NumbersRunner a first-hand account of political decision-making inside City Hall -- where politics, planning, and personality converge to shape the San Diego landscape.
Califorina Aware the Center for Public Forum Rights.
The California DISCLOSE Act Replace current deceptive "Paid for by" disclosures with real disclosure, making the top funders of the ad boldly and explicitly clear ON THE ADS THEMSELVES.
San Diego League of Women Voters the public has the right to open and accountable government View campaign contributions: The Center on Policy Initiatives Knowing where a candidate receives their financial support helps voters cast informed ballots and strengthens our democracy.
Pensions, Lawsuits, Gifts Revealed on New City Hall Site for Sunshine Week
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and open government czar Donna Frye unveil new public resource.
By Ken Stone, March 14, 2013— Excerpt: Marking Sunshine Week in San Diego, Mayor Bob Filner on Thursday unveiled a new section of the city website that makes good on his promise for open government—putting in one place information on the pensions being paid city retirees as well as all lawsuits involving City Hall. With his open-government chief Donna Frye standing beside him, he displayed what Frye called one of the most transparent city sites in the state, if not the nation.See the Open Government website."It's Sunshine Week every week in the city of San Diego," said Frye, the former councilwoman, Full Article
California Aware is REALLY bringing forward the transpareny! A New Way to Challenge Stealthy Government
By Terry Francke, General Counsel|January 1st, 2013|Awareness Area: Government,
As of today, acts or omissions that citizens suspect to be violations of the open meeting law for local government bodies—and in any event want halted—can be challenged by a cease and desist letter to the body. If that demand is not satisfied by a public commitment to abandon the practice, the challenger can proceed directly to court for a judicial order to do so. Until last year’s passage of SB 1003, which created the new remedy, courts were free to determine that they would not decide the lawfulness of a single past practice unless it involved allegedly illegal action taken or unless there were clear evidence that it would be repeated. SB 1003 ends that state of affairs and allows a declaratory judgment action—and potentially an injunction—for a single past action as much as 90 days old that the local body fails to disavow. SB 1003 was co-sponsored by Californians Aware and the California Newspaper Publisher Association. Complete details here.
It seems the UT is only a mouthpiece for Manchester and Cronies, but Mat Hall's piece brought home the essence of the fowl mouth of former Mayor Sanders from his own fowl words. In Sanders form let's chug a beer to this piece: Mayor Jerry Sanders' 10 most memorable lines By Matthew T. Hall, November 28, 2012, Excerpt:
Excerpt: From “F--- you, Steve” to “I like beer,” outgoing San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders’ most colorful quips and quotes leave his legacy as much about turning a phrase as turning around the city’s finances.
In his last State of the City address in January, for example, he drew cheers with his “personal commitment to tap the first keg any time a brewery opens.”
Without further ado, here are my 10 most memorable lines from Sanders. Full Piece
Stop Rigging System Against Small Business
By Elizabeth Warren, Politico, 8/6/12
I meant what I said.
I stood before a group of voters in Massachusetts last year and talked about what it would take to move forward as a nation. I laid out how we all needed to invest in our country, to build a strong foundation for our families today and make sure the next kid with the great idea has the chance to succeed.
But too often that kid can't succeed because the system is rigged against him.
Small-business owners bust their tails every day. They're the first ones in and the last to leave, six and often seven days a week. That's how my Aunt Alice ran her small restaurant, where I worked as a kid. My brother and my daughter both started small businesses. And I've visited and talked with small-business owners across Massachusetts. From the insurance agency in Brockton to the coffee shop in Greenfield and the manufacturing plant in Lawrence - all started and run by people with good ideas and a determination to succeed.
I believe in small businesses. They're the heart and soul of our economy. They create jobs and opportunities for the future.
Washington politicians line up 10-deep to claim they support small businesses, but they avoid talking about a harsh reality: The system is rigged against small business. These owners can't afford armies of lobbyists in D.C., but the big corporations can. It's those armies of lobbyists that create the loopholes and special breaks that let big corporations off the hook for paying taxes. While small businesses are left to pay the bills.
We've got to close those loopholes and end the special breaks - so small businesses have a level playing field and a fair chance to succeed.
When small businesses grow and flourish, we should applaud their success, and the companies should benefit from their hard work and clever ideas. But here's my point: If a business makes it big, the reward shouldn't be the ability to rig the system to stop the next guy.
If a business takes its profits to the Cayman Islands, ships its jobs overseas or finds a loophole to avoid paying its fair share of taxes, then that business now has a leg up over every small business and start up that can't take advantage of those loopholes. Sometimes the big can get bigger not because they are better but because they can work the system better. That's bad for every small business in America. Click for full article: stop-rigging-system-against-small-business
STOP Jacobs and Sanders IDIOTIC PLANS for Balboa Park —Voice your opinion about the massive Balboa Park redevelopment project (Pay Parking Garage/Ugly off rap from the historical bridge.).— Please join us in to fight for what is right or San Diego will end up with a Balboa Park that is wholly unrecognizable, and one that will irreversibly destroy the legacy that we have been entrusted with from our forefathers. Hold your councilperson's feet to the fire, they have already (except for Sherri Lightner) let you down on this important project when they voted for the illegal MOU, let's give them the chance to show us how they have learned from that mistake and are ready to listen to their constituents now and do what is best for Balboa Park. Updates: The Wave of Oppositin to Balboa Park Plan. Isn't it time for Jacobs to stop forcing an unwanted plan on San Diego? -The Historical Resources Board voted unanimously in opposition to the Plaza de Panama project and in particular the bypass bridge.
-Opposition to the controversial Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park is building into a groundswell, as the design team's cost estimates balloon, from $40 million to $45 million in a matter of days, and doubts arise over completing construction by 2015, the centennial of the Panama-California Exposition. These serious drawbacks bolster the long-standing, documented concerns of historic preservationists.
-Decisive votes are mounting, as San Diego city boards and commissions that oversee Balboa Park and its historic resources, register a resounding No! to this deeply flawed vision. Residents, designers and civic leaders are joining preservationists in voting down the plan backed by City Hall that would forever damage Balboa Park by adding a so-called Centennial Bridge and massive bypass, among other irreversible intrusions to the beloved park.
-The powerful Park and Recreation Board voted against the plan, as did the Historical Resources Board today (May 18, 2012) in a unanimous vote with strongly voiced opposition to the bypass bridge. The House of Pacific Relations last week voted against the plan and chose instead the alternate Lewis Plan, described below. This 6,000-member group is the first park institution to have taken an actual membership vote on the issue.
-The Plaza de Panama plan has also alarmed national and state preservation officials. Both the National Parks Service and the State Historic Preservation Officer, M. Wayne Donaldson, have written to the city with grave concerns. They maintain that the renowned park's unique buildings, gardens and landscapes would be so altered by this proposal that their National Historic Landmark District status would be in jeopardy.
-The vast majority of San Diegans strongly argue that other alternatives should be considered.
-Alternatives include the Lewis plan which Save Our Heritage Organisation, San Diego County's largest preservation group, strongly supports. This plan is superior because it does no harm to the park's historic features, restores the Alcazar Garden and west entrance to the park, creates more parking spaces and fewer traffic conflicts than the Sanders plan and would cost $5 million to $10 million less, according to William S. Lewis, the architect and developer who created the alternative plan pro bono out of love for Balboa Park and great respect for the Expo's original architect Bertram Goodhue.
-Opponents note these key design flaws in the Sanders plan:
The bypass bridge off the historic Cabrillo Bridge and parking structure amount to "overkill," wrote former city architect and current Park and Recreation Commission member Michael Stepner in an e-mail urging the commission to reject the Jacobs plan.
The three-level garage would require the most expensive approach to construction, costing a whopping $40,000 to $90,000 per space, while gaining only 261 new parking spaces with 100 of those reserved for valet parking.
Paying for the garage would necessitate introducing paid parking to the park after more than a century of free parking.
The bypass bridge and forced right hand turn required to reach the garage would put pedestrians and drivers in perpetual conflict, wrote landscape architect Michael Singleton, who, as a member of the Balboa Park Committee, voted against the Sanders plan and expressed serious concerns that the vote was being taken at all since over 100 written questions from the committee member to the DEIR had gone unanswered by the Plaza de Panama team.
As with its historic structures, the park's topography, landscapes and views would be forever changed and would be irreversible.
Other less costly and less intrusive parking and traffic solutions have been proposed for the park since the Jacobs plan was unveiled, but they have been ignored by Jacobs and his design team.
In addition to design issues, many San Diegans maintain that the public process for vetting this complex project has been hijacked by Mayor Jerry Sanders and Dr. Jacobs, who has threatened to withdraw his financial support if his team's plan is not approved. This situation raises the widespread concern that future wealthy donors could also dictate changes to the park, which is in dire need of private funding, as long as they bankroll them.
We urge the public educate their friends on this issue. Attend city board and commission meetings where the Plaza de Panama plan is being evaluated. The City Council is expected to vote on the plan on July 9.
More information: www.sohosandiego.org
Califorina Aware: Assembly Buys L.A. Supervisors' Secrecy Pretext — On a bipartisan 51-0 vote the state Assembly on Thursday passed a bill allowing local government bodies under the Brown Act to meet privately with the Governor, reports Judy Lin for the Associated Press. The bill is being carried by Republican...Full Article
FRYE: Will the Real City of San Diego Stand Up?
By Donna Frye | Posted: Monday, April 16, 2012 - Two items on the April 10 City Council docket caused me to wonder — a bit. And that's because it seemed like, perhaps, two different cities were involved in the same stuff.
In the first item, the city wanted to issue a new $159 million bond to pay off its existing 1998 Convention Center Expansion Phase II bonds, and commit to pay the interest and debt service on these new refunding bonds.
In the other item, the city wanted to approve a current version of something called the "Enforceable Obligation Payment Schedule" — you recall that after the demise of redevelopment agencies in Sacramento, the state allowed the local agencies to petition for continued redevelopment funding for already existing legitimate redevelopment obligations.
The "obligation schedule" the city was approving contained the debts our Redevelopment Agency wanted to continue to pay, and that schedule included $226 million for the 1998 Convention Center Phase II Expansion bonds, the same bonds that the City is in the process of refunding as mentioned above.
So, separate from the sense that the city was intending to pay off the existing 1998 Convention Center Expansion bonds and issue a new replacement bond, here's what caused me to wonder — a bit. Full Article
Another Hidden Bailout, Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
Intro: "Here's yet another form of hidden bailout the federal government doles out to our big banks, without the public having much of a clue. This is from the WSJ this morning: Some of the biggest names on Wall Street are lining up to become landlords to cash-strapped Americans by bidding on pools of foreclosed properties being sold by Fannie Mae..."
San Diego a Sad Scary Joke: March 17, 2012 Christian Tea Party Leader Arreste for Rape and Kidnapping on Fiesta Island.
Developer Love Fest: Using Manchester's UT as a mouthpiece pushes every boondoggle project with it's cronies cheerleading while trying to leave the knowledgably public out of the picture. The big money Burnham/SD Foundation joke of a NON-Profit with its limited choice survey is trying to bypass the locally elected planning boards, historical groups and community advocates. The politicals seem to spend more time at news conferences and groundbreaking ceremonies than anything else. Seems like Scam Diego wants to remain Enron By the Sea!
Doug Manchester's UT: Doug Manchester's (dead-end, outmoded, elitist, tunnel-) visions for San Diego’s future are projections of his personal ambitions for greater power and wealth. To manipulate the system to his advantage he should have done it the regular way -- behind the scenes, behind closed doors.
He wasn't using any smarts by turning his newspaper into a missive aimed straight at the public...in the fresh open air, anyone could see how blurry his vision is...
read more http://numbersrunner.blogspot.com/
Looks like Mayor Sanders Broke the Law! Another SD Mayor that thinks he's above the law! Reported in City Beat Spin Cycle then followed up by Fox 5 San Diego.
Fox 5 San Diego.com. January 30, 2012- Occupy activists try to arrest mayor
SAN DIEGO -- About 20 members of Occupy San Diego tried to make a citizen's arrest of Mayor Jerry Sanders Monday, alleging that he committed embezzlement when he allowed the temporary name change of Qualcomm Stadium to "Snapdragon Stadium.''
After a news conference in Civic Center Plaza, the group went to the mayor's office in City Hall, where San Diego police Capt. Mark Jones informed them that Sanders was elsewhere.
After spending around 30 minutes in the lobby of the mayor's office, they then went to the offices of City Clerk Elizabeth Maland and later to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who in a pair of memos had opined that the stadium name change was unlawful under terms of the city's naming rights deal with the company.
Qualcomm paid the city $1,000 to compensate for staff time associated with last month's temporary name change, during which time the facility hosted two college football bowl games and a Chargers contest. All three events were on prime time national television.The name change was part of a promotion for Qualcomm's new "Snapdragon'' line of mobile processors.
Ray Lutz, an Occupy San Diego leader who formed a new group called the Citizens' Oversight Project, said Qualcomm received at least $125,000 worth of exposure and probably more.
The money the city actually received in exchange was "a paltry sum,'' said Lutz, a former congressional candidate who was arrested last fall during the Occupy San Diego protests.
Mike Garcia, another leader of the group wanting to arrest Sanders, said the arrangement was a perfect example of corporate insiders influencing government officials for special deals.
"We want sweetheart backroom deals like this to stop,'' Garcia said.
A spokesman for Sanders said the mayor would be back in the office later today, but had no comment.
Jones directed an officer to take documents from Lutz for later review. Lutz was asked several times to state his case against the mayor, and responded by asking the officer if she was willing to help make an arrest if she found the evidence convincing.
The leaders of the group said they would go to the District Attorney's Office and even to the state Attorney General's Office, if necessary.
BAD BILL!!!!! Homeland Command: Military’s Detention Role on U.S. Soil
November 30, 2011— What 10 years of fear-mongering has done to the U.S. Senate, an astonishingly bipartisan majority of which is bent on authorizing the indefinite jailing for interrogation by the military of American citizens, seized without charges on American soil on suspicion of terrorist conspiracy, with no access to the courts or even a lawyer. Latest twist; Demand a Veto
The ACLU’s D.C. lobbying office reports: “The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill . . . The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.”
Carlo DeMio....next time you're considering a vote to support more redevelopment!
Here's one reason San Diego jobs are leaving for Texas, and your business leader friends aren't going to like it: Redevelopment.
Many redevelopment project areas are undertaking the specific task of driving out industrial or light-industrial businesses and turning the properties into mixed-use urban development. This is the case in Barrio Logan, it is the case in the North Bay project area, and it is definitely the case in Grantville. And here's another example your friends won't like—East Village. As you know, mixed use is storefront retail on the bottom, with residential above. The businesses using these storefront spaces are often the worst-paying, service jobs—Starbucks, dry cleaners, etc. When redevelopment mows down the industrial buildings to make way for the mixed use, the light-industrial, manufacturing businesses are forced to move away from the City, taking the better paying jobs with them.
We generally hear that these businesses will move to Lakeside or Santee. But we know for a fact of a business that moved to Arizona, after it was displaced by redevelopment. So, certainly Texas is a great option for relocation. And it is no coincidence that according to the Institute for Justice Texas has a better record on property rights than California.
So, whether it's Santee, Lakeside, Arizona or Texas, it doesn't really matter where the jobs are going. The fact is they are leaving San Diego, with the Redevelopment Agency encouraging them. We have enough folks employed in service sector jobs. For economic sustainability, the City needs to maintain its supply of industrial-zoned land, not decrease it. Remember this next time you're considering a vote to support more redevelopment. - Brian T. Peterson, DVM www.GrantvilleActionGroup.com
Conservative Leaders and Property Rights Advocates Call on GOP Legislators to Abandon Defense of Redevelopment Agencies
Support for RDAs an affront to conservative principles and private property rightsSACRAMENTO, Calif., May 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, conservative leaders and private property rights advocates announced a statewide public education campaign to convince Republican State Legislators to abolish California Redevelopment Agencies (RDAs) to advance the conservative values of property rights and fiscal responsibility. In March, only one Republican voted for Governor Jerry Brown's budget plan to abolish 425 RDAs.
RDAs have come under considerable public scrutiny for wasteful government spending, eminent domain abuse and, according to independent state analysis, failing to increase the overall number of California jobs. The campaign is designed to build support among the public and to ask GOP legislators to sign a pledge to abolish redevelopment agencies. This pledge will serve as a commitment to conservative values such as protecting taxpayers and private property.
"Republican Legislators need to convince voters that they remain dedicated to defending private property rights and protecting taxpayers," said Jon Fleishman, a conservative blogger and former officer of the California Republican Party. "Pledging to abolish redevelopment agencies will reaffirm their commitment to conservative principles."
A State Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) report found that RDAs divert over $5 billion in tax increment revenue annually without any reliable evidence that they create new jobs.
"All the while redevelopment agencies are using eminent domain to forcibly seize property from unwilling sellers, they have not fulfilled their promise of creating new jobs," said Marko Mlikotin, president of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. "Redevelopment has failed taxpayers and threatens private property rights. It is time for the Legislature to do away with these government boondoggles."
A notable taxpayer organization also voiced concerns. Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said, "Redevelopment agencies have been the biggest abusers of homeowners' property rights in California. Immediate action is needed now and we urge all legislators, including Republicans, to reject the influence of politically connected developers and do what is right for ordinary California homeowners."
Redevelopment agencies' insatiable desire for revenue has led them to forcibly seize places of worship, small businesses and homes by eminent domain that are clearly not blighted. Illustrating that RDAs have run amuck, the Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform found that a full 30% of all urbanized land in California has been declared blighted.
A California's State Controller audit of RDAs reached a similar conclusion that overly broad definitions of "blight" expose private property to eminent domain abuse and invite wasteful spending of tax dollars on dubious redevelopment projects such as luxury golf courses. In addition, redevelopment funds were inappropriately used to supplement the general funds of local governments.
"California's redevelopment agencies are some of the worst perpetrators of eminent domain abuse in the nation," said Christina Walsh, from the Institute for Justice, the organization that represented SusetteKelo before the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London. "Until state legislators abolish these agencies, no private property owner in California is safe."
Californians are encouraged to visit www.stopthemoneypit.com to learn how they can join our campaign to protect private property rights and eliminate government waste, and support legislation that abolishes RDAs, SB 77 and AB 101.
The California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights is California's leading private property rights (non-partisan) organization founded in 2005 and was a lead sponsor of Proposition 98, a 2008 state ballot measure that sought to protect private property rights.
SOURCE California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights
State Bar's Investigations of Aguirre End with No Charges— By Don Bauder SAN DIEGO READER http://www.sandiegoreader.com/staff/don-bauder/ | Jan. 30, 2011
The investigations of former City Attorney Mike Aguirre by the State Bar of California have been closed with the bar concluding that no further action is warranted. In such cases, the bar investigates complaints to see if there is a reasonable cause to bring a complaint for breach of professional standards. All the investigations were dismissed. In a seemingly coordinated action to thwart Aguirre's attempts to reform City practices, particularly the pension mess, many San Diegans came forward to register complaints, greatly in the 2007-2008 period. The Union-Tribune used the bar investigations as a linchpin in its smear campaign against him.
The bar looked at 7 matters, two of which were duplicative. Many of the complaints dealt with Aguirre's position that he represented the people of San Diego, not just the government. There were several complaints that this was a conflict of interest -- that he both defended and opposed government employees on occasion. There were complaints about bills paid to lawyers and law firms. Four of the compainants were police officers who had unsuccessfully sued him for extortion. Tom Story, an ex-City official under former Mayor Dick Murphy, filed a complaint based on a highly controversial lawsuit in which a judge ruled that Aguirre could not charge Story with violating rules against ex-officials lobbying former City employees after going to work for the private sector. Story had taken a job with the company that had constructed a building near Montgomery Field that broke federal and state rules for excessive height. Aguirre sued, the company countersued, but eventually the company -- which had been assisted by Mayor Sanders -- lowered the building.
The San Diego establishment's orchestration of the bar investigation, and the media's inflation of it, is a telling story of how San Diego operates. It will be dealt with at more length later.
Enron by the Sea continues. See the San Diego Pension List link 2010, Don Bauder, Reader
Voters Resoundingly Say "YES" to Fair Elections in Los Angeles!
