50 San Diegans to Watch in 1998
It’s the number 50 that stumps us. At first, as we begin our search, it seems like too many. In the end, it always seems too few.
Journalists are inveterate people-watchers. We’re taking notes on the citizenry even when we aren’t on the lookout for a special group of notables to feature in our January issue. So what are the qualifications for the San Diego 50? Simple. We’re looking for energetic men and women, engaged in their work or community, who are so busy doing their jobs they’re not looking to see who’s watching. But their deeds bubble to the surface—and people notice.
We receive suggestions about outstanding people in the mail, by phone, e-mail, fax, from people we meet in the elevator. In the course of a year, we keep tabs. And suddenly we have hundreds of names to sort through.
When we began this exercise in people-watching in 1982, women were sadly under-represented among our watchables. This year, approximately one-third are women, and we had absolutely no trouble finding them. That says something about progress in San Diego. Next year: half?
We find we’re featuring lots of younger people this year, too. Seemingly too young to be heads of corporations or managers of millions of dollars. But it’s a good sign, we think—a sign that a new generation of leaders is emerging in San Diego and on these pages.
We had to throw in our usual ringer—this year it’s El Niño. Last year it was the Chinese pandas. We think we preferred the soft, furry guys to what’s in store from the tempestuous weather El Niño threatens. But we’re all in this together. So batten down the hatches, scan our columns of truly noteworthy San Diegans, and be assured that with such a bank of talent on hand, we’ll get through the new year in style.
She lunches with John Travolta, parties with Lorenzo Lamas and walks the beach with David Hasselhoff—all in the name of generating revenue for the region. Cathy Anderson is the head of the San Diego Film Commission, the organization pumping $70 million a year into local coffers by bringing TV and film productions to town. In the 12 years Anderson has been with the commission, San Diego has gone from a relative unknown to a fixture in Hollywood’s film community. There are now three full-time series based here—Pensacola, Nightman and the venerable Silk Stalkings.
Anderson took over the helm of the commission in 1996, replacing Wally Schlotter. Backed by the mayor, she spearheaded a move late last year to detach the commission from the umbrella of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce. With independence established, her immediate goal is to attract more full-blown Hollywood sound-stage productions to San Diego.
This is one attorney who takes play seriously. Todd Anson of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison was instrumental in helping to bring
the Legoland project to Carlsbad. With construction of the theme park well under way, Anson can look back on a long competition with Prince William County, Virginia, as the favored site for this new attraction. He worked with the Danish toymaker to negotiate successful incentive packages with the state of California, the county of San Diego and the city of Carlsbad. Legoland isn’t the only fun-and-games accomplishment for Anson. He also is legal counsel for the U.S. Olympic Committee in connection with the ARCO Training Center in EastLake. And he’s a deal-maker for some of the best-known technology companies in San Diego.
A friend and associate of Cliff May, modernist architect Norm Applebaum designs sophisticated homes with soaring ceilings, exposed beams and large expanses of glass. With infinite patience, he micromanages every detail from the front door to the china and flatware. His designs are finding a whole new generation of followers as the interest in modernist architecture grows. This has led to a number of lecturing engagements. Applebaum is also a musician: He plays the trombone and sings regularly with the San Diego Master Chorale. Recent architectural commissions include a Rancho Santa Fe showplace on 24 acres that will take five years to complete.
As general contractor of the San Diego International Airport’s lengthy—and pricey—expansion, Douglas Barnhart caught a lot of heat last year for the delays and cost overruns that plagued the project. But all that should be behind him when the splashy new terminal opens for service this month. It’s the grandest in a long line of public works facilities that Barnhart, a Texas native, has built here in San Diego. Among them: the Chargers’ new training facility, the Tony Gwynn Stadium at SDSU and the Poway Center for the Performing Arts.
Everybody wants to get in on the ground floor of a hot new investment. Maybe the best way to spot these opportunities is to watch Abby Barrow. She runs a program at UCSD Connect called Springboard that brings wanna-be entrepreneurs together with venture capitalists—or, in the case of biotech, with the big drug companies such as Merck. The news is that 50 percent
of these applicants find funding within one year.
Barrow came here from Edinburgh University eight years ago with her professor husband and a doctorate in engineering. Looking for a job in San Diego, she decided to volunteer at Connect and was soon put on staff. Does Barrow fully understand all the technology she hears spouted at her forums? “I understand the engineering; that’s where my degree is. But biotech,” she confesses, “is still magic to me.”
