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The liberal publication Think Progress says that North County Congressman Darrell Issa is trying to use earmarks to enhance the value of his real estate investments. One of Issa's most valuable properties is a medical office building at 2067 West Vista Way in Vista, called the Vista Medical Center. The property was bought for $16.6 million in 2008; the buyer was Viper LLC, an Issa family business that the congressman has a $25 million stake in. Right after buying it, Issa began requesting earmarks to jack up the property's value, says Think Progress. He requested $2 million to expand West Vista Way, but only received $245,000. The next year he made another earmark request for $570,000 to add parking lots, widen the road, add bus stops and improve the sewer system. The highway project has not yet begun because of budget constraints, but the federal money is allocated. Issa has said that an "earmark is tantamount to a bribe."

Thanks to Matt Potter for sending this item along.

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Comments

JustWondering March 30, 2011 @ 3:24 p.m.

And this surprises you how? Both sides of the aisle are crooked as a dog's hind leg. Yet the people of North County and all over America return these public servants year after year.

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SurfPuppy619 March 30, 2011 @ 4:09 p.m.

Both sides of the aisle are crooked as a dog's hind leg.

There is no difference whatsoever between Democrats and Republicans today, maybe there never was. They are two sides of the same coin-both bought and paid for special interest whores.

They have destabilized the country to such a degree I fear it could lead to chaos and anarchy of the kind we have never before witnessed.

Big Public Sector Unions and Wall Street Investment Banks are the Casinos of Blue Collar and White Collar Organized American Crime Families of the 21st Century. With the aid of the Congress they Extort and Gamble with the Jobs/Pension Funds/Future/Hope of every real middle class and poor worker and citizen in America.

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Don Bauder March 30, 2011 @ 8:28 p.m.

I was a registered Republican most of my life, but switched before the 2004 election. I agree that Democrats are corrupt, too, but I think a little less than Republicans these days. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 30, 2011 @ 8:26 p.m.

I hope I didn't imply that I was surprised. I have been chasing public and private corruption for almost 50 years. Nothing surprises me any more, although I will say that today's corruption tops anything I have seen before. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 March 30, 2011 @ 10:54 p.m.

although I will say that today's corruption tops anything I have seen before

We did not have the financial scams-on such a LARGE SCALE- back in the 1970's and before.

Michale Milken started these scams in the 1980's while at Dexel. He was the FIRST major financial scammer to start pulling down these hundred million dollar compensation deals. He made $582 MILLION in 1985, he would be have ranked at #68 on the Forbes 500 that year if he was a public company, right behind McDonalds Corporation. All through fraud.

Thomas Speigal at Columbia Savings and Loan-a Milken crony- was another one who was pulling down wild compensation that had no relationship to his job performance. Dexel went BK because of Milken and Columbia went BK because of Speigal. America has gone BK due to numerous Milken and Speigal clones.

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Don Bauder March 31, 2011 @ 7:41 a.m.

Today's widespread false accounting really gathered momentum in the Milken takeover years. To keep from getting taken over, companies cooked their books to keep their stock prices up. Now, back in the 1960s, conglomerates had a similar strategy: cook the books to inflate the stock, and use that inflated stock to take over other companies. Back in those days, however, the books of the average blue chip were pretty clean. Along came Milken, Icahn, Pickens et al and most corporations began the phony accounting that plagues us today. The takeover movement has slowed, but the faux accounting has not. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston March 31, 2011 @ 9:16 a.m.

Not that it really matters, but I believe in wasn't until '87 or '88 the Milken made that. I remember reading it in article in the LAT when the indictments came out and a comment by Trump to the effect that he was suprised a company would let someone make that much money because you could be happy with a lot less money. I found that total hilarious coming from him. Ironic that at the time, Trump was building the Taj, which was financed primarily from junk bonds. The biggest crime, imo, was that Milken served less than 2 yrs and even after paying a billion plus in fines, he still had a boatload of money when he got out. Did Columbia actually file Chapter 11? I always thought the OTS took it over. I do remember that the feds lost their case against Speigal.

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Don Bauder March 31, 2011 @ 12:32 p.m.

Donald Trump is laughable. But don't laugh: he's thinking of running for president. He is a celebrity on TV despite the fact that he has dragged his bondholders into BK. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 March 31, 2011 @ 1:44 p.m.

