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Stories by Don Bauder

Will San Onofre settlement help ratepayers?

Aguirre skeptical

The Office of Ratepayer Advocates, a group within the California Public Utilities Commission that represents ratepayers, has reached an agreement with Southern California Edison and SDG&E, co-owners of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear operation. The ...

Opera president denies ugliest rumors

City wouldn't cut Civic Center rent.

Karen Cohn, chairwoman of San Diego Opera, says if some moneybags comes forward with a fat gift, the opera would love to start business again. I interviewed her because Ian Campbell, general director, said he ...

San Diego water: You will pay

Even if the drought miraculously ends, water will be taking money from your pocketbook.

March was supposed to come in with a deluge. But populated areas got disappointingly little rain. And the rest of the month has been desert-dry. An El Niño may help later, but that’s iffy. Maybe ...

Court to San Diego: hands off Travelocity

Chinese tourists will outnumber nerds

The City of San Diego lost an appeal in the state second appellate district March 5. San Diego and other cities like Anaheim and Santa Monica wanted to slap a transient occupancy tax (hotel tax) ...

The inside story of San Diego Opera's demise

Who is at fault?

On the evening of March 20, San Francisco Opera held its annual meeting. David Gockley, general director, said the announced folding of San Diego Opera is "a tragedy." San Diego was"one of the best-run companies ...

Shocker: San Diego Opera to fold

Board votes 33-1 to close down

According to the U-T, the San Diego Opera will close down at the end of this season after 49 years. The board voted 33 to 1 for the shuttering today (March 19). Ian Campbell, general ...

Scheme to steal $20 million from Navy detailed

Second confession in Glenn Defense Marine Asia scandal

Alex Wisidagama, a former executive of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, pleaded guilty today (March 18) to participating in a scheme to get the United States to overpay $20 million for supplies and services. The ...

Former SDPD detective pleads guilty

Encinas admits falsifying records to impede crime investigation

Former San Diego police detective Ernesto Encinas pleaded guilty today (March 18) to conspiring to commit campaign finance crimes at the local and federal levels. He admitted that he and his co-conspirators agreed to make ...

California Public Utilities Commission attacked!

Regulator wouldn't allow intervenor fees to be paid to attorney Aguirre

San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre today (March 18) held a press conference to denounce the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for denying him intervenor fees in his recent battle against San Diego Gas & Electric's ...

Mayor Faulconer kills proposal to purge emails

Says open government necessary

Mayor Kevin Faulconer today (March 18) rescinded a proposal to eliminate city emails after one year. People were shocked to find that officials who rely on information trails — such as auditor Eduardo Luna and ...

Lindbergh Field drug smugglers busted

Hand-offs made by baggage handlers in adjoining bathroom stalls

Four baggage handlers at San Diego International Airport (aka Lindbergh Field) were indicted Friday (March 14) on charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine and methamphetamine onto aircraft by exploiting their ability to pass unchecked through ...

Ted Leitner has on-air meltdown at SDSU game

Calls Las Vegas security personnel "morons"

San Diego State basketball announcer Ted Leitner blew his stack yesterday afternoon as the Aztecs lost a squeaker to New Mexico at the Mountain West Conference title game held in Las Vegas. The meltdown came ...

State police departments using cell-phone trackers

San Diego among users, according to study

Sacramento's News10 has come out with a major study of police-department uses of so-called "stingray" devices to monitor cell-phone conversations. San Diego is among many California law-enforcement agencies using the devices. When a stingray is ...

Report notes DeMaio's "green" hypocrisy

He touts renewable energy but takes money from Koch brothers

It appears that Carl DeMaio, who wants to run for Congress, likes both green energy and green money collected from climate-change deniers. The publication thinkprogress.org notes that on his campaign website, DeMaio, who calls himself ...

Abbe Wolfsheimer-Stutz dies

"She had integrity; didn't deal in nonsense."

Abbe Wolfsheimer-Stutz, who served for eight years on the San Diego City Council, died of lung cancer yesterday afternoon (March 13). She had been diagnosed last July. She wanted no memorial services, but it is ...

New rules could hurt for-profit schools

Bridgepoint stock has plunged this week

The Obama administration is moving forward with a regulatory proposal that should, if it goes into effect, curb the abuses of for-profit colleges. Students at these schools represent 13% of higher-education enrollment but account for ...