His persistent drumming in The San Diego Union-Tribune against stadium expansion and the new Chargers contract have put him at odds with the paper’s editorial department, which at one time urged anti-expansion leaders Bruce Henderson and Richard Rider to leave town. But Don Bauder has unflinchingly carried on his crusade, winning the admiration of San Diegans who feel taxpayer money shouldn’t be used to subsidize the project.
Those who know Bauder aren’t surprised. Throughout his nearly 25-year career with the U-T’s business section, he’s consistently taken a strong stand and never wavered. In the early 1980s, Bauder played a key role in unearthing the J. David Dominelli scandal and even wrote a book, Captain Money and the Golden Girl. One pundit suggests a same-title sequel about the city’s newest crisis, with title roles going to Chargers owner Alex Spanos and San Diego Mayor Susan Golding. “That’s not a bad idea,” Bauder says with a laugh.
This is not the first time KFMB Radio funnyman Joe Bauer has been numbered among San Diego Magazine’s People To Watch. But it is his first solo appearance—a circumstance laden with sadness. Bauer—half of San Diego radio’s longest-running and most successful morning-radio team—lost his partner, Mac Hudson, last fall after 23 years. In fact, Hudson’s illnesses over the past year or so had left Bauer to handle the duo’s chores alone much of the time. But Hudson’s death in October ended an era in San Diego radio.
Still, Bauer’s immense popularity with San Diego audiences would seem to secure his future in local radio. But a new partnership seems unlikely. Instead, Bauer talks of bringing a team of talents to a new morning show. “I hope to be able to continue the comfortable feeling of the show,” he says, “but I see some exciting things going on in the local radio market. And some change could be good. Or maybe ‘growth’ is a better word.”
They call him “The Kid.” In a football program known for quarterbacks, Spencer Brinton became the first quarterback in San Diego State University history to start as a true freshman, right out of high school. He spent much of the season running for his life. But there were flashes of brilliance, such as the 67-yard scoring drive against Wyoming, or the overtime victory against Hawaii, or the 221-yard performance in the 1-point win against Fresno State. The quiet, 6-foot-5, 210-pound left-hander from Temecula Valley High School has the tools. He chose SDSU over such football factories as BYU and Ohio State. And in a rebuilding program, he looks like a good cornerstone.
Paul Brodeur was a counterintelligence agent during the Cold War and a staff writer for The New Yorker for 40 years. He has settled in Leucadia, “a funky little beach town the developers haven’t gotten to yet.” His wife, Milane Christiansen, owns Bookworks in neighboring Del Mar, a local gathering place for literary aficionados. They own a house on the Cape in Massachusetts and split their time between coasts.
Brodeur has a reputation as an impassioned “cause” writer, having exposed asbestos in industry and addressed the danger of power lines causing cancer in nearby dwellers. He has just published Secrets of a Writer in the Cold War (reviewed in this issue, page 32). He has a story appearing in the February issue of Playboy and is the author of The Stunt Man, made into a film in San Diego with Peter O’Toole.
San Diego beer drinkers can raise a mug of frosty to Chris Cramer, the man behind San Diego’s most successful microbrewery. A fourth-generation San Diegan with a first-person affection for a well-brewed beer, Cramer and his partner, Matt Rattner, conspired to give San Diego its first new brewery in more than 50 years. That was back in 1988, after Cramer, a Stanford Business School grad, went to Fremantle for the America’s Cup race, walked into the Sail & Anchor and fell for the pub-brewed beer there. Cramer imported the concept to San Diego.
Today—entering its 10th year of operations with three local microbrewery restaurants and a new 22,000-square-foot brewing facility in Rose Canyon—Karl Strauss Breweries has become the largest distributing microbrewing company in Southern California. The beer is being exported to Taiwan and Russia, and Cramer plots further expansions on the business side. “Karl Strauss may not be the beer that made San Diego famous,” he says, “but it has made our city known as a place where world-class beers are brewed.”
“I look around and see so many problems,” says super-volunteer Katy Dessent, who has spent 20 years on not-for-profit boards—the Old Globe, the Mingei and now the San Diego Museum of Art. “But with women joining the workforce, and threatened litigation, people say, ‘I don’t know if I need this [volunteerism] in my life.’ And they back away.”
Not so with Dessent, whose five years on the art museum board, which she now chairs, have been at an exciting time in that institution’s history. First, the brouhaha about staff salaries, highly publicized by the Union-Tribune. Then the changes among the five curators and the second-in-command, Jane Rice. “But it’s all become so good—as a result of the bad and the sad,” as she puts it. What’s the next big exhibit after “The Jewels of the Romanoffs”? In June, an exhibit, from Paris, of the later-life paintings of Monet.
