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GOP candidate has bagels with "Snoop Patrol"

Melissa Vinitsky, Tribune News Service

TAHOE CITY — GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon, in Tahoe for a brief vacation, took time out Tuesday morning to meet with a group of Homewood Republicans.

The residents requested the informal meeting as a chance to meet Simon and demonstrate support to a candidate beleaguered by financial scandals.

Simon was ostensibly in town to visit the Shey family, whose eldest daughter, Colleen Morrissie, is his neighbor in Pacific Palisades.



But with the election less than three months away, it’s no surprise that his vacation turned into another campaign stop. For the past 16 months, he has been traveling up and down California and intends to campaign seven days a week until Nov. 5.

Simon was asked by Morrissie to join the daily gathering of the Snoop Patrol, a group of second-homeowners from Sacramento and the Bay Area who have congregated every morning at Obexer’s Market (now Syd’s Bagelery) for coffee, newspapers and gossip for the past 20 years.



About 30 members of the Snoop Patrol were on hand to greet Simon, who arrived at the bagel shop about 8 a.m., accompanied by his wife, Cindy, and Brent Lowder, director of campaign operations.

Simon shook hands with people and stopped to talk as he worked his way through the crowd.

Morrissie, who has known Simon for 14 years, believes he would make a great governor.

“I think the world of him. He is a first-rate person,” she said. “He has always been very involved in California and charity work, and has been the front-runner of his friends to get involved and give back to the community.”

Most of those present voiced their support for Simon and their dissatisfaction with Gov. Gray Davis for his involvement in the California energy crisis and the current scandals regarding campaign contributions from the prison guard union and Oracle Corp. in exchange for contracts with the state.

“I am so much opposed to Davis,” said Ross Bewley, a part-time Homewood resident from Stockton who said he would contribute to Simon’s campaign. “I am currently in favor of Simon, I like the way he conducts himself and his campaign.”

Roy Stone also announced his intention to give money to Simon.

“I have no confidence in Davis as a governor. But Simon doesn’t have the money that Davis has,” he said.

Simon, 51, said he decided to run for governor because he believes Davis had failed in that job.

“I feel that California needs someone who can face the issues. Davis had his chance,” said Simon.

Simon says his experience as head of the private investment firm William E. Simon & Sons and vice chairman of Catholic Charities in Los Angeles, the largest private network of social service organizations in the nation, has prepared him for leadership of the most populous state.

Simon’s only government experience is as a former assistant U.S. attorney in New York.

However, Simon has been plagued in recent weeks by controversies regarding his business dealings. In the latest setback, on July 31, a Los Angeles County Superior Court found Simon’s firm liable for $78 million in compensatory and punitive damages for defrauding a business partner. Simon, who was not personally named in the lawsuit, has called the outcome “a bad verdict” that would be overturned on appeal.

Simon may also be called to testify in a trial in Washington, D.C., in September regarding a lawsuit filed by Simon and other investors in the former Western Federal Savings and Loan against the government.

The government seized the savings and loan in 1993 at a cost to taxpayers of $122 million. The Simon family lost about $40 million. While investors claim the government improperly seized the firm, the government argues that the investors made poor choices and retained executives who mismanaged Western Federal.

These scandals come at a time when public confidence in corporate America is at an all time low and could cast doubt on Simon’s ability to get the state’s financial house in order. California currently has a $23.6 billion deficit.

Nonetheless, Snoop Patrol members saw the stories surrounding Simon as all the more reason to come out to support him.


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