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Larry Remer, the publicist and local progressive, is slamming the Voice of San Diego, the online publication. The subject is ethics. The tale is hilarious, and I thank Matt Potter for alerting me to it. Some history is in order. Warning: this history illustrates how, enticed by money, San Diegans can change their beliefs, their clothes, their habits -- indeed, shed habits and don bikinis. Background: in the 1980s, one J. David Dominelli was a local hero. He and his girlfriend, Nancy Hoover, gave away money left and right -- left when Nancy called the shots, right when Dominelli did (and he seldom called the shots.) It turned out that Dominelli was running an $80 million Ponzi scheme. He spent a long time in prison and died a few years ago.

Hoover, who only spent two years in prison although she was sentenced to ten, gave money (that really belonged to Dominelli's investors) to progressives and moderates. One was Roger Hedgecock, lawyer for the Sierra Club. Yes, THAT Roger Hedgecock. J. David money helped him get elected San Diego mayor. Another was Larry Remer, whose liberal publication, Newsline, got $350,000 from the Dominelli till. Helping to decide where the money would go was George Mitrovich. Hedgecock became an extreme rightwing radio commentator, now in the Manchester/Lynch Tea Party stable at the U-T. Mitrovich became a hyper-enthusiastic backer of corporate welfare schemes hatched by the establishment folks he once vilified. After her short prison stretch, Hoover married a multi-millionaire; after he died, she returned to San Diego and married into the very rich Fletcher family.

After Hedgecock was elected, Remer wrote to Hoover and Dominelli, "I want to mine the political base of support that put Roger in office for Newsline...I want to leverage our relationship to the mayor's office into advertising from entities like the Transit Company." It would be done subtly so no one would suggest there was a conflict of interest, said Remer. Newsline would attack companies while an "arm's length" public relations firm would hit up the same businesses for advertising. That firm would be run by Tom Shepard, now the richest political consultant in town, even after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor money laundering charge. He admitted it was illegal to take the Hoover-Dominelli bucks that went to his firm for its work in the Hedgecock campaign.

In the current San Diego Free Press, a progressive publication, Remer the ethicist complains that the Voice of San Diego has inveighed against Prop. Z because Buzz Woolley, Voice co-founder and financial angel, is the largest single donor to Prop. Z. (Throughout the Remer screed, Woolley's name is misspelled.) Remer is the campaign manager for Prop. Z. The Voice has not mentioned in its stories that Woolley is a donor to the Voice, wails Remer. Scott Lewis of the Voice defends his publication vehemently. There is controversy over whether Lewis used rough language in speaking with Remer. Naughty, naughty. Journalists don't use coarse language. And on and on. I confess I have read no Voice articles about Prop. Z and know nothing about Woolley's view on the matter. Ergo, I cannot ethically comment about this foofaraw, other than to say I think it is funny as hell.

Here is Remer's column

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dougporter Oct. 31, 2012 @ 7:27 a.m.

Speaking of ethics, Don, we at San Diego Free Press (I'm an editor) quote your column on a regular basis. And when we do we provide a link. It's considered at least good manners, if not journalistic ethics. The least you could do is to give your readers a chance to see Larry Remer's comments for themselves... or is that the point here?


Don Bauder Oct. 31, 2012 @ 8:22 a.m.

I don't know that it is a matter of ethics. I'm a Luddite and very seldom post documents. I'll see what I can do. Best, Don Bauder


monaghan Oct. 31, 2012 @ 7:24 p.m.

Bauder's comments prove the value of historic memory and are pretty darn funny in their own right. I know some aspects of the byzantine lore he recounts here, but really, I had no idea about the complexity. And nowhere does anyone mention Juan Vargas who is Remer's longtime client (from days as a city councilman) who is finally D.C.-bound now that Bob Filner is retiring from his Congressional seat to run for Mayor of San Diego. (Vargas was so happy he even threw a fundraiser for Filner, who had been a longtime political foe. You see, we CAN all get along.)


Don Bauder Oct. 31, 2012 @ 7:33 p.m.

When Vargas is in Congress, Remer will be playing on a bigger stage. In re Vargas/Filner, what do you expect? They are in politics -- strange bedfellows, and all that. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Nov. 1, 2012 @ 12:21 p.m.

Jimgee: Yes, we got it posted shortly after dougporter complained. Thanks. Best, Don Bauder


LarryRemer Nov. 2, 2012 @ 10:18 p.m.

