Buzz and Bob

Bob Filner and Buzz Woolley
  • Bob Filner and Buzz Woolley

Investigative Newsource, San Diego’s smallest nonprofit online-news operation, managed to grow its cash a bit in 2011, according to an annual charitable disclosure report filed in August with the Internal Revenue Service and recently posted online by Guidestar.Org. Newsource was put together by former Union-Tribune editor Karin Winner and her close friend and ex-U-T coworker Lorie Hearn during one of many rounds of staff cuts made by then-U-T owner Platinum Equity.

Housed in a small free office at San Diego State University, it became most famous last year for going after then-Democratic congressman Bob Filner over assertions he made in an interview that San Diego’s port had “zero commerce.” Noted Newsource: “the port of San Diego has brought in more than $4 billion in imports alone every year since 2003, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Division — which monitors the import and export data of shipments into and out of the U.S.”

Interviewed by public broadcaster KPBS, the Democrat was visibly irritated as he was grilled on the question in a way few subjects ever have been by the taxpayer-financed, San Diego State University–owned operation. The station’s description of the encounter, which is posted on YouTube, says, “We look at four statements mayoral candidate Bob Filner made about the Port that are inaccurate and interview Filner for his response.” Some Filner backers later said the mayoral candidate had been engaging in a bit of rhetorical hyperbole and claimed bias on the part of the two former U-T journalists and the TV station, whose multimillion-dollar high-tech newsroom was paid for by and is named after Qualcomm billionaire Irwin Jacobs. The influential La Jollan ended up backing GOP city councilman Carl DeMaio against Filner in the mayor’s race.

According to its IRS filing, Newsource took in $381,800 in contributions and grants in 2011. (Federal law does not require disclosure of the source of the cash.) That was up from 2010, when the nonprofit received $214,800 from unnamed donors. Newsource ended the year with assets and fund balances of $227,577, the report says. Salaries, other compensation, and employee benefits totaled $212,956. The disclosure says that no one at the organization got more than $100,000 in compensation. A section on the form for listing compensation of “Officers Directors, Trustees , Key Employees, and Highest Compensated Employees” is blank. Hearn didn’t respond to a request for more information left at her office. As president of the board, Winner, who works for free (according to the disclosure), is reported to put in 15 hours a week. Other board members include Mary Walshok, the UCSD extension honcho with many other local connections who is also on the board of La Jolla’s Girard Foundation, the nonprofit run by Voice of San Diego founder R.B. “Buzz” Woolley, where she has been paid $5000 a year for her service, disclosures have shown.

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