Street-Smart Escapee Knows Tricks of Eluding Team of Pursuing Lawmen

Let's take a look.

* A task force of 50 cops is hunting for jail escapee/murder suspect Johnaton George, but cops say George has the street cunning of a longtime criminal.

Plus, he knows a lot of cops from previous arrests and he's not likely to be taken unaware even by a plainclothes cop.

One sighting of George was made early Wednesday by an off-duty cop in civilian clothes driving his pickup west on California 94.

George was driving a different car than the one he carjacked in the Gaslamp Quarter. But the cop recognized George because he had once arrested him.

George saw the cop and swerved across four lanes of traffic to exit on Euclid Avenue. By the time cops picked up the hunt, George was nowhere to be found.

* Leon Thorner of San Diego is worried about Ross Perot since learning that the director of Perot's front group (United We Stand, America) is Orson Swindle .

* Attack and counterattack.

If (and it's a big if) the Republican attack on Bill Clinton's patriotism saves President Bush's political bacon, a good share of the credit/blame might go to Reps. Duncan Hunter and Randy (Duke) Cunningham.

The two San Diego area Republicans joined Rep. Bob Dornan (R-Garden Grove) and Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) in four nights of Clinton-bashing on C-SPAN.

Taking the offensive during the House's Special Orders time slot, the four super-hawks pounded Clinton at length for leading anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in London and traveling to Moscow in 1969.

Cunningham's office reports a ton of response, nearly all laudatory: 1,000 phone calls, 150 faxes, a sack of mail.

Still, Cunningham's role in the Clinton-bashing and some of his other high-voltage comments recently have prompted his four opponents (Green, Libertarian, Democrat and Peace & Freedom) in the 51st Congressional District to join forces.

The four have scheduled an "Anybody But Duke" press conference today in Carlsbad before Cunningham speaks to a political forum.

"This guy is Joe McCarthy paranoid, he's a strange puppy," says Green candidate Dick Roe.

Flights of Fancy

In the air and on the ground.

* The use of a Sheriff's Department helicopter to give some jail trusties an aerial tour may not have been Jimmy Wilkins' only innovative idea about copters.

A story going around says the controversial special assistant to Sheriff Jim Roache also decided to use a helicopter one day to check the pruning job on the trees at the new headquarters in Kearny Mesa.

So he had the copter summoned from regular duties Code 3 (without delay).

When the pilot found out what Wilkins had in mind, he told him to fly a kite (or words to that effect).

* Judy Jarvis, Republican candidate in the 49th Congressional, is hitting Democratic opponent Lynn Schenk over her trips/junkets (Washington, London, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong) as a port commissioner:

"If Robin Leach finds out about Lynn Schenk, she'll be the subject of a new series: 'Lifestyles of the Arrogant and Out of Touch.' "

Jarvis notes that Schenk billed the port for limos, taxis, luxury hotels and $83.19 for laundry in Tokyo.

The Schenk camp responds thusly:

1) The trips were working trips to drum up business.

2) The $3,253.61 that Schenk billed the Port District for travel during 1990-91 makes her a pinch-penny among port commissioners.

3) If Jarvis is worried about port commissioners with expensive wanderlust, she should look closer to home. The Schenkites note that Commissioner Dan Larsen billed for $15,876 of globe-trotting during '90-91.

Larsen is on the steering committee for the Jarvis campaign.

The Caesar of Malls

Short takes.

* North County bumper sticker, on a Volvo: "I Came, I Saw, I Did a Little Shopping."

* Bill Ritter, former reporter for the San Diego County edition of The Times and for KNSD (Channel 39), is joining ABC's "Good Morning America" as co-host of a new Sunday program and a reporter for the weekday program.

* Jean Thibault of Julian notes the warning on a bottle of prescription sleep medicine: "May cause drowsiness."

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