San Diego Weekly Reader November 18 2010 : Page 2

C I T Y L I G H T S C I T Y L I G H T S C I T Y L I G H T S PHOTOGRAPH BY ERNIE BARRERA UNDER THE RADAR Under investigation La Jolla’s Lynn Schenk , the ex–Democratic congressmember and former aide to Jerry Brown who was written up last month in the Los Angeles Times for allegedly taking a questionable foreign trip in conjunc-tion with her role as a member of the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority, has gotten a letter from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. “The Fair Political Prac-Fast-tracker Lynn Schenk warned tices Commission about receipt of gifts provisions. has initiated an investigation of allegations that as a member of the California High Speed Rail Authority, you violated the Political Reform Act’s limitation on the receipt of gifts provisions,” says an October 29 letter to Schenk from commission executive director Roman Porter . “At this time, we have not made any determination about the allegation(s). We are simply providing you with this information as a courtesy and may be contacting you again to discuss this matter.” Schenk told the Times she wasn’t required to disclose the trip to Spain as a gift and that “she has a policy of not accepting per-sonal gifts and used her airline miles for air fare.” The Times reported that the authority could not account for sponsorship of many of the freebies. support for the impov-erished senior’s plight and to act as a conduit to other available senior resources.” Garrick is an honorary boardmember. Contributing to the cause, thanks to the legislator, were big corporations, some with dealings with the state government. Another major donor was the North County Times Charities Fund ($5000). Others included the Tri-City health-care district ($10,000); Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians ($50,000); Harrah’s Foundation ($50,000); SCAN Health Plan ($5000); the Seth Sprague Foundation ($10,000); Global Surveillance Associates ($5000); and Genentech, Inc. ($10,000). According to its most recently available IRS return, covering 2007, the charity brought in total revenue of $310,029 and paid total salaries and benefits of $155,758. The group’s fifth annual fund-raising bash is com-ing up November 20 at Harrah’s Rincon Casino at $100 a person. Disgraced Illinois activist Carol Spizzirri now lives in this San Marcos mobile-home park. Where Did the Money Go? By Don Bauder T he Chicago Tribune of January 16, 1995, ran a story of a mother, Carol Spizzirri, lamenting the death in an auto accident of a 1995 law requiring Illinois police officers and firefighters to be trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscita-tion. By this time, Spizzirri was a darling of politicians and bureaucrats, although it PHOTOGRAPH BY ERNIE BARRERA 2 San Diego Reader November 18, 2010 As usual, recent disclo-sures show that the county’s gambling tribes have been offering hospitality to politicians from far and wide. In particular, on September 14 Barona’s “private gaming area” hosted a $56.25-a-plate meal for some 11 state senate and assembly members and 3 candidates. Attendees included GOP sena-Cash bash The practice called behesting, tor Mark Wyland and Republican assemblymen wherein state legislators tell their fat-cat cam-Joel Anderson and Martin Garrick . On July 16, paign donors which nonprofit organizations to Democratic assembly candidate Toni Atkins got contribute a $27.75 meal at Barona; the same day, termed-out Democratic senator Denise Moreno Duch-eny got food of the same value…Meanwhile, on July 9, Megan MacNee , listed as an “Assem-bly Fellow to Assemblyman Fletcher ,” got a $158 ticket and refreshments to the big Rihanna concert at Sacramento’s Arco Arena, thanks to AT&T. On July 25, Roy Sianez , legislative director to termed-out Democratic assembly-woman Mary Salas , picked up a $158 Assemblyman Martin Garrick earns his political wings at Angel's Depot, ticket and refreshments to a Vicente behesting fat cats to donate to the eldercare nonprofit. Fernández concert, also at Arco. On July 30, Joe Patterson , aide to Assem-blyman Martin Garrick, got two Giants tickets to to — and in turn bask in the reflected political AT&T Park in San Francisco worth $134. Closer glory of the donated cash — is alive and well, at to home, Jonathan Hardy , district representative least at the office of GOP assemblyman Martin for Senator Denise Ducheny, got a Padres ticket to Garrick. According to disclosure filings made Petco Park worth $110. And on August 3, Assem-with the state’s secretary of state, the beneficiary blyman Joel Anderson picked up “golf reserva-of $185,000 in corporate contributions raised by tions” at La Jolla’s Torrey Pines valued at $272. Garrick was the Angel’s Depot, a nonprofit organi-— Matt Potter zation that according to its website “was founded to provide food for the elderly poor living in San The Reader offers $25 for news tips published Diego County and to help improve the quality of in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-their lives. Further, it is the mission of The Angel’s 3000, ext. 440, or fax your tip to 619-231-0489. Depot to promote community awareness and Private booty her 18-year-old daughter, Christina, in 1992. “This is my girl,” whispered Spizzirri at her daughter’s grave, said the newspaper. “I can still feel her hand. And I see her everywhere. Her hair at the have noticed that less than a month after that 1995 Tri-bune story appeared, the newspaper had retracted key points. In the first story, the writer had said, “The first police officers on the scene balked at administering aid. By the time the paramedics arrived, Christina had bled to death on the highway.” On February 7, 1995, the Tribune stated that Christina had “died in a hospital more than an hour after the acci-dent,” not on the highway. The story had suggested that Christina died from bleed-ing from a severed arm. But Mobile home where Spizzirri lives From shoplifter to darling of politicians, to fraud, to San Marcos grocery store. Her smile.” In 1993, Spizzirri had gone on to found the Save-A-Life Foundation, for teach-ing first aid to students. She was greatly responsible for was a matter of record that she had been convicted twice for shoplifting. Save-A-Life began raking in money from government grants. But few, if any, seemed to It's not just the Chargers... Another pro sports franchise at-tempts to bilk its ailing hometown — the Cubs want to fix up Wrigley... LA Times on San Diego corruption “Audits of city finances often cover up serious problems...” Channel 10 airs mayor's deposition Judge tried to block air-ing of Mayor Sanders’s deposition in the Kessler vs. San Diego case... Read Don Bauder news updates like these every day at SDReader.com the Tribune had to admit she had died of multiple traumatic injuries, includ-ing a depressed skull. The police officers who came to the scene had not “balked” at administering first aid, but they were not trained in the practice. “It is unlikely that basic first aid would have saved her,” said the embar-rassed Tribune. But it wasn’t until Novem-ber of 2006 that ABC 7 News continued on page 54