Donald Trump is laughable.

His ego has got to be the biggest in America, but face it-he is the ONLY person on the national scene today who is capable of understanding the macro economic problems America faces today and speaking out on how to fix the problems.

Presdient, would never work. Secretary of Labor, I would appoint him in a heart beat.

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 8:43 a.m.

I wouldn't appoint Trump ambassador to Kazakhstan. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 March 31, 2011 @ 1:42 p.m.

Milken made hundreds of millions every year in the mid 80's. I am pretty sure the $568 million was in 85 or 86. According to the book "The Predtor's Ball" (title based on an annual convention of junk bond dealers arranged by Milken) Milken was to have made a sarcastic comment openiong one of the conventions stating some of the people involved in junk bond wheeling and dealing could "become billionaires" ......wink wink.

As for Columbia, it failed, it was bankrupt on a cash flow and assett/liability basis, did the RTC or OTS take it over?? I am sure they folded it into another bank, like they did with Sivlerado and Vernon and all the rest. But that does not change the fact that Columbia failed. I cannot recall what happened to Speigal. My wish is that he and Dixon from Vernon Savings and Loan would have been cellmates at the Levenworth Federal Pen for a few hundred years.

As for Milken's sentence, if you recall he was actually sentenced to 10 years (by Kimba Woods??), which in the federal system is 10 years, minus 15% for good behaviour. How that clown got out after just two years just goes to show you how there are two sets of laws for America today-one for the connected/wealthy and one for the rest of us.

Drexel let Milken pull in that much $$$ because Milken WAS Drexel, if he left the firm would have folded, and that is exactly what happened when the indicments came down and those junk bond fees stopped rolling in.

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tomjohnston March 31, 2011 @ 8:12 p.m.

I was curious, so I looked it up. NYT: Mr. Milken received as compensation from Drexel $45 million in 1983, $123 million in 1984, $135 million in 1985, $294 million in 1986 and $550 million in 1987." It seems that he would never have served anything close to that anyway: "He entered a Federal prison in California 17 months ago and would have been eligible for parole in March 1994. Under the old Federal sentencing rules, which applied when Mr. Milken was sentenced, prisoners became eligible for parole after serving a third of their sentence -- 40 months in Mr. Milken's case. Under current rules, there is no parole." "In recognition of his work in tutoring other prisoners, Mr. Milken's had already been set for a four-month reduction in time served. . That reduction could have effectively cut his time served to 36 months." The same judge that sentenced him to 10 yrs reduced the sentence to 24 months after he agreed to cooperate with investigators. He was released after 22 months and spent 2 months in a halfway house.

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SurfPuppy619 March 31, 2011 @ 9:07 p.m.

OK, so Milken was sentenced BEFORE they re-did the guidelines and did away with parole, I forgot when they did that.

Was Kimba Woods the judge ....I will google it.

I thought the year he made $550 million was 1985, just been so long. But $850+ Million in two years in the mid 80's was nuts

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SurfPuppy619 March 31, 2011 @ 9:09 p.m.

BTW- Milkens partner in crime in many o fthe Drexel deals was Ivan Boesky- Boesky moved here to San Diego after he got out of prison, he was actually working out at Gold's Gym in Pacific Beach.

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tomjohnston March 31, 2011 @ 10:10 p.m.

Yeah, if I remember right, when he got out of the pokey, he sued his exwife for alimony, something like $50 million. I think he ended up getting about half of that in cash, a house in La Jolla and a couple hundred grand a year. Ain't it funny how he narced on Milken and Milken doesn't serve any more time than he did. I bet when Milken got his sentence reduction, Rudy must have had a coronary.

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 1:53 p.m.

Yes, he came to La Jolla. He was supposed to have given all his money to the government. How he could afford the LJ digs is a matter of speculation: 1. He may have stashed some offshore; 2. His ex-wife was getting it to him. I saw him at San Diego Opera a couple of times. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 1, 2011 @ 3:01 p.m.

OK, I have to come clean (and may be giving out too much info here), but Boesky graduated from the same college I did and was well known there even when I was attending decades later......

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tomjohnston April 1, 2011 @ 3:23 p.m.