I am all for history, Don. Let's go back to the days when Don Bauder was writing for the Copley owned San Diego Union and the Feds were closing in on the richest, most powerful guy in San Diego, C. Arnholt Smith. Now, Smith was very, shall we say, "connected". He was Richard Nixon's finance chair In fact, in 68 he watched the election returns with Nixon in his suite at the Waldorf in NY. San Diego was a fiefdom for Smith and Bauder's boss, Jim Copley, whose Copley Press monopoly (in pre-internet days) rode roughshod over San Diego politics. Copley's liaison to Nixon was Herb Klein, who served as editor fo the San Diego Union and in a variety of jobs for Copley between stints working for Nixon. Anyhow, Copley and Smith scratched each other's back; and that included the journalistic "cover" that Copley gave to Smith. Which brings us to the day when Smith's empire (an elaborate Ponzi scheme) came crashing down and the feds forced the closure of his bank, US National. It was, at that time, the largest bank failure in US history. It was a BIG STORY. Page 1 in the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal. But, in San Diego, the story ran on B-1. The headline; US National Sold To Crocker. No mention in the hed or the lede about the bank's failure. I'll let Don explain for himself his role in covering Smith and covering Copley's other good buddies when he (Bauder) was at the SD Union.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 3, 2012 @ 12:35 a.m.

Good history there!!!!

Did Smith OWN or just develop the 5th Avenue Financial Center (Mr. A's Building at Laurel and 5th)???????

Don, did you know Jim Copley very well????


tomjohnston Nov. 3, 2012 @ 2:49 a.m.

I think John Alessio owned 5th Avenue Financial Centre. He opened Mr A's not too long after the building was done. '65/'66 somewhere in that time frame I think. I remember reading that when the Alessio family sold it, Mr. A's that is, after he died, the purchase contract included a requirement that the name Mr. A's be retained. could be off a little on the dates, that was a long time ago. most of this was thrown around the papers when both Smith and Alessio died in the '90's The last of the Alessio bros died a few years ago, so I would imagine their kids own the building, unless they sold it.


Don Bauder Nov. 3, 2012 @ 3:04 p.m.

The 5th Ave. Financial Center was owned by John Alessio. Alessio and Smith were in many deals together. Alessio went to prison before Smith was finally nabbed. I will never forget the time about 12 or 15 years ago when one of our reporters was called up to Herb Klein's office. Klein wanted him to write a story that the rumor that Alessio was selling Mr. A's was not true. By that time, Alessio had served his time in prison. Best, Don Bauder


tomjohnston Nov. 3, 2012 @ 4:37 p.m.

I could be wrong, and if so please correct me weren't their "dirty deeds" completely separate. Wasn't Smith accused of embezzling millions from his own companies and then didn't he end being convicted of "only" grand theft and sentenced to just 1 year? I remember the LAT article saying he spent most of his time tending rose bushes and mowing lawns. and got out after 6 or 8 months. And didn't Alessio go to the joint for income tax evasion, something to do with his running the Caliente racetrack betting? I know that Smith was able to drag out his trial for a while and it was like 4 or 5 yrs. The only recollections I have of Alessio back then are what I read, mostly from a big article in SI, because I was at college at the time, but it seemed that Alessio went down several years earlier, maybe late 60's or 70-71, for a couple of years. So he was out before Smith was probably indicted and waaaay before story you referenced. And that must have at least 15yrs ago because it;s been almost that long since he died


Don Bauder Nov. 3, 2012 @ 7:20 p.m.

tomjohnston: Yes, they were convicted separately. If memory serves me right, Alessio went to the big house a year or two before Smith was pursued by the organized crime task force, SEC, bank regulators, etc. (Only Alessio wasn't in the big house. He was in a trailer where he entertained ladies of the evening, was sent liquor, etc.) But Smith and Alessio were joined at the hip, doing many deals together, Alessio borrowing from Smith's bank, USNB, etc. Smith's empire was described as a riot of self-dealing. A big percentage of the loans were to Smith cronies -- far above federal limits. Smith's bank and his conglomerate, Westgate-California, were phonying the books together. One accounting expert described it this way: the assets were in the bank when the auditors were there. When the auditors went across the street to the conglomerate, the assets found their way there. Smith served less than two months in captivity, as I recall, and he spent the time tending flowers in National City -- not in a prison.Best, Don Bauder


tomjohnston Nov. 4, 2012 @ 10:08 a.m.

Don Bauder, Actually, Smith served slightly less than 8 months. It was 42 days in the County Jail downtown and six months in the Work Furlough Center in National City. While there, he did indeed tend to the rose bushes as part of his duties as gardener. Smith was sent there instead of one the county's honor camps because of his age. It is closer to a hospital so it is used for inmates in fragile health. And as I am sure you will recall, one of the reasons his sentenced was reduced on appeal was the assertion by his doctor that he was in failing health and only had a life expectancy of 3 yrs, I think it was. I reread the old SI article and an old one by Jack Williams. According to them, Alessio and one of his brothers were indicted in April 1970 for income-tax irregularities over a four-year period starting in 1963 and They ended up pleading guilty in early 1971 and. His brother spent about 6 months in prison and he spent about two years at Terminal Island, Lompoc and McNeil Island in Washington. He received his prison "favors" while he was at Lompoc. His son was convicted in 1973 on a felony charge of providing an illegal gratuity to a federal prison official, spent a few months in the pen and paid a pittance of a fine. Aah, the good old days. We're leaving this afternoon on a trip to celebrate our 62nd birthdays, which we both will have in the next couple of weeks. Perhaps we'll resume in a few weeks. The comments here after the election should make for "interesting" reading, to say the least. Decisions are made by those who show up. Everyone needs to show up on Tuesday.