Under The Radar

<b>Under investigation</b> La Jolla’s Lynn Schenk, the ex–Democratic congressmember and former aide to Jerry Brown who was written up last month in the Los Angeles Times for allegedly taking a questionable foreign trip in conjunction with her role as a member of the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority, has gotten a letter from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission. “The Fair Political Practices Commission has initiated an investigation of allegations that as a member of the California High Speed Rail Authority, you violated the Political Reform Act’s limitation on the receipt of gifts provisions,” says an October 29 letter to Schenk from commission executive director Roman Porter. “At this time, we have not made any determination about the allegation(s).We are simply providing you with this information as a courtesy and may be contacting you again to discuss this matter.” Schenk told the Times she wasn’t required to disclose the trip to Spain as a gift and that “she has a policy of not accepting personal gifts and used her airline miles for air fare.” The Times reported that the authority could not account for sponsorship of many of the freebies.<br /> <br /> <b>Cash bash</b> The practice called behesting, wherein state legislators tell their fat-cat campaign donors which nonprofit organizations to contribute to — and in turn bask in the reflected political glory of the donated cash — is alive and well, at least at the office of GOP assemblyman Martin Garrick. According to disclosure filings made with the state’s secretary of state, the beneficiary of $185,000 in corporate contributions raised by Garrick was the Angel’s Depot, a nonprofit organization that according to its website “was founded to provide food for the elderly poor living in San Diego County and to help improve the quality of their lives. Further, it is the mission of The Angel’s Depot to promote community awareness and support for the impoverished senior’s plight and to act as a conduit to other available senior resources.” Garrick is an honorary boardmember.Contributing to the cause, thanks to the legislator, were big corporations, some with dealings with the state government. Another major donor was the North County Times Charities Fund ($5000). Others included the Tri-City health-care district ($10,000); Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians ($50,000); Harrah’s Foundation ($50,000); SCAN Health Plan ($5000); the Seth Sprague Foundation ($10,000); Global Surveillance Associates ($5000); and Genentech, Inc. ($10,000). According to its most recently available IRS return, covering 2007, the charity brought in total revenue of $310,029 and paid total salaries and benefits of $155,758.The group’s fifth annual fund-raising bash is coming up November 20 at Harrah’s Rincon Casino at $100 a person.<br /> <br /> <b>Private booty</b> As usual, recent disclosures show that the county’s gambling tribes have been offering hospitality to politicians from far and wide. In particular, on September 14 Barona’s “private gaming area” hosted a $56.25-a-plate meal for some 11 state senate and assembly members and 3 candidates. Attendees included GOP senator Mark Wyland and Republican assemblymen Joel Anderson and Martin Garrick. On July 16, Democratic assembly candidate Toni Atkins got a $27.75 meal at Barona; the same day, termedout Democratic senator Denise Moreno Ducheny got food of the same value…Meanwhile, on July 9, Megan MacNee, listed as an “Assembly Fellow to Assemblyman Fletcher,” got a $158 ticket and refreshments to the big Rihanna concert at Sacramento’s Arco Arena, thanks to AT&T.On July 25, Roy Sianez, legislative director to termed-out Democratic assemblywoman Mary Salas, picked up a $158 ticket and refreshments to a Vicente Fernández concert, also at Arco. On July 30, Joe Patterson, aide to Assemblyman Martin Garrick, got two Giants tickets to AT&T Park in San Francisco worth $134. Closer to home, Jonathan Hardy, district representative for Senator Denise Ducheny, got a Padres ticket to Petco Park worth $110. And on August 3, Assemblyman Joel Anderson picked up “golf reservations” at La Jolla’s Torrey Pines valued at $272.<br /> <br /> — Matt Potter