I could be mistaken, but I think you have written about going to college in Detroit. I went to Berkeley. I don't think where anyone goes to college is a big deal, unless you happen to be some CEO who lies about his education. But I don't think anyone ever does that. I do think you're exaggerating about being there decades after. Ivan the crook graduated in 1965 but you don't strike me as a babe in arms so it doesn't seem like it could have been decades after. I didn't know that in the 1980s, he served as an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Business and at New York University's Graduate School of Business. How ironic is that.

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 8:55 a.m.

Hmm. What do you suppose he tutored the prisoners in? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 8:48 a.m.

Nancy Hoover was sentenced to ten years, too, and got out after two years. She admitted that she had lied on the stand when claiming she had not burned corporate records in the fireplace, and most importantly, she had lied in claiming under oath that she had not participated in the invention of monthly J. David returns. Essentially, she was admitting she participated in the Ponzi scheme. Yet she got out! I would have sent her back for more years. Same with Milken. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston April 1, 2011 @ 9:03 a.m.

I think Hoover's case was different though. I don't think she had her sentence reduced to 2 yrs, I think she had her sentence reduced down by 2 or 3 yrs for "cooperating". With time for good behavior, I think she got out on parole after about 2 1/2 yrs, whereas Milken was never on parole, he just had to serve the last couple of his months in a halfway house. I think I remember reading that she married some rich guy and moved up somewhere near Santa Barbara, probably either Montecito or Hollister Ranch, I would imagine. Do you remember anything about where she ended up??

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Visduh April 1, 2011 @ 10:13 p.m.

Her husband's name was Ken Hunter, and they lived in Montecito. I'm sure he passed away a few years back. But I am not sure is she's still alive. (I have a very vague memory of seeing an obit on her in the past two or three years.) She had the knack of landing on her feet. The most outrageous part of her "career" came in the summer of either 1983 or 1984 when Dominelli was in downtown's "highrise hoosegow" awaiting trial, and she was still at Del Mar every day, in her private box, acting as if nothing had happened, acting as if she still had money to support that conspicuous lifestyle, and hadn't a worry in the world. That took gall, but it did support her claim that she never knew he stole all the money she was spending and giving away.

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MURPHYJUNK March 31, 2011 @ 8:16 a.m.

hey, its one of the perks of being in office ( just ask them)

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Don Bauder March 31, 2011 @ 12:35 p.m.

Yes, those pols have all kinds of perks. The heir apparent of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway quit after it came out that he owned Lubrizol stock before Berkshire made a fat bid for it. Hopefully, the SEC will look hard at that one. It appears to stink. But if someone in Congress did the same, nothing would happen. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 March 31, 2011 @ 1:46 p.m.

heir apparent of Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway quit after it came out that he owned Lubrizol stock before Berkshire made a fat bid for it

Charles Munger?????

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tomjohnston March 31, 2011 @ 2:19 p.m.

David Sokol, not Munger. Munger's older than Buffett. He's got to be what, close to 90? I hardly think he would be considered a potential successor. Buffett definitely thinks long term

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 8:50 a.m.

I do believe that Munger is at least as old as Buffett and may be older. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 8:49 a.m.

Nope, David Sokol. It's big in the news right now. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston March 31, 2011 @ 2:25 p.m.

I really don't see the SEC doing anything about it. He already owned the shares before he pitched it to Buffett, he told him he owned shares and he didn't have a say so on whether or not BH pulled the trigger. I don't see a conflict.

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 8:52 a.m.

Neither does Buffett. Neither, obviously, does Sokol. Sorry to disagree, but I don't like the smell of this one. It might slide through the legal screen. But remember: many scams are legal. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston April 1, 2011 @ 3:36 p.m.

What was it a judge said about the toad from Bell, it might be unethical but it's not illegal, or something like that. Call me cynical, but does everyone really believe that everything even a guy like Buffett does is beyond reproach? I don't. Nice guys don't always finish last, but they sure as hell don't become some of the richest guys in the world, either.

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 8:56 a.m.

They should make good reading. What did you think of the New Yorker article? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 1, 2011 @ 1:54 p.m.

It was balanced. I thought it was quite good. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston April 1, 2011 @ 3:29 p.m.

But nothing that hasn't already been written about by a lot of other people previosly. Perhaps it just seems to me that this jillianbarclay, who only signed up very early this morning was simply pimping her blogsite, which to me is no better than these people who sign up late at nite just to drop their spam ads.

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Don Bauder April 2, 2011 @ 7:10 a.m.

