Toorcon San Diego is a convention of computer hackers that convenes every fall here to discuss the fine art of electronic breaking-and-entering. “Schools don’t teach hacking, and the Internet hides it for both profit, and fear of punishment,” says Toorcon’s website. “This makes learning, in a legal way, very difficult; so we developed a site where anyone can create any security related challenge they want.” Typical seminars of the past have included “Building Custom Android Malware for Penetration Testing” and “Firmware attacks, Copernicus, and You.” But hackers apparently aren’t the only ones lurking around the halls of the Westin Emerald Plaza and the Manchester Grand Hyatt. Muckrock News, a nonprofit investigative reporting outfit in Boston, wanted to get more details. The group made a Freedom of Information request to the professional spooks over at the Homeland Security Department and got back something less than a full response. “You specifically seek copies of all correspondence, or other documents or materials which cite or pertain to Toorcon held by the United States Department of Homeland Security,” said a March 27 response. “We determined that your request is too broad in scope or did not specifically identify the records which you are seeking. Please resubmit your request containing a reasonable description of the records you are seeking. Upon receipt of a perfected request, you will be advised as to the status of your request.”
Southwest Strategies, the lobbying boutique founded by ex-Tribune city-hall reporter Alan Ziegaus, keeps piling up the big-money clients, according to its most recent city-hall disclosure filing. The firm got $6000 to obtain a landscape-maintenance contract for Atlas Environmental Services, Inc.; $23,000 from Torrey Pines Bank to “Maintain commercial land use designation on La Media Retail Center Property”; and $25,000 from Westfield Corporation for “approval of amendments for redevelopment refinancing strategy for Westfield Horton Plaza.” Ziegaus son-in-law Chris Wahl hosted a swinging fundraising bash for mayor Kevin Faulconer at Tower 23 in Pacific Beach that raised $24,174.
Disgraced shareholders attorney and Democrat Bill Lerach can’t seem to resist giving money to his favorite political causes, no matter how ill-fated. Having backed failed mayoral candidates David Alvarez and Nathan Fletcher, he’s just come up with $10,000 for the San Diego County Democratic Party, which is trying to mount a comeback in the forthcoming city-council elections after being soundly thrashed by the GOP Lincoln Club’s volley of hit pieces and Douglas Manchester’s U-T San Diego.