Fe home on Camino de Montecillo for $2.8 million ... The U-T's Copley obituary recounted that the publisher had sold the company plane, prized by her late husband Jim, in order to make ends meet after his death. It failed to note that she eventually replaced the twin-engine prop plane with a sleek new 1990 Gulfstream G-IV executive jet worth at least $30 million ... Padres owner and erstwhile Democrat John Moores has been spreading his money around this political season. In May, he and his wife gave $2000 each to Texan Ted Poe, a conservative Republican running for Congress against Democratic incumbent Nick Lampson, whose attempt to stay in office is made tougher by a new district drawn by the White House and its Texas ally, GOP congressman Tom DeLay. In Virginia, Moores went with a Democrat, giving $2000 to former House banking committee staffer and Wall Street executive James Socas. He also gave $2000 to Richard Romero, a New Mexico Democrat running against a Republican incumbent who beat him in 2002. Moores is a backer of New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat who once served on the board of his fraud-plagued Peregrine software. Returning to the Republican side, Moores also gave $2000 to San Bernardino congressman Jerry Lewis.

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