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Freebies, right and left

Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis, already one of the most well-traveled members in House history, was off to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in February, courtesy of the liberal J Street Education Fund. Airfare from Washington to Israel for Davis and her husband Steve and other transportation items ran $9965 apiece, with meals for the pair totaling $1434 and lodging expenses for the couple pegged at $1859. The purpose of the weeklong junket beginning February 15 was to give Davis “a deeper perspective into the complexities related to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. foreign aid, and other issues in the Middle East,” according to a March 11 disclosure filing.

Nobody turns congressional influence into free travel as well as Susan Davis.

Nobody turns congressional influence into free travel as well as Susan Davis.

Upscale dinner spots on the tour included Jerusalem’s Azzahra Restaurant, praised by the Lonely Planet website for “a range of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and French dishes, including pastas and filet mignon, but the real deal is the brick-oven, thin-crust Italian pizza.” Touro, another fine-dining venue in Jerusalem visited by the group, offers “stunning views of the Old City’s walls and an innovative menu of pasta, fish and meat dishes with seasonal and market-driven variations like the seven-hour short-rib casserole with white beans, pumpkin, mushrooms, and green beans.”

It’s far from the first time Davis has been to Israel to learn the local lore on someone else’s dime. The November 2009 tab for her excursion was paid for by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, which forked over $4580 for travel, $1055 for hotels, and $350 for food. Back in August 2014, she and her husband were down for a $17,908 trip, bankrolled by the American Israel Education Foundation, an offshoot of the hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee. And in 2003, the House member journeyed to the Holy Land, also thanks to AIPAC-related funding.

J Street, which styles itself as the “pro-Israel, pro-peace home for Americans,” is on the other side of the political spectrum. “By signing an executive order recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Trump is obviously seeking to hand Netanyahu an electoral boost and to pander to his own right-wing base,” says a March 25 J Street position paper. In addition to her most recent Israel itinerary, foundations and think tanks have provided Davis with tickets to worldwide destinations, including Tokyo, London, Vienna, Barcelona, Puerto Vallarta, and Whistler Resort in British Columbia.

Pradeep Khosla

Pradeep Khosla

Pradeep’s media strategy

As controversy continues to shadow UCSD chancellor Pradeep Khosla over an investigation into alleged bullying and abusive behavior, the school is searching for an online snooper and Internet cleanup maven. The new hire, per a job notice for the position of Senior Social Media Strategist, will be tasked with tracking would-be whistleblowers at the tax-funded institution “by monitoring social media for emerging areas of criticism or concern for the university.” Taking charge of “strategy and management of all central UC San Diego social media channels during crisis situations,” the incoming spin doctor is expected to guard the school’s “online reputation” by “applying judgment and discretion when working with highly sensitive and confidential information.”

Residential cram school

A so-called co-living outfit called Common, based in New York City, is behind what may soon become San Diego’s latest affordable housing controversy. “Common is teaming up with real estate developers in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and San Diego on $300 million worth of new properties in those cities over the next three years,” per an April 2 account in Fortune. “The projects will more than quadruple Common’s current footprint — adding more than 2200 beds for rent across the four new markets.” By packing more Millennials into radically less living space, notes the publication, rents can be shaved while preserving margins for Wall Street real estate investors who put up cash to build what are in essence adult dorms. “From the renter’s standpoint,” reports Forbes, “advantages include flexibility, the ease of renting fully-furnished spaces, smoother, technology-enabled renting experiences and the chance to live alongside others of similar age, experience and mindsets. A big negative is a more compact home, comparatively higher rental costs per square foot vis-a-vis apartments, and the fact that communal living may not be to the renter’s liking.”

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Comments

JustWondering April 10, 2019 @ 8:36 p.m.

You realize it’s San Diego voters who keep on re-electing this person to Congress. If they are blind to her actions nothing will change EVER.

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dwbat April 10, 2019 @ 10:04 p.m.

Anyone can gain "a deeper perspective into the complexities related to Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. foreign aid, and other issues in the Middle East" simply by visiting a public library, using Google, watching PBS, and reading newspapers, magazines and professional journals. That $13,218 junket is reprehensible behavior by Rep. Davis, and she needs to resign.

None

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Ponzi April 11, 2019 @ 8:14 a.m.