He led the La Jolla Playhouse out of a $1.85 million hole. Youthful managing director Terrence Dwyer is now charged with keeping the internationally known theater under a policy of “strict fiscal responsibility” while maintaining its ambitious artistic goals. A veteran of such respected groups as the Circle Repertory Company and the Laura Dern Dancers, this Yale School of Drama graduate was a prime force behind bringing Rent, The Who’s Tommy and Randy Newman’s Faust to La Jolla.
With its financial house in order, the Playhouse is looking to focus more energy on creating and funding original productions, as well as launching an unprecedented youth-outreach and education program. “We want people to feel that the Playhouse is an indispensable flagship resource for the community,” Dwyer says.
Brent Eastman and Stan Pappelbaum
In a time of HMOs and skyrocketing costs, Doctors Brent Eastman and Stan Pappelbaum are heading a movement to restore what they call “the fundamentals of the Hippocratic Oath” within the harsh realities of the healthcare business. In addition to directing Scripps Memorial Hospital–La Jolla’s version of E.R., Eastman is chairman of the board of ScrippsHealth Physicians, a radical attempt to give doctors more of a voice in Scripps administration. More than 900 doctors signed up this year. Eastman was one
of the key physicians involved in setting up the San Diego County trauma system.
Dr. Stan Pappelbaum, CEO of ScrippsHealth, hopes the project will reorganize almost every facet of the Scripps countywide operation. He is determined to reduce the middleman costs and apply 91 cents of the healthcare premium dollar (instead of the current 68 cents) to patient care.
One local gadfly calls Anne Evans the “best-liked person downtown.” The successful businesswoman will need all her charm in her new role as chairman of the board of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce, a complex and often highly politicized position. As matriarch of Evans Hotels, which includes such local fixtures as the Bahia and the Catamaran, Evans brings to the job a wealth of experience in the quirks and foibles of local bureaucracy. She was recently named chairman of the board of the L.A. bureau of the Federal Reserve Bank and also holds key posts with the California Tourism Commission and the San Diego Economic Development Corporation.
In addition, her résumé includes stints as chairman of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and chief of protocol for the mayor’s office. Evans’ new position makes her the key link between business leaders, politicians and the community at a time when developing partnerships between government and business are the talk of the town.
Federal deregulation and an orgy of buying by Jacor Communications have made Jack Evans the most powerful man in San Diego radio. As West Coast VP for programming, he’s in charge of an unprecedented 10 local stations. His task: Integrate all the different stations into one cohesive unit. “There are no textbooks for this,” he says. “We’re pioneers.” He’s already juggled formats and personalities, rearranging much of the San Diego dial.
Evans’ roots are in programming, which helps. He’s been with Jacor for 10 years, running stations in places like Jacksonville, Nashville and Denver. But this is the biggest challenge of his career, and he’ll be under pressure to maximize revenues quickly, considering the millions Jacor spent to buy the stations. Just for spice, it is also Evans’ task to defend some of the more controversial morning shows on San Diego airwaves, including Howard Stern’s.
Joyce and Richard Flannery
Call it sibling flackery. Lifelong San Diegans Joyce and Richard Flannery, the brother-and-sister owners of The Flannery Group, are the superduo of public relations. Their 13-year-old marketing and government-relations agency is the third-largest P.R. firm in the county. The Flannery Group helped Service America Corporation land the concessions contract with the San Diego Convention Center, created an award-winning public-outreach program for the California Avocado Commission and developed communications plans for the San Diego Unified School District.
In 1982, Joyce was appointed to the California Department of Commerce by Governor George Deukmejian. Governor Pete Wilson made her an honorary delegate to the 1996 Republican National Convention. Richard, a graduate of California Western School of Law, is active in local political circles and spent several years in Washington, D.C., as a congressional aide.
He was seven years on the staff of the Los Angeles Times, a Stanford journalism graduate covering city politics. Looking for more excitement, Mark Forster switched to the world of high-tech, working for such companies as Primary Access. It makes sense that he now heads Cox’s InsiderSanDiego.com, one of Cox Interactive Media’s 15 sites around the country. (San Diego’s is the newest, as of October.)
Forster huddles with his staff of 10 to provide information on entertainment, dining, sports and news in general to 675,000 adult on-line users—up from 420,000 in ’96. “It moves pretty darn fast,” says Forster, who clearly likes the action.
Like so many other Los Angeles transplants, Russell Geyser discovered San Diego on a visit. As a child in the ’60s, he accompanied his developer father to Coronado, where the elder Geyser built the Coronado Shores condo towers. Even then, he says, he knew he’d settle here one day. But first, young Geyser earned his own developer’s stripes building retail centers in the Midwest. In 1989 he made his move, joining Barry McComic’s development office here.