Los Angeles residents sent a message to leaders across the state and across the country: It's time to end corporate and big money special interest control of our political system. By an overwhelming 3-1 margin, 75% of Los Angeles residents voted "YES!" on Measure H, the Los Angeles Clean Money, Fair Elections measure.
Downtown redevelopment cap; $500,000 for consultants
San Diego Councilmembers:
June 20th, 2010± In May members of the Grantville Action Group voted unanimously to oppose the concept of lifting the tax increment cap on downtown redevelopment. The salient issue is the ongoing diversion of downtown’s property tax away from the City’s general fund and the negative impact this has on essential neighborhood services.
As stated by the Mayor, mayoral staff, CCDC staff and Redevelopment Agency staff, the concept is to increase downtown redevelopment’s tax increment cap from $3 billion to $9 billion. According to them, there is unfinished work downtown. Among other issues, there is infrastructure yet to be built, affordable housing requirements yet to be met and blight still exists. In their view, with only $380 million to spare, the current cap will not allow them to address these deficiencies. Apparently, with another $6 billion at their disposal and another 30 years or so, they can accomplish what they have not been able to do in the past 40 years.
Their preferred set of facts is questionable, but one thing is not: Every year downtown redevelopment continues, at least $25 million in downtown property tax is diverted away from the City’s general fund into the Redevelopment Agency’s account. This money cannot be used for essential City services, and in fact, according to state redevelopment law, it must be spent on redevelopment activities in the Centre City project area. (Thanks to the Grantville redevelopment settlement agreement debacle, state law now mandates that tax increment must stay within the project area that generates it.)
In this era of city services cut to the bone, we are now enduring cuts to core municipal obligations, such as public safety (fire station “brown outs”). It is now time to stop requiring other areas of the city to prop up downtown redevelopment. There needs to be a permanent stop to the diversion of downtown’s $25 million. Negotiating transfers of debt obligations for Pet Co Park and the Convention Center to Centre City redevelopment will not do that. The only way to do it is by not lifting the cap.
At the April 27th meeting on this subject, some Councilmembers argued that the cap must be lifted to allow downtown to live up to its community plan. This sounds nice, but what about the community plans for the other 50 communities in this city? How does continuing downtown redevelopment help them meet their plans? It doesn’t. Restoring property tax revenues to the general fund will.
Realistically, the vote on Tuesday is not specifically about the cap, but about hiring the consultants to find blight. We in Grantville know that this is a low hurdle. Anyone with a digital camera and a superficial knowledge of the Health and Safety Code should be able to find your “blight.” This is because California redevelopment law is still so broad, and at the same time vague, that practically anything is blight. My educated guess is that for $500,000 Keyser, Marsten & Ass. will find blight downtown. And given that they know why they are being hired, they are not exactly unbiased searchers in this quest. Why not charge another set of folks with an axe to grind—Redevelopment Agency staff—with finding downtown blight? If you are going to get a biased report, you might as well do it on the cheap.
So, City Council, let’s do this: Save the $500,000 and devote it to some of the affordable housing units—or the parks—they have not bothered to build in the past 40 years. Then 14 to 18 months from now, when they bring you photos of dumpsters, faded paint & whatnot and call it blight, vote no on lifting the cap, thereby restoring $25 million to the general fund. That’s where this money can really do some good.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
Brian T. Peterson, DVM, Grantville Action Group, CEO
Prop D.- NO REform City Hall
If you had the power to determine how the City of San Diego would spend $1 million dollars, which one of these would you choose:
a) Repair neighborhood streets and sidewalks?
b) Add an additional City Council district, Councilmember and staff?
Likely you would choose a and not b.
This June on Election Day (or sooner if you vote by mail) you will be able to decide for yourself if you want to spend more money to add another council district.
Proposition D, also known as the strong mayor ballot measure, consists of three distinct questions bundled in an all-or-nothing package. Voters are not permitted to pick and choose but must either support or reject the entire proposal.
The three questions in Prop D are:
1) Shall we make the Strong Mayor form of governance permanent?
2) Shall we add a ninth Council seat?
3) Shall we require a supermajority vote to override a mayoral veto?
There are many good reasons to answer No to all three and vote No on Prop D.
1) Making strong mayor permanent means less accountability because it allows the mayor to make decisions behind closed doors.
Most people are not aware that the mayor essentially has a vote on most issues (through veto power) and that all such decisions are made behind closed doors. That does not allow the public to see how decisions are made, nor can they directly access the mayor during public council meetings. The public has a right to see how decisions are made and a right to know the reasons for those decisions. That's what accountability really means.
2) Creating a ninth council district costs too much money, that could be better spent fixing our streets and sidewalks. The cost to add another council district is approximately $1 million per year. These costs cannot be justified at a time of massive cuts in city services. The money can be better spent on basic services such as street and sidewalk repair.
3) Requiring a supermajority vote turns San Diego into Sacramento. We?ve all seen the gridlock in Sacramento because of the 2/3 vote requirement. We all know how long it takes for a state budget to get passed. The Sacramento model doesn?t work there so why bring it to San Diego?
The public deserves a City Government that operates effectively for the benefit of all and real accountability of all its elected officials.
Some links and articles: Don Bauder, Reader, April 1, 2010
April 22, 2010 /developers-bankrolling-strong-mayor-campaign/
John Lamb, City Beat, April 6, 2010
"Three-Year Drought Is Bringing A Decades-Long Fight Over Water To A Head"
Specifically the problem with the water shortage in not only California but around the world is population growth. The world cannot sustain infinite growth let alone California. Focusing on California, the politicians do not connect the dots. Merely targeting a 20% cutback in consumption by the existing 38 million existing residents does not take into account people are living longer, some families are having more than two children, and worst of all developers are still being permitted to attract more residents by building more single family dwellings and condos. In Northern California pitting our agricultural farmers against city dwellers water consumption is a lose, lose approach. Those farmers put food on our tables at affordable prices. Do we want to make a choice between food on our tables and drinking water?
Here in San Diego we have a mayor that wants to build our way out of the recession with an addition to the convention center, a new civic center, and a new main Library. No where does he seem to grasp that not only the construction materials such as concrete but the whole process of construction for these projects would consume millions of gallons of water. It remains to be seen whether those politicians who have been in the pockets of developers will wake up before civil strife sets in.
— Jarvis Ross, San Diego, California
Mike Duvall: Recorded Sex Comments Cost California GOP Lawmaker His Job
Excerpt: SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A scandal involving a family-values legislator caught boasting about his sexual escapades with his lobbyist mistresses created an embarrassing distraction for lawmakers Thursday, further diverting attention from California's major policy issues in the crucial final days of their session.
Republican Mike Duvall resigned Wednesday after a videotape surfaced in which he described to a colleague in lurid detail his sexual conquests, including a spanking fetish, the skimpy underwear of one mistress and his carrying on two affairs simultaneously. He sought to deny the affairs on Thursday.
The fallout from the scandal began to emerge, with calls for an outside investigation in addition to the internal ethics probe to determine whether the alleged affairs might have influenced his votes.….
….The lobbyist Duvall refers to in his comments reportedly works for Sempra Energy, a San Diego-based energy services company. The allegation that Duvall slept with a lobbyist who does business before his chief committee prompted calls for an outside investigation and tougher rules of conduct for lobbyists.
Duvall was the vice chairman and ranking Republican member of the Assembly Utilities Committee. Duvall, a Farmers Insurance agent in Yorba Linda, also was a member of the Assembly Rules Committee, whose responsibilities include overseeing lawmaker ethics and ensuring sexual harassment laws are followed within the Legislature.
– The Huffington PostSeptember 11, 2009
City Council Approved Waring Appointment
Vote Resuls: 6 For, 2 Against (Frye and Lightner)
Time to get rid of the 6 and Mayor Sanders!
Mr. Jim Waring's appointment to the City of San Diego Housing Commission (Oversees a buget of hundreds of millions) was approved at the City Council, Tues., June 9, 2009.
Mr. Waring's policy decisions have cost the City of San Diego multi-millions of dollars in regards to his stance on Sunroad, the NavyBroadway Complex, and his original Affordable Housing Density Bonusproposal. These many financially unsound decisions for the City of SanDiego should not be rewarded by an appointment to the Housing Commission.
Mr. Waring along with Nancy Graham of CCDC and Marcela Escobar-Eck of DSD made the decision to not make Manchester turn in a valid fault investigation for the Navy Broadway Complex at project submittal and advised them to hide the seismic information from the City Council and the public. This policy mistake is still costing the City million of dollars. www.blogofsandiego.com/BlogArchives/2006-4th-Quarter. htm#12/21/06 As we previously stated in 2006: "The developer was told by both Jim Waring and Nancy Graham that the report was not required to be submitted during plan review of the project and they could wait until building permits are issued in a few years."Mr. Waring, along with Marcela Escobar-Eck, was also the champion of the original Affordable Housing Density Bonus which had a loophole built in to violate the coastal 30 foot height limit, and build on Environmentally-Sensitive Lands in the name of the poor. See Pages 2 and 4 of the Waring's original Supplemental to the EIR.
Many San Diegans fought to have the Density Bonus amended at City Council to protect the coast and Environmentally Sensitive Lands such as coastalbluffs, steep hillsides, etc. Thankfully, the City Council and theCalifornia Coastal Commission made Waring change his proposal.
— Katheryn Rhodes and Conrad Hartsell, MD, San Diego
San Diego really is a police state. 03/26/09
by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: I recently got dramatic proof of this shortly after joining a team of young journalists at San Diego News Network, SDNN, a new online news journal. I was supposed to become its political analyst and columnist. I was looking forward to probing the underbelly of San Diego politics with young idealistic journalists. Unfortunately it was not to be.
Unbelievably, the Mayor, through his Police Chief, refused them press credentials until they "prove themselves". He has put them on a six months probation! After six months of reporting the news to his satisfaction, he may extend press credentials to them. SDNN acquiesced. I quietly withdrew.
In a way, I am not surprised. I was already aware of the control the Mayor and the police have over the local media. They are used to it. There has been only one real training ground for print journalists in San Diego for decades and that has been the Copley press. Many Mayoral and City Council staff are ex-UT people, all nurtured in the same symbiotic coziness. They tear up anybody, like Mike Aguirre, who will not be cozy with them.
What surprised me was how quickly these young SDNN people, barely out of journalism school, accepted it all. How are San Diegans ever going to learn the truth about their city government if the police department, directly under the Mayor's control, licenses all who may ask questions at city press conferences? Should a journalist be foolish enough to displease somebody important at City Hall (e.g. by asking "impertinent" questions) an editor will quickly assign somebody else to kiss up to the offended potentate. Full Article
Great analysis of the mortgage fueled financial collapse. Includes the City of San Diego's prime broker:
by Michael Lewis, portfolio.com, December 2008 Issue
Excerpt The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong.
Excerpt: “We just shorted Merrill Lynch,” Eisman told him.“Why?” asked Hintz.“We have a simple thesis,” Eisman explained. “There is going to be a calamity, and whenever there is a calamity, Merrill is there.” When it came time to bankrupt Orange County with bad advice, Merrill was there. When the internet went bust, Merrill was there. Way back in the 1980s, when the first bond trader was let off his leash and lost hundreds of millions of dollars, Merrill was there to take the hit. That was Eisman’s logic—the logic of Wall Street’s pecking order. Goldman Sachs was the big kid who ran the games in this neighborhood. Merrill Lynch was the little fat kid assigned the least pleasant roles, just happy to be a part of things. The game, as Eisman saw it, was Crack the Whip. He assumed Merrill Lynch had taken its assigned place at the end of the chain.On Wall Street:He had tried a thousand times in a thousand ways to explain how screwed up the business was, and no one wanted to hear it. “That Wall Street has gone down because of this is justice,” he says. “They fucked people. They built a castle to rip people off. Not once in all these years have I come across a person inside a big Wall Street firm who was having a crisis of conscience.”
Pension Deficit $2 Billion, Funded Ratio 66.3 Percent
By Don Bauder, Reader, February 11, 2009
The City has admitted that the pension system is just 66.3 percent funded and the unfunded actuarial liability is $2 billion as of Jan. 31. Today, Councilmember Carl DeMaio revealed that 86 former City employees are getting pensions of more than $100,000 a year. One is getting $165,870. One source says that she is former deputy city manager Patricia Frazier, who has been indicted for participating in the fraud that kept honest figures on the pension deficit from bond investors. Former city attorney Casey Gwinn is bringing home almost $95,000 a year and former mayors Richard Murphy and Susan Golding are bringing in about $50,000 yearly. Five individuals have received $1 million lump sum payouts from the DROP system, a classic form of double-dipping. FULL ARTICLE
All three council seats decided
San Diego Daily Transcript , November 5, 2008
Small business owner Sherri Lightner, community representative Todd Gloria and investigative reporter Marti Emerald were all victorious this morning as final returns in races for three open San Diego City Council seats were released. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Lightner defeated businessman Phil Thalheimer for the District 1 seat with 51.85 percent of the vote against 48.15 percent, while Gloria defeated American Red Cross spokesman Stephen Whitburn for the District 3 seat with 54.88 percent, compared to 45.12. Emerald defeated certified public accountant April Boling for the District 7 seat with 50.8 percent of the vote compared to 49.2 percent.
All three district seats are being vacated by council members who have to leave office due to term limits. Goldsmith begins transition to city attorney's office
By DOUG SHERWIN, San Diego Daily Transcript, Nov., 2008
It didn't take Jan Goldsmith long to begin taking the reins of the San Diego city attorney's office.
Less than 24 hours after scoring a decisive victory over incumbent Michael Aguirre in Tuesday's election, Goldsmith began meeting with deputy city attorneys at their Civic Center offices.
"We're going to rebuild that office," he said. "It's going to be a challenge to get it done. It's going to take time and patience. I want to be careful.
"I'll do the best I can to get the office back to being a law firm as quickly as I can."
The Superior Court judge, who left the bench last December to launch his campaign, garnered 59.5 percent of the electorate and defeated Aguirre by more than 70,000 votes. Aguirre received 40.5 percent.
During a Wednesday news conference, Aguirre said he was surprised by the gap. He called Goldsmith to offer his full cooperation with the transition and made office space on the 11th floor of the city attorney building available for Goldsmith.
The city attorney-elected immediately took Aguirre up on his offer and began discussing his plans for the office with staff members.
Goldsmith, who isn't set to take office until Dec. 8, informed office workers that he will re-interview everyone who wishes to stay, beginning Nov. 17. Around that same time he also plans to hold an interview process for outsiders.
Additionally, Goldsmith has scheduled an ethics training session for all attorneys to be held Dec. 13. It will be led by University of San Diego School of Law professor David McGowan.
Goldsmith said its part of the effort to change "the culture of the office."
"The biggest challenge is getting the right people in the right positions so we can have a team approach," he said.
"Aguirre said he will go back to private practice and focus on his personal life. He indicated that he will not continue his efforts to reform the city as an outsider."
"Once you're an elected official and the voters make a judgment not to have you participate, I think it's important that you respect that judgment and not try to circumvent it indirectly," he said.
While he said he accomplished his goal of changing the role of the office to one that represents the people, Aguirre said there's a lot of unfinished business.
"The fundamental reforms that we were trying to get through, we did not get through," he said. "You still have basically the same group that created the original problems still in place and that seems to be intractable at this point."
Throughout the length of his four-year term, Aguirre has attempted to have a judge set aside approximately $900 million in pension benefits granted to city employees in 1996 and 2002.
The case was dismissed by a trial judge and it is currently on appeal.
Goldsmith said he will consult with the San Diego City Council about whether to continue with the case. He plans on giving the council a risk-benefit analyst and what the litigation will cost going forward.
Goldsmith's election removes a barrier between the city and the San Diego Chargers as the NFL franchise continues to look for a new stadium site. The Chargers have had a frosty relationship with Aguirre, effectively stopping talks between team and city officials.
Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Chargers owner Dean Spanos, said an open and candid dialogue between the city and the team is now possible.
But Fabiani cautioned fans from reading too much into how much affect the new administration can have.
"This doesn't guarantee that we're going to find a solution," he said. "We still haven't found one in Chula Vista, and the difficulty in San Diego is that the proposal we made for the Qualcomm site might have worked in 2004 or 2005 when we made it, but it doesn't work anymore."
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, who also has clashed with Aguirre, said he was excited to be working with Goldsmith.
"I think he'll give us good, competent legal advice," Sanders said.
Aguirre didn't apologize for his abrasive personality and confrontational approach to reform.
"The reason that the chamber of commerce, the reason that the Chargers, or the reason that the pension powerbrokers opposed me wasn't because they didn't like my style," he said. "They opposed me and spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to try to drive me out of office because they didn't like my substance."
Assistant city attorney Karen Heumann will help Goldsmith with the transition.
One of Goldsmith's first objectives once taking office will be to reorganize the city attorney's office into four divisions: advisory, civil litigation, criminal and community lawyering. The latter will include code enforcement, neighborhood prosecution units, crisis management and community outreach.
Goldsmith said Andrew Jones, current president of the San Diego Deputy City Attorneys Association, will be part of the office's management team.
A San Diego Retirement,
The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 6, 2008
Excerpt: Taxpayers in those states need a rabble-rouser like Mr. Aguirre... he's setting off an alarm that voters across America need to hear.Financial report shows Mike Aguirre's efforts to save hundreds of millions
Mike's effort to save the taxpayers $900,000,000 is cited in the latest financial report (page 151) from the City's outside auditor. They cite Mike saying that the current benefits require voter approval.
—Mel Sharpiro, San Diego Watchdog Five former city officials charged with fraud by SEC
By DOUG SHERWIN, The Daily Transcript, April 7, 2008
The SEC charged five former San Diego city officials Monday with fraud in connection with the city's false and misleading financial statements in five 2002 and 2003 bond offerings.
Those named in the complaint were former city manager Michael Uberuaga, former auditor and comptroller Edward Ryan, former deputy city manager Patricia Frazier, former assistant auditor and comptroller Teresa Webster and former city treasurer Mary Vattimo.
According to the SEC's complaint, the five former officials knew the city had been intentionally underfunding its pension obligations so that it could increase pension benefits but defer the costs. SB 1295: Bad for California
SB 1295 could spell disaster for California’s coasts and the wildlife that depends on them to survive.
Take action today to help defeat this bill by urging your state senator to vote NO on SB 1295.
Help spread the word about this terrible bill. Forward this message to friends and family in California...
The California Coastal Act is our state’s most powerful tool to ensure our coasts and our living oceans are protected. But one state senator is pushing a bill to weaken this vital law. We need your help to ensure it remains strong.
State Senator Denise Ducheny (San Diego) just introduced SB 1295 in an attempt to strip the Coastal Commission of its right to appeal bad development proposals that violate the Coastal Act.
The Commission's oversight ability is a cornerstone of the Coastal Act -- and, without it, our oceans, coastal communities and the wildlife that depend on healthy ecosystems will be put at serious risk.
Ducheny's bill is headed for a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee in early April.
Take action to stop it. Send a message to Committee Chairman Darrell Steinberg and your state senator right now urging them to block this bill by voting NO on SB 1295.
Under current law, local governments are required to notify the Coastal Commission when they issue development permits giving Commissioners the chance to raise a red flag and appeal bad decisions within 10 days of being notified.
If local governments aren’t required to notify the Commission of their decisions, many terrible development deals could slip through the cracks and do permanent damage to wildlife and their habitat.
Some local governments may even become more emboldened to approve destructive development plans because they know no one is likely to stop them.
SB 1295 is a disaster in the making for our coastal communities, our beaches, important marine habitat, and the animals that depend on us to protect them.
Help us defeat this dangerous bill by encouraging Chairman Steinberg and your state senator to vote NO on SB 1295.
Thanks in advance for your help,
Jim Curland, Marine Representative Defenders of Wildlife.Jerry Sanders Is Susan Golding In Drag
Don Bauder, San Diego Reader City Lights, April 26, 2007
Mayor Jerry Sanders packed his 15-person charter review committee with lobbyists and lackeys who are in the pockets of developers and downtown business interests. Now the community is fighting back. At least two groups, the League of Women Voters and the Center on Policy Initiatives, are setting up their own ... Full Article: http://www.sdreader.com/php/cityshow.php?id=1607
Mayor and council members knew of the pension system's decline
Source U-T March 20, 2005
E-mail messages uncovered by Aguirre's investigators show that city financial officials knew of the pension system's decline as early as late 2001, with the mayor and council members Peters and Maienschein among those briefed a few months later. But for the next 18 months or so, city bond documents overstated the pension's assets and understated liabilities.So Scott Peters claims he was mislead....ho, ho
Bad judgement is consistent on the part of two council member attorneys running for the city attorney's office.
