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Stories by Matt Potter

How to build a better border wall?

Audit hits lack of accountability for $2.1 billion in "tactical infrastructure"

As Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress ponder how to pay for the president's promised wall along the Mexican border, a new study from the Government Accountability Office contends that the Department of ...

Lobbyists in Mission Valley land rush

Stadium payoffs

The controversial plan by a stealthy group of La Jolla money men known as FS Investors to replace city-owned Qualcomm Stadium with a soccer venue and high-end commercial and housing development is turning into a ...

$250,000 immigration art

"The artwork design should be light and airy, and communicate a sense of welcome and embrace."

Public art, $1.2 million worth, is being commissioned by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to adorn the main airport’s forthcoming Federal Inspection Services facility, says a February 8 call for proposals. “This opportunity ...

Like Trump, like Bersin

“We went from 3000 Border Patrol agents to 22,000 agents today."

The tumultuous rollout of president Donald Trump’s immigration policy has at least one member of the Fifth Estate yearning for the good old days of Alan Bersin, the controversial border czar under Democratic president Bill ...

Sempra gasses Gaspar

Giant utility a big cash friend of politico favoring its cause

Newly elected Republican supervisor Kristin Gaspar made loud and clear her opposition to funding a study about breaking up Sempra Energy's San Diego power monopoly: “In my view, when you’re ready to move forward and ...

Wrecking crew

Already time to start thinking about the next election

Efforts by Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs to bulldoze a costly road and parking garage project through the heart of Balboa Park has been getting lobbying support from an outfit called Balboa Park United. The group ...

SDSU’s fleeing faculty

Student-faculty ratio increases explained — "is cause for concern"

While San Diego State president Elliott Hirshman and California State University trustee vice-chairman Adam Day jockey behind closed doors for a costly new football stadium in Mission Valley, statistics aired last week at a meeting ...

Unidentified flying Hillary

Emails reveal correspondence between John Podesta and Blink-182's Tom DeLonge

Last summer’s dump by WikiLeaks of thousands of emails generated by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign honcho John Podesta turned out badly for the Democrats’ standard bearer, who later blamed her loss partly on the work ...

Lobbyists push for hasty Mission Valley soccer deal

Stripper-gate figure and Metropolitan Water District on “Taxpayers” board

As the big-money politics behind the drive to turn over the Qualcomm Stadium site to a secretive syndicate of La Jolla money men mounts, one of the city's mightiest pro-developer lobbies has jumped into the ...

Tronc to Union-Tribune: attrit now!

L.A. Times shoulders editorial burden for little San Diego sister

Wall Street analysts at NobleCon13, an investor conference run by Noble Capital Markets, were recently presented with a fundamental truth about the newspaper business, but it wasn’t good news for readers of the San Diego ...

Gambling and plastic politics

Dart wants recycling considered before San Diego bans the troublesome material

As food containers made of polystyrene continue jamming San Diego’s landfills, a maker of the ubiquitous plastic has been pouring money into the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee at a record-setting ...

Trumping Tronc

U-T insists that its ideological slant is determined in San Diego

President Donald Trump hasn’t been drawing much support from the traditionally Republican San Diego establishment, much of which derives a big chunk of change from its free-trading ties to Tijuana and cheap manufacturing. Another component ...

Latham joins Mission Valley's public land war

Super-rich La Jolla hedge-funders lay out big cash for L.A. lobbyist

How many dollars are San Diegans willing to surrender to developers of a new stadium for professional soccer and San Diego State University, biding its time for the lucrative opportunity to hike the price of ...

Mayor privately plied by developer chef’s gourmet grub

Mission Valley stadium promoters stage posh closed-door lunch

Last fall, after months of secret city hall meetings with representatives of the Spanos family, Kevin Faulconer, San Diego mayor and putative Republican gubernatorial hopeful, announced he was endorsing the $1.8 billion, taxpayer-subsidized downtown football ...

Cash rains on supe

Ron Roberts spends his political money

A termed-out San Diego county supervisor who last month voted himself a $19,000 raise and a comparable hike in benefits is also tapping in to a five-figure campaign bank account left over from his final ...

Fought-over Fourth

Omar Passons files for spot on the Board of Supervisors

While Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher continues to mull his options regarding running next year for the board seat being vacated by Ron Roberts, another supervisorial hopeful has jumped into the race ahead of him. Lawyer Omar ...

Just how real is news purveyed by the U-T?

Getting pushy

“Conquer your fear of sharing fake news by keeping it real,” goes a recent email pitch for bargain online subscription rates from the financially flagging San Diego Union-Tribune. “148 years of trusted journalism is a ...

Immigrant prison cash flows to SD politicos

Atkins, Gonzalez, Fletcher got big bucks from detention firm

San Diego politicos and business types have been unsympathetic to president Donald Trump, but one major border enterprise that has been a big campaign provider to legislators of both parties here could be in line ...

Hirshman hit for ducking ex-Soviet deal signoffs

Federal money tied to U.S. intelligence backs SDSU campuses

San Diego State University president Elliot Hirshman — also called the $492,000 man in honor of his salary, the highest of all state university presidents — has by some accounts been busy behind closed doors, ...

NFL’s nastiest word

“Subsidy,” as foul-mouthed as you can get

Sports media were atwitter last week after new Chargers coach Anthony Lynn made a couple of verbal faux pas. “I am so proud to be the new coach of the San Dieg — ugh, L.A. ...

Nathan, hot dog

Fletcher castigates the county board

Twice-defeated San Diego mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher has taken to the news and opinion website financed by his political godfather — La Jolla billionaire Democrat Irwin Jacobs — to castigate the county board of supervisors ...

Faulconer’s marauders

Stepping on the mayor’s news

With the Chargers safely out of town, Kevin Faulconer’s allies have been upping their post-game attack on team owner Dean Spanos and special counsel Mark Fabiani for setting up the mayor for political failure. “Throughout ...

Mayor's staff chief getting campaign cash

Puetz paid for offices, travel, hotel, and meal at Washington political event

San Diego's Republican mayor has been into plenty of denial lately regarding his future political intentions, but a series of expenses recently disclosed by his 2016 reelection committee suggests a different story. After pledging he ...

Big Fletcher donors behind MLS venue grab

Ex-Qualcomm exec, hedge-fund manager to unveil stealth stadium deal

When it comes to disposing of city-owned Qualcomm Stadium, it appears that San Diego taxpayers are the last to know. As reported late Sunday (January 22) by KNSD’s Derek Togerson and others, an "investment group" ...

Border Patrol audit: 45 percent San Diego “recidivism”

Cost per detainee: $135 in Laredo to more than $80,000 in Rio Grande Valley

How much does it cost to deport the thousands of undocumented immigrants intercepted each year by the Border Patrol along San Diego's frontier with Mexico, and what is the true "recidivism" rate of illegal border ...

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 ...

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