Union-Tribune sold cheap to Platinum Equity

Plus Copley Library, La Jolla headquarters, land next to Foxhill

Copley Press sold the Union-Tribune cheap but for good reasons: it was doing even worse than other ailing metro newspapers. Now the company, the last remnant of the old newspaper empire, is selling the rest of its assets into weak markets.

It wasn’t always so: when it started breaking up the company four years ago, it got juicy prices — at least in retrospect — for its holdings.

In March of last year, the company basically paid Beverly Hills–based Platinum Equity to take over the Union-Tribune by selling the buyout firm San Diego real estate worth around $100 million for a bit over $50 million. For example, Platinum paid $35.5 million for the Mission Valley headquarters, which had an assessed valuation of $91.3 million. Copley sold Platinum several other buildings cheap too, although Platinum has already sold one of them at a loss in this dismal commercial real estate market.

There are a number of reasons for the low prices, but one has been spelled out by none other than Hal Fuson, who took over as chief operating officer in June of 2007. On his Facebook page, Fuson admits that during his incumbency, the company’s cash flow plunged “to almost nothing.” Cash flow is cash receipts less cash payments — money in, money out. The new Platinum management told employees that the company was about to go into the red under Copley, but to my knowledge, this is the first time the old management has admitted it.

On Facebook, Fuson went on to say that “the great majority of newspapers remain profitable on a cash operating basis.” Ergo, the Union-Tribune was doing worse than its peers. (Many newspaper chains have gone bankrupt, but that has been almost entirely because of excessive debt, Fuson said correctly.)

The revelation was not surprising. San Diego is the nation’s 17th-largest market. The U-T's daily circulation was only 24th among metro dailies last fall. (Take away the nationally circulated Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and the U-T results are still poor.)

I asked some former top officials of the U-T about the underperformance. “We should have done some [personnel] cutting earlier,” says one. “Many times we ramped up for cutting, but David Copley didn’t want to do it.”

David Copley also dragged his feet on selling Casa del Zorro in Borrego Springs. It had been a hideaway for his mother and father. David had recovered from his heart transplant there, promising at least one employee he would never sell it. Top management was dying to dump it because it was a huge drain on profits. The entrepreneur whose investment group bought it (and couldn’t revive it) says it was losing $5 million a year. Although Casa had valuable assets, Copley got only $4.5 million for it.

Copley Press reacted very slowly to craigslist, which eventually stole the classified ad business from the big dailies. The company didn’t wake up to what Monster.com would do to personnel ads, either. “I remember sitting in a meeting when craigslist came up,” says a former top manager. “Somebody said it was probably some kid in a garage.”

There were economic factors. The housing crash hit San Diego harder than most other cities. This affected real estate sales and severely dented related markets such as furniture and appliances.

Karin Winner, U-T editor, did not get along with Gene Bell, U-T president, but Winner had David Copley’s ear. As a result of the animosity, the newspaper took too long to integrate its print and online operations.

Ed Moss, current president and publisher, doesn’t address former management’s deficiencies but points to what his team is doing. “New partnerships with 10News, Cox Communications, and Monster are just a few of the ways we’ve added content,” he says. Companies large and small can now make more efficient advertising buys, he says. He expects that with these changes, the U-T can “sustain profitability.”

Fuson is on the board of Copley Press. Dean Dwyer is its chief financial officer. I asked both why the company had underperformed and how it might do in its upcoming asset sales. Neither would talk. I asked Fuson about his Facebook remarks, too, and got the silent treatment.

But here’s the rundown, as far as I can determine: In 2006, Copley Press sold the Daily Breeze of Torrance for a good price: $25 million. Separately, Copley sold the real estate for another $14 million to $16 million. Home run.

Then in 2007, the company sold its money-losing Ohio and Illinois papers for well over $380 million in cash to GateHouse Media, which soon collapsed under the weight of debt piled up in a poorly plotted and ill-timed acquisition binge. Copley said that some of the proceeds would go toward settling the estate of the late Helen Copley. That suggested that luck might have been involved in the timing. Still, in hindsight, it was a home run with the bases loaded.

