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Stories by Matt Potter

Meridian — many storied high-rise

Pete Wilson versus Chumash Indians

Murder at the Meridian? Downtown’s Meridian condo tower on Front Street is getting some help from San Diego cops in covering up the details of a mysterious death at the building, fueling growing speculation that ...

Local Dems hasten to give away private prison cash

GEO Group, CoreCivic give big to both parties

Following disclosures here regarding cash from private prisons making its way into campaigns of both local Democrats and Republicans — and San Diego GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer's convention center tax hike bid — California Democrats ...

Out-of-town money pushing the room tax hike

Nearly half of political proceeds come from outside San Diego

With its main newspaper in the hands of a Los Angeles billionaire and its TV stations mostly acquired by national mega-corporations — the latest KFMB, the venerable local broadcaster taken over by Virginia-based Tegna last ...

The Union-Tribune's revolving door

And who San Diego cops gave money to

Norm’s staff omissions Seventy-five-year-old ex-Time Magazine honcho Norm Pearlstine, who took charge of the Los Angeles Times when it was finally purchased by billionaire physician Patrick Soon-Shiong last month, has handed the San Diego Union-Tribune, ...

Pendleton general slapped by Pentagon audit

Female aide delivered food, held workout equipment open

A deputy commanding general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton – an ex-Marine Corps Inspector General - has been called out for breaking ethics rules by using a female officer aide to ...

A well-timed contribution of special interest

Airbnb backs Faulconer-favored convention center measure

The convention center expansion tax hike initiative backed by Kevin Faulconer has gotten some last-minute cash from an Airbnb-funded political committee, weeks after the San Francisco-based short-term rental outfit pronounced its satisfaction with the mayor's ...

Luxury Airbnb hustler sought

And someone to dun those chamber of commerce delinquents

County’s nepotism An investigation by San Diego County’s Chief of Audits Juan Perez has found that certain unnamed key employees have failed to disclose their financial holdings, as required by state conflict of interest law. ...

When San Diego fat cats run out of cash

Volunteers few for costly tax hike drive

The late Democratic boss and Assembly Speaker Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh got credit for the aphorism "Money is the mother's milk of politics" back in the 1970s, but its truth has never been more painful ...

The fall of Horton Plaza

What happened between 1985 and now?

Pete Wilson grins at a homeless man sprawled near Horton Plaza mall, the downtown shopping center he muscled through city hall in the late 1970s. Wilson’s eyes never blink; the coattails of his tailored suit ...

Patrick Soon-Shiong gets Chargers luxury suite

City employees' Jamie Hamrick gets luxury rooms in Shanghai and Santa Monica

Soon-Shiong’s Chargers suite Now that Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong has finally secured control of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune from the Chicago newspaper chain tronc (which is said to be about ...

Dumanis hit on weapons inventory

District Attorney's Dodge minivan found in disposal lot

County auditors had to do some detective work in the District Attorney's office to find a range of missing county property after they were called in to conduct a changing-of-the-guard review triggered by the departure ...

Can synergies and layoffs save the U-T?

A ghost of Platinum past trails Soon-Shiong

On June 17, after the announcement that billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong had closed a $580 million deal to take over the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, USC journalism professor and former Wall Street Journal ...

Private prison donations, Shirley Weber's timely support, Imperial County hanky-panky

The smell of money

Big contributions, bar none GEO group, the controversial private prison outfit from Boca Raton, Florida that operates a downtown lockup called the Western Region Detention Facility for the United States Marshal’s Service and the Midway ...

Saldaña hits Dems on private prison cash

Target of immigration protests helped California politicos

CoreCivic, the private prison-owning giant out of Nashville, Tennessee that runs the Otay Mesa Detention Center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has been drawing heat as a result of president Donald Trump's immigration crackdown, but ...

North County's dark money triumph

As Jacobs blew family jewels, mystery cash took down Gaspar

While a granddaughter of a La Jolla billionaire Democrat spent a chunk of her sizable inheritance coming in third in the North County open primary to replace departing Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, a fund with ...

Who gave money to San Diego politicians

Nathan Fletcher, Toni Atkins, Joel Anderson, Brian Maienschein, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher

Big Oil and gas A group of well-heeled oil companies from Texas had a mixed record of success in last week’s California primaries after spending nearly $400,000 in the Golden State on campaign hits against ...

County supes sidle up to Trump

Cox lobbyists visit San Diego pols, Del Mar envisions flooding

Trump lobby San Diego County’s Board of Supervisors, which voted in April to back president Donald Trump’s legal war against California sanctuary laws, is seeking to acquire more muscle for its battle to boost federal ...