Where Did The Money Go?

Don Bauder

The Chicago Tribune of January 16, 1995, ran a story of a mother, Carol Spizzirri, lamenting the death in an auto accident of her 18-year-old daughter, Christina, in 1992. “This is my girl,” whispered Spizzirri at her daughter’s grave, said the newspaper. “I can still feel her hand. And I see her everywhere. Her hair at the grocery store. Her smile.” <br /> <br /> In 1993, Spizzirri had gone on to found the Save- A-Life Foundation, for teaching first aid to students. She was greatly responsible for a 1995 law requiring Illinois police officers and firefighters to be trained in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.By this time, Spizzirri was a darling of politicians and bureaucrats, although it was a matter of record that she had been convicted twice for shoplifting. Save-A-Life began raking in money from government grants.<br /> <br /> But few, if any, seemed to have noticed that less than a month after that 1995 Tribune story appeared, the newspaper had retracted key points. In the first story, the writer had said, “The first police officers on the scene balked at administering aid.By the time the paramedics arrived, Christina had bled to death on the highway.” <br /> <br /> On February 7, 1995, the Tribune stated that Christina had “died in a hospital more than an hour after the accident,” not on the highway.The story had suggested that Christina died from bleeding from a severed arm. But the Tribune had to admit she had died of multiple traumatic injuries, including a depressed skull. The police officers who came to the scene had not “balked” at administering first aid, but they were not trained in the practice. “It is unlikely that basic first aid would have saved her,” said the embarrassed Tribune.<br /> <br /> But it wasn’t until November of 2006 that ABC 7 News in Chicago, in the first of several broadcasts, exposed more of Spizzirri’s untruthful statements. She had told the station that she was a registered nurse. But the station reported that the institution from which she had claimed to receive her nursing degree had never given her one. A hospital in which she had claimed to be a transplant nurse said she had been a patient care assistant, which is akin to a candy striper. After the announcer challenged her on the assertion that the accident was a hit-and-run, she walked out of the interview.Her abrupt departure was shown on TV.<br /> <br /> By this time, her foundation had raised about $8 million from such groups as the Illinois Department of Public Health and the United States Centers for Disease Control, and she had been paid more than $100,000 in some years. She had gathered support from such politicians as Democrat Dick Durbin, now a Senate kingpin, and Norm Coleman, then a Republican senator. Ronald McDonald had joined the fan club. Mike Brown, then head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, embraced the movement and was shown in a picture with Spizzirri. (After Katrina hit, President George W.Bush uttered the famous remark, “Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.” When it was apparent he wasn’t, he resigned.)<br /> <br /> Arne Duncan, then the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools, now United States Secretary of Education, had lauded what the foundation was doing for the schools and effused, “Carol [Spizzirri] is one of my heroes.” That praise had come two months before the series of ABC 7 shows began.Soon, the support began falling off, and Spizzirri went in another direction: campaigning against cyberstalking.On June 29, 2009, the Save-A-Life Foundation closed down.<br /> <br /> And Carol Spizzirri came to San Marcos. I have confirmed that she and a former treasurer of Save-A-Life are living at Palomar Estates West, a mobile home community in San Marcos. Four phone numbers said to be theirs led nowhere. I wrote emails to her last surviving daughter and her closest friend, asking that Spizzirri call me but have heard nothing. So Ernie Barrera, a Reader contributor, went there to ask her questions and take photos of the mobile home. Prior to going, he watched the Chicago TV tape so he knew what she looked and sounded like.He met a woman in front of the Spizzirri home.