Then the company went down swinging on three pitches. In mid-2008, as the financial crisis billowed, it said it might sell the U-T. The deal was announced on March 18, 2009, and consummated May 4. On May 4, McClatchy stock was selling for 62 cents; Monday it was going for $5.19. A.H. Belo was at $1.68 and Monday was at $7.67. Lee Enterprises, owner of the North County Times, was at 64 cents and Monday was at $3.68. E.W. Scripps was at $1.89 and Monday was at $9.04. Admittedly, the overall stock market took off on a liquidity-fueled toot in March of 2009, but newspaper stocks have risen far more rapidly than the general market. The conclusion is inescapable: Copley sold the U-T near the bottom of the newspaper market.

Now it is selling the contents of the Copley Library, along with the building itself at 1134 Kline Street, La Jolla. The collection is a magnificent one, containing such items as a broadside of the Declaration of Independence, worth perhaps $800,000, and a letter from Abraham Lincoln to one of his generals, possibly worth $700,000. Sotheby’s will sell the items at four auctions beginning April 14 and ending a year later.

“A lot of people are hurt and angry” that the collection is leaving San Diego, says a La Jolla socialite, who thinks the contents should have been donated to a local institution. Prices for Americana are down about 30 percent now, “but that’s not necessarily true for books and manuscripts,” says an expert in the field. “Some of these items will bring huge, huge prices.”

The library building in La Jolla was originally advertised for $5.4 million as a possible home. “We’re in escrow,” says Rob Insinger of Prudential California Realty. The potential buyer “plans on using it for a library collection open to the public.”

The company put its La Jolla headquarters building at 7776 Ivanhoe on the market last fall. The price has been reduced from $11.5 million to $9.85 million, says Mike Slattery of Cassidy Turley BRE Commercial. “Most people are looking at using some space for themselves and dividing it and remodeling for small tenants,” he says.

The company is trying to sell 22 acres next to the late Helen Copley’s Foxhill estate for $22 million. But it won’t become a multihome development, says Greg Noonan of Prudential California Realty. “We would hope that we would find a buyer wanting a single parcel for a dream home or subdivide it into five or seven lots. There would be a tremendous amount of opposition if somebody wants to have density.”

Does David Copley need the money? After all, his $33 million yacht has a large staff. He is probably not hurting financially. He is remodeling Foxhill, and most think he has no intention of selling it.

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But it won’t become a multihome development, says Greg Noonan of Prudential California Realty. “We would hope that we would find a buyer wanting a single parcel for a dream home or subdivide it into five or seven lots. There would be a tremendous amount of opposition if somebody wants to have density.”

Wow is this guy a dreamer.

No one is going to buy 22 acres of La Jolla property b/c no one has the money, and even if they did they would not be able to afford the taxes on it. Even the billionaires in the middle east don’t have that kind of money to throw around today.

A developer with bank LOANS will buy it and put up as many SFR as he can-be it 5 or 25- whatever the City will allow. But not for 5-15 years from now, because that is how long it will take for the RE market to come back.

As for the UT failure, what it really comes down to in my eyes is poor, poor management. To overlook craigslist as a kid in a garage shows about as much ignorance as you can have. To not have the UT Editor and President in a solid working relationship ridiculous-that is Management 101, and the UT failed spectacularly at that.

Selling off the Ohio and Illinois papers for $380 million was just timing-nothing more. If they sold the UT for $500 million in 2006, they could have bought it back in 2009 for 10 cents on the dollar, that shows not intelligence, but just artful timing in the markets.

Response to post #1: But as Noonan told me, there are a bunch of high-powered lawyers living in the area. There is no way that dense development would get through. In re craigslist: other papers were asleep, too, but Copley may have been somewhat more asleep. The old management did miss some bets. It should have hooked up with TV long, long ago, as current management is now doing. I was on TV at the time I was with the U-T, but I could sense some management resentment. Employees were not discouraged from going on TV, but were certainly not encouraged. The company could have gotten a billion dollars for the U-T in 2004 and perhaps 2005. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #3: That's an incredible youtube. Anybody who is curious about the $33 million David Copley yacht should watch it. It's the yacht at all angles. Best, Don Bauder

The essential question remains. Is David Copley so nearly broke that he must sell everything, including the library? If he is, where did all the fortune go? That yacht was and continues to be a drain on his personal cash flow. But really, how much does it cost him in a year?

