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Stories by Matt Potter

Charter-school backer buys hefty stake in Union-Tribune

Michael Ferro latest player in high-dollar Chicago boardroom political poker

Be it the wandering football team or the fate of the hometown newspaper, rank-and-file San Diegans are usually the last to know about the behind-the-scenes wheeling-and-dealing of their billionaire owners. Arguably there is more popular ...

Roosevelt called Lindbergh a Nazi

Air and Space Museum needs a new display

The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, operator of Lindbergh Field, is looking to replace its Lindbergh history display in the lobby of Balboa Park’s Air and Space Museum with a trendier and possibly more ...

San Diego overcharged FEMA $1.2 million for disaster

Bogus recycling costs called out by U.S Homeland Security audit

Just as the city is wrestling with issues of falling trees in the wake of the latest storm, a Homeland Security Department audit of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (known as FEMA) says officials here ...

Austin Beutner is back, kind of

From Inglewood, with glasses

Last May, when Chicago-based Tribune Publishing bought the San Diego Union-Tribune from developer Douglas Manchester, Austin Beutner seemed poised to take the city by storm. Appointed publisher of both the U-T and the Los Angeles ...

Tarnished trustee departure begets costly politics

Foster finally leaves, big-money campaign to follow

Let the frantic fundraising begin. That's the inside scoop following word that San Diego school-board Democrat Marne Foster has resigned her seat after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor political-reform act violation related to solicitation of ...

Could San Diego voters kill Raiders and Moores schemes?

1998's Proposition E and the fallout of mandatory stadium subsidy voting

Dean Spanos and hired gun Mark Fabiani may be finally headed for L.A., but whether the Chargers go or not, plans to use public money to build a new stadium here for them, the Oakland ...

David Copley’s fixer-upper

Historic designation debatable

Another ex-Union-Tribune owner, real estate developer Douglas Manchester, has carried his connection with the paper’s onetime owner, Helen Copley, to the next level, having bought the late publisher’s Fox Hill estate in La Jolla for ...

J.P. McManus fights tax

Gored by the IRS after gambling payday

Alec Gores, brother of onetime San Diego Union-Tribune owner Tom Gores, came out a big loser in a round of betting with Irish billionaire J.P. McManus, but McManus is still fighting to hold on to ...

K.C. gun-for-hire has mayor’s back

Cash-laden special-interest fund raises $610,000 for Faulconer’s cause

As erstwhile Democrat Lori Saldaña prepares to make a widely anticipated announcement of her mayoral candidacy this Thursday, a hired gun from Missouri has hit the ground running here on behalf of Republican incumbent Kevin ...

Saldaña to challenge Faulconer

Will hotel leases, mayor’s lobbyist aides, and stadium subsidy prove controversial?

San Diego Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, widely considered a shoo-in for reelection this year, has picked up a well-known left-of-center opponent in the form of ex-assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, according to a January 22 candidacy intention ...

Byzantine hotel tax network funds mayor’s nonprofit

TV turkey handouts and check-giving backed by city fee-funded hotel lobby

Contributions from special interests coveting the favor of city hall continue to pour in to One San Diego, the nonprofit corporation run by Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer. Among other purposes, the money has been used ...

General Atomics: bad welds

Only 35 percent were discovered to be acceptable

General Atomics, the big La Jolla–based military contractor most noted for its Predator killer drones, is in hot water over a bunch of bad welds at a new federal weapons destruction plant in Kentucky. As ...

Marco Rubio hits up Californians

And Faulconer boards the bandwagon

With the presidential campaign of Florida GOP senator Marco Rubio gaining traction among some big money San Diego Republican elites, it was only a matter of time, insiders predicted, before Kevin Faulconer would be rolled ...

SDSU's high cost of finding there there

$2.58 million sought "so people can know that they are at San Diego State"

San Diego State University president Elliot Hirshman, known as the $420,000 man for his record-setting salary, is getting closer to his long-held dream of building an array of costly "gateways" to set the school apart ...

Did Irwin Jacobs just seal Kevin Faulconer's fate?

Fallout of Eli Broad deal gone bad shadows San Diego politics

Whether the Chargers eventually depart for Los Angeles or not, it's a virtual certitude that San Diego's Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer is currently viewed as a shoo-in to be re-elected mayor, a wide spectrum of ...

Spanos All-Star Classic: no news good news?

No word from team on pulling plug on high school playoff

Like the fortunes of the family's football team, the name Spanos has had its ups and downs in San Diego. Will the super-rich Stocktonians cut a deal with billionaire Walmart spouse and San Diego property ...

