June 30, 2000

Abject View of the Good ol' Boy System at Work

It recently came to light that Councilmember Valerie Stallings made an incredible profit trading stocks in a company owned by San Diego Padres owners John Moores during the time that the San Diego City Council was making a determination on the Padres' downtown ballpark.

What we know is that Stallings, who can best be described as a novice stock trader, bought stocks in a John Moores owned company, Neon Systems, on March 5 1999 when they were first issued. She then sold the stocks at their peak price March 31, 1999 making a pretax profit of $14,000. On March 31 Stallings voted to keep the $1 billion ballpark-and-redevelopment project on track.

A stroke of luck? Maybe. Stupid? Definitely. But the real question is, was this a form of a pay-off for her support of the downtown ballpark? And if it is, all city council votes in relation to the ballpark would be void and the Padres and the City would have to start over.

For the San Diego City Council the stakes are extremely high.

The stakes are so high in fact that in a secret session city councilmembers on May 30 voted to spend $15,000 to defend Stallings during the investigation by the District Attorney's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office. $15,000 before Stallings has been charged with any wrong doing. An expenditure that only came to light three weeks after the fact.

The `Good `ol boy' system is working to taking care of their interest!

If this was just a question of Valerie Stallings, reaction may have been different. The Hispanic community only has to harken back to the case of then City Councilmember Uvaldo Martinez and the credit card missuse, and how he was left to his own defense and ultimate ouster. But the interest at stake here are the Padres and the downtown ballpark. It doesn't go unnoticed that the lawyer hired to defend Stallings is John Wertz, the city's personal choice whenever the stakes are high.

So here we have an abject lesson of the `good ol' boys' surrounding the wagons and protecting their interest.

What we find strange is, that the city council, instead of seeking to protect their interest, are not demanding an impartial investigation to insure the integrity of the process. They are not demanding that the interest of the citizenry be protected. And where is the Grand Jury? Why are they sitting idly by? Are they not empowered to protect the interest of the community by investigating the whole matter?

The city council and mayor are elected to represent the interest of all the people, not just the special interest. If that sacred trust is compromised, if the integrity is lost, it is a greater loss than the possible loss of a ballpark.

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