There is something odd going on in this picture. A few people know about it, and are not talking. I suppose we'll get a clearer picture when and if he sells the yacht, or puts it in long-term storage. David won't do that unless he has to. His health is precarious, and maybe he just cannot think beyond the day after tomorrow. There has to be some better explanation for this fire sale of Copley assets.

Response to post #5: You make some excellent points, and obviously I thought a lot about the question of David's finances in putting this column together. At one social gathering in La Jolla, a socialite asked several friends of David why he was auctioning off the assets from the library instead of donating them to a San Diego institution. Replies: maintaining the yacht costs money. That would suggest that he is concerned about having enough to maintain his lavish lifestyle. However, there are other factors: he is spending a bundle to refurbish Foxhill, and people do not think he intends to sell it. (They could be wrong, of course.) David and Helen had investments outside the newspaper business. I have strong reason to believe that far too much of that portfolio was in techs before the tech crash, but I don't think it would have wiped him out. We don't know how much of the $380 million-plus the company got for the Ohio and Illinois papers went for settling Helen's estate. (And of course no one knows why in the world the company had not figured her estate taxes; she was almost comatose for years before she died.)

All told, I concluded that David has an extremely expensive lifestyle, and the fire sale of these assets will help him maintain it. But I don't think he is hurting. However, I am open to any new information. My assessment is based on what I could gather, and, of course, I got no cooperation from Copley Press.

Incidentally, in the print edition, the building shown is misidentified as the Copley Library. It is actually the La Jolla headquarters. Best, Don Bauder

The real energy at the UT right now is the amazing amount of hate the community of commenters generates. They can turn almost any story into a screed about Obamacare or illegal immigrants or welfare queens. It's impressive. Given how well Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have done at building bile into a brand, the UT folks should really be looking at how they can monetize this amazing force.

Response to post #7: For years, the Copley organization had a distinct right-wing bias in news coverage and, of course, editorial positions. However, the city of San Diego now has more registered Democrats than Republicans, although Republicans still have a lead countywide. If the U-T tries to monetize the Beck/Limbaugh hate approach (it already has a political blog that does so), it should offset that bias with coverage that appeals to voters not of that persuasion. After all, the name of the game is making money, especially now since the publication is owned by a private equity group that probably wants to sell it in 5 to 7 years, just as it flips other assets it buys. The bias of commenters on blogs does not necessarily represent the bias of the community. Best, Don Bauder

That yacht was and continues to be a drain on his personal cash flow. But really, how much does it cost him in a year?

Let me put it this way, Michael Jackson bought Neverland ranch for $10 million, but his monthly nut (he had a staff of over 150 employees) was over $1 million per month to operate it. Overhead can kill on black holes like ranches/amusement parks and yachts.

A yacht the size of Copley's requires a full time crew, and that has to be several hundred thousands per year standing alone.

Response to post #9: I don't know how big that yacht crew is. I know that at various times he has feted 4 or 5 members of the crew at one of his soirees. One could find out how big the typical crew is by checking yacht manufacturers and giving the dimensions of David's yacht. David may require more high-paid medical help than others with yachts that size. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #10: As word of David's yacht got out, some U-T staffers were a mite indignant, because they were working with equipment that was far from beautiful or luxurious. Best, Don Bauder

NOTE: The word in art circles is that some of the Copley Library materials are staying in the San Diego area. Log books from the Star of India, dictionaries, thesauruses, and art reference books are going to San Diego institutions. However, the ones donated locally are said to be of little or no value, and that's why they are not going to Sotheby's to be auctioned. James S. Copley papers will stay with the Copley family, according to these sources. Best, Don Bauder

Log books from the Star of India

That is an interesting tid bit of info-how did the Copleys end up with the Log book from the Star of India?