SurfPuppy619 Nov. 4, 2012 @ 11:38 a.m.

Actually, Smith served slightly less than 8 months. It was 42 days in the County Jail downtown and six months in the Work Furlough Center in National City.

Sorry, work furlough does not count as "doing time". Doing time is in County or the Joint. And most convicts prefer the Joint much more over County.........where you can get Cable TV, have numerous rehab programs, education classes and so forth. Plus a green yard to exercise in.


Don Bauder Nov. 3, 2012 @ 3:12 p.m.

SP: I never even met Jim Copley. I got to the Union in June of 1973 and he died that fall. I have an item below that describes what happened on the Smith saga. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Nov. 3, 2012 @ 2:53 p.m.

Larry: You should ask anybody who was at the U-T at that time what happened. But I will tell you. First, you are correct that Smith and the Copleys were snug. However, I knew Smith was a crook before I ever arrived in San Diego, which was in mid-1973. The organized crime task force was chasing him, as was the SEC, before I ever got to town. Shortly after arriving, I actually wrote a column predicting that Smith's U.S. National would be seized. All hell broke loose, and the next day, a column ran under my byline saying it was a wonderful bank. I had no idea who wrote it, but the alternative was being fired. Within weeks, the bank WAS seized. There were some red faces among Copley top management.

You are correct about the bank seizure being buried on B-1. That decision came from the 5th floor. It was a horrible decision, but don't blame me or anybody on the third floor for it. I actually wrote a good story on the collapse. The good stuff was almost entirely taken out by Gen. Krulak. But a funny thing happened. In those days of electric typewriters, we wrote a story and it went through editing. But we had carbons of the originals. I left the carbons of my originals in my office. The Associated Press guy picked up my carbons and the A.P. story carried the good stuff that Krulak had taken out. The next day, the Tribune put items from the A. P. story in its story, which was correctly put on page one. The Tribune won a Ring of Truth for its coverage.

The long and short of it is that I knew Smith was running a crooked operation long before I got to San Diego; he had been written up in the Wall Street Journal, Barron's and other publications, and his con game was a national story long before he went down. I had discussed Smith's thievery with the editors before they hired me. I never wrote or said anything good about him. But my stuff was edited out of that one story. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell Nov. 3, 2012 @ 5:07 p.m.

In addition to the bank, Smith owed National Steel and Shipbuilding, the Padres, Fashion Valley Shopping Center, the Westgate Hotel, Yellow Cab, Air California, a tuna cannery, and other properties. He was also financier of Southland Music, an alleged front for the mob.


Don Bauder Nov. 3, 2012 @ 7:25 p.m.

Burwell: The assets you name were in Smith's Westgate-California conglomerate. I don't remember Fashion Valley being in there, but you may be right. I also don't recall Southland Music and its mob connections, but that would hardly surprise me. After all, Smith was brought down in great part by the federal organized crime strike force. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell Nov. 3, 2012 @ 5:12 p.m.

Smith caused the bank to make illegal loans to his other business ventures. Federal bank rules place strict limits on the amount of related party loans. Smith went over the limit. He also pocketed part of the loan proceeds for himself. For example, the bank would loan $4 million to the tuna cannery. He would pocket for himself $1 million of the $4 million loan. The books of the cannery would be cooked to make it appear that it received a $4 million loan from the bank. The cannery would then repay $4 million. He was running an embezzlement scheme.


Don Bauder Nov. 3, 2012 @ 7:27 p.m.

Burwell: That kind of inside fraud was what the Securities and Exchange Commission found. Excessive bank lending to his cronies was a major part of the case against Smith. Best, Don Bauder


LarryRemer Nov. 3, 2012 @ 11:14 p.m.

Don: Credit should go where it's due. The original stories about C. Arnholt’s chicanery appeared in the San Diego Street Journal where a young UCSD grad student named Lowell Bergman cut his reportorial eye teeth. The Journal nailed Smith early; and Bergman went on to become a phenomenal reporter for Frontline (he interviewed Osama Bin Laden pre-9/11) and 60 Minutes (he produced the story killed by the network proving the cigarette companies knew for years about tobacco’s health hazards; Al Pacino played Berman in the movie The Insider).

