Going to extremes

— GOP county supervisor Greg Cox is no shrinking violet when it comes to his personal investment strategy. According to a recently filed financial disclosure statement, on February 20 of last year Cox and his wife Cheryl purchased stock in Bluetorch, which the filing describes as an "extreme sportswear" company. Cox reported that his wife's IRA, the account through which the stock was purchased, owned Bluetorch stock worth less than $2000 as of December 31, 2004, the end of the annual filing period. The stock is volatile: On Tuesday, a quote on Yahoo said it was up -- 2300 percent from the previous quote -- to $2.50.

Other Cox investments are more conventional, including stock worth between $10,000 and $100,000 in Toll Brothers, a New Jersey-based home builder specializing in so-called McMansions, those oversized luxury homes popping up all over the county. Cox bought the stock on March 22, 2004. Property records show that since then, a partnership run by Toll has sold 25 homes, ranging in price from $1 million to $1.7 million, at the south end of the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course. The development was described in July 2003 by the San Diego Business Journal: "Luxury extends throughout the homes, from grand two-story foyers and 10-foot first-floor ceilings in most plans to such exclusive refinements as lavish master baths with private retreats and Jacuzzi tubs.... Three-car garages are enclosed by raised-panel sectional roll-up doors."

Besides that, in February 2004 Cox's wife's IRA picked up shares valued at between $2000 and $10,000 in Cardiac Science, an Irvine-based maker of defibrillators. According to the City of San Diego website, "The County Board of Supervisors has dedicated $250,000 for the distribution of defibrillators in County facilities" as part of Project Heart Beat. Maker of the automatic external defibrillators is none other than Cardiac Science. Since Project Heart Beat started here in 2001, the company has expanded the concept to cities nationwide, including Minneapolis, Nashville, and St. Louis. Last week, Cardiac Science chairman Raymond W. Cohen issued a news release hyping the firm's latest "partnership" in Florida. "We are working very closely with city officials in Miami to ensure their program is as successful as the San Diego Project Heartbeat program where over 1,200 Powerheart AEDs have been deployed since 2001 and dozens of lives have been saved as a result." Cardiac Science is currently a penny stock, having fallen from its February 2004 peak of about $5.50 all the way down to Friday's close of just 93 cents a share.

A one and a two Conservative GOP county supervisor Bill Horn once hoped that Republican congressman Darrell Issa would run for governor in the 2003 recall so that Horn could run to replace him. "I think I have a pretty good handle on what the folks from that district want," he told reporters before Issa decided not to take on the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2000, Horn ran for U.S. Senate but was badly beaten in the GOP primary.

Now the 11-year veteran of North County's District 5 has decided to stick around for yet another term at the county. With more than two years left on his current term, Horn launched his fund-raising drive for the 2006 campaign last October, picking up big money from a variety of developer types, many with business pending before the board. Leading the pack are members of the Welk family, whose late progenitor Lawrence, the schmaltzy TV bandleader from North Dakota, founded a small mobile home park back in the 1960s that's since grown into the sprawling Welk Resort north of Escondido. Donors giving the maximum $500 each to Horn include Welk Music Group president Kevin Welk of Manhattan Beach, Welk Group CEO Lawrence Welk of Santa Monica, and Welk Group executives Marc Luzzatto of Santa Monica and Ronald Sharp of Fallbrook.

Other major developer donations to Horn include a total of $1500 from four employees of Pardee and $1500 from three executives at Weston Communities of Los Angeles. Jay McQuillen Jr. of Granite Construction, which is trying to develop a controversial quarry adjacent to the Santa Margarita Ecological Preserve in southern Riverside County, just west of Interstate 15 near Temecula, kicked in $500. The supersized gravel pit plan is opposed on environmental grounds by professors at San Diego State University. Granite is also behind another quarry, called Rosemary's Mountain, near the Pala Indian Reservation just south of the Riverside County line, approved for construction by San Diego county supervisors.

Criminal review Attorney and lobbyist Louis Wolfsheimer, who once represented strip clubs in their efforts to get more lenient regulations out of San Diego's city hall, has been appointed to the county's Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board. The appointment was made by county supervisor Ron Roberts. Current secretary of the board is Kourosh Hangafarin, who achieved brief notoriety as San Diego mayor Dick Murphy's appointment to the Board of Port Commissioners.

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