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At 91, She's the Oldest of San Diego's Finest

May 30, 2000

Get prepared, San Diego. Bertha will soon be patrolling in a black-and-white.

Bertha Gue, two weeks shy of her 92nd birthday, graduates this week from the San Diego Police Department's training program for its Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP). She and a partner will take up a beat in the Mira Mesa neighborhood.

She will not be breaking up bar fights or separating domestic disputants. But like 500-plus other unpaid, unarmed RSVP members, she will drive a specially marked car and be on the lookout for crime, ready to call the regular cops.

She'll visit shut-ins, make house checks for vacationers, issue tickets to handicapped-zone scofflaws, and maybe direct traffic at events like the 4th of July parade. Gue will be the oldest member of the RSVP.

"When people get older, they tend to hibernate," said Gue, twice widowed. "I don't want that. I said to myself: I've got to do something."

Gue, an Indiana native who has lived 15 years in San Diego, has been restless since she was let go last year after 14 years at Carl's Jr. The burger chain decided to go with a youth movement.

To qualify for RSVP, she had to pass a 40-hour course and a ride-along. When she's not on the job, she'll go back to her knitting and embroidery.

"I'll try anything once," she said. "If I don't like this, I'll find something else."

*

Unchained opinion: Whether or not they dislike his conservative politics, people don't seem to feel strong emotions about mild-mannered Dick Murphy, a candidate for San Diego mayor.

So editors at San Diego Magazine were surprised when one reader listed Murphy for two of the most negative categories in the magazine's annual "100 best and worst things" poll: Public Enemy No. 1 and Most Offensive Political Candidate.

Editors solved the mystery when they looked at the postmark.

The reader is doing time at the state prison in Sacramento and apparently has a beef against Murphy stemming from Murphy's tenure as a Superior Court judge.

The poll represented the only opportunity the reader/inmate will have to register his disgust at Murphy as the November election approaches, pitting Murphy against Supervisor Ron Roberts.

The law does not allow absentee ballots for prisoners, even those who subscribe to glossy magazines.

*

Smudging the truth? A Beverly Hills product called Magic Wand, which sprays on a light foundation of makeup to help reduce the glare of TV lights, is advertising that actress Catherine Zeta-Jones ("The Mask of Zorro") and Vice President Al Gore have been pleased with recent spray jobs.

Naturally, the Republicans are trying to make hay, saying it's another Gore attempt to spruce up his image by obscuring the truth.

"Gore still doesn't understand," says Republican Party Chairman Jim Nicholson. "It's not the imperfection, it's the cover-up."

*

Your government at work: Encinitas Mayor James Bond was pleased when he received in the mail an official, embossed certificate from Secretary of State Bill Jones declaring him the winner in the Republican primary in the 74th Assembly District.

Pleased and surprised.

Bond was beaten in the primary by Escondido lumber store owner Mark Wyland, who also got a congratulatory certificate from Jones and will advance to the November runoff.

* Litigation with the Oakland Raiders has cost Oakland and Alameda County taxpayers $6 million in legal fees, according to documents unearthed by the San Francisco Chronicle.

"We're running with the big dogs, and they're tough," explains James Brosnahan, counsel for the city and county.

* Unable to get their attention any other way, the San Diego district attorney's office has started jailing the parents of chronically truant students.

Last week's sweep in Escondido netted several parents who spent the night locked up before meeting the judge, who sentenced them to parenting class.

The scofflaw students were more elusive. They were long gone when cops came knocking with warrants, leaving the parents to take the rap.

*

One-offs: The Marine Corps is testing a new brand of bayonet for troops at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms. The old ones just don't cut it any more. . . . Go ahead, make my tree! A new list of America's biggest trees by American Forests magazine lists a 135-foot blue gum eucalyptus owned by actor Clint Eastwood in Carmel as the second-biggest broadleaf. . . . The Southern California Beatle Club is circulating a petition in opposition to the parole of Mark Chapman, convicted killer of John Lennon.

EXIT LINE

"Put the Fun Back in Funeral"

--Bumper sticker on car parked at an ice cream store in San Diego.

*

California Dateline appears every other Tuesday.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Not Enough Nurses

For many reasons, including population growth and more career options for women, California has experienced a shortage of registered nurses since the mid-1990s. Here are states with the highest and lowest ratios of nurses per capita.

HIGHEST RATIOS

*--*

Nurses Per 100,000 Rank State Population 1. Massachusetts 1,190 2. Rhode Island 1,128 3. North Dakota 1,072 4. South Dakota 1,059 5. Maine 1,053

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*

LOWEST RATIOS

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Nurses Per 100,000 Rank State Population 46. Texas 629 47. Idaho 583 48. Oklahoma 581 49. Nevada 580 50. California 566

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NATIONAL AVERAGE: 798

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Source: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, 1996 data (the most recent available)

Researched by TRACY THOMAS/Los Angeles Times

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