San Diego Mayor Susan Golding's years of big spending

City Club hosts Mayor Golding Tribute Dinner at Wyndham Hotel

As of Friday, December 8, an enormous portrait of Susan Golding still loomed over disembarking passengers at Lindbergh Field as they made their way across the pedestrian bridge to the parking lot. The tardy removal of the ex-mayor's official photo, days after her departure from office, and the cult of personality it represented, was an apt symbol, for better or worse, of Golding's lasting influence on the city.

Under Golding, the city, its agencies, and its heavily influenced affiliates, such as the Port District, lavished billions of public dollars on everything from the new airport terminal at Lindbergh to an expensive sewage-treatment complex to a bayfront-blocking convention center. Only an incipient scandal involving stock-trading by one of Golding's city-council colleagues blocked -- at least for the time being -- her final, most extravagant monument, a downtown baseball stadium.

Monuments require money, of course, but Golding, aided by the Union-Tribune, a newspaper that appeared to shrink in power and professionalism during each year of her tenure, was a master at concealing the eventual cost to taxpayers. Though the giant head of Golding at the airport is now gone, the increases in sewer and water bills she helped arranged for -- and worked to delay until after she left office -- will last for decades. So will higher airport fees and rental-car taxes, all supported by the mayor and her so-called "pro-business" allies in the local chamber of commerce and the U-T.

Likewise, energy bills will also be higher. Unlike her predecessor, Maureen O'Connor, who led a populist fight against the takeover of San Diego Gas & Electric by Southern California Edison, Golding and her city-council colleagues easily acquiesced to the merger of SDG&E and Southern California Gas that created Sempra, the hydra-headed utility giant. Deregulation's architect, state senator Steve Peace, had a passive friend in Susan Golding and the San Diego City Council as his now-discredited measure made its way through the legislature.

San Diego taxpayers and utility-rate payers -- which means everybody who lives and works here -- are only now discovering the price of the Golding legacy.

Perhaps, for at least a bit longer than the portrait of Susan Golding hung at the airport, they might remember who was at the helm of the good ship San Diego. In final tribute to the last annum of San Diego's Golding era, we review the year's political and governmental foibles, as we witnessed and recorded them.

Sleeping with the Fishes

March 9, 2000

It's the stuff of urban legend, like sharks swimming through city sewers: the dead catfish delivered to the Reader offices on India Street the day after the paper featured "Are the Padres Married to the Mob?" (January 27). The story linked Padres team owners Larry Lucchino and John Moores to ex-felon Jay Emmett.

Emmett was at the center of the 1980s kickback scheme involving the mobbed-up Westchester Premier Theatre; he turned state's witness in order to save himself from prison. He'd been fingered as bagman in cash transactions between the theater and Warner Communications, where Emmett was an executive vice president and close friend of then-Warner chief executive officer Steve Ross.

After the catfish were dropped off at the Reader's front desk, versions of the incident -- some accurate, some not so accurate -- began making the rounds of the local media. Here are some questions that have been asked about the catfish incident.

Q. How was the package delivered?

A. By messenger service.

Q. In what were the fish wrapped?

A. Heavy brown butcher paper. The package weighed approximately three pounds. A card on which the words "Thank You" were embossed was attached to the butcher paper. This card was unsigned. Blood was leaking through the paper.

Q. Did the package contain anything other than the catfish?

A. Yes, two business cards, one imprinted with "Larry Lucchino" and the other with "John Moores." Lucchino's bore his purported initials. Moores's card bore his purported signature. On the back of Moores's card was the inscription, "Have a nice day."

Q. Has there been any other suspicious activity since the fish were delivered?

A. Nothing that can be linked to Moores or Lucchino. A man was seen digging through the Reader dumpster, apparently looking for documents, but he may have been homeless or simply a disgruntled baseball fan. He fled when approached.

