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There is the curbside view of the Mexican border: severed heads on nightclub floors, migrant corpses in the mountains, fingers lopped off, armies in pursuit of drug lords, fleeing fugitives, gangs of money-washers, set to the plaintive ballads of narcocorridistas.

And then there is another world, unseen by most. In this opposite realm, the right real-estate deal is enough to endow a family dynasty for decades. The players are ensconced in air-conditioned suites far removed from the turmoil in the streets, filled with the prerogatives of privilege and gentle promises of progress.

This world was created by the desire by millions to cross the border, in one direction or another — to get a job, score a line of coke, sell a stash of guns, open a factory, flee a crime, smuggle illegal labor, build a power plant, launder drug money.

Finding a way to profit from this traffic is the business of the border barons. They do not judge its morality or concern themselves with its values. Oblivious to the mayhem outside the door, business proceeds smoothly, on both sides of the frontier, cloaked in a velvet curtain of discretion and diplomacy.

The controlling families, both Americans and Mexicans, are rich. They were born in American hospitals, went to Ivy League schools, wear tailored European suits, are protected from kidnappers by bodyguards, and shuttle through border crossings with no delay.

They have homes in Coronado, La Jolla, Mazatlán, and Luzerne. They know the cops and politicians worth knowing and can spot the next big money-making opportunity because they have been doing it, as have their fathers and grandfathers before them, for as long as they can remember.

Whether their native language is English or Spanish, they use a coded vocabulary, so as not to offend public sensibilities by saying the obvious: the border is a broken but lucrative place for business, and no authority in Mexico or the United States of America will do anything to fix it.

“Treating the border as a shared economic space rather than a clear boundary might permit flexibility in how national regulations are applied to adjacent communities on different sides of the frontier,” says a February 2009 “concept paper” by the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations, two nonprofit think tanks closely linked to the border moguls.

Translation: we want more border crossings. Pedestrian bridges, freeway crossings, freight crossings, truck depots. Billions of dollars are made every time a new border crossing is opened and the flow of trade and humanity gushes across the frontier, bathing the owners of adjacent real estate in commerce and cash.

This is a story about a new border crossing, not yet open and still pending United States approval, along the frontier between Mexicali and Calexico, in the desert about 100 miles east of San Diego. It is also about a longtime denizen of the border and its politics, who married into a wealthy San Diego family with deep ties to the border region. He has become a major border player, with a personal financial stake in its development.

On September 22, President Barack Obama nominated Alan Bersin to be commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, known as CBP, one of the most sensitive positions in the government of the United States. As noted on its website, the agency “is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s largest and most complex components, with a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S.

“It also has a responsibility for securing and facilitating trade and travel while enforcing hundreds of U.S. regulations, including immigration and drug laws.”

Bersin has been a United States Attorney, superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, and California secretary of education. He is a personal friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Arnold and Maria Schwarzenegger and is revered by many other friends of trade along the border.

“He is somebody that knows the border, knows the process,” J.B. Manson, chairman of the Greater Nogales and Santa Cruz County Port Authority, said after Bersin’s appointment was announced in September. “I believe if he is confirmed it would mean a smooth relationship between trade and CBP.”

“He is a man that is very passionate and understands the balance between trade and security,” former Nogales mayor Marco Antonio Lopez Jr., now chief of staff for CBP, told Nogales International.

Alan Bersin has taken an interesting road to the border. But the saga begins long before he was born, with the great grandfather of his wife, Lisa Foster.

Isaac Ratner, a cap maker from New York, came to San Diego for his health in 1921, accompanied by his wife and six children, and established United Cap Works. San Diego was close to the border and filled with sunshine, cheap labor, and Navy contracts.

Ratner began making uniforms and, in the 1930s, civilian menswear. Sons Abe and Nate joined him in the business. After World War II, their downtown factory began turning out a stylish variety of suits, sports coats, and slacks. Business in the postwar era was good, but it would become much better under the direction of Abe’s ambitious young son-in-law.

Abe’s daughter Pauline met Stanley Foster on a blind date while she was a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. The son of a Ukrainian scrap dealer, he ran a downtown furniture store. They married in 1954 and moved to San Diego, where Stan worked his way up the ladder at Ratner Clothing, first in the shipping department, then in sales.

In 1970, at the age of 42, Stan Foster succeeded 64-year-old Abe Ratner as president of the business and quickly moved to put his stamp on the firm. In 1972, he took the company public. A year earlier he had purchased the Hang Ten trademark for $2 million, the beginning of a multimillion-dollar licensing bonanza for the firm.

The Ratner company was a creature of the border. It built a 310,000-square-foot factory in Chula Vista, an easy commute from Tijuana for many of its workers. It also owned the Arizona Slack Co., which operated a plant just across the state border in Yuma, employing hundreds of Hispanic workers, and owned a warehouse in El Paso, Texas, opposite the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez.

At its peak in the mid-1970s, Ratner Manufacturing, as the company came to be known, was said by San Diego Magazine to be the fifth-largest menswear maker in the country, employing 2500 people, with sales of $57 million. But the domestic garment industry was rapidly changing.

In April 1977, Foster told a crowd gathered at Ratner’s annual shareholder meeting that “the crash in the men’s leisure suit market” had been responsible for the first loss in the firm’s history, the Union-Tribune reported. The next year, the company returned to profitability, but new trade laws and the lifting of tariffs allowed foreign manufacturers to undercut the cost of goods produced in America.

With Ratner’s work force having shrunk to 500, Isaac Ratner’s heirs were worried. Along with other members of the family, Foster had taken the company private again in 1977. In 1989 he bought out his in-laws, merging Ratner Manufacturing into his Foster Investment Corp.

In 1999, one of Isaac’s grandsons, Harry Ratner, sued Foster for fraud, claiming Stan had cheated Harry out of $16 million by failing to disclose the true value of Hang Ten and Ratner Manufacturing’s lucrative real estate before he sold his interest to Foster.

In October 2000, the jury sided with Foster. “There was never anything brought before us to say he did anything illegal,” foreman Barry Hudson told the Union-Tribune. Foster called the verdict “a vindication.” His lawyer, the paper said, “attributed the company’s turnaround to Foster’s business savvy.”

By then, Foster’s personal fortune had expanded dramatically, due in major part to his interests in real estate tied to the border. In a 1991 interview with San Diego Executive Magazine, Foster said he acquired his first parcel in Chula Vista, a tomato field, in 1962, and never stopped buying.

“Through a variety of partnerships Foster has a hand in 17 industrial properties, most of them in the South Bay,” the magazine said, adding that the holdings totaled between 1 and 2 million square feet, though Foster “won’t give an exact number.” His office hallways, the story noted, were “lined with photos of his buildings.”

“Companies that take space in buildings such as Foster’s are drawn to the area for obvious reasons,” the magazine said, including “border access for businesses with Mexican ties” and “low-cost labor in the South Bay and nearby Mexico.”

“Our primary goal was to move our manufacturing facility into Mexico,” William Cleveland, vice president of Troxel Cycling, an exercise-equipment maker, told the magazine. “Then it was a question of where to locate our distribution center and offices in relation to Mexico.” Troxel leased 10,000 square feet in a Foster-owned business park, the magazine reported.

Like Foster, his future son-in-law Alan Bersin would be given great opportunity through marriage. Like Foster, he would also prosper in the realm of the border.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 15, 1946, Bersin went to public schools and received a scholarship to Harvard. Though notably short of stature, he was scrappy enough to become an All–Ivy League linebacker. One of his teammates was actor Tommy Lee Jones. Upon graduating in 1968, Bersin went to Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship.

That put him in the company of 22-year-old Bill Clinton, the future president of the United States. After Oxford, Bersin entered Yale Law, where he was Hillary Clinton’s classmate and married one of her best friends. They were later divorced, but Bersin’s personal and professional bond to Hillary grew deeper as the years progressed. Upon getting his law degree in 1974, Bersin moved west, joining the big downtown Los Angeles law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson.

In 1991, while still in L.A., Bersin met and married second wife Lisa Foster, a daughter of Stan and Pauline Foster, owners of a large local garment factory and acres of South Bay real estate, with longstanding ties to the Democratic Party and connections along the Mexican border.

In 1992, as Bill Clinton ramped up his campaign for the presidency, Alan Bersin and Lisa Foster left their home in Los Angeles and moved to San Diego. Bersin took a sabbatical from Munger Tolles, ostensibly to manage the local Clinton campaign and teach law part-time at the University of San Diego, a Catholic school financially supported by many of the city’s wealthy Democrats, including the Foster family. To many, it appeared Bersin was being groomed for power.

Four months after his inauguration as president, Clinton announced he would make Bersin U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, the country’s busiest port of entry with Mexico. Those familiar with the often-murky world of the border economy took note. “Bersin carries the carpetbagger tag,” wrote Tom Blair, a columnist for the San Diego Union. “Still a partner in an L.A. firm, he’s been here only eight months while teaching one class at USD.”

As his father-in-law had done at Ratner, Bersin shook up the U.S. Attorney’s office, firing five top prosecutors. The head of the financial institution fraud task force, Gay Hugo, who had handled the high-profile J. David Dominelli fraud case, quit her job. The Union-Tribune later reported that Hugo “was critical of Bersin as she left” but declined to elaborate.

Unlike San Diego U.S. Attorneys of the past, Bersin became a magnet for national publicity, chiefly because of his carefully cultivated association with the economically burgeoning, increasingly troubled border region. In October 1995, Attorney General Janet Reno named him “border czar,” ostensibly to run herd on Operation Gatekeeper, the Clinton Administration’s program to stem the growing torrent of illegal immigration.

The job was a public relations bonanza for both Clinton and Bersin; during Bersin’s tenure, Washington flooded the San Diego sector with Border Patrol agents, and a host of fences and expensive electronic devices were installed. Bersin boasted that illegal crossings dropped in San Diego. Reality was different. Human traffic was forced east, into the San Diego County backcountry and Imperial County, where many of the illegal crossers died of thirst and exposure. Smugglers, known as coyotes, collected ever higher fees to shepherd their desperate clients.

Critics said Bersin was spending too much time schmoozing with members of the tightly knit Tijuana business establishment and friends of his father-in-law and not enough looking into money-laundering schemes used by the drug cartels. He called for easier border crossings for business people and trade and was a regular draw at banquets and business tributes on both sides of the border.

