San Diego With polls showing sagging public support for a taxpayer-funded downtown baseball stadium, the last thing ballpark backers would seem to need now is one of their own calling for higher taxes. Ever since 1998, when voters were told the $350 million-plus project would pay for itself, the official mantra, repeatedly hammered home by Union-Tribune editorialists, is that city funding for parks, libraries, and streets wouldn't be affected. The U-T has played down the new tax angle, but Mike Madigan, the genial former aide to Mayor Pete Wilson and ex-Pardee executive who now makes $200,000 a year plus a 15 percent bonus as the city's ballpark "czar," is laying it on the line. In an interview in the San Diego Dialogue Report, a UCSD Extension newsletter, Madigan outlines a grim future for the city's neighborhoods unless taxes are raised. Asked by Dialogue, "How does San Diego finance the amenities of life for older communities?" Madigan replies, "You have to develop new sources of revenue. For starters, I don't think that you can look at the existing income streams of the city, which has historically been a pretty thrifty place, and expect to find the kind of money that would be required to create the same kinds, or the same level, of amenities that you find in the suburbs." He added, "However, there are ways to do these new larger libraries in the older areas; there are ways to do additional parks." How? According to Madigan, raise taxes, including a steep hike in the so-called "transfer tax," charged every time a piece of real estate changes hands. "It would apply countywide -- in newer suburbs as well as older parts of the city. The argument you could make in the suburbs is that the advantage of paying the transfer tax is to accommodate additional density in the older parts of the city." Madigan notes, "Nobody likes to pay taxes, and nobody likes to hear notions of increased taxes," but if the amount of new taxes isn't "so onerous," then "I think it's a legitimate subject of conversation." The publication is mum about what level he defines as onerous or whether the tax increase would apply only to houses and not commercial property.
Un-Gored new money Qualcomm's Irwin Jacobs was the only San Diegan to contribute to Al Gore's presidential recount battle fund. He gave $2000. On the other side of the ledger, with contributions to George W. Bush's anti-recount effort, were La Jolla's J.R. Beyster ($5000) and Del Mar's Franklin Antonio ($3000). Beyster runs Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), a multibillion-dollar defense contracting and data-processing empire at Torrey Pines, which rakes in big federal contracts almost daily. Last week, for instance, the Pentagon announced that SAIC had been awarded an $8 million contract for "the design, fabrication, and test of an electromagnetic armor test bed capable of defeating anti-armor chemical energy penetrators." Antonio is Qualcomm's chief technical officer. Late last month he unloaded a block of 90,000 shares in the company for a cool $6.43 million ... Business Week is out with its annual "stadium effect" survey, measuring the impact that naming a stadium has had on a company's stock price. In the case of Qualcomm, BW notes that the stock dipped 53 percent last year. But that's nothing compared to TWA, which owns the naming rights to the Trans World Dome in St. Louis, where the Rams play. "TWA declared bankruptcy and no longer trades."
Low society Ex-Rancho Santa Fe resident and pornographic Web page proprietor Stephen Cohen is back in the news. Last year, a federal judge in San Jose ordered him stripped of his Sex.com Internet domain name, which had been bringing in a reported $17,000 a day. Now, reports The Legal Intelligencer, Cohen has been ordered by the same judge to appear in court for thumbing his nose at a requirement to produce offshore assets worth at least $25 million. That's the amount the court ruled is due Gary Kremen, a Bay Area entrepreneur from whom the judge found Cohen (now reported to be living in Mexico) had misappropriated the Sex.com appellation. The court has appointed an agent to look at taking over Cohen's U.S. assets, including his Rancho Santa Fe property.
Contributor: Matt Potter