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Friend in a high place Two secretive brothers in La Jolla and some associates in west Texas stand to add to their fortunes if their friend George W. Bush prevails in his initiative to push nuclear power in India. Neal and Linden Blue, owners of Torrey Pines-based General Atomics, announced last month they'd teamed up with the University of Texas of the Permian Basin to build the High-Temperature Teaching and Test Reactor in Andrews County, Texas. It would be the first reactor constructed in the United States in more than 25 years. According to General Atomics, $400 million would be needed to build the facility; a $3 million feasibility study is under way. Picking up on another familiar Bush theme, the Blues say that the reactor could make hydrogen for use as fuel in cars of the future. The Blues have already signed a nuclear-development deal with South Korea and are said to be counting on the new U.S. agreement with India to open that market. Neal, Linden, and their company are frequent donors to the congressional and presidential campaigns of Democrats and Republicans but are closely tied to Bush. General Atomics makes the Predator, an unmanned aerial vehicle that is a CIA favorite and has seen much service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ins and outs Ex-strip club manager John D'Intino, who cut a deal with the feds in 2003 to testify against his old boss Michael Galardi in the Cheetahs strip-club scandal and to rat out others in the city's criminal underworld, is out on $500,000 bail awaiting sentencing on wire fraud and unregistered firearms charges. But that hasn't stopped him from hitting the road. In January, prosecutors agreed to return D'Intino's passport to allow him to travel in Mexico from January 26 until February 10 "for the purpose of negotiating and finalizing a business transaction that will allow his company, Compania Hermanos D'Intino, S.A. de C.V., to export agricultural products from the United States of America to Mexico." Noted the court document signed by U.S. attorney Carol Lam, "While a passport is not currently a legal requirement for United States citizens to travel to Mexico City, it is cumbersome and time consuming to travel without one." In January, D'Intino's sentencing date was pushed back to June 22. "The defendant requires additional time to comply with his obligations pursuant to the plea agreement," according to a court stipulation. "Additionally, the government requires additional time to make appropriate sentencing recommendations in this case." ... Ex-Dick Murphy honcho John Kern, who might yet get caught up in the legal mess that is city hall's pension scandal, remains in private life but is keeping his hand in the political scene. He was spotted last week in a booth at downtown's cozy Rainwater's restaurant schmoozing with his old friend, airport authority chairman and Murphy intimate Joe Craver. ... Former city engineer and Water Department chief Frank Belock, who retired last November, has gone to work at Parsons ... Political consultant Tom Shepard, the once-disgraced advisor to fallen San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock, is hard at work for his new boss, Mayor Jerry Sanders. Latest sign of activity: Shepard's downtown office suite on West Ash Street is headquarters for a new political committee -- San Diegans for City Hall Reform -- which is raising money with the help of local chamber of commerce types like Malin Burnham, hotelier Doug Manchester, and the McMillin family of real estate developers, for two Sanders-favored measures to limit public pensions and outsource city hall jobs.

Field of money With the future of Lindbergh Field hanging in the balance, local influence peddlers are drooling in anticipation. They include Richard Ledford, onetime Susan Golding aide and Chargers flack, who, according to registration reports filed in January with the airport authority, is working for McMillin Companies, the real-estate-development entities hoping to move in with a mega-condo project when Lindbergh moves out. Ledford represents the City of Coronado regarding the "North Island Tunnel Project and Tideland Transportation Projects." GOP political consultant Jack Monger is representing Jimsair, the private jet terminal on the east side of the runway that is desperately trying to cling to its lucrative Lindbergh monopoly in the face of airport authority plans to open the concession to public bids. Other Monger clients include the airport's Park and Ride operation and the San Diego Off-Airport Parking Association. Then there's Erik Bruvold of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, the tax-supported outfit that's pushing hard to move the airport. In addition, Monique Rodriguez of Qualcomm has registered to lobby about "County Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans," over which the airport authority exercises control. That issue is the concern of Barbara Lichman, an Orange County lobbyist working for Carlsbad's Lennar Homes, McMillin Land Development, Sunroad Development, Techbilt Construction, and Pardee Homes, among others.

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