“I asked if she was Carol Spizzirri.She said no and refused to identify herself.I was sure it was she. The looks were the same, the voice the same as on the TV tape,” says Barrera.<br /> <br /> In June of this year, the Illinois attorney general wrote to Spizzirri, noting that in its most recent yearly report, Save-A-Life had $152,112 in net assets. “Please provide information on who received the remaining assets of the foundation,” wrote the attorney general’s office, which also inquired about the use of sale proceeds of a foundation- owned building. I asked the attorney general’s office both by phone and email for a response and have received none.<br /> <br /> I have gone through records of Lake County, Illinois, where Spizzirri lived.On May 18, 1992 — four months before the fatal accident — Christina filed for an order of protection against her mother. A neighbor who lives four houses away was willing to be Christina’s primary caretaker. The complaint stated that Spizzirri had struck Christina “on several occasions and threatened her on many occasions.” The order of protection, granted the same month, barred Spizzirri from seeing her daughter at several locations such as school and work.Christina “fears her mother will attempt to harass her or retaliate,” said the complaint.Spizzirri asserted, among other things, that she could use “reasonable force to discipline a child” who needed medical attention. In July, Spizzirri got Christina back — two months before she was killed.<br /> <br /> Christina’s filing for protection may have been triggered by an incident on May 4, 1992, when, Lake County Circuit Court records show, Spizzirri complained that her daughter damaged a curio cabinet in the household and did physical damage to a second daughter. Christina was placed on $20,000 bail and charged with a misdemeanor.<br /> <br /> Christina’s father, Gordon Pratt of Milwaukee, who divorced Spizzirri in 1981, says that Spizzirri had been out drinking that May evening with the other daughter and came home at 2:00 a.m. Christina, who was underage, had also been drinking and came home later. “There was a dispute and it escalated into a physical confrontation,” he says, relating a phone call he received from Christina.Soon, both Spizzirri and the other daughter were hitting Christina, who fought back, says Pratt. She shoved the curio cabinet in trying to get out the door.<br /> <br /> In both the police report and the coroner’s inquest into Christina’s death, officers said that she had been partying and drinking before the accident.The hospital reported that her blood alcohol level was .176 percent. The legal limit is .100 percent in Illinois, so she was legally intoxicated — something Spizzirri didn’t talk about when touting her foundation. The police reports, the coroner’s inquest, and the inquest jury all emphasized that there was no hit-and-run — her death was the result of “a singlevehicle roll-over,” said the jury.<br /> <br /> Spizzirri has taken to the courts — suing, for example, some who said her foundation had not taught as many people as she claimed. She dropped the suits. Shortly after her daughter’s death, she sued Lake County safety officials for mishandling the accident. Spizzirri “has been and will be in the future deprived of the society, companionship, love, affection and support of her daughter,” said her complaint, asking for $15,000. She dropped that too.<br /> <br /> In mid-1995, she wrote a letter to the Lake County coroner’s office, claiming it had defamed her foundation by giving out false information about the accident when the Tribune had made inquiries to make its correction.She demanded a public apology.The coroner said there would be none, adding, “I do not support innuendo, lies, and threats.”<br /> <br /> At the coroner’s inquest, Pratt stated that Christina was “a child who went through hell so that she could get to heaven.”

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