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Stories by Matt Potter

Free-flying John Kelly photo-ops cost taxpayers

Homeland Security chiefs got VIP military flights for coach fare

A year ago this month, then–secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly dropped into San Diego for a news conference to blast so-called sanctuary cities for harboring illegal immigrants. "I'm stunned when people say, 'Well, we're ...

City’s lobbying industry posted a record 2017

Feats of clay

By most accounts, the city’s lobbying industry posted a record 2017 and is looking to double their take this year. Among top performers is the Clay Company, which picked up $18,000 in the fourth quarter ...

Southwest Strategies signs on with Friends of SDSU

Strategic Straw man

Southwest Strategies, the influence-peddling firm that helped mastermind the 2016 defeat by the military shipyard lobby of the Barrio Logan community plan, has signed on with Friends of SDSU, the political committee backing a takeover ...

Chris Cate’s money-raising prowess

A pox on city hall

Still awaiting the results of a state attorney general’s office investigation into whether there was wrongdoing involved in his turnover of a confidential city legal memo to lobbyists for Mission Valley’s SoccerCity, San Diego city ...

Throwing darkness on Light

Could Post exposé spoil Soon-Shiong's U-T honeymoon?

It has been a busy week for ex–Union-Tribune publisher Douglas Manchester, what with putting prepublication spin on a Washington Post profile about his relationships with women and jetting back and forth to Austin, Texas, to ...

New job posting at the U/T

Computers may apply

The new face of reporting at tronc belongs to a computer, based on the latest online help-wanted ad posted for a “content specialist” by the Chicago-based newspaper chain with a strange name that just agreed ...

S.D. marijuana merchants pour cash into political action committee

High-dollar pot

With marijuana sales finally legalized in California, local pot merchants have been pouring cash into a political action committee known as Citizens for Public Safety and Safe Access, sponsored by the Association of Cannabis Professionals. ...

Border czar Alan Bersin sets up BorderWorks Group

Anti-Trump bump

Clinton administration border czar Alan Bersin, who subsequently ran San Diego city schools before becoming Barack Obama’s Customs commissioner until failing to get Senate confirmation, could soon be cleaning up as the new anti-Trump of ...

Chlamydia county

Sexual disease rates skyrocketing

San Diego's Hepatitis A epidemic isn't the only disease breakout confronting beleaguered county officials, belatedly scrambling to counter yet another incipient public health emergency. "Rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in San Diego County are the ...

The rise of Papa Soon-Shiong?

Friend of Doug could shift San Diego’s balance of politics

Corks have been popping at the Union-Tribune, judging from the effusive coverage that the paper — newly liberated from its bondage to Chicago's tronc — has lavished on the announcement that Los Angeles mega-billionaire Patrick ...

Corporations with business at city hall

No Cate killjoy

Republican Chris Cate, who paid for a hundred free military Christmas trees last year with a quick $5000 from Walmart, isn’t the only member of the San Diego City Council whose causes are benefiting from ...

City time may not be used to complete coursework

School for scoundrels

San Diego city auditor Eduardo Luna continues to root out waste and theft at city hall, according to his latest quarterly fraud hotline report issued in January. “An allegation regarding theft of time related to ...

SDSU: to Tbilisi with love

The university expands into the Soviet republic of Georgia

Complaints from California state university auditors about a lack of financial transparency haven’t stopped San Diego State University from moving ahead on a downtown campus in Tbilisi, capital of the beleaguered former Soviet republic of ...

Myrtle’s electric juicer

Strange political bedfellows

Fourth District city council Democrat Myrtle Cole has been collecting major money from some strange political bedfellows for her reelection campaign, getting $250 from Nicole Capretz, executive director of Climate Action Plan on November 21, ...

Immigration policy, Vegas-style

Issa gets a free junket

Immediately after Republican House member Darrell Issa announced on January 10 he was finally hanging up his congressional spurs, he and top aide Robert M. Rische III took off for one more glitzy free junket ...

New SDSU president withheld email from investigators

UC Davis pay boost linked to Katehi family ties

Newly designated San Diego State University president Adela de la Torre, a key focus of the 2016 investigation into improper influence at the University of California Davis, denied investigators access to her email accounts, according ...

Kris Michell tapped an array of big-money special interests

Gander goosed

More than a decade of campaign money-giving to San Diego city council members — including Republicans Lorie Zapf, Chris Cate, Mark Kersey, and Scott Sherman, along with Democrats Barbara Bry, Chris Ward, and Myrtle Cole ...

tronc to San Diego: drop dead?