Manchester rumored to drop Austin hotel

Experts say market saturated, move would be wise

The rumor is hot that Doug Manchester is not going ahead with his 1035-room, $350-million hotel in Austin, Texas. I could not get confirmation from Manchester or the owner of the property. The groundbreaking has ...

Who told the feds about Azano? Bob Brewer, that’s who.

Bob Brewer gleefully shouts how Bonnie Dumanis is cozy with Mexican moneybags Azano. But it was Brewer who initially put the Feds on Azano's tail.

Embezzling, forging one's way into Rancho Santa Fe

Bean-counter admits to stealing $2.5 million

Alfonso Fierro Jr. wanted to live the high life. He did. He was controller of WSA Distributing from 2008 through 2012. In 2012, he was named chief financial officer. On the last day of February, ...

Auditor, ethics director back plan to purge emails

Luna, Fulhorst a surprise…Goldsmith not

The administrative regulation that city emails will be saved for only one year is an abomination that — supposedly — Mayor Faulconer will cock an eyebrow at. (There is some skepticism about whether he will ...

County unemployment rate jumps in January

SD loses 16,400 jobs

The San Diego County unemployment rate leapt to 7% in January from 6.5% in December, as nonfarm jobs declined by 16,400. However, much of that was seasonal. Retail jobs dropped 8700. Educational and health services ...

CPUC shows its inbred corruption

It guards company profits, fleeces consumers

Over a period of several years, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) cozied up to its buddies at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which cares about utility profits, but not about ratepayer fairness. SDG&E ...

Almost 40% of households can't afford San Diego

Cost of living too high, incomes too low

A new study released this morning (March 6), reveals that 38% of San Diego County's working-age households can't afford a no-frills lifestyle without public or private assistance. Even in households with someone working full-time, 23.5% ...

Detroit Red Wings deal a cautionary tale

How billionaire Ilitch clan fleeced bankrupt city

The sports publication deadspin.com this week excerpted a story on the Detroit Red Wings scam from Next City, a magazine for urban leaders. The story unearths some new, horripilating facts. A week after Detroit declared ...

Montana judge won't dismiss SDG&E wind-farm case

Utility rebuffed in dispute in which it is doing the right thing

A Montana judge yesterday (March 4) kept a temporary injunction in place against San Diego Gas & Electric. The local utility wanted the judge to dismiss a case and permit it to withdraw its planned ...

Two SD County lawyers disbarred

One stole client money, other charged with felonies

Two San Diego County lawyers have been disbarred, according to the Calbar Journal. John Edward Engel of Carlsbad was disbarred for misappropriating $57,808.70 of a client's money. James Wade Stephens of San Diego was disbarred ...

U-T pressroom employees get raises

All under $16 an hour to get boost

Cory Fish, director of human resources for U-T San Diego, today (March 3) notified the Graphic Communications Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters that the company has decided to give merit-based increases to certain ...

Winter homeless shelters to stay open until June 30

Activists want them open permanently

The San Diego City Council voted today (March 3) to keep temporary winter homeless shelters open until June 30 at a cost of $1 million. They were scheduled to close March 31, evicting 350 homeless, ...

San Diego considered floating stadium 50 years ago

But Mission Bay structure was too expensive

"The Strike Zone," a feature of Sports Illustrated, pointed out on February 28 that half a century ago, San Diego considered a floating sports stadium. It would float on Mission Bay, attached to Fiesta Island. ...

The Donald trumped in federal court here

His Trump University claims attacked by ex-students

Federal Court judge Gonzalo Curiel has issued rulings in two cases against Donald Trump and his so-called Trump University, which are real-estate seminars of varying degrees of complexity. Former students of the alleged school, who ...

Hackers break into mortgage-broker accounts

Charged with stealing $100,000 from Tijuana

Two men were charged in indictments unsealed this week with hacking into computer servers of a major U.S. mortgage broker to steal personal information and siphon $100,000 in funds from the accounts. They used the ...

Hotel business slumps in January

But competing state cities go gangbusters

According to Smith Travel Research statistics, San Diego's hotel business continues to sag while Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Francisco soar. January hotel occupancy locally dropped from 62.8% to 62.6%, a decline of 0.4%. ...

Carlsbad CPA charged with theft, misappropriation

James Comstock can't practice, pending criminal case outcome

North County Superior Court has granted the California Board of Accountancy's request to block a Carlsbad certified public accountant from practicing until criminal cases against him are cleared up. James Milton Comstock is charged with ...

