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If Foster was in town, she made little contact

On Wednesday morning, Norman B, a morning deejay at WSJT-FM in St. Petersburg, announced he had seen Jodie Foster eating dinner at Kelly's for Just About Anything in Dunedin the previous evening.

The two-time Oscar winner, who has her own production company, was in town scouting movie locations, the deejay said.

So, was she really there, or was it just a radio bit?

Norman B couldn't be reached for comment, but the Insider couldn't locate any others who had seen the star.

Debbie Williams, a Kelly's server, said she hadn't heard anything about a Foster sighting.

"Hey, Ted," she yelled to another server. "Was Jodie Foster here last night?"

Ted said he didn't see her.

"He's an actor," Williams said. "He would definitely know her."

Kelly's has fed several other celebrities, Williams said, including Juliette Lewis, Quentin Tarantino and Kathy Bates.

"But we haven't had any movie stars for a while," she said.

Jennifer Parramore, director of the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Area Film Commission, said she hadn't heard anything about Foster being in town.

"In my heart of hearts, I hope she was," Parramore said. "I just feel like we would have gotten an inkling, even if it was one of those, "You don't know where you heard this' kind of things."

If Foster was here, Parramore said, "I hope she loved it. I'd even take her to dinner, and I don't have an expense account."

WELL, JUSTICE IS SUPPOSED TO BE BLIND: When foul weather struck Pinellas County on Monday, it played havoc with the year-old Criminal Justice Center.

At the clerk windows, the steel security doors started rolling down on the customers' heads, prompting the clerks to shout for everyone to stand back. Another security door blocked the hallway to the courtrooms on the fourth floor. The air-conditioning went out, prompting a lot of lawyers to shed their jackets, and the lights flickered off inside the courtrooms, interrupting the normal round of morning pretrial hearings.

Circuit Judge Tim Peters gamely soldiered on, calling cases in the dim light beaming in from the hall. But when a defendant came forward to change a plea, Peters had to admit he couldn't read how many charges were involved.

Then Peters announced: "I want to keep the jokes this morning about the court being in the dark to a minimum." Assistant State Attorney David Lichter told him it would have been too easy to make such a crack.

NOW, ALL THEY NEED ARE A COUPLE ZILLION TEA BAGS: The desalination plant Du Pont is hoping to build in central Pinellas County is touted as state-of-the-art. Coincidently, the day before Du Pont made its latest pitch to the county, County Commissioner Steve Seibert met with some University of South Florida professors working on a solar energy research project.

So, it was only natural for Seibert to wonder why Du Pont couldn't team up with USF and, perhaps, power the desalination plant with solar energy. The proposed plant would produce about 10-million gallons of drinking water each day and would use quite a bit of electricity.

Well, the Insider checked with the International Desalting Association and found out that while desalination and solar power have flirted for decades, it's a combo that doesn't really work on a large scale.

In fact, using the IDA's calculations, Du Pont would need 2,500 acres of solar panels to power the plant. If you laid those acres out side-by-side, they would stretch about 99 miles, from the site of the plant south of Largo to just outside Orlando.

PERSONALLY, WE'RE WAITING FOR THE LIMO DRIVERS' STRIKE: Clearwater Commissioner Bob Clark is used to getting complaint letters. But Denise Brown, a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority employee, went a little further than most.

In a letter to Clark, the city's representative on the PSTA Board, Brown included a check for $2.50 to pay for Clark's bus fare.

"It seems to me the best way to get the facts is to do it yourself," she wrote. "So, I am extending an open invitation to you to ride the bus and as further incentive I am including $2.50 for the purchase of a day pass thus assuring your anonymity will be protected. Put your car away for the day and use the bus system!"

Clark got the message. Although he has ridden many of the 18 routes Brown suggested, he plans on riding them again to see firsthand what her gripes are. But the ride won't be on Brown.

"Frankly, we all have bus passes," Clark said. "We can ride the buses for free."

Clark returned the check and thanked Brown for her thoughtfulness.

"This job doesn't pay much," he said, "but at least I can afford bus fare."

_ Compiled by Times staff writers Wilma Norton, Craig Pittman, Joe Newman and Anita Kumar.