Former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who previously pled guilty to conspiracy and tax-evasion charges, was sentenced to eight years and four months in a federal prison on Friday. During the hearing, Cunningham's attorneys and prosecutors argued over how much prison time was necessary to make sure other elected officials understood the gravity of public corruption. The defense said six years was sufficient while the prosecution asked for the 10-year maximum.
In the end, U.S. District Judge Larry Alan Burns decided to avoid that difficult question and essentially split the difference after taking into account Cunningham's heroics as a fighter pilot in Vietnam. But he wouldn't have had to look very far to find an elected official and ask what kind of message his sentence conveyed.
Congressman Duncan Hunter, Cunningham's political mentor and longtime friend, was in the courtroom to bid his boy adieu, and CityBeat chased him down afterward to find out whether he thought it was time to get rid of earmarks, one of the methods Cunningham used to quietly direct millions of dollars to defense contractors in exchange for more than $2 million in bribes. According to the Union-Tribune, Hunter himself received $39,200 in campaign contributions from Brent Wilkes-one of the alleged co-conspirators named in Cunningham's case-while using earmarks to secure more than $109 million worth of contracts for Wilkes' companies.
"The Constitution gives the Congress a mandate to equip and train the forces, and that's what Congress is supposed to do," Hunter said. "So if you want to have a constitutional convention to change the U.S. Constitution, that might happen, but Congress is supposed to build the defense budget-that's our job."
Presumably, that means eight years and four months isn't going to change anything.
The Pepsi Bottling Company should be very pleased with the city of San Diego-at least two members of the City Council are doing their part to raise awareness of the company's namesake soft drink.
Upon hearing a presentation on the condition of tourism in town by representatives from the San Diego Visitors and Convention Bureau during last week's meeting of the City Council's Rules Committee, City Councilmember Brian Maienschein, commenting on the efficacy of ad campaigns, said many people really don't know what it is that makes them spend money. Folks don't know for sure that it's Britney Spears who compels them to drink Pepsi, he said.
"For me, it's P. Diddy," chimed City Council President Scott Peters.
Well, OK, Peters knows, Maienschein ribbed, but Peters is always self-analyzing. The city council president is "shallow," Maienschein said. (Peters grinned, but could his laughter have been hiding what Smokey Robinson once called "the tears of a clown"?)
As part of the city's Corporate Partnership Program, the Pepsi Bottling Group has an agreement worth $4.25 million that spans from 1999 to 2011, under which the Pepsi Bottling Company is the "official beverage provider" for the city of San Diego, with exclusive rights to all beverage vending machines.A study announced in the March issue of the scientific journal Pediatrics showed that soda is a leading cause of obesity among teenagers.