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Lawsuits No Stranger to This Tenant’s Door

When Gaetano Spinosa goes to court Thursday in the now-celebrated flap over his dog, Taur, it won’t be the first time one of his landlord-tenant disputes has become litigious.

In fact, Spinosa has been sued five times in the past three years for failure to pay rent at five different locations. In four of the cases, judges found in favor of the landlord; the fifth case was not pursued after Spinosa moved out.

Legal Aid attorney Richard Steiner says the five suits against Spinosa are not relevant in the current action, in which Spinosa claims he is being treated unfairly by the nonprofit corporation that owns the New Palace residential hotel, where he has lived since March, 1988.

The corporation, headed by Mayor Maureen O’Connor’s sister, Mavourneen, has offered to pay Spinosa $1,600, which is more than other tenants received, to move out so that renovation can begin at the aging hotel at 480 Elm St.

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Spinosa is holding out for $5,000 because he says $1,600 isn’t enough to find a place that will accommodate both him and Taur during the renovation. In a series of interviews with reporters two weeks ago, Spinosa talked of his affection for the part husky, part Samoyed, but did not mention his history of fighting with landlords.

Landlords in Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Linda Vista and two in Clairemont have sued Spinosa, 35, described variously as a jeweler, former medical student and a medical laboratory technician.

In the four cases in which he made a formal response, Spinosa said the landlords were being unfair by not making repairs, cleaning the swimming pool or keeping the neighbors quiet.

Steiner says the five suits are not relevant to the New Palace case because the case does not involve refusal to pay rent. He says the only issue is whether Spinosa’s rights have been protected under a state law calling for relocation money for tenants displaced by publicly financed renovation projects.

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Steiner says he will fight any attempt to bring up Spinosa’s past. “If we bring up his past, maybe we should look at the attorneys’ past, and the corporation’s,” he said. “It could be a long trial.”

That’s Saying a Mouthful

Channel 8 anchorwoman Allison Ross, introducing a segment on the fat-is-beautiful movement: “Overweight people are one of the largest minority groups in America today.”

Yes, but many have promised to eat only RyKrisp.

Spell It Cradiff

Say what you will about civil service, they’re sharp as tacks up there in Encinitas.

When an Orange County company hired by the city painted a “YEILD” warning on a crosswalk at San Elijo Avenue and Highway 101 in Cardiff, it took the city only two days to discover the error. Of course, it did help that The Citizen newspaper ran a front-page picture and story, with the headline, “I Before E Except After C in Cardiff.”

Bad-Mouthing the Mouth

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Depending on who’s doing the talking, the Morton Downey Jr. show Sunday night at Symphony Hall was either too raunchy or not raunchy enough.

Some of the 1,500 fans demanded their money back after being told they couldn’t drink or smoke in the seating area. After all, Downey was doing both up on the stage.

On Monday morning, KGTV (Channel 10) was besieged with calls from fans also asking for refunds, but for a different reason: Downey’s torrent of off-color language. The television channel carries Downey’s syndicated talk show and was listed as sponsoring the Sunday concert.

Regardless of their gripes, none of the fans got satisfaction.

Box office workers at Symphony Hall explained that Downey got to drink beer and smoke because it’s part of his act. The hall’s liquor license restricts drinking to the lobby near the concession stands, and fire codes prohibit all non-theatrical smoking.

At Channel 10, callers were told that the station had nothing to do with ticket sales and, furthermore, anyone attending a Morton Downey Jr. show should expect the worst.


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