By mid-1973, when you arrived, the Feds were all over Smith. And the first news outfit to break the news that Smith was about to be indicted was the Door, in a story Doug Porter and I wrote.

Now, let’s go to the day Smith’s bank was seized. That was YOUR STORY on B-1 white-washing Smith's downfall, neglecting to mention the bank’s failure, the myriad of investigations, Smith circling the drain etc. . . . Maybe I’ve missed your telling before, but it’s the first time I’ve heard “from the horse’s mouth” that Gen. Krulak spiked the salient points.

Most folks are inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt, Don. Begrudgingly, I might also were you not so gleeful to skewer me for a memo that you’ve reported on several times without calling me for comment (as good journalistic practice would dictate).

This may seem far afield from Buzz Woolley’s Voice of San Diego; except that it really isn’t. My point is that we’re all human and none of us perfect.

You were a young reporter at Copley when Gen. Krulak forced your story to press white-washing the Smith demise. You could have removed your by-line. That was a reporter’s right. But you didn’t. The Copley Press was a very closed corporation in 1973; and Gen Krulak, the former Commandant of the Marines in the Pacific, was not somebody to be trifled with. Buck him and you’d be covering the Rose Blossom Festival in Alpine. But, I sense that you’re remorseful. I’m also glad that “somehow” the carbon got into the hands of the AP so more of the facts got out.

I plead guilty to being human too. Jerry Dominelli was a major investor in Newsline, my newspaper. When I found out he was a crook, I was aghast. I also wasted no time in publishing a lengthy, detailed and very embarrassing front page story that spared no fact and apologized to my readers. I learned from the experience and it made me a better person.

My main criticism of Scott Lewis, CEO of Woolley’s Voice of San Diego, is that he won’t admit his mistake. Woolley is their founder, a major contributor and Chairman of their Board. He is also a major backer of the No on Z campaign. The appropriate thing to do, in the interest of transparency, would be to run a disclaimer like he’s done in at least 2 other instances where the conflict was nowhere near as egregious. The more he obfuscates, the more he proves my point.

I think that a wizened, battle scarred veteran like yourself would agree. LARRY


Don Bauder Nov. 4, 2012 @ 6:46 a.m.

Larry: I don't disagree that Lowell Bergman and his colleagues deserve credit for exposing Smith -- long before I ever showed up in San Diego. Remember that the Wall Street Journal exposed Smith nationally back in 1969. Dave Stutz, a San Diegan who was with the organized crime strike force, deserves much of the credit on the government side, along with his colleagues. Yes, Gen. Krulak eviscerated my story on the bank's seizure and made the decision to bury the story on B-1. Both were horrible decisions, made by a military general who knew next to nothing about journalism. Everybody I know on the news side at the Union agreed those decisions were dreadful. We were all embarrassed about the Copley family's close ties to C. Arnholt Smith. REMORSEFUL is the wrong word. One feels remorse about his own errors. I felt I had done my job but had been overruled at a higher, grossly uninformed and ill-intentioned level. You will find that just about the entire staff of the Union at that time was ashamed by this incident and by Jim Copley's very close ties to Smith and Alessio. In re the imbroglio with the Voice of San Diego: I don't mean to dodge when I hesitate to comment, because I have never seen the Voice's stories on Prop. Z or on Woolley's involvement in it. Sometimes it is appropriate to mention that someone involved in a civic matter is your co-founder or a major donor. But other times that mention isn't necessary. Best, Don Bauder


rdotinga Nov. 4, 2012 @ 1:26 a.m.

VOSD's new disclosure policy doesn't go far enough. But on the transparency front, Scott Lewis did mention Remer's tirade and linked to it in an email message to VOSD's members. He even said something nice about Don "Foofaraw" Bauder. (There's no accounting for taste.) It takes some cojones to not only tell readers that you've been criticized but also provide a link so they can read the slam for themselves.

-Randy Dotinga (disclosure: I'm a freelance contributor to VOSD)


Don Bauder Nov. 4, 2012 @ 6:50 a.m.

Randy: Don (Foofaraw) Bauder. I like that. I have also been called Don (Kerfuffle) Bauder. I like that, too. Thank you. Best, Don Bauder


Burwell Nov. 4, 2012 @ 9:49 p.m.

It's better to be named "Foofaraw" than "Faulderoy" or "Buncombe".


Don Bauder Nov. 5, 2012 @ 10:31 a.m.

Burwell: "Faulderoy" throws me. Never heard of it. Looked it up and found nothing concrete. I love the word, though. Sounds like the root may be Fauntleroy. Buncombe -- speechmaking to please constituents -- is a great word, sometimes shortened to bunkum. "Bunk" may come from this. You don't suppose we have been exposed to any buncombe in this political season, do you? Best, Don Bauder


Twister Nov. 7, 2012 @ 3:52 p.m.

G R E A T !

But who's going after the current bunch?


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