Today, as head of his own Encinitas-based company, the 37-year-old Geyser is involved in a development deal to expand Seaport Village to three times its current size. In addition, he’s in final negotiations to help San Diego law enforcement build its long-sought Emergency Vehicle Operations Course; he has put forth a private proposal to finance a new public library; and he just unveiled plans for a downtown landmark—an architectural tower he says would “provide the world with the ultimate view of the San Diego we all know and love.”
This could be the year San Diego Mayor Susan Golding follows in the footsteps of her predecessor and mentor, Pete Wilson, and jumps from City Hall to the U.S. Senate. The two have many of the same handlers and backers, and both have been seen as moderate Republicans seeking to oust a vulnerable Democrat (in Golding’s case, incumbent Barbara Boxer). But first Golding has to win the GOP primary, which won’t be an easy task. She’s facing two well-financed challengers: State Treasurer Matt Fong and fellow San Diegan Darrell Issa.
And a series of missteps while mayor are coming back to haunt her—including her handling of the Chargers contract and stadium expansion, and her failure to follow through on building a showpiece downtown library. “She drops the bat whenever she sees a new ball,” snipes one critic. Golding’s personal style has also been assailed, with critics citing a continuing cycle of exit-
ing staffers. But she’s a formidable politician, and her approval ratings continue to
After a year of preparation, sandiego.sidewalk, Microsoft’s entry into the San Diego Internet market, went on-line in mid-November under general manager Moya Gollaher. No stranger to the field, Gollaher went to Sidewalk from Cox Cable, where she had worked for 13 years. But this was a new experience for the Yale/Columbia graduate.
“In a city I love,” she says, “in a brand-new and unexplored media, providing a service I feel strongly about, my attitude was ‘Let me at it!’”—an approach she later took when subbing for Bill Gates when he was an hour late to talk to 1,000 San Diegans last year. Gollaher grabbed the mike and kept the audience entertained until the great man loped onto the stage. “I was happy to meet him that way,” says Gollaher.
Kevin Hellman has probably done more for San Diego’s original-music scene, and made less money at it, than anyone in the business. A babyfaced thirtysomething, Hellman is the founder of SLAMM Magazine, a 4-year-old bimonthly publication that gives badly needed exposure to the unsung heroes of local nightclubs, garages and demo tapes. He’s also the producer of the San Diego Music Awards, honoring local musicians like the Beat Farmers, Jewel and the Stone Temple Pilots. Another focus: raising money for music programs in the San Diego Unified School District. Hellman feels “there’s a lot of cool bands really doing something right now.” Fans of SLAMM say he’s right.
A millionaire willing to part with $15 million of his own to win election to the U.S. Senate, car-alarm magnate Darrell Issa is already being compared to Michael Huffington, another rich Republican political novice. But supporters note that unlike Ariana’s husband, Issa didn’t inherit his fortune—he built his own company, Directed Electronics Inc. of Vista, which makes Viper car alarms. Still, like Huffington, Issa is a champion of business and, even though he’s facing an uphill fight in the primary against San Diego Mayor Susan Golding and State Treasurer Matt Fong, has spent most of his money so far blasting the Democratic opponent. In his radio spots, he calls incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer “one of the worst senators in California history.”
Sure, he’s the son of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs. But Paul has earned his own stripes at the company. Last year he was named president of Qualcomm’s subscriber products division, the largest within the corporation. With a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, he led the team that developed many of the new technologies incorporated in Qualcomm’s groundbreaking digital wireless phones, including the signature Q phone. After watching over the years of development, he’s overseeing the marketing of Qualcomm’s digital phones around the world.
Paul Jacobs’ name appears on nine patents. “He’s the heir apparent,” says one Qualcomm executive, who incidentally credits Jacobs with a fine sense of humor—which he can certainly use in this sensitive spot in his father’s company.
It’s nice to have a pop phenomenon in residence. Jewel Kilcher—who just goes by Jewel, thank you—is a 23-year-old singer/
songwriter. She got her big break performing at Pacific Beach’s Inner Change coffeehouse; now she owns a home in Rancho Santa Fe.
If you didn’t catch Jewel on the covers of Time, Us or Details, maybe you saw her perform on Late Night with Conan O’Brien or The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Her 1995 debut album, Pieces of You (Atlantic Records), includes hits “Who Will Save Your Soul” and “You Were Meant for Me.” In 1997, a single entitled “Foolish Games” pushed her record sales past the 6 million mark.
