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San Diego at Large

Illegal Procedure Scores a Win for Local Charities

February 16, 1988|BARRY M. HORSTMAN

During last month's Super Bowl, more than 100 souvenir salesmen were flagged for illegal procedure for trying to sell sweat shirts, hats, pins and other mementos that had not been properly registered with the National Football League. But as a result of the penalties, 10 local charities will score big.

Superior Court Judge Vincent DiFiglia has signed an order under which the property--seized by investigators for National Football League Properties for violating the NFL trademark--will be distributed to charities recommended by San Diego officials.

Don McGrath, a local lawyer who volunteered to help distribute the seized property, estimates that the contraband had a pregame street value of about $150,000--roughly twice what it is worth now, two weeks after the game.

"About half of it is real junk, but the other half is pretty nice stuff," McGrath said. "It makes more sense to put it to a good use than to just destroy it."

The charities that will receive a pro rata share of the merchandise include the St. Vincent de Paul Joan Kroc Center for the homeless, the Senior Community Center, Border View YMCA, Harmonium, Barrio Station, the San Dieguito Boys and Girls Club, Rachel's Women's Center, Villa Nueva, Hogan Enfantile la Gloria and the Parks and Recreation Department Little League.

With thousands of sweat shirts, T-shirts and hats to distribute, McGrath has adopted a "not terribly scientific" method for dividing them among the charities: Small sizes have been set aside for youth groups, mediums for women's organizations, with larges and extra-larges reserved primarily for the men served by the downtown homeless center. One of the more unusual items--pinatas featuring the Washington Redskins' and Denver Broncos' insignias--will be given to an elementary school.

As a precaution in case anyone appeals the judge's ruling, McGrath said that he plans to wait about one month before divvying up the property.

"I'd feel terrible if the goods were given away and then it turned out that someone had a legitimate legal argument," he said.

That, after all, would be the legal equivalent of a false start. Five-yard penalty and replay the case.

There's Always a Catch

Among the courses being offered in Southwestern College's Community Education program is one titled "Fabulous Freebies and Bargains in America's Finest City."

Ironically, one aspect of the course, to be offered on Feb. 29 and May 14, seems to contradict its own title. Because to find out about the "fabulous freebies," students will have to pay a $19 course fee.

Unrequited Love

Sunday may have been Valentine's Day, but the San Diego Police Department's log for the day provided some stark contrasts to the spirit of the holiday. Lovers' and ex-lovers' spats on Valentine's Day left one man dead, two people with minor wounds and two others facing criminal charges.

The most serious incident occurred in Grantville, where a 42-year-old man killed himself early Sunday with a knife after stabbing his girlfriend in the neck following an argument.

In Nestor, a man was arrested on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon after firing four shotgun blasts into a van in which his ex-wife and her boyfriend were sitting. Neither of the van's occupants was injured. And in San Ysidro, a 40-year-old man stabbed his former wife on her right ring finger with a steak knife during an argument.

Not exactly what Cupid had in mind for the day.

Cold Reality

How cold was it during the cold wave that produced freezing temperatures in many parts of San Diego during December and January? Cold enough to trip up a San Diego Gas & Electric computer program that the utility uses to uncover potentially staggering bills.

The program identifies monthly bills that are a certain percentage higher than the same month a year earlier. Most of those bills turn out to be accurate, but SDG&E employees sometimes uncover an incorrect bill that was generated by a faulty meter reading or a gas line leak.

During December, 1986, for example, the computer program kicked out 13,210 potentially erroneous bills. But unusually high consumption during December, 1987, caused the computer to flag nearly 29,000 bills.

SDG&E officials, though, generally ignored the computer's warnings, believing that San Diegans had simply responded to the chill by turning up the heat. Consequently, most of those consumers faced bills that were about twice as high as the previous winter.

Which no doubt left many customers hot.

When the Earth Moves

When a strong earthquake aftershock shook the Los Angeles area last week, Amtrak's San Diegan train, following standard procedure, stopped briefly mid-route while officials checked to make sure that the temblor had not damaged the tracks.

Some passengers, however, were less unnerved by why the train stopped than by where it stopped: just opposite the San Onofre nuclear plant.

"It would have been nice to at least be a little upwind," one passenger quipped.

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