In 1997, he endorsed a controversial private real-estate venture called the International Gateway of the Americas, a $192 million shopping mall, duty-free zone, and hotel to be built on the U.S. side of the border just west of the existing Tijuana border crossing. The new development was to feature a new opening to Mexico in the form of a pedestrian bridge. The bridge had the support of the city’s big financial interests but was criticized by federal law enforcement officials, who believed it would become a nightmare to police.

Bersin’s role in pushing the project forward was hailed by a Union-Tribune editorial in March 1998. “When the proposed International Gateway of the Americas Project was going nowhere, it was Bersin who stepped in and cut through the red tape to get the border development project on track,” the editorial said. “This innovative enterprise would transform a blighted area west of the San Ysidro border crossing into a development of duty-free stores, restaurants, a World Trade Center complex, a hotel, and meeting facilities.”

Bersin continued to lobby for the project even after he had stepped down as U.S. Attorney in early 1998. In December 1998, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times noted, “The campaign crested in September when a parade of boosters, including the head of Tijuana’s economic development council and former U.S. Attorney and border czar Alan Bersin, took turns praising likely benefits to the region’s economy and image during a meeting of a U.S.–Mexico panel that reviews new border crossings.”

The project drew fierce opposition from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, which stated in a letter that “a requirement to conduct pedestrian inspections at another location at any distance from the existing inspection facility would result in significant disruption of customer service and law enforcement operations.” Ultimately, the pedestrian bridge was dropped from the project, though the mall was allowed to proceed.

Though not widely known to the public, Bersin had a personal financial stake in border real estate held with his father-in-law and other family members. According to an agreement recorded October 2, 1996, Bersin, his wife Lisa, along with Stan and Pauline Foster and Marliskar, a family-related partnership, had formed Otay Terminal, a general partnership.

A disclosure Bersin filed with the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., showed that Otay Terminal owned four properties, including a trucking facility at 6930 Cactus Court on San Diego’s Otay Mesa, less than 2000 feet from the border with Mexico.

A trust controlled by Foster and his wife Pauline purchased the land on January 14, 1992, for $880,500, according to county records. Foster built a truck terminal and offices on the parcel, finishing the project on July 20, 1992, a notice of completion says. On January 14, 2003, the partnership sold the property for $3.5 million.

In a September 1998 interview with the Reader, Bersin said, “It’s a partnership in which my wife and I have an interest. I don’t know when we made it, but it’s something my father-in-law organized. It’s a truck — Consolidated Freight — transfer point.” The Otay property, he said, was the first piece of real estate acquired by the partnership.

“That’s why it’s called the Otay partnership.... And then there were other investments made in other properties. Kearny Mesa is one — actually two in Kearny Mesa. I guess there’s one in Vista. My wife and I invested in the partnership in cash, that’s what the investment was.” Bersin said that the Otay Mesa purchase was made in 1992, “before I was U.S. Attorney,” and later put into the Otay Terminal partnership.

In the same interview, Bersin repeated his support for the Gateway project. “Tijuana and San Diego and Customs and INS and GSA are all trying to get — and it’s something that I was, that I am supportive of, is to be able to develop the San Ysidro gateway between Tijuana and San Diego so that it reflects the kind of region that we’re developing and lets the region, San Diego and Tijuana, take charge of their destiny, because if we wait for federal governments to do it, we will never get the kind of port of entry that we need to build this U.S.–Mexico border region.”

His role in the project, Bersin said, was “to be part of a border port council that considered it and is recommending it to the U.S. and Mexican authorities. There are federal, state, and local jurisdictions on both sides of the border that are building a regional consensus to get a recommendation. You need a permit to build this cross-border development.

“What this would do would increase the lanes. As we’ve improved the travel time between Tijuana and San Diego, it’s become clear [that] like everything, when you make it easier to get back and forth between the two cities, more cars come, and what’s pretty clear now is that the port of entry that was built in the mid-’70s is not capable of handling the traffic between the two cities.

“We need more lanes and a reconfigured pedestrian area. That’s what customs, INS on this side, working with GSA, is doing. And really what the breakthrough is is that Tijuana and San Diego have agreed on a common development plan.”

Bersin said no conflict of interest arose from his ownership in the Otay Terminal partnership and his role as United States Attorney and border czar. “No, because, first of all, it’s fully disclosed, and it had no bearing on — you know, the requirement is to disclose it. Frankly, none of the decisions I made as a prosecutor were affected by that.”

But what of Bersin’s advocacy of development-enhancing initiatives for Otay Mesa? Would that represent a conflict? “You can draw that inference, but I didn’t. There [were] much larger purposes involved than promoting a 10 percent interest I have in a piece of property there.”

Was his role as border czar compromised? “The obligation is to disclose [the partnership interest]. I don’t think any decision that was made would have anything to do with that piece of property.”

Though the Foster family partnership sold the truck terminal in 2003, Bersin and his wife have since acquired major financial stakes in other border-related ventures. A financial disclosure statement Bersin filed with the State of California in March 2006 revealed that he held between $10,000 and $100,000 of stock in “SafeMex/International Gateway.” He reported the same interest in a similar disclosure made May 9, 2009, with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

According to its website, SafeMex sells insurance and emergency travel-assistance plans to foreigners going to Mexico. The company, it says, “was established to better serve travelers to Mexico. These same services are now provided on a worldwide basis.” Records show the firm has an office across the street from the now-complete International Gateway border development.

The founder, chairman, and CEO of SafeMex is Enrique Mier y Terán, a border baron who with his father Juan Mier y Terán is credited with founding the first maquiladora — or “twin plant” — Kaynar de Mexico, in 1960, which imported duty-free materials from the United States and exported the finished products back to this country.

A June 1998 profile in the Economist traced Mier y Terán’s career:

“One night in 1959, a Mexican teenager was at a party in San Diego in Southern California. Among the cool new American friends 19-year-old Enrique Mier y Terán made that night was a 20-something American who said he was in business.

“What business? ‘I have a factory making pin curl clips,’ said the American. This was still the 1950s, and the wannabe Rita Hayworths of those days needed something to control their huge hair bangs. Enrique laughed out loud. Offended, his new friend invited him to visit his factory the next day.

“As he went round the plant, he asked the American how much he paid the 500 girls who operated the simple machinery and assembled the plastic clips. The answer was $65 a week. ‘I could get people to do that for 16 Mexican dollars a week,’ said Enrique — a 50th of what the American was paying.

“So the American lent Enrique two machines, and he started making pin curl clips in an old shed just over the border in Tijuana, to sell in America. He paid no Mexican duties on the imported parts because he was in a free-trade zone by the border; and the American customs were persuaded that the plastic parts were going south for ‘repair,’ which got around American duties on re-entry.

“As the business grew, he got his businessman father to help him. Thus was born one of the first maquiladora factories along Mexico’s border with the United States. Now Mr. Mier y Terán owns an industrial park and a consultancy which advises multinationals around the world how to do today what he started doing 39 years ago.”

Mier y Terán, acting on behalf of himself and as the “representative of an investor group,” bought 100 percent of the stock of the International Gateway brokerage for $1.5 million in January 2005 and began operating it as a subsidiary of SafeMex, according to a stock purchase agreement filed in connection with a lawsuit Mier y Terán brought against the sellers of the business in 2008. International Gateway, according to the court records, owns Amerimex Insurance, a Texas brokerage; Club Mex Insurance Services; and Tour Aide Inc.

In July 1983, ground was broken on the second border crossing to link Tijuana and San Diego. “The facility itself points to an ever-increasing volume of traffic between our two countries, commercial, and social interchange,” said Ed Meese, a San Diegan and intimate of then-president Ronald Reagan, who named him attorney general in 1985. “It will give further impetus to development of the area itself on both sides of the border.”

In May 1984, as opening day approached, San Diego Tribune reporters Joe Hughes and Fernando Romero recounted the rampant real-estate speculation boom that had occurred on the mesa as a result of the new crossing.

“There are probably as many rumors of intrigue, hidden ownerships, the mob, get-rich-quick schemes, and public officials gobbling up the good land as there are acres on sprawling Otay Mesa,” they wrote.

“Speculation was hottest when the border gate was being mapped,” they added. “In some instances, land values in eight years shot to $60,000 an acre from $6,000 an acre.”

On the Mexican side, the heat was even more intense. “Land records are not public in Tijuana, and government officials are reluctant to talk about ownership,” the reporters wrote. “But investors and speculators are said to include politicians, some of whom may have benefited by their positions. Former Baja California Gov. Roberto de la Madrid, who helped pick the site of the border gate, is often mentioned as a landowner.

“One source said de la Madrid helped Leandro Lozano Franco obtain 120 acres near the gate through a federal land swap and retained an ownership interest in the land. A spokesman for Lozano Franco, who plans a commercial complex on his property, denied that de la Madrid is an owner.

“The former governor, when asked if he has holdings on the mesa, smiled and said political obligations prevent him from commenting. ‘Why don’t you ask me about my health instead?’ de la Madrid asked. His brother Francisco, once Tijuana’s customs chief, also is said to own land.”

Alan Bersin had been U.S. Attorney for nearly five years in February 1998 when word leaked that he was the front-runner in a secretive race to become the next head of the San Diego Unified School District. It was a surprising development, not the least because there had been speculation that President Clinton would soon elevate Bersin to a Justice Department post in Washington.

Wrote the Union-Tribune’s Valerie Alvord in March 1998: “It was confirmed that [Bersin] was a candidate for the Number 2 and 3 positions in the Justice Department under Attorney General Janet Reno. There was also talk that he might have been considered for the top spot at the U.S. Customs Service after its commissioner resigned last summer.

“Why he didn’t get any of these jobs was the subject of heated speculation in some circles. Those who admire Bersin say he lost out because he was too close to the president and would have been perceived as having a conflict of interest, given the ongoing investigations of Clinton and his top advisers.

“Critics said it was because Bersin was light in management background, and because he had angered the Latino community in San Diego, partially over Operation Gatekeeper, the government’s crackdown at the border.”

