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Stories by Matt Potter

Can new conductor beat Ling's $429,960 deal?

No replacement yet set for departing big-money symphony leader

The price of fine music could be going up even more for the San Diego Symphony with the departure of conductor Jahja Ling. The Indonesian-born Ling said on Thursday, November 20, that he will be ...

Political power reputations haunt TV trio

Cash at the heart of political donors’ broadcast agenda?

The federal broadcast licenses of San Diego's three most politically controversial television stations are up for renewal soon, but despite the complaints of angry partisans, it's unlikely that the wealthy owners and patrons will be ...

Innovative spending

UCSD, otherwise known as a university, is looking to become a high-dollar wheeler-dealer in the world of high technology. The tax-funded school is seeking an associate vice chancellor for “innovative alliances.” The new hire will ...

Combat stress

Back in March 2010, Rebecca Moores cut a deal with husband John Moores to end their marriage without revealing too much about the ex–San Diego Padres owner’s high-dollar finances and extra-curricular affairs. Before their agreement ...

Blow out

Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, whose reelection fate has been hanging in the balance, celebrated a bit prematurely with fellow Democrats at a crowded bash hosted September 16 by the Barona Indian gambling tribe. With the $112.17 ...

Newt Gingrich honoree snared in Dumanis probe

Money-laundering donor to GOP district attorney pays $20,000 penalty

Of all the cities in the county of San Diego, one can boast the spottiest history for tow-truck operators. That informal honor has long gone to Escondido, and a recent action by the City of ...

Congressman Peters and the dark arts

Newspaper king of attack campaigns bemoans “slimy affair"

Before it began, San Diego power players predicted that victory in the battle between Democratic House freshman Scott Peters and GOP ex-city councilman Carl DeMaio would ultimately come down to big money and the dark ...

A special-interest blowout reformers love to hate

Once again Steve Peace stages controversial legislative party in Maui

It's mid-November, Halloween is over and the state legislature is on hiatus. It’s time once again for Steve Peace's traditional legislative bash in Hawaii. Every year, newspapers from across California run exposés of the extravagant ...

The family Falic

Another easy winner in last week’s elections, Democratic congressman Juan Vargas, got some last-minute money from three Florida “homemakers.” Debbie, Gila, and Jana Falic each chipped in $2600 on October 30, as did Jerome Falic, ...

Yakety kayak

It’s time again for the city to hand out contracts for kayak tour operations at tony La Jolla Shores, and lobbyists aren’t far behind. First on the water is Bartell & Associates, where staffer Adrian ...

Sempra’s Brown-in

San Diego–based Sempra Energy, on whose board sits Kathleen Brown, sister of newly reelected governor Jerry Brown and Brown ex-aide Lynn Schenk, has been taking good care of another high-ranking Brown official, according to a ...

Hunter's helper on jungle junket

Flighty congressional aide goes off on another free safari

A top aide to Republican congressman Duncan D. Hunter, already a veteran of one far-off jungle excursion, thanks to the largesse of a SeaWorld-backed, Washington DC-based nonprofit, has done it again. Victoria Middleton, longtime chief ...

El Cajon immigrant shelter draws Iowan's ire

Tilapia and ponies for unaccompanied alien children questioned

How is life for so-called unaccompanied alien children at a federally sponsored youth shelter in El Cajon? Perhaps too sweet, in the opinion of Iowa Republican senator Charles Grassley, as expressed by him in an ...

Fat pay boost for SDSU's Elliot Hirshman

University president's $400,000 salary could bump to $412,000

To hear California university administrators tell it, times are tough all over. Pleading incipient poverty, the University of California is seeking to raise tuition 5 percent a year for five years, and some California state ...

National hotel lobby funded wage referendum

"Small business" coalition is front for corporate backers

National minimum-wage opponents furnished much of the money for this summer's San Diego referendum campaign, effectively killing the local wage-boost law adopted by the Democratic majority of the city council, at least until the measure ...

Qualcomm in the House

Qualcomm, the cell-phone-chip-making giant founded by Barack Obama-backing La Jolla billionaire Irwin Jacobs, continued to send its campaign dollars to Republican candidates during this year’s mid-term elections. Recent recipients include Texas senator John Cornyn with ...

