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Man About Town : San Diego's Ex-Mayor Roger Hedgecock Hasn't Let His Felony Conviction Get Him Down. But This Week, the Past May Catch Up With Him.

December 06, 1987|BARRY M. HORSTMAN | Barry Horstman is Times staff writer based in San Diego who covered Roger Hedgecock's administration and is reporting on his trials

Similarly, Hedgecock rarely misses an opportunity to get in a dig against Dist. Atty. Edwin L. Miller Jr., who he argues pursued the investigation into his finances with such vigor primarily because of their longstanding animosity. When a divorced female caller complains that she is having difficulty getting the district attorney's office to enforce a spousal support order, Hedgecock replies: "The D.A. has the discretion to chase after politicians he doesn't like, but not to help ordinary people with legal problems."

Denying he has undergone a philosophic change--or that he crafted an

image as mayor false to his true beliefs--Hedgecock says that he simply had little occasion to discuss national or international affairs during his career in local politics. "If people are surprised, it's just because they never heard me speak about these things before, not because I've changed," he says.

For the radio station the gamble has paid off. A few KSDO advertisers initially canceled buys in protest, Merker says, but most have since quietly returned to the station "because they can read the ratings, too."

MUCH OF Hedgecock's income is derived from his personal endorsements and ads for a wide range of products. Throughout his program Hedgecock extolls the virtues of walking shoes ("Comfortable and good-looking, too!"), home-security systems, facial rejuvenation clinics ("If you want to look as young as you feel"), lawyers and the Pain Treatment Center. ("You owe yourself a stress-free life!") While radio personalities commonly endorse products, some of Hedgecock's closest backers say that they find something demeaning about a man who, as mayor, sold a convention center to San Diego voters, now hawking vacuum cleaners, pain cures and shoes.

"Every time I hear him say, 'Do you want to get rid of those wrinkles on your face?' I could just cry," says former City Hall aide Schulze.

Hedgecock, however, bristles at any suggestion that he is "huckstering for anything that comes along." He stresses that he is selective and that he personally checks out each individual or product that he advertises.

Advertisers' apparent eagerness to have their products linked to Hedgecock also yields, he believes, an unusual insight into his standing in San Diego.

"I don't know many other convicted felons who could go on the radio and sell products and services," Hedgecock says. "Normally, you'd think advertisers would run the other way. But the fact that they're seeking me out--I mean, how more ironic can you get than a convicted felon doing an ad for an attorney?--is an indication of the acceptance I have with the general public.

"So sometimes I think to myself, 'For a convicted felon, you sure are selling a lot of things.' That must mean I have credibility with someone out there."

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