(In November 2007, the Reader filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Clinton presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas, for records documenting Bersin’s performance as U.S. Attorney. Two years later, the library, citing limited staff and a deluge of FOIA requests, says it can’t predict when it will turn over the records. An administrative appeal made to the library in September of this year to expedite delivery of the documents on the grounds that Bersin’s nomination as CPB chief made them of immediate and significant public interest was rejected earlier this month.)

Whatever the reason, Bersin was headed not to Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington but to Normal Street, the appellation given San Diego Unified School District headquarters in North Park. But how had he arrived there?

Many saw the hand of his father-in-law Stan Foster and Foster’s business allies on the board of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, chief among them downtown real-estate and banking mogul Malin Burnham, an internationally known yachtsman and longtime friend and business associate of Foster.

In March 1989, the San Diego Tribune had revealed that Burnham and Foster were co-investors, along with other San Diego establishment figures, including newspaper publisher Helen Copley, another Bersin backer, in a series of venture capital funds known as Sorrento Ventures. The two men were also partners in the San Diego Sockers, a professional soccer franchise. Burnham was a member of the selection committee that had pitched Bersin to the board of education.

Burnham and his fellow chamber of commerce members were looking for a tough ex-prosecutor like Bersin to take on the teachers’ union, whose members, they argued, were an obstruction to market-oriented education reform. Many also wanted to spin off many district support functions to the private sector.

As early as November 1993, the chamber’s Business Roundtable for Education had lobbied for turning over as many as a dozen of the district’s worst-performing schools to Education Alternatives Inc., a private company based in Minnesota. Though the plan was not carried out, the chamber lobby continued to push similar ideas, as well as privately run nonprofit charter schools.

Business interests also wanted to develop chunks of the district’s portfolio of underutilized real estate into shops and condominiums. Having a trusted ally at the helm of the school district couldn’t hurt that agenda.

In early 1999, a year after taking over the school district, Bersin created an ad hoc Real Estate Assets Committee and appointed his father-in-law, Stan Foster, to run it. The group was charged with combing through the district’s massive real-estate catalog and choosing which properties should be sold as surplus.

Members of the panel included developer Morgan Dene Oliver of the firm OliverMcMillan, another Foster business friend, and Lewis Silverberg, a retired lawyer and Foster associate. Silverberg was a board member of the San Diego Zoo, which coveted the property beneath Roosevelt Junior High School, just north of the zoo’s main entrance, for future zoo-related expansion.

The committee did not publicize its meetings. When its existence came to light in late 1999, critics said the arrangement reeked of cronyism. Bersin defended the panel, telling the Union-Tribune in December 1999, “The notion that there is any conflict…This is part and parcel of the kind of poison that infects public life and makes someone throw up their arms and say, ‘Why should I step up and get involved?’ ”

Many were skeptical. “I think Silverberg’s appointment to the committee is highly suspicious,” Peter Dennehy, an attorney employed by a local real-estate management firm, said in a letter to the district quoted by the U-T. “I’m sure [Silverberg] is qualified, but it seems unethical to have him on the committee.”

Though the committee wasn’t officially shuttered until 2000, Bersin mothballed the effort and moved on with the rest of his agenda. Most pressing was the effort to defeat the re-election bid of Frances O’Neill Zimmerman, a board of education member backed by the teachers’ union who had become Bersin’s chief nemesis and the source of embarrassing leaks highlighting Stan Foster and his role on the real-estate committee.

In the late summer of 2000, a series of 30-second spots blasting Zimmerman began running on San Diego television stations, paid for by a group calling itself the Partnership for Student Achievement. “Tell Fran Zimmerman to stop voting against back-to-basics school reform,” the spots urged viewers, but no one came forward to identify the partners or who had paid for the unprecedented media buy, costing an initial $545,000.

Thanks to the spadework of a San Diego television reporter, the truth emerged: Malin Burnham, Stan Foster’s longstanding business partner, had put up $50,000, and $100,000 each had come from three billionaires: Burnham’s business partner and Padres owner John Moores; Walmart heir John Walton, who maintained a home in National City; and Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs of La Jolla.

Two small nonprofit foundations based on the East Coast that supplied $160,000 later turned out to be acting as fronts for yet another billionaire, Democrat and school reformer Eli Broad, a Los Angeles real-estate developer and Bersin’s friend and supporter.

“This TV campaign to assassinate Zimmerman’s character is a raw exercise in power, impure and simple,” wrote Union-Tribune columnist Logan Jenkins. “Bersin may be far enough away to deny direct involvement, but why would the cleanup hitters be in the partnership’s lineup if they weren’t acting on his behalf?”

Added Jenkins, “This downtown jihad to oust Zimmerman and replace her with Chamber of Commerce favorite Julie Dubick has nothing to do with education.” In part due to the commotion generated by the unmasking of the partnership’s political fat cats, Zimmerman narrowly won reelection in November 2000.

For Bersin, it was a jarring setback. Backed by the downtown business establishment and the editorial board of the Union-Tribune, Bersin would last another four years as superintendent before a newly elected board majority forced him out, but privatization of education was stymied, and Foster’s efforts to sell off the district’s surplus real estate died.

On November 14, 2001, after a six-week battle with cancer, Stan Foster died at San Diego Hospice. He was 74. The many politicians to whom he had been so generous eulogized him. “He was a dear friend and one of the most decent human beings I ever met,” Democratic governor Gray Davis was quoted as saying. Republican ex-governor, U.S. senator, and San Diego mayor Pete Wilson called him “a role model for citizen leadership.”

From 1990 until his death, Foster contributed a total of $55,500 to federal campaigns, almost all to Democrats, with the exception of $300 to Republican congressman Bill Lowery and $2000 to the pro-Israel San Diego Community PAC. Through this year, Foster’s widow Pauline has given $62,400 to campaigns for federal office.

The Foster family contributed thousands more to state candidates, including then-incumbent Governor Gray Davis. In August 2002, Pauline Foster gave $2500 to the Davis campaign; the week before, Bersin gave $2500. That December, Davis named Bersin’s wife Lisa Foster a superior court judge.

In January 2005, the San Diego school board voted to buy out the final year of Bersin’s contract for $240,000. He soon found another job. That April, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had ousted Gray Davis in a recall election two years earlier, named Bersin to be his education secretary, succeeding ex–Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan, who was pushed out after seeming confused during several public appearances.

That September, Bersin and Schwarzenegger boarded a private plane for Mexico. The pair were headed to Mexicali for a meeting with Eugenio Elorduy Walther, governor of Baja California, who was promoting Silicon Border, a 10,000-acre industrial park to be developed by two Americans from San Diego. It was just south of the international boundary, about ten miles west of downtown Mexicali.

Born in a Calexico hospital in November 1940, Elorduy had attended the Army and Navy Academy in Carlsbad, graduating from Jesuit-run Loyola High School in Los Angeles in 1958. He received a business degree from the Technical Institute of Monterrey and was an early member of Mexico’s pro–private enterprise Partido Acción Nacional political party, known as PAN.

A millionaire Ford dealer from a wealthy old-line family, the six-foot-four Elorduy had longstanding ties to San Diego and its business establishment. He owned a condo in La Jolla and was chairman of San Diego Dialogue’s Forum Fronterizo, a secretive group of influential business types from both sides of the border, run out of offices at UCSD Extension. Next to the industrialization of Mexicali, one of Elorduy’s top priorities was opening new border crossings to serve future manufacturing hubs in Baja California.

A little over a month after Elorduy was sworn in as governor on the first of November 2001, Silicon Border Holding Company, LLC was incorporated as a Minnesota limited-liability company on December 10, 2001, according to state records. The incorporation of Silicon Border Land, LLC would follow on May 10, 2004.

The project was officially unveiled on July 14, 2004, at SEMICON West, a semiconductor trade show in San Francisco. “We’re acquiring the property right now, and we will finish the design work of the park over the balance of this year,” Silicon Border cofounder Daniel J. Hill said in a news release. “In early 2005, we will start construction of the industrial park itself.”

Elorduy issued a statement of support: “This joint commitment among federal government, state government, and private enterprise is indicative of a growing confidence in Mexico’s national economy and its emerging role in a technology-driven global economy.”

In December 2004, a company news release said it had obtained “a development grant and an expanded exclusivity agreement” from the Mexican federal and state governments. “The amount of the grant was not disclosed,” the firm said, “but a portion comes from Mexico’s federal Prosoft program, formed to support technology development throughout the country.”

“Every day we are creating more goodwill and good fortune between us,” Schwarzenegger said in his statewide radio address after he and Bersin met with Elorduy in September 2005. “And then there is the Silicon Border, a high-tech industrial park in Baja, to attract manufacturing operations that will expand both our economies.”

On December 10, 2005, Schwarzenegger again hyped Silicon Border during his radio broadcast, saying, “…It’s important to speed up the movement of goods across our border and build new economic partnerships like the one we’re creating in high tech, between our Silicon Valley and the Silicon Border.”

At the beginning of 2006, the California governor created the “California/Baja Silicon Border Work Group,” run by deputy secretary of the California Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency, Yolanda Benson. State officials promised to hasten the roadways needed to link up with those being built for Silicon Border in Mexico.

That January, Elorduy met with the Union-Tribune’s editorial board. “We need more border crossings,” he said. “To get a border crossing you have to wait 10 to 12 years. It’s ridiculous. There are five times more border crossings between Canada and the U.S. than between Mexico and the U.S. So these long lines are due to that, because we need more border crossings.”

In May 2006, Elorduy and San Diego’s Republican mayor Jerry Sanders went to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress, the Bush White House, and the Inter-American Development Bank on behalf of Mexican industrial projects along the border.

Malin Burnham joined the delegation in Washington. According to a document posted on the Silicon Border website, the group urged creation of a new port of entry between Mexico and the United States sought by Silicon Border.

Burnham had long shared Elorduy’s desire for creating new border crossings.

“I’ve been involved with Mexico for more than 50 years,” Burnham said in an interview this October with Barbara Bry of San Diego News Network, a local website. “I started sailing to Acapulco when I was young, and I have a lot of friends in Mexico, I have active real estate investments and a home in Los Cabos. I like Mexico. Yet many Americans think Mexico is the enemy instead of a neighbor. It’s ridiculous. In the long term, we need to get bulldozers and tear down the fence.”

In 2004, he launched a seemingly quixotic quest to lure the 2016 summer Olympic games to the border region. But Burnham said he had a larger goal.