Toilet to lobbyists

Formerly known as toilet-to-tap, the ongoing initiative by GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer to turn the city’s sewage water into a drinkable liquid has become a major moneymaker for local lobbyists. “An initial 15-million gallon per ...

Inevitable: death and board fees

Local charities hoping for a fat payout from the newly enriched David C. Copley Foundation may be a bit disappointed by the non-profit’s recent report for 2013. After the November 2012 death of the onetime ...

U-T publisher and wife slip late cash to DeMaio

Ex-Filner honcho, L.A. stadium promoter give to Peters

Whenever there is late campaign-money intrigue to be had, it seems that U-T publisher and mega-millionaire real estate developer Douglas Manchester and his young Russian second wife Geniya will show up for the party. Such ...

Such a lovely place (such potential for waste)

Plenty of room for accountability at UC's Mexico Casa de California

In April of this year, newly elected San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, councilman Todd Gloria, county supervisor Greg Cox, and a host of other California and Tijuana politicos and representatives of special interests — including ...

Legs of Republican Party platform in peril?

Bush-backing billionaire spends big on San Diego TV ads for DeMaio

In the waning days of the campaign, a political action committee founded by Wall Street hedge-fund billionaire and longtime Republican donor Paul Singer has made good on its promise to spend big for GOP congressional ...

DeMaio's foe backed by big spending biotech lobby

French lobbying contest winner’s employer hails "elected official of the year”

Not many familiar with San Diego politics and the torrents of lobbying dollars that pour into the local and national political system each year would be surprised at this week's news conference to announce San ...

Chilling in the lobby

Will the Saint Louis Rams move to Los Angeles? Will the Chargers stay or join them there? Will taxpayers ante up billions of dollars for a new stadium anywhere? So many questions and so few ...

Crowded art of influence

The lucrative business of peddling city hall influence has never been busier, according to a recently released tally of lobbyist activity by San Diego’s ethics commission. “During the 2013 calendar year, 69 lobbying firms and ...

Cop’s family moonlighting has watchdog's okay

Harbor policeman can work for wife's government contracting outfit

More questions involving relatives and conflict of interest have arisen at the San Diego Unified Port District, but attorneys for the state's political watchdog, asked for their opinion by port lawyer William McMinn, say the ...

Manchester and Jackson: two debtors in Neverland

King of pop and Annie Leibovitz bailed out by distressed lending outfit

The late pop superstar Michael Jackson, celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, and U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester don't appear to have that much in common. Now, however, they share a famous source of cash — ...

Latino officials to get free tour of Israel

Okay for port commissioner to exceed $440 gift limit, says watchdog agency

Yet another San Diego politico is set to head off for a free fact-finding trip to Israel, thanks to the American Israel Education Foundation, an offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, also known ...

Beset by TV exposé, U-T and publisher pull for DeMaio

Manchester and Russian-born wife also give big to Florida’s Marco Rubio

It's been a remarkable week for San Diego media watchers, with KNSD TV taking on Douglas Manchester's U-T San Diego over its editorial coverage of GOP ex–city councilman Carl DeMaio's bid to unseat incumbent Democratic ...

Tiki said to hell with it. Let’s party.

Shelter Island’s Bali Hai was never some little grog shop.

Tom Ham was the god of good times.

Making lluvia 101

UCSD is looking for a new chief for its Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies. “The Director will design, plan and execute a strategic vision for the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies,” says a recent online job notice, ...

Here’s Hillary

Former first lady Hillary Clinton has a long-term relationship with San Diego. Back in the 1990s, when husband Bill was president, she spent leisure time with him hanging around with Democratic donor and Hotel del ...

Political housing

Ex–city councilman and former weekly newspaper owner Jim Madaffer has turned to a new trade. According to an October 10 lobbyist disclosure statement filed at city hall, he’s now peddling influence for real estate developer ...

D.A.'s bad money case out of sight in DeMaio race

Do the congressional candidate’s media moguls play role of omission?

Word that the FBI has entered the case of Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio versus a talkative former staffer, as reported by NBC affiliate KNSD here, may mean an interesting post-election period for both GOP ...

San Ysidro nukes: too hot to handle?