Attorney General appeals handgun restriction ruling

Sheriff Gore hadn't appealed; people fear gun proliferation

California Attorney General Kamala Harris today (February 27) asked the Ninth U.S. District Circuit of Appeals to review and reverse a decision February 13 in which a panel of the court ruled 2 to 1 ...

Faulconer names SD's first female police chief

Assistant chief Shelley Zimmerman gets the nod

Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer made an intelligent move this afternoon (February 26) by naming assistant police chief Shelley Zimmerman as San Diego's first female chief, replacing William Lansdowne, who stepped down yesterday. Zimmerman is an ideal ...

Health problem: workers lack earned sick days

Three-fourths of food workers don't get paid sick days

When you catch a cold or the flu, you often suspect that you got it in a restaurant. In San Diego, you certainly may have. A new study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research ...

What’s laundered and what’s dark political money?

Laundered money in politics is money whose source is hidden. Dark money is political spending by tax-exempt organizations that don't have to reveal individual donors and might not reveal donations until the election is over.

County water district wins a round against L.A.'s Metro

In tentative ruling, judge says Metro's rates too high

The San Diego County Water Authority won a tentative ruling late yesterday (Feb. 25) in its two long-running lawsuits against Los Angeles's Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which supplies 46 percent of the county's ...

SDPD chief Lansdowne retires

Mayor-elect Faulconer says top cop wasn't asked to resign

Police chief William Lansdowne, beset by his force's sex and other scandals, resigned yesterday afternoon (Feb. 25), effective Monday, March 3. Mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer reportedly did not ask the chief to resign, although the two ...

SDG&E decries Michael Shames's attempt to get fees

After ouster from UCAN, he set up SDCAN

San Diego Gas & Electric is strongly protesting the attempt of Michael Shames to get $365 an hour, plus $50 as an "efficency adder," for his work on SDG&E's October 3, 2011, filing before the ...

El Cajon license scam attracted out-of-towners

FBI reveals more details of license bribery

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released more details of the El Cajon Department of Motor Vehicles driver's license scam. Thirty defendants have been charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, and the investgation is ...

San Diegan stiffs Detroit on parking tickets

Bankrupt city trying to recover $82 million

Detroit-area media are reporting that the bankrupt city is trying to $82 million in unpaid parking tickets, including late fees and court costs. The media list nine egregious offenders. One is Michelle Marlo-Klims of San ...

Chhatrala Group in even deeper trouble

Default judgments, possible foreclosure hit

Woes at San Diego real estate firm Chhatrala Group have multiplied since the Reader reported on its financial problems January 6. In Michigan, Kent County treasurer Ken Parrish said on February 13 that the company ...

For sale: Tony McCune's yacht at reduced price

Former Karen Wilkening client retired as auto dealer last year

Longtime San Diego auto dealer Richard "Tony" McCune retired in April of last year after selling his National City auto dealership. It had been in his family for 65 years. Now, a yacht, November Tango, ...

Major League Soccer eyeing San Diego market

But Sockers are not involved in talks

According to the Associated Press, Major League Soccer aims to have 24 teams by 2020 and is talking to San Diego. "There have been some discussions in Southern California, in San Diego," commissioner Don Garber ...

Isis stock soars on positive data

Biotech's treatment does well in early stages

San Diego biotech Isis Pharmaceuticals announced before market opening this morning (February 21) that it has had very successful results in early-stage tests for its experimental treatment for spinal muscular atrophy in children. The stock ...

San Diegan convicted of advance fee fraud scheme

Group fleeced more than 1000 victims of $26 million

San Diegan Joel Nathanson was convicted yesterday (February 19) of his role in an "advance fee" fraud scheme. Six defendants in all were convicted in Philadelphia, according to the United States Attorney's Office there. An ...

Almost $82K salary buys a median-priced SD home

Of 25 metro areas, San Diego second least affordable

It's always been known that San Diego has among the least affordable homes in the nation. But a new study by hsh.com, a mortgage research firm, breaks new ground. It lists the salary required to ...

UT-TV goes dark on cable

Was losing $500,000 monthly, according to estimates

U-T San Diego's TV station is going off cable tonight after two years, the company announced today. Some believe it had been losing $500,000 monthly, as the company has admitted in internal memos that it ...

San Diegan can't get his New York law license back

Earlier couldn't get California real estate license

Former Albany, New York, attorney Leonard Krouner, now living in San Diego, this month was turned down in his attempt to win back his New York law license. On February 6, the Appellate Division of ...

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