UNION-TRIBUNE, , March 7, 2005
Kourosh Hangafarin, the San Diego Port Commission's newest member, was touted as a "successful businessman" and a "proven community leader" by elected officials who supported his January appointment by the City Council.
Maienschein was the first council member to submit to Mayor Murphy his nomination of Hangafarin. "Kourosh's extensive professional and civic involvement would make him a tremendous asset to the Port Commission," he wrote Nov. 30, 2004.
Madaffer's nomination Dec. 6 described Hangafarin as "an energetic public affairs and operations professional with a number of years of experience in both private and public organizations."
Peters said in his Dec. 7 letter that "Hangafarin would be an effective advocate for San Diego on the Port Commission."
Hangafarin signed an unauthorized trade agreement with a Cuban food agency during a trip to Havana in February of 2005 prompting an investigation.
A public records examination by The San Diego Union-Tribune shows that Hangafarin has a troubled financial history that includes two bankruptcies. Divorce papers he signed in April describe him as an "unemployed marketing executive" who couldn't pay child support for his three children.
ONLY IN SAN DIEGO
Peters says his mistakes a result of bad advice
Gerry Braun, Union-Tribune February 20, 2008
You can't say I didn't warn him.Last year, when it became obvious that San Diego Council President Scott Peters was going to run for city attorney, I gave it to him straight.
You're going to hear so much about the Kroll Inc. investigation into the city's financial scandals, I told him, that you'll think your middle name is Negligent.
Talk about being prescient.No sooner did Peters announce his candidacy Monday than he was asked about the Kroll report's famous finding that he and other city officials were “negligent” in approving a bond prospectus that concealed the city's financial problems from investors.
Admittedly, I was the one who asked. But it was only a matter of time before it came up. Somebody needed to break the tension.
Peters, of course, was waiting with his answer.
He didn't dispute the Kroll finding. He said he'd made a mistake, just as he made a mistake when he voted in 2002 to underfund the pension system. “You don't get do-overs in life,” he said.
But now he's moved on.He's Post-Negligent.
“The good thing that came out of it,” Peters said, “was we learned about what can go wrong and how to fix it, the importance of good information and the importance of good legal advice, and that's something I'll provide.
”I'm not convinced that anything “good” has come out of the City Council's lying to Wall Street, its underfunding of the pension system, or its vigorous shoveling of general fund money into the hole it dug.
Nor am I excited to know that the city may soon issue bonds to cover its pension obligations, following in the footsteps of the county Board of Supervisors. Throwing a party and sticking future generations with the bill has always struck me as selfish and cowardly.
Still, I'm willing to accept that Peters has grown as a result of his mistakes.
He's like the young man who borrows the family car without asking, drinks a few beers and wraps it around a tree. There are valuable lessons to learn from such an experience; it can make him a better person, a more responsible driver. But he shouldn't argue that it's a “good thing” that his parents get to drive a new car. You can push a point too far.
Which Peters soon did.
I wasn't the only reporter throwing questions at Peters that day. In one media scrum, he was asked to explain the “blemishes” on his record. Peters, who by now was warming to this subject, again acknowledged that his vote to underfund the pension was a mistake, but he said the city has “more than recovered” from it and the system was in great shape.
“In fact,” he said, “it's possible that because of the vote, and because of all the publicity generated from it, which was very unpleasant, that we're much healthier today than we were when I even started.”“It's possible?”
“That's a fact!”
Talk about the power of positive thinking. Hearing this news, I wished that Peters had made more mistakes, because then the city might be even healthier. If he'd really gone wild, maybe we could afford to fix up Balboa Park or buy a fleet of firefighting helicopters.
But I only had time to ask about one more mistake: his 2004 vote to change the city's sewer fees so that single-family homeowners, such as myself, were secretly subsidizing the sewer bills of politically connected commercial users.
According to the Kroll report, Peters “knowingly and improperly” caused the city to violate federal and state law by voting for this improper subsidy.
This time, Peters' response did not seem as well thought out.
First, he objected to the term “subsidize,” saying it was editorializing. I actually thought it was more polite than saying “ripping me off.” But reasonable minds can disagree.
Then he said the inequities were corrected through rebates and fee increases, though that isn't truly possible since some of the companies that benefited (some to the tune of $226,000 a month) are no longer around to pay higher fees, and some of the homeowners who were owed rebates (averaging less than $200) have left town or died.
Finally, he said he was the victim of bad legal advice from the office of then-City Attorney Casey Gwinn. Which I believe.
Bad advice – this time from City Manager Michael Uberuaga – also played a role in his 2002 vote to underfund the pension system, Peters said. That problem has all but disappeared, he said, now that the council has an independent budget analyst to “make sure that nothing's getting pulled on us.”
In fairness to Peters, he's not the only city attorney candidate who got raked by the Kroll report, which, by the way, cost taxpayers $20 million to produce.
Councilman Brian Maienschein cast those same votes and received the same rebukes. And Maienschein has also said that bad advice was to blame. It's a politician's Get out of Jail Free card.
These are both smart, likable men, but I don't know if they're smart enough to convince voters that, given these records, they should be in charge of advising city government. What they need is a slogan, one that bridges their past mistakes and their future promise. And as it happens, I've got just such a slogan:
“He gives better advice than he takes.
”Whoever uses it first can have it, with my compliments.
Gerry Braun: (619) 542-4563; firstname.lastname@example.org The story the U-T does not want you to read -
Dumanis and Chula Vista.
12/29/07 by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: "Chula Vista Better Government Association", called upon the Council to conduct an investigation into official corruption in Chula Vista. The letter was also sent to the State Attorney General and to the U.S. Attorney on December 7, 2007 asking that they:
" ... conduct an investigation to determine if there are conflicts of interests, abuses of power and prosecutorial misconduct involving John Moot, Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox and the local District Attorney’s office. For the reasons listed below, we are not confident that the District Attorney’s office or the City’s Board of Ethics can perform a fair and impartial investigation into these matters.
We further request that you investigate a potential conspiracy involving former Chula Vista City Councilmember John Moot, the office of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, local land developer Jim Pieri and Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox to deprive Chula Vista voters of good government by abusing their positions and power to improperly influence and intimidate elected officials and community groups on behalf of the proposed condominium high rise."
Full Article: http://www.blogofsandiego.com/
Arthur Levitt, former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and leader of the Kroll consultants that investigated City Hall, told an audience in New York yesterday that the SEC should've stepped up its enforcement in San Diego.
Voice of San Diego.
Levitt told the New York Private Equity Conference he is frustrated the SEC never charged individual officials who were at the center of San Diego's troubles.
Here was one of the nation's most beautiful, wealthiest cities with a strong regional economy, and it was on the brink of bankruptcy thanks to a group of political leaders more interested in looking out for themselves in the short term than the fiscal health of their city in the long term.
And let me add that while the SEC took action against the faceless entity of the city, I am disappointed that they failed to bring a single action -- or hold accountable -- those individuals responsible for the San Diego pension crisis. Individuals were behind this debacle -- and individuals must be held responsible.
Nov. 14 will mark the one-year anniversary of the SEC's settlement with the city of San Diego, which required the city to hire a monitor to oversee reform of its financial reporting systems. It stopped short of issuing the municipality a fine.
But Levitt's report signaled that individuals would face federal sanctions as well.
The eight former city officials that Kroll concluded to have recklessly or intentionally committed securities fraud have so far been left untouched by the SEC. Elected officials, including five sitting council members, acted in negligence, a potentially lesser charge of securities fraud, by approving those disclosures, Kroll opined.
Council members have denied they were ever under investigation.
-- EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Voice of San Diego
Shame on you Tony Perry. I used to think you were a good reporter.
10/30/07 by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: "Sanders has experience with life-and-death crises that require quick decisions. In 1984, when he was head of the city's SWAT squad, a gunman killed 21 people at a McDonald's restaurant in San Ysidro. The gunman was threatening to kill more when Sanders gave the green light that allowed a police sniper to kill him."
Sanders made a quick decision all right, but it was the wrong decision. The fact is that he put his addiction to self-promotion before the lives of others. Full Article City Attorney Office Documents Facts Left Out of UT Story
Sunday October 7, 2007, the UT published a false story about
City Attorney Michael Aguirre's pension litigation and other matters.
Please take the time to read the truth in the attached letter to the
UT correcting the record. The San Diego City Charter: What's in it for you?
The debate over revising the city of San Diego's Charter -particularly in light of the city's recent move to a "strong-mayor" form of government - is one of the most critical issues that will shape the future of the city. The Charter "serves as the constitution of our City government.. prescribing the relationship between ... the Mayor andthe City Council and the interaction of the City Attorney with both.
"Despite the document's importance to the people of SanDiego, a massive behind-the-scenes fight is taking place to determine how much say the public will actually have indeciding the future governance of our city.
August 22, 2007:
A waste of taxpayers's money
Excerpt: By now it's crystal clear. The Mayor's appointed charter review committee, like most frauds, is an expensive waste of taxpayers' money. The Mayor wants specific Charter amendments to be put on the 2008 ballot with the goal of increasing his executive powers. Real leadership would have entailed an open, direct, and cost-free way of advancing this agenda.
A real leader would have ensured a financially conservative and thoroughly democratic process to improve city governance.
Blog updates at the San Diego League of Women Voters site: http://www.lwvsandiego.blogspot.com/
Bowen emerges from shadows with dramatic decision
By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times Staff, August 5, 2007
The secretary of state has championed some important, if low-profile, issues over the years as a legislator. Friday's late-night decision on electronic voting machines captured the limelight. FULL ARTICLEWithout A Cause, Fund Tied to Mayor Keeps Growing
By EVAN McLAUGHLIN Voice Staff Writer, Aug. 7, 2007
The campaign committee that guided Props B and C to victory in November has continued raising money from donors with business at City Hall even though it doesn't have a formal cause.
FULL ARTICLEWho's going to be King? Business or Communities?
by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego, 08/02/07
The 2008 elections will be a watershed in San Diego history. Will our little slice of paradise become a playground for the rich, or continue as a livable American city? Right now its livability is under threat. The gulf between the "haves" and the "have-nots" is widening because even politicians from the poorer districts are catering to the "haves". FULL ARTICLProtect your rights as the legislative branch of city government
Letter to: San Diego City Council, July 1, 2007
Dear Mr. Peters and Council members,
Over time I've urged you to protect your rights as the legislative branch of city government from continuing encroachment by the executive branch. I suggested you use budget authority as a step toward equalizing the branches. There is another, more effective and permanent way to equalize the branches. You should take control of the pending charter review process.
You should insist upon an elected Charter Review Commission, and you should not recognize the Mayor's charter committee as a legitimate expression of San Diego's interest in Charter revision.
The Council should soon docket and discuss this matter, and it should quickly move toward an elected Charter Commission.
Open, honest, public discussion of charter revisions is the right thing to do, and we can get that discussion with an elected Charter Commission.
The Mayor's personal charter committee is at its end-stage. It will rubberstamp the Mayor's preferred charter revisions by early- to mid-September, in order to put a measure on the ballot for the February presidential preference primary.
I expect the Mayor's committee to recommend a charter which neutralizes legislative influence and converts strong mayor government into strong arm government.
I urge you to act soon and to give us an elected Charter Commission that will conduct its affairs honestly and openly, and that will respect citizen participation.
—Jim Varnadore, City Heights
In SD style, Marcella Escobar-Eck in 2009, is advisring the city, now that the embarassment has died down.
Sanders today created a powerful enemy - Marcella Escobar-Eck. 08/23/07 by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: Well, she's gone. Marcella Escobar-Eck is now officially in the private sector, where she always was, even while you and I were paying her salary. She quit or was fired yesterday.
These two emails from former Chief Building Official for the City of San Diego did her in. FULL ARTICLEMarcela Escobar-Eck... Sanders Big Mistake
Regarding “Mayor trying to step out of Sunroad's long shadow/Another official leaves; Sanders vows changes” (A1, Aug. 24 Union-Tribune):
City of San Diego Ex-Development Services Director Marcela Escobar-Eck was queen of “Bait and Switch” and “public giveaways,” as illustrated in the UT article “Regarding “Mayor trying to step out of Sunroad's long shadow/Another official leaves;” “Escobar-Eck was a key player in the deal that awarded development rights for the former Naval Training Center to The Corky McMillin Cos. The final agreement had the city losing out on potentially tens of millions of dollars. In an interview earlier this year, she was unapologetic about the contract terms.”
Escobar-Eck always favored the powerful developer interests by putting the screws to the public taxpayers.
She thumbed her nose at Grand Jury reports, community planning groups, and anyone that wasn’t an insider.
Safety and environmental concerns took a backseat to her developer friend’s projects.
Many active community members were thrilled when Escobar-Eck left the city the first time. But, Mayor Sanders proved he was just another in a long line of “development mayors,” when he hired back the cities reliable “shill”.
Sanders, seems to be following in Murphy’s footsteps, both claiming to be “reformers,” but appointing the same casts of rubber stamps.
How long before Sanders follows Murphy into “Time Magazines, Worst Mayor List?”
With appointing department heads like Marcella and Waring he is on his way.
—Kathleen Blavatt, Watchdog
ONLY IN SAN DIEGO
Virtue club list is short – just ask Dumanis
Gerry Braun, Union-Tribune, July 11, 2007
Given the behavior of some of our elected officials, it's nice to know that a few politicians in this town remain pillars of moral rectitude.
Three, to be exact. Let's call them the Axis of Virtue.
They are San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Sheriff Bill Kolender and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Each is beyond reproach, whistle-clean.
Says who? District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, that's who.
I learned of the Axis of Virtue only this week, when Dumanis and I met for lunch. True, about 40 other people were in the room. But for a short time, it felt like just the two of us.
Dumanis had invited the media to meet with her Public Integrity Unit, which recently secured an indictment of Chula Vista Councilman Steve Castaneda on charges of concealing income and lying under oath.
Nobody loves public integrity more than I do, so I was happy to join the party.
Not surprisingly, the members of the Public Integrity Unit didn't want to talk much about the details of their work. They like secrecy so much that, although the unit formed 13 months ago, the public wasn't told until March.
Give Dumanis credit for making this work a priority. Ferreting out public corruption is a serious business that can make lifelong enemies of powerful people.
Her predecessor, Paul Pfingst, did little along these lines, perhaps heeding the lesson of his own predecessor, Ed Miller, who prosecuted Mayor Roger Hedgecock for election code violations. Miller drove Hedgecock from office in 1985 – and into the talk-radio gig from which Hedgecock would help to drive Miller from office a decade later.
Ever diplomatic, Pfingst once tried to get the state attorney general to take over a case against a public official by saying it would be improper for him to prosecute a campaign contributor. I suspect contributions came rolling in after that.
Anyway, getting back to the Axis of Virtue.
Early in our lunch, we learned that Dumanis does not want anyone to think political considerations influence the Public Integrity Unit. For that reason, she has sworn off endorsing fellow politicians, or seeking their endorsements.
At which point a certain columnist recalled that, just three weeks ago, Dumanis stood behind Mayor Sanders as he declared himself innocent of wrongdoing in his mishandling of the Sunroad issue.
So I meekly raised my hand and asked Dumanis why, if she feels that endorsements send the wrong message, she endorsed Sanders' honesty in the middle of a political crisis.
“Jerry is somebody I have known for about 14 years,” she said, “and if any investigation was to come to this office regarding Jerry Sanders it would have to go to the Attorney General's Office. So I felt comfortable standing up and vouching for the integrity of Jerry Sanders.
”She added: “I would stand with him today, and I would stand with him anytime.”It struck me that a statement like that is much better than a simple campaign endorsement. I'll be shocked if it doesn't appear on a Sanders mail piece next year. By reprinting it here, in fact, I'm probably doing more to help his re-election than all the public-relations wizards on his office payroll.
Next I asked if Dumanis' effusive regard for Sanders would also prevent her from investigating his staff, for fear that the public would doubt the sincerity of her prosecution.Dumanis said she'd prosecute his underlings – “unless it was somebody who might be in his inner circle. I think that would go to the Attorney General's Office.
”How big is that inner circle, I wondered? I'd guess it's bigger today than it was last week.
Though fearful of monopolizing the lunch, I pressed on: Were there other public officials whom Dumanis holds in the same high regard?
“I hold a lot of people in regard,” she said, “but I don't know . . . that I wouldn't want to do their investigation.
”She thought a while. “Probably Kolender.
I wouldn't do an investigation of him.
”I shouldn't have been surprised to hear the sheriff's name, given his emeritus role as the county's Godfather of Law Enforcement.
Yet upon reflection, the “probably” should have sparked my curiosity. Does Dumanis know something about Kolender that prompted this momentary hesitation?
Oblivious, I continued: Does anyone on the Board of Supervisors warrant such esteem?
“No,” Dumanis answered crisply.
Her tone told me there were no more Get Out Of Prosecution Free cards available.
After lunch, Dumanis approached me with a follow-up thought: She hoped I would not misconstrue her comment about the county supervisors – who, incidentally, approve her office's budget – as a disparagement of their honesty.
I assured her I would not.
After all, the Axis of Virtue is an exclusive club: Sanders, Kolender and, of course, its gatekeeper, Dumanis herself.
The rest of us can only stand outside and hope that, someday, we might be worthy of admittance.
Gerry Braun: (619) 542-4563; email@example.com ONLY IN SAN DIEGO, McGrory's still there working at doing a deal
Gerry Braun, Union Tribune, 6/20/07
Has it really been 10 years since Jack McGrory was city manager of San Diego?When he told me, I couldn't believe it. But then, I'm skeptical whenever McGrory tosses out a number.
It is a fact, though. Our fair city has been without McGrory at its helm for nearly a decade. Time flies when you're staving off bankruptcy.
While we've been recovering from years of fiscal irregularity – some, though not all, of which occurred on McGrory's watch – our affable ex-manager has been working for Sol Price, the warehouse store king turned civic do-gooder.
If McGrory was seeking redemption, he found the right place. Price Charities is involved in admirable work, including some pioneering redevelopment projects in City Heights. McGrory, with his intimate knowledge of bureaucracies, has prospered as its smooth technician.
How smooth is he? They say he could persuade a puppy to give up its bone, and a girl to give up her puppy.Yet he may have hit a wall in trying to persuade the city's revenue collector to give up on a $95,783.32 debt.
For five years, the city has tried to collect the money from a Price operation called the San Diego Revitalization Corp. And for five years, McGrory has refused to pay up.
The city says the money is for overhead it assumed when it helped San Diego Revitalization Corp. develop City Heights Center, an office building and low-income housing complex on University Avenue.
McGrory contends the sum is exorbitant, and not a “debt” at all, but an unsubstantiated “charge” concocted by “a bureaucracy that has run amok.”
What? They juggle numbers at City Hall? When did this start?
McGrory isn't backing down, and neither is Revenue Collection Manager Mike Vogl, who doesn't like having a five-year-old debt on his books, no matter who the debtor is.
“There's no question the money is owed,” Vogl told me. “It's going to be collected.”
McGrory, once the face of City Hall, now is fighting City Hall. You gotta love that.
Especially because McGrory the Outraged Citizen is operating from the same bag of tricks he used when he was McGrory the City Manager – the back-room deal, the unwritten agreement, and the predilection for raiding one pot of money in the service of another.
It's been a Jack McGrory tour de force. I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic.
For back-room deals, you can't beat this: Even before he refused to pay the $95,783.32 debt, McGrory had negotiated a “substantial” reduction in the project's overhead charges, according to city records. And this reduction was accepted not because the charges were unreasonable, but rather “to reduce the cost to the project.”Who signed off on that deal? Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring, that's who. Herring had been McGrory's right-hand man when he was city manager. How convenient.
After Herring retired, McGrory took his pleas for further leniency to Hank Cunningham, who ran the city's Economic Development and Community Services Department. They also struck a deal.
What kind of deal was it? A “verbal understanding,” according to city records. Cunningham understood that the debt would be paid at a future date as part of a future project. McGrory understood that the collectors would be called off.