“Winning the bid is perhaps secondary to the catalytic effect it generates for infrastructure, cultural and civic closeness, housing, cross-border relations and the environment,” Burnham wrote in an August 8, 2004 op-ed piece in the San Diego Daily Transcript. “Our bi-national region should be a seamless network of citizens and businesses that connect our economies, infrastructure and environment.”

A few months later in 2005, the real-estate magnate became the leader of a group of “San Diego and Tijuana business executives” pushing for a so-called cross-border terminal linking Tijuana’s Rodríguez International Airport with Otay Mesa.

“I believe we got traction,” Burnham told the Union-Tribune in January 2006 after meeting Mexican Undersecretary of Transportation and Communications Aaron Dychter during a trade mission to Mexico City sponsored by the chamber of commerce’s Mexico Business Center. “I looked the undersecretary in the eye and asked, ‘Will you help us?’ and he said, ‘Yes. I will be the champion.’ ”

The idea bore similarities to the International Gateway proposal to build a pedestrian crossing at the downtown Tijuana port of entry backed by Bersin less than a decade earlier. “We’re only talking about a terminal, not an airport, on our side of the border,” Burnham told the paper. “People could park on this side and process their tickets and luggage and walk to the Tijuana airport. We think it can make economic sense to an investor.”

But the proposal made slow progress. Then, in November 2006, Bersin quit his state education job and was appointed chairman of the San Diego County Airport Authority by Jerry Sanders. To those unfamiliar with Bersin’s relationship with Burnham and the border economy, it was yet another surprising career jump.

Sanders spokesman Fred Sainz said of Bersin, “The mayor has a high degree of confidence in his leadership skills and thinks that he’s an extraordinary candidate that can add immeasurably to this important board.”

The press aide did not mention that in May and October of that year, San Diegans for City Hall Reform, a campaign committee controlled by Sanders, received a total of $22,500 from OM Foster, LLC, a real-estate development partnership between Oliver McMillan and the Foster family. Alan Bersin’s mother-in-law Pauline Foster personally gave $500.

In his new role as airport chairman, Bersin spoke favorably of the prospects for the Tijuana–Otay Mesa airport connection. During a March 29, 2007, meeting of the chamber of commerce’s Mexico Business Center and Dialogue’s Forum Fronterizo, Bersin and Tijuana airport director Enrique Valle spoke about the merits of “Airports for the Californias.”

Then, on June 5, 2008, Bersin joined a unanimous airport board vote endorsing the positive conclusions of a $385,000 “Cross Border Terminal Market Demand Study” commissioned by the airport authority in March 2007. “Chairperson Bersin requested that staff explore ways in which the Authority could participate in a working group that would move this project forward by supporting the Chamber and the [Economic Development Corporation] in its efforts,” according to minutes of the meeting. “He also requested that staff explore, while not committing fiscally to the project, how the Authority could support public and private partnerships in its efforts to build the border crossing.”

The proposed cross-border terminal has since progressed steadily. This September, promoters of the venture, whose United States backers include Chicago-based billionaire Sam Zell, applied to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for a so-called Presidential Permit, the final federal approval needed to clear the way for construction of the gateway. The public comment period for the application ends this December, according to a State Department spokesman.

In late 2007, Bersin joined Malin Burnham on the steering committee of Project Smart Border 2010, an initiative sponsored by the Mexico Business Center. The group said it had hired the Washington lobbying firm of Roberts, Raheb & Gradler, LLC, whose principal, Geoffrey Gradler, was a former aide to indicted Texas Congressman and GOP Majority Leader Tom Delay. Congressional reports show that RR&G was paid $10,000 to lobby Congress and the Customs and Border Protection agency “to reduce wait times at ports of entry in San Diego County.”

Smart Border’s mission, according to a post on its website: to promote “faster border crossings and new border crossings at Tijuana International Airport (Cross Border Passenger Terminal), Otay II, Imperial County and elsewhere.” On the steering committee with Bersin and Burnham was Silicon Border’s Daniel J. Hill.

Though it wasn't widely advertised, all three men owned a piece of Silicon Border.

In mid-2007, Bersin and his wife acquired stock in Silicon Border they valued between $100,000 and $1 million, according to a state financial statement she filed in 2008.

Bersin still owned the Silicon Border stock in April 2009, according to a “leaving office” financial disclosure he filed with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority on May 9, 2009. He also reported a stock holding in “Safeway/International Gateway” valued between $10,000 and $100,000.

In addition, according to a federally required disclosure report Bersin filed May 15, 2009, with the United States Department of Justice, he served as chairman of the Silicon Border “advisory board” for more than a year, from February 2008 until April 2009, the same month his appointment as the Obama Administration’s “border czar” was announced by Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano.

But Bersin’s May 2009 federal disclosure omitted any reference to either the Silicon Border or the SafeMex interests he had previously reported on his state filings.

Then, in a second federal filing dated September 30 of this year, made as a requirement for his nomination to become head of Customs and Border Protection, Bersin disclosed that he still held a direct financial interest in both Silicon Border and SafeMex/International Gateway.

According to the September disclosure, Bersin held a promissory note from “Silicon Border Holding Company LLC” valued between $500,000 and $1 million. Bersin also held a promissory note from “Enrique Mier y Terán for SafeMex/International Gateway,” valued between $100,000 and $250,000, the report says. Neither of the notes has paid him greater than $250, the disclosure says.

While not providing details, Silicon Border CEO David J. Hill confirmed in an interview that both Bersin and Malin Burnham had taken direct financial stakes in the project. Bersin’s background in the U.S. Department of Justice as the Clinton Administration’s border czar in the 1990s came in handy in attracting support for the venture, according to Hill. “He was very helpful in making introductions to the community. He knows border law. He’s very smart.”

This summer, without mentioning Bersin’s previous role, Silicon Border announced that Malin Burnham was chairman of a new advisory board “comprised of seasoned political and industry leaders with experience in dealing with issues impacting the Mexico/California border.” Also on the board was Eugenio Elorduy, the ex-governor of Baja California who had spearheaded government funding for the project.

Though Bersin’s investment in Silicon Border did not make the papers in the United States, Mexico City’s Reforma newspaper reported in October 2007 that Bersin and Malin Burnham, identified by the paper as “U.S. investors” in Silicon Border, had discussed the project with Mexican economic secretary Eduardo Sojo and representatives of Fernando Maiz, the wealthy head of Maiz Edifications, a large Mexican construction conglomerate based in Monterrey.

In November 2007, Silicon Border announced that Maiz’s company would become the development’s “preferred contractor to design and manage the physical attributes of the Silicon Border Science Park,” said to be worth over $150 million. He was subsequently listed as a member of the project’s advisory board, alongside Elorduy and Burnham.

More good news for the project’s investors came in May 2008 with the announcement that Q-Cells, a large German maker of solar cells, would build its first American factory at Silicon Border. ING Clarion, a division of ING, a big Dutch multinational bank, agreed to provide millions in financing.

But there was still the matter of the new border crossing. The crash of the American economy in the fall of 2008 slowed financial activity on both sides of the border, and local, state, and national officials say little progress has been made in Silicon Border’s bid to open a new port of entry in the desert west of Mexicali. According to Robert Allison of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Mexican Affairs, no paperwork has been filed for approval of the coveted Presidential Permit needed to allow the project to go forward.

Reached by phone earlier this month, Silicon Border CEO David J. Hill acknowledged that the sour economy had delayed the planned border crossing but vowed that it would be eventually built and opened. “This is a long-term process, but with an enlightened government, t could be done within five years,” he said, adding that the development’s first major tenant, Germany’s Q-Cells, had encountered economic setbacks, delaying its move into the industrial park. “We hope to have other companies announced by early next year.”

In February 2009, Bersin was named co-chairman of a new binational task force, sponsored by the Mexico City–based Mexican Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy, based in Los Angeles.

“Both are invitation-only organizations made up of civic and government leaders,” noted a story in the Union-Tribune.

“Much of the congestion at the border reflects the fact that the U.S.–Mexico frontier is treated as a ‘line’ rather than a ‘buffer zone’ or economic region,” according to an outline of the task force’s mission published on the Pacific Council’s website.

“The Task Force will assess whether there are ways to expedite border crossings to meet local needs that do not materially increase the risk of criminals or terrorists gaining entry.

“It will also consider the degree to which such efforts at facilitation should remain entirely unilateral rather than developed jointly by Mexican and U.S. authorities.

“By and large, we have a fairly chaotic, badly governed, badly managed situation,” Andres Rozental, Bersin’s cochairman, told the Union-Tribune. A former deputy foreign minister of Mexico, Rozental is currently a highly paid consultant to multinational corporations with Mexican investments.

“We want to look at the border in a more cooperative way, so that rather than being a point of conflict and tension, it becomes more of a point of cooperation and maybe even joint management,” said Rozental.

“Any change in administration in either country provides an opportunity for interested observers and experts to review the bidding,” Bersin said.

In addition to Bersin, who resigned from the task force in April 2009 upon joining the Obama Administration, members of the task force included his longtime business associates Malin Burnham, Eugenio Elorduy, and Enrique Mier y Terán. And, according to its final report, released in late October 2009, task force sponsors who provided “financial or organizational support” for the study included Silicon Border and Mier y Terán.

Thus, it was perhaps not surprising that the group’s report, entitled “Managing the United States-Mexico Border: Cooperative Solutions to Common Problems,” called for increased spending by United States taxpayers on border crossings of the type sought by Silicon Border.

“One crucial barrier to trade facilitation is the deficit in border infrastructure, which simply has not kept pace with massive increases in trade and transit since ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement,” the report said.

“Federal spending on ports of entry would have a very high rate of return; for this reason, both countries should make a long-term commitment to fund border infrastructure and (in the short run) disproportionately direct stimulus money toward the ports of entry,” the report added.

Alan Bersin, no stranger to the world of border politics, now awaits the Washington version, in the form of confirmation proceedings by the United States Senate. In July of last year, Bersin contributed $28,500 to the Democratic National Committee, according to the website OpenSecrets.org. Having given $2300 to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton in 2007, he gave $2300 to the campaign of Barack Obama on July 31, 2008. A spokesman for the Senate’s Commerce Committee says it is conducting the requisite background checks on the nominee and has not yet scheduled a public hearing at which Bersin is expected to testify. In the meantime, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security says the nominee will not answer any questions posed by the media until he is confirmed.