Q. Will this incident dissuade you from writing about Moores, Lucchino, and Emmett in the future?

A. No.

June 22, 2000

The Los Angeles Times, unloaded by L.A.'s powerful Chandler family in the wake of a scandal over the paper's business and editorial dealings with L.A.'s Staples Sports Arena, is hammering San Diego for going too slow on the ballpark. In a front-page story in mid July under the byline of longtime San Diego bureau chief Tony Perry, the paper quotes Padres co-owner Lucchino -- along with downtown business boosters like mayoral candidate Peter Q. Davis and ex-Roger Hedgecock aide and lobbyist Mike McDade -- to support Perry's view that "the city moves with glacial sluggishness on big-ticket public projects." Complained Davis, "It's just too popular in San Diego to be negative, particularly if you're a politician." Among a list of purported San Diego sins, according to Perry, are "small-town thinking" and "reluctance to compromise." In addition, says the Times writer, "smugness is also a factor." The Reader's coverage of Jay Emmett, the Padres board member who pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges after being linked to mob dealings in New York's Westchester Premier Theatre scandal, also took a hit. Without naming Emmett or offering any description of the case and Emmett's long relationship with Lucchino and the Padres, Perry quoted unnamed "San Diego journalists" who found the story "flimsy."

The Largest Sewage Spill

February 29, 2000

It was San Diego's longest day for human waste as the city sewage system dumped 36 million gallons of raw sewage into the Pacific off Ocean Beach, resulting in the closure of a mile-long stretch of beach. Dave Schlesinger, high-paid director of the city's Metropolitan Wastewater Division told the Union-Tribune that the spill, which somehow went undetected for almost a week, was the worst he'd seen. "In the ten years that I've been here, this is the largest one."

October 6, 2000

David Schlesinger, who supervised the decade-long multibillion-dollar upgrade of San Diego's sewer system has suddenly quit. "This has been an engineer's dream job," Schlesinger was quoted by the U-T as saying. "You don't get a chance to build nearly $2 billion worth of projects very often." Said Mayor Susan Golding, "He's going to be greatly missed by all citizens, even if they don't know it."

October 18, 2000

The city council has decided to appeal a $3.47 million fine levied by the state for the massive February sewage spill. Deliberating in closed session, the council voted 6-1 to reject a compromise plan that called for deferral of $2 million of the fine if the city had completed a series of environmental projects. "The city is showing its true colors," Nicole Capretz of the Environmental Health Coalition told the U-T.

In rejecting the compromise settlement, city council members called the spill an "act of nature."

The Valerie Stallings Affair

April 6, 2000

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 Council member 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 in March, 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.

April 21, 2000

Two weeks later, on April 21, the Union-Tribune followed up:

"San Diego City Councilwoman Valerie Stallings made a killing last year on the initial public offering of stock in a software company headed by Padres owner John Moores, generating a huge profit during the same period the council weighed the future of the Padres' ballpark project.

"The legality of Stallings's investment -- her only reported foray into stocks in nine years of public life -- is unclear, because key facts remain unknown and Stallings refused several requests for an interview. Legal and financial professionals say her investments raise troubling ethical issues."

October 13, 2000

Six months later, on October 13, the U-T reported it had won a San Diego Press Club award for its April 21 story:

"Union-Tribune staff writer Philip J. LaVelle won a Best of Show award for 'Stallings Profited in Moores Firm IPO,' a story about how San Diego City Councilwoman Valerie Stallings made money on the initial public offering of stock in a company headed by Padres owner John Moores during a time the council was weighing the Padres' ballpark project."

Alex Spanos

Meets the Internet

April 13, 2000

Timing is everything. For self-employed journalist Evan Weiner, it was good. For Chargers football team owner Alex Spanos, it was bad.

Their chance encounter and brief conversation in the luxurious Breakers' hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, in April resulted in a scoop for Weiner and a public-relations snafu for Spanos and his staff. Spanos expressed his desire for a new stadium to replace the recently remodeled Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, and Weiner parlayed that into a news story for TodaysSports.com, an Internet news service.

Caught off guard, sportswriters for the San Diego Union-Tribune and the North County Times scrambled to catch up. They speculated whether Spanos would take the Chargers to another city and noted the awkward timing of his remarks. The City of San Diego is on the brink of issuing $299 million in bonds to finance a new baseball stadium despite cost overruns of $74 million and a shortfall in hotel taxes that are supposed to support the project. Only three years ago, the city spent $78 million to upgrade Qualcomm Stadium for the Chargers. The city's commitment to buy unsold Chargers tickets exceeded $5 million this past football season.

That Spanos would say he wants a new stadium when the city appears overextended financially had at least one radio announcer wondering whether the 76-year-old multimillionaire was having "an elderly moment." A television broadcast suggested Spanos's comments to TodaysSports.com were "off the record," meaning not intended for publication. In a subsequent interview with the North County Times, Spanos said, "I was not taken in the right context." Chargers publicist Bill Johnston told the Union-Tribune, "Mr. Spanos feels bad about what happened. It didn't come out the way he meant it." Johnston did not return telephone calls from the Reader.

