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Stories by Matt Potter

Meals and wheels

...and Sempra Energy spends on politicos

California assemblyman Adam Gray picked up a free meal worth $160.23 at the Barona gambling tribe’s resort in Lakeside on June 30. Fellow Democrat Marc Berman settled for a $14.87 meal and a free $137.50 ...

Rock city’s hard cash

Big changes to the Carroll Canyon Master Plan

Hanson Aggregates, the San Diego cement giant owned by a giant British-based multinational, has been trying to up its lucrative real estate development game with big changes to Mira Mesa’s Carroll Canyon Master Plan. “The ...

Fake news, real attrition

“Digital Agency Launches in San Diego”

The Union-Tribune broke exclusive word on its front business page last week of a smart new online advertising player in town. “Stats Digital is part of the tronc family of companies, which includes the San ...

Any new employment at the U-T will be digitally related

Justin time

Struggling with an explanation to investors as to why tronc, Inc., the oddly named newspaper chain from Chicago, has slipped in both revenue and web traffic from last year, chief executive Justin Dearborn managed to ...

Faulconer’s next Scaramouch

One Deputy Press Secretary needed, stat

While Donald Trump has made headlines with turmoil in his presidential briefing room, San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer — seeking to recover face following a rough six months of political setbacks — is taking to ...

Koch brothers to fund San Diego paramedic takeover

AMR Rural/Metro about to be flipped in $2.4 billion deal

American Medical Response Inc., proprietor of AMR Rural/Metro of San Diego, the city's always-controversial but politically munificent paramedic operator, is about to get a new owner itself, though Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer doesn't appear eager ...

San Diego big labor’s deceit on propositions K and L

Fine against campaign run by Tom Shepard — guru to two fallen mayors

Tom Shepard started, and almost finished, his career as a political guru back in the1980s when he masterminded the victorious bid for mayor by Republican county supervisor Roger Hedgecock, subsequently brought down by the infamous ...

Bonnie Dumanis’s self-service ATM

The ex-DA still has some bills to pay

Bonnie Dumanis may be out as the county’s district attorney, having stepped down last month — thereby giving her establishment-backed successor Summer Stephan the advantage of the incumbency to run for election next year, but ...

Charge it to the Chargers

John DeBello has finally gotten paid for his efforts

The co-creator of those oddball movies in the Killer Tomatoes series didn’t do as well with the media he pumped out for the ill-fated ballot bid of the then–San Diego Chargers to build a new ...

U-T’s Hoy is so yesterday

Paper's Chicago version that began as a daily is now once a week

In Chicago, the downsizing of the once-mighty daily Spanish-language newspaper Hoy to a weekly by parent tronc, Inc. has caused only a muted outcry. Launched in 2003, the paper “that began as a daily and ...

Less foreign cafeteria food, pledges San Diego Unified

State audit calls out California school districts for not buying American

Public school cafeteria food is the latest battleground in the war against foreign intrusion into American commerce. That word comes not from president Donald Trump, but instead via a new report from the California state ...

Summer Stephan's family money tree

D.A. collects political cash the old-fashioned way, from friends, relations, and lawyers

Back in Richard Nixon's presidential days, San Diego's most infamous saga of family loyalty involved the powerful Alessio clan, popularly viewed as the border town's version of the Corleone family. Progenitor Johnny Alessio, the big-money ...

A cornhole by any other name

Rebranded as “Councilman Chris Cate’s D6 Charity Toss Tournament”

The name may have been changed to shield a city councilman from off-color jokes, but big money is still being provided by a lineup of city hall’s favored corporate special interests. Such is news about ...

Seize control of that stadium land

The “Friends of SDSU opposing SoccerCity” make their presence known

Wealthy ex–city manager Jack McGrory, who has emerged as a key foe of the SoccerCity plan to privatize the city-owned land now occupied by Qualcomm Stadium, has put some money into the battle, kicking in ...

Trump’s local lady

Rancho Santa Fe is home to the county’s top donor

President Donald Trump may not be the most popular politico on the Left Coast, but San Diego County’s super-rich enclave known as Rancho Santa Fe is continuing to produce much of his California campaign cash, ...

Hunter aide schooled in Trump-age ethics

House member’s legislative director attends media-handling conclave

Republican house member Duncan Hunter, a hero to the Union-Tribune when the paper was owned by GOP mogul Doug Manchester, has been in the dog house under the daily's latest owner, tronc, Inc. of Chicago, ...