The author spoke to the staff of the Senate Finance Committee, which was erroneously referred to as the "Commerce" Committee. We regret the error.

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MURPHYJUNK Nov. 18, 2009 @ 1:22 p.m.

instead of getting fired this looser gets promoted, makes one wonder what dirt he has on everyone


factchecker Nov. 18, 2009 @ 2:54 p.m.

While it's apparent that some in-depth investigating went on for this story, I find it interesting that some basic facts are indeed wrong. It concludes with saying that Senate Commerce Committee is doing the requisite background checks. Senate Commerce doesn't have jurisdiction over the nominee for the Commissioner of Customs though and would not be performing background checks, Senate Finance does.


qkruse Nov. 18, 2009 @ 4:17 p.m.

That there is a herd of fat cats that are going to make huge amounts of money from the development on the boarder....when has this not been true of develpment....the ones who have the interest (financial investment)are going to position themselves to be the shot callers. Perhaps they will be willing and able to see that they will make more money more quickly if they bring their considerable influence to bare and bring the narcotic/gangbanging to a rapid stop.....


Visduh Nov. 18, 2009 @ 7:55 p.m.

If anyone accepts that even a small portion of the conflicts of interest outlined are true, Bersin is disqualified for this appointment. There is no simple way for him to eliminate those conflicts. (Remember Cheney who sold all his Halliburton stock, yet was endlessly accused of favoring the former employer? Is this any different, other than being worse?) It is time for Bersin to withdraw his name from consideration, and for the Obama administration to insure that Bersin has no further influence on its policies. What do you want to bet that those things will happen?


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 18, 2009 @ 8:27 p.m.

instead of getting fired this looser gets promoted, makes one wonder what dirt he has on everyone


Bersin is the proto typical political hack loser, who has been "gifted", aka "appointed", to more high level gov jobs than anyone I have ever seen-anyone.

He would never, ever, in a million years, make it- on his own- in the real world.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 18, 2009 @ 8:29 p.m.

It is time for Bersin to withdraw his name from consideration, and for the Obama administration to insure that Bersin has no further influence on its policies. What do you want to bet that those things will happen?

By Visduh

The chances are slim and zero-and slim is out of town.


Fred Williams Nov. 18, 2009 @ 9:16 p.m.

Malin Burnham was right after all.

He scoffed that only 1% of us peasants could ever understand what goes on in these kinds of complex real estate development projects.


monaghan Nov. 18, 2009 @ 9:48 p.m.

Well, let's hear if it's Senate Finance or Senate Commerce that gives a green light to the President's nomination of Alan Bersin to become the head of U.S. Customs, even as Bersin stands to profit hugely from a new Border crossing at the Tijuana airport. And yes, "factchecker," it really does seem that a lot of investigative work went into this amazing piece of reportage about a guy who's been protected and literally under the radar ever since he got to town. A tour de force, Matt Potter. Thank you.


monaghan Nov. 18, 2009 @ 10:35 p.m.

Actually, I misspoke: Bersin stands to profit hugely from another Border real estate project described in the piece, not the one at the TJ airport. And whichever Senate Committee does the rubber-stamping, let's see if this appointment goes forward in light of these incredible conflicts of interest. I'm hoping that "slim" is not "out of town."


David Dodd Nov. 18, 2009 @ 11:52 p.m.

Neither country needs another border crossing. If the existing border crossings were properly run, properly maintained, and properly upgraded as necessary by the government of the United States of America, there would be no waiting to cross.

The border is so entirely mismanaged, it blows my mind every time I wait in the pedestrian line for an hour and a half to finally get to one of three inspectors on duty while three dozen others stand around and do nothing. It's pathetic. For every good government employee there, you'll find ten that don't care. Another border crossing where the same crap happens will not solve anything.

And Matt Potter, you get an A+ for research, and a C- for how you filtered it into to the story. I know it isn't easy to write something with this amount of research and keep the word count within acceptable limits, but I found myself having to go back and figure out your timelines way too often. I can't give you advice on what to do different because I'm struggling with one myself, but smoother would have been that much better and it would have framed your fantastic research much more effectively.


Visduh Nov. 19, 2009 @ 8:53 a.m.

I think Matt was trying to be scrupulously careful about stating the exact things revealed in his research. That makes a lengthy piece such as this one rather hard to read and follow. The other drawback is the dryness that results. Perhaps he needed to recap the points he was making in a concluding paragraph. The story started off quite engagingly, but didn't stay in that mode. Nonetheless, he has pulled the whole sordid story of Bersin and his "checkered" career together in a few pages, and all any member of the Senate would need to do is read it before asking questions.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 19, 2009 @ 12:27 p.m.

The border is so entirely mismanaged, it blows my mind every time I wait in the pedestrian line for an hour and a half to finally get to one of three inspectors on duty while three dozen others stand around and do nothing. It's pathetic. For every good government employee there, you'll find ten that don't care.

Yes, after having worked in the gov run education system, and dealt with the local, state and federal gov at all levels for most of my adult life I can say I have had the exact same experiences.

The majority of gov employees are not very bright, or maybe just not well managed is a better way to put it. The few that are are the exception, not the rule.


calreb1 Nov. 19, 2009 @ 7:45 p.m.

Thanks Matt for a story brimming with unsupported allegations. Let's see,Bersin makes legal political contributions. Strike 1. He has legal business interests that he has unfailingly disclosed in accordance with federal law. Strike 2. He is a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Strike 3. He is a friend of our Governor and his wife. Tossed out of the game for conduct unbecoming.

The truth is you cite no legal or regulatory authority to support your insinuations. You do not cite any experts or reliable, credible sources that support your conclusions. Just more indiscriminate red meat for readers of the Onion-Tribute.

Matt, you work for a pulp publication that draws its income from boob implantation and penile augmentation ads.This slice of yellow press is distributed free throughout the County for the intelligentsia to enjoy. Don't take yourself or your pulp press seriously. Few people do.


Fred Williams Nov. 19, 2009 @ 9:31 p.m.

Calreb1, hiding behind a pseudonym, first claims that Matt makes unsubstantiated allegations and lists how Bersin has complied with the disclosure requirements.

Then he makes himself (it could only be a male) look really stupid by conflating the Reader with the UT.

He then goes on to attack the advertisements in the publication.

Uh huh.

Guess that makes everything a-okay now, huh? I'm so happy to see there's no possible problem and that we can all go back to ignoring what our so-called leaders do to augment their private interests while serving in a public office.

Yep. Calrep1, you sure did tell off Matt Potter. I'm sure he's shivering in a dark corner someplace, tears rolling down his cheeks, gulping down cheap wine and smoking heroic amounts of crack.

Or maybe we could make another stab at it...San Diego is a cess pool of corruption, and Matt Potter is one of the few who both has the skills and cares enough to try to expose some of the hidden machinations.

(BTW: Since I read the Reader online, I don't have the pleasure of seeing those boob implantation ads nearly enough...is there some way the Reader can display those advertisements more prominently on its website?)


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 19, 2009 @ 10:03 p.m.

Thanks Matt for a story brimming with unsupported allegations. Let's see,Bersin makes legal political contributions. Strike 1. He has legal business interests that he has unfailingly disclosed in accordance with federal law. Strike 2. He is a friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Strike 3. He is a friend of our Governor and his wife. Tossed out of the game for conduct unbecoming.

The truth is you cite no legal or regulatory authority to support your insinuations. You do not cite any experts or reliable, credible sources that support your conclusions. .

By calreb1

Hey Alan...Oppsss..... I mean "calreb1", how about this cite;


Is that enough of a "cite" for you Alan???????? You loser hack.


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 7:17 a.m.

Surf Puppy: Who in the world is Alan? As for competing, I came from a professional, enlisted military family. Worked my way through college on menial jobs and scholarships. I competed with hundreds of applicant to obtain employment with the Navy for 31 years, competing for promotions to the management level. That's what the right wing used to call "following the American dream" of being upward.

Fred_Williams:Hiding behind a pseudonym? Bloggers almost uniformly use "handles". So do conservative posters visduh, refried gringo, and Murphyjunk-but that's okay because they are arch conservative attack dogs.

Credible, reputable journalists don't rely on boob ads, penis ads and medical marijuana ads to generate their incomes. Readers respect credible newspapers and news magazines enough to buy them, not pick them up at some drop-off around town. The reviews are great but the rest-garbage.


Visduh Nov. 20, 2009 @ 8:01 a.m.

Gee, calreb1, I've been called arch conservative, and that's OK by me. But an "attack dog", never before. After all these months/years of trying, I finally graduated to that level. Made my day, calreb1!


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 8:15 a.m.

Good comment. My sincere apology to you.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 8:35 a.m.

Surf Puppy: Who in the world is Alan?

By calreb1

You're Alan calreb1-Alan Bersin.

Please post under yoru real name if you're going to lie about/puff yourself!


Ponzi Nov. 20, 2009 @ 9:19 a.m.

“…Credible, reputable journalists don't rely on boob ads, penis ads and medical marijuana ads to generate their incomes. Readers respect credible newspapers and news magazines enough to buy them, not pick them up at some drop-off around town….”

What an ignorant remark. You obviously have no education in, or concept of, marketing.

Plastic surgery and cosmetic enhancement ads are more appropriate in periodicals and weekly publications. Paying a daily, like the SDUT (especially with their astronomical inch-column rates) would be foolish.

You will find just as much cosmetic surgery and vanity ads in San Diego Magazine.

I could go about trashing the San Diego U-T by claiming they pander and promote charlatans and get rich quick schemes like the full page ads for Robert Allen, all the fake “estate sale” ads, or promote violence with the full page Del Mar Fairgrounds Gun Show ads, or vice with all the gambling ads from the plethora of gambling casinos.

Nothing is worse than ignorant people trying to sound wise.


Fred Williams Nov. 20, 2009 @ 9:38 a.m.

Calreb1, are you seriously suggesting that there's no sniff of corruption or insider dealing in this story? If so, come out and say it.

Otherwise, it seems you just don't like the writer and the publication, and otherwise have nothing to offer but rather amusing observations on the advertisers.




SurfPuppy619 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 10:34 a.m.

Calreb1/Alan is never going to recover from that written beat down!


Russ Lewis Nov. 20, 2009 @ 12:53 p.m.

<< You're Alan calreb1-Alan Bersin.

Please post under yoru real name if you're going to lie about/puff yourself! >>

Puppy, since you know everything, why don't you finally tell me what I do for a living, you self-inflated windbag.

(#16) "Readers respect credible newspapers and news magazines enough to buy them, not pick them up at some drop-off around town." No newspaper supports itself with subscription sales, Calreb1; real life doesn't work that way. Advertising is the newspaper's life blood.


Visduh Nov. 20, 2009 @ 2:21 p.m.

Just had another thought about calreb1. He admits to being a career Navy employee, which I assume means he was a civil service employee. After over 30 years of a cushy federal job, we cannot but expect that he has a much different outlook on such things as political appointees, corruption, grabbing what you can when you can, and has a "look the other way" view of the foibles and failings of federal agencies.

As to his blending the U-T and the Reader into bedfellows or at least fellow travelers, I'm really almost speechless. Anyone who has followed those two publications would know they have remarkably little in common.

A final point: calreb1 claims that Matt has no basis for his claims. Count on it, he does! Several of the things he covers are buttressed by quotes. Property ownership records are public, as are the identities of corporations and statutory partnerships. Those can be researched readily, and on-line. If he has libeled Bersin, you can be sure that Bersin will demand a retraction/file a lawsuit. Want to make a bet on that ever happening?


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 3:27 p.m.

Beat down, Surf Puppy? Give you my name? What, so you can harass my family and I? Haven't you observed that bloggers rarely provide their actual names? Why do you think they retain their names to themselves? Right, they are all craven cowards. I notice you also use a handle, or did your Hippie parents hang that name on you during the Age of Aquarius? Right, working 30 years for the US Navy is a shameful way to earn a living, just like working for the US Attorney or the Border Patrol Homeland Defense, ATF, US Marshalls, FBI, Departments of Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, etc., etc., is disgaceful. You're clever, all right. Just like my Jack Russell who's full of tricks. As for your employment, let me guess: self employed expert.


PistolPete Nov. 20, 2009 @ 3:33 p.m.

With the exception of our armed fores, everything else you mentioned, needs to be disbanded.


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 3:45 p.m.

Hey Fred Williams: I think you can see from reading comments why I, like most bloggers, use a handle. Anyway, I appreciated your comments.

No doubt in all those border businesses and corporations there is corruption, particularly South of the Border. I agree with you. That doen't in itself prove anything about Mr. Bersin's ethics and conduct.

To my best recollection, I don't have any past knowledge concerning Matt Potter. I don't remember ever reading any other story of his. I read the reviews of all types in the Reader which are interesting and useful. I have read other articles but find them typically long, dull and poorly edited.

What I look for is the reputation of the publication and the track record of the writer. I look to citations and sources so that I might verify claims asserted in the article. Sorry, but those factors are all conspicuously absent in the article, including the publication's reputation (lightweight) and and the writer's reputation, unknown to me other that I see his writing appearing in the lower end of journalism.

Thanks Fred.


David Dodd Nov. 20, 2009 @ 3:46 p.m.

calreb1: All of Potter's allegations are well-supported. Bersin's dealings in government have always straddled his business interests. The very places he proposes new border crossings are in locations that he or his cronies would profit from their holdings. The fact that you refuse to believe that is suspicious to many of the others who have responded to your comments.

Working for the government is not shameful in and of itself, but your biased claim that Bersin has not involved himself in repeated conflicts of interest might have people conclude that - assuming you are not directly involved - perhaps working for the government has jaded you in some way. It would be similar to an ex-cop denying the fact that police brutality sometimes occurs.

I stand by the opinion that neither the U.S. nor Mexico needs more border crossings. The U.S. (and Mexico to some extent) simply needs to run the crossings properly and to upgrade and expand them appropriately. This does not happen, in part, because corrupt politicians keep pressing for new facilities that would only serve to create financial gain for themselves or for their friends.

My full name, in case you wish to foolishly harass my family and me (note, it isn't my family and I, it's my family and me), is David Alton Dodd.


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 4:21 p.m.

Refried Gringo, Friend: I have no idea whatsoever whether Bersin has involved himself in the actions alleged or refrained from such conduct. I am not alleging that Bersin is chaste, guilty or innnocent of the alleged conduct. I am critical of Mr. Potter for making such sweeping charges, disparaging a very large number of private and public figures, without documenting the bases of his claims. I don't accept broad, controversial claims simply because the writer says it's so. I believe that it's not unfair to demand that a writer making such allegations has a burden of providing readers enough proof, not opinion, and documentation so that readers can verify the claims. That isn't much to demand of a journalist.


Visduh Nov. 20, 2009 @ 4:30 p.m.

calreb1 just keeps coming up with astounding comments. He says he has no recollection of Matt Potter, nor remembers reading any story of his. Matt has been doing investigative reporting in The Reader for years, and has written some of the most important stories that have appeared. One can only conclude that calreb1 has not been seeing The Reader much or, more likely, at all.

Yeah, I use a handle, just as he does. But I write letters to the editor of more traditional publications and I sign my name. Never have I asked for anonymity in such a situation. In the immoral words (oops, immorTal) of Ken Noonan, the now retired superintendent of the Oceanside schools, "There are some seriously wacked-out people out there." One never knows when a blog or story comment will set one of them off. That kind of trouble I don't need. That is what a handle avoids.


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 4:37 p.m.

Hey dummy-I read real journalism and there's plenty out there, excluding The Reader. I don't know Potter from Adam.


PistolPete Nov. 20, 2009 @ 5:02 p.m.

I'm dead serious, calreb. Most large government agencies are ill-equiped to deal with the real world. We have border patrol stationed up to 500 miles from the border. Why? The border is just that-the border. Not 500 miles from it. Are we in Nazi Germany? Why should ANYONE have to prove who they are inside the United States? A sovereign country, I might add. And this has NOTHING to do with the immigration debate whatsoever. If I'm an hour away from the border, still in the U.S., why should I have to prove I'm an American citizen. All Homeland Security is doing is pissing people like me off who question when the NWO actually will come? It's almost as if they are trying to soften Americans to their future borders. And don't get me started on those alphabet soup moron motherf***ers either. A dead FBI agent is my wet dream!!!


Visduh Nov. 20, 2009 @ 5:18 p.m.

Gee, Pistol Pete, this joker has got you back to your unprintable name-calling. I'd admired the way your cleaned up your language! calreb1 says he doesn't know Matt Potter from Adam, but he can belittle Matt as though he does.


PistolPete Nov. 20, 2009 @ 5:47 p.m.

Sorry Visduh. Me and the govmint don't jibe too well. There's crooked politicians and crime in the streets... ;-D



David Dodd Nov. 20, 2009 @ 5:49 p.m.

calreb1: Perhaps if you went back and read the article and pointed out precisely that which you question concerning Potter's research, it would be easier to convince your detractors that you might have a point. Journalists do not list their sources unless there is a possible question as to whether or not statements are facts. In other words, where statements are matters of public record, the journalist needs not indicate where the statement was discovered.

For example, everything Potter wrote about Elorduy is fact. I can find references to it in both English and Spanish, and I live here in Baja and remember much of his lobbying for more crossings. In other cases where the research was more obscure and possibly somewhat controversial, Potter cites his source. Even though it is still a matter of public record, Potter saves us from wondering where it came from by quoting it.

I once wrote for a newspaper, and so did at least one other person in here in the comments section that can name himself if he chooses. My point is, journalistically, the content in this article seems appropriate to me. So far as the Reader goes, it's a quirky mix of journalism and non-journalism. Potter has been with the Reader for quite some time, and I've read both styles from him. The main reason you won't read this stuff in the U-T is simply because the U-T is politically aligned. The Reader is not.


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 5:55 p.m.

Pistolpete: Have a great weekend. Enjoy football.


PistolPete Nov. 20, 2009 @ 6:01 p.m.

Thanks calreb. You have a good one as well. You have to understand that most Reader readers such as myself are pretty harmless. Would I ever kill a cop or someone I don't like? Not unless I was defending myself. Would I like to see more cops/government agents murdered? You betcha. Why throw my life down the s***ter when there's always someone willing to do it for you? We argue ALOT on these boards but to me, it's like a good crossword puzzle. The open exchange of ideas, however offensive they may be, is the last refuge of freedom...


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 6:07 p.m.

Viduh: I also send letters to Editors, with my name and other info requested by the publisher. I read The Reader but the various reviews, not any investigative writing or some of the other off the cuff writing one finds in the paper. I occasionally read the UT and LA Times, mostly for sports. I do most of my political reading in news magazines and on the net.I watch broadcast news but MSNBC and FOX are not my style. Have an enjoyable weekend.


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 6:19 p.m.

Thanks Pistol.

Refried: I appreciate your comments. I realize journalists generally don't document, which in all honesty is why I fundamentally distrust journalists of all types. A reader should not be expected to independently validate a sweeping story replete with manifold charges like the Bersin article. Historians cite and document but most journalists don't. That's why I consider the reputation of the publication and writer. Perhaps in retro my primary criticism is for taking on too much in one published article. Maybe he plans follow ups. As I told Visduh, I read the LA Times and UT, mostly for sports. Have a great weekend and I enjoyed exchanging with you. Best, John.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 7:25 p.m.

Puppy, since you know everything, why don't you finally tell me what I do for a living, you self-inflated windbag.

By russl

Burger King counter person! You untrained circus chimp!


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 7:28 p.m.

I notice you also use a handle, or did your Hippie parents hang that name on you during the Age of Aquarius?

By calreb1

You made me cry........

You and russl need to hook up, and maybe between the two of you there might be a few onces of brain cells.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 7:30 p.m.

calreb1 just keeps coming up with astounding comments. He says he has no recollection of Matt Potter, nor remembers reading any story of his. Matt has been doing investigative reporting in The Reader for years, and has written some of the most important stories that have appeared. One can only conclude that calreb1 has not been seeing The Reader much or, more likely, at all.

Or that calreb1 is Alan and has the intelligence of a rock.


calreb1 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 7:46 p.m.

Surf Puppy-You want my name? It's RumplestiltskinPiedPiperLittleThreeBearsYellowbrickRoadWicked WitchoftheWestDon'tMessWithTejas IgnatiusXavierKennedy NixonBushTheElderReaganLBJBushTheFup, III.