Response to post #14: I don't know the answer to that. Remember, too, that this is the word circulating among people in the Americana industry. Since Copley Press won't cooperate with me, I had no way of checking. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #15: Good sleuthing. David's investments could possibly throw off half a million a year in income, but the size of his financial asset portfolio, and what it contains, is something we don't know. Congratulations for shedding more light on this question. Best, Don Bauder

I saw the BIGGEST yacht I have ever seen in my life at Shelter Island today-it was parked at the end of the Kona Kai Hotel (Shleter Pointe??), between the end of the hotel and the little house the Harbour Patrol uses as a base, it was right there.

"Ocean Victory", 4 levels, and at least half a football field long...it DWARFED everything else in the marina, I don't even know how a boat that big was able to go that far into the bay.

Here it is;



This list of the world's 100 largest yachts has the "Ocean Victory" at #56, SP.


(Here's the clip, if you don't wanna scroll.)

"YACHT NUMBER (56) OCEAN VICTORY: 248’6” (75.75M) Boat Builder:- Feadship (De Vries), Holland, 2008 Information on the superyacht owner, country, price, designer etc:- The Makkum yard built this classic Feadship, now one of the largest yachts to be launched by the Dutch builder. Among the onboard amenities are a heated contra-flow swimming pool, a 12-seat cinema, a beach platform and an LED system that bathes the decks in the colors of the rainbow. Alberto Pinto and Laura Sessa designed the interior for a Russian owner."

(I did see info that indicated the Russian owner sold it to another undisclosed party last year.)

As far as I can tell, it's not available, SP. Bummer. And almost as sad, Number 89 on the list went on the auction block in Grand Cayman today.


Ya just missed it. So close...

Response to post #18: That's a lacht of yacht. What we don't know yet is who owns it. One of you online yacht experts can probably find that. We do know, apparently, that SurfPuppy does NOT own it. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #19: So the Russky sold it. I'd still like to know to whom. Best, Don Bauder

I still want to know how a yacht that big was able to get into the boat slips ;)

BTW-if anyone is around Shelter Island ther next few days they should check this baby out.........

Response to post #22: I hope that anybody who checks it out takes photos of the people on the yacht. That might give us some hint of the ownership. Best, Don Bauder

I was wishing I had a digital camera with me when I was there yesterday........it was such an impressive yacht.

Response to post #24: I suppose there is no chance that you could somehow steal the yacht. Would it be difficult to hide it? Best, Don Bauder

A few months ago there was a huge yacht next to the Star of India called Apoise. That thing was a monster (219'8", 89th largest yacht in the world), but this thing is even bigger (248'6", 56th largest yacht).

For perspective; Larry Ellison owns the 453' Rising Sun (6th), and Paul Allen owns the 413' Octopus(9th), so the get quite a bit bigger (hard to believe)!

Here are some obscene pictures of Octopus. I particularly like the heli-pad, and the fact it sails with a 40' submarine and a 63' tender.


I can't find an owner listed for Ocean Victory http://www.superyachttimes.info/yachts/details/83/

The Apoise is owned by Dave Ritchie, owner of Ritchie Bros. Auctions of Canada. It was scheduled to be sold yesterday at an (of course) auction. http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?p=8802939

Helpful hint: To avoid redundancy, read previous comments.

Response to post #26: Paul Allen not only owns the 9th largest yacht, but he gets huge taxpayer subsidies for his pro sports teams. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #27: Your post #19 is filled with information. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #30: Donated almost $1 billion to whom? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #32: Even back in 1996, Paul Allen was a billionaire. Allen purchased an option to buy the Seattle Seahawks. He said he would pay $250 million for the team only if the people of the state of Washington would vote to cover the bulk of the cost for a new stadium/exhibition center. The stadium would cost $425 million and $325 million would be a public subsidy. Allen put $3 million into newspaper advertising pumping up the vote on the matter. Opponents only put in $160,000. The measure won by 51.1%. Best, Don Bauder


Allen was diagnosed with Hodgkins disease 27 years ago, so he has been living on borrowed time for a long time now. He retired from Microsoft in 1983 due to his health.

I'm sure he has had plans in the works for decades now for distributing his wealth, since his health has been a question since the early 80's.