Covert nuclear smuggling data censored by federal auditors

How safe from nuclear smugglers is San Diego's border with Mexico? Not enough, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which has released a censored version of a report to Congress. The document, entitled "Combating ...

Kevin Faulconer's pricy plan to privatize planning

Mayor's plan to revamp department has an $8.5 million price tag

The departure of Bill Fulton as city planning director at the end of August was taken as a given by a host of San Diego inside political watchers. The renowned land-use expert, author of the ...

Soviet Ebola ghosts haunt San Diego labs

Can federal cash cure growing epidemic?

In the midst of the international panic spawned by the Ebola epidemic, it’s hard to tell what is going on at the top of America's biological warfare pyramid and whether it is having any effect ...

Get out of jail free fare

Democratic Assembly speaker Toni Atkins has been getting plenty of special-interest love from local car dealers of late. The New Car Dealers of San Diego kicked in $4100 to her reelection campaign on September 23. ...

UCSD’s Canadian alien

UCSD has hired its very first “vice chancellor and chief financial officer,” according to an October 6 message from chancellor Pradeep Khosla, and the new employee is from Canada. Pierre Ouillet, formerly vice president of ...

Up in the valley

The real-estate development business is booming in Mission Valley, at least on paper. U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester is leading the way with plans to build 200 residential units in the parking lot of ...

All in the family at the Port District

Employment of executive’s daughter clean, says state watchdog

After July’s demise of San Diego Unified Port District honcho Wayne Darbeau at the hands of waterfront developer Douglas Manchester’s U-T San Diego, port officials apparently aren’t taking any more chances. Though he denied wrongdoing, ...

Faulconer readying real estate sell-off

GOP mayor advertising for brokers to lift city's property burden

GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer has taken a quiet step toward privatizing the sell-off of "surplus" city real estate, which a U-T San Diego columnist recently estimated could be worth a billion dollars. "The City has ...

SDSU's top spook

Real-life James Bond led colorful, lucrative life of cash and intrigue

The death of Charles Hostler, a longtime contributor to the financial wellbeing of San Diego State University, has been marked by tributes at the highest levels there. “Charles Hostler was a visionary and a true ...

Biosafety first in Point Loma?

"Lack of welding in this duct can cause the release of infectious agents”

As the U.S. military readies 4000 troops to deal with the growing emergence of the Ebola virus in West Africa, a little-known biosecurity lab on Point Loma could find itself playing a key role in ...

Papa’s peculiar predicament

U-T San Diego’s publisher Douglas Manchester, known as “Papa” whenever the paper writes about him, has decided to downsize his proposal to build residential units next to the U-T’s Mission Valley headquarters. The new 200-unit ...

Balls and chains

Democrat Fabian Nuñez — the San Diego born-and-bred ex-speaker of the California Assembly who obtained an abbreviated prison term for his son by being friends with GOP governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — has come up with ...

Golden freebies

The San Diego Unified Port District is reporting yet more dinner freebies for its board and executives. According to a July 11 disclosure only recently posted online, commissioners Marshall Merrifield and Bob Nelson, along with ...

Peace gives PG&E a chance

Brown-spurned utility cash welcomed by San Diego PAC

Jerry Brown may have sworn off political cash from Pacific Gas and Electric, but one high-flying San Diego ex-legislator is doubling down with the giant Northern California utility's money. The Democratic governor's reelection campaign reported ...

Jacobs backs Tuck

Irregular ally U-T San Diego blasts "rapidly aging coterie of teachers"

Irwin Jacobs, the Democratic La Jolla billionaire who founded Qualcomm, is in the thick of the battle over California's school chief with a $4000 contribution on October 2 to the campaign of charter school advocate ...

Manchester's Grand Del Mar approved by commission

"The behavior of this developer impugns all developers."

In January 2013, Douglas Manchester cut a deal with the City of San Diego to remedy years of permit violations at his Grand Del Mar resort, which included illegal grading and destroying natural habitat. In ...

Extra killer drones not justified

Air Force may waste $8.8 billion at General Atomics, says government report

A tightly held audit report by the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General says that the Air Force did not properly justify the planned acquisition of 401 so-called Reaper drones costing an estimated $76.8 billion. ...

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