Mystery team

Who really owns the Padres? A limited partnership registered in Delaware, San Diego city officials say. In response to a recent request for public records about the team, Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring said the city doesn't have any other documents about the matter, including any disclosing the individuals behind the Delaware company. Back in June, 1992, voters approved Proposition E, a charter amendment that, according to the ballot statement describing the measure, requires "that all persons proposing to do business with the City fully disclose the name and identity of all persons involved in the proposed transaction and the nature of their interest therein." Attorney Bruce Henderson is asking a judge to force the city to follow the requirements of Prop E and find out --if it doesn't already know -- the identity of the people who share a financial interest in the Padres and its downtown-stadium deal. Ironically, city councilwoman Valerie Stallings, never a Henderson fan, and who is currently the center of controversy regarding her well-timed purchase of stock in a company controlled by Padres head John Moores, co-signed the ballot argument in support of Prop E with then-mayor Maureen O'Connor. "Loopholes in the system allow anonymous 'limited partners' to potentially receive millions in taxpayer dollars without the Council having the benefit of knowing who the partners are or exactly what they will do with the money," said the argument. "Please give the Council the tools it needs to protect taxpayers' money. Vote Yes on E!"

Déjà Sempra

Sempra Energy, the San Diego-based utility giant, has stumbled into yet another controversy involving its alleged practice of "slamming" -- switching electrical and gas customers away from competitors to a company controlled by Sempra without customers' permission. In February, Sempra agreed to pay a $280,000 fine to New Jersey regulators in order to settle allegations that the company misled thousands of utility customers about the identity of their energy-service providers. The company had been suspended from selling utility service in the state for two weeks while regulators investigated more than 350 complaints that had poured in from consumers. Now, Sempra has begun negotiating with officials in Atlanta, Georgia over similar charges. Georgia Public Service Commissioner Lauren "Bubba'' McDonald Jr. told the Atlanta Constitution that he is seeking a $25,000 fine and changes in Sempra's sales tactics. Said a Sempra spokesman: "We don't think we have done anything wrong."

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