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Stories by Matt Potter

San Diego’s homegrown FBI hacking hit

Smartphone snooping kiosks subject to massive abuse by rogue cops

Mobile phone and computer snooping by police, long a staple in the war against crime, got a boost here 15 years ago with the opening of the nation's first FBI-run regional computer forensics laboratory. "The ...

Insider hacking and the Coast Guard

Potential threats from trusted employees multiply, federal audit says

Is the United States Coast Guard, a key San Diego player in the battle against drug smuggling and human trafficking from Mexico, setting itself up for computer attacks mounted by its own most trusted employees? ...

Deadly white whale infection

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has concluded that SeaWorld Florida did not violate the federal Animal Welfare Act in the February 20 death of Nanuq, a beluga whale loaned by the Vancouver Aquarium to SeaWorld ...

Lawman and profiteer

San Diego sheriff Bill Gore mistakenly ferreted away more than $5 million of profits from commissaries at local jails, according to a recent audit by the county’s office of auditor and controller. “The Commissary allows ...

Approaching lunacy

It’s going to take some hefty cash for San Diego State University to finally find its way, judging by a new campus navigation project described at a recent board meeting of the school’s nonprofit Campanile ...

Faulconer’s "drought messaging" tab: $1.6 million

High-dollar media consultant sought to tell "about the need to conserve water"

If anyone ends up happy about California's drought, it may be the recipient of a new $1.6 million PR contract from the City of San Diego, already noted for out-of-town promotional pilgrimages made by ex–public ...

Tasering the competition

Conflicts of interest and Sheriff Gore’s costly shopping spree

Sheriff Bill Gore is out shopping for body cameras just as the provider of the costly electronic devices to San Diego police is coming in for a sizable dose of national scrutiny. A March 20 ...

Faulconer insider bags rich stadium deal

Qualcomm food and booze nod given to big client of mayor's political aide

San Diego's growing reputation for secret city deals with those financially linked to GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer is unlikely to be dispelled by the latest news from the Qualcomm Stadium front. The trend first received ...

Council Democrat travels free on labor's dime

Alvarez excursions, Faulconer’s cash from conventions revealed by disclosures

It's the first week of April, time for San Diego's politicos to fess up about the outside income they received and the gifts and trips they accepted in 2014. As usual, mayor Kevin Faulconer did ...

Political labors

State senator Joel Anderson, preparing for a political wrestling match with fellow Republican Dianne Jacob for her county supervisorial seat next year, is on the prowl for a few new student interns. “Leapfrog your peers ...

UCSD bombshell

Last July, auditors for the University of California dropped a bombshell on the San Diego campus. Following the May death of undergraduate computer science student Ricardo “Ricky” Ambriz after a Sun God Festival drug overdose, ...

Padres TV takeover

A big new dose of video advertising is in store for baseball fans at Padres games this year. “Five new ribbon displays will be added to the seating fascia at Petco Park along each baseline ...

Referendum renderings

Chamber of commerce chieftain and ex–San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders — widely credited with pioneering the use of the referendum process to outrun city-council decisions on hiking the minimum wage and planning for Barrio Logan ...

More special interest cash for mayor's non-profit

Sunroad, Padres, SDG&E offer up financial homage to city's top politico

Contributions from a growing set of city hall's biggest special interests continue to pour in to One San Diego, a nonprofit corporation set up by San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer. Ostensibly established by the Republican ...

No penalty for Sun God drugging

Official beer garden and drug testing advice mark UCSD blowout

In yet another attempt to tame a nasty run of drug and alcohol poisoning at its annual Sun God rock festival, UCSD is setting up an official beer garden, to be ringed with double fencing, ...

Issa's new beard and an aide's free travel

House member vies for rock star status, takes shots at Hillary at SXSW

An assistant to North County Republican congressman Darrell Issa — whose failed bid for a repeat term as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been chalked up by some to his ...

Manchester sells Grand Del Mar to Di-Fi's hubby

U-T remains on the block as would-be power brokers jockey

The San Diego footprint of Douglas Manchester, the Republican financial kingpin who likes to be called "Papa,” has been poised to shrink substantially with the putative sale of his U-T San Diego newspaper operation. Now ...

