San Diego Reader
Swords Unsheathed: Donna Frye vs. Steve Danon Print E-mail

Donna_Frye_2004(San Diego Reader May 31, 2001)

Next week's runoff election in District 6 for the city council seat vacated by Valerie Stallings last January will close a match between first-time candidates Steve Danon—former chief of staff to Ron Roberts and frequent Republican campaign manager—and Donna Frye, a Pacific Beach environmentalist and founder of STOP, Surfers Tired of Pollution. Danon has accused Frye of courting "big labor's" endorsement, implying that out-of-town interests are directing her with money and more. For her part, Frye seldom brings up the identity of Danon's well-heeled donors.

The John Moores Exemption Print E-mail

20010412(San Diego Reader April 12, 2001)

Valerie Stallings’ guilty plea in late January to two state misdemeanors for not reporting gifts from Padres owner John Moores resulted in the payment of a $10,000 fine and her resignation from the City Council. And yet the revelations of Moores’ four-year gift-bounty to Stallings have some San Diegans in disbelief—fuming, really—as to why Stallings took the fall and Moores was exonerated, and why neither were charged with a federal offense after being investigated by the FBI. From 1996 to 2000, Moores gave—airline tickets, baseball memorabilia, cash, use of car and vacation home, access to a Neon Systems stock IPO, miscellaneous items (the total value of things that remain in her possession has not been reported, though estimated at $10,000)—and Stallings received.

Jenna's Dad Print E-mail

20010111(San Diego Reader January 11, 2001)

I had only begun to follow the renowned grief specialist Dr. Ken Druck and the grief he bears for losing his 21-year-old daughter, Jenna, when he called one day to say he was with two dads he wanted me to meet because their kids, roughly the same age as his, had also died. He said if I aimed to tell the whole story of families and the horror of losing their children, there was no better way than to hear it from these men, who were "raw, brutally honest, and in constant pain." He emphasized men, because I'd be close to their psychology and, a father myself, I might "get" (understand) some of their sorrow.

Dr. Druck had "got" it, full-fathom. He had lost Jenna, whom he calls "the finest human being I have ever known," while she was studying abroad with Semester at Sea, a cruise-ship campus that voyages to various sites around the world. Beginning in the Bahamas, crossing the Atlantic to Africa, then on to the Far East, the ship docked in Madras, India. There she and a group of 55 students flew to New Delhi to take an overnight bus south into the mountains. Their destination: the Taj Mahal, the world's most beautiful monument to love.

The Adult Boys of Rancho Penasquitos Print E-mail

20001207(San Diego Reader December 7, 2000)

Last March California voters approved Proposition 21, the anti-juvenile crime initiative, by a gang-busting 62 percent. San Diegans passed the measure by a full two-thirds. To date it’s been a galvanizing nine months for local prosecutors, who are using the law to charge violent teenagers with new trial mandates and prison sentences. The main thrust of Prop 21 requires that juveniles, aged 14 to 17, who commit murder, sexual offenses, and gang-related violence, be tried in adult court. The law also permits teens to be tried as adults for robbery, arson, carjacking, and kidnaping, where the degree of violence is the determining factor. To allow district attorneys to decide the venue of the prosecution means bumping a convicted defendant up from the rehabilitation guarantees of a more lenient juvenile court to the harsher incarceration penalties of adult court. You do the adult crime, you do the adult time.

Making News: Two Local TV Stations Print E-mail

20000914(San Diego Reader September 14, 2000)


Today at the East County Community Health Services clinic in El Cajon, Supervisor Dianne Jacob is holding a “newser,” an announcement directed at the media. Because Scripps East Hospital in El Cajon has recently closed, Jacob wants people to know Grossmont is the nearest hospital for emergencies. But she also wants people to use an emergency room only when it’s necessary. On this issue the public needs educating, a job some feel is not the bailiwick of elected officials. Not to worry. For Jacob and Jacob’s media-relations officer, the solution is a no-brainer: Stage a media event. Facing the cameras will be a line-up of doctors, patients, and emergency medical technicians, standing behind Jacob and supporting her speech at the portable amplified podium with a seal whose motto reads, “The noblest motive is the public good.”

The Son Not Taken Print E-mail

20000615(San Diego Reader June 15, 2000: Special Father's Day Issue "Daddy." Original title, "Torn Past.")

At breakfast my father asked me what I thought we should do if, in Grandma and Grandpa’s safety deposit box, we found the document identifying his real parents. The year was 1967, and he and I were in Evanston, Illinois, arranging a funeral for his adoptive mother, Elizabeth, who had died suddenly of a stroke. That he was given up at birth he had not learned until his 35th year, when Elizabeth sprang the news on him one Easter. Around the dinner table they were remembering her father, Sam Hill, descendant of a Revolutionary War general, who had often wondered aloud why Elizabeth’s child looked nothing like his parents. Dad had wondered, too.

“Wouldn’t it be funny,” Dad said to his mother that day, “to discover that I —”

“John, as a matter of fact, you were adopted,” she blurted out, vexing his remaining years with an insoluble conflict, namely, whether he should track down his real parents or let them be. Now that we were burying his mother and packing his 86-year-old dad into a retirement home, this bank-vault visit would be his last chance at a birthright.

Fairy Shrimp, Vernal Pools, and the Mayor of Poway Print E-mail

20000420(San Diego Reader April 20, 2000)

Royce Riggan Jr., a biological consultant in San Diego for 25 years, was driving back to his office one Sunday afternoon in January. His route, from the west end of Miramar Road to his working place in the heart of Mira Mesa, took him through the Miralani Business Park along Trade Place, where for a mile one long warehouse abuts another. The route also took him past a lone, fenced wetland habitat, alien to such a locale, on Arjons Drive. It was a habitat he knew well. Riggan, who describes himself as "one of the gray-haired guys" in environmental consulting, had helped designate this 8.7-acre parcel above Carroll Canyon in 1977 as a preserve, for it was home, at the time, to three threatened species—the San Diego fairy shrimp (a crustacean), the button celery (also called coyote thistle), and the San Diego mesa mint—each of which have become federal-listed endangered species. (The plants are also state-listed.)

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