Believe me, it's hard to write a column or news story in which all the information has never been printed before. A revelation has to be put in context, and to do that, the writer has to tap something that has written before. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh April 3, 2011 @ 5:28 p.m.

Today's (Sunday, April 3) Light News has an article about this real estate deal and Issa's involvement. It is reporting, I suppose, his side of the story. The gist of his claim is that he was attempting to get federal money for the street in front of the office building, but actually none was released. He claims that AFTER the purchase he made no more attempts to get the improvements funded. The piece also brings in Judy Ritter, mayor of Vista who says the street really needs to be improved and widened, and that the city was hoping for federal funds to pay for it. By the way, that street in that area is the frontage road on the north/east side of Route 78 freeway. The story goes on to point out that Issa was just doing what congressmen do, that being bringing home the bacon to the district. And after all, isn't that their job?

Imagine a world where the federal government did not pay for local street improvements where no federal facility is involved. Also imagine a world where the State of California did not get involved in the same thing. Why do those governments end up paying for local streets? Shouldn't that be the task of the city or county? In recent years I cannot think of a single street improvement project in this county that was paid for solely by local tax dollars. In nearly every case the city or the county (or both) cobbled together a "funding package" consisting of state and federal grants, and a dab of local funding.

Those grants don't grow on trees, they don't fall from the sky, and the governments don't win some sort of cosmic lottery. No, those are tax dollars (or borrowed dollars in the case of the feds) that neither of those governments can any longer afford. This whole matter of earmarks would be lessened if the feds stopped taking care of things that are not properly a federal matter. And who knows? The deficit might shrink away and disappear. Think about it.

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Don Bauder April 4, 2011 @ 8:01 a.m.

Like you, I think the U-T's belated pickup of the story was an attempt to put a pro-Issa spin on it. This is more evidence that things haven't changed much at the U-T. One so-called ethics commentator even defended Issa's actions. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh April 5, 2011 @ 9:13 a.m.

In a small way, the U-T is trying to reveal the crooked ways of this Sweetwater High district superintendent, Jesus Gandara. He must have studied ethics by reading the history of Tammany Hall. This reporting will probably cost him his job--good riddance--especially since he's trying to justify everything, and remains defiant. Where do these school districts find such a pack of clowns?

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Don Bauder April 5, 2011 @ 3:21 p.m.

I suppose they are cranked out by schools of education. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 5, 2011 @ 1:17 p.m.

In a small way, the U-T is trying to reveal the crooked ways of this Sweetwater High district superintendent, Jesus Gandara.

I worked at Sweetwater during the time ED Brand was running it-he was a clown.

brand went to North County (Escondido/San Marcos????) where he tried to pull the same stunts but the Board wouldn't play ball so he quit or got fired, cannot recall which.

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Visduh April 5, 2011 @ 4:18 p.m.

Brand was a real study in what's wrong with educrats. He had a total of one year as a teacher before he headed into administration. That one year wasn't even in a classroom; he was a PE teacher that year. (Ironic that, because in later years he was a picture of physical unfitness, poster boy for Overeaters' Anonymous.) He bounced around in the Escondido high schools doing the usual career climb, then was "supe" for Sweetwater. I'm not sure, but I think they were just as happy to see him go. And so he landed on his feet in San Marcos. About a year after his arrival he was detected recruiting people to run against the one or two least supportive board members. That was even too much for his board supporters, and the district bought him out. Neither side said much, and he was paid off not to sue. Of course, if he had filed suit, he'd stand no chance of ever getting such a job again. Since then I've heard little or nothing about what he was doing. Yep, a real-life example of clown behavior.

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SurfPuppy619 April 5, 2011 @ 5:02 p.m.

Yep, a real-life example of clown behavior.

I got into a beef with a Principal at one of the schools-and then that escalated to a beef with the head of certificated personnel and a former Principal and Brand buddy-Luis Maestra. I wrote Brand a detailed letter, and he sent an email saying he would "look into it" and that was the last I heard from him.

I wish I had legal training then I would have sued.

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Don Bauder April 5, 2011 @ 8:21 p.m.

Coaches don't always make great principals. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 5, 2011 @ 3:24 p.m.

These days, "Brand" is a buzzword in marketing circles. Maybe he left education to go into huckstering. Best, Don Bauder

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