• Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

— Federal prosecutors in the case against San Diego city councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet have released a witness list for the upcoming trial, featuring a galaxy of big names from San Diego and Las Vegas. Longtime city hall lobbyists James Milch and Louis Wolfsheimer (misspelled "Wolfscheimer") are joined by councilmembers Jim Madaffer, Tony Young, Toni Atkins, Brian Maienschein, and Donna Frye; ex-city councilman George Stevens; ex-mayoral chief of staff John Kern; ex-deputy city attorney Jim Chapin; and city ethics commission staffer Stacey Fulhorst. Union-Tribune reporter Ray Huard, who broke some of the early stories about strippers' campaign contributions to the council, is also set to be called. Whether the newspaper will fight Huard's appearance has yet to be seen.

Evidence to be introduced at trial, according to a letter to defense lawyers dated March 31, includes two August 2001 stories by Huard; tapes and transcripts of "approximately" 264 conversations; the city vice squad's file on Cheetahs; various e-mails to and from city councilmembers; numerous "surveillance" videos; and photos of the interiors of "Busalacchi's, Hob Nob, Grant Grill, Cheetahs, Mimi's Café, Bull Pen, CW's Gym, and City Hall." Also on the list: "the 4/17/02 Video Inside CW's Gym" and "Campaign checks to Zucchet, Lewis, from Reimbursed FBI Sources," along with "Campaign checks to Inzunza, Zucchet, Lewis, Atkins, Madaffer from Galardi Sources." Bodybuilder and onetime Cheetahs security chief Tony Montagna, who is on the prosecution's witness list, is said to be an undercover agent for the FBI and is expected to testify against the defendants.

Cash and carry Times may be tough for the city, but recent financial disclosures for the year 2004 show that San Diego officials have still been getting plenty of freebies. Embattled mayor Dick Murphy, for instance, was the recipient of an "autographed baseball," worth $150, from San Diego State University. He also picked up a $90 coffeemaker from Philips/Norelco and a $122 necktie from local professional fund-raiser James Bowers. Back in July 2001, Murphy voted to spend $1 million in taxpayer money on an effort to raise $50 million or so in private contributions for a new downtown library. The money was given to an outfit called the San Diego Public Library Foundation, which hired the 75-year-old Bowers as its fund-raiser. According to a report recently filed by the San Diego Foundation, which managed the library foundation's money, Bowers was paid $137,500 in 2004. The city claimed last year that it didn't have any records of that expenditure.

Councilman Scott Peters, whose wife is a multimillionaire, also managed to snag his share of perks. Last April, he was hosted by the Padres to an Opening Day reception at the ballpark worth $80. He got a parking pass worth $17. San Diego Gas & Electric gave Peters two tickets to a dinner worth $150, along with a $15 box of Christmas candy. His colleague Toni Atkins went to a $75 Planned Parenthood dinner thanks to Dr. Phil Diamond. In March 2004, councilman Brian Maienschein was comped into Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai" show, a gift he valued at $150. Councilman Jim Madaffer went to the Padres Opening Night with a $60 ticket provided by the "Moores family," presumably a reference to team owner John Moores. Councilman Ralph Inzunza, under indictment in the Cheetahs influence-peddling scandal, apparently had more fundamental issues. He reported getting a gift of $60 in services from SOS Rooter, a drain-cleaning outfit.

Meanwhile, city bureaucrats have been picking up their own share of schwag. Police chief William Lansdowne went to Padres Opening Night, thanks to a $68 gift from Cox Communications. Fire chief Jeffrey Bowman viewed a Chargers game last Halloween on a $78 ticket from team owner Dean Spanos, who also gave Bowman a $100 Chargers jacket to wear for the occasion. Topping the staff list of freebie recipients was deputy city manager Bruce Herring, who went to Street Scene ($79), the Holiday Bowl ($100), Cirque du Soleil ($360), and a golf tournament ($295), all thanks to a variety of sponsors. On each occasion, Herring said, he was actually working on behalf of the taxpayers. In the case of his golfing excursion, Herring said he "represented the city at a golf event to raise funds for a fire helicopter."

  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader