Commentary

Observations

By John Patrick Ford

Housing showdown at City Hall

Pressure to ease a growing housing shortage in San Diego reached the boiling point in a City Council meeting early this month. Economists and planners warned city officials for years that residential construction was falling behind demand. Prior councils ignored the prophecy. The new mayor, Dick Murphy, omitted the housing crisis from his ten goals announced at his inauguration. Now its time has come.

Stock options in the tank

If Congress has its way, more than a few corporate executives will face criminal charges for securities fraud. If convicted, the jailbirds might find they had feathered their nests with worthless stock options. Even worse, they might have to pay back millions of dollars looted from their companies in wanton bonuses, personal loans and profits from stock options exercised just before market values collapsed.

A health safety net full of holes

Editor's note: This is the second of two parts commenting on the status of health care in San Diego. The first, which ran May 16, can be viewed at www.sddt.com by typing its Source Code, 20020516tza.

Finding diamonds among the dross

There is a resale market evolving out of the chaos of failed hi-tech companies. A menacing breed of financiers emerges from the glossy realm of initial public offerings created by ambitious venture capitalists. They are callously called vulture capitalists.

Mickey Mouse accounting

I committed a literary faux pas while raking over the recent abuses of traditional accounting standards. In a recent commentary ("Bean-counter conflicts" -- 4/19/02), I used the phrase "pro forma financial statements," omitting a definition. A reader informed me that I was confusing her with a make believe Disney-like fantasy that earnings per share are not what they appear to be.

Wall Street blues

Investment bankers and other Wall Street gurus are shaken by the charges of conflict of interest against Merrill Lynch. The attorney general of New York State, Eliot Spitzer, singled out the largest stock brokerage firm as the scapegoat for alleged improprieties of stock analysts leading to the dot-com bubble and the collapse of Enron.

Calling Dr. Kildare

Editor's note: This is the first of two parts commenting on the status of health care in San Diego.

First-class lady

I am going to miss Queen Mum. The late Queen Mother Elizabeth, who died in March at age 101, was an icon of British tradition of the stiff upper lip. Her resolve to maintain dignity and duty-to-country inspired three generations of worldwide citizens who share my sorrow that we can no longer enjoy her gracious charisma.

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John Patrick Ford

John Patrick Ford is a free-lance writer based in San Diego....

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