L.A. Times meltdown could mean Union-Tribune layoffs

Does turmoil at the Los Angeles Times foreshadow far deeper trouble for the paper's smaller San Diego sister, the Union-Tribune? That's the fear of local news insiders, eyes glued to the latest fast-moving drama that ...

A horsepox on La Jolla

Biotech high-flier flaunting deadly disease recipe

A high-flying biotech outfit with a low-profile La Jolla research outpost has been besieged by critics who say the company's sponsorship of a Canadian horsepox genome project could ultimately lead terrorists to unleash a deadly ...

City councilman Chris Cate continues to gather cash

Walmart wasn’t credited

Still under investigation by the state attorney general’s office in the case of a confidential city attorney opinion leaked to lobbyists for SoccerCity, San Diego city councilman Chris Cate continues to gather cash from well-heeled ...

Dunford disclosure

The doctor is out

In his heyday, San Diego city emergency medical services director Jim Dunford cut a dashing figure, with stylishly long hair and a jazzy automobile. His profile rose yet further after he became enmeshed in a ...

“This is how a Hepatitis A breakout happens.”

Fourth Estate’s prophetic email

Last May 11, local journalist Megan Burks sent an email of complaint to Stephen Puetz, then chief of staff for San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer. “I’m the education reporter at KPBS but I’m wearing my ...

Monster manse for SDSU’s new prez

Four-car garage, pool, Zen garden part of presidential package

Eighteen years ago, Point Loma real estate mogul Malin Burnham, along with some other benefactors, including then–Padres owner John Moores scraped together sufficient funds to buy San Diego State University's first presidential house. Though there ...

PG&E funds Atkins Torrey Pines golf blowout

State Senate leader drives big money through limit loophole

San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins, the freshly named state Senate leader, has just filed a financial disclosure statement showing she's also maintained her position as one of California's busiest special-interest fundraisers. California Works, a so-called ...

Trump’s local ambassadors

Douglas Manchester and Ric Grennell have longtime San Diego ties

Two Californians on president Donald Trump’s list of administration nominees submitted to the Senate this week for confirmation have longtime San Diego ties. Most famous is ex–Union-Tribune publisher Douglas Manchester, whose 2017 nomination by Trump ...

Faulconer takes care of the humble business

City seeks to rent trailer-borne mobile shower units

It’s been a downward trip for San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer from touting a new taxpayer-subsidized NFL stadium to taking care of the humble business of cleaning up downtown’s homeless hepatitis epidemic, as evidenced by ...

Democrat dad’s cram school

Winward is “transforming how students master the ACT and SAT”

Super-rich Democratic congressman Scott Peters of La Jolla, who has touted his efforts to lower federal student loan rates, has invested between $15,000 to $50,000 of his own money in a La Jolla start-up called ...

Hotel union compensates Briggs, GOP lobbyist

Convention-center expansion’s strange bedfellows

With San Diego's mighty Republican hotel barons yoking themselves to some well-heeled labor organizations to advance their long-stalled convention-center expansion plans, city hall insiders see a watershed moment for county politics. Hastened by the gradual ...

Tronc’s Times newsroom blowback

San Diego's big sister ponders moving to Santa Monica

Chicago wheeler-dealer Michael Ferro's tronc, which has been shrinking the staff and newsroom space of the San Diego Union-Tribune, is encountering resistance from Los Angeles Times staffers, worried about putative plans to move the U-T’s ...

Mark Marney, deputy director of golf, took trip courtesy of Toro

Watching iconic grass grow

With the turn of the new year, most talk of grass around San Diego city hall tends to concern the cannabis variety, but last summer Mark Marney, deputy director of golf, took a different kind ...

Investigative reporter quietly leaves town

Vacant news holes

Union-Tribune investigative reporter James DeHaven, touted by the U-T as “part of a team that uncovered billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s secret purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal” when he went to work at the San Diego ...

No sign of financing for Broadway-Navy project

High and dry

The new year has dawned with no sign of long-promised financing for ex–Union-Tribune owner Douglas Manchester’s $650 million Broadway-Navy project downtown. Back in October, Berkadia Hotels and Hospitality Group, a mortgage broker co-owned by Warren ...

Pot has zero to do with San Diego’s violent crime - DEA survey

Drug Threat Assessment pegs methamphetamine most dangerous

The latest shot at pot taken by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have left marijuana legalization in the clouds, but in the meantime, another drug is the focus of worries by local narcotics fuzz. ...