BTW, he also owns the Trailblazers. He has a long and contentious stadium issue there. He bought it through a shell company, let the company go bankrupt and revert to the creditors because he didn't like the repayment terms, immediately demanded the creditors invest $40 million into the arena to keep it "state of the art" as stated in the Blazers lease. He then agreed to sell the team along with the arena (still owned by the creditors) only to abruptly pull the team off the market after they had received several offers. Some say it was just a ploy to see what price the creditors were willing to take for the arena, some say it was because he got wind that the Sonics were moving and his competition was gone and the Seattle market was available for possible relocation. In either case, Allen owns the arena again.

FYI, the Apoise sold for $46 million. Ritchie Brothers Auctions was bragging that is the largest sale ever for the auction company, but it was in fact just over half the purported $90 million that Dave Ritchie paid for the yacht at the top of the market just four years ago.

$11 million a year before you even start to pay for staff and supplies. I wonder what he could have chartered for that?

I still think Paul Allen is really Blofeld and he runs SPECTRE. Who else needs a 40' submarine, an internal dock with a 63' tender and two helipads as possible escape routes from their yacht?

Even back in 1996, Paul Allen was a billionaire. Allen purchased an option to buy the Seattle Seahawks. He said he would pay $250 million for the team

Paul Allen bought the Seahawks from a guy named Ken Berhing, who was the developer of Blackhawk, one of the most upscale and expensive country clubs in the nation. I remember Berhing built what was then (78 or 79) the biggest house in the county (at the time), a 10K SQFT home named "Xanadu", with a 2K sq ft master bathroom. Then some other millionaire built a 20K sq ft home, so Berhing then built a 40K sq ft home with a 30 car subterranean garage (all in Blackhawk).

I have read numerous accounts of what Berhing paid, but the one I heard most often was $25 million. Goes to show you how the pro sports scam has really blossomed.

Blackhawk also had a very upscale retail shopping center, about 100K sq ft, and it flopped big time.

Response to post #34: It appears to me that Allen used a sugar pill in explaining his bid for a subsidy, rather than a sledge hammer as Moores and Spanos did. Remember, Moores and Lucchino claimed "There is no Plan B." Any business executive without Plans A,B,C,D, and E is an imbecile. In this case, San Diegans were imbeciles to buy into their claim. Of course, both are now gone. Moores took $650 million out of the Peregrine scam and close to a billion dollars out of ballpark district real estate that he had gotten cheap, and rode off to Texas. The San Diego media don't seem to have noticed. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #35: Gates and Buffett appear to be giving it away before they die. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #36: Yes, the Trailblazers story is still another one. Don't kid yourself: Paul Allen is an operator. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #37: On what do you spend the $11 million a year BEFORE staff and supplies? I'm not saying you are wrong. I am just curious. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #38: Do the Seattle media tell the truth about Paul Allen? If you came to San Diego and read the mainstream media, you would think Moores and Spanos were angels. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #39: Back in the mid-1990s, the pro sports scam was in its halcyon days. Despite all the blatant thievery in the intervening years, most of these scams still work. Did you notice Mayor Bloomberg falling for the Yankees scam? Pathetic. Best, Don Bauder

The Yankee scam was particularly distrubing b/c they took away PUBLIC PARKS, from kids, as the land where they built the new Ynakee stadium.

@ #48: Both Spanos and Moores have made significant contributions to concerns in San Diego (and Don, if you run me off for being off-topic I'm taking it personally, because you and everyone else are doing the same thing). Here's a link to Spanos' philanthropic endeavors:


Here is a broad overview of Moores, which doesn't include 7 million gifted to SDSU:


Note that Spanos has been much more generous to Northern California (Pacifica, his alma mater, specifically), than to San Diego. Regardless, I am cynical of such donations. They offset income on purpose. Also, they cast such ownership in a admirable way so that their representation of their franchises are more highly considered by the populace. The Kroc's were more anonymous, which, in my opinion, is true philanthropy.

"As I said Don, your bias towards sporting team owners is well documented."

Sporting team owners, I believe. Sports team owners, not so much.

