San Diego Business as usual In the campaign's closing days, some interesting names appeared on the donor list of San Diego's Lincoln Club, a local GOP group that backs pro-business Republicans, including mayor-elect Jerry Sanders and city council hopefuls Luis Acle and Kevin Faulconer. One of the most intriguing contributors was William R. Bradley, the former tow truck operator who made a fortune during the spectacular rise and subsequent fall of diet-drug-maker Metabolife. Bradley, along with drug felons Michael Blevins and Michael Ellis, cofounded the company. As first reported on these pages in June, Sanders and Bradley are longtime friends and onetime associates in Virtual Capital of California, a technology transfer venture that never panned out. Bradley contributed a piece of Las Vegas property as his part of the deal. This fall Bradley pleaded guilty to seven criminal counts of tax evasion stemming from his role in cooking the books at Metabolife. He's set to be sentenced April 28, when he could get 18 to 24 months in federal prison. He's also required to pay $6 million in taxes and fines. According to the Lincoln Club filing, Bradley gave $10,000 to the group on October 14, nine days after his October 5 plea.
Other big-name donors to the club included Mission Beach developer Mike Turk ($15,000); ousted port commissioner Kourosh Hangafarin ($1900); developer McMillin Management Services ($15,000); Ace Parking ($5000); ChevronTexaco ($5000); and hotel mogul Douglas Manchester's Manchester Resorts ($21,000). ... McMillin Capital, another arm of the late Corky McMillin's real-estate-development empire, has announced it's raised $47.6 million in new development money "from high net-worth individuals and institutional investors from the U.S. and Asia." According to a press release, a big chunk of the money is going into Point Loma's controversy-plagued Liberty Station project. "Investors chose to increase their capital commitments to build and hold five additional office buildings at Liberty Station and transform the venture into an investment fund. Thus far, this venture has funded $23 million of the $33 million required for these buildings."
Mortal friends Democratic political guru Larry Remer was briefly in his element during the run-up to the election, being asked by TV and print reporters to pontificate on all manner of things political. But now that the election is over, it will soon be back to court for the indicted Remer. Federal prosecutors accuse him and codefendant and onetime client Serafin Zasueta, ex-president of Southwestern College, of misappropriating $5890 of public funds to promote a school bond measure. Remer has pled not guilty and called the charges the product of a political vendetta by the GOP-run Justice Department.
He's not too fond of his codefendant, either. In a court filing two weeks ago, Remer's lawyer, Michael Pancer, accused Zasueta of falsely blaming Remer. "In short, Zasueta, through his attorney, announced that his defense will be that Mr. Remer defrauded him. Indeed, Zasueta has asserted that Mr. Remer engaged in a course of fraudulent conduct throughout their relationship, culminating in Mr. Remer deceiving him about the $5890.47 transaction underlying the indictment. Put simply, Zasueta's defense is a total sham; it is a lie, and, if a joint trial is held, Mr. Remer needs to prove that Zasueta is lying and has concocted this defense." The trial, postponed several times, is now set for March. ... As Jerry Sanders begins taking over as San Diego mayor, old hands are jumping ship. Latest to leave is Frank Belock, appointed director of the water department in 2004. Previously head of city engineering, Belock greased the skids for some of the city's most expensive and controversial projects, like the Qualcomm Stadium expansion of 1997.
Arnold and Alan In the wake of his electoral defeat at the hands of teachers and other union workers, Arnold Schwarzenegger is facing an uncertain political future, a condition that may spill over to ex-San Diego school superintendent Alan Bersin, the governor's appointment to the state Board of Education. Bersin, regarded as an enemy by the teachers union, was named to the board on May 6 of this year and must be confirmed by the state senate by May of next year or step down. Senate Democrats aren't in a hurry: a date for a hearing before the Rules Committee isn't expected to be set until January. Bersin also serves as Schwarzenegger's secretary of education, which does not require confirmation. ... Schwarzenegger has been taking his lumps from political pundits for paying his political consultants so much to lose so big in last week's statewide elections. Financial disclosure statements show that since the beginning of the year, some of his campaign cash has gone to San Diegans, current and former, including $68,296 to Kintera, Inc., the controversial online fund-raising outfit founded by Rancho Santa Fe's Harry Gruber. One hundred forty-seven thousand dollars was paid to Marty Wilson, long a political operative for ex-governor Pete Wilson, the former San Diego mayor. ... Now that the special election is out of the way, the real politicking can begin. Case in point: the Chula Vista City Council campaign kickoff this Saturday for Jesse Navarro, public relations man for district attorney Bonnie Dumanis, a Republican. She's set to be there, along with Assemblyman Juan Vargas, who's running for Congress, and onetime Jimmy Carter honcho Midge Costanza, both of whom are Democrats.