Weiner is annoyed by the notion that Spanos didn't realize he was being interviewed by a journalist. "The National Football League and the San Diego Chargers tried to put a spin on this later," Weiner said. "I don't want to be in a position of defending Alex Spanos, but he's a very smart man. He knew exactly what he was doing. He was quite clear, quite firm, quite direct. He's not being spoon-fed at this age of his life.

"What got to me was Spanos was almost jealous of the Padres getting a ballpark," Weiner said. "When an owner says he wants a stadium, it's a story. It's up to the local media whether the story has legs. In my mind, the bigger story is Spanos saying, 'The Padres got a new stadium, and we didn't.' "

Breslin's Raspberry

April 20, 2000

Once again the Pulitzer Prize recipients have been announced, and once again the San Diego Union-Tribune has been shut out. Though the San Diego Evening Tribune won two of the coveted journalistic awards before it was folded into the San Diego Union a decade ago, the Union itself, haughty flagship of the Copley newspaper chain, has always come up empty in the national newspaper derby. This year was the same, but with added insult: Famed New York Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin berated the U-T's Pulitzer entry for pulling its punches in an effort to protect San Diego's corporate image, a charge not unfamiliar to local U-T watchers. "The San Diego Union-Tribune entered a series on the exploitation of aliens and started it off with Chinese in lower Manhattan, rather than offend employers in their own area, where Mexicans are nothing more than utensils."

The Padres Investigation

April 27, 2000

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 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!"

May 18, 2000

The intrigue surrounding the relationship between city councilwoman Valerie Stallings and the Padres grew last week with the release of telephone records from Stallings's office in response to a California Public Records Act request. According to the phone records, Stallings or members of her staff used city phones to make 11 calls to Padres owner John Moores or Moores-related entities between September 28, 1998, and March 21 of this year. The first call was to a hotel in Houston. The next three calls -- two on February 23, 1999, and another on March 1, 1999 -- went to Neon Systems in Sugar Land, Texas. Neon Systems is the company, controlled by Moores, in which Stallings reported buying shares on March 5, 1999, the day of the company's initial public offering. Stallings has refused to disclose the circumstances surrounding her purchase of the stock, the market value of which shot from $15 a share to almost $27 three weeks later, when Stallings sold her holdings; she pocketed a reported 267 percent profit. When called earlier this week, the line was answered by a recorded message from Wanda Hillhouse, whom an operator identified as Neon's controller. The subsequent seven calls identified by the Stallings city council office as Moores-related, made earlier this year, went to a Del Mar phone number answered by a tape-recorded greeting from "Beverly."

June 1, 2000

San Diego City Council member Valerie Stallings, reported to be the subject of a joint investigation by the district attorney and federal prosecutors, has released records of five more long-distance phone calls made on her city phones to numbers belonging to John Moores. Most of the calls, made in 1998 and 1999, were to numbers in Carmel, California, where Moores has a residence.

August 31, 2000

The subpoena delivered to the San Diego City Council by FBI agents in the Stallings case requires the city to produce a long list of records, including "All records and items, including but not limited to, correspondence, memorandums, notes, tape recordings, referencing Valerie Stallings and relating to: a.) The San Diego Padres, b.) The San Diego Ballpark and/or Redevelopment Project, c.) John Moores, d.) JMI Services, Inc., JMI Equity Fund and all other JMI business entities and their employees, e.) Neon Systems, Inc., f.) Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette, g.) BT Alex Brown"; and "All City of San Diego records relating to the authorization and payment of money on behalf of Valerie Stallings for attorneys fees." The subpoena also seeks production of "all toll billings and/or monthly statements" for a cellular phone number, presumably that of a phone used by Stallings.

October 2, 2000

After the city council finally balked at providing any more taxpayer-funded cash "advances," lack of funding idled bulldozers and cranes Monday at the construction site where the San Diego Padres planned to build a new ballpark.

