Crooked Shooters

The editorial board over at the Union-Tribune lost more face last Tuesday with the defeat of George Stevens, the old Southeast San Diego pol, minister, and ex-city councilman whom the paper had endorsed over Tony Young to succeed the late Charles Lewis . "Stevens alone has the breadth of experience to tackle head-on the escalating legal and financial crises that grip San Diego," the paper trumpeted in its lead editorial the day before the election. "Stevens has the courage to stand up to the politically powerful public employee unions that dominate the council." One person whom the U-T hoped Stevens wouldn't stand up to was Chargers owner Alex Spanos, who has been seeking a big handout from city taxpayers to build a new stadium. The paper has mounted an all-out drive, complete with custom-ordered news coverage, to convince voters that the existing stadium is "crumbling" and must be replaced. During his decade on the council, Stevens was a sure vote for Chargers and Padres subsidies; donors to his campaign this fall included Charles Steinberg, the former Padres bigwig who is now chief public relations honcho for the Boston Red Sox.

Other maximum $250 contributors included San Diego Unified School District superintendent Alan Bersin's father Arthur. Stevens has been a frequent supporter of the superintendent's controversial reform moves. Among other donors were Republican assemblywoman Shirley Horton, for whom Stevens, a Democrat, has worked; ex-congressman Jim Bates, another former boss; and Mike Madigan, who lost his job as "czar" of the city-subsidized ballpark project when it came to light he'd bought a condo nearby. He was later fined $1000 by the city ethics commission for failing to disclose his holdings and has now become head of the "East Village Association," currently waging a war against the homeless in the area around the baseball stadium. Stevens spent about $14,000 of the $35,000 he collected for the services of attorney Bob Ottilie, who waged a successful court fight to get Stevens on the ballot despite the city's term limits ... Stevens, 72, won't go hungry as a result of his election loss. According to his financial statement, he draws between $10,000 and $100,000 a year in city retirement, along with similar amounts from Veterans Administration disability payments, Social Security, and a mutual fund. "Also, I receive [retirement income] from the military and U.S. House of Representatives. All under $10,000 a year." Stevens added that he'd inherited $38,500 from his late aunt, Mable Crockett of Los Angeles.

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