No need to put that in writing.
But it turns out that the “verbal understanding” violated city regulations on two counts: It hadn't been approved by superiors, and it cited no justification for canceling the debt. And so McGrory got another bill in the mail.
Cunningham had left the city by then, so McGrory struck a similar deal with a redevelopment official named Bob Kennedy, he told me, that erased the debt.
“It's a dead issue,” McGrory said.
I asked for a copy of the agreement, and McGrory said that, once again, nothing was put in writing. “Why not?” I asked. I knew the answer, but longed to hear him say it.
“There wasn't any reason to get anything in writing,” McGrory said.Of course not. We're only talking about $95,783.32 – not even six figures.
Meanwhile, the helpful McGrory has repeatedly suggested to the city that the debt be extracted from another source.
“We have no objection to this bill being paid from the in-lieu taxes coming from the City Heights Center,” he wrote.
In-lieu taxes, as I understand them, are taxes paid by a nonprofit, in this case by San Diego Revitalization Corp., instead of traditional property taxes. So, essentially, he's suggesting that the city designate money it already has, or expects to receive, as payment for an outstanding debt.
I asked McGrory: “Isn't that like me telling the IRS that I don't want to pay my tax bill, but I have no objection to the bill being paid from Jack McGrory's taxes?
”He laughed. How I miss that laugh.I told him I was going to write a column about how Jack McGrory fights City Hall, so that all my readers who fight City Hall can learn from him.You can be their role model, I said.
“That's really funny,” he said.
http://www.secureelections.org/activism.htm Communication Breakdown
By Scott Lewis, Voice of San Diego, June 7, 2007
A few decades ago, led by the mayor who still gives some San Diegans goose bumps -- Pete Wilson -- the City Council pushed through campaign contribution limits for the first time.
Residents were fed up with scandals, the origins of which were attributed to a lack of controls over campaign financing.
Since then, the contribution limits have hardly changed. A person can give $320 to a candidate for city attorney or mayor and $270 to a council candidate per election. In 1974, it was $250. That was worth a lot more back then. The low limit was bound to be usurped and, ironically, it was an event held in 2005 to honor Wilson that probably celebrated the beginning of the end of the effort to regulate how much money can flow to campaigns from big donors.
And we're only now coming to terms with it.It was September 2005, just as the campaign to replace Mayor Dick Murphy was hitting its most intense stride. The local Republican Party hosted an event billed as a "Salute to Republican Elected Officials" with Wilson as the guest of honor.
But the event's true purpose was not to salute Republican officials -- it was to crown more of them.
It was a fundraiser of rather historic proportions for San Diego.
To put some perspective on what happened, let's do this: Mayor Jerry Sanders recently absorbed a fair amount of flak from critics chiding him for not remembering -- and potentially being influenced by -- a fundraiser during his campaign that netted him $3,600 from a controversial developer and his friends.
That's just a pile of pennies compared to the "Salute to Republican Elected Officials." The event raised contributions and pledges in excess of $800,000. Several hundred thousand would eventually flow to support Sanders' campaign.
If someone showed up with a $3,000 contribution to this shindig, they might have gotten a "that's nice" with a half smile and a nod. It might actually, in fact, have been forgettable.
There were much bigger checks being written.The Lodging Industry Association -- spearheaded by hotelier C. Terry Brown -- gave $65,000 to the Republican Party shortly after the "Salute."McMillin Management Services gave $45,000. Barratt American Homes gave $25,000. Hotelier Doug Manchester's Manchester Resorts gave $95,000 altogether in 2005. The list of contributors is long.
A re-engineering of state laws in 2002 had made it clear there were no limits to how much money local political parties could accept from single sources. Suddenly, the law that capped individual donations -- and their possible corrupting influence -- was avoidable. FULL ARTICLE IBA: Can't Count on BPR, Land Sales
Voice of San Diego,-- EVAN McLAUGHLIN, April 27, 2007
Mayor Jerry Sanders' 2008 budget proposal relies too heavily on strategies that have not been approved by the City Council, Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin said in a report released today.
Tevlin said she is supportive of the mayor's effort to make city services more efficient through streamlining, but criticized Sanders for not providing enough information on the streamlining process, known technically as business process reengineering, and for tying those proposals to next year's budget when it's unclear if they will win the council's approval.
As a whole, the IBA said Sanders is using land sales, BPR reports and the implementation of a program to free up hotel tax money as crutches to prop up his spending plan for the coming year, even though the council has not approved the ideas. Those strategies should be parsed from the budget until they are adopted, Tevlin said.
The mayor has claimed that his budget proposal, which includes hundreds of layoffs, will not impact service levels, although he says that there is no way to measure the services the city provides. Tevlin said she was "skeptical" of the seemingly contradictory statement, and said the mayor did have some information at his disposal to gauge services despite his claim.
The mayor's budget factors in $7.6 million for the hotel tax program, $15.3 million for land sales and $49 million in BPR savings. Here is a copy of the IBA's analysis. Check back later at Voice of San Diego Well done Donna, you were right all along. 04/10/07, by Pat Flannery
Excerpt: Donna Frye took on both Sanders and Aguirre. And won!
The vote was 5 to 3 against the Mayor. The subject was the first reading of an Ordinance addressing Sanders' penchant for cutting city programs without telling anybody. He had claimed he didn't need City Council's permission to cut a swim program for poor kids.
Two months later all Sanders has succeeded in proving is Frye's superior grasp of what the people of San Diego want. He may have a superior grasp of what the Chamber of Commerce and the Building Industry Association want, but he has no idea what the average San Diegan in the street thinks.
He is the developers' Mayor and that's all.All my fears of a Sanders puppet horror show evaporated today under the steady hand of Ms. Frye.
She had orchestrated the public's response to Sanders power grab with the finesse of a master politician. Her loyal supporters turned up in droves at City Hall to let her know they still love her. It was pleasant to see all the old faces from her campaign.
Mayor Sanders' all-embracing puppet show. 04/09/07, by Pat Flannery
Excerpt: Sanders' fourth attempt (2/5/2007, 03/05/07 and 03/19/07) to defeat an Ordinance "Declaring budget change authority granted to the Mayor requires City Council approval if such action will result in materially and substantially reducing, altering, or eliminating service levels to the community, based upon the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget".
Scott Peters and Tony Young proposed a compromise that would give Sanders the power to cut the Council-approved budget of any one department by 10% or $4 million, whichever is the greater. The trouble with this compromise is that it would give Mayor Sanders the power to leverage "influence" on the City Council.
He has more than once demonstrated a clear tendency towards bullying in order to get his way.
I can readily imagine a Councilmember identified as the swing vote on an important issue, getting a call from "staff" the night before the City Council vote. The unfortunate Councilmember would be told that "staff" had reluctantly decided that a certain program, (one known to be very dear to particular Councilmember and to an influential segment of his/her District) would have to be cut, for economic reasons of course.
You Have a Right to Know how Your Tax Dollars are Being Spent -
Below editorial discusses an the Council vote that would have impacted your Right to Know.
The public has a right to know
By Donna Frye,The San Diego Union-Tribune , March 15, 2007
This week, we focus on “a national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” It is also a time to voice support for the “public's right to know what its government is doing, and why.”
It is “Sunshine Week,” an appropriate time to analyze the public's role in the ongoing debate between the executive and legislative branches of government regarding budget authority, because, unfortunately, there has been very limited discussion about the public's right to know and participate. The outcome of this debate will determine whether the public interest will be served, how much information will be provided in advance of changing the approved city budget and whether the public's right to participate in the decision-making process will be protected.
In February, after months of debate over whether the mayor of San Diego could unilaterally cut public services after the budget had been adopted, a City Council majority voted to enact a budget ordinance that protected the public right to know and participate. The budget ordinance requires that any change to the approved city budget that results in a material and substantial cut to a service level requires a vote of the City Council at a public hearing.
However, a few members of the City Council and the mayor are attempting to derail this important budget ordinance by promoting “compromise” language that would upend the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of government, limit the public's right to know and diminish your ability to participate in decisions about how your tax dollars are spent.
Under the compromise, a public hearing and City Council action would not be required unless the proposed budget cut is a line item in the annual Appropriation Ordinance and results in a $4 million or 10 percent cut. It means that the mayor could cut about $48 million from the budget without a public hearing.
In order to make an informed decision about which budget ordinance is best for the public (the original budget ordinance or the proposed compromise language), consider the following:
At the Feb. 28, Budget and Finance Committee meeting, I learned from the mayor's chief financial officer that employees in the internal audit unit were reassigned more than a year ago to work on the overdue financial reports, and that no employees were inspecting invoices, purchases, time cards and department spending.
This action raised a number of material issues that demand a public process, especially considering that the city's internal audit controls have been the subject of some very expensive studies, investigations and delayed audits. It also put San Diego in the national news once again, after a story appeared in The San Diego Union-Tribune about the internal audit unit being shut down. The public needs to know how this issue would be addressed under both the “compromise” proposal and the original budget ordinance.
Under the compromise language, the elimination of the internal audit unit would not be a budget cut because the employees are simply performing a different city function. Therefore, no public hearing would be held by the City Council. At best, we might learn about it after the fact.
Under the budget ordinance that I support, the elimination of the internal audit function would require a public hearing because it is a material service-level reduction.
The public has a right to know how its tax dollars are being spent before, and not after, that decision is made. The compromise language is not in the best interests of the public and not in the spirit of open government. Instead, it allows one branch of government to make budget decisions outside of public view, thereby limiting the public's right to know and participate. What is the point of having months of public budget hearings if, after the budget is approved, the executive branch of government can do what it wants with little or no public input?
As we celebrate Sunshine Week, it is important to understand why open government and the public's right to know matter; it matters because having access to government information empowers the public, and makes communities stronger. The City Council will be voting on this issue again on March 19, at a public hearing. I encourage all members of the public to get involved and participate. Your voice is needed, not just during Sunshine Week, but every week. Waring Nets Bundle, Partner Destroyed
By Don Bauder, Reader City Lights, March 29, 200707
Okay, so California Government Code section 1090 bans government officials from developing, negotiating, or executing a contract in which they have a financial interest. It's an obvious conflict; someone violating 1090 deserves to be punished. But what about the private-sector entrepreneur who goes into a partnership with a government official who then uses his government influence to benefit their business? The public employee may be charged with a 1090 violation, but what happens to the entrepreneur, who is not with the government? Probably nothing. Full Article: http://www.sdreader.com/php/cityshow.php?id=1591Builder avoids search of offices
Requested records turned over to city
By David Hasemyer, Union-Tribune STAFF WRITER, March 24, 2007
SAN DIEGO – Attorneys for Sunroad Enterprises, the company building an office tower that the FAA has declared a hazard to planes landing at Montgomery Field, reached an agreement yesterday with the City Attorney's Office that avoids a court-authorized search of its offices.The agreement called for Tom Story, Sunroad's vice president of development, to turn over the documents the city attorney was seeking in the warrant.
Sunroad spokeswoman Karen Hutchens said that by yesterday afternoon, the documents had already been identified, collected and turned over to the City Attorney's Office.
She said the company would not comment on what the documents contained. The company has fully cooperated, she said, and will continue to cooperate.
A deputy city attorney said the City Attorney's Office would have no comment because the warrant involves a criminal investigation.
The Public Integrity Unit of the City Attorney's Office obtained the search warrant for Story's office Wednesday. But before the warrant could be executed, Sunroad's lawyers offered to turn over whatever records investigators were seeking.
The warrant was ordered sealed by Superior Court Judge George “Woody” Clarke, so whatever proof City Attorney Michael Aguirre offered to persuade Clarke to issue the warrant remains secret.
Earlier this year, Aguirre called for a federal criminal investigation of the developer and city building officials. At the time, he said Sunroad executives were “irresponsible” for putting up a building they knew exceeded the Federal Aviation Administration's height limit.
Aguirre's office obtained the warrant in the midst of a legal battle over the 12-story building, which is under construction less than a mile northwest of Montgomery Field.
Last year, the FAA declared the building a hazard to planes landing in bad weather at the Kearny Mesa airport, saying it exceeds the 160-foot safe height limit by 20 feet.
Aguirre has filed a lawsuit to compel Sunroad to tear down the top two floors of the building. Sunroad has countersued the city for $40 million, claiming it has a right to finish the office tower because the city issued permits for the project.
Hutchens said that on Monday, Sunroad will ask a judge to expedite Aguirre's lawsuit against the company.
After the FAA labeled the building a hazard, the city's Development Services Department ordered Sunroad to cease working on the top 20 feet of the building. The city later modified that order to allow Sunroad to weatherproof the building by adding a roof and making other adjustments.
Although walls were not mentioned in the modification agreement, Sunroad began installing glass walls on the top two floors last week.
When city attorney investigators learned the walls were going up, Aguirre sent a letter to Sunroad revoking permission to weatherproof or do any other work on the top of the building.
Still, work on the upper floors is continuing.
Story said Sunroad decided not to abide by Aguirre's order because its lawyers said only Development Services has authority to issue such an order. The Charter Review Committee. 03/22/07
by Pat Flannery
With only a few exceptions it reads like a Who's Who of the developer services community. It might be more aptly named The Developer Charter Review Committee.
Alan Bersin, San Diego Regional Airport Authority board Chairman
Susan Channick, California Western School of Law law professor
Barbara Cleves-Anderson, Community leader; chair of the Friends of Lake Murray
John Davies, Chair; attorney with Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP; former president of CCDC; former chair of the city planning association; currently Judicial Appointments Advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger (his wife, Patricia Davies had donated $16,150 to Schwarzenegger's election campaign).
John Gordon, Principal, Pacific Management Consulting Group.
Donna Jones, Lobbyist; land use attorney with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP; specializes in defeating CEQA appeals on developers' projects; she is currently working to develop Rancho Guejito; chair of the Infrastructure Committee of the Chamber of Commerce; vice chair of the Downtown Partnership.
Adrian Kwiatkowski, Lobbyist; Director of Public Affairs, The Monger Company.
Mike McDade, Lobbyist; attorney with Wertz McDade Wallace Moot & Brower.
James Milliken, Vice Chair; Retired Judge
Vince Mudd, President and CEO of San Diego Office Interiors.
Mark Nelson, Lobbyist; Director of National Government Affairs for Sempra Energy
Duane Roth, CEO of Connect
Marc Sorensen, Senior Engineer and Program Manager for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center’s
Glenn Sparrow, San Diego State University Professor at the School of Public Administration and Urban Studies.
Lei-Chala Wilson, Attorney, San Diego County’s Public Defender’s Office Mayor appoints Charter Review Committee
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, The San Diego Daily Transcript, 3/20/07
More than a year after the strong-mayor form of government took effect in the city of San Diego, Mayor Jerry Sanders has convened a Charter Review Committee designed to make suggestions on ways the City Charter can be clarified.
Fifteen community members -- eight recommended by council members and appointed by the mayor, seven chosen directly by the mayor -- have joined the committee and are expected to begin meeting in early April. They will look specifically at four central issues identified by the mayor: financial reform, duties of elected officials; interim strong mayor and permanent strong mayor.
The main committee will likely divide into four smaller committees to address these issues.
"When a city such as ours changes its form of governance after operating in a certain way for decades, it's to be expected that the new system may not have anticipated all of the changes that should have taken place, Sanders said when he introduced the committee Tuesday at City Hall. "That‚s what happened when our city changed to a strong-mayor form of government.
The Charter Review Committee has been appointed now in hopes that the members will have suggestions ready for the June 2008 election cycle. Any changes to the city charter are subject to public referendum. Sanders said he does not know enough about the state‚s new February primary elections to speculate if charter issues could be placed on that ballot as well.
John Davies, an attorney with Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP, has been appointed chair of the Charter Review Committee. Davies has experience with other government work; he once served as president of the Centre City Development Corp. (CCDC) and he is a former chair of the city planning association.
"We hope to be able to, by some time in the fall, come back with recommendations that address at least the focus areas that the mayor mentioned,‰ Davies said. „We will feel we‚ve done our job if we can meet that time table.‰
Joining Davies on the committee are: Vice Chair Judge James Milliken (retired); community leader Barbara Cleves Anderson; San Diego Regional Airport Authority board Chairman Alan Bersin; California Western School of Law law professor Susan Channick; Pacific Management Consulting Group Principal John Gordon; Donna Jones, a partner with the law firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP and chair of the Infrastructure Committee of the Chamber of Commerce; Director of Public Affairs for the Monger Co. Adrian Kwiatkowski; attorney Mike McDade of Wertz McDade Wallace Moot & Brower; President and CEO of San Diego Office Interiors Vince Mudd; Sempra Energy‚s Director of National Government Affairs Mark Nelson; Connect CEO Duane Roth; the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center‚s Senior Engineer and Program Manager Marc Sorensen; Glenn Sparrow, a professor at the School of Public Administration and Urban Studies at San Diego State University; and Lei-Chala Wilson, an attorney in San Diego County‚s Public Defender‚s Office.
This is San Diego‚s first Charter Review Committee since 1989. Sanders said the recommendations the committee makes will have an impact on city government.
Initial charter change was, "a half-finished job with the passage of strong-mayor (form), Sanders said. "I think with this group, we would be silly not to take their recommendations."
Send your thoughts and comments to Elizabeth.Malloy@sddt.com.
IBA: Audit Div. Parched
-- ANDREW DONOHUE Voice of San Diego, March 14, 2207
The city of San Diego should reestablish its internal audit function and recruit a new city auditor as soon as possible to do so, according to a report released today by the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst.
The report comes weeks after Chief Financial Officer Jay Goldstone acknowledged that the city had shifted its internal auditing employees to its accounting division to help complete the long-delayed audit for fiscal year 2003 -- an elusive task that has compounded the city's financial woes.
The audit division ensures that taxes are being collected properly and that city departments are performing efficiently and according to laws and regulations. The audit division's website claims having recovered $1.5 million annually from an average of 150 revenue audits. "Thus, the Audit Division of the Auditor and Comptroller's Office is integral to both the collection of significant revenue and to the effective operation of internal controls within City departments," the report reads.
Even when fully staffed, San Diego's audit division employs slightly more than half of the number of workers as divisions at comparable cities across the country. In 2006, the city budgeted 18.2 positions in its audit division. That number dropped to 12 for fiscal year 2007.
According to the IBA report, comparable cities boast an average of 22.5 employees.City Auditor John Torell left in January. Here's an article we did about Torell's tenure and his sharp criticism of the Mayor's Office. Port Commissioner Back for Third Term
San Diego Business Journal, 3/7/2007, Mike Allen
Steve Cushman, a now-retired car dealership owner, was reappointed as one of three port commissioners representing San Diego in a 5-3 vote by the San Diego City Council on March 6.
Before reappointing Cushman to his third term on the board overseeing the San Diego Unified Port District, the council voted to waive a policy of limiting term limits on boards and commissions to two terms.
The council earlier tied in a vote to rescind the waiver of the term limits, giving alternate Port Commission candidate Laurie Black a chance to be appointed. However, she could muster only four votes, one short of approval.
In a subsequent vote, City Councilwoman Toni Atkins changed her vote and approved waiving term limits.
Voting for Cushman were council members Atkins, Donna Frye, Ben Hueso, Brian Maienschein and Tony Young. Voting for Black were Kevin Faulconer, Jim Madaffer and Scott Peters.
Cushman, former chairman of the Cush Automotive Group, has been on the Port Commission since January 1999. A wide array of business and labor representatives voiced their support for Cushman during the March 6 meeting.
Black, a former chief of staff to former Rep. Lynn Schenk, was president of the Downtown Partnership, a business organization, from 1997 to 2000, and a member of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board from 1999 to 2003.
Cushman is one of seven port commissioners on the board, which represents five cities and oversees the tidelands adjoining San Diego Bay. San Diego has three commissioners while Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach and National City have one commissioner each.
Too Bad Donna Frye Isn't Mayor
By Anthony St. John, San Diego, Feb. 27, 2007
Donna and Skip Frye were featured as San Diego's clean water advocacy leaders in the July 2006 issue of National Geographic, in the "Our Coasts in Crisis" article.
Yesterday Donna's integrity to end The San Diego Union-Tribune era of City Hall corruption took precedent over the sewer and water rate hikes vote because she fully realized that clean water couldn't truly be achieved until the overwhelming culture of San Diego political corruption ends.