Billion-dollar wait

Some hold-ups have developed in the Navy’s Mobile User Objective System, a way for the Pentagon to connect its forces via satellite. Developed by San Diego–based Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the elaborate space and ground ...

Political entertainment

San Diego Democratic assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, mentioned in some circles as a possible candidate to replace retiring U.S. senator Barbara Boxer, was out and about the state last year, courtesy of corporate and nonprofit donors. ...

Onions and onions

Would a crooked politico smell just as bad under a new name for San Diego’s ethics commission? That was the question discussed at last month’s meeting of the body tasked with meting out justice for ...

San Diego mayor's PR journey resumed

Faulconer's Sacramento trip pays off with gubernatorial speculation

Another day, another PR road trip for San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, who showed up in the state capital Monday, March 23, to pitch himself at a global warming seminar put on by a nonprofit ...

What’s holding up U-T San Diego sale?

Potboilers could be more lucrative than newspaper as Chargers move looms

It's been almost three weeks since a noted newspaper analyst reported the possible imminent takeover of U-T San Diego by Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, with not a peep of confirmation or denial out of the Mission ...

Faulconer’s costly PR jaunt snared on CNBC’s line

Mayor’s New York City vanity tour made interesting by Andrew Ross Sorkin

From February 9 through the 13th, Monday through Friday, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer was on the road to New York and Washington DC, appearing on a gaggle of cable TV news shows, interviewing with ...

Israeli junkets and talk of a "Final Solution"

Chiefs for Peters and Vargas hear from AP critic, Fox News champion

Relations between president Barack Obama and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel haven’t been the best of late, but that hasn’t gotten in the way of some free tripping by two staffers for San Diego ...

Drunk with power

The online home-vacation-stay service known as Airbnb has been making a lot of local news lately, thanks to a city regulatory crackdown that has threatened some bedroom renters with back-tax bills. To the rescue have ...

Zipping right along

Though he’s not disclosed exactly how much he’s worth, North County Republican Darrell Issa is estimated by many observers to be the wealthiest member of Congress, with minimum assets of $432.25 million, according to a ...

SDSU’s oversized travel tabs hit by audit

Unauthorized hotel expenses and flight upgrades pad taxpayer-funded travel costs

Taxpayer-funded travel has been out of control at San Diego State University, with executive staff and faculty spending greater than allowed amounts on hotel rooms and business-select class airfare without adequate receipts and justification. To ...

Susan Davis does Japan

House junket queen and husband rack up more frequent flier miles

San Diego Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis, long the county's most junketeering House member, was on the road again in February. Three years ago, Davis placed 17th on a list of Congress's biggest spending free travelers, ...

Cross-border railroad's terror threat

Homeland Security audit finds gamma ray inspection holes

While federal investigators continue to probe the troubled operations of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System's so-called Desert Line railroad through Mexico to the Imperial Valley, a more immediate concern involving the safety of cross-border ...

Toni Atkins and the role of mother’s milk

San Diego solon plied with food, lodging, and cigars

As Jesse Unruh, also known as "Big Daddy," once famously said, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." The legendarily Falstaffian speaker of the California Assembly, who died in 1987 at the age of 64, ...

Touching donors

The hiring of Ann Spira Campbell, ex-wife of former San Diego Opera honcho Ian Campbell as a UCSD fundraising executive was just the beginning. She has been tasked to hit up $1 million-plus donors. Now ...

Coronado carpetbagger

San Diego’s GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer has reappointed Frank Urtasun to the city’s housing commission. “Mr. Urtasun is Regional Vice President of External Relations for San Diego Gas & Electric Co.,” says a February 15 ...

DeMaio’s gold

Former San Diego city councilman and unsuccessful Republican mayoral and congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, who fell to Democratic incumbent Scott Peters in a nasty fight last year, is back on the fundraising circuit. “On Sunday ...

Big money talking in One Paseo ballot war

L.A. developers go bankroll-to-bankroll over lucrative development rights

Pioneered by San Diego Republican ex-mayor Jerry Sanders and his allies in the local shipbuilding, hotel, and restaurant industries, big-money referendum campaigns have become the device of choice to thwart the will of San Diego's ...

