San Diego Heroics In commemoration of Black History Month last year, Union Bank and San Diego State University's KPBS-TV handed out the sixth annual Hero Awards for community service. "I think this is a wonderful way to...celebrate the achievements of people in the community that are unsung heroes," Robert McNeely, the bank's senior vice president of community development, told the Daily Aztec. At the top of the list was Johnny Carter, Ph.D., who the Aztec reported "was honored for his social service work as president and CEO of the Youth Advocacy Innocent Addicts Program Inc. The program is dedicated to educating, supporting and counseling the positive development of San Diego's youth and its families and communities."
But a bit over a year later, San Diego State was singing a different tune. This March 2, the SDSU Foundation filed suit in superior court against Youth Advocacy/Innocent Addicts, alleging that in August of last year the organization had failed to pay $13,942.30 for website work it had contracted with the foundation to provide. Youth Advocacy's phone was disconnected, and Carter could not be reached. Lawyer Steve Kastner, listed on the court filing as the foundation's attorney, did not return repeated phone calls. Foundation spokeswoman Theresa Nakata said she would look into the matter but had not called back by press time.
One of this year's Hero Awards honorees has also been the subject of unwelcome attention. John E. Warren, owner of the San Diego Voice and Viewpoint as well as a regular on the KPBS radio show Editors Roundtable, and his wife Gerri got the nod in February for their "community activism." This month, the Union-Tribune reported that the couple had been "cited for financial irregularities in their handling of $82,000 of city funds paid to the San Diego County Black Chamber of Commerce, which the Warrens also operate."
Greektown La Jolla For politicians, it's not too early to start fund-raising for the 2006 election. Just look at the cash from wealthy La Jollans that's already rolling into both Republicans' and Democrats' coffers. On March 21, James Neal Blue and wife Anne each contributed $2000 to the John Murtha for Congress Committee. Republican Blue is chairman, CEO, and co-owner of closely held General Atomics, which makes untold millions of dollars selling pricey war gear like the Predator drone to the Pentagon. Democrat Murtha of Pennsylvania just happens to be ranking minority member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old John D. Spanos, son of Dean, grandson of Alex, and a scout for the Chargers, gave $2000 to the Gus Michael Bilirakis for Congress committee on March 7. Bilirakis, of Greek ancestry, is a Republican congressman from Florida. At last summer's GOP convention, he and Alex Spanos turned up at a $2.2 million Greek-American fund-raiser for President George Bush, where Spanos told the crowd that he once gave money to failed Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis just because he was a fellow Greek: "Governor Dukakis was almost shocked by how much I helped him."
Another big La Jolla Democrat, Lynn Gorguze, wealthy wife of San Diego city councilman Scott Peters, gave $2753 to the San Diego Democratic Central Committee on January 4. Last year the committee boosted her husband's reelection bid.
Big brother The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, a state agency that has of late run into criticism from those who say it has tried to sabotage efforts to keep local military bases open, is touting an eyebrow-raising deal with the Union-Tribune and its website. "Sign on San Diego and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority would like you to be a part of an innovative online forum, a unique opportunity to help shape decisions about the future of air transportation in San Diego," says a recent e-mail from authority president Thella Bowens.
Interested parties are provided a link to the U-T's website, where they are encouraged by an outfit called Web Lab to fill out a form with intimate details about their income, employment, and personal life in order to be admitted to an online "citizen dialogue on the future of air travel in San Diego." According to the instructions: "You will be assigned to one of several small, diverse groups, each with about 40 participants. Only you and other members of your group will be able to post messages in your group, but anyone can read the messages."
There are a few catches, set out in fine print: "We encourage active discussions and welcome debate. But, in order to ensure a civil environment, Web Lab reserves the right to remove, in our sole discretion, any Content which you post to the web site and/or terminate your membership in certain situations."