Tronc eludes John Lynch’s embrace

Ex-Union-Tribune chieftain misses deal’s gold ring

The newspaper dreams of Rancho Santa Fe's colorful John Lynch, one-time vice-chairman and CEO of the Union-Tribune under Republican kingpin Douglas Manchester, appear to have been shattered by the latest development in the tortured saga ...

Phillips 66 favors two San Diego Democrats

Bill-gutting beneficiaries kick in for Gonzalez Fletcher, Atkins

As a bitterly fought primary campaign for county supervisor finally grinds to an end, a pair of high-ranking San Diego legislative Democrats have been loading up on last-minute campaign cash from two of America’s mightiest ...

Convention center donor's styrofoam agenda

Will Dart’s cash pierce city’s wall?

The day before San Diego city councilmembers Chris Ward and Barbara Bry rolled out a sure-to-be-controversial proposal to ban so-called expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers in the city, an American plastics heavyweight weighed in ...

Hueso's fat bank account, county bureaucrats like Apple

Doug Machester's hotel woes

Doing fundraising time State Senate Democrat Ben Hueso, running for reelection in next month’s primary against retired Republican Superior Court Judge Luis Vargas, is seen as the likely winner in the majority Democratic 40th district, ...

City workers cheat and lie for disabled spaces

Handicapped parking space abuse epidemic at city, audit finds

Hot on the tail of San Diego's meter-reading scandal comes word that at least two city Public Utilities Department workers have illegally used Disabled Person Placards to park in handicapped spaces, and similar abuse may ...

Texas oil funds San Diego hit spots

Valero, Tesoro kick in against Lori Saldana

With San Diego's nastiest race of primary season 2018 hitting new lows almost daily, a political committee funded by Sacramento's oil lobby checked into the contest with $35,000 on May 18 to help pay for ...

Atkins's money counters DeMaio's recall efforts

and; unbecoming behavior at the Balboa Navy Hospital

Gassed-up recall San Diego’s Toni Atkins, leader of the state senate, has been digging deep into one of her campaign kitties in a rough-and-tumble effort to save the seat of fellow senate Democrat Josh Newman ...

Cleaning up at Parks and Rec

Custodian fingered for stealing cleaning supplies and water

San Diego city auditor Eduardo Luna has gotten to the bottom of a case involving some long-missing cleaning supplies and water theft: the custodian did it. "Our Office received an allegation that a Parks and ...

Fletcher couple rumbles over spousal support

Custody and visitation rights loom in candidate’s court fight

The public persona of Nathan Fletcher, Republican-turned-Independent running for county supervisor as a Democrat, is embodied in the photo atop his Facebook page as a portrait of a happily blended family: he and second wife, ...

Out-of-town money cascades into supervisor race

Hit pieces funded by N.Y. labor, drunk driver, and MDs lobby

Whether settling past scores or anticipating future favorable votes from the county board of supervisors, a host of well-heeled special interests funded from outside county borders are pouring big money into the race to replace ...

Voice needs an editor; Chula Vista mayor needs hotelier cash

La Jollans freaking about more UCSD traffic; Sempra spending big on lobbyists

Job of Voice The Voice of San Diego news and opinion website is seeking “an investigative reporter to dig into issues of education quality, inequity, youth issues and related criminal justice storylines.” Adds the online ...

Private prisons back con center measure

Boca Raton outfit kicks in for homeless tax vote

So far short of sufficient cash to pay the seven-figure price of the average San Diego initiative drive, the group seeking to raise the city's hotel tax to fund a convention center expansion and accompanying ...

SDSU errors hit taxpayers, Cox flips on net neutrality, UT stories for sale

You know who not to trust

SDSU’s costly Confucius Officials at San Diego State University have had to address negative findings made by state university system auditors about cost overruns plaguing campus construction projects. “We found that although one of the ...

Nathan's spousal support

Gonzalez Fletcher funnels hubby immigrant prison cash

It helps to have a political spouse with clout, and plenty of special interest money. So, it appears with the political pairing of one-time Republican Assemblyman, now Democrat, Nathan Fletcher and his wife, current 80th ...

GOP's Facebook king boosts Cate and Zapf

Cruz's digital guru says privacy worries overblown

Britain's Cambridge Analytical is shutting down in the wake of its Facebook privacy scandal and German justice minister Katarina Barley is calling for the social media site to crack down on personal data abuse. But ...

Grandpa Irwin’s TV money

Politicians spending big on television ads

As next month’s primary election grows near, it’s open season for political advertising at San Diego television stations. Early off the blocks has been Sheriff Bill Gore with a $9100 purchase of 47 spots from ...