Jewel and her mom, San Diegan Nedra Carroll, have announced plans to create a nonprofit foundation called Common Ground. Devoted to “worthy social causes,” Common Ground will open a San Diego office early this year.
Peter Johnson is the founder and chief executive officer of Agouron Pharmaceuticals, which on the strength of its AIDS drug Viracept last year became San Diego’s first major homegrown drug company. Viracept, one of a class of HIV drugs called protease inhibitors, is the most successful new drug to emerge so far from San Diego’s biotech community, which is still smarting from the failure of Gensia, three years ago, to get FDA approval for its drug, Protara.
Agouron’s stock price went from $30 in July 1996 to more than $100 in August 1997, just before it split. Despite a stock stumble in December when Agouron scrapped a planned anti-cancer drug, it’s still the bright hope of San Diego. Johnson, who started Agouron in 1984 with a group of other UCSD scientists, now commands a biotech empire with a stock market value of nearly $1 billion and more than 800 employees.
The first openly gay candidate to win a major elective office in San Diego, Chris Kehoe first won her seat on the City Council in 1993. She had previously worked as an aide to her predecessor, John Hartley; before that, she edited a gay newspaper in Hillcrest. But critics who feared Kehoe would be concerned only with gay rights have been surprised by her anticrime, pro-business agenda. Kehoe’s first-term accomplishments include fighting for a $4 million mid-city police substation, lobbying state and federal legislators to complete Interstate 15 and encouraging the conversion of yellow streetlights back to white in higher-crime neighborhoods. Democrat Kehoe, who handily won reelection in 1996, has confirmed she’s considering a run against Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray this year.
An expert in public-private developments, Owen Lang is the project manager for the North Embarcadero Alliance, an unprecedented attempt to plan the future of San Diego’s waterfront. It is a joint effort of the county, city of San Diego, Port District, the Navy and the Centre City Development Corporation, with Lang as ringmaster. As head of urban design for the San Francisco office of Sasaki Associates, an architectural firm specializing in high-profile urban projects, Lang is a veteran of waterfront designs in Boston, Tacoma, San Francisco, Mexico and Japan. Lang was the key consultant for San Diego’s South Embarcadero planning process.
The alliance already has displayed some backbone, refusing to rush the process to accommodate a possible ballpark for the Padres. Acclaimed for his vision, Lang talks of creating a signature waterfront, but his toughest task may be getting five bureaucracies to listen—and agree.
Jerry C. Lee
There’s no football team at National University, but it does have financial stability and a growing national reputation for minority graduation rates, thanks to its win-oriented president. Jerry Lee took over the reins at the adult higher-education facility in 1989, when National showed a deficit of $9.8 million and a full-time faculty of 17. Today it has $50 million in the bank and a teaching staff of 106. It has received new accreditation and developed innovative community programs, such as giving employees time
off in exchange for community service. Now, Lee is implementing ambitious plans for “a university without walls,” including taking National into the global arena by linking with schools in Mexico, Turkey, Monaco and Portugal.
With the San Diego Port District poised to play a key role in a host of major civic projects in 1998, David Malcolm will have a very full plate. This month, Malcolm steps up to chairman of the Port Commission. Among those pivotal and controversial projects: the continuing development of Embarcadero South; redevelopment plans for Embarcadero North; the possible siting of a new baseball-only park on Port land; and the long-delayed expansion of the Convention Center.
At 43, Malcolm has already served a 10-year term as a Chula Vista councilman and sat on the Commission for Judicial Performance and the California Coastal Commission (1984-95). The chairman of Suncoast Financial Corporation and a seasoned deal-maker, Malcolm sees the Port’s future in terms of “partnering.” He says, “We need to move away from trying to be our own complete little kingdom and think in terms of niche marketing—doing what we do best. We need to compete with other ports less and partner more.”
As executive director of the Gaslamp Quarter Association, Teresa McTighe has run into a troublesome problem: cars, and where to park them. She worked to get meters altered to accept nickels and dimes instead of quarters only—and, more importantly, to get parking meter revenues returned to the district in which they were collected. But now, with the opening of the new 15-screen movie house on Fifth Avenue and no underground parking (developers of buildings that replace empty lots are not required to provide parking), she is working on solutions. Short-term Band-Aids: better lighting and signage. Long-term: parking structures, six of them, to cost $50 million over the next 30 years. McTighe also has put a lively spin on Gaslamp visuals—street banners and jazzy new marketing brochures. When things go wrong, she calls a board retreat—two in the 18 months of her tenure. That gets attention!