Donna said it best in the National Geographic article: "Let me tell you, dirty water, dirty politics, it all comes from the same source."As long as the U-T keeps electing mayors like Murphy and Sanders, the corruption of San Diego politics and water shall never end. http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/this_just_in/
Frye Memo- e-mail this post
Here is Councilwoman Donna Frye's memo regarding her concerns about the affordable housing density bonus proposal.In the memo, she argues that some decisions about the proposed incentives, which may be made by city staff and not the City Council, could be harmful to the public planning process.
For example, determining which building restrictions an affordable housing developer can have waived could be clarified without a council vote.
The public may be denied an opportunity to participate in decisions where there will be significant negative environmental impacts to their community.
This is contrary to good public policy, and requires a more thoughtful approach than that which is being proposed.-- EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Voice of SD, Feb. 22, 2007 Stealthy Money
San Diego Reader Breaking Stories, Feb. 22, 2007, By Matt Potter
A subsidiary of the real estate outfit that recently recommended taking day-to-day approval of San Diego's real estate dealings away from the city council has again been tagged with campaign-reporting violations. According to a stipulation approved two weeks ago by the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, Grubb & Ellis/BRE Commercial -- which has offices on La Jolla Village Drive in University City -- violated California's Political Reform Act. It failed to report in a timely manner a $50,000 late contribution it made on October 28, 2004, to "Citizens for Better Healthcare-Yes on BB," backer of a successful $496 million bond measure to upgrade hospitals and other health facilities in inland North County.
Under state law, donors who give money after the campaign committee's final reporting deadline prior to an election are required to file their own separate disclosure of "late" contributions so that voters may be aware of who is giving to the cause right up to Election Day.
For that lapse, Grubb & Ellis agreed to pay a $3500 fine. The company also didn't file a required "major donor" statement with the secretary of state, listing all of the contributions it had made that year, and agreed to pay an additional $930 for that omission.The stipulations follow Grubb & Ellis/BRE's September agreement to pay a $3000 fine to the City of San Diego for laundering $900 to the November 2005 campaign of Mayor Jerry Sanders through John Frager, the firm's chief executive. City law bars corporations from contributing to mayor and council campaigns, whether directly or via reimbursements to employees. According to a September 18, 2006, stipulation between the company and the city's Ethics Commission, Frager made two contributions of $300 each to the Sanders campaign -- one for the primary and another for the runoff -- using his corporate credit card, which was covered by the firm. His wife Kristen gave $300 on her personal credit card, which Frager was later reimbursed for. The mayor denied having anything to do with the laundering.
As it happened, in September of last year Sanders chose another Grubb & Ellis subsidiary, Grubb & Ellis Property Solutions Worldwide, to "provide the review and analysis required to recommend improvements to the Real Estate Assets Department's organizational structure, management practices, business processes, and operations." The final report, costing about $200,000, went before the city council's Housing and Land Use Committee February 7. It recommended that the council's involvement in the disposal of city land be limited to "batched approval," using "authority within a box."
According to Grubb & Ellis, "most real estate decisions requiring Council action should be approved as part of a portfolio plan, rather than as individual transactions." It adds that "once a portfolio plan is approved, including thresholds and terms for typical transactions, [the Real Estate Assets Department] should be free to execute those transactions that comply with these guidelines. The appropriate focus of Council is to periodically review the guidelines and to address exceptions."
Critics argue that without some kind of mandatory public airing of final sales terms and policy "exceptions," Sanders and his people may be tempted to unload city-owned land in stealthy sweetheart deals to friends and campaign contributors. A different take on Jim Waring
by Pat Flannery, 1/11/07
Excerpt: I agree with Scott Lewis of The Voice in his opinion piece today, that Jim Waring is "one of the most interesting people at City Hall", but not in the way Scott Lewis means it. Of course it all depends on how you perceive Mayor Sanders goals of "achieving regulatory efficiency", "expediting development" and "reducing the permit processing period". Very laudable goals if you happen to be a developer who contributed heavily to Mayor Sanders election.
I'm not sure how it will improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods or protect the environment. Therefore unlike Scott Lewis I do not support Waring's goal of making it all "over-the-counter" for Sanders' developer backers.
I am all for efficiency and expediting the permit process. As a small businessman myself I am all for reducing business costs, but what Waring is attempting to do has nothing to do with business or government efficiency or the reduction of costs. It has to do with avoiding CEQA compliance. His mission for Sanders and his developer backers is to make the whole development process "ministerial" thus avoiding public scrutiny. But they have forgotten one thing:
State Law. Section 21151(c) of the Public Resources Code says:
Full Article: http://www.sdreader.com/php/cityshow.php?id=1533 Mayor Sanders, A couple of questions:
Is KMPG further cooking our city's books?......
or are they just keeping the meter running to pay off the SEC on KMPG's bills past due with our taxpayer's dollars?
The Orange County Register Dec. 26, 2006. A Laguna Beach Businessman, C.S. Moison pleaded guilty on December 21st to conspiracy and wire fraud in connection with tax shelters promoted by KMPG. David Rivkin, a former KMPG tax partner pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion in March. Sixteen former KMPG executives have been charged by prosecutors with conspiracy and tax evasion. The case is set for trial in September 2007.
In August 2005, accounting giant KMPG admitted to criminal wrongdoing and agreed to pay $456 million in fines to avoid indictment in a tax-fraud conspiracy case.
In March 1999 the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Baker-Hughes and its accounting firm, KPMG, of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1995. The SEC alleged that the two companies conspired to bribe foreign officials to gain contracts in Indonesia, Brazil and India, disguising the bribes in its SEC filings as normal business expenses. The company settled with the SEC in 2001.
U.S. & SEC v. KMPG Siddharta Siddharta & Harsono and Sonny Harsono (Civ. Action No. H-01-3105), S.D. Tex. 2001 In a joint complaint, the SEC & DOJ charged the defendants with violations of the FCPA. Without admitting or denying the allegations, the defendants consented to the entry of a Final Judgment that enjoined them from violating the antibribery and books and records provisions of the FCPA. See SEC Litigation Release 17127. For related SEC actions against Baker Hughes and two of its executives, see SEC Litigation Release 17126 and Administrative Action No. 3-10572.
Following accounting scandals KMPG changed the name of its business-consulting arm to BearingPoint. BearingPoint has been granted a $76 million USAID contacts in Iraq to oversee and manage , "Economic Recovery, Reform and Sustained Growth in Iraq." (Ref: USAID.)
Travails in Tax: KPMG and the Tax-Shelter Controversy New York Law School
The story of KPMG's emergence as an industry leader in the tax shelter market From the late 1990s into the next decade, KPMG devoted significant resources to developing and mass marketing hundreds of fraudulent tax shelters.
Lawyers fighting over KMPG fees The W$J reports <http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111948957674567209,00.html?mod=home_whats_news_us%20> that Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP is arguing that Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP may be 'colluding' with KPMG to hastily put together a new suit with a 'pre-packaged settlement ... presumably on terms less favorable to the class' than the Bernstein firm would hold out for. Of course this is all about fees for being lead counsel, an issue discussed by Bruce Kobayashi and me in Class Action Lawyers as Lawmakers, 46 Arizona L. Rev. 733 (2004), draft here <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=501548> . All of which should remind us that even if we don't have criminal penalties against KMPG, there are some people who are very interested in making sure that KMPG pays. Indeed, one way to really frustrate that process is to put KMPG out of business.
The preceding is just a partial list.
Jarvis Ross, Point Loma Wal-Mart Offers Incentives to Public Supporters
By VLADIMIR KOGAN, Voice Staff Writer, Nov. 28, 2006
Excerpt: With upward of 2,000 community members anticipated at Tuesday's City Council meeting, the gathering promises to be an unusually large civic exercise in chambers more accustomed to sparse crowds.
And with elected leaders scheduled to decide whether to ban Wal-Mart Superstores and regulate most other types of big-box retailers in San Diego, big crowds are exactly what one side involved in the debate desires.
*Several senior citizens say they have been contacted by self-identified Wal-Mart employees who have offered them a free lunch for coming to speak out against the ban at the meeting, and free transportation to get there. The company also acknowledges that it has promised to validate parking for at least some of its supporters who show up.
Full piece; http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/articles/2006/11/28/news/02walmart.txt
(*Similar techniques were used for Seaworld & Naval Training Center) Breaking Stories: Orchestration
By Matt Potter, Reader City Lights, 11/1/06
Critics of the Union-Tribune who say that the newspaper and some of its reporters are working too closely with San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders to help advance his agenda may find ammunition in an internal e-mail sent out last month to the mayor's staff by deputy press secretary George Biagi III. "The Mayor will be holding a press conference on Monday, Sept. 18th, at 11 am, in La Jolla at the former site of the former 'rat house' on Desert View Drive to announce to the press the progress we've made and the challenges that lie ahead for the city's READ [Real Estate Assets Department],"
Biagi's e-mail begins, referring to a dilapidated house featured in a U-T exposé of the City's property management practices under ex-mayor Dick Murphy. "We're timing this to follow the anticipated Brooke Williams article in this weekend's UT that will be devoted to READ," Biagi continues. "Please note: The Mayor needs both Jims (Waring and Barwick) at this press conference, so please free up the space on their schedules so they can attend."
If the article DOES NOT RUN in this weekend's UT, we will probably reschedule the press conference to coincide with the day that it runs. I'll also need some time on both Jims calendars on Thursday or early Friday so that we can finalize the fact sheet we'll be putting out on this as well as the mayor's remarks." As it turned out, the story appeared that Sunday just as predicted, under the banner headline "City cleaning up real estate mess; changes are being made, but a lot of work remains." The mayor received favorable mention: "Mayor Jerry Sanders made revamping the Real Estate Assets Department a campaign promise last fall and a priority when he took office in December."
Mayor has first, last, only word on city info
Sanders' press policy riles civic watchdogs
By Craig Gustafson Union Tribune, STAFF WRITER, Nov.12, 2006
Excerpt: Mayor Jerry Sanders defends the tight lid at City Hall, saying he doesn't want employees giving out wrong data.
When Mayor Jerry Sanders took office in December, he blamed many of San Diego's problems on the city's operating philosophy of “delay, deny or deceive.”
The former police chief pledged a new era of openness in city government.
His record belies the tell-it-like-it-is attitude that Sanders projects when in the public eye.Internal memos, e-mails and interviews with dozens of city officials show that Sanders tightly controls the message coming out of City Hall.He restricts or delays access to public documents, prevents employees from voicing their opinions and carefully manages much of the information the city releases.
Critics say the mayor's policies stymie attempts by civic watchdogs to apply checks to his actions and, ultimately, conceals from citizens what their government is doing.
A few examples:In an Aug. 4 memo, Sanders outlined to city employees what they can and cannot talk about to reporters.
He has told high-ranking city officials to file reports detailing their conversations with the news media and City Council members.
Background: Under San Diego's new form of government, Jerry Sanders is the first mayor to be responsible for the city's day-to-day operations. Within that role, he oversees how information is released to the public.
Staffing: The mayor has a five-member communications staff, whose salaries total about $367,000 annually. His predecessor, Dick Murphy, and the former city manager had three press aides reporting directly to them; their combined salaries were $273,000 a year.
News conferences: Sanders has held 115 since taking office Dec. 5. Murphy rarely held news conferences.He has ordered that all formal requests for public information go through his office. Even council members and City Attorney Michael Aguirre have to put their requests in writing, according to a May 12 letter by Sanders' chief operating officer, Ronne Froman. Group brainstorms plans for landCitizens want updated look for Navy complex
By Dani Dodge, Union-Tribune, September 17, 2006
Excerpt: Yesterday, they dreamed. More than 50 people looked at maps of the downtown waterfront, and the prime location of the Navy Broadway Complex upon it, and envisioned a grand public square, great public art and an exquisite performing arts center akin to the Sydney Opera House.
“The most important point,” said Larry Herzog, a professor at San Diego State University, “is it should not be defined by private profit . . . but public infrastructure.”Until yesterday, public discussion of the Navy Broadway Complex has focused on Doug Manchester's development proposal, called Pacific Gateway.
Manchester plans to build 2.9 million square feet of hotels, offices and shops on the 14.7 acres of Navy land bordered by Broadway, Pacific Highway and Harbor Drive – a plan he created to conform to a 1992 development agreement.
The Broadway Complex Coalition, a private citizens group, held yesterday's workshop so people could openly consider other possibilities for the waterfront land. Members of the coalition emphasized San Diego is not what it was in 1992 and the dreams of those who created the development agreement are not the dreams of people today... After Citizens Strongly Opposed the Cities City of Villages Smart Growth Plans... the SANDAG Board promotes the same Smart Growth and Density Map Plans
Going through SANDAG is a tricky way for San Diego to circumvent most public opinion and push the smart growth map and policies.
Friends of San Diego had a legal settlement with the City of SD restricting their use of the Opportunity Areas Map prior to environmental reports and adoption of specific changes to planning and zoning. In July Friends of San Diego found out that they gave it to SANDAG for transportation planning!
Friends of San Diego didn't address the SANDAG planners or board because the organization was too busy on other battles, like the "plan-buster" projects proposed for Hillcrest, and the new General Plan.
The broader problem is that VERY FEW people pay any attention to SANDAG activities. City officials tend to go along with the SANDAG staff, and the public has no clue that SANDAG decides major issues which affect their cities.
To find out more contact: Friends of San Diego, 619-795-1753 Frye takes public stance against Prop C
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, The Daily Transcript, October 30, 2006
While she has spoken against Mayor Jerry Sanders‚ managed competition ballot proposal during City Council meetings, councilmember and former mayoral candidate Donna Frye took her campaign public Monday when she appeared with a citizen‚s group opposing the ballot measure.
After appearing with Citizens Against Corruption: No on C, Frye said the language in Proposition C does not properly protect police and fire from outsourcing. Sanders has maintained since he first unveiled the ballot measure that public safety would remain under city control, but Frye said the language in the proposal isn‚t precise enough.
Even withholding the public safety issue, Frye said she and other opponents are worried that Prop C will leave the door open to widespread corruption, with companies making large campaign donations in exchange for contracts, and she said the private sectors ultimate goal of profits will not mesh with the government‚s goal of service to the people.
"Proponents say it takes the politics and the special interests out,” she said. "Wrong. It opens the door to more politics and more access to special interest.” Frye also worried about private companies having no accountability to the Brown Act and other open-government protections.
"Sanders has said there are multiple safeguards against corruption, including an oversight committee designed to look through contracts for ethical issues. Frye said she thinks councilmembers should have to recuse themselves from voting on contracts where the bidder has donated money to their campaign.
Sanders‚ office has said in the past that this would be a violation of First Amendment rights, which allow anyone to donate to any campaign they wish. Bad Uptown reviews on community forum
Union-Tribune Letters to editor 10/21/06
Last Saturday morning, San Diego City Council members Toni Atkins and Kevin Faulconer hosted a community forum to discuss planning issues in the Uptown community at Recital Hall in Balboa Park.
We were told that more than 100 people showed up to participate.
What we weren't told from the outset was that, despite having a say in setting the time and date for the meeting, Faulconer was going to bail on his constituents to honor a commitment to one of his children. He waited until 11:35 a.m. to make the announcement and left Atkins to hear from the remaining residents long after most of the developers and outsiders took their potshots at the folks living in Hillcrest, Mission Hills and University Heights.
Not having attended such a community meeting set up by politicians in quite a while – probably with the intention to sooth the savage citizenry after the council's approval of the 301 University Avenue project – I was surprised when many of the residents who regularly attend such meetings said they believed the council members had stacked the speaker cards in favor of the developers and their supporters. It appeared the developers received most of the early speaking slots, along with what some folks referred to as the developers' speaking “plants” from as far away as University Towne Center.
Why would a resident of UTC take umbrage with Uptown residents' concerns about height restrictions on buildings in Hillcrest and Mission Hills?
As these seasoned community-meeting folk predicted, the longer the meeting dragged on with testimony from the developers and their allies, the more frustrated and disillusioned the residents of the Second and Third districts became, and their number started to dwindle. However, enough residents remained and made their strongest and most succinct points that they would not tolerate the end runaround from the council members any longer and that their voices would be heard. One of the speakers even mentioned the word “recall.”While the encounter was mostly civil, in the end, it was obvious that Atkins and Faulconer were doing what comes naturally for most politicians – damage control by paying lip service to the voters.
— LEE A. SCHOENBART
San DiegoAt the community forum hosted by Toni Atkins and Kevin Faulconer to discuss updating the community plan and the impact of high density development in Uptown, a large number of developers and their supporters (architects, friends, etc.) spoke, and representatives of the city Planning Department dutifully took down their every word as input from “the community.”
When I finally spoke, I pointed out that developers and their friends do not necessarily live in the community, and do not speak for the community. Since this was a community forum, it would be nice if community members were listened to, instead of developers. Faulconer left the meeting early, before many residents had a chance to speak.
If you look at recent development in Uptown and nearby areas, you will get a taste of the hideous eyesores that will increasingly transform the beautiful and historic neighborhoods around Balboa Park into a traffic-choked, noisy, characterless and overpopulated slum. The new projects are huge and totally out of scale in relation to the rest of the neighborhood, are architecturally undistinguished, and have no setbacks for greenery and landscaping.This is true of the new project at 30th Street and El Cajon Boulevard, the parking garage (which few people will actually use) at University and 30th, the new projects on Park Boulevard at University and Robinson, and the upcoming 301 University project.
None of these projects – so-called “smart growth” and “infill development” – will ever provide a significant amount of affordable housing, get people to use public transit or prevent sprawl development in rural areas.The rhetoric of smart growth, “city of villages,” etc., is merely a cover for developers maximizing their profits at the expense of local neighborhood character and quality of life.
— ANDREW TOWNE, San Diego Visit the City Attorney's Web site at www.sandiegocityattorney.org
CITY ATTORNEY ISSUES INITIAL LEGAL ANALYSIS OF MAYOR'S REMEDIATION PLAN FOR FISCAL REFORM
Urges more review of certain elements
Voice of San Diego
San Diego, CA - San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre today released a report to the Mayor and San Diego City Council outlining his initial legal analysis regarding the Mayor's remediation plan for fiscal reform. The Mayor's plan, based on the Kroll Report, was released on Aug. 24, 2006. A special City Council meeting to consider the Mayor's plan has been set for Wed., Sept. 6 at 1 p.m.
Several of the proposals contained in the Mayor's plan cannot be implemented without changes to the City Charter, which require a vote of the electorate. The legal impacts are delineated in the City Attorney's report titled, "Remediation Measures Requiring Changes to the City Charter and Related Matters." The report recommends that the City Council receive the Mayor's plan on Sept. 6, but only proceed with implementation after all legal requirements are met and the plan is in compliance with anticipated Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) remediation measures.
"I support 85 percent of the Mayor's plan, but it is necessary to take the appropriate legal steps to implement those elements which require Charter amendments," said Aguirre.
In need of remediation are the City's financial management practices that have led to the $1.4 billion employee pension debt -- the result of agreements between the San Diego City Council and the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System (SDCERS) Board in 1996 and 2002. The SEC has not completed its investigation into the financial management and bond disclosure practices of City officials.
The City Attorney's Report specifically addressed the issues of:
1. Changes to the composition of the San Diego City Employees Retirement System (SDCERS) Board of Administration;
2. Changes to the Office of the City Auditor and Comptroller;
3. Creation of an "Audit Committee;"
4. Appointment of a "Monitor;"
5. Changes to the jurisdiction of the Office of the City Attorney to eliminate that Office as Attorney for the Retirement System.
Jim Madaffer Should Resign
July 5, 2006
Recently, Councilman Jim Madaffer found himself apologizing to a constituent. She had sent him a highly critical e-mail and he knew that she worked for a developer who did business with the city occasionally. Madaffer decided he would try to have her boss reprimand her or, potentially, do something harsher.He apologized to her only after the weekly newspaper CityBeat uncovered a few interesting e-mails and asked him about them.