How to fly the friendly skies

To Jerusalem, with politics

A staffer for Democrat Bob Filner when the fallen San Diego mayor was in Congress, Humberto Peraza, has been cleared to travel to Israel for free, courtesy of the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate ...

Let the Chargers leave for logical reasons

The U-T fires a few shots

After decades of what many have characterized as abject supplication to the Chargers-owning Spanos family, scribes of all varieties at the Union-Tribune have taken off the gloves. Last week a sportswriter for the paper bemoaned ...

Deal gives UCSD "read only" rights to Alzheimer's data

Legal war between San Diego university and Los Angeles's USC continues

According to a newly lodged agreement in federal court here, USC will be holding on to a Bitbucket load of data it controls in the school's bitter court battle with the University of Southern California ...

UCSD's ethics conundrum continues as backstage deals loom

Alzheimer's legal settlement pending, physicist's criminal case to follow

As yet another academic scandal emerges at UCSD, court records show that the school is on the verge of cutting a deal with the University of Southern California, sued last summer by UCSD over the ...

How many visas overstayed? Bersin can't say

Trio of L.A. and San Diego politicos highlighted in H-1B data lack

One of San Diego's most notable big-money political alums is making headlines across the nation while hometown scribes remain mum about a major immigration clash between the White House and Congress. Late last month, Alan ...

Refurbished plot gets another refurbishing

Westfield advertises for an events manager

Horton Plaza, the chronically neglected half-block park on Broadway next to the floundering shopping mall — itself a product of a costly redevelopment scheme engineered by ex–San Diego mayor Pete Wilson — is about to ...

Gynecological gifts

John Moores makes waves in Britain

Ex-Padres owner John Moores, who’s been enjoying a popular revival of sorts with his six-figure financial backing of an initiative campaign to boost hotel taxes and attempts to bring a professional soccer team to town, ...

Union-Tribune: Spanos supplicant under four owners?

Twenty years’ worth of editorials advocate big taxpayer fork-overs

As Chargers owner Dean Spanos employed captive video to announce his official exit from San Diego on the first Monday of 2016, others took to Twitter to express their disdain, not for the team but ...

San Diego pension fund’s un-retiring frequent flier

Shanghai latest destination for high-flying retirement fund officer

The San Diego city employees' pension fund's most freely traveled executive has been on the plane again, taking in the sights of Shanghai, China, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, during a busy autumn on the road, thanks ...

UCSD's wild, wooly, unforgettable case of Alzheimer's

Brain cancer surgery for USC defendant’s son casts shadow over big money court battle

The first Monday of the new year is shaping up to be a confrontational one for UCSD versus the University of Southern California, the possibly precedent-setting legal battle of the universities over the future of ...

Post holiday politico gifts

New members on board of San Diego Association of Governments

Each new year heralds the distribution of extracurricular appointments to members of the San Diego City Council, for which they have the opportunity to accrue extra money from the taxpayers, in addition to their salaries. ...

Immigrants on ICE

Deficiencies discovered in strip search audit

Strip searches have been declining at the San Diego County–owned U.S. Immigration Service’s 1040-bed contract detention facility on Otay Mesa, run by Corrections Corporation of America. According to a federal audit covering fiscal year 2015, ...

Trash man cometh not

Conflict of interest concerning Chula Vista councilman Steve Miesen still unresolved

The yearlong legal battle over the status of Chula Vista city councilman Steve Miesen, who also happens to be a top executive with the city’s trash-pickup provider, Republic Services, shows no signs of abating soon. ...

When Ellsworth Kelly jilted San Diego

New York artist, dead at 92, trashed town’s sculpture sensibilities

Sunday's passing at 92 of Ellsworth Kelly, noted in the New York Times as "one of America’s great 20th-century abstract artists," has gone unheralded in San Diego, though he was once a household name here, ...

Movies, pot and manslaughter: Jerry Brown’s holiday pardons

San Diego car killer and marijuana miscreant star in end-of-year ritual

The star of this year's Christmas pardons by governor Jerry Brown may be Hollywood's Robert Downey, Jr., but some long-ago jailed drug offenders and a manslaughter convict of San Diego's justice system are also among ...

Cops on bikes

Top-dollar Shimanos on order: one medium, four large, one extra-large

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department wants to join the bicycle age in high-priced style, with an order for six “high quality fully assembled police patrol bicycles with lighting systems, gear bag rack, gear bag ...

Turn on the Faucett

Prolific campaign-giver "oversees the Chamber’s day-to-day operations"

An ex–Kevin Faulconer assistant, whose most recent gig for the Republican San Diego mayor was as a member of his ill-starred Citizens’ Stadium Advisory Group, has bagged a mayoral appointment to the board of the ...

