“It requires a very unusual mind to make an analysis of the obvious.”—Alfred North WhiteheadAs your humble host of Spin Cycle hurtles toward the mid-century mark, chronologically speaking, it becomes apparent that the brain is The Decider when it comes to determining if it feels like spinning long, flowing carpets of commentary or, as now, in cannon-shot sputters and sparks.O O OFirst, some thoughts on the flap over the Thank-You-or-Not Democratic mailer sent out by the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council last week. When the glossy pamphlet hit our inbox, Spin Cycle's first impression was, Oh, this is a ‘Scott Peters for City Attorney' promotional piece disguised as a big wet kiss to the City Council's pro-labor membership.
Call me skeptical, but the mailer's cover page? Peters hovering god-like in the cumulonimbi above the city skyline—with the other lesser-mentioned council members below? On the back, Peters' name is the only one emboldened in look-at-me yellow. Please, leaders of the oh-so-many very hard workers out there, this promotion clearly failed to pass through your Subtlety Department for review.
Councilmember Donna Frye cried foul for being included in the mailer without her permission, telling voiceofsandiego.org that it implied she was endorsing Peters in the city attorney race, a suggestion she called “extremely offensive.” While Frye's reaction may have been a bit melodramatic (after all, the words “city attorney” never appear on the mailer), she certainly had the right to opine on the matter.
The Labor Council seemed surprised by the backlash, saying it simply wanted to thank Frye and her Democratic colleagues (Tony Young, Ben Hueso and Toni Atkins were also mentioned) for including worker-friendly and environmentally conscious language in the city's General Plan.
Considering that only Peters is presently enmeshed in an election race and has the Labor Council's endorsement, the mailer did seem like a pretty expensive way to say “Thanks” to all five. (Labor Council political director Evan McLaughlin told Spin Cycle that 50,000 of these mailers went to Democratic households.) Perhaps someone has a little too much cash burning in the pocket.O O OPerhaps no other story in recent weeks has generated more blog-o-buzz than reports that Tony Krvaric, San Diego's GOP chairman, once headed an international software piracy ring described as one of the world's most prolific, brazen and publicity happy.
The usually flamboyant Krvaric has gone quiet on the issue since the website RawStory.com broke the story last week that he had operated within a software-code-cracking organization named Fairlight, which was one group of several that were targeted by federal investigators in 2004 during Operation Fastlink. At the time, the Department of Justice described the crackdown as “the largest global enforcement action ever undertaken against online piracy.” The federal investigation mentioned Fairlight as one of several international groups that “specialized in pirating computer games.”The DOJ announced last May that the operation had resulted in 50 felony convictions to date and that the investigation was ongoing.
Spin Cycle has been aware of the allegations for weeks, after members of the local Republican Central Committee began e-mailing detailed reports of Krvaric's alleged “warez scene” past to anyone who'd listen. What's strange is that no Central Committee member has offered to speak publicly about the allegations. As one of the GOP faithful put it, “Because of the election coming up, no one wants to risk talking to you on the Central Committee.”
Krvaric did send an e-mail (curiously, from the fairlight.com domain) to fellow committee members in late April, acknowledging that a “hit piece” had been circulating about his “wild high-school, teenage years where I was in a computer club where we swapped Commodore-64 games,” but he downplayed his participation as something “similar to how kids swap mp3 music files these days.”
In his e-mail, he said, “I don't know who is spreading this,” adding that it's likely “someone who wants us to take our eye off the ball in 2008, be it the democrats, labor or someone else. Either way, we're not going to let them get away with it.”
Funny, since it's members of his own party who are doing most of the behind-the-scene chattering about Krvaric's past.
Krvaric, who went by the screen name Strider, did not respond to a request for comment by press time. But in an undated interview, he indicated that he got involved in software-cracking as a teen in Sweden.
Asked in the interview to recount his proudest moment, Strider responded, “When Fairlight totally dominated the [Commodore-64] and Amiga scene and was widely considered the best group in the world. Of course not all would agree, but in general we kicked some serious ass during some years!”
When asked if he had any regrets, his answer was succinct: “No.”
In the interview, Krvaric—who now runs a financial consulting firm—said he got out of the piracy business because “life comes knocking on your door, and girlfriends, family, work, school, etc.”
Stay tuned on who'll be knocking on the door next. Today at fairlight.com, the website only says “coming soon” and in recent days the website's archives have been deactivated.O O OOn a brighter note, it seems that San Diego's questionable sister-city relationship with an Irish development company is no more. In 2002, then-Mayor Dick Murphy kicked off efforts to create one of the stranger sister-city deals with Shannon, Ireland, in honor of his daughter of the same name.
Turned out the city was actually the Shannon Development Company, run by a CEO not a mayor. Despite concerted efforts by blogger Pat Flannery to scuttle the shaky deal, a majority of the City Council in 2005 gave its blessing to the relationship.
But now, the relationship is dead. “As of right now, Shannon is not a sister city of San Diego,” Lynn R. Hijar-Moya, Mayor Jerry Sanders' director of protocol, told Spin Cycle.
Frank Larkin, spokesman for Shannon Development, acknowledged the end of the relationship but noted that the linkage was “positive.” He added, “Due to personal and operational changes at this end, and probably also at the San Diego end, we haven't had contact with San Diego officials for some time.”
Donal Denham, the former Consul General of Ireland based in San Francisco who had worked closely with Murphy to seal the sister-city deal, had no comment on the familial demise.
In the end, the deal didn't work out well for Murphy, who left office in disgrace, and—arguably—for Denham, who shortly after the council vote was transferred to Lithuania.
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