Feathering the Nest

— The day Neon Systems, a Houston-based software maker, went public on March 5, 1999, its price shot from $15 to almost $27 a share, according to news accounts. And San Diego City Councilwoman Valerie Stallings was along for the ride, to the tune of between $10,000 and $100,000, according to the 1999 financial-disclosure statement she's just filed. Stallings reported she sold off the stock three weeks later, on March 31, 1999, right around the time the price spiked at about $50 a share. The man behind Neon? None other than Padres owner John Moores, whose JMI Equity fund was a founding investor in Neon, and in a filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission last month, Moores reported personally controlling 2,366,842 shares in the company. He was involved for years in a nasty lawsuit with the new owners BMC -- another software outfit he founded -- over whether Neon had lifted some trade secrets that belonged to BMC. The case was settled last November, giving Neon shares a boost. Stallings's disclosure shows she bought another lot of the Neon stock, also valued at between $10,000 and $100,000, on November 26, 1999, when the shares were trading in the mid-20s. Lately, they've rebounded to the mid-30s. Stallings is one of Moores's biggest supporters in his effort to build a taxpayer-subsidized baseball stadium downtown ... Meanwhile, Moores has invested in yet another high-tech outfit. This one is called META Secur e-COM Solutions, specializing in Internet security.

More Money

In another disclosure, Charles Nathanson, executive director of the University of California's San Diego Dialogue, reported owning more than $100,000 -- the maximum reportable disclosure level -- of Qualcomm stock, and more than $10,000 of stock in Leap Wireless, the Qualcomm spin-off that owns a big stake in Pegaso Communications. That's the Mexican cell-phone company that's building cellular networks in the biggest cities in Mexico, including Tijuana. UCSD's Dialogue has been a big booster of border-area industrial and development interests and has close ties with big Mexican maquiladora owners. UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes is on the board of Leap Wireless, and University of California president Richard Atkinson, Dynes's predecessor as UCSD chancellor, who is on the board of Qualcomm, owns more than $200 million of Qualcomm stock, along with more than $100,000 of Leap Wireless stock.

Stadium Recycling

San Diego City Councilwoman Christine Kehoe, a staunch advocate of the Chargers stadium deal until she flip-flopped when it became a political liability during her failed 1998 congressional race against Republican Brian Bilbray, returned to the stadium fray last week. Kehoe, who is currently running for a state assembly seat, was quoted as saying that Bruce Henderson and Richard Rider, two early critics of the stadium deal, didn't have "any special insights to the Chargers' future plans." That brought a sharp response from Kehoe's Republican challenger, businesswoman Michele Nash-Hoff: "This is another example of Kehoe's lack of real-world business experience. Why should we expect Mr. Spanos to be loyal to San Diego? He isn't a San Diegan; he lives in Stockton. He is a pragmatic businessman who does what is best for his businesses, one of which is the Chargers. However, if you are a city councilmember, state Assembly member, or Congressional member, you should be doing what is best for your constituents, and Kehoe didn't regarding her votes on the stadium issue." ... The Revolting Grandmas, which is what local activists Mary Quartiano and Muriel Watson call themselves, have an idea for the proposed downtown baseball stadium project. They want the city to mandate "dual plumbing" so that recycled water generated by the city's sewer-water reclamation plant in University City can be used to water the grass and for other nondrinking purposes in the city's so-called new baseball district. The multimillion-dollar recycling plant has been dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons down the drain because the city has not found enough customers to purchase the reclaimed sewer water, which is said to be good enough to water golf courses, but not good enough to drink.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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