Be careful. If you say that name backwards, Giant Winged Gorillas will swoop down, snatch you up and deliver you to Lucifer at the Gates of Hades, whereupon you will be fed to the Hounds of Hell and you bones reduced to dust on burning rocks and brimstone.Your sould will then be cursed to serve as the right wing of Lucifer for eternity. Take care and have a good weekend.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 20, 2009 @ 9:46 p.m.

Surf Puppy-You want my name? It's RumplestiltskinPiedPiperLittleThreeBearsYellowbrickRoadWicked WitchoftheWestDon'tMessWithTejas IgnatiusXavierKennedy NixonBushTheElderReaganLBJBushTheFup, III.

Hahahahaha...yes Petey, that was a good one (from ALAN!)....

Relax Alan, it's just the internet.


PistolPete Nov. 20, 2009 @ 9:48 p.m.

Sorry SP, I'm not playin' favorites. Bush the Fup was pretty funny though.


Russ Lewis Nov. 21, 2009 @ 1 a.m.

(#41) SurfPussy, you FAIL. You blew it. You pretend to know facts about complete strangers, and when they call you on it, you don't have to goods to back it up. I gave you a chance (many times), but you just made yourself look like a dumbs***. (And people hire you as a lawyer?) Pick a new screen name and start over.

By the way, I'd be a little bit impressed with you if you could scrape up "a few onces [sic] of brain cells" and learn to spell and punctuate worth a damn. You know, like a trained chimp.


calreb1 Nov. 21, 2009 @ 7:48 a.m.

What's your specialty Surf Puppy? If you indeed are a lawyer, you undoubtedly believe in the presumption of innocence. Thus, you understand my objections to a one sided, undocumented investigative report, one that acts as prosecutor, judge and jury. I'm certainly relaxed, trust you are too. By the way, look closely and you'll find my name-and it's not Alan, surprise.I'm genuine in wishing you a good weekend.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 21, 2009 @ 9:29 a.m.

(#41) SurfPussy, you FAIL. You blew it. You pretend to know facts about complete strangers, and when they call you on it, you don't have to goods to back it up. I gave you a chance (many times), but you just made yourself look like a dumbs***. (And people hire you as a lawyer?) Pick a new screen name and start over.

By russl

LOL...russle the Burger King man has a whopper meltdown!


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 21, 2009 @ 9:30 a.m.

By the way, look closely and you'll find my name-and it's not Alan,

By calreb1

What ever you say Alan!


Russ Lewis Nov. 21, 2009 @ 12:28 p.m.

Guess what, SurfPussy? You're wrong. You don't know s***, and you proved it again. Just admit it and people might begin to respect you.

Learn to write or find a secretary who can do it for you.


Russ Lewis Nov. 21, 2009 @ 12:59 p.m.

Leave it to Fumber to come up with a good epithet. Really, who else?


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 21, 2009 @ 2:42 p.m.

Guess what, SurfPussy? You're wrong. You don't know s***, and you proved it again. Just admit it and people might begin to respect you.

Learn to write or find a secretary who can do it for you.

By russl

Hey russl, errr.....I mean "Burger Boy"-I'll take mine with EXTRA pickles....now hope to it Juinior!


Duhbya Nov. 21, 2009 @ 5:08 p.m.

"By the way, look closely and you'll find my name-and it's not Alan,

By calreb1"

You: Be Carl ?

Cal Erb ?

B.C. Earl?

C.L. Bear ?

L. Brace ?

Le Crab ?


Visduh Nov. 21, 2009 @ 5:24 p.m.

Surfpuppy619 is capable of excellent grammar and flawless spelling. Yet he often errs with both while doing these postings. Hey, maybe he's in a hurry, or maybe he's enjoyed his cocktail hour too much. Both factors can degrade ones performance. I'd suggest an up-to-date internet link that has some sort of spell checker, at the very least.

Oh, I don't give a rat's a** who calreb1 is. He's already drawn too much attention to himself.


David Dodd Nov. 21, 2009 @ 5:25 p.m.

Duhbya, his name is John. And John is entitled to his opinion. As are we all.


SDaniels Nov. 21, 2009 @ 6:26 p.m.

re: #58: Visduh confessed:

"Hey, maybe he's in a hurry, or maybe he's enjoyed his cocktail hour too much. Both factors can degrade ones performance."

Poor Visduh. You know, there are drugs to help ;)


Visduh Nov. 21, 2009 @ 6:57 p.m.

Just say no (to drugs.) It is best not to get into political discussions while one is either emotional, or having indulged. So, SD, there are drugs to help what?


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 21, 2009 @ 7:04 p.m.

I'd suggest an up-to-date internet link that has some sort of spell checker, at the very least.

By Visduh

Yeah Firefox has the spell check option, unfortunately I use IE, and as far as I know it has no spell check.

As for calreb1 being Alan Bersin, I always make those types comments when someone comes on and backstops a loser (which Alan is)- most of the time being sacastic, but sometimes very serious because it is obviouse from the posts the person is the one who is the subject of the blog.

As for russl and his moron comments, I don't really care what he thinks of my comments-he is an idiot.


Russ Lewis Nov. 21, 2009 @ 7:12 p.m.

"Hey russl, errr.....I mean 'Burger Boy'-I'll take mine with EXTRA pickles....now hope to it Juinior!"

Can't help you there, SpermPuppy. I work in the typesetting industry, so maybe I can give you some spelling lessons once I "hope to it."

Oh, uh, you said I'm a confirmed "trough feeder"; by that I guess you mean a public employee, right? Well, you're a dumbs, SurfPussy. You don't know s, you make wild, false accusations at others (as a good lawyer should), and when someone calls you on it, insteading of supporting your claims, you respond with more bulls*** accusations. And misspell it all. I'd call you "Burger Boy," but the folks at the burger joint are probably better educated. (Why can't I spar with a man of learning and erudition, like Fumber?)


Fred Williams Nov. 21, 2009 @ 7:40 p.m.

SurfP, I've met Bersin a few times. I can guarantee you that Calreb1 is not him.

Russl, where is our buddy fumber when we need him? I feel so skinny when he's not reminding me that I'm HUMONGOUS.

Back to the subject at hand:

Matt Potter is described by his colleagues as THE "document man". He has a reputation for diving into stacks and piles of papers, finding the pearls and bringing them up to the surface.

He's been doing it for what? Twenty years? More?

I think if he says he's got the documentation for his facts, he's worthy of trust.

Of course how he arranges and presents those facts to the readers is perhaps different from how you would do so.

If so, then it's your responsibility to present these facts differently. I think there's no doubt that Bersin owns properties affected by his decisions, and he's disclosed them. He also is part of the gang that runs this town -- mostly in its own interests. That's clear.

But it could be presented more innocently. He's just a poor boy working his way up in the world, taking the opportunities along the way.

Unfortunately, from long experience in San Diego, we know that the self-interested insiders are never satisfied, always wanting more of the public's money while manipulating the media to make themselves look good.

Since I already agree with Matt, I don't object to his presentation of the facts. If you don't agree with our conclusions (Calreb1, I'm talking to you!) then present your version.

Then we'd have something to discuss. But impuning Matt Potter's work as a journalist won't really fly. His reputation is not in doubt.

Bersin's reputation, however, is very much in doubt. I'm glad Matt has brought some of these details to light.


Fred "Humongous Sack of Lard" Williams


calreb1 Nov. 21, 2009 @ 8:20 p.m.

The notion that readers must conduct their own investigations and disprove the findings of any writer is utterly ridiculous.The writer, not readers, bears the burden of establishing the credibility of his writing.

The writer in this instance apparently has spent a career writing for a pulp magazine, at least if comments above are accurate. That provides room to question his article barring independent substantiation of his claim and reputation by proven, credible journalists. The writer may be the intellectual heroe of some of you, but that doesn't bar others from being skeptical.

I'll apologize humbly to all of you if the article wins Potter a Pulitzer Prize. In the meantime, I'll wait to learn if the mainstream press picks up his story and, if they do, see what they have to say on the subject. In the meantime, I don't accept Potter's word alone as dispositve on the subject. Have fun all. regardless of how you believe.


Fred Williams Nov. 21, 2009 @ 8:24 p.m.


I'm not saying Matt Potter never ever makes a mistake. But you've admitted you've never read anything else by him.

So before you dismiss him as a hack, have a quick look at his work:



Russ Lewis Nov. 21, 2009 @ 8:40 p.m.

Fred, in Fumber's absence, let me assure you that you are one humongous barf sack, smegma container, and stinking pile of fecal flakes. I'm sure Fumber himself will be back soon from the library after absorbing the knowledge there, and he'll administer wheatgrass enemas to both of us.


Fred Williams Nov. 21, 2009 @ 8:54 p.m.

Russl, I can feel the love...or is that wheatgrass trickling down my leg?

I wish Fumber would get together with Matt Potter. Imagine the articles they'd write together:

"Documents found in the basement of city hall show that in December of 2005 a HUMONGOUS deushe-bag chewing piece of raw fecal matter paid a private consultant $206,000 from the general fund to compile a worthless piece of dog dookie smothered in wet panty waste."


calreb1 Nov. 21, 2009 @ 9:28 p.m.

Fred-I certainly don't concur with Comment 67.

I respect that you're giving out the straight stuff. I can see that Potter has written a lot of articles about local issues. He's a veteran of local wars, I agree. Thanks for showing me that.

I would respectfully distinguish here that the subject article has implications that are both national and international in scope. The subject is does not involve a down home SD problem only.

The stakes involve not only Alan Bersin, but also the direction of the fight against narco wars, policy on illegal immigration (which is vastly more than an SD issue only), the internal political and security struggles within Mexico, and critical developing relations between the US and Mexico.

Potter has bitten off a huge chunk and made some rather pointed observations, findings and conclusions. In short, this time he plays where the big boys of journalism play. Nothing wrong with that, but readers are justified if they elect to await further developments before buying Potter's story on its own. Which is my choice.

Not only is Bersin's public standing put in question, but many other public and private figures as well. That to me is high stakes play, worthy of skeptical analysis pending the reaction, if any, by the larger national press to the assertions of a small, pulp publisher in SD.

