Mea culpa

— Padres owner John Moores, who raised a stink when he held a January fundraiser at his posh Rancho Santa Fe estate on behalf of fellow UC regent Ward Connerly's anti-affirmative action "Racial Privacy Initiative," has found a way to get back into the good graces of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus. The Connerly fundraiser, sponsored by Moores and several of his business associates from NEON Systems, drew especially heavy heat from state Democrats. They questioned whether Moores -- appointed to the board of regents by Governor Gray Davis after having given at least $100,000 to the Davis campaign -- was worthy of the job. The critics argued that Moores, also besieged by a scandal at his Peregrine Systems software outfit, should not be made chairman of the regents, a spot he coveted. "I had a conversation with Mr. Moores about his support for the Connerly initiative," Democratic assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, head of the legislature's Latino Caucus, told the Union-Tribune in an interview published May 3. "What I said to Mr. Moores is that I thought it was improper for a regent, particularly a chairman of the board of regents, to be involved and be so visibly supportive of a statewide ballot initiative that is so divisive." A week later, on May 10, records show, Moores contributed $5000 to the Building Our Leadership Diversity (BOLD) Political Action Committee. His wife Rebecca also is listed as giving $5000 the same day. BOLD PAC, run by House Latino Democrats, is backing nine Hispanic congressional candidates in seven states. Recipients include Linda Sanchez, sister of Orange County representative Loretta Sanchez. On May 8, just two days before the Moores contribution was disclosed, the regents' nominating committee, with the customary nod of approval from Davis, had quietly named Moores chairman of the board.

Treed When a tree turns brown in La Jolla, does anyone notice? Residents of most neighborhoods around town have to scramble to find out on their own about the health and welfare of their street trees. The mostly wealthy denizens of La Jolla, on the other hand, receive the La Jolla Area Public Improvements Newsletter, printed with soothing green ink on four pages of heavy paper by the city's Engineering & Capital Projects department. "Along Ardath Road and Torrey Pines Road, you may have noticed that there are some Torrey pines trees that are browning," begins this month's edition. It seems the trees were transplanted as part of a street project, and things aren't going quite as planned, even though the newsletter says the city has been "coordinating tree-care decisions with the City's Urban Forester." During removal, "The arborist and support team carefully mapped out the trees' orientation and slope in relation to one another. The pattern was then re-created with the trees that could be replanted to give these trees familiar patterns to assist their recovery." The trees were dug up late last year, but construction and replanting were delayed "in order to access additional funds to cover project cost increases and to pursue noise mitigation measures." But that apparently didn't sit well with the trees. "Currently the trees are experiencing shock due to their roots being cut," the newsletter notes. "Shock and natural causes have turned the needles brown. All trees are responding by limiting the water distribution to their extremities, which is causing the needles to turn brown. The arborist has advised us that this is a normal, expected reaction and is an indication that the trees are responding to the change of condition. Dead, brown needles, and the lack of foliage on lower portions of the trees was caused by the close positions of the trees in their original locations." Not to worry, says the city. "The next step we anticipate is for the brown needles to fall off as part of the seasonal transition from summer to fall. Then, needle regeneration is anticipated later this year. This regeneration will indicate that the trees are recovering from shock. The arborist will be advising the city as the trees move through these stages. Currently, the project team is identifying and evaluating additional methods to add to their current care of the trees. We will keep you apprised of future developments regarding the Torrey Pines Trees."

Relatively speaking San Francisco financier Warren Hellman, father-in-law of UCSD chancellor Bob Dynes, is assisting his old friend, Bay Area Democratic congressman Tom Lantos, to help Lantos's daughter, Katarina Swett, to knock off four-term GOP incumbent New Hampshire representative Charlie Bass. But, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Bass is building a backlash against the fact that a big chunk of Swett's $750,000 campaign war chest has come from the left coast. Besides Hellman, noted Californians kicking in for Swett include Steven Spielberg; his wife Kate Capshaw; and David Geffen, Spielberg's partner in DreamWorks SKG.

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