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Stories by Matt Potter

City council self-fulfillment

Scott Sherman collects funds

Republican San Diego city councilman Scott Sherman, chief promoter of a Mission Valley land giveaway to benefit the Chargers — along with a bevy of local developers hoping to grab pieces of the city-owned Qualcomm ...

County board members vote themselves a $19,000 raise

Stocks and fines

Besieged by editorialists and irate citizens, the county board of supervisors maintained their resolve last week, approving a 12.5 percent boost in their own pay in a 4-1 vote, with newly elected Kristin Gaspar the ...

Will an early Alvarez get the political cash?

Democratic councilman already fundraising for 2020 supervisor bid

If they can't be mayor of San Diego, maybe races for county supervisor will work out, keeping two well-known San Diego politicos in the good financial graces of La Jolla Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs. Jacobs-backed ...

U-T's stadium love affair with John Moores

Subsidy scandal figure behind SDSU Mission Valley hype

With the blood of the Chargers stadium massacre barely crusted over, is the Union-Tribune in an unseemly hurry to serve up yet another public money development scheme for the 166-acre chunk of city-owned real estate ...

Spanos and SD's sweetheart Chargers Park deal

1995 city giveaway used $6.3 million from police-earmarked property

The year was 1995, and the distinctive voice of a noted elected official was on the line, insisting on going deep, deep background. "You can’t let anybody know I’m talking, I’d be crucified. But I ...

Ever-changing gun laws

Poway Weapons wants to get the word out

California’s tight new gun restrictions have created a job opening for a new “social media coordinator” at Poway Weapons and Gear, a range and training center best known for its popular ladies’ nights and a ...

Costs and dangers of public art

More notable creations include giant chairs next to buildings

The City of San Diego has picked yet another controversy-prone artist from out of town to create a public work of art, this time for downtown’s forthcoming East Village Park. “I think that public art ...

County claims no record of Chargers stadium subsidy offer

U-T fans stadium flames as tax-money hype burns bright

With the Chargers on the brink of departing San Diego for Los Angeles, some local politicos have reportedly been busy proffering sizable gifts of public money to entice the team to stay in town. But ...

General Atomics gets extension to remedy radioactive faults

Predator builder has extra month to respond to inspectors’ critical blast

General Atomics, one of San Diego’s most controversial military contractors and maker of the Predator drone, says it needs more time to respond to a federal inspection report blasting the questionable quality of the company’s ...

Chargers leave, Chargers pay

Take a bite out of city debt

With San Diego facing a torrent of red ink for years to come, city officials have been scrambling for extra cash to plug their ever-growing deficit holes. “Expenditures will outpace annual growth in revenues in ...

Life and death and statistics

Some points of deadly interest

There are many statistics in the big city, and the San Diego County medical examiner’s office is seemingly on top of them all. Notes the office’s annual report: “With San Diego County’s land area of ...

Doctor of politics

Peter Navarro joins Trump administration

Former San Diego mayoral, congressional, and supervisorial candidate Peter Navarro isn’t the only local making national news during the presidential transition. The University of California Irvine economics professor will serve as head of the newly ...

Costly backstory of a big-money political power couple

New Year’s nuptials may mark beginnings of assault on county board seat

As a California assemblywoman ties the knot with an ex-member of the state's lower house who is a part-time "professor of practice" at UCSD, the cost to state taxpayers of funding the political power couple ...

Rancho Santa Fe megamillionaire fails to disclose lobbying activities

Black’s black marks

Charles Black, a key figure in the drive by Rancho Santa Fe mega-millionaire and ex–Padres owner John Moores to build the team’s Petco Park, has copped a plea with San Diego’s ethics commission for failing ...

General Atomics has some explaining to do

GA’s hot potato

La Jolla–based military contractor General Atomics, maker of the Predator drone and other lucrative pieces of battle-ready hardware, also provides radiation monitoring systems for atomic reactors. The company’s latest installation came in July of this ...

Crime and drugs plague putative new Chargers home

Orange County city celebrating team’s defection to Los Angeles in tale of two Foleys

Chargers honcho Dean Spanos has pledged to soon reveal whether the team is moving to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, an Orange County city infamous for a 33 percent jump in crime last year is at work ...

Of poison pills and dying newspapers

As Ferro and Soon-Shiong snap up stock, tronc rolls back anti-takeover defense

With another rough year for the newspaper business come and gone, the answer to the question of who will control the fate of the controversial tronc publishing empire — including the L.A. Times and San ...

