San Diego The wife of Steve Peace, the former Democratic state assemblyman and senator most famous for his role in the disastrous state utility deregulation follies of the 1990s and now chief political advisor to Padres owner John Moores, has managed to get back onto the state's Integrated Waste Management Board, a taxpayer-funded post paying $117,818 a year. Fifty-three-year-old Cheryl Peace, first appointed to the position in 2003 by then senate president pro tempore John Burton, a close chum of her husband's, departed the board early this year after her four-year term expired. Current Pro Tem Don Perata anointed former state senator Wes Chesbro of Arcata, an eight-year veteran of the board before he was elected to the senate, to fill the spot vacated by Peace.
This time around, Peace, a registered Republican who once worked as a cost analyst at now-defunct Rohr Corporation and a loan officer for Bank of America, owes her appointment to Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez. "Cheryl Peace has been an energetic and effective member of the Integrated Waste Management Board," Núñez said in a June 21 news release announcing the move. "Her experience will be invaluable in continuing the board's important environmental mandate." Besides the two members chosen by the senate and assembly leaders, the other four spots are picked by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once vowed to abolish the board -- which ostensibly oversees such things as local trash recycling efforts -- as a costly political boondoggle used to pay off cronies and contributors. Steve Peace's boss Moores has been a big contributor to state Democrats; in March of last year he kicked in $45,000 to the state party.
Meanwhile, the Peaces have been busy in local real estate. According to a deed recorded on June 6, Peace, his wife, mother Patricia, stepfather Grigsby Gordon Browning, and some family trusts purchased a commercial building on F Street in downtown Chula Vista for $5 million. The deal was financed with a $3.36 million loan made by David Malcolm, the mortgage broker, ex-port commissioner, and longtime Peace buddy. In 2003 Malcolm pleaded guilty to a felony conflict-of-interest count for taking $210,000 in "consulting" fees while trying to broker a deal for Duke Energy to lease the South Bay Power Plant from the Port District. Records released at his sentencing included an account of a December 1998 dinner Malcolm had at posh Rainwater's restaurant with then-Senator Peace and Duke executives. Malcolm charged the $432 tab to the Port District.