Taken on its own, this is not that big of a deal. It's a story about a public official who made a bad decision and was forced to make it right by a newspaper.But it's yet another in a long line of bad decisions by Madaffer -- such a long line, in fact, that when you take it all in, you can't help but be disgusted. This latest story provided a window into his petty vindictiveness. Like many pivotal displays by public figures in the past, this one was interesting because it seems to capture perfectly a much larger story about the man than simply a questionable e-mail.Stories like this about Madaffer have broken slowly for years. Never once has any of them individually been enough to force serious contemplation about whether he is fit for office. Each of them seems to come and go -- far enough spaced from each other to prevent anyone from adding them all up.
The latest story came on the heels of another revealing series of reports about Madaffer: that he had overspent his allotted budget for last year by $176,000. To make up the difference, the city was going to have to raid the infrastructure fund set aside for Madaffer's district.Why did Madaffer's office need to spend so much more money than the other offices of members of the City Council? Because he hired the former press secretary of former Mayor Dick Murphy. He put her in the post of director of the Grantville redevelopment area.
Madaffer has no apparent authority to appoint the leader of the Grantville redevelopment area unilaterally. But he has a characteristic way of being oblivious to legal checks on his power and resources. He hired his new director anyway. He said new revenue from the redevelopment district would pay for the position -- but the district hasn't even been validated yet.
So Madaffer's office is once again projected to overspend its budget by a similar amount this year. It appears that Madaffer does not plan to reduce the number of employees he has. Instead, current plans show he would force them to take what amounts to an average of 10 weeks of unpaid leave.This would cost them each about $15,000. But get this: His staffers all earn an average of $15,000 more than the employees in other council offices. In other words, his staff will receive the same compensation as other City Council staff, but they would deliver 10 fewer weeks of service to the city and Madaffer's district.This sort of mismanagement should not be surprising to anyone. Madaffer filed for personal bankruptcy twice before winning elected office. And many will remember Madaffer's particular troubles a couple of years ago that provoked the city's Water Department to turn off the water to his home and put a padlock on it.Interpret all of this in the context of what's happening to the city of San Diego right now. Madaffer has made all of the same decisions that former Mayor Dick Murphy made. The city, of course, pushed Murphy into an early retirement. Madaffer, like others on the Council, scoffed at his duty to oversee financial disclosures or to consider the fiscal impact of his pension promises to city workers. Now, he vacillates between expressing concern and regret for his actions and blithely denying that there's a pension problem at all.
Then, the kicker. Last fall, reporter Andrew Donohueuncovered a series of documents that showed Madaffer deliberately bullying city attorneys and staffers to secure approval of a special retirement benefit for former City Councilman Mike Gotch, who had been out of office for a decade. In other words, despite objections by city lawyers, Madaffer eventually handed Gotch and 17 other former elected officials a healthy boost to their pensions. Even though their service to the city had long been finished, Madaffer's priority was to send them more money.
Why would Madaffer make such a special effort to get money into the pocket of a former city official? Madaffer was lobbying Gotch -- then an aide to former Gov. Gray Davis -- to persuade the state to help San Diego purchase parkland in Madaffer's district.Pensions are supposed to be increased as a way of attracting and retaining quality employees, not as a tool for paying off political pals.Madaffer, like other city leaders, treated the city's pension fund like a vast reservoir of petty cash propped up by the stock market boom.When the stock market collapsed, and the pension fund drained like a parched reservoir, all the damage that city leaders had done was revealed.Yet Madaffer has shown no willingness to support serious reform as the city continues to slog through a financial crisis. He has shown no desire to cut the city's liabilities and instead -- as demonstrated by his own budget -- he's acted time and time again as though the city has a bottomless pit of taxpayer resources to spend.The list goes on and it will continue to grow. How can we expect Madaffer to improve? He has no record to indicate he can handle money at all yet there is no more important responsibility for an elected officeholder.
Madaffer's long history reveals the traits we least want in our elected officials: fiscal irresponsibility, questionable ethics, petty vindictiveness and an overall tendency to put his own interests in front of the greater good. In a City Hall that has seen a good deal of scrubbing in the last year, the councilman's presence in city affairs is testament to the stark reality that wholesale change still escapes us.Not long ago, Madaffer came unhinged when San Diego State University decided to take over one of the largest developments in the College Area: the Paseo. Many speculated that the university had taken over the project because of the involvement in it of a controversial figure in the city's pension crisis: Frederick W. Pierce, IV. Pierce had guided the city's pension board through the worst of its decisions.Nevertheless, Madaffer was incensed with the university and he vowed to fight it to protect Pierce's project.
"This is jihad for my constituents. This is the equivalent of holy war. I am going to forever stick up for my constituents," Madaffer said.If he does intend to stick up for his constituents, the greatest public service Madaffer could do now is to take leave of his office and give them a chance to find better representation.— voiceofsandiego.org All the Jim That's Fit to Print
By EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Voice Staff Writer, July 24, 2006
Serving Allied Gardens, San Carlos and other eastern San Diego neighborhoods, the Mission Times Courier delivers the scoop on the area's City Council office like no other publication.In November 1999, when Councilwoman Judy McCarty endorsed her then-chief of staff Jim Madaffer as her successor to the District 7 seat, the termed-out councilwoman's blessing played out on the monthly publication's front page.
"He knows the issues and he understands the individual needs of each community," McCarty told the Mission Times Courier, which prominently displayed the endorsement story as its lead article in that month's issue.
The article's author: R. Maude Madsen. She knew her subject well -- Madaffer is her son.
It's not uncommon for local politicians to be shown grinning on the front pages of a community newspaper. But it's not everyday that the article is written by the politician's mother -- in a newspaper owned by the politician and published by his wife.Such is the case at the Mission Times Courier, a monthly community newspaper delivered free to lawns and driveways throughout the councilman's eastern San Diego district.
For nearly a decade, Madaffer and his wife have owned the Mission Times Courier, which offers blurbs about the happenings of nearby schools, planning groups, youth sports leagues and new construction projects. Rarely does a story about City Hall pass without at least a passing reference to Madaffer's efforts, if not a friendly pat on the back. The councilman can be seen smiling with police officers and girl scouts or handing checks to community leaders in the periodical's photographs.
The paper is estimated to reach 25,000 homes and businesses from northern La Mesa to College Area, a circulation that slices right through a stretch of San Diego that includes his council district -- and the county supervisor district he is rumored to be running for in 2008.
The newspaper has become a profitable enterprise. Madaffer claims a household income of between $100,000 and $1 million per year on the paper, according to the statement of economic interest he must file annually with the city.
"He's a very savvy politician, and I say that in the most complimentary sense, and this is another example of that," said John Dadian, a local political consultant and corporate lobbyist. "It's a very smart deal, both for business and for politics.
"Neither Jim Madaffer nor Sally Ortega Madaffer, the newspaper's editor, returned several calls for comment for this story.
Few other politicians are able to build up name recognition -- and to sometimes plug their own causes -- on such a regular basis and without having to fire off a press release, navigate a professional press corps or spend money from their office's budget. The Mission Times Courier has served as a profitable, and often political, instrument for the councilman.
The newspapers profits are reaped from the paid advertisements of local real estate agents, dentists and retailers.Michael Schudson, a University of California, San Diego communication professor and author of "Discovering the News," said the phenomenon of newspaper-owning politicians was prevalent in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but is very rare today.
Schudson said papers the size of Madaffer's are often run by chains that are out to make money, not waves in the political world.
"The connection of a newspaper career and running for public office was really close, but that's really died," he said.
But the phenomenon is alive and well in District 7. Aside from having his picture sprinkled throughout the paper, Madaffer also pens a "Straight from Jim" column, where he opines on city politics and the happenings within his community.
As a whole, political issues take a back seat to the paper's normal fare, which highlights the feel-good episodes of these mostly cul-de-sac communities. The paper provides a glimpse into the small-town, familiar feel of the area -- a collection of outlying suburban enclaves that help comprise the nation's eighth largest city.
A blurb about a 67-year-old Lake Murray man (who is pictured donning a sweatshirt that reads, "Old age and treachery will overcome youth and vigor") details his spontaneous audition for the television program "Survivor" while celebrating his birthday in Utah.
When two San Carlos homeowners were honored in a "California-friendly landscape contest," the paper ran the story on the front page of its May issue. As Girl Scouts in the Navajo area were placing the last few stitches on a quilt they were donating to the local humane society, the accolades were printed on the regular "Neighbor Notables" spread this January.
These lighthearted endeavors soak up the bulk of the Mission Times Courier's newsprint, but occasionally the editorial content can veer to the political arena. Some readers have been taken aback by the sharp elbows the paper has sometimes thrown.In the April 2001 issue of the paper, Madsen began a series about "Navajo Road blight." The article called out the homeowners of a Lake Murray neighborhood whose backyards are adjacent to Navajo Road, a major thoroughfare in the district.
"Most of the residents of Tommy Drive whose backyards abut the Navajo Road setback apparently care little about the shoddy appearance of their mish-mash fences. After all, they don't have to look at them!" Madsen wrote in the article, which was accompanied by photos of the residents' fences.
The article contends that these negligent acts fly in the face of the efforts of Madaffer to beautify the stretch of road by landscaping the medians and adding sidewalks along the busy street.In the next issue, Allied Gardens resident Kathy Camper responded to the article, saying it made her feel "uncomfortable."
"I feel that it is impolite to embarrass residents of our community in this way," Camper wrote in a letter to the editor. She added, "Let's not use public humiliation as a tool to clean up our neighborhoods.
"In a recent interview, Madsen said she thought the story helped spur residents into action. She also said she didn't slant her articles to favor her son.
"I don't think I ever consciously ever wrote anything in particular that pointed to him. In fact, I stayed away with him and politics," said Madsen, who said she has not written anything for the paper in a year although her name still appears in the paper's staff box. "I could have written some beautiful things about him, but I did not.
"Community papers such as the Mission Times Courier almost always cover the work of their elected representatives, but the relationship of Madaffer to the newspaper gives way to an unavoidable conflict of interest for the paper's editorial staff.
Newsrooms typically evade conflicts by recusing the reporter or, if the conflict is unavoidable, by disclosing any relationships within the article. Sally Ortega Madaffer's role is prominently displayed in the newspaper's staff listing. Madsen's affiliation isn't disclosed.Dadian said people pick up the paper to learn about the quainter issues of the neighborhood -- how the soccer team did, what the local girl scouts are doing, who is building the apartment complex down the street -- than for the credible "hard news" generally associated with larger newspapers.
"When you have these types of community papers, it does take on a different ambiance," Dadian said.The paper also delves into the micropolitics of the neighborhoods, featuring columns by the leaders of the various civic groups -- planning boards, community councils, business groups -- in the area. One regular contributor accused the paper of cutting out his criticism of Madaffer.
"She's edited my stories when I've dumped on him," said John Pilch, president of the San Carlos Area Council and a frequent Madaffer critic.
The councilman's relationship to the newspaper as a business also creates a different dynamic.
While he lists his ownership of the Mission Times Courier and his wife's income as editor, he does not disclose the paper's advertisers.
Stacy Fulhorst, executive director at the city's Ethics Commission, said that officials must report any direct sources of income over $10,000 from any one source if that source is headquartered in San Diego or conducts business in the city. Calls placed to the newspaper's offices seeking information about the paper's advertisers were not returned.
Bob Fellmeth, executive director of the University of San Diego's Center for Public Interest Law, said the omission of Madaffer's clients present a common problem with economic disclosures: third parties. However, he said members of the public only have to open up a copy of Madaffer's paper to see who is giving buying ads, whereas other third-party sources of income are less transparent in many cases.
Aside from the positive coverage the paper granted him during his bids for office, the paper has also been used in Madaffer's campaigns.
Campaign disclosures filed with the City Clerk's Office show that Madaffer, on behalf of the newspaper, donated thousands of dollars in advertising space to his City Council campaigns, but the exact amount was unverifiable. Also, in at least one instance, Madaffer's campaign fund purchased ad space directly from the Mission Times Courier.
Fulhorst, who noted that the Ethics Commission has not reviewed this specific case, said that candidates in general are able to make non-monetary contributions to their campaigns and that a campaign fund can use the candidate's business as a vendor "as long as services are truly rendered.
"But as the Hearsts and the Pulitzers unabashedly used the pages of their publications to rise to power while on their way to fortune, Madsen said the the Mission Times Courier is hardly a political instrument for her son."It would be wonderful if it had such influence that it could make the citizenry vote one way or the other," she said.
Two separate groups, and Roger Hedgecock (!) raise concerns about vote rigging in the 50th district congressional race.
There also was a report that the percentage of votes being received by the top two candidates in the democratic primary to determine who would run against Duncan Hunter did not budge at all on election night. Something that is highly out of the norm.
"NO BASIS FOR CONFIDENCE IN SAN DIEGO PRIMARY ELECTIONS"SAYS CALIFORNIA ELECTION PROTECTION NETWORK
firstname.lastname@example.org, Mon, 19 Jun 2006, CEPN Press Release: The California Election Protection Network (CEPN), a nonpartisan coalition of more than 25 election integrity organizations throughout California, is calling for a full hand count of all ballots and paper audit trails from San Diego County's June 6 primary election. CEPN has posted a Voters' Resolution of No Confidence on its website citing violations of California and federal election regulations, and describing the vote counting process as "secret," without means for verification by voters, elections officials, or the newsmedia. "There is no proof of this election's legitimacy," said CEPN member Jim Soper. "Despite a mountain of proof that these machines are easily hackable, Secretary of State McPherson certified the system claiming a set of handling procedures would keep the machines safe.
Now we learn that machines were unsecured in pollworkers' homes before the election, rendering those procedures useless."
In February, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson released a security report he had commissioned of Diebold touch screen (DRE) and optical scan voting machines. The report authored by University of California computer scientists concluded that the machines should never be left in the presence of fewer than two people, because one person alone could implant malicious code that could alter vote-counting functions without leaving any detectable evidence.
In San Diego County--as well as other California counties using Diebold machines--poll workers were allowed to take the machines for "sleepover" storage in their homes for days prior to the election.
The state report, " Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuBasic Interpreter," also said the machines could not be used unless the secret "interpreter code" was removed or the law changed to allow it. Neither was done.
This same report confirmed several previously reported vulnerabilities in the Diebold systems, and announced the finding of 16 additional previously undisclosed security risks. Despite these clear threats to election security, McPherson certified the machines for use in California elections.
"These elections were conducted under illegal conditions. The results could very well have been compromised, and we can have no confidence in the reported results," said CEPN member, Dan Ashby.
Soper, a software engineer, added, "The public needs to understand that no amount of testing will ever detect hidden computer code that can be secretly activated on election day. Nobody, and no machine, should be counting our votes in secret." "Not only that, but the voters' ballots are being treated as a side-issue," said Ashby. "Even before all the votes were counted, Secretary McPherson declared Brian Bilbray the winner of the 50th District Congressional run-off election. On that basis--not the actual vote count--Republican members of Congress staged a swearing-in ceremony in the Capitol. They did this while tens of thousands of absentee and provisional ballots remained uncounted."
CEPN is calling upon San Diego County Registrar Mikel Haas and Secretary McPherson to invalidate all reported results until the outcome of each race can be verified through a hand count of all legally cast votes. Calling it a "Free-Count" rather than a recount, the CEPN citizen watchdogs insist that this manual counting of the ballots be conducted without charge to the voting public.
"The San Diego election department's violation of legal election procedure invalidated the original machine count," said Ashby. "It is the San Diego registrar's obligation to conduct a proper election, not bill the people to pay for his blunder." With historical undertones, the CEPN Voters' Resolution of No Confidence draws from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, which says the "just Power" of the government comes from the "Consent of the Governed." "Under these illegal election conditions, the Consent of the Governed is being assumed, not sought," said Resolution author Dave Berman, a CEPN member from Humboldt County's Voter Confidence Committee. Quoting from the Resolution, Berman continued, "We, The People, DO NOT CONSENT to transferring power and authority to candidates claiming victory in this illegitimate election. We will do everything within our Constitutional and Human Rights to protect and preserve possession of this power that is inalienably Ours to be given but never taken away."
The CEPN notes that its position is in solidarity with the No Confidence stance taken by the Progressive Democrats of America, Tribune Media Services columnist Bob Koehler, and the election integrity organization VelvetRevolution.us, which is circulating an online petition calling for a hand count of the San Diego ballots.
The CEPN Voters' Resolution of No Confidence can be read at: http://www.califelectprotect.net/no_conf-resol.html
The Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuBasic Interpreter can be read at: http://ss.ca.gov/elections/voting_systems/security_analysis_of_the_
The Velvet Revolution online petition can be read and signed at: http://www.velvetrevolution.us/content/busby-bilbray/busby-bilbray.phpMcMillin sentiments echoed
Further to the excellent guest column in the Peninsula Beacon 2/23/06 titled “Big Grab, Poor Sentiment,” by Kathleen Blavatt,
there are additional reasons for the anti-NTC/McMillin elements in the residential areas of San Diego.
Encouraged by the special relationship that McMillin developed with the City of San Diego, politicians and the San Diego Development Department on the NTC project, McMillin executives are purchasing smaller homes on single lots, then razing them and replacing them with mansion-type or monster homes.
Based on their successful manipulation of the approval process on NTC, these McMillin executives are applying the same contribution and lobbying process to the current City of San Diego, politicians and Development Dept., and as a result, these monster houses are disproportionately large and overpowering compared with exiting homes, violate traditional set-backs, height limitations, floor ratios and obliterate the scenic views of neighboring houses, eroding the area’s architectural character.
As is clearly illustrated with McMillin’s attitude and posture, the real estate development industry is subject to the same greased palms of lobbyists and other politicians that characterize our system of government.
We the citizens, taxpayers and voters have to utilize our First Amendment rights and remind our fellow residents of the wheeling and dealing of McMillin and the politicians in order that developers do not gain inordinate influence over city council and departmental decisions in the future.—Jim Gilhooly, Point LomaBig Grab, Poor Sentiment
Peninsula Beacon, by Kathleen Blavatt, 2/23/06
Lets get the record straight. Naval Training Center is a huge land grab of bay front historical public land. Politicians, who received many contributions from the McMillin companies and other vested interests, to set up the deal.
McMillin falsely says, “Save Our NTC, Inc., filed four lawsuits and lost.”
One lawsuit was filed by Brian Fletcher, the great grandson of Colonel Ed Fletcher, who was one of the donors of the NTC land. Brian’s lawsuit was to keep the land public instead of McMillin building track homes on it and selling these properties.
As for the other lawsuits, they were funded by hundreds of community members.
One lawsuit dealt with upholding thepopular initiative voted in “30 foot Coastal Height Limit Law.” VOTE group, the originators of this law, supported the Save Our NTC, Inc. lawsuit. Their firm intent was that the 30 ft. apply to all land west of I-5, north of Laurel Street including NTC and other federal land.”Ironically in court, the judge said something like, “I don’t know if the original writers the law meant for it to cover Federal land.” One of the originators of the law, Mignon Scherer, sat in the audience of the courtroom, in disbelief as he said this. The fact that this group had supported the lawsuit and gave press conferences specifically on the height limit application of the law, made the judges statement appalling.
In recent years, throughout California, the tideland’s laws that protect our tidelands have been assaulted. Because of the great expense of the lawsuit, and the government finagling involve, Save Our NTC had to settle in this case. NTC is now a sad example of breaking tideland's protections, to take away "public land" and its "public use rights" of the tidelands."
The first NTC lawsuit asked for disclosure of who the owners are in
the Limited Liabilities Corporation that partnered with McMillin in NTC. When a billion dollars worth of public land and entitlements is given away, shouldn’t the public know exactly whom they were given to? Do the politicians and vested interests that set this deal up, own shares? Hasn’t the Duke Cunningham scandal shown us it is time to "stop turning a blind eye towards questionable deals?"
I am thrilled that record crowds have shown up to vote at local planning board elections and have voted for many people who do not have vested interests, who do research and ask pertinent questions.
Ms. Conger and others on the Peninsula Community Planning Board spend countless hours volunteering for our community because they care. We are lucky to have board members that are actively keeping the public informed and don’t just "rubber stamp" the bad projects.
On the other hand, McMillin Company has ignored the planning board, much of the community and manipulated the approval process with contributions and heavy lobbying. So, what right does McMillin Company have to gripe? They themselves say, “We've got what we wanted, meaning they got to commercialize NTC to benefit their pocketbooks.
It is not just "a small group" that thinks NTC is a bad deal. Both the Grand Jury and Airport Authority wrote negative reports concerning NTC. Prominent writers, League of Woman Voters, our current City Attorney, historians, civic leaders, watchdogs, and many others have come with valid criticism or had concerns over NTC.