Response to 46; One of the most noxious things about that Yankee deal is that the people paid for a huge part of it, and then were priced out of Yankee games. That happens in all these stadium subsidy scams, but the Yankees one topped them all. The recession forced the team to lower some of the prices, but still the new Yankee stadium remains the epitomization of socialization of the risk and privatization of the gain. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #47: One well-known pro sports team owner -- I believe it was Bill Veeck -- that that you buy a team to sell it. You don't make money operating it. The value of most pro sports franchises has escalated significantly over time. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #48: Moores gave away a lot of money while he was angling to get his $300 million subsidy. The U-T would almost invariably put his latest donation on page one. I wanted to point out to the editors that this purported generosity was just a ploy to get his deal, but I was in enough trouble already, and the U-T propaganda mill was part of the big push. Moores raked in $650 million from the Peregrine scam (San Diego's largest) and another $700 million to $1 billion from his real estate deals in the ballpark district, and then road off to Texas. The elder Spanos now has dementia. I don't know about the charitable proclivities of his son Dean. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #49: Yes, the rich have to give away money for tax reasons. But you mentioned Joan Kroc. Now there was an angel. There is no way you could say she was giving away money for her own political reasons. Best, Don Bauder

NOTE: I just re-read post #53 and realize that my own dementia is showing. I said that Moores "road off to Texas." Arggh! Getting old is painful. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #56: You may be right, but I'm not sure that most of Joan Kroc's donations came after she sold the Padres. I believe the Padres were a small part of what she got upon Ray Kroc's death. If she waited to sell the team before giving away a lot of money, it could possibly have simply been a matter of timing. That's when she herself was getting on in years and began giving away money munificently. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #57: Yes, I have called pro sports owners con men, liars, extortionists, gamblers and often tied to organized crime. There are a number of books on the stadium scam -- outright theft from taxpayers in ailing cities. If you read those you should have no problems with the labels con men, liars, and extortionists. As to big gamblers tied to organized crime, read "Interference" by Dan E. Moldea, published by Morrow in 1989. It is meticulously researched and footnoted. Best, Don Bauder

Response to #43: Don said: "On what do you spend the $11 million a year BEFORE staff and supplies? I'm not saying you are wrong. I am just curious. Best, Don Bauder"

Dave Ritchie bought the yacht Apoise in 2006 for $90 million, then sold it a week ago for $46 million. That means he lost $44 million in the 4 years he owned it, or $11 million a year.

Response to post #60: Oh, that's his loss. OK. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #62: Joan had a daughter. I think she was from Joan's first marriage. For awhile, her daughter's husband, whose name escapes me, ran the Padres. I believe they later divorced. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #63: Again, I highly recommend that you read "Interference" by Dan E. Moldea. The NFL may not be as mobbed up now as it was in the early years, but you have to face one thing: gambling pushes pro football, and other sports as well. For another side of the Allen deal in Seattle, read "Sports Economics" by Rodney Fort. At the time, he was a professor in the state of Washington. (He is now at Michigan.) This textbook explains what these arena/ballpark/stadium subsidy deals are all about. Fort is objective. Books by other economists are more heavy on opinion. Best, Don Bauder

For awhile, her daughter's husband, whose name escapes me, ran the Padres. I believe they later divorced. Best, Don Bauder

======= Ballard Smith

@ #56: Why would I take offense? I am not a fan of either current owner. I was very much a fan of the Kroc's. If I am going to fall in love with a sports team, the Kroc's are/were the type of ownership that I want. Ray deeply cared about the team and the fans.

@ #71:

Yes, potentially, posting comments on the internet can lead to misunderstandings concerning the intent of the comment. And no matter what, I've come to understand that I'm going to piss SOMEONE off, regardless of my intentions otherwise. It can be frustrating. I have absolutely no problem with opinions different from my own, it's enlightening and entertaining.

If someone gives out some erroneous information, I have a tendency to correct it when I recognize it, and that sometimes leads to a somewhat hostile exchange. Otherwise, like yourself, I see it as a simple difference of opinion, which makes the entire experience enjoyable. My links to Moores' and Spanos' charitable efforts were nothing more than participatory information. No worries.

I think she spent close to $100 million on the Salvation Army community center,bequeathing over $1billion more after her death and her bequest of $200 million is legendary to NPR supporters such as myself. Don put it accurately. She was an Angel.

