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Breslin's Raspberry

April 20, 2000

Once again the Pulitzer Prize recipients have been announced, and once again the San Diego Union-Tribune has been shut out. Though the San Diego Evening Tribune won two of the coveted journalistic awards before it was folded into the San Diego Union a decade ago, the Union itself, haughty flagship of the Copley newspaper chain, has always come up empty in the national newspaper derby. This year was the same, but with added insult: Famed New York Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin berated the U-T's Pulitzer entry for pulling its punches in an effort to protect San Diego's corporate image, a charge not unfamiliar to local U-T watchers. "The San Diego Union-Tribune entered a series on the exploitation of aliens and started it off with Chinese in lower Manhattan, rather than offend employers in their own area, where Mexicans are nothing more than utensils."

The Padres Investigation

April 27, 2000

Who really owns the Padres? A limited partnership registered in Delaware, San Diego city officials say. In response to a recent request for public records about the team, deputy city manager Bruce Herring said the city doesn't have any other documents about the matter, including any disclosing the individuals behind the Delaware company. Back in June 1992, voters approved Proposition E, a charter amendment that, according to the ballot statement describing the measure, requires "that all persons proposing to do business with the City fully disclose the name and identity of all persons involved in the proposed transaction and the nature of their interest therein." Attorney Bruce Henderson is asking a judge to force the city to follow the requirements of Prop E and find out -- if it doesn't already know -- the identity of the people who share a financial interest in the Padres and its downtown-stadium deal. Ironically, city councilwoman Valerie Stallings, never a Henderson fan, and who is the center of controversy regarding her well-timed purchase of stock in a company controlled by Padres head John Moores, co-signed the ballot argument in support of Prop E with then-mayor Maureen O'Connor. "Loopholes in the system allow anonymous 'limited partners' to potentially receive millions in taxpayer dollars without the Council having the benefit of knowing who the partners are or exactly what they will do with the money," said the argument. "Please give the Council the tools it needs to protect taxpayers' money. Vote Yes on E!"

May 18, 2000

The intrigue surrounding the relationship between city councilwoman Valerie Stallings and the Padres grew last week with the release of telephone records from Stallings's office in response to a California Public Records Act request. According to the phone records, Stallings or members of her staff used city phones to make 11 calls to Padres owner John Moores or Moores-related entities between September 28, 1998, and March 21 of this year. The first call was to a hotel in Houston. The next three calls -- two on February 23, 1999, and another on March 1, 1999 -- went to Neon Systems in Sugar Land, Texas. Neon Systems is the company, controlled by Moores, in which Stallings reported buying shares on March 5, 1999, the day of the company's initial public offering. Stallings has refused to disclose the circumstances surrounding her purchase of the stock, the market value of which shot from $15 a share to almost $27 three weeks later, when Stallings sold her holdings; she pocketed a reported 267 percent profit. When called earlier this week, the line was answered by a recorded message from Wanda Hillhouse, whom an operator identified as Neon's controller. The subsequent seven calls identified by the Stallings city council office as Moores-related, made earlier this year, went to a Del Mar phone number answered by a tape-recorded greeting from "Beverly."

June 1, 2000

San Diego City Council member Valerie Stallings, reported to be the subject of a joint investigation by the district attorney and federal prosecutors, has released records of five more long-distance phone calls made on her city phones to numbers belonging to John Moores. Most of the calls, made in 1998 and 1999, were to numbers in Carmel, California, where Moores has a residence.

August 31, 2000

The subpoena delivered to the San Diego City Council by FBI agents in the Stallings case requires the city to produce a long list of records, including "All records and items, including but not limited to, correspondence, memorandums, notes, tape recordings, referencing Valerie Stallings and relating to: a.) The San Diego Padres, b.) The San Diego Ballpark and/or Redevelopment Project, c.) John Moores, d.) JMI Services, Inc., JMI Equity Fund and all other JMI business entities and their employees, e.) Neon Systems, Inc., f.) Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, g.) BT Alex Brown"; and "All City of San Diego records relating to the authorization and payment of money on behalf of Valerie Stallings for attorneys fees." The subpoena also seeks production of "all toll billings and/or monthly statements" for a cellular phone number, presumably that of a phone used by Stallings.

October 2, 2000

After the city council finally balked at providing any more taxpayer-funded cash "advances," lack of funding idled bulldozers and cranes Monday at the construction site where the San Diego Padres planned to build a new ballpark.

The UC President

and His Qualcomm Stock

April 6, 2000

Charles Nathanson, executive director of the University of California's San Diego Dialogue, reported owning more than $100,000 -- the maximum reportable disclosure level -- of Qualcomm stock and more than $10,000 of stock in Leap Wireless, the Qualcomm spin-off that owns a big stake in Pegaso Communications. That's the Mexican cell-phone company that's building cellular networks in the biggest cities in Mexico, including Tijuana. UCSD's Dialogue has been a big booster of border-area industrial and development interests and has close ties with big Mexican maquiladora owners. UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes is on the board of Leap Wireless, and University of California president Richard Atkinson, Dynes's predecessor as UCSD chancellor, who is on the board of Qualcomm, owns more than $200 million of Qualcomm stock, along with more than $100,000 of Leap Wireless stock

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