Former Baywatch babe Alexandra Paul, Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter and filmmaker Frank Marshall top the list of celebrities who have banded together to organize the first major new marathon in the United States in more than a decade. But the man who will make it happen is race director Tim Murphy, president of Elite Racing of Sorrento Mesa. Murphy, the man behind the world-class Carlsbad 5000, was recently named the most influential person in the sport by American Runner magazine.
The Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon will take place June 21 and, appropriately enough, will feature live music from 26 rock ’n’ roll bands, along with a post-race concert starring a name headliner. The 26.2-mile loop course originates and ends in downtown San Diego. It is expected to draw 12,000 runners and also will feature a wheelchair race and a five-person relay. Organizers are offering $100,000 in prize money and promise national TV exposure on ESPN and one of the major broadcast networks. Proceeds from the event will benefit a health charity or AIDS research organization.
“We decided to focus on the achievers,” says Mildred Neal of the 300 young African-American high school seniors her group has mentored. Of these, 98 percent are now college-bound, in college or in the professions—“attorneys, doctors, engineers, airline pilots, architects,” states Neal, one of the founders of the Links Inc. Achiever program. Her community work also takes her to Children’s Hospital, where she looks out for problems relating to her own southeast part of town. Neal is an SDSU alum; her husband, Charles, owns SunTech Electronics; their daughter, Nichole, is a Stanford and UCLA School of Law graduate.
Rick Prickett is in charge of a new effort by the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau to put San Diego’s vibrant arts scene on the map. It’s been tried before, but never on this scale—and never as “aggressively,” Prickett declares. The new campaign kicks off in the spring with 14 San Diego tour itineraries based on cultural themes.
In San Diego’s art circles, Prickett is already known as a guy who can make things happen. For years he was marketing director of the San Diego Performing Arts League. He also organized Care Fare, a program to raise money for AIDS organizations using
old bus-fare boxes. In his new role promoting cultural tourism, Prickett is targeting “partnerships” with area restaurants and hotels. “If we can get visitors to stay just one more day, the economic impact will be incredible,” Prickett says.
A year into the job of running the county, the new chief administrative officer took a spill when he proposed to give county executives $1.34 million in bonuses. It raised a firestorm of protests. But ex-Marine Larry Prior, who left a VP post with TRW to run the county, is not apologizing for the performance-based work ethic. And he’s being given full credit for dumping the county’s money-wasting trash system, cutting overhead and reestablishing a sense of financial order to the county.
Shortly after the County Board of Supervisors gave Prior a $45,000 bonus and a $31,000 raise, a state official accused the board of being “mesmerized” by Prior’s performance. “I don’t think Larry Prior walks on water, but I do think the performance that
he has provided for the county is nothing short of miraculous,” Supervisor Greg Cox told a reporter.
Marcos Ramirez is a carpenter-artist. His giant two-headed horse, constructed from painted lath boards, was a featured entry
in the recent inSITE97, which included a group of 30 exhibitions tying Tijuana to San Diego with cross-border art. But it was his first installation at inSITE94 that garnered Ramirez a story in Newsweek: He constructed a Mexican house and yard at the Centro Cultural in Tijuana.
Ramirez has a law degree but has never practiced. His skill as a carpenter kept him employed for 15 years, and it has been only in the past 10 years that he has turned to art. His two-headed horse suggests that we look both ways across the border and strive for equal treatment.
With San Diego–based banks going the way of the dinosaur, Leon Reinhart’s First National Bank stands out as a survivor. Overcoming the slumps of the early ’90s, it now boasts solid ledger sheets and assets of more than $360 million. Primed for growth, it has swollen to seven branches and is looking for more room to grow.
Reinhart moved into the top slot just 18 months ago, after 25 years with Citibank, most recently as the chief credit officer for Citibank Mexico. His big-league credentials will help as First National focuses more attention on developing its international business. Reinhart also is targeting smaller businesses with innovative programs like “Business Manager,” an approach to helping small businesses process receivables. He’s doing something right. First National posted record profits last year.
One of San Diego Magazine’s People To Watch back in 1985, when his community activism was concentrated mostly on the arts (COMBO, the Old Globe, the Gaslamp Quarter Theatre), George Saadeh is back in the public spotlight in 1998 with a new bent: better civics. The affable owner of Wurts Interiors still directs most of his energies to the family carpet and drapery business, but he’s also become passionate about the business of government. Appointed in 1995 to the Mayor’s Standing Committee on Effectiveness and Efficiency in City Government, Saadeh helped produce the “Change 2” report that urged the downsizing and streamlining of the city bureaucracy.
Now also a member of the Select Committee on Government Efficiency, Saadeh is charged with helping to implement the changes he and his task force called for. His primary focus in ’98: an examination of operations at the city’s Data Processing Corporation, a little-understood, $60-million-a-year corporation that does the city’s computer and telecommunications business.