By maninthemirror

I remember one natural disater years ago that happened somewhere in the states-midwest?- a flood, hurricane, something big. This disaster made many, MANY people homeless and (as I recall it) someone donated an enourmous amount of money ($100 million??) to help these people-donated it anonymously.

Well-Guess who it was????

Joan Kroc.

That tells me everything I need to know about Joan Kroc-she was light years ahead of ANYONE else in San Diego for putting their money where their mouth is.

Someone mentioned Ray as being the kind of team owner they could rally behind-I agree 100%. He was a great owner of the Padres. Every now and then they run a profile on McDonalds-and Ray Kroc- on TLC or Bravo or one of those cable chanels and they cover the Padres ownership by Ray-good stuff.

Yes, potentially, posting comments on the internet can lead to misunderstandings concerning the intent of the comment. And no matter what, I've come to understand that I'm going to piss SOMEONE off, regardless of my intentions otherwise. It can be frustrating. I have absolutely no problem with opinions different from my own, it's enlightening and entertaining.

By refriedgringo

Hey, welcome to the club!

But I will say this, some of the people who get "pissed off" will try to silence you and your opinion/s just b/c they don't agree with it- and they do that by making personal attacks.

That has happened to me more than once here and when they start trying to silence your opinion b/c they don'/t agree with it by making baselss personal attacks, then that causes problems.

So different opinions is one thing, making personal attacks b/c of your opinion/s is another animal all together.

Yeah, SP, it's problematic. I guess I'm lucky in the sense that I really don't have an ideology to defend, but I think that the personal attacks are based on opposing ideologies. I can defend the religious and the athiests, I have no poker in that fire, so to speak. I don't vote, I grew up a conservative but abandoned all politics after the GOP refused to back Kemp, and I have a profound respect for liberal ideals (classical liberalism, if you will). Economically, I am firmly behind the Smith/Hayek camp, but I realize it wouldn't work in a society where the Federal Reserve maintains so much power and linkage to the Federal Government. Concurrently, I recognize Keynes' bold attempts at quantifying economic tendencies and equating them in order to predict outcome.

I think the key to understanding each other is to leave our ideologies in the junk drawer for a while and take what we say at face value. I have no issues with anyone claiming that I'm all wet, so long as it's honest and not personal.

Response to post #66: You make a good point. Rabid sports fans are not going to listen to any economist or fraud expert saying that a stadium deal is a ripoff. It's not a ripoff for a taxpayer who just loves sports, goes to a lot of games, watches it on TV, etc. It IS a huge ripoff for those who care about a city's financial stability, infrastructure, maintenance of existing infrastructure, libraries, art and culture, etc. Unfortunately (to me), the sports entrepreneurs wanting a handout outspend the opposition by 100 to 1 in the election. Is this democracy? You decide. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #67: I met the daughter and her husband once and I got the impression that she was younger than I was. But if she is in her late 60s now, she is, unfortunately for me, younger than I am by several years. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #68: That's it: Ballard Smith. He was a former prosecutor, as I recall. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #69: Agreed. If only more owners were more like the Krocs. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #70: As I recall, one thing that annoyed a lot of San Diegans was that Ballard Smith traded off Ozzie Smith. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #71: Nobody on this blog should take offense at any insults hurled at anybody else. We aim to displease. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #72: That's the spirit of this blog. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #73: You have an ankle problem? I'll bet somebody on this blog has another kind of ankle problem: a bracelet. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #74: And Joan Kroc wasn't giving money away as a means to an end, such as getting a massive subsidy for a sports facility. I believe the flood was in one of the Dakotas -- North Dakota, I think. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #75: Hey, if we're going to make personal attacks -- I do it all the time -- we have to expect to get hit with some flak. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #76: The Smith/Hayek/Austrian/U. of Chi. camp is vulnerable now -- particularly vulnerable to the observation that they are living in a dream world that probably never existed. I used to be in that camp. Best, Don Bauder

Don, I do not at all believe that the Smith/Hayek microeconomic principals are at all incorrect. I read you back in the days when you supported them, and I think that you were right in doing so. The problem is attempting to apply such ideas in the current economic climate. It isn't possible. For it to work, you'd need to disolve the Fed, and we know that isn't going to happen.

