It’s a Small Political World in Little Old San Diego

In still small-town-feeling San Diego, it’s not surprising that the two men who were voted into the mayoral runoff, Dick Murphy and Ron Roberts, have much in common: Both are 57-year-old Republicans who got appointments from a mayor named Pete Wilson.

Two who didn’t make the runoff cutoff among the dozen candidates also first met in the San Diego of the early 1970s--but under different circumstances.

As a young Bank of America employee, Peter Q. Davis had tasks that included repossessing cars from people who’d fallen behind in payments. Among the cars he repossessed was that of another future mayoral contender, council member George Stevens.

“Those were the kind of days,” mused Davis, “that made me wonder whether I wanted to stay in banking.” He did, and made enough to be able to spend $1.25 million of his own greenbacks on his unsuccessful campaign.


A mazing grace: It’s a pathway to nowhere, except maybe some inner peace.


Episcopal, Buddhist and Catholic clergy have dedicated the nation’s first permanent prison meditation maze for the 56 inmates in San Jose’s minimum-security county jail.

Cathedrals of the Middle Ages used labyrinthine paths as a means of inducing meditative and prayerful states, and as a metaphor for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Jails in Monterey County and elsewhere unroll portable canvas-painted labyrinths. Santa Clara County’s permanent structure was built for $4,500, spent on flowers and plants along the driftwood and redwood-bark walkway--money from profits on prison pay phones, washers and dryers and vending machines.

“It takes away the institutional thing,” convicted burglar Jeannette Kangas told the San Jose Mercury News. But Juliet Castine, jailed for welfare fraud, told the paper, “I think they should tear the whole thing out and put in a swimming pool so we can cool off in the summer.”


Paper cuts: The latest in the vivid history of San Francisco’s daily newspapers has ended with a Fang--the new owner--but the whole thing started with a bang--several of them.

The San Francisco Examiner was sold last week to independent publisher Ted Fang, the same week Times Mirror, parent of the Los Angeles Times, agreed to be taken over by Tribune Co. of Chicago.

The chronicles of the Examiner and the San Francisco Chronicle began in the 19th century. In 1879, Chronicle Editor Charles de Young shot and wounded mayoral candidate Isaac Kalloch after Kalloch announced that the editor’s mother ran a house of prostitution. Kalloch recovered and was elected.

The next year, De Young was killed by Isaac’s son, Milton, who was riled by the Chronicle’s personal attacks on his father. Then, in 1884, sugar scion Adolph Spreckels shot and wounded M.H. de Young after the Chronicle criticized the Spreckelses and their sugar domain.

In the midst of all this, millionaire miner George Hearst won the town’s other big paper, the Examiner, in a card game. Hearst Corp. bought the rival Chronicle last year, and now has sold off the card-game take--without a shot being fired.


One-offs: The reward is up to nearly $110,000 for the man who, in a fit of road rage, hurled Leo a 10-year-old bichon frise dog into traffic after a fender-bender in San Jose. . . . For the second year, nearly 250 blooming daffodils planted along California 99 by a Yuba City garden club have been cut and stolen. . . . A San Jose woman has been warned to keep it down, after mating calls from the Pacific tree frogs in her goldfish pond prompted a pair of neighbors to complain about the noise.


“We spent some time debating whether this was the most exciting result we found, or the most depressing.”

--Biologist Anne Weil, whose study with UC Berkeley geologist James Kirchner of extinction patterns concluded, among other things, that the human species could become extinct before Earth recovers from the current headlong disappearance of critical species. The study, reported in the journal Nature, applied mathematical models to a half-billion years of marine fossils and found that from the time a plant or animal becomes extinct, it takes about 10 million years before anything like it reappears--a “speed limit” on the planet’s recovery rate.


Voter Turnout in Primaries

The percentage of registered voters who turned out two weeks ago for California’s earliest primary ever was the highest since 1982.

March 2000: 53.24%


Source: California secretary of state

Researched by TRACY THOMAS / Los Angeles Times

California Dateline appears every other Tuesday.