The UC President

and His Qualcomm Stock

April 6, 2000

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

April 20, 2000

Two more top officials at the University of California San Diego are reporting that they own large chunks of stock in Qualcomm, the once high-flying cell-phone technology outfit cofounded in 1985 by then-UCSD professor Andrew Viterbi. According to his latest disclosure statement, dated April 4, UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes acquired more than $100,000 of Qualcomm in September 1999. It was the only stock he purchased all year, according to the disclosure. UCSD general counsel Ann Parode, wife of La Jolla venture capitalist "Buzz" Woolley, also reported owning more than $100,000 of Qualcomm. Dynes, whose wife Frances is the daughter of San Francisco venture capitalist Warren Hellman, disclosed that his spouse owned greater-than-$100,000 interests in 38 companies, including MGM Grand; Avon Products; Echostar; Primedia; Triton Energy; Associates First Capital; Convergys; Forest Labs; Kinder Morgan; Cemex, S.A., a controversial Mexican construction giant; and Loral Space & Communications, which is partnered with Qualcomm in the Globalstar cell-phone satellite venture. Parode, a veteran of the San Diego law firm of Luce, Forward, reported getting a gift of two days' worth of golf-course greens fees from the downtown firm. She didn't disclose where she did her duffing.

November 16, 2000

Big-money school-board politics wasn't unique to San Diego this year. In San Francisco, a group with ties to the operator of a chain of private schools, which runs a controversial charter school in the district, contributed $47,100 to a direct-mail piece touting three incumbent school-board members. A key donor to the group, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, is none other than Warren Hellman, wealthy financier and father-in-law of UCSD chancellor Robert Dynes and a business partner of Padres owner Moores. "There's never been anything like this in a school board race in San Francisco," veteran board member Dan Kelly told the paper. "San Franciscans for Sensible Government is a sham organization being used to funnel large contributions into the campaign." The other major donor to the campaign was Gap founder Donald Fisher, whose Edison Schools, Inc., runs the charter school. Two challengers endorsed by the mailer lost, but incumbent Mary Hernandez, an Edison School supporter backed by the mailer, kept her seat. A growth-control measure opposed by Hellman and Mayor Willie Brown lost narrowly.

SDSU and Mr. Warbucks

May 18, 2000

Padres owner John Moores has become a major supporter of San Diego State University, contributing at least $28.6 million to a variety of sports and athletic causes, including the school's Tony Gwynn Stadium and a new athletics office complex.

What has Moores gotten in return? A review of correspondence to Moores from SDSU administrators over the last several years, obtained under the California Public Records Act, shows that school leaders have been solicitous of their benefactor.

When Moores steered a prospective student their way, the letters show, SDSU president Stephen Weber carefully oversaw the admissions process. When Moores wanted a new stadium for the Padres, Weber proposed that SDSU become involved in order to provide tax breaks for Moores. When the university sought donors to fund a presidential residence in Coronado where Weber lived, the letters show that SDSU officials repeatedly mentioned the matter to Moores. SDSU athletic director Rick Bay politely suggested that Moores consider taking out a multimillion-dollar insurance policy on his life, making the school his beneficiary.

Roberts vs. Murphy

September 7, 2000

New Yorker Jay Emmett, the Padres boardmember who pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his alleged role as bagman in the Westchester Theatre Mafia scandal, is listed as giving $250 to the San Diego mayoral campaign of county supervisor Ron Roberts. Other Padres-related donors to the Roberts campaign include Wayne Fisher of Sugar Land, Texas, listed as giving a total of $500. In October 1999, according to documents filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, Fisher and Padres owner John Moores, along with Moores-controlled Neon Systems, settled a lawsuit involving BMC Software, another Texas company that once belonged to Moores.

November 22, 2000

This year, the big-money juggernauts of Larry Remer and Tom Shepard encountered a few snags. Both consultants were hired by mayoral frontrunner and county supervisor Ron Roberts, a champion fundraiser who raked in more than a million dollars from developers, county vendors, contractors, and other special interests. Records show each consultant received thousands of dollars a month throughout the campaign, which employed Decision Research, a polling firm run by Bob Meadow, another Hedgecock campaign veteran and Shepard co-worker.

Like Shepard, pollster Meadow has also worked regularly for Padres owner John Moores. "Since 1997, Decision Research, on behalf of the Padres, has surveyed the public repeatedly on ballpark issues," Meadow wrote in a letter to the Union-Tribune last December on Moores's behalf. "Despite the lawsuits, hearings, and controversy associated with redevelopment efforts, San Diegans still want a downtown ballpark and redevelopment project."