Un-retiring freebies

Learn to make communities more livable, all expenses paid

An unidentified principal administrative analyst in San Diego County’s Aging & Independent Services unit took off on an all-expense-paid junket to the Hilton Pasadena this April 25 and 26 courtesy of Washington DC’s AARP, formerly ...

Juan’s new wheels

$40K of campaign cash went to San Diego Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

As the Union-Tribune continues to scour the campaign fund of Republican congressman Duncan Hunter for more of the kind of spending that has gotten him into hot water with House ethics police and the Justice ...

Faster than a speeding bureaucrat

“Nine vehicles reached speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour a total of 13 times.”

Excessive speeds by public workers driving government-owned vehicles has long been a complaint of local auditors, who have employed Global Positioning Systems to track fast-running offenders. “Nine vehicles reached speeds in excess of 90 miles ...

Butkiewicz gets free ride on Teamsters deal

Water board member and labor czar held unconflicted

A mentor of Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher wants back on to the payroll of the troubled San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, raising conflict of interest questions regarding his current gig on the board of ...

Faulconer’s mid-summer S.F. daydream

“One of California’s rising stars...”

GOP San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has generally sworn off seeking higher office anytime soon, is popping up August 15 to sing his own praises at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. “He has ...

Now they tell us

San Diego stories of Democrat opposition-research

Word that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian emissary last year in an effort to find negative information on Hillary Clinton has the New York Times digging up San Diego–linked stories of opposition research ...

San Diego’s on for Ossoff

Most expensive House race in history

Georgia Republicans handily beat back an attempt by Democratic documentarian Jon Ossoff to wrest that state’s Sixth District congressional seat from the GOP’s Karen Handel. The victory was in part due to pro-Handel television commercials ...

U-T turning its stories into collection plates

Paper pledges to donate cut of fundraising to good causes

Bad news arrived in a deluge this week for Chicago-based newspaper company tronc, when the publisher's flagship paper, the Chicago Tribune, was forced by federal antitrust regulators to forgo taking over the Sun-Times in favor ...

Engaging fake news

Want to be a “Political Digital Account Coordinator”?

An opening for “Political Digital Account Coordinator” is being advertised online by downtown San Diego’s Bask Digital Media. “You will work with our Campaign Directors and Account Managers to brainstorm engaging content, write copy for ...

Faulconer’s blowout

SDG&E forked over $4000

It took more than five months, but the identity of a major city-hall special interest that provided some of the scratch to help pay for San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s January 12 State of the ...

Ed Fletcher III spends the Fourth in prison

“He heard not only the shots but a woman’s scream.”

The morning after Independence Day, readers of the Union-Tribune were treated to a heart-warming front-page feature and three-minute video about an influential local family’s 92nd annual reunion at their oceanfront retreat in Del Mar. “For ...

Mayor’s top aides swap special interest places

City hall hit by revolving-door influence peddling

With mid-summer doldrums setting in, troopers of a lobbying corps that has long been a city hall fixture are replenishing their ranks by means of the ever-spinning door between the administration of mayor Kevin Faulconer ...

Mission Valley money

“GOAL: Soccer Fans Moving San Diego Forward”

They’ve already dumped a total of at least $2,891,599 into a contentious bid to privatize the city’s Qualcomm Stadium and surrounding property with a campaign committee called “GOAL: San Diegans for a River Park, School ...

City hall’s mystery fraud

Who’s committing the crimes?

The odds of discovering who is committing crimes against the taxpayers at San Diego’s city hall often seem tilted against the citizenry, as demonstrated by a June 26 fraud-hotline report by city auditor Eduardo Luna. ...

La Jolla’s unsaintly mogul

Douglas Manchester, low-budget Tinseltown player

He had nothing to do with the surprise Oscar-winning Manchester by the Sea, but ex–Union-Tribune owner and San Diego Republican kingpin Douglas Manchester, awaiting senate confirmation as Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Bahamas, has long ...

Summer Stephan's fake NYT news experience

New D.A.'s New York Times advertorial venue hit by critics

Fresh from her controversial appointment by the board of supervisors, San Diego's soon-to-be District Attorney Summer Stephans took to the New York Times this month in the midst of a victory round politically orchestrated to ...

UCSD’s big bang-bang theory

San Diego police testing gunshot detection on campus

Those scary noises heard around the University of California San Diego last week were just the first shots in another advance of the surveillance state, according to a June 15 memo meant to reassure campus ...