The total would be $23,223 if Matt reported the correct amount. "Airfare from Washington to Israel for Davis and her husband Steve ran $9965 apiece.." I think it's a typo because even first class would be under $3,000 each.

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Visduh April 11, 2019 @ 4:43 p.m.

On the topic of Khosla, what we see is further decline in the caliber of people hired by UC headquarters to be UCSD chancellor. If you go back to Atkinson, he had serious shortcomings, but managed to move up to the presidency of the university. His record in that position was less-then-stellar. He was followed by Dynes as chancellor, and then Dynes too became the UC president. It was during his tenure as president that the regents grew highly frustrated by his administrative incompetence. There was a proposal floated then to create yet another vice president who would perform the administrative functions of the office. He slunk away in 2008. His successor as UCSD chancellor was Fox, who arrived with plenty of baggage. She was serving on the corporate boards of more than six major corporations and was drawing big stipends for so doing. When did she have time to be a full-time campus CEO? Well, after a few years and after a few scandals, it became apparent that she wasn't running the place after all. But whe was taking down more income from board service than her very-generous salary. She became such an embarrassment to the university that she was nudged into retirement in 2012. And so for the past seven years they've had Khosla, a guy with a mixed job history and a slimy reputation. Now he's accused of being a tyrant and a bully, two characteristics that are not appreciated at all in academia. Will the current UC president, Napolitano, find it necessary to fire him. She has fired two chancellors already, and more could be coming. What is the problem here? Can't they get anyone worth having to take those prestigious appointments? Something is wrong at the UC, very wrong.

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dwbat April 11, 2019 @ 6:59 p.m.

Why do universities even need a chancellor? Why can't they just eliminate that position?

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Visduh April 12, 2019 @ 1:22 p.m.

Each one of those ten UC campuses is a big operation, and a few are huge. Each one really needs a CEO, and I doubt that one UC president could manage all ten, plus four med centers. It may even be true to say that they are so large now as to be unmanageable. But a good operator should be able to keep scandals at bay, and keep the folks reasonably happy.

At UC Santa Barbara the same chancellor has held the position since 1994. His name is Henry Yang, and he's now about 79 years old. During his time at UCSB the school has grown, but has also managed to shed its reputation as a pure party school. (That was no small accomplishment.) While I'm sure he has his detractors, when I've heard him or seen him, he's quiet and even self-effacing. But he is proud of his UC campus, and what it has become. When he retires, they will find it hard, very hard, to fill his shoes. BTW, he followed a pair of clinkers in the position, both of whom left under a cloud. So, it is possible to lead and bring about positive growth.

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danfogel April 12, 2019 @ 9:24 p.m.

I'll oversimplify it for you. In the UC system, the heads of the individual schools are called chancellors and the head of the entire system in called the president, in this case being Janet Napolitano. In the Cal State system, it is just the opposite. The head of the system is the chancellor and the heads of the schools are presidents. Visduh is exactly right. The chancellors in the UC system and the presidents in the Cal State system do indeed function as CEOs of their respective schools. Are you actually suggesting that the colleges in the UC system don't need someone in charge? Or maybe it could be that you simply have no idea what you are talking about? BTW, I have diplomas from schools in both systems, so I do know a little of what I am talking about.

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dwbat April 13, 2019 @ 9:05 a.m.

Yes, I knew about Janet, way before she was UC prez. I'm a journalist [but I'm not reporting for the READER anymore),and you NEVER need to "oversimplify" anything for me. Your ongoing arrogance, patronizing and snide comments reveal a lot about what kind of person you are. It doesn't paint a good picture at all. You sound like someone very egotistical, yet unhappy.

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Grolyate April 16, 2019 @ 4:37 p.m.

I am fascinated by this statement "one of the most well-traveled members in House history". Can you point to some data on this? Seems like that would require a fair amount of research to really know it is a fact. I am not saying it is untrue, just that she has a lot of competition for that honor.

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Emcoh April 17, 2019 @ 1:51 p.m.

Khosla is a toad. This is the SECOND investigation into the same behavior since he got here. Now he wants to hire a social media company to polish the turd that is his legacy. He was also named in a lawsuit while at Carnegie Mellon that was later settled out of court. Time to rip off the band-aid. Why would Janet protect him like she has?

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article197516689.html

Didn't Linda Kataehi at UC Davis get fired for hiring a social media company to scrub her image. Why the double standard?

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