Mayor’s foundation fueled by lobbyist funds

$30,000 from special interests could be just the beginning

Around San Diego's city hall, even good deeds can be turned to the peddling of influence. Number one example: One San Diego, a nonprofit corporation set up to implement the neighborhood agenda of Kevin Faulconer, ...

Strange bedfellows seek U-T control

Fate of beleaguered paper and local media integrity hang in the balance

With the battle for control of U-T San Diego raging behind closed doors, two distinctly dark-horse candidates to take over the troubled media operation have been surfaced by newspaper-industry blogger Ken Doctor. The first to ...

Could U-T's new owner steal Chargers for L.A.?

Chicago newspaper chain may control final destiny of San Diego’s home team

Though Doug Manchester's U-T San Diego has yet to report it, the biggest threat to keeping the Chargers in town may turn out to be Manchester's current effort to sell the paper to the owners ...

Deadbeat Doug

The computer-services outfit determined to collect on a federal court judgment of $466,310 against Manchester Financial Bank, a putative venture of U-T San Diego owner Douglas Manchester, is still trying. The financial institution never got ...

Million-dollar Annie

Word that Ann Spira Campbell, formerly number two at the San Diego Opera, has become the senior executive director for principal gifts at UCSD has tongues wagging among local rainmakers. The ex-wife of former opera ...

Kilroy’s killjoys

The foundation of J. Douglas Pardee, former chairman of the board of the big housing development outfit that bears the family name, has been spreading the wealth to San Diego State University’s public broadcasting operation. ...

U-T pension woes emerge in takeover battle

Report has L.A. Times owner jockeying to acquire San Diego daily

One of the bigger ironies to be found in the struggle over who will be next to own San Diego's daily newspaper may turn out to be the pension problem. Not public worker pensions — ...

Tax and media intrigue envelope massive Mission Valley hotel deal

U-T Manchester’s friend is chairman of district defending room tax in Briggs case

An era dating back to the 1950s quietly ended last summer when C. Terry Brown, the hotel mogul currently embroiled in the tax case brought by lawyer Cory Briggs, cut a deal to dilute his ...

Nathan Fletcher files for divorce

Fairy-tale political marriage on the rocks, documents show

It was San Diego’s fairy-tale political union of a war-torn decade. "President George Bush gave his blessing to the recent engagement of Nathan Fletcher, who heads Rep. Duke Cunningham's San Diego district office, to Mindy ...

Manchester’s U-T joins Briggs fray

Newspaper fails to mention publisher’s role on defendant’s board

As the confrontation between city attorney Jan Goldsmith and Cory Briggs over the city’s so-called Tourism Marketing District heats up, another local media player has entered the fray without revealing a key link to the ...

Media spin and legal drama merge in Briggs battle

Goldsmith's courthouse warriors score hits with SDSU's TV station

This week's bitter legal skirmish between Cory Briggs and Republican city attorney Jan Goldsmith has been long in the making. A series of reports broadcast this week by San Diego State University's public television station ...

Vanity press

The La Jolla Light, owned by mega-millionaire Douglas F. Manchester, is out with a glowing filial profile of the U-T publisher and the hotel he is building in Austin, Texas. “For Manchester, the venture is ...

Lucchino’s big crash

Larry Lucchino, famous for getting the Padres a taxpayer-subsidized downtown ballpark, is experiencing a bit of a rough patch in Boston, where he has long run the baseball team for a group of wealthy investors. ...

La Jolla’s Marco moment

Republican senator Marco Rubio isn’t giving up on his putative bid for the Republican presidential nomination, even as fellow Floridian Jeb Bush tries to clear the field for his own ambitions. While U-T San Diego ...

Hired guns to the rich and famous

Celebrities Concierge & Staffing Services, a Beverly Hills–based personal service agency with an office in San Diego, is out with a new offering: hired guns. “We know our clients don’t want to compromise on their ...

Charity begins at home for Solana Beach councilman

SDSU's old boy networking cleared by California political watchdog

The sometimes-controversial role of nonprofit influence in San Diego politics has gained a new level of prominence with word that the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission has cleared a Solana Beach councilman to vote on ...

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