You just can’t keep Lynn Schenk away from politics—not for long, anyway. San Diego’s first congresswoman—narrowly defeated
in her quest for a second term in 1994 by then–County Supervisor Brian Bilbray—wants to be California’s next attorney general. She’s the best-known of several Democrats who have announced their intention to run for the state post this year. Schenk served as a San Diego port commissioner and state Secretary of Business, Transportation and Housing. She also was a state deputy attorney general.
Schenk is known as a hardball campaigner; an unsuccessful bid for a seat on the county board of supervisors in the early 1980s against Susan Golding resulted in a flurry of litigation over nasty campaign ads. When Schenk was first elected to Congress, Golding, as San Diego’s new mayor, publicly welcomed her. But as soon as Bilbray decided to run for the seat, Golding turned on her former nemesis and publicly endorsed her fellow Republican.
He’s the driving force behind Lamb’s Players Theatre, skilled in acting, directing, design, budgeting—you name it. Robert Smyth took a company that was groping for identity (it began with a religious orientation in National City using a small, out-of-the-way space) and turned it into a thriving, multidimensional entity. When Smyth set his sights on renovating the 1917 Spreckels Theatre in Coronado, for many years a movie house, an office suite, a print shop and an auto-parts storage space, a new era began.
Even with that comfortable 340-seat Coronado theater up and running, the troupe sometimes has three plays performing simultaneously in San Diego, plunking down their inspired creations in the Hahn and Lyceum in downtown San Diego. And Smyth is passionate about using San Diego–based talent. “He matches people with jobs that complement their strengths, even if they didn’t know they had strengths in those areas,” says a colleague.
Until George Stevens, San Diego’s largely minority Fourth City Council District had elected moderate African-American leaders who were careful not to rock the boat. But City Hall observers have learned to train their eyes on Stevens—a former preacher and black revolutionary—because they never know just what he’s going to say, or do, next. Stevens, who for 16 years worked as an aide to former County Supervisor and Congressman Jim Bates, is a passionate firebrand who’s tussled with virtually every one of his colleagues (he called one a “white racist boy” and told another to “go to hell”). Supporters say he truly cares about his district and fights tooth and nail for what his people want. Critics say he’s a swaggering bully whom no one takes seriously. Just recently, he blasted his council colleagues as “racist” for not selecting an African-American as city manager.
Late last year, the San Diego Padres named Dave Stewart as pitching coach. Stewart joined the team as a special assistant to
the general manager in 1996. A professional pitcher for 15 years (1981-95), Stewart won 20 games a season in four consecutive years (1987-90). A member of three World Series championship teams (with the 1981 Dodgers, ’89 Oakland Athletics and ’93 Toronto Blue Jays), Stewart is well remembered for the menacing glare with which he eyed opposing hitters. But he is also a well-known community activist and founded Kidscorp, a nonprofit agency in the Bay Area.
“He’s a first-class baseball man and a first-class human being,” says Padres manager Bruce Bochy. Adds team president and CEO Larry Lucchino: “Dave Stewart will be a major-league general manager someday.”
In a male-dominated profession, Carolyn Taylor is that rare individual: a female money manager. At Weatherly Assets in Del Mar, which she founded in 1994, she manages $30 million in investments for institutions, high-net-worth clients and individuals who hope to join that envied group. A Stanford graduate, Taylor came here from the New York investment firm of Neuberger & Berman, where she managed accounts totaling $1.5 billion.
Carolyn and her husband, Bill, trade off parental duties overseeing their four daughters, ages 1 to 7, and a nanny. Bill takes late operating times at UCSD Med Center, where he is a neurosurgeon, and Carolyn is at her desk when the stock market opens at dawn.
Has her gender been a drawback? “Only once,” remembers Taylor, “when I went to visit a prospective client in Texas and was nine months pregnant, wearing a very pink suit and thinking, ‘There’s no way I’m getting this money.’”
The San Diego Union-Tribune’s newest specialty writer, Preston Turegano, ranks among its senior reporters—an ex-Navy journalist who got his civilian start 27 years ago as a “copy boy” for the old Evening Tribune. While he was working his way up the ranks and pursuing a journalism degree at SDSU, Turegano’s earliest assignments had him shadowing Queen Elizabeth II on her 1983 San Diego visit and put him first on the scene in 1988 after the suspected terrorist bombing of Sharon Rogers’ family van in University City.