But when it was revealed during this year's campaign that Roberts had taken undisclosed trips on Moores's private plane and had frequently socialized with the baseball magnate, Roberts's connection with the Padres became a political liability, and the candidate quickly distanced himself from Moores. The baseball club released a statement claiming to have severed its long-standing consulting agreement with Shepard and Stoorza. By then, however, Moores's stock-trading involvement with councilwoman Valerie Stallings, another longtime Shepard client, was under investigation by a federal grand jury. Despite Shepard's efforts, the political scent of Moores stuck stubbornly to Roberts; his underdog opponent, Judge Dick Murphy, was elected mayor.

Frances Zimmerman vs.

Julie Dubick

January 27, 2000

San Diego Unified School District boardmember Frances O'Neill Zimmerman has turned down an invitation from the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce to seek its education-committee endorsement for reelection. "I had misgivings when I learned the Chamber of Commerce had broken state law by illegally electioneering with its nonprofit funds on behalf of 1997 school-board candidates, including myself," says a statement from Zimmerman.

October 19, 2000

When word broke two weeks ago that a group of local fat cats was paying for more than half a million dollars' worth of TV ads against San Diego Unified School District boardmember Frances O'Neill Zimmerman, the business lobby quickly went into damage control. Tyler Cramer, a lawyer and chamber of commerce functionary, declared that the anti-Zimmerman donors -- including Padres owner and high-tech venture capitalist John Moores ($100,000), Wal-Mart heir John T. Walton ($100,000), Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs ($100,000), and downtown real estate mogul Malin Burnham ($50,000) -- were worried that Zimmerman was bad for business. Two obscure East Coast foundations also chipped in.

According to John Johnson, San Diego Urban League president and titular head of the anti-Zimmerman drive, Public Interest Project has so far contributed $60,000 and Essential Information has given $110,000 -- in all about a third of the TV-ad budget to date. One group, according to its website, has a self-avowed anti-corporate agenda. The other supports liberal environmental and public-health causes. Both are run by critics of big business; neither has previously expressed an interest in education issues.

Essential Information, founded in 1982 by Ralph Nader, works against the World Trade Organization and makes a specialty of loathing multinational corporations. Public Interest Project funds environmental education in Taos, New Mexico; a midwifery support group in New York; and anti-pesticide lobbying efforts. Before now, neither has dealt with issues of education reform, nor has either ever before had anything to do with San Diego and its peculiar brand of big-money politics.

According to a Los Angeles Times account, Russell Mokhiber, who runs Essential Information, was born in Niagara Falls in Upstate New York, "where his father and several other family members were rank-and-file workers for Union Carbide. Mr. Mokhiber says that, even as a child, he was deeply troubled by the impact of industrial pollution on his community." He graduated from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 1976 and Antioch Law School in 1979. During law school, the paper says, Mokhiber worked for Nader's Corporate Accountability Research Group. "My politics were defined a lot by Niagara Falls -- and by Nader's influence," he told the paper. As of last year, the Times reported, Mokhiber lived on an organic farm in West Virginia, a 90-minute commute to Washington.

October 26, 2000

Some interesting San Diego business connections are coming to light as a result of the controversy over who paid for those TV spots against school-board member Frances Zimmerman. A venture-capital fund called Sorrento Associates -- which itself is listed as having given $500 to the campaign of attorney Julie Dubick, Zimmerman's foe on the November ballot -- includes some of the same people who have given six-figure donations to the anti-Zimmerman spots. According to its website, Sorrento's partners include Hang Ten International, whose board chairman is school superintendent Alan Bersin's father-in-law, Stanley Foster; Hot Topic, Inc., a company on whose board Foster also serves that sells rock-related and gothic-style clothes and accessories to teenagers (Robert M. Jaffe, Sorrento's president, is Hot Topic's board chairman); Evans Hotels, run by the wealthy Evans family, clients of Dubick's law firm, Seltzer, Caplan, who have also contributed to Dubick; and Qualcomm, whose founder Irwin Jacobs has reportedly given $100,000 to the anti-Zimmerman campaign. Other Sorrento investors, according to published reports, include downtown real estate mogul Malin Burnham, who reportedly gave $50,000 to the TV effort against Zimmerman; Shelia Davis Lawrence, widow of the late hotel magnate Larry Lawrence; and former congresswoman Lynn Schenk, now a top aide to Governor Gray Davis. In a June 1996 story, the Union-Tribune described Sorrento Associates as "a private group of 30 or so wealthy San Diego business executives committed to investing in home-grown high-tech and biotech firms."

