Influence Peddler

— Union-Tribune editor-in-chief Herb Klein has been advised by San Diego city clerk Chuck Abdelnour that he may have to register as a lobbyist. Klein, whose behind-the-scenes lobbying of city councilmembers on behalf of the taxpayer-financed downtown baseball stadium has become the talk of city hall, was sent a letter, dated January 18, outlining the city's official definition of a lobbyist. "If you engage in any non-public contact with a municipal official for the purpose of attempting to influence action taken on a municipal decision, you may be required to register and file as a lobbyist." Before casting an affirmative vote to hike the cost of the planned stadium, city councilman George Stevens announced he had been called by Klein, who urged a "yes" vote. According to the letter to Klein from Abdelnour, "Individuals attempting to influence a municipal decision are required to register as lobbyist once they reach the threshold compensation level of $2068 in a calendar quarter, and then to disclose lobbying activity quarterly." After receiving the letter, a source says Klein called the clerk's office and argued that he was a "volunteer" for the Padres and acting as a "citizen" rather than a Union-Tribune employee ... Meanwhile, Gerry Braun, the veteran reporter who has been covering San Diego politics in one capacity or another since 1979, is leaving the Union-Tribune politics beat, which he's had since 1986, to become the paper's writing coach. The mayoral campaign is his last assignment.


An aide to city councilman Harry Mathis is moonlighting as a designer of products made out of recycled soda bottles, thanks to a helpful local trash hauler, reports the magazine Waste News. According to an account in the publication last week, Mathis aide Leslie Burke is in charge of trash and recycling issues for the office. "Burke took her assignment seriously. Not only did she take the subject to heart and acquaint herself with solid waste and recycling issues, she got to know some of the industry people in San Diego," the magazine says. "Now Burke has gone another step and founded a company that makes art items out of soda bottles. So far she has sold enough of her work to cover her costs and to make her believe that there is a future in it. The company is called ReincarnART, and the flowerpots and candlesticks Burke makes from plastic soda bottles sold well at crafts fairs she visited once her idea got rolling, Burke said." The account goes on to discuss Burke's search for material to use in projects she wanted to sell at a crafts fair in Coronado. "Council members' representatives meet with the public on behalf of their bosses, and they have to become knowledgeable about policy so they can keep the councilmembers up to speed," recounts the magazine. "Since waste and recycling were already her areas of expertise, Burke called on one of her contacts, Lawrence Chapman, president of the recycling and hauling company Tayman Industries Inc., to see where she could get some raw materials to make products for the Coronado fair. 'Hey, we're in the business,' Chapman said. 'How much trouble could it be for us to get 50 two-liter bottles for a project like this?'" Now, according to the magazine, "Burke's home, the councilman's office, and the offices of Tayman Industries are full of plants potted in the bottoms of soda bottles. 'I don't know what it is -- maybe the shape, maybe the holes -- but these are much better pots than the clay pots from the nursery,' Burke said. 'Plants really do well in them, even where they didn't do well in the official pots.'"

Long, Strange Trips

Sixty-year-old Clifford W. Graves, the ex-chief administrative officer of San Diego County who was forced to resign in 1985, has been named chief of planning for the new University of California's Merced campus. Graves has also been a San Diego port commissioner and a municipal bond salesman ... High-powered Jerome H. Hauer, director of New York mayor Richard Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management, is headed for La Jolla to become vice president and associate director of the Center for Counterterrorism Technology and Analysis at Science Applications International Corporation.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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