With the merger of the Tribune and The San Diego Union in 1992, Turegano moved to his first love, arts criticism, and scored big with stories on the bankruptcy of the San Diego Symphony and questionable expenses and management at the San Diego Museum of Art. Named the newspaper’s radio and TV writer in September, Turegano says he plans to do some digging into the FCC’s files on local radio and TV stations. It’s the ultimate beat for him, “unless,” he says, “they decide they want to make me editor-in-chief.”
Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Mike Uberuaga left the top post for the city of Huntington Beach, which isn’t
even the largest city in Orange County, to become city manager of San Diego, where picking off city administrators is becoming
an increasingly popular sport. Huntington Beach may have oil spills, but it doesn’t have anti-tax activists, national conventions and Super Bowls.
Still, Uberuaga is considered an expert in the fiscal-numbers game at a time when the city desperately needs a financial whiz. He inherits the long-running effort to build a state-of-the-art library, as well as a new baseball stadium and the replanning of a good chunk of the city’s waterfront. In Huntington Beach, he was known for sticking within his budgets and maintaining a hard line with the city’s labor unions.
She’s back. After stints in New York and Los Angeles, KNSD-TV (NBC 7/39) is hoping Bree Walker will bring a little big-city luster to its newscasts. San Diegans will remember her from ratings high-wire days at Channel 10 in the mid-’80s, when her cool style and blonde good looks dominated the local TV news game. Longtime locals will recall her even earlier incarnation as the sexy late-night deejay for a local rock radio station. Teaming Walker with veteran Marty Levin gives KNSD the most experienced local anchor team, as well as star power. With Channel 7/39 now owned by NBC, and a salary reportedly in the $300,000 range, Walker will be under pressure to deliver viewers to match her national reputation as a top-level news reader.
This former Eagle Scout and lifeguard hit the ground running when he was elected to the San Diego City Council. Byron Wear’s Second District takes in some of the city’s liveliest spots: Old Town, Sea World, Mission Bay and Seaport Village. Other entities to deal with: the Port District, Lindbergh Field and the Convention Center.
Wear enjoys high approval among his constituents. In Pacific Beach, he handled a successful mediation between beach bar owners and frustrated residents. In Point Loma, he pushed for the reopening of Dana Junior High School to relieve student overcrowding. In Mission Beach, he’s kept a strong police presence to handle rowdy beach crowds. Downtown, he’s been active in planning for a homeless shelter—which prompts Father Joe Carroll to say Wear ought to be running for mayor. Some City Hall insiders agree.
A bout with breast cancer three years ago led Brooklyn defense attorney and author Carolyn Wheat to bid adieu to the hectic Big Apple lifestyle and drive a rental truck out West, with no set destination in mind. After two years as writer-in-residence at the University of Central Oklahoma, Wheat last spring continued her journey and wound up in Oceanside—just in time for the publication of her fifth mystery novel, Troubled Waters, a legal thriller that Kirkus Reviews calls “dazzlingly plotted” and “required reading for anybody who remembers the ’60s—or anybody who’s forgotten them.”
Wheat works out of an apartment off El Camino Real, overlooking the scenic back country, and writes daily until the late afternoon, when she gets in her car and explores her new North County environs. Hailed by The New York Times as “a strong, smart writer,” Wheat is currently working on a collection of short stories set along Route 66.
Julie Meier Wright
As the new president and chief executive of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, Julie Meier Wright’s challenge will be to attract new business to the San Diego area in a time of fierce competition. Appointed to the $200,000-a-year post last August at the urging of San Diego Mayor Susan Golding, Wright came to town after five years in Sacramento as Secretary of Trade and Commerce. Her “Red Teams” concept—combining government officials with private citizens—has been extremely successful; a Red Team helped bring Legoland to Carlsbad. Wright, a Los Angeles native, was public relations director for the space and defense sector of TRW Inc. before Governor Pete Wilson appointed her to the Trade and Commerce post in 1992.
At Dick’s Last Resort, where rude waiters and tasteless mottos are the rule, general manager Steve Zipfel encourages flip behavior, hosts serious fund-raisers (the Leukemia Society is his favorite) and jogs his merchant neighbors into party participation. “If there’s a reason to have a party here at Dick’s, we do it,” says Zipfel.
So perhaps he’s the logical person to head up the Gaslamp Quarter’s Super Fest in January (he’s chairman of the board of the Gaslamp Quarter Association) as well as its Mardi Gras in February. Last year’s Mardi Gras—with marching bands and a $500 prize at Dick’s for the craziest costume—attracted 15,000 people (they expected 5,000). This year’s celebration will bring 20,000 to 40,000 to the closed-off streets of the Gaslamp. Dick’s motto, “You can’t kill a man born to hang,” sets the mood for general revelry.