— San Diego State University president Stephen Weber was out traveling a bit last year, according to his recently filed Statement of Economic Interests. On March 9, Weber reports, he accepted a free private plane ride from Padres owner John Moores valued at $200. On March 14, he accepted another private flight from Moores worth $2400. Lobbyist Nicole Clay, wife of SDSU booster Ben Clay, gave Weber two tickets valued at $300 to last year's "Holiday Bowl Gala"; Coronado socialite Phyllis Kraus gave him two tickets to a "Museum of Arts Gala" worth $200. But Weber's biggest benefactor turns out to be none other than Budget Group, the giant rental-car company that went bankrupt while he was on the board last year. Weber reported getting a "holiday gift basket" from Budget's Sanford Miller ($129) and travel reimbursement for Budget board meetings in April ($1362.82) and August ($1110). He also reported getting from between $10,000 to $100,000 in Budget board fees. Meanwhile, county supervisor Ron Roberts, a baseball buff, reports accepting two free Padres tickets from the team last year worth a total of $80. Roberts's colleague, North County supervisor Bill Horn, didn't do as well by Moores. Avocado rancher Horn took a flyer a few years back in three Moores-controlled or related companies: Peregrine Systems, Leap Wireless, and Bindview. Peregrine and Leap are bankrupt, and Bindview's management has been under fire. Horn reports his holdings in each of the three are "now valued [at] under $2000." For his part, county supervisor Greg Cox reports his wife Cheryl made between $10,000 and $100,000 as a consultant to the California Republican Party. She also reportedly picked up between $1000 and $10,000 working for Assemblywoman Shirley Horton's election campaign, along with between $500 and $1000 as a consultant to the county's GOP central committee.

Plugola Viewers of KNSD, the NBC-owned San Diego TV station, might be expecting news when they tune in each morning, but station manager Phyllis Schwartz has a different idea. In an interview with Television Week, Schwartz revealed to the trade magazine an assortment of lucrative plugs and advertiser tie-ins that the station is slipping into its morning news shows, staged outside its glass-walled studio near downtown's Horton Plaza. During a musical segment aired each Friday, "Sponsors get their logos on the spot and on banners behind the band," according to Schwartz. "The sponsor also gets some real estate on our website." As part of what the magazine calls KNSD's "value-added opportunities for advertisers," a local auto dealer "drove a car right onto the plaza," and "a Baja Fresh restaurant handed out free samples on the square." Schwartz is currently running a "Wedding Bells" segment, based on NBC's Today Show feature, in which the station selects lucky couples to get married on TV and receive a free honeymoon and a stash of wedding booty, all of which is repeatedly plugged by the news anchors. "This is a good way to entice local advertisers," Schwartz said. "Any retailer who has dishes or silverware, dresses, tuxedos, or bridesmaid services could buy into this. The categories are pretty broad."

Politics in the afternoon Democratic assemblyman Juan Vargas is holding a noontime "campaign kickoff reception" at downtown's Holiday Inn by the Bay next month. Five tickets to the event cost $3200. It's $1500 per ticket to attend a private reception before the lunch. Local politicos billed as attendees include all Democrats on the San Diego city council, as well as Republican Jim Madaffer. Other GOPers on the invite include trash-company lobbyist Johnnie Perkins and hotel magnate Bill Evans. Sam Marasco, developer of that controversial pedestrian bridge to Tijuana, and Barrio Logan developer Willie Ayyad are also listed as backers. Vargas is expected to go eventually for the congressional seat held by Democrat Bob Filner ... San Diego Unified School District trustee John de Beck says personnel director Deberie Gomez, who's been a big cheese in the administration of honcho Alan Bersin, has told colleagues she's going to take early retirement. Word has it that her entire top staff, as well as other key people, including lawyer Jo Anne SawyerKnoll and chief of staff Terry Smith, are also taking the golden handshake ... Del Mar's Arthur Nicholas has been elected secretary of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Known for his sprawling beach house and multimillion-dollar collection of western art and memorabilia, the SDSU alum is the founder and managing partner of Nicholas/Applegate Capital Management ... La Jolla defense outfit SAIC reportedly has a big CIA Iraq contract. Available jobs currently listed on the firm's website include an "All Source intelligence analyst" in Kosovo. Mission: "[Conduct] intelligence related to crime and corruption, counterterrorism, politics, displaced persons and refugees, and economics for the purpose of force protection and promoting a safe and secure environment."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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