Footballers and bankers for San Diego State

Brian Sipe, SDSU alumnus, kicks in $10,000

Professional football legend Brian Sipe, who played for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League from 1974 to 1983 before two seasons in the upstart United States Football League, has kicked in $10,000 to ...

Annual jackpot will go to mayor Kevin Faulconer

Loose change

As is traditional, San Diego taxpayers will be anteing up mightily in the coming year for fees paid to city councilmembers who sit through the board meetings of a bevy of local government agencies. The ...

Union-Tribune to fold its operation into the Los Angeles Times?

Out of the money

The Union-Tribune, which faced declining circulation and a shrinkage in its newsroom in 2017, continues to draw closer to its big northern sister, the Los Angeles Times and its satellites. Both papers, owned by Chicago-based ...

Taxpayers hosed by city airport vendor

Contractor hijacked at least $44,000 of hydrant water

An unidentified city contractor has been tapping fire hydrants for an undetermined but substantial amount of free water over more than a decade at Montgomery Field and Brown Field airports says a December 28 report ...

Perpetual spin machine

Kevin Faulconer has added another member to his public relations team

San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, struggling to right his political boat after the departure of the Chargers and the downtown hepatitis outbreak, has acquired another member for his public relations team. Marketing consultant and graphic ...

Chinese bicycle torture

The outfit that is seeking “permission to initiate bike sharing within City limits”

Another San Diego influence-peddler has entered the fray over the controversial case for so-called dockless bike rentals, picking up a Beijing-based client by the name of ofo (lower case intentional). The outfit is seeking “permission ...

Sempra’s marital conflicts

It isn’t the first time a Sempra employee has faced conflict-of-interest questions

The deputy director of San Diego’s Purchasing and Contracting department has agreed to fork over a $3000 penalty to the city’s ethics commission for failing to disclose that his spouse works for San Diego Gas ...

Merry tronc and a very happy Ferro

Honcho gifted with new $15 million consulting deal

While the scribes at his oddly named newspaper chain continue to worry about their jobs, year's end has brought considerable new riches for Michael Ferro, the Chicago-based wizard of tronc. That jolly word for Ferro ...

Titanic deck chairs

Orange Barrel Media wants to “provide way-finding kiosks in the City of San Diego”

Longtime city hall influence-peddler Richard Ledford has been retained by Orange Barrel Media, a client seeking to “obtain a contract to provide way-finding kiosks in the City of San Diego.” The Columbus, Ohio-based company, famous ...

Tubercular threat

The county health department is looking for a contractor

The city’s hepatitis A crisis continues unabated, and now the county health department is looking for a contractor to help tame a cross-border tuberculosis threat. “Among clients who are diagnosed with tuberculosis in San Diego, ...

Adam Day’s other job

Big money on the battle for Qualcomm Stadium site

The board that runs the California State University system is expected to remain on the sidelines of the costly political battle between backers of SoccerCity and a group calling itself Friends of SDSU over the ...

Tegna's big San Diego media play

Friend of Carl DeMaio sells TV stations for $325 million

As San Diego Republicans fret over organized labor's rising clout, a local GOP media stalwart is selling out to a national broadcast chain, ending an era of outsized influence by a clique of La Jolla ...

Qualcomm cofounder gave big for Roy Moore

San Diegans jumped into Alabama race, checkbooks in hand

Whenever a high-profile political fight breaks out in America, wealthy San Diegans from both sides of the political spectrum can be counted on to ante up handsome sums to benefit their favorite causes, with this ...

UCSD, teach thyself

Vested interest in real estate

As the local political push for more high-density residential infill continues to mount, UCSD, accustomed to spinning out experts on cell phones and biotech, is expanding its curriculum into a more prosaic if similarly lucrative ...

DecoBike, LimeBike, Spin pour money into San Diego

Local lobbyists for sale

A battle waged by well-paid lobbyists has broken out at San Diego city hall over whether the city should allow so-called dockless bicycle rental firms to ply their trade on city streets. The city already ...

Airport advertising overload

“The Authority believes that there are many other ways to create interest and enhance revenue”

Get ready for a proliferation of paid plugs at San Diego’s International Airport. “Over the past decade, the Airport’s advertising has been confined to the interior of the passenger terminals and has consisted mainly of ...

Oily money

Shell Oil Company and ExxonMobil: charity far and wide

A combination of two of the world’s biggest oil companies has kicked in $50,000 to the California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation at the behest of Democratic assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher. State disclosure records show that ...

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