McMillin’s process has been continuous “bait & switches” while making the public, the project's tenants and property buyers pay for the developer'’s obligations. A few examples include:
The one of a kind historic foundry: promised to the community and artists, that was destroyed; the land the Rock Church is on was supposed to be for higher level educational use; and the I-Buildings with their beautiful courtyards that could have easily accommodated a large bazaar created in the "Diane Powers style genera" will instead have a large amount of their historical integrity destroyed when razed to construct three 35,000 ft. chain stores and a grocery store.
This month's switch is what was originally sold to the public as the unique “Ocean Village,” coastal park attraction. Now, it is being switched to another non-inspired waste of waterfront use as 392 parking spaces and commercialized 'boating use' .
Beyond the insider deals, City Council continually lets McMillin off the hook for paying for millions of improvements and infrastructure obligations.
The wheeling-dealings of McMillin Company, the secret partners and paid off politicians have been well documented. The monolithic bay view corporate McMillin headquarters and the building named after McMillin will serve to remind folks there is good reason for an anti-Liberty Station element. We need to remember the “NTC lesson” next time a developer wants our public land.
CLEAN MONEY INITIATIVE QUALIFIES FOR NOVEMBER BALLOT!
The California Secretary of State announced Monday that the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act has qualified for the November ballot! The initiative qualified after 620,000 Californians signed on to a petition drive sponsored by the California Nurses Association.
The Clean Money portion of the initiative is based on language developed by the California Clean Money Campaign for AB 583 to provide an effective and affordable voluntary public funding system for statewide and legislative election campaigns. It also has language lowering contribution limits and banning contributions by lobbyists and state contractors.
The California Clean Money Campaign has joined Public Campaign and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in officially endorsing the initiative. We will soon be providing you with further information about the details of the initiative and how to get involved in the campaign to pass it.You have all done a superb job of bringing us to where we are right now. There is no question that the initiative would not have qualified in the short time it did without the outstanding job that Clean Money supporters have done in educating Californians about the benefits of a Clean Money system.
The Fate of AB 583 and It’s ImportanceAB 583, the Clean Money bill, had a stunning and unexpected success earlier this year when it passed through the Assembly after a huge outcry from Californians calling for a change in the way we finance election campaigns. But as you know, AB 583 was mired in the Senate Elections Committee, despite the strong support of co-author and Senate Elections Committee Chair Debra Bowen. In light of the qualification of the Clean Money initiative for the November ballot, we have agreed with AB 583 author Assemblymember Loni Hancock that AB 583 should not move forward.After announcing that AB 583 would be dropped, Assemblymember Hancock took the opportunity to thank everybody who worked so hard in support of AB 583: "The legislation would never have gotten as far as it did without the tremendous efforts of the coalition members and supporters. I am greatly appreciative of all your hard work, and I encourage you all to join me in now fully supporting the initiative on the ballot.
"We at the California Clean Money Campaign would also like to publicly thank Assemblymember Hancock for her tireless work and support of Clean Money. We certainly would not be where we are today without her vision and courage.The fact that the bill had an impressive 33 co- authors and the strong leadership of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez also bodes well for the initiative. Momentum for Clean Money in California is also demonstrated by the nearly 150 statewide, national, and local organizations that have endorsed Clean Money because they know that California's many problems will not be solved until the influence of lobbyists and big money in politics is lessened and new candidates with good ideas are able to compete on a level playing field.
Finally, let there be no doubt that your phenomenal grassroots energy has helped propel Clean Money forward and laid the groundwork for the qualification and success of the Clean Money initiative. Let's seize this opportunity to truly make 2006 the year for Clean Money in California! Contact us at Info@CAclean.org or at (800) 566-3780
THE DARK SIDE OF MADAFFER, City Council member's 'sleazy' e-mail to a constituent reveals a vengeful streak
by Daniel Strumpf, City Beat, 6/28/06
Last July, Cindy Martin sent an e-mail to Jim Madaffer questioning the City Council member's integrity. Later that same day, Madaffer wrote an e-mail of his own, showing that the elected official isn't above committing petty acts of vengeance. In her e-mail, Martin, a community activist, took Madaffer to task for, as she perceived it, misrepresenting his plans for future development in Grantville, a neighborhood that runs along Mission Gorge Road just north of Interstate 8 and is home to a controversial redevelopment project that Madaffer's aggressively pursuing. Martin, currently the president of the Allied Gardens Community Council and a member of several other community planning groups, promised to alert her neighbors and start a letter-writing campaign.
In response, Madaffer plotted behind the scenes to get Martin in trouble with her employers at Highland Partnership, a local construction and design firm.
The July 1 e-mail exchange shows that after receiving Martin's letter, a staff member in Madaffer's office, Jaymie Bradford, crafted a polite response in her boss' name, stating that Martin had misunderstood Madaffer's plans and asking for her input.
Bradford then forwarded the message to Madaffer for his approval. Madaffer responded to Bradford with the following: "Great reply. Pls find Ian Gill's email address w[ith] Highland Partnership and send to him either from you or intern acct as an FYI. I'd like him to know what one of his employees is up to considering he's a developer.
" The e-mails were provided by Madaffer's office after CityBeat requested documents related to the Grantville redevelopment project using the California Public Records Act. Martin said she wasn't surprised by Madaffer's response but did question his intent. "What was his anticipated response? That I would be terminated, that I would be chastised?" she asked. "What did he hope to gain from that?
" Madaffer responded on Tuesday to CityBeat's request for comment with a written statement, noting his commitment to his constituents and district. "Recently," the statement said, "I exercised judgment inconsistent with that commitment. As a result, I apologized to Ms. Martin for comments I made in response to concerns she shared with me. I am fully responsible for my comment made in a moment of emotional response to our conversation. "This has been a humbling experience and one from which I hope to learn and grow. I have learned an important lesson in patience, empathy and understanding.
" However, Martin, who said Madaffer called her on Monday—after CityBeat contacted him for comment—described their conversation as "not a warm call" and said Madaffer told her he was just blowing off steam when he wrote the e-mail. "That's baloney," Martin told CityBeat. "I still feel his intentions weren't good, whether he was just blowing off steam" or not. "I think he just needs to realize that the people who live in his district deserve the respect that every person deserves, and he isn't beyond reproach.
" CityBeat provided a copy of the e-mail exchange to prominent ethicists, civil rights experts and government watchdogs. None liked what they saw, calling Madaffer's response "troubling," "offensive" and "illustrative of some very sleazy behavior on the part of an elected official."
Steve Levin, the political reform project director at the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that deals with ethics laws and campaign finance, said he doesn't think Madaffer's behavior was as unethical as it was "petty" and "disconcerting." "He's definitely trying to cause trouble for this woman," Levin said. "It's pretty clear, and it's not a particularly nice thing to do. "You would expect more from an elected official or a City Council member." David Blair-Loy, legal director at the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that Madaffer's missive could have a deleterious impact on his constituents' First Amendment rights. "You have a right to free speech, and you have a right to petition your government, which includes your elected officials," Blair-Loy said. "One would think you should be able to do that without fear of retribution or retaliation. "My instinct is… that there's a chilling effect on your right to free speech and your right to petition your government for aggressive grievances," Blair-Loy added, "and I think people would be chilled from doing so if they felt that their elected officials were so in cahoots with private employers that anything I send to my council member is going to get forwarded to my boss."
"What you want to chill is the kind of crap that this guy Jim Madaffer is pulling here," said Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, a public-interest organization dedicated to open government and free speech. "It's pretty clear that [Martin's] elected representative tried to screw her—not literally—but tried to hurt her professionally." Scheer was particularly alarmed by what he called Madaffer's attempt to create "plausible deniability" by having a subordinate forward the message to Martin's employer via her own or an intern e-mail account. Scheer called it a "transparent attempt to distance himself from the communication" in order to "both be associated with it and not be associated with it, depending on what serves his personal and professional interests. "It ranks high up on the scale of political sleaziness," he said. Jo Anne SawyerKnoll, deputy chief of Mayor Jerry Sanders' newly established Office of Ethics and Integrity, declined to comment on Madaffer's actions, noting that she has jurisdiction only over the departments under the mayor's purview, not City Council offices.
However, asked how she would describe a similar e-mail written by the head of a mayoral department in response to a citizen complaint, SawyerKnoll said, "I suppose I would think of this as not being an act of playing fair."
Martin said she doesn't accept Madaffer's apology, but she was quick with an answer when asked how Madaffer could rectify the situation: "He could resign." Anti-Aguirre Plans Hatched Over Breakfast
By Don Bauder, San Diego Reader, May 11, 2006
'We are losing the war," lamented Kris Michell, an aide to Mayor Sanders, Saturday morning, April 22, at Ortega's restaurant in Ocean Beach. That's according to my source -- to be identified in this column by the unisex appellation "Pat" -- who was sitting in the next booth, overhearing what appeared to be a Sanders administration strategy session. Understandably, the source does not want to be identified.
Michell, Sanders's director of community and legislative services, was huddling that morning with Mayor Sanders, former assistant city attorney Les Girard, and Fred Sainz, another mayoral aide. The enemy Michell was attacking was city attorney Mike Aguirre, who by most reports is indeed winning the public opinion war in his efforts to roll back pension benefits granted in 1996 and 2002.
"I interpreted the meeting as the mayor's camp versus Mike Aguirre," says Pat. "It seemed like a planning session," as the group "tried to figure out" how to neutralize and besmirch Aguirre.Sanders took a telephone call, then left early. Pat couldn't definitively catch what the mayor said. "Les Girard did most of the talking, and the others were agreeing," says Pat. After a lengthy anti-Aguirre colloquy, Girard was next to leave; Michell and Sainz stayed on to lay some more plans.
A few days later, Sainz told one publication that the mayor's office was unhappy with actions of the city attorney's office in one case. Around the same time, former mayor Dick Murphy and council president Scott Peters filed papers to disqualify Aguirre and his staff from appearing in a pension-related case. It appears the jihad is gaining momentum.Initially, the only person Pat recognized was Sanders. "It was bizarre. What was he doing in Ocean Beach? What was so shocking was why would he sit and talk in public?" Pat recalls thinking. (Ortega's employees are still talking about Sanders's surprise visit.) Says Pat, "He probably didn't think he would be recognized." Or overheard. Then Pat was provided with photographs of others who might have been there and identified Michell, Sainz, and Girard.
They are corporate-welfare cheerleaders. Michell worked for former mayor Susan Golding from 1994 to 1998 and was a lobbyist for the Padres. Sainz, Sanders's communications director, was deputy chief of staff under Golding and worked on the ballot campaign for the Padres ballpark. Later, he handled public affairs for the Convention Center. When Sanders named Michell and Sainz to their posts, city hall reformers suspected that there would be no new breeze wafting through the City's fetid air. Establishment vassals were still in power.Girard left his job as assistant city attorney in September of last year to join the law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge. He had been appointed assistant city attorney in 1966. On his law firm profile sheet, he boasts that he oversaw projects such as the City's deals with the Padres and Chargers -- hardly accomplishments to brag about, since in both cases San Diego got outlawyered, or more to the point, fleeced.Girard has been called to testify in the pension investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the federal grand jury. The City is paying his legal bills, although he is not a subject of the probes.I e-mailed Sanders, Michell, Sainz, and Girard and gave each a day and a half to respond to a list of questions. None replied. A Reader attorney asked Sanders's office for documents -- e-mails, letters, etc. -- about the breakfast session. Press assistant Kevin Klein quickly came back and said there were no documents related to the "alleged meeting.
"The principals may be silent now, but there was a lot of talk on April 22 at Ortega's, according to Pat. "They wanted to have outside counsel to review Mike's decision on the budget problem," says Pat, referring to Aguirre's opinion that pension obligation bonds must go to the voters. "But they said the problem was that Mike would have to sign off on any such move." In both the public and private sectors, a honcho not liking a lawyer's opinion will go shopping for a lawyer who will say the reverse -- for a price. In this sense, lawyers are like consultants: they give the clients an opinion they want to hear.
"Then they moved on to Aguirre's litigation in private practice," says Pat. "They said, 'We should get what his record was -- wins, losses.' They said he has not won cases as he said he did. But they asked, 'How do we do that? He has filed cases in all types of jurisdictions -- New Jersey, etc.' " According to Pat, the plan was to see if Aguirre was claiming court victories in cases that were actually won by subordinates.
Then the conversation drifted to alleged low morale within the city attorney's office. The participants talked about the complaint filed last month by deputy city attorney Amy Lepine, who told the City's equal opportunity investigations office that Aguirre compliments women on their appearance and allegedly deems women inferior to men. She filed her complaint after Aguirre supposedly told her what to say in a pension hearing.According to Pat, the breakfast group discussed whether Lepine had not been prepared for a hearing and Aguirre had been forced to step in for her. Aguirre may have been "retaliating," Pat says one of the participants speculated. A spokesperson in the city attorney's office acknowledges that Aguirre stepped in for her at one point in the hearing but said that Lepine was never demoted and had resigned.
The breakfast strategists thought that Anita Noone, who had been temporarily in charge of hiring, had been demoted. She did not respond to my e-mail. A city attorney spokesperson said Noone is working on litigation as an assistant city attorney and has not been demoted.
The Ortega's huddlers speculated that Chris Morris, chief of the criminal division, had been demoted or was unhappy. Morris responded to my e-mail: It's "not true at all," he says. "I was appointed head of the criminal division after the individual heads of the criminal division specifically asked Mike to send me here. I am enjoying my time in the criminal division.
"A breakfast clubber mentioned "getting Human Resources records to see how many others have complained" about Aguirre, according to Pat. However, Pat didn't get the impression that the anti-Aguirre group planned to get personnel records illegally. "It was more like 'it would be great to have them,' " says Pat.
The McKenna Long & Aldridge profile says, "Les Girard focuses his practice primarily on assisting clients with government affairs issues." The obvious question: is he trying to get San Diego City business? (He would have a one-year waiting period from September 2005 before he could take on such a job.) But, of course, he did not respond to questions. A source in the city attorney's office says Girard has been trying to drum up business there. Aguirre would have to approve any such contract.
Mayor Sanders attended the breakfast session but apparently did not toss around anti-Aguirre invective. But there is a nagging question: why was he in attendance when the topic was how to slam Aguirre, whom the mayor is at least pretending to embrace publicly?
"I find it hard to believe Jerry Sanders would do such a thing," says Aguirre. "A smear campaign and dirty tricks -- I don't think the mayor would participate in or condone such a thing."
Scott Peters Plays Dumb About Marsh & McLennan
Now let me see. At the national level Martha Stewart went to jail because of a stock transaction and locally Valerie Stallings had to leave her city council office. They are both women. Nationally, former Enron chairman Lay plays dumb to the internal audit that illegally inflated Enron's stock and locally Council president Scott Peters plays dumb about Marsh & McLennan being the parent company to Kroll which his wife bought stock in the same day he voted on the initial hiring of Kroll company by the city. It's O.K. though, they are both men. What else is new ladies?
— Jarvis Ross, Point Loma Watchdog .
Peters' Stock Ownership Poses Problems
By ANDREW DONOHUE, Voice Staff Writer, April 5, 2006
Council President Scott Peters has owned more than $100,000 in stock in the parent company of the private firm investigating City Hall at the same time the firm, Kroll Inc., has charged the city at least $16.2 million.
Peters voted at least five times since the beginning of 2005 to grant contracts or authorize increased payments to Kroll Inc. whose contentious tenure as the city's audit committee has been marked by multiple delays, cost overruns and concerns surrounding its independence.
The councilman said he was unaware that Marsh & McLennan Cos. was the parent company of consulting firm Kroll Inc. until he was questioned on the matter this week by a voiceofsandiego.org reporter.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre has referred the issue to his Public Integrity Unit for investigation but refused to comment further on the implications of Peters' stock ownership.
The potential conflict could invalidate the City Council's approval of the original Kroll contract and five subsequent amendments that allocated $16.2 million to the consulting firm. Such a scenario could force the council to revote on the contracts and, if so, reignite the discussion of whether to continue with the audit committee. A great deal of Peters' wealth is drawn from the extensive investment portfolio controlled by his wife, as well as the holding corporation she heads. He has removed himself from council decisions in the past on items in which he had a potential conflict. Peters has recently sat out on council business involving Bank of America, Citibank and Lehman Bros. because of his holdings in the firms, he said."We're really careful about it," Peters said.The City Council was forced to revote on a financing deal with the Bank of America last November after Peters discovered that he owned stock in the bank.
The discovery of Peters' stock ownership in Marsh & McLennan came after the City Clerk's Office released Monday the annual statements of economic interest for city officials and elected officials. The statements record the official's outside income, investment holdings and gifts received for a calendar year.
Peters and his wife, Lynn Gorguze, control an extensive stock portfolio, with broad investments in international retail, petroleum, pharmaceutical, software, medical device and other outfits. Peters listed his stock ownership in Marsh & McLennan on his economic statement, listing the investment's value at between $100,001 and $1 million. It is listed as his wife's property.In an interview, the councilman said the value of his stock ranged between $68,000 and $116,000 in 2005 as his wife bought and sold the insurance firm's stock regularly. He valued the investment at $78,000 currently, but said his wife controls the stock and the two typically don't discuss the investments.
Additionally, the investment firm in Peters' wife she is president also owned Marsh & McLennan stock for a brief period in 2005. The corporation, Cameron Holdings Corporation, bought the stock on February 14 -- the day in which Kroll was originally hired by the city. The corporation purchased 700 shares of Marsh & McLennan stock that day, when the high trading price was $32.48.It sold the stock less than a month later on March 10, when the high sales price was $31.10. Exact figures on the purchase and sales price of the stock weren't available from Peters' office as of press time.City staff prepared a memo weekly for City Council members listing the companies that will have business before the council in the coming week in order to prepare the politicians for possible conflicts. Documents provided by Peters' office for the weeks in which audit committee expenditures were approved do not list Kroll or Marsh & McLennan. A spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders declined to comment, only saying that the mayor will await an opinion from the City Attorney's Office on whether the stock ownership invalidates the council's earlier votes.
Peters said he didn't believe the council would need to vote again on the audit committee's contract and expenditures. As council president, Peters controls what items the City Council votes on.California Government Code 1090 forbids public officials from voting on issues in which they have a personal economic interest. Peters said he isn't affected by the conflict-of-interest statute because doesn't own at least 3 percent of the firm in question.The council president said the next time the audit committee comes before the council for more money, he will either have sold the stock, recused himself or sought an outside legal opinion regarding his eligibility to vote.
The audit committee, led by former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt, was hired in February 2005 to conduct an independent investigation into allegations of wrongdoing and illegal activity that had dogged City Hall.
The costs of the Kroll investigation have become a sensitive topic in a city that has been forced to curtail its basic services to pay its ballooning pension bills and the legal and consultant fees associated with federal investigations into City Hall and a suspended credit rating.Council members are nearly unanimous in their belief that the Kroll investigation is mandatory to the city regaining its financial credibility, although relations with new Mayor Jerry Sanders have been cold since he took office in December.
Another major setback in its investigation could fissure the tenuous relationship even further. The city cannot bond in the public finance markets for vital infrastructure projects until outside auditors bless the outstanding 2003, 2004 and 2005 financial statements, which have been delayed by errors and omissions found in the 2003 statement.
Outside auditors will not release the audits until the Kroll investigation is complete.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, Justice Department and District Attorney's Office are all investigating City Hall and the latter two agencies have filed criminal charges against a total of eight officials tied to the pension system.
The city first hired law firm Vinson & Elkins in February 2004 to complete an independent investigation. However, the firm produced two reports, both of which were rejected by outside auditors and the SEC for their lack of independence.
Kroll was hired last February to reconcile differences between conclusions reached in the Vinson & Elkins reports and a number of investigative reports released by Aguirre. Officials from Kroll quickly deemed that neither party's investigation would be sufficient and has undertaken its own.
The Kroll investigation has run into problems of its own, as glitches in its electronic documents database caused the group to miss its December deadline. The consultants now believe their report will be released sometime in May.The Rich Guys' Lawyer
By SCOTT LEWIS, Voice of San Diego, April 6, 2006
Jim Sutton is one of San Diego's busiest political attorneys -- and he doesn't even live here.
