Neon signs

— Following a mention here two weeks ago about his failure to disclose, San Diego State University president Stephen Weber has amended his official statements of economic interest to reveal the acquisition date of his stock in Neon Systems, that controversial John Moores company connected to the political demise of ex-San Diego city councilwoman Valerie Stallings. Weber's original statements, filed under penalty of perjury in March of 2000 and 2001, reported that he owned between $2000 and $10,000 worth of Neon stock in both 1999 and 2000. But the statements failed to disclose, as required by law, the date on which he acquired the shares. Neon went public in February 1999, at which time Stallings and other insiders got a rock-bottom purchase price that allowed them to make a hefty profit when the stock rose steeply during the heyday of the dot-com market bubble. The stock subsequently crashed in value, and Stallings was forced off the council as part of a plea bargain in which she pled guilty in January 2001 to conflict-of-interest charges. In his disclosure amendments -- dated less than two weeks ago, on February 11, and also signed under penalty of perjury -- Weber now reports he did not own Neon stock in 1999 but instead acquired it on January 13, 2000. Weber did not return phone calls regarding the reporting errors and subsequent amendments.

Documents retrieved from the university under the state's public-record act show that Weber has been in frequent contact with Moores, a major SDSU donor. In addition to Weber and Stallings, other local officials who are known to have owned Neon stock at one time or another include ex-San Diego port commissioner David Malcolm, who resigned under fire after conflict-of-interest questions regarding his involvement in a power-plant venture came to light, and county supervisor Ron Roberts. In addition to the Neon and other stock holdings, Weber also reports that in 2000, the latest year for which reports are available, he served on SDG&E's "community advisory council," picking up between $250 and $1000 for his trouble.

Lunch bunch Eighth District San Diego city councilman Ralph Inzunza, running for re-election next month, has been repeatedly wined and dined by some of the Union-Tribune's top reporters and columnists, according to his recently filed financial disclosure report. Last May 3, Inzunza reports, he was treated to a $21 lunch by reporter Caitlin Rother. On May 22, he had another $21 lunch with reporter Jennifer Vigil. Then in July, he sat down to another $21 lunch courtesy of the U-T with editorial writer Bob Kittle. In August, it was a $21 lunch with real estate writer Roger Showley, and in September, he had a $17 lunch with columnist Neil Morgan. But the U-T wasn't the only organization to pick up Inzunza's tabs; taxpayers also forked over. San Diego Unified School District superintendent Alan Bersin paid for an $11 breakfast in April. Inzunza also reported having a $17 lunch in May and a $13 breakfast in September with somebody named "Smith" from the school district. Then in October, he had a $21 lunch with Bersin. San Diego State provided Inzunza with NCAA tournament tickets valued at $80, and in September, an individual associated with the university named "Kitchen" provided an $11 lunch; in October, somebody from SDSU named "Cornthwaite" also paid for an $11 lunch. The most generous host of all, however, was San Diego Gas and Electric, whose employees took Inzunza out for lunches and one breakfast on six separate occasions in 2001. The tabs ranged from $12 to $30 and totaled $113.

Late fees The Committee to Ban the Ban, a group formed to combat the city's Mission Beach booze ban, has missed the latest campaign-disclosure filing deadline, the city clerk's office reports ... Atlantic Philanthropies, that charitable outfit providing a $5 million grant to the San Diego Unified School District, is a front for Charles Feeney, a New Jersey billionaire and one of the Irish militant group Sinn Fein's biggest backers. Feeney, who made his fortune on duty-free airport shops, has reportedly given away more than $1.28 billion around the world since 1982.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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