Taking Estonia as a wonderful example, they did a stellar job, right up until the global economic disaster brought them down. And Don, they had a flat tax. It worked. Unfortunately, they have no exports to speak of. Otherwise, we'd have a great discusion about it.

Response to post #88: The Fed is around 100 years old. We had it long before the U of Chi. school rose to prominence. It seems to me that Road to Serfdom was written in the 1930s or shortly thereafter. I don't know that the Austrian School antedates the Fed. I believe there are other reasons why the Austrian/U. of Chi. schools aren't workable today. For one, fraud -- price fixing, offshore manipulations, accounting machinations (especially hiding of liabilities), deliberately complex financial instruments etc. -- makes a truly free market a fantasy. Greed killed the Adam Smith followers; it wasn't just the Fed. Best, Don Bauder

Agreed, but Don, in any economic model we wish to build, greed will be a factor. It's the part of human nature that Keynes failed to address, people simply want to make a lot more money than they probably have a right to earn. But you're correct, it isn't just the Fed. I do, however, wonder what would have happened if the Fed didn't have an open window to dip into the economy and affect it like they did. Not that this particular downturn wouldn't have happened, but would it have been less dangerous? I wonder about that.

Response to post #90: Certainly, the Fed utterly failed in its regulatory duties. Fraud was rampant as the housing bubble grew. Fed economists should have known that home prices wouldn't always keep rising and people were tying themselves up in mortgages they would never be able to continue paying. Fed regulators should have understood that the essence of white collar fraud is contrived complexity -- exactly what derivatives are. The Fed's Alan Greenspan, a one-time devotee of Ayn Rand, was himself tied up in the Austrian/U. of Chi ideologies, or something close to them. He was blinded by his own ideology, which in his case was a near-religious belief in the efficacy and honesty of so-called free markets. He has admitted that he has to reevaluate the models he believed in. Those models never take the existence of crooks and greed sufficiently into account. Best, Don Bauder

"Loan Officer / Entry Level / No Experience - Will Train Company: Universal Bancorp / American National Realty Description Become a Loan Officer and make great money. No experience necessary, we will train the right candidates. Full-Time or Part-Time positions available"

Actual posting recruiting loan officers - JobBank

Part of a story I wrote about greed in the mortgage industry. Greed drove the last market. Refried, these "no experience necessary" loan "specialists" made an obscene amout of money. With no experience.

But you're correct, it isn't just the Fed. I do, however, wonder what would have happened if the Fed didn't have an open window to dip into the economy and affect it like they did.

The economy went bust b/c the gov ALLOWED private business to manipulate the markets through the lowering of underwriting standards for home loans. THAT CREATED THE BUBBLE.

Response to post #92: Yes, and it was going on at big outfits such as Countrywide and Washington Mutual. Of course, the big Wall Street banks were stealing far more with equal rapidity. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #93: That helped create the housing bubble, yes. But remember there was another bubble: the mortgage-backed derivatives one. Blame Wall Street (and foreign banks), along with rating agencies and regulators, for that scam. Best, Don Bauder

Yes, and it was going on at big outfits such as Countrywide and Washington Mutual.

You nailed that one Don;

"Washington Mutual created 'mortgage time bomb,' Senate panel says"

Before Washington Mutual collapsed in the largest bank failure in U.S. history, its executives knowingly created a "mortgage time bomb" by making subprime loans they knew were likely to go bad and then packaging them into risky securities, a congressional investigation has found.

In some cases, the bank took loans in which it had discovered fraudulent activity -- such as misstated income by borrowers -- and rolled them into mortgage securities sold to investors without disclosing the fraud, according to the report released Monday by the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.


Response to post #96: Yes, that story broke yesterday (Mon. April 12.) The abuses were so destructive that I could only shake my head. Even before that report, ex-employees had told how they would complain that a mortgage should not be made; it was clear that the buyer couldn't pay. The employees would be fired or disciplined. It will be interesting to see if there are criminal penalties for top management. Best, Don Bauder

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