Golding handshake

— While she was mayor last year, Susan Golding picked up more than a little spare change on the side. According to her leaving-office disclosure statement filed late last month, Golding collected greater than $10,000 from MP3.com, the Internet music outfit. Under "consideration for which income was received," Golding wrote "Signing Bonus/Contract." Until recently, MP3.com was partially owned by Cox Communications, the Atlantic-based company that owns a cable television system here that receives its franchise from the city and has contributed heavily to the campaigns of mayor and council candidates, including Golding. The outgoing mayor also said she got more than $10,000 from the Surebeam Corporation in what she said were "promised stock options not yet exercised." Surebeam is a pending spin-off of Titan Corp., another Golding backer ... The "Partnership for Student Achievement," that group of local fat cats -- including Padres owner John Moores -- who unsuccessfully attempted to oust school-board member Frances Zimmerman in the fall election, have reported other members of their ranks. According to a post-election filing with the IRS, Manpower of San Diego, the temporary-help firm owned by Phil Blair and Mel Katz, loaned the campaign $100,000. Other late contributors to the group's attack ads against Zimmerman included Peter Preuss, a UC regent ($5000), and Susan McNeil, listed as executive director of San Diego Reads, a book-donation effort started by district superintendent Alan Bersin and financially backed by Union-Tribune owner Helen Copley. A Washington, D.C., foundation called Essential Information added $50,000, bringing its total up to $100,000. As of November 27, the Manpower loan was still unpaid, as were bills from political consultant Larry Remer's Primacy Group ($2500); the Santa Monica polling firm Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates ($15,000); the Chase Group ($5000); and Alexandria, Virginia's Murphy Putnam Media ($6806). Through the most recent filing period, the partnership reported it spent a total of $722,399 on its anti-Zimmerman effort.

Here we go again The year is less than two weeks old and the campaign-fundraising machine at San Diego's city hall is already in high gear. Next month's special election to fill the Eighth District seat of Juan Vargas, elected to the state assembly in November, is attracting the most immediate attention. Leading the pack among fundraisers is former Vargas chief-of-staff Ralph Inzunza, who has been piling up money for more than a year by working Democrat Vargas's tried-and-true list of lawyers, politicians, and corporate lobbyists. Campaign-finance filings show that, just through last June, Inzunza picked up more than $91,000 in $250 increments from such donors as Stan Foster, wealthy downtown land-owner and father-in-law of San Diego Unified schools superintendent Alan Bersin; Ed Lopez, a San Diego Unified boardmember who also serves as a lobbyist for Cox Communications; several members of downtown's high-powered Luce, Forward law firm, which has frequently litigated on behalf of the city council; and employees of Burrtec and Edco, the county's biggest trash haulers. Meanwhile, a sign on the fence of the City Walk condo construction site at State and G Streets downtown lists all eight members of the city council, including the name Barbara Ventura for the empty Eighth District seat.

School daze A new charter-school outfit headed by would-be San Diego school reformer Eugene Ruffin is facing rough seas in Sacramento. According to an account in the Sacramento Bee, Ruffin's organization, Good Schools for All, planned to open the Nehemiah Leadership Academy Charter School in the North Sacramento Elementary School District last month. But school officials blocked the move, saying that the group didn't provide the requisite criminal-background checks on employees and hadn't submitted complete financial information. "Trying to open the school would have been a clear breach," Timothy Cary, the school district's attorney, told the paper. Ruffin also runs the School Futures Research foundation here, another charter-school operation funded largely by billionaire Wal-Mart heir John Walton of National City.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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