San Diego There doesn't seem to be any doubt about where Union-Tribune owner Helen Copley stands on the county grand jury's investigation into Mayor Susan Golding and the money-trading scandal surrounding last year's campaign to build a taxpayer-subsidized stadium for the Padres. During the last week, the U-T has been full of attack editorials, columns, and news coverage, all apparently intended to discredit the grand jury and shift the spotlight away from the gory details of San Diego's latest cash-and-carry political mess. Now insiders say there may be a whiff of scandal over at the U-T. Turns out that Copley and her son David have been stockholders in the Florida Panthers hockey team, a fact never disclosed by the paper. Under majority owner H. Wayne Huizenga, who until January also owned baseball's Marlins, the Panthers got their own $185 million arena, thanks to the taxpayers of Broward County, Florida. When Huizenga named the joint the "National Car Rental Center" -- after the rent-a-car chain he also controls -- a local newspaper columnist suggested a series of alternative names, including "The National Rip-Off Center, Home of the Four-Dollar Hot Dog," "The Wayne Huizenga Can Kiss My (bleep!) Arena," and "The Tidy Bowl." After nasty public debate, the arena was built and finally opened two months ago. And all the while the controversy over the public subsidy raged, records filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission show, Helen and David Copley were stockholders. In August 1997, the reports say, the David C. Copley Trust owned 17,963 shares and the Helen K. Copley Revocable Trust owned 35,925. They may have since sold some of the shares, but no current public disclosure of their holdings is available, and David Copley didn't return phone calls.
As the news battle between San Diego's independent TV stations gets underway this summer, yet another new recruit is said to be heading here, this time from Tennessee. Michael Turko, who the Nashville Tennessean calls a "door-kicker," is leaving his job as a "loud, personality-driven consumer affairs reporter" at Nashville's Channel 2 and coming west for a gig at KUSI, Channel 51. "He was a memorable moment when he was on, a promotable difference," Channel 2 news director Matthew Zelkind told the paper. "And whether you agree with him or not, he's made a lot of lives better." The paper added that "KUSI-TV, run by some of Turko's friends from Texas, also gave him a sizable raise, but that money likely will be eaten up by a higher cost of living.... Turko says he loves Nashville and his bosses at Channel 2, but he couldn't pass up San Diego or a whopping five minutes of TV time a night." KUSI, which up until now has had no competition on the independent TV news front, is facing off against soon-to-be-launched news shows on KSWB and XETV ... A computer hacker from Virginia Tech allegedly broke into the mail server of the University of California at San Diego's dean of engineering on March 27, according to court documents dug up by the Roanoke Times. A UCSD systems administrator claimed the invasion was "really minimal." A hacker at the same address had allegedly been breaking into Navy computers.
Going Down South
An outfit claiming to run the world's biggest porn site on the Web also wants to wire Tijuana for cable. Or so claims a news release from Ocean Fund International, a British Virgin Islands company that says its wholly owned subsidiary, Sand Man Internacional, "in cooperation with Mexican telecommunications companies, is investing $100 million in fiber-optic technology to support a telephone, Internet, and cable television infrastructure throughout Tijuana, Mexico. Sand Man intends to give free fiber to every resident and business in the greater Tijuana area." Ocean Fund also offered to buy Caesar's Palace for $3.6 billion, an offer that a Caesar's spokesman called "bizarre"... A lawyer for John Moores has sent the city a letter saying the Padres owner refuses to register as a lobbyist. In the meantime, SDG&E's Mark Nelson has complied with the law, after a reminder letter from City Clerk Chuck Abdelnour inspired by civic watchdog Mel Shapiro.
Contributor: Matt Potter