GOP fat cats spreading presidential wealth

San Diego’s super rich max out to contentious primary field

San Diego's somewhat rich and famous were all over the map when it came to presidential campaign giving this year, judging from recent financial disclosure filings, though Donald Trump did not place among the favorites. ...

Turkey time with Lorena G.

High-profile legislative Democrat gets cozy with AT&T

It's time again for the holidays, when the state's giant corporate special interests ante up to cover the cost of turkeys distributed by elected officials to their impoverished constituents. As previously reported, San Diego mayor ...

Bob McNair and John Moores: a marriage made in Texas

Super rich Houstonians play king-sized roles in Chargers departure drama

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair made substantial waves in San Diego this week by blasting the mayor and city council's failure to come up with a sufficiently gold-plated stadium proposal to keep the Chargers in ...

Jamie Hamrick travels for free again

City employee gets around

An already well-traveled executive at the San Diego city employees’ retirement system has been on the road again, taking another trip to New York City courtesy of a well-heeled investment fund. The free trip is ...

The fix is in. Possibly.

Who will operate the new film commission?

Is the fix in for choosing a future operator of San Diego’s putative new taxpayer-funded film commission? So worries an unidentified respondent to the city’s October 29 “request for ideas” regarding setting up a new ...

Ace Parking gets the contract again?

They’ll probably seal the Parkade deal, too

San Diego’s controversial but well-connected Ace Parking has been around since 1950, making it one of the city’s most well-entrenched special interests. As is the case with the Evans hotel family, another influential local dynasty, ...

Like congress member, like staffer

Aide to Democrat Susan Davis heads off for Tunisia and Kiev

Five years ago this past May, congressional Democrat Susan Davis, then known for being one of the most frequent junketers in the House, took off with her husband Steve on a weeklong mission costing $21,327 ...

UCSD's $516,000 temporary executive

Interim health system shoe-filler collects retroactive six-figure cash

The intrigue surrounding the saga of UCSD Health's departed top man Paul Viviano continues, with a lengthening search underway to fill the vacancy, and approval by U.C. regents of a $516,000 interim appointment. As previously ...

Tony Young lobbies on

As of November 23, add Airbnb to the list

Ex-Democratic city councilman Tony Young continues to grow his lucrative city hall lobbying business. Already flush with a bevy of well-heeled clients, including SDG&E, shopping-mall developer Westfield Corporation, and San Francisco’s Zirx, a start-up specializing ...

Chargers’ coach nearly lynched

Do rowdy fans pose a danger in the final days?

With the departure of the Chargers for Los Angeles looking likelier than ever, according to many accounts, do rowdy fans pose a real danger to what could be the team’s last days in Mission Valley? ...

From Broad's mouth: Rupert was wrong

Deal denial unlikely to slake thirst for U-T ownership change

To buy or not to buy. That was the question still pursuing Eli Broad as he issued a denial of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's tweet that Broad wants to take over the L.A. Times, and ...

KPBS and U-T plug Jacobs airport-moving scheme

Media money talking as billionaire and Burnham team for PR push

With the fate of the Union-Tribune still very much in limbo, Malin Burnham, who once aspired to take over the newspaper, and Irwin Jacobs, his longtime political comrade in-arms, have hatched yet another scheme. The ...

Airport staff to fatten up in exclusive digs

Private dining proposed for employees as public concession cash leaps

The prices and controversial quality of food and atmosphere at San Diego's international airport, also known as Lindbergh Field, has long been a matter of contention among air travelers who eat there during flight waits. ...

Emergency memo warns of library security breaches

City auditor hits "non-existent" and outdated "policies and procedures"

Spending and security at San Diego's public library, ensconced in luxurious new digs, is out of control, endangering safety and the city treasury. So indicates San Diego city auditor Eduardo Luna in a December 2 ...

Another Juan Vargas staffer gets it free

Lodging with lobbyists

A staffer to congressman Juan Vargas has accepted a free overnight in Manhattan courtesy of a Washington think tank. This time it’s Scott Hinkle, legislative director for the border Democrat, who took off for New ...

Marty Block gets funny to get money

Be a $2500 sponsor at Chicory Coffee and Tea

State senator Marty Block, locked in a rough-and-tumble primary race with fellow Democrat Toni Atkins, termed out of her Assembly seat, is going all out to attract donors to his financially challenged campaign war chest. ...

Polling political footballs

A Kansas public opinion outfit aims to end-run San Diego “community activists”

San Diego officials have denied a link between a "public satisfaction" survey now on the streets and online here and the embattled efforts of Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer to keep the Chargers in town with ...

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