There Is Less Here Than Meets the Eye

Apicture is worth a thousand words--give or take a word.

In his challenge to Assemblyman Steve Peace (D-Chula Vista), Republican Steve Baldwin has sent out a handsome brochure touting his hard-line stance against coddling teen-age criminals and drug pushers.

Baldwin is seen leaning on a squad car and talking with two uniformed officers. On the car door is an eagle emblem with the words: Police Patrol.

But wait, those aren't real city cops, and that isn't a real city cop car. The officers and car come from Rodgers Police Patrol, a private security firm in San Diego hired by the Baldwin campaign to supply props.

Don't feel bad if you were confused. Normally, the eagle emblem has the firm's full name, but in the Baldwin picture, the word Rodgers is somehow missing.

Kevin Parriott, Baldwin's campaign manager, says he doesn't know of any attempt to doctor the picture. Everybody already knows that city cops aren't allowed to pose for political ads, he said.

But Jack Orr, a political consultant working for Peace, says the Baldwin brochure "gives new meaning to the phrase rent-a-cop."

Words on Words

Monday's hands-off ruling involving the slow-growth measures on the November ballot was not the first time a San Diego judge has been troubled by ballot wording but refused to intervene.

In 1975, an incumbent San Diego councilwoman charged that her opponent lied about her attendance record in his official statement of qualifications distributed with sample ballots.

The challenger accused her of missing half the council meetings in a three-month period. But records from the city clerk's office showed that she had missed only two of 18 meetings.

Superior Court Judge Jack Levitt reviewed both the challenger's statement and the city clerk's records. Then he flatly turned down the incumbent's bid for a restraining order blocking distribution of the sample ballots.

Levitt ruled that political speech must be given the widest possible berth. Better to allow a false or misleading statement than violate constitutional safeguards against prior restraint, he said.

The incumbent, Maureen O'Connor, called the ruling "tragic" and resumed her campaign.

Cup Runneth Over

Don't look for Michael Fay to attend (or Dennis Conner, either), but Stars & Stripes is holding a nautical garage sale Saturday to get rid of bric-a-brac left from its successful defense of the America's Cup.

Stuff like: winches, fire extinguishers, hand and power tools, lumber, office furniture, a computer, compressors, ladders, weightlifting equipment, sails, miles of Kevlar line, an engine hoist, tables, electrical equipment, medical equipment and more.

The first-come, first-served sale is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stars & Stripes compound, 505 W. Harbor Drive, next to the Chart House restaurant.

"Everything we have is up for sale Saturday," Stars & Stripes spokesman John Engle said.

Well, not quite everything. The two catamarans are in storage and will soon be marketed through a yacht broker.

Now and Beyond

Clairvoyant-spiritual palmist-world traveler Nancy Phlegen will speak to a gathering Sunday at the Mystical Rose World Healing and Miracle Cathedral in Encinitas.

She promises to reveal secrets both of this world and the next.

Earliest Christmas

In September, a retailer's fancy turns naturally to Christmas.

The unofficial winner of this year's rush-to-Christmas may be Buffum's, where the trim-a-house gift display went up right after Labor Day, complete with themed Christmas trees and a full line of ornaments and lights and stocking stuffers.

A similar display at Broadway only went up last week.

Broadway, however, may be the first to have storewide Christmas decorations, scheduled to be ready the last week in October. Buffum's holiday make-over won't hit until later.

Store execs say the early gift shop is for the long-range planner, the aficionado, the collector of the latest in stylish Christmas accouterments.

Still, some shoppers are taken aback at the early start. It's the merchants' lament: Cater to one segment of the market, offend another.

"A number of people come in the store, see the Christmas trees and are shocked," said Joe Allison, manager of Buffum's in Fashion Valley. "They tell us, 'It's too early, how commercial can you get?' They don't realize until they walk further into the store that it's only a small section."

Disneyland, Allison notes defensively, has a year-round Christmas shop.

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