November 22, 2000

John Moores and his political checkbook figured in yet another campaign that bore bad tidings for political consultants Larry Remer and Tom Shepard. San Diego Unified School District superintendent Alan Bersin, Bersin's father-in-law, border-area developer Stan Foster, and their allies in the local chamber of commerce had early on targeted incumbent school-board member Frances Zimmerman for defeat. Records show Shepard's Campaign Strategies was paid at least $11,000 to run the campaign of Zimmerman's opponent, Julie Dubick, a real estate lawyer with the firm of Seltzer, Caplan. Foster and his business associates, as well as school-district contractors, provided financial backing for the Dubick campaign.

In the meantime, an ostensibly independent group, calling itself the Partnership for Student Achievement, raised more than a half million dollars in $100,000 contributions from Moores, Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, and Wal-Mart heir John Walton, among others. The money went into an unprecedented barrage of personal TV attack ads aimed at Zimmerman. Disclosure documents filed by the group show that Remer's Primacy Group was paid at least $400,000 by Partnership. In addition, Remer and Shepard's old friend and associate Nancy Chase, wife of solid-waste dump developer Richard Chase, were paid $15,000.

Including Dubick's expenditures, the campaign against Zimmerman raised and spent more than $750,000 but failed to beat the outspoken school-board member, marking the year's second biggest setback for both Remer and Shepard.

Farewell, Susan Golding

and City Council

January 6, 2000

Word that Golding plans to ask city council to select a library site in late January or February isn't a cause of great excitement among library employees or volunteers, who shrug their shoulders, roll their eyes, shake their heads, or laugh at the prospect. Some are resigned to the possibility that if a library were built, it would sit near the stadium. Some of the Padres' promotional and presentation maps show a building labeled "Library" on J Street between 11th and 12th and a plaza called "Library Circle." At one meeting of library commissioners, team owner John Moores offered to change the ballpark district's name to "ballpark-library district."

March 9, 2000

If San Diego mayor Susan Golding doesn't like the way she gets treated by local media, she can always head to London. Last week The Independent newspaper there ran a gusher of a story that praised Golding but mixed up some of her history. "She has a reputation for being bright, strong-willed, and courageous. She won election to the mayor's post -- like many women who attain high office -- as an outsider and by an unconventional route. She was a political innocent when she was spotted and appointed to the city council by the previous mayor, Pete Davies." Actually, Golding was appointed to the council way back in January 1981 by a council led by then-mayor Pete Wilson

March 30, 2000

San Diego Library commissioner Mary Walshok, named by lame-duck mayor Susan Golding to become commission chairperson and push for a new downtown library, has been absent from about 40 percent of commission meetings over the last two years, according to a review of the group's minutes. Walshok runs UCSD's extension programs.

April 13, 2000

When it comes to her personal investing habits, San Diego mayor Susan Golding used to be mired in the so-called "old economy" of chewing gum (William Wrigley Jr., Inc.) and readymade dessert cakes (Sara Lee). In January of 1999, Golding sold those stocks, which she valued at between $10,000 and $100,000 for Wrigley, the same range for Sara Lee, according to her latest financial-disclosure statement, filed March 30 of this year. And during the last months of 1999, Golding moved into high-tech and the Internet. She reported acquiring between $1000 and $10,000 of Qualcomm on March 25, 1999. Eight months later, on November 11, 1999, she reported acquiring yet more Qualcomm, which she also valued in the $1000 to $10,000 range. On December 30, 1999, the mayor's report says, she snapped up between $1000 and $10,000 of stock in Inktomi, another Internet-stock play. On December 22, 1999, she said she acquired between $1000 and $10,000 worth of Bell Atlantic, which she reported unloading just five days later on December 27, 1999. Before that, on December 2, 1999, Golding said she acquired a position in Nextel Communications, which she valued at between $1000 and $10,000. She reported she sold that stock less than a month later, on December 30, 1999. But some of the disclosures suggest the mayor might need the help of an old-fashioned calendar. For instance, Golding reports acquiring between $1000 and $10,000 of stock in Oracle, the database-software maker, on December 22, 1999. But she reports disposing of the same holding almost 12 months earlier, on January 22, 1999.