No interest, and a no-interest loan

Republican’s money-back guarantee

Wealthy Republican Ray Ellis lost out to Democrat Barbara Bry for the First District city-council seat representing La Jolla, but at least he got a refund. According to a December 2 closeout filed at city ...

It’s always the season of giving

Faulconer’s jail bucks

Carlsbad’s Eric Noonan, a warden with the private prison business known as GEO Group, was one of San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s most uniquely employed contributors, kicking in $1050 on election day, June 7. Other ...

Is the Copley estate historic?

Ace in Foxhill’s holes

Former U-T publisher and mayoral moneyman Douglas Manchester has been stirring the genteel reaches of the late Helen Copley’s Foxhill estate ever since he bought the lavish spread up the hill from the La Jolla ...

Auditor finds water workers' ethics in the toilet

Honesty takes a beating at San Diego's city hall

Have staff ethics at San Diego's city hall deteriorated under the rule of mayor Kevin Faulconer? Critics there say so, citing an increasingly opaque veil of secrecy the Republican has cast over his staff's dealings ...

Is Chinese hotel a good fit for Trump's Pentagon West?

New Navy regional HQ across Broadway from Red China luxury digs

Nowhere is America's face-off with mainland China in the dawning era of president-elect Donald Trump more materially mapped than the corner of Broadway and Harbor Drive in downtown San Diego. There, ex–Union-Tribune publisher and Republican ...

Meth lab cleanup bills go unpaid

Costly crystal mess

San Diego County environmental health honchos have been lax dunning local landlords for cleaning up hazardous chemicals left over from busted methamphetamine labs on their property, an audit has found. “Although 10 collection notifications were ...

The Goring of Detroit

Vulture capitalist’s next big venture

When David Copley sold the Union-Tribune to Tom Gores and his Beverly Hills–based Platinum Equity back in 2009, the vulture capitalist with Palestinian roots vowed that he was in the newspaper business for the long ...

Briggs trumped on Navy Broadway

Supreme Court decides not to hear terrorism-based environmental appeal

A legal appeal to stop ex–Union-Tribune publisher and Donald Trump moneyman Douglas Manchester from building his so-called Navy Broadway Complex on downtown's waterfront has been spurned by the U.S. Supreme Court, a move that could ...

Will GOP's Sherman play his stadium card for Alvarez?

Big-money closed-door deal looms over city-council presidency vote

As the battle for the presidency of the newly reconstituted San Diego City Council heads for a showdown, the contest is increasingly shaping up as a way for Mission Valley development interests to strengthen their ...

Second spouses network

Jim Madaffer’s conflict of interest

Jim Madaffer, who first linked up with second wife Robin a decade ago when he was a Republican member of the San Diego city council and she was a big-money city hall lobbyist, continues to ...

Douglas Manchester’s high-rise does not impress

Texas aesthetics

Sidewalk critics of ex–Union-Tribune publisher Douglas Manchester’s under-construction Austin, Texas, high-rise hotel, called the Fairmont Austin, have expressed disappointment with its increasingly frugal appearance, including what photos show to be a five-story featureless wall at ...

Like Johnson, like Faulconer?

Exiting Sacramento mayor departs city hall amid pall of scandal

The changing of Sacramento’s mayoral guard occurs this week, with the exit of Kevin Johnson, once a municipal wunderkind, now tarred by a graphically documented sex scandal and a series of political funny-money charity deals. ...

San Diego's border barons set first meeting of Trump era

Closed-door confab at posh Tecate bistro and the Mexico lobby's push-back

About a block from the U.S.-Mexico high-tech border fence that president-elect Donald Trump has pledged to turn into an impregnable wall, a select group of San Diego and Tijuana big-money establishment names are set to ...

Copley remembered in U-T

Anonomously, and four years later

In memoriam David Copley, the late Union-Tribune publisher who died at age 62 in a solo La Jolla crash of his Aston Martin on November 20, 2012 — almost four years after unloading the paper ...

Trump dump

Tweet gets a quick response from city hall

Onetime Republican assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who switched his registration to independent when the local GOP declined to endorse him for San Diego mayor — and later flipped to the Democrats after he went to work ...

See Trump's inauguration for free

"Don't expect anything posh"

Democratic House member Scott Peters of La Jolla likely assumed the person of the hour would be different when he procured a stash of official presidential inaugural tickets. Now he’s handing them out for free, ...

Clinton's Risen cash and Trump's meager San Diego money

Lopsided county fundraising advantage favored presidential loser until the end

Defeated Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton departed the field with the most campaign cash from San Diego County, per data from the Federal Election Commission, reporting a total haul for the October pre-election disclosure period ...

