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San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn blows loophole in the city's new lobbyist reporting law

"Byron Wear Not for Mayor. Would you trust a guy who has eaten so many free lunches?".

— San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn has blown a huge loophole in the city's new lobbyist reporting law, allowing the legion of influence peddlers, who often ply their trade by buying food, booze, and gifts for San Diego's elected officials and their staffs, to escape public disclosure of their activities. In a letter last week to City Clerk Charles Abdelnour, Gwinn's office wrote that Padres owners John Moores and Larry Lucchino don't have to register with the city as lobbyists. That means that Moores and Lucchino, who media reports say meet frequently with San Diego mayor Susan Golding, city councilmembers, and city staffers, won't have to disclose the nature of those contacts, nor will they have to report any freebies -- such as dinner, drinks, and travel -- given to the politicos by the Padres duo. The letter, which bears the signature of Gwinn lieutenant Leslie J. Gerard, opines that Moores and Lucchino are exempt from the reporting law because "they have been negotiating a written agreement" with the city -- namely the lucrative downtown Padres stadium and real estate development deal. Gwinn's office also argues that the Padres owners are "self-employed" and "don't appear to be 'employees' of the Club and thus might not be required to register as lobbyists under the Code for that additional reason." The Gwinn letter suggests "a modification of the code may be appropriate to clarify the issue." In the meantime, Gwinn's interpretation of the law could apply to thousands of self-employed real estate developers and other business owners who frequently put the collar on the city council for special favors, thus exempting them from disclosure. The opinion also frees hundreds of other city contractors, who often find themselves negotiating with city hall and lobbying for new business at the same time, from the disclosure requirements.

Heavy Weights

City hall wags are wondering whether it's just a coincidence that the Metabolife diet-drug and politics controversy hit the news just as Mayor Susan Golding's personal weight-loss program started paying off ... Downtown baseball stadium opponent Joel Mielke, who created those "Stadium? Thanks, got one. A library, I could use" signs, is back with an update: "Byron Wear Not for Mayor. Would you trust a guy who has eaten so many free lunches?"... All that talk about getting tough with Chinese spies isn't sitting well at Qualcomm, the giant San Diego cell-phone maker that hopes to sell billions of dollars' worth of so-called CDMA technology to the free-market communists. China Unicom, a rival to state-run China Telecom, wants to set up a Qualcomm-based system with over 35 million cell-phone users by 2003, reports Electronic Engineering Times. As part of the deal, Qualcomm would license its CDMA patents to Chinese phone makers, triggering an avalanche of business.

Gift Horse

As the Microsoft antitrust trial heads toward completion in Washington this week, the giant software maker is giving ten computers to Coleman College's Computer Museum of America in La Mesa, "for the benefit of underprivileged San Diego-area children," according to a news release ... Divx, the controversial format that allows consumers to buy DVD video discs, watch a movie several times, then throw the disc away, is being trashed by the new owners of Dow Stereo, according to Audio Week. Boston's Tweeter Home Entertainment Group says Divx, which the old Dow backed to the hilt, isn't a "viable format" ... San Diego State alum and National University grad Steve Whitener is in a bitter GOP primary battle to become the next commissioner of revenue of Loudon County, Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. ... KPBS, San Diego's public television station, has gotten a construction permit from the federal government to build a digital television transmitter ... Presidential son George W. Bush may be his father's heir presumptive by many Republicans, but at least one, El Cajon Assemblyman Steve Baldwin, isn't ready to throw in the towel yet. Baldwin, a backer of Christian conservative candidate Gary Bauer, helped circulate a national e-mail memo bashing Bush for, among other things, being too cozy with "liberal" Democrats.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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— San Diego City Attorney Casey Gwinn has blown a huge loophole in the city's new lobbyist reporting law, allowing the legion of influence peddlers, who often ply their trade by buying food, booze, and gifts for San Diego's elected officials and their staffs, to escape public disclosure of their activities. In a letter last week to City Clerk Charles Abdelnour, Gwinn's office wrote that Padres owners John Moores and Larry Lucchino don't have to register with the city as lobbyists. That means that Moores and Lucchino, who media reports say meet frequently with San Diego mayor Susan Golding, city councilmembers, and city staffers, won't have to disclose the nature of those contacts, nor will they have to report any freebies -- such as dinner, drinks, and travel -- given to the politicos by the Padres duo. The letter, which bears the signature of Gwinn lieutenant Leslie J. Gerard, opines that Moores and Lucchino are exempt from the reporting law because "they have been negotiating a written agreement" with the city -- namely the lucrative downtown Padres stadium and real estate development deal. Gwinn's office also argues that the Padres owners are "self-employed" and "don't appear to be 'employees' of the Club and thus might not be required to register as lobbyists under the Code for that additional reason." The Gwinn letter suggests "a modification of the code may be appropriate to clarify the issue." In the meantime, Gwinn's interpretation of the law could apply to thousands of self-employed real estate developers and other business owners who frequently put the collar on the city council for special favors, thus exempting them from disclosure. The opinion also frees hundreds of other city contractors, who often find themselves negotiating with city hall and lobbying for new business at the same time, from the disclosure requirements.

Heavy Weights

City hall wags are wondering whether it's just a coincidence that the Metabolife diet-drug and politics controversy hit the news just as Mayor Susan Golding's personal weight-loss program started paying off ... Downtown baseball stadium opponent Joel Mielke, who created those "Stadium? Thanks, got one. A library, I could use" signs, is back with an update: "Byron Wear Not for Mayor. Would you trust a guy who has eaten so many free lunches?"... All that talk about getting tough with Chinese spies isn't sitting well at Qualcomm, the giant San Diego cell-phone maker that hopes to sell billions of dollars' worth of so-called CDMA technology to the free-market communists. China Unicom, a rival to state-run China Telecom, wants to set up a Qualcomm-based system with over 35 million cell-phone users by 2003, reports Electronic Engineering Times. As part of the deal, Qualcomm would license its CDMA patents to Chinese phone makers, triggering an avalanche of business.

Gift Horse

As the Microsoft antitrust trial heads toward completion in Washington this week, the giant software maker is giving ten computers to Coleman College's Computer Museum of America in La Mesa, "for the benefit of underprivileged San Diego-area children," according to a news release ... Divx, the controversial format that allows consumers to buy DVD video discs, watch a movie several times, then throw the disc away, is being trashed by the new owners of Dow Stereo, according to Audio Week. Boston's Tweeter Home Entertainment Group says Divx, which the old Dow backed to the hilt, isn't a "viable format" ... San Diego State alum and National University grad Steve Whitener is in a bitter GOP primary battle to become the next commissioner of revenue of Loudon County, Virginia, across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. ... KPBS, San Diego's public television station, has gotten a construction permit from the federal government to build a digital television transmitter ... Presidential son George W. Bush may be his father's heir presumptive by many Republicans, but at least one, El Cajon Assemblyman Steve Baldwin, isn't ready to throw in the towel yet. Baldwin, a backer of Christian conservative candidate Gary Bauer, helped circulate a national e-mail memo bashing Bush for, among other things, being too cozy with "liberal" Democrats.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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