Champagne wishes and SoccerCity dreams

Local Dems out-raise Republicans

The Point Loma bay-front mansion where Stephen Puetz was married in August 2015, thanks to the largesse of owner Morgan Dene Oliver, has just been sold, according to an announcement by brokers Brett Dickinson and ...

Deep inside Doug Manchester’s money machine

Kingpin to surrender control of mega-millions to be Bahamas envoy

Douglas Manchester is prepared to surrender day-to-day control of his real estate and investment empire if ultimately confirmed by the senate as Donald Trump's ambassador to the Bahamas, according to State Department disclosure records posted ...

Trump’s Bahamas ambassador-designate escapes judgement

Manchester and his proto-bank dodge bad debt

Awaiting Senate confirmation as the nation's next ambassador to the Bahamas, known for its tax-sheltering proclivities, Doug Manchester, ex-publisher of the Union-Tribune and million-dollar donor to president Donald Trump's January inaugural festivities, can boast a ...

Feeding staffers’ faces

$2,897 of prohibited purchases

Employees of the San Diego Unified School District have been improperly dipping into student funds for personal food money, says a June 1 report to superintendent Cindy Marten from Gamy Rayburn, the district’s interim chief ...

Nonprofits go after Faulconer SoccerCity plan

San Diego City Schools staff dips into student funds for meals and snacks

San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose hopes for statewide office took a big hit from this month’s city-council rejection of his plan for a hurry-up $5 million November special election on SoccerCity and a hotel ...

SDSU’s very own bulldozer city?

State university system’s uncannily-timed call for real estate talent

Just as the San Diego city council was disposing of the controversial SoccerCity development in Mission Valley on Monday, June 20, the California State University system, proprietor of San Diego State, issued a call for ...

Punting the mayoral Puetz

Ex-trash lobbyist and major donor is mayor’s new staff chief

Confirming word first reported here May 30, Stephen Puetz, controversial chief of staff to San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, is departing his job at city hall for a gig with Missouri-based political consultant Axiom Strategies. ...

Genetically speaking

Union-Tribune gives Craig Venter a pass

La Jolla’s Craig Venter, the genomic giant who gets regular positive write-ups in his hometown Union-Tribune, was spared mention in the paper when it was announced two weeks ago that his Human Longevity, Inc. was ...

The janitor did it

The P-Cards do not have p-documentation

Disappearing ink on thermal vanishing paper and a clueless janitor have been blamed for missing records at the San Diego Unified School District that a recent audit says could represent only the tip of a ...

Stem cell research program out of funds in three years

PR’s miracle cure

California’s taxpayer-funded $3 billion stem cell research program, officially known as the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, is spending money at the rate of $22,000 an hour, and expected to run out of cash in ...

Does mayor's big money game verge on a crime?

Trading public money for council votes could void SoccerCity deal

Kevin Faulconer has ripped the cover of gentility from the obscure practice of tax-fueled mayoral favor-giving in exchange for city council votes, employed over the years to boost the political careers of council members, including ...

SoccerCity backers go off the charts, both ways

Aussie stock plunges as Mission Valley play grows

As intrigue grows at San Diego city hall regarding backdoor wheeling and dealing of Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer and members of the San Diego city council over the timing of the so-called SoccerCity ballot measure ...

E-cigs sail in from China

Smoking fiends

So-called e-cigarettes have been increasingly making their way into San Diego from foreign ports, according to a May 24 audit by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, raising possible dangers for unwary users. “E-cigarette liquid — ...

Queen of the double-dippers

Roush collects from San Diego State University

As a retiree, San Diego State University’s former vice president of business and financial affairs Sally Roush has done well by the taxpayer-funded state university system. After stepping down from her $301,957 a year position ...

Mike and Nick’s Aussie adventure

Stones’ stock slipping

The jury is still out on the ultimate fate of La Jolla hedge-fund maven Mike Stone’s attempt to wrest Qualcomm Stadium and its acreage away from public ownership, but the stock price of another of ...

SoccerCity's open special influence money frenzy

With D.A. looking other way, pre-city council vote fundraising surges

As a city council vote draws nigh for getting taxpayers to fund a $5 million special November election sought by the city's hotel moguls and backers of SoccerCity — a plan to privatize a big ...

San Diego Chamber dinged for Robert Hickey donation

Plus Luiseno Indians not allowed to repair roads

The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce has agreed to fork over a $5000 penalty to settle charges by the city’s ethics commission that it failed to report big money spent on a befuddling political ...

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