Charity starts at home

KPBS and the state’s pension fund

How much do retired executives of KPBS, the San Diego State University–run, tax-funded public broadcasting operation that spins local news in ways seen by critics as benefiting the university’s donors — including the ultimately failed ...

Free turkeys, free publicity

Getting more than you give

Republican San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, who recently came in second to Democratic ex–San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom for California governor in the latest Field Poll, continues to collect big special-interest donations to One San ...

Audit hits SDSU interest conflicts and illegal faculty discounts

Campanile Foundation repeatedly broke federal and state accounting rules

An extensive list of financial irregularities and transparency transgressions committed in the name of in-house charities has been uncovered at San Diego State University by auditors for the California university system, raising a series of ...

The man who mistook his wife for a politico, and other Qualcomm tales

Mega-millionaire lavished nearly $4 million on spouse's failed GOP House bid

San Diegans in the political know are well familiar with the recently forged, political-money-fueled alliance between La Jolla Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs and Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, widely said to be lining up campaign donors ...

Navy's "killer" dolphins replaced by robots? Not so fast

Audit says General Dynamics way behind on costly Project Knifefish

It was a big-money military contractor's dream. Build a fleet of futuristic underwater robots to replace the Navy's famous corps of mine-hunting dolphins and sea lions, headquartered at their San Diego base. "In general, we’re ...

Bad audit times at iHigh

Staffmembers "improperly paid"

San Diego Unified’s iHigh Virtual Academy, “a tuition-free public high school offering students the opportunity to earn a high school diploma primarily online,” per its website, has an overspending problem. So says a report for ...

SDSU’s six-figure club

It's bonus time at San Diego State

It’s November, extra cash time for executives at San Diego State University, where bonuses are being handed out by California State University trustees for “established goals met.” Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs ...

Last-minute contributions to Measure A campaign

Loaded railroaders

Wealthy out-of-town contractors doing business with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG for short) continued right up until the end to give big money to the agency’s ultimately failed sales-tax-raising Measure A, which fell ...

The sweet revenge of Golding's Grenell

Aide to ex-mayor's failed senate race and fierce DeMaio operative may be Trump's top diplomat

If all the ex–San Diegans on president-elect Donald Trump's reputed short list for administration posts get their gigs, the city could be one of the best represented in Washington's new era. Billionaire University of San ...

Billionaire USD grad short-listed for Trump's Treasury

Super-rich San Diego alum and Manchester-friendly financier could have cabinet lock

They appeared to be some of the darkest days of Doug Manchester’s life back in the summer of 2014, as the San Diego developer and Republican kingpin struggled to find enough cash to finance a ...

Bersin's worshipful online welcome back

Navarro in, Clinton-era border czar out among San Diego's DC power players

Speculation regarding which San Diegans are in and which are out in the dawning age of Donald Trump's Washington is well underway, with strong opinions by Forbes contributor Tim Worstall about the accelerated status of ...

Is Faulconer heading for a Jacobs fail?

Secret-keeping mayor and council said to fear public vote on $50 million parking debt

Two big San Diego losers in this week's election are looking for a big-money, tax-funded consolation prize in the form of a hurry-up city-council power-play that could ultimately forever emblazon the name of Qualcomm and ...

Sempra picks up the tab all over town

Energy foodies

Assemblyman Ben Hueso sat down to talk with representatives of San Diego–based Sempra Energy at Chula Vista’s Country Waffles on September 8, according to the company’s recent third quarter lobbying report. His tab was $13.89. ...

Irwin Jacobs' 50-year-old son, Jeff, pops question to 29-year-old La Jolla fashionista

Cellular chip set wedding

Word from city hall has it that Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs’s deal to bulldoze a new road through Balboa Park to a big automated parking garage he favors is exceeding cost estimates, requiring taxpayers to ...

Is today's election make or break for Union-Tribune?

Tronc financial chief Jimenez says of U-T and Manchester, "it's something that we had stepped into."

As votes are counted for this year's San Diego general election, Wall Street analysts are likely to have their eyes on an experiment that could have a crucial effect on the ultimate survival of the ...

SDSU and the big-money politics behind Lilac Hills Ranch

Tax-funded university tied to developer with secrecy-shrouded $3.5 million war chest

A San Diego State University-affiliated website has weighed into the big-money controversy over North County's proposed Lilac Hills Ranch housing development, going after what it says are undisclosed campaign contributions from an alleged "dark money" ...

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