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Four San Diego judges own sizable blocks of Qualcomm stock

Union-Tribune adamantly opposes public votes on stadium, convention center, library, new city hall

— Qualcomm came out a big winner when Superior Court Judge Anthony Joseph ruled the stadium expansion and its companion Qualcomm naming deal didn't have to go before voters. And so may have some of Joseph's fellow judges, four of whom report they owned sizable blocks of Qualcomm stock. According to the latest conflict-of-interest reports filed by the judges last month, Gerald L. Barry Jr. and Richard Strauss owned between $10,000 and $100,000 worth of the high-rolling communications company. So did Thomas Ashworth III, until he sold some of his holdings in July, retaining between $1000 and $10,000. Judge Barbara Gamer, controversial wife of ex-judge G. Dennis Adams, convicted of racketeering and mail fraud charges last October, also reported owning between $1000 to $10,000 of Qualcomm. Last month, Adams was sentenced to three years and five months in prison, and the couple officially separated, although there's no word on whether Adams has actually moved out of Gamer's $600,000 condominium at downtown's posh Meridian complex. Joseph himself didn't report owning any of Qualcomm, but his statement does show him holding between $1000 and $10,000 worth of a La Jolla biotech outfit called Cytel. Records indicate his wife, now an employee at the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunity, used to work for Cytel. Other judges reported a variety of unusual investment activity. Judge Christine Pate owns a piece of the popular Fio's restaurant downtown worth between $10,000 and $100,000. Pate also reported receiving between $250 and $1000 in "winnings and contingencies" from an off-road outfit called the Fudpucker Racing Team.

Leaving Barona

San Diego attorney Byron S. Georgiou was ex-governor Jerry Brown's legal appointments secretary back in the 1970s and later ran unsuccessfully for Congress. He's a partner with Jack Ford, son of ex-president Gerald Ford, in a kiosk company that hawks things like lottery tickets in shopping malls. Georgiou, a Democrat, also works in a pension investment business with Republican Tom Stickel, one-time San Diego boy business wonder and ex-associate of fallen savings and loan honcho Charles Keating. Now Georgiou is branching out even farther afield, this time to Niagara Falls, New York, where city officials say he is seeking approval to run a "Native American Class II gambling operation" in a building called the "Turtle" in the heart of the city. To help close the deal, according to a spokesman for Niagara Falls Mayor James C. Galie, Georgiou recently toured his honor through the Sycuan Casino here, which the Niagara officials say Georgiou once operated. As part of their weekend tour of San Diego gambling, paid for by federal funds, the mayor and Niagara City Administrator Anthony J. Restaino also got a look at the Barona and Viejas casinos. After the trip, Galie told a local newspaper, "I liked what I saw. I was supportive before I went. I'm even more supportive now." Georgiou did not return phone calls.

Big lies

Ever since the state supreme court decided to take up the issue of whether San Diego voters will be allowed to approve or deny funding for that $300 million convention center addition, Union-Tribune editorialists have been in a lather. The paper adamantly opposes public votes on big debt issues like the stadium, convention center, library, and new city hall, and its news pages have already begun a drumbeat of hype to justify the no-vote expansion plan. Latest example: a lengthy Saturday story under the byline of Philip J. LaVelle, which failed to mention the project's huge cost overruns and spent two token inches on why state justices might have felt the case for a public vote was worth hearing. The story was far different at the Sacramento Bee, where columnist Dan Walters called San Diego's financing scheme "a cynical, if effective, corruption of the legitimate revenue-bond approach"; a "financial house of cards"; and a "scam." Concluded Walters, "In essence, the court will decide whether lease-revenue bonds are the subterfuge that everyone knows them to be."

Contributor: Matt Potter

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