September 14, 2000

What has kept the city council so loyal to the Moores baseball stadium plan? Recently released records show that councilmembers and their staff have frequently phoned and met privately with Moores, his partner Larry Lucchino, and their employees, including ex-city manager Jack McGrory and Kris Michell, an ex-aide to Susan Golding. According to the records, McGrory has discussed closed sessions and personally urged councilmembers to cast their votes in ways financially advantageous to the Padres.

In return, Padres board members, such as financier Ted Roth and syndicated columnist George Will, have taken councilmembers out for meals. Staff members have received tickets to games and invitations to dine in Lucchino's stadium box. Lucchino gave $500 for cancer treatment of a council staffer. And Lucchino, Moores, his daughter Jennifer McLeod, and Padres executives, including Jack McGrory, have been donors to political campaigns of the councilmembers; several of the contributions were made only days or weeks after the councilmember seeking the contribution met privately with McGrory and other Padres officials or cast crucial votes in favor of the team.


Reelection campaign fundraiser for Byron Wear hosted by Jennifer McLeod, daughter of John Moores. Goal: $5000.


Memo from Kaye, "assistant to L. Lucchino" to Denise (Lara, an aide to George Stevens)

"Here are two sets of tickets: 10 tixs in field for you and your group. 6 tixs in Larry's Box -- Press Level Box 26A. Larry would like you to join him for an inning in his box and have a bite to eat. See you there."


Letter from Judy McCarty to John Moores and Larry Lucchino.

"Dear John & Larry,

"The roses are beautiful! There's too much said for the sake of argument and too little said for the sake of agreement. Please accept my gratitude on behalf of the citizens of San Diego."


Letter from Harry Mathis to Charles Steinberg, San Diego Padres.

"Due to a comedy of errors related to attending the gala before the Saturday night [Padres] game, I was charged for two $32 tickets to the game on my Visa when I thought I was simply being charged for a ticket to the gala for my wife since my invitation covered only myself. The fault was probably mine for not questioning one of your young staff members more closely when she stopped me at gate C and took my Visa to 'get my tickets.' I thought she understood that I needed a ticket for my wife to the gala, and she apparently thought we needed tickets to the game (I had tickets to the City Box).

"It wasn't until afterward that I looked at the enclosed contents of the envelope she handed me and realized that a mistake had apparently been made. I felt like I parked my brain with my car. I don't know whether it's possible to correct the error, but rather than take it up with some unknown person in the Organization, I decided to ask you to help. Thanks for anything you can do."


Phone call to Judy McCarty from Larry Lucchino, re: wanted to discuss the progress of this weekend. Urges you to vote today for "sufficient assurances."


$1000 contribution made by Larry Lucchino to Juan Vargas 2000 Assembly campaign.


$1500 contribution made by Latino Builders to Juan Vargas 2000 Assembly campaign.


Meeting, Juan Vargas, Kris Michell, and Jose Mireles. Getting Latino Builders involved in downtown/ballpark contracting.


Meeting, Juan Vargas, Jack McGrory, Kris Michell, re: Qualcomm (Stadium) Lease Extension.


Valerie Stallings purchases Neon Systems stock ($10,000 to $100,000).


Memo from Luis Natividad, aide to Councilman George Stevens, to Stevens. Subject: Reporting donation from Mr. Larry Lucchino.

"Councilman, this is to informed [sic] that Mr. Larry Lucchino to help pay personal expenses while on medical leave in the hospital, recuperating from cancer surgery. The check No. is 1075 Glendale Federal Bank, La Jolla Branch, dated 5-28-98 for the amount of $500."

November 22, 2000

As Susan Golding leaves the public payroll for the first time in her more than 19 years as city councilwoman, state bureaucrat, county supervisor, and San Diego mayor, friends are bidding her adieu. Next Wednesday, the Chamber of Commerce and Padres downtown stadium champion George Mitrovich, in the guise of his "City Club," will host the "Mayor Golding Tribute Dinner" at the Wyndham Hotel downtown. Taxpayers will be picking up part of the tab, in the form of tickets to the event purchased by public agencies and distributed to their officials who wish to drink and dine for free. The San Diego Unified School District, for instance, has bought a table for ten, headed by Superintendent Alan Bersin and his wife, Lisa Foster, according to a district document. In other Golding food news, Surebeam, the ground-beef irradiating outfit Golding serves on the board of, has just signed up meat giant Omaha Steaks as a new customer.

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