You and other commenters have given me significnt points to consider. I appreciate your effort.

I know how tempting it is for myself and other readers to play attack. I respectfully suggest that, when the issue is openly high stakes, more fruitful consideration is needed beyond the fun of quipping and attacking. This comment isn't for you, Fred. John


Duhbya Nov. 22, 2009 @ 6:19 a.m.

Re #59: "Duhbya, his name is John. And John is entitled to his opinion. As are we all.

By refriedgringo 5:25 p.m., Nov 21, 2009"

Thanks, I missed that. And I concur.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 22, 2009 @ 8:51 a.m.

I'd call you "Burger Boy," but the folks at the burger joint are probably better educated. (Why can't I spar with a man of learning and erudition, like Fumber?)

By russl

Hey "GED Boy". aka "Burger Boy" russl, it is hard for me to have a war of wits sparring match with someone like you who is unarmed!


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 22, 2009 @ 8:53 a.m.

Oh, uh, you said I'm a confirmed "trough feeder"; by that I guess you mean a public employee, right?

By russl

Thanks for reminding me Burger Boy, you're a "trough feeder" too!

Of course there is not too much difference between the burger counter boy and the gov trough feeder, now is there?


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 22, 2009 @ 11 a.m.

Nor the semiliterate shyster.

By russl

Nor the GED educated firewhiner.


Russ Lewis Nov. 22, 2009 @ 11:17 a.m.

"GED educated" would by hyphenated, Mr. Harvard-educated lawyer. It's a compound modifier that precedes the noun that it modifies, but I wouldn't expect a semiliterate "lawyer" to know the finer points or even basic points of written English. Generally speaking, this is the domain of the educated.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 22, 2009 @ 11:19 a.m.

"GED educated" would by hyphenated, Mr. Harvard-educated lawyer. It's a compound modifier that precedes the noun that it modifies, but I wouldn't expect a semiliterate "lawyer" to know the finer points or even basic points of written English. Generally speaking, this is the domain of the educated.

By russl

Says who Mr Burger Boy-your "spell checker".

LOL...another nugget of gold from the trough feeder.


calreb1 Nov. 22, 2009 @ 11:39 a.m.

To all: You might look at an article titled "A US DRUG FOE WHO WAS SEEN AS INCORRUPTIBLE" at the bottom of the first page of today's "Los Angeles Times", a story about a retired Arizona US Customs Official (who apparently worked outside Bersin's jurisdiction) recently indicted as a product of reports from some of his former informants. Who knows the truth of that contropversy, but the story indicates what a yawning black hole the Mexican Narco Wars are for US law enforcement offcials. The US Attorney for that jurisdiction certainly has a thankless task ahead, prosecuting a formerly high-reputation law officer because informants, who may be criminals, provided reports against him.


Russ Lewis Nov. 22, 2009 @ 11:57 a.m.

"Says who Mr Burger Boy-your 'spell checker'."

That's four punctuation mistakes in one sentence -- another nugget of gold from the semi-educated. You're on a roll.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 22, 2009 @ 11:58 a.m.

That's four punctuation mistakes in one sentence -- another nugget of gold from the semi-educated. You're on a roll.

By russl 11

Is that ALL you have Burger boy- five punctuation mistakes in one sentence.

More nuggets of gold from the GED educated firewhiner apologist!


Russ Lewis Nov. 22, 2009 @ 12:07 p.m.

It's "GED-educated." Give it up. You're too stupid to learn, apparently. Oh, and just call me "Bruger Boy."


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 22, 2009 @ 12:09 p.m.

It's "GED-educated." Give it up. You're too stupid to learn, apparently. Oh, and just call me "Bruger Boy."

By russl

Ohhhh.....Burger Boy called me "stupid" now.

I'm crying again!

Hey stoopid, is that ALL you got?????? LOL!


Fred Williams Nov. 22, 2009 @ 6:56 p.m.

Re: #77

Yes, war tends to corrupt, and the drug war corrupts absolutely.

It's not Mexico's fault. It our fault.

We elected religious-right fanatics into our government. Instead of using common sense and science to promote new intelligent policies to address drug abuse, they declared "WAR".

The result has been nothing but a disaster. A disaster for the 800,000+ arrested every year for simple possession of a plant. A disaster for the government and people of Mexico. A disaster for our budget as we spend upwards of $40 Billion each year on this war on ourselves.

Worst of all has been the steady erosion of our constitutional rights under this "WAR". The fourth amendment is basically gone. So long as the cops use the drug war excuse, they can do whatever they like with impunity. Same for prosecutors who have absolute immunity...even when they commit serious crimes in an effort to jail the innocent.

The use of confidential informants, something Radley Balko has documented extensively, has corrupted our justice system. So has the militarization of our police. They've adopted an "us versus them" mentality where they see the citizens as the enemy.



When I see someone like Alan Bersin stepping into this environment, I have little faith that he's not going to be part of the problem. Solutions would hurt his career prospects. Drug warriors only have incentives for further ramping up this idiot "WAR", and if they ever try to inject common sense they'll be gone.

So expect more of the same stupidity, waste, greed, and corruption with Bersin on the job. He does as he's told by his owners, who delight in profiting on the miseries of others.


PistolPete Nov. 22, 2009 @ 7:55 p.m.

calreb1-I don't have time to read that article right now but I'll never forget the words that Sonny Crocket once said on an episode of Miami Vice:"It's hard to tell the players without a scorecard."

Fred is so correct it's not even a laughing matter. Our government is too eager to go to WAR. War on Drugs. War on Poverty. War on Terrorism. Secretly, there are also wars on freedom. If you had a cushy government job, wouldn't you corrupt yourself to keep it? I know I would. I'm a human and that's what humans do.


Fred Williams Nov. 22, 2009 @ 7:56 p.m.

...and we can all trust Fumber's opinion, because when it comes to stupid he's an expert.


JF Nov. 22, 2009 @ 8:12 p.m.

Relax Alan, it's just the internet

Guess that explains why you're sending me threatening emails, doesn't it Johnny.


magicsfive Nov. 22, 2009 @ 9:33 p.m.

by calreb: "Matt, you work for a pulp publication that draws its income from boob implantation and penile augmentation ads.This slice of yellow press is distributed free throughout the County for the intelligentsia to enjoy. Don't take yourself or your pulp press seriously. Few people do." ================================= why do you keep coming back, then??


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 22, 2009 @ 9:44 p.m.

why do you keep coming back, then??

By magicsfive

I am going with "penile augmentation ads"!

Now me, I keep coming back for the "boob implantation ...augmentation ads"!


David Dodd Nov. 22, 2009 @ 10:01 p.m.

Some great writers wrote for publications that were not considered as upscale. Bukowski wrote for the underground Los Angeles paper "Open City" (not to be confused with the newer and not-so-underground publication with the same name out of New York). Ben Franklin and Samuel Clemens wrote what was considered to be pornography in their day (you won't find this on wiki, don't bother, but it's true). Presuming that I am lucky enough to be considered as a successful novelist someday, nothing would make me happier than to read a reference of any kind that I was once published in the San Diego Reader.

Penile augmentation and boob implantation ads and all.


magicsfive Nov. 22, 2009 @ 10:13 p.m.

lol surfpup you're probably right. and refried...you WILL be a successful novelist and i will have ALL your books. autographed, of course ;)


David Dodd Nov. 22, 2009 @ 10:21 p.m.

Magics, I'll even advertise on this site when I get a release date, and I'll offer anyone a signed copy. If I'm lucky enough to sell twenty thousand books and signing each one helps the cause, then I'll sign twenty thousand books.


SDaniels Nov. 23, 2009 @ 2:42 a.m.

re: #86 and 87: Trust me guys, it is better to keep it on the threads. Don't IM each other, and don't give out email, either. You're both intelligent enough to--and often do-- conduct rational debate that just happens to also be informative and intellectually profitable to others here. Don't descend to gutter level. ;)

re: #90: Right on. Look at Baudelaire's "Spleen," or Whitman's or Cocteau's many small press endeavors. The list goes on.

re: #92: I'd like to reserve an advance copy of your latest.


JF Nov. 23, 2009 @ 7 a.m.

Like I said funny boy-try me.

So let me get this straight. After all of our banter back and forth, you suddenly get upset when I accuse you of parroting the same thing over and over. So you email me threatening the same fate as Keith Jones and say, "You're next". Who the heck is Keith Jones? And why would I suffer his fate?

And SD, Johnny doesn't have my personal email. He IM'd me via the site.


monaghan Nov. 23, 2009 @ 12:58 p.m.

This colloquy could be Exhibit A on the perils of internet blogging. It briefly makes me long for the heavy puritanical right-wing editorial hand at the old Union-Tribune Letters page. (Just kidding.) But really, one could wish for more literate, subject-oriented defenders of Matt Potter's work and the San Diego Reader.

Who CARES who "calreb1" is? His posts are designed to discredit Matt Potter as an investigative reporter and the Reader as an independent alternative newspaper. This, in the wake of the Reader's publishing Potter's well-researched and deeply troubling story about Alan Bersin's financial interests here at the Mexican border, just as Bersin is nominated for vetting by Congress as a suitable head of U.S. Customs. Potter lays out Bersin's political trajectory -- personal and familial financial contributions that directly led to political access and appointments, and Bersin's continuing personal financial interests in Border-area development projects with partners like local businessman Malin Burnham. Reporters from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and our own Union-Tribune have all swallowed Bersin's press packet Kool-Aid. No one but Matt Potter at the San Diego Reader has EVER has shown us the extent of Bersin's private "enterprise" or the extent of his present conflicts of interest as he seeks yet another public-payroll job.


Fred Williams Nov. 23, 2009 @ 8:07 p.m.

Monaghan, I've tried to be a literate and subject-oriented defender of Matt Potter's work. I've been involved in San Diego politics over two decades now, and I find Matt's investigations very revealing.

As you say, it's vital that someone in D.C. injest something other than the press-packet Kool-Aid about golden boy Bersin.

But not one of our cowardly San Diego congressional delegates would dare lift a finger against Bersin. His friends and backers are stronger than any mere congressman. They know what would happen in retaliation.

Matt Potter isn't afraid to state the plain facts as he finds them. I'm glad the Reader continues to publish is work, and only hope he finds an even larger audience online. Maybe someone in D.C. is reading this article too...


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