Cox, LimeBike, Monsanto, and more paying the influence peddlers

Dockless bike company spent $11,000 on local lobbyists

Following news earlier this month that Cox Communications has filed to lobby against the issue of so-called network neutrality, its cable competitor AT&T has joined the cause, disclosing in an April 19 statement that it ...

Manter’s rays costly to con-center ballot bid

Mayor’s friend adds another notch to City Hall money belt

Word on the street has it that the current effort by labor unions and downtown hotels to qualify a tourist tax measure for the November ballot has hit a funding wall, with a paltry $630,531 ...

Safety last in SDSU labs, state audit finds

Asbestos, bad air, shower stations plague research thrust

How safe is it for students and faculty in the laboratories of San Diego State University? Not enough, concludes an April 24 report by California state auditor Elaine Howle blasting the school and three other ...

Refs not vetted enough, says city auditor

Even though they're not alone with kids

San Diego City Auditor Eduardo Luna is out with a report slamming city officials for inadequately vetting the backgrounds of the city’s youth sports league referees. “In general, there are Citywide procedures to require individuals ...

San Diego State slick magazine touts Mission Valley plan

Voters still have to approve $250 million project

Taxpayer-funded San Diego State University, locked in battle with privately-run SoccerCity over who will get to develop the choice city-owned parcel once known as Qualcomm Stadium, has rolled out a glossy mail piece touting its ...

AEG greases mayor's palm

So do Sunroad and mayor's mom

San Diego cash arena As word percolates that AEG Management, the Los Angeles-based operator of San Diego’s city-owned Valley View Casino Center (formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena), is lobbying for a lucrative ...

Back to Doug Manchester’s future?

As Soon-Shiong dallies, ex-U-T CEO makes tronc play

Is the ailing San Diego Union-Tribune fated to return to something akin to its days under the lash of La Jolla-based mega-millionaire and Donald Trump donor and ambassadorial nominee Douglas Manchester? Nearly three months ago, ...

Ace friend seeks Horton Plaza deal

Mall's collapse could prove costly for taxpayers

Downtown's Horton Plaza shopping mall, which used millions of tax dollars to level acres of historic buildings in the late 1970s, has itself been hollowing out of late. Multiple levels of vacant storefronts bear grim ...

Caremark RX, Phillips 66 keeping Toni Atkins well fed

A convenient set of circumstances

Caremark RX, the Rhode Island-based pharmacy benefit management subsidiary of drugstore giant CVS, kicked in a total of $6300 on April 4 to the 2020 re-election fund of Democratic California Senate leader Toni Atkins, disclosure ...

Revolutionaries join San Diego DA race

Bernie’s revenge

Real Justice PAC, a political action committee of former Bernie Sanders operatives backing the district attorney candidacy of Genevieve Jones-Wright, has rolled out the beginning of a so-called peer-to-peer texting campaign on her behalf, an ...

Cate hits up city workers, pays another fine

Councilman concedes further ethical transgressions

With investigators of the California Attorney General's office still looking into his leak of a confidential memo to lobbyist contributors, San Diego city councilman Chris Cate has agreed to pay yet another fine for breaking ...

Was Soon-Shiong outsmarted?

U-T's cult-of-personality profile jumps deal's gun

Sunday, April 15 was the Union-Tribune's celebration day for Los Angeles physician Patrick Soon-Shiong, the paper's putative new owner, also set to acquire the L.A. Times from the oddly named and deeply troubled tronc, Inc. ...

Tronc turmoil threatens Union-Tribune sale

New billionaire buyer surfaces as prospective owner

Who's on first at troubled tronc, and does it matter anymore to what appears to be an increasingly desperate attempt to save the last vestiges of San Diego's only daily newspaper? From the New York ...

D.A. Summer Stephan's incumbent protection plan

plus: Grassroots group hires lobbyists

A political committee run and mainly funded by a payroll tithing plan for prosecutors in the district attorney’s office has picked up a donation from the political action committee of the Sheet Metal Workers Local ...

Want to build condos? Pay the pol

An army of influences peddlers marches on city hall

Steve Cushman, whose family’s Riverwalk Golf Course’s imminent conversion into condos and commercial space by Houston, Texas-based Hines development hinges on city hall approval, has just kicked in major money to this year’s reelection bid ...

Cox mobilizes ex-Peters influence-peddlers

Cable company files to lobby against net neutrality

A nascent movement at city hall to do away with Cox Communication's cable and internet monopoly in the name of so-called net neutrality appears to have the Georgia-based giant's lobbying contingent here scrambling for the ...

County Fire's unfixed asset

Only volunteer fire department left in the county weighs disbanding

As the only volunteer fire department left in the county weighs disbanding and turning over its duties to the San Diego County Fire Authority, auditors have recently discovered that the firefighting assets of volunteer operations ...

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