Go down the list, it's a long one. The San Francisco-based lawyer is representing and advising the Lincoln Club of San Diego in a lawsuit the club filed against the city to try to balance out what the conservative group has long held was a basic inequity in the local political scene: that labor unions are able to spend far more on independent expenditures than smaller groups of wealthy people in favor of or against candidates or initiatives.
Right now a wealthy guy can spend millions supporting a candidate or issue in an election, he just has to say "I, Mr. Rich Guy, paid for this ad." The problem comes when two wealthy people want to combine their money and call themselves the "Committee for Change" or some other vague name. They can do that, sure, but they can only spend $250 each on a candidate or initiative.
Labor unions, on the other hand, have thousands, sometimes millions of members. So they can add up $250 contributions all over the place and spend wildly on any given race.
The Lincoln Club says that's wrong. A decision on this one might come sooner rather than later.
Sutton is also representing and advising County Supervisor Bill Horn, who has found himself in the unenviable position of answering questions like "Are you cheating on your wife and hiding investments from your mandatory financial disclosure forms?
"That can't be much fun -- especially when your answers are broadcast on television and published in the morning paper.
Sutton is also advising Mayor Jerry Sanders on how to properly set up and eventually dismantle the San Diego Inaugural and Transition Fund. Sutton told me that the fund paid for the big chocolate brownies and the water that were outside Golden Hall after the mayor gave his famous "delay, deny and deceive" speech. (For those of you who weren't there to bask in that awesome rhetorical performance, he was saying that "delay, deny and deceive" is what the city used to do and he wouldn't be continuing the practice.)
Seems there's a little confusion about whether the San Diego Inaugural and Transition Fund is ethically questionable or not. The fund is not subject to election fundraising laws and it seems like a way to give money to influence the mayor. But, on the other hand, Sanders has taken several steps to distance himself from it and, frankly, it's nice to have rich people pick up the bill for events like this from which the public as a whole might benefit.
After all, those brownies were really good. And proof that Sanders is concerned about the appearance of this fund is evidenced by the fact that he ran up $30,000 in legal and accounting fees just to make it pass the smell test.
"The reason the legal fees were so high is because the mayor insisted that we get a letter from the Ethics Commission and the [Fair Political Practices Commission] which meant researching the issue and talking to those agencies," Sutton said.
In other words, a third of the 250 or so people who gave to the fund were paying for the proof that the fund was legitimate.Where were we? Oh yeah, Sutton is also representing a hodgepodge of lobbyists, developers and corporations who are watching the Ethics Commission intently as that agency considers changes to lobbying laws. His clients include the Building Industry Association, the Lodging Industry Association and a few others.
There are dozens of little things about local lobbying laws that will change when the Ethics Commission finishes what has become a protracted and seemingly endless discussion about them. But a couple of the possible changes stand out and have a chance of raising the eyebrows of the sort of people and businesses that Sutton has built a lucrative practice representing.
One of the proposals out there, for example, would require that lobbyists not only disclose any personal contributions they made to elected officials, but also the amount of money they raised for that official.
In other words, it's one thing to know that a lobbyist has met with a councilman. It's quite another to know that the lobbyist not only represents such and such company, but that he or she raised a billion dollars to get that person elected. As such, they may have a little more of that councilman's ear when they meet with them.Yes, we've touched on this before.
But now we have Sutton's perspective. He said his clients have not taken a position on the question of whether lobbyists should be required to disclose their fundraising activities. That may only be because the issue hasn't come up yet as the Ethics Commission plods through its schedule.And it's pretty clear where Sutton and his clients will come down if such a reform is presented.He said a similar law in Los Angeles is a "mess." And it doesn't necessarily matter what residents may want to know about what lobbyists are doing, Sutton said.
"Just because something's interesting to the public doesn't mean it's constitutional," he said.Before the city's leaders change the law and require lobbyists to cough up that info -- or worse, ban fundraising by lobbyists altogether -- "they need to show some proof that fundraising by lobbyists somehow hurts the system," Sutton said.
Los Angeles has a requirement currently that lobbyists disclose their fundraising activities. But city officials there very recently proposed banning fundraising by lobbyists altogether.
Sutton, then, was singing a bit different of a tune when he was fighting that ban. Turns out, the existing full-disclosure laws may do some good after all."By taking steps to enforce existing laws rather than passing a whole new set of rules and regulations, the city can achieve its objective of 'letting the sun shine' on lobbying and fundraising activities, while taking into account the First Amendment rights of lobbyists and their clients, and the practical realities of running for office," Sutton wrote to the Lost Angeles Rules and Elections Committee last month.
So what will Sutton do if those disclosure requirements become a possibility for San Diego?
"Lawyers don't speak for themselves, they speak for their clients," he said.
And in Los Angeles, his clients simply didn't want the laws to get any worse. Registrar files list 240-year-old voter
By: WILLIAM FINN BENNETT - North County Times , Staff Writer
NORTH COUNTY ---- Local pollster Raul Furlong said he couldn't believe his eyes when he recently began reviewing the Registrar of Voters' demographic data on age groups in the lead-up to today's 50th Congressional District special election.
The data showed that among the 353,000 registered voters living in the 50th Congressional District, 5,677 of them were 106 years old.
One was 240 years old.
Furlong said Monday the law prohibits him from releasing the name of the decidedly senior citizen, without getting permission from the registrar's office. Registrar officials said Monday that due to a heavy schedule, they would not have time to locate the person's name in their database nor grant a release to Furlong for him to release it.
"My first reaction was that I knew North County was wealthy, but not so wealthy that they could live forever," said Furlong, president of El Cajon-based polling and marketing firm Datamar, Inc.
If there were that many 106-year-olds living in the district, the 50th would have more people of that age than the entire country.
An official with the U.S. Census Bureau said Monday the most recent census in 2000 showed 3,521 people that old living in the United States, 356 in California and just 30 in San Diego County.
San Diego County Registrar of Voters Mikel Haas said Monday that if there are any 240-year-olds living in the county, " I'd like to meet them ---- I bet they would have lots of interesting stories."
He said there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the database showing so many very senior citizens in North County. Up until about five years ago, when people filled out voter registration applications, they were not required to declare their date of birth. In those cases, registrar's officials would use the default date of 1900 in updating the database, Haas said.
"These people have been on file for years and years," he said.
But some of these people have surely died in the ensuing years.
To purge their files of registered voters who have died, the registrar's office does a number of things, Haas said.
Officials cut many names from their rolls after receiving death notifications from county health officials and by carefully tracking obituary notices in local newspapers. Also, when sample ballots arrive at the homes of someone who has died, Haas said, relatives will often call the registrar's office to inform officials of the death. And if sample ballots are repeatedly returned to sender by the U.S. Post office, registrar officials investigate to find out what has become of that person, Haas said.
Across the county, state and nation, registrars of voters have been busy in recent months updating their voter information, after a new federal law took effect on Jan. 1.
In response to alleged irregularities at polling places across the country in the 2000 Presidential elections, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. One of the provisions in the law requires that when any voter registers for the first time or updates his or her registration, they must provide proof of who they are, by presenting a driver's license or the providing the last four digits of their Social Security number.
A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bruce McPherson said Monday that McPherson is planning on being in San Diego County tonight to follow the election returns, in part because today's election will be the first one held in the state since the federal law took effect.
Today's special election is being held to pick a temporary replacement for Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who resigned from office late last year after pleading guilty in federal court to tax evasion and taking bribes of more than $2.4 million, in exchange for steering government business to two defense contractors. In March, he was sentenced to serve eight years and four months in a federal prison for those crimes.
If a single candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes today, he or she will serve out the remainder of Cunningham's term through the end of the year. If no single candidate hits that mark, however, the top vote earners in each party will then compete in a run-off election on June 6. That election will be held in tandem with each party's regularly scheduled primary election. The winners of the primaries will then face off in the November general election, in which voters will select a representative to serve a full two-year term starting in January.
Haas said that even without considering the federal law, his office has been updating its information on those who have not changed their registration in recent years, by cross-referencing voter rolls with Department of Motor Vehicles records.
Contact staff writer William Finn Bennett at email@example.com. Reader, Matt Potter, March 16, 2006 , Breaking Stories, Excerpt:
Crooks like them What did the feds know and when did they know it?
That Nixon-era catchphrase might also apply to the ongoing intrigue enveloping the end stage of the Randy "Duke" Cunningham bribery scandal. As most locals know by now, the public side of Cunningham's criminal saga was kicked off last June 12 by a Copley News Service story in the Union-Tribune that traced how a Washington-based defense contractor had laundered money to the congressman by purchasing his Del Mar house at an inflated price. Four days later, the Justice Department said it was opening an investigation. Within weeks it became obvious that Cunningham had been on the take for years, and the feds wrapped up the case with lightning speed. Now comes a report in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill daily, raising questions about how long before the U-T story appeared the government knew of Cunningham's illegal wheeling and dealing.
According to Roll Call, in mid-2000 the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, a Pentagon agency, began a criminal investigation into Cunningham's dealings with Brent Wilkes, the Poway defense contractor identified as a coconspirator in the case that sent Cunningham to prison for eight years and four months. The results, including the fact that Cunningham had taken his first bribe in May 2000, were referred for prosecution to Gregory Vega, then U.S. attorney in San Diego, but he took no action. "For what reason he declined to prosecute, I don't know," Roll Call quoted Gary Comerford, a spokesman for the Defense Department Inspector General's office as saying. Vega, who was U.S. attorney here from May 1999 to June 2001 and now works for the influential downtown law and lobbying firm of Seltzer Caplan, declined to comment.
Roll Call reported that Debra Hartman, a spokeswoman for Carol Lam, the current U.S. attorney who has credited the U-T with ferreting out the Cunningham story, disputed Comerford's version of events but wouldn't elaborate. "The Department of Defense agrees that we have handled all matters relating to this case appropriately," she was quoted as saying.
This isn't the first time it's been suggested that Vega was less than diligent in going after well-connected white-collar miscreants during his time as U.S. attorney. Vega gave Padres owner John Moores a pass in 2001 after an extensive federal investigation of Moores's gift of discount stock deals, airplane tickets, car usage, and other gratuities to city councilwoman Valerie Stallings while she was casting votes in favor of his taxpayer-subsidized ballpark. Instead of indicting Moores, Vega turned the case over to district attorney Paul Pfingst, who allowed Stallings to plead guilty in state court to misdemeanor charges of receiving gifts from the team owner. She was forced to resign and pay a $10,000 fine but did no jail time. Top local feds, including then-FBI bureau chief Bill Gore, now second-in-command to Sheriff Bill Kolender, took the rare step of going public to defend their kid-glove treatment of Moores. "Given Stallings' predisposition to favor the ballpark anyway, the evidence to support a bribery charge just wasn't there," he insisted.
Meanwhile, the lingering question over why three top North County biotech honchos lined up to make campaign contributions to Cunningham almost a month after his malfeasance in office came to light seems to have an answer. The Burnham Institute's Robert Liddington and John Reed, along with Invitrogen's Gregory Lucier, kicked in a total of $2500 in the first week of July, cash that was later paid to Cunningham's defense lawyers. As it turns out, in May of last year Cunningham, a prostate cancer victim, had tearfully reversed his long-standing opposition to stem-cell research and subsequently became a poster boy for members of the GOP who opposed George W. Bush's ban on such activity.heir Interests Are Interlocked
By Joe Deegan, Sdan Diego Reader, July 14, 2005
The Jerry Sanders campaign website currently touts a favorable poll conducted by national pollster Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates. A link on the site says that the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation "released" the poll as an independent survey.
This information did not surprise Dave Stutz. In September 2003, when he was a deputy district attorney, he investigated Sycuan's campaign contributions in the 2002 election cycle.
Stutz, who retired from the district attorney's office a year ago, cut his teeth in campaign law enforcement in the late 1960s when, as a federal agent, he investigated the political money scandals of C. Arnholt Smith, John Alessio, and Yellow Cab.Sycuan's activities in the 2002 election were brought to Stutz's attention by a friend in the registrar of voters office. Examining California secretary of state records, the friend noticed that Sycuan had donated $8000 to San Diego County supervisor Bill Horn. "You can only give $500 to a candidate in a county election," says Stutz. "So when my friend called Sycuan and told them their donation was illegal, they said they made a mistake. The next day they filed an amendment, and now the $8000 didn't go to Bill Horn, it went to a pollster named Competitive Edge."
"I was the district attorney's investigator for campaign law," Stutz continues. "Bonnie Dumanis got elected and made me the man." Stutz took a look for himself at the secretary of state's records. And there he saw not only the money that went to Horn but $15,000 Sycuan said it donated to Bill Kolender's reelection campaign for sheriff.
"So I called Competitive Edge to see the bills," he says. The president of the company referred Stutz to the company's lawyer, who said he would not release the information. " 'You can't tell the district attorney you won't answer questions,' " Stutz says he replied. " 'We'll find a way to make sure you do.'
"One day I called Sycuan and asked a tribal vice president, Adam Day, about the $15,000 check to Kolender. 'That would be in excess of what the law allows you to donate,' I told him. 'Oh, it must be a mistake; I'll get back to you,' Day said. That was eleven o'clock in the morning," says Stutz. "Two hours later I got called into Bonnie Dumanis's office and was told to stop the investigation.
"At this point Stutz was also looking into a political-campaign complaint that San Marcos councilman Lee Thibadeau had filed with the district attorney's office. Thibadeau alleged that Home Federal Corporation had spent more than the city's $3000 campaign-contribution limit to pay for Competitive Edge polls used by two San Marcos city council candidates and one mayoral candidate. Home Federal supported Mark Rozmus, Pia Harris-Ebert, and Michael Sannella, politicians who favored a higher building density on Home Federal's 1920-acre residential development, San Elijo Hills.
"I am not antidevelopment," Thibadeau tells me by phone. "But I did fight the way the one huge developer of San Elijo Hills was throwing its weight around in our community.
The day after the 2002 election, so it wouldn't seem only like campaign rhetoric, I complained to the district attorney's office about how the developer's candidates benefited from the so-called independent expenditures that purchased the polls.
"What Thibadeau calls "independent-contribution coordination" is a common practice in political campaigns in San Diego County, he says. The coordinator in the San Elijo Hills case, he maintains, was political consultant Tom Shepard.
Shepard not only promotes development projects for Home Federal but also managed the Rozmus, Harris-Ebert, and Sannella campaigns.
"But my complaint to the district attorney's office didn't get far," Thibadeau says, "because they told us that we didn't have strong enough penalties on the books in San Marcos to make pursuing the case worthwhile.
"But Dave Stutz never entirely abandoned the campaign cases. "The problem is," he says, "that going over campaign-contribution limits is only a misdemeanor. But conspiracy to break campaign laws is a felony. Up in San Marcos, Tom Shepard had a client who is Home Federal. Tom Shepard also has three people running for office who are clients. So right now the triangle is Home Federal, Tom Shepard, and the politicians running for office. Their interests are interlocked.
"When a candidate runs for office, one of the first things he needs is a poll," Stutz continues. "Can I win, and if so, what are my strengths, what are my opponent's weaknesses? Standard stuff, but expensive -- $10,000, $15,000. If you, the corporation, pay for a poll and give it to the political consultant for your candidates, it's the same thing as making a contribution. Except that you're saying it's independent, and it's not independent. And since the money exceeds campaign-contribution limits, it's a crime. Well, that's what they did."Stutz says that in the spring of 2003, he and several other people in the district attorney's office persuaded Bonnie Dumanis to reconsider the investigation into Sycuan's excessive contributions to the Kolender and Horn campaigns. To look into those cases and the similar one in San Marcos, Stutz then convened a grand jury, which eventually produced a report. But in the meantime, Stutz retired from the district attorney's office. Several months ago he called his old colleagues in the department to ask how the investigation was going. He was told that it had been dropped again."But the grand jury report is still there in the office," says Stutz.
Tom Shepard is currently managing the Jerry Sanders campaign for mayor.
When I told Stutz about Sycuan's Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin and Associates poll on the Sanders website, Stutz remarked, "Two to one it will show up [in Sycuan's reporting] as an independent expenditure."San Diego Reader Breaking Stories, July 14, 2005
Excerpt: Going bye-bye Staffers loyal to former San Diego Unified superintendent Alan Bersin are quickly following him out the door. District flack Peri Lynn Turnbull is heading over to the Red Cross to work for Veronica "Ronne" Froman, a retired admiral and onetime Bersin financial lieutenant whom mayoral hopeful Jerry Sanders says he would hire as his top aide. Departing district lawyer Ricardo Soto is heading north to work for Bersin, now state secretary for education under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Scott Himelstein, 47, president of San Diego READS, a Bersin-backed effort to collect used books and champion the ex-superintendent's pet projects, is also going to Sacramento. He's the new deputy secretary and Bersin's chief of staff. Karen Heinrich, Bersin's longtime personal secretary at the school district, is deputy chief of staff.
Family affairs A bit more than a month before the special election, big money is rolling into some San Diego mayoral campaigns. Ex-chief of police Jerry Sanders raised $105,022 in cash and $1028 in kind services. Councilwoman Donna Frye lags behind with about $74,000. Sanders can claim a prize for the most eclectic bunch of donors. They include lawyer Roy Bell, husband of U-T columnist Diane Bell; ex-Jimmy Carter staffer Midge Costanza; ex-GOP school-board candidate Julie Dubick; architect Kotaro Nakamura, husband of school-board member Katherine Nakamura; beer distributor and Charger stadium booster Ron Fowler; business-district maven and ex-bailbondsman Marco LiMandri; Frank Stiriti, manager of a gay bathhouse, Vulcan Steam and Sauna; dentist and ex-Padres PR man Charles Steinberg, now an exec with the Boston Red Sox; airport authority PR strategist Peter MacCracken; Corky McMillin's Richard Jarrett II; Sempra "group president" Edwin Guiles; developer Neil Senturia; and ex-city manager Jack McGrory... First prize for nondaily columnist of 2004 awarded last week by the local chapter of the professional journalists society: Lisa Ross, of the Carmel Valley News/Del Mar Village Voice, for "The Ross Retort." Judges' comments: "Miss Ross combines a gift for clear, engaging writing with an instinct for what is intriguing or outrageous." Ross's other recent distinction: agreeing to pay a $7500 fine to the state's Fair Political Practices Commission after admitting in December she laundered developer contributions to city-council campaigns in San Marcos and Perris for her friend, North County political consultant Colin Flaherty.
San Diego's fire chief stepping down June 30
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, The Daily Transcript, April 04, 2006,
San Diego Fire Chief Jeff Bowman announced his resignation Tuesday. He will step down June 30. "It is with much pride in the many accomplishments we have made as an organization over the last four years that I announce my resignation as chief of the department," Bowman said in a resignation letter <http://www.sddt.com/images/news/2006/04/04/bowman.resignation.pdf> submitted to Mayor Jerry Sanders.
Bowman, who previously was Anaheim's fire chief before coming to San Diego in 2002, has been a fire fighter for 33-years, 20 as a chief, according to his resignation. He said he plans to continue contributing to the fire service, "just in different ways." He made a reference to the city's financial problems as possibly contributing to his departure.
I believe I have fulfilled all of the commitments I made when I was recruited to come here, and that further progress to improve the services we provide to this community are contingent upon new resources being provided the Fire-Rescue Department," Bowman said. "Given the magnitude of issues our new mayor is facing, and trying to resolve, it is apparent that the city's current financial challenges may take years to resolve. As such, I believe it is in the best interests of my family to move on to other ventures."
City Council President Scott Peters said the resignation came as a surprise when San Diego's Deputy Chief Operating Officer for Public Safety and Homeland Security Jill Olen announced the news at Tuesday's Council meeting. Olen said a search for a new chief would begin almost immediately.
Related: Bowman's Resignation Letter <http://www.sddt.com/images/news/2006/04/04/bowman.resignation.pdf>
Seeing Flares of Failure
DAVE STUTZ, LA JOLLA, March 6, 2006, Voice of San Diego
I would like to shed some light on comments made by our District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to Voice of San Diego.
She had nothing to do with the David Malcolm prosecution except to give away a good political corruption case. It was ready for the grand jury when she took over as district attorney, all investigated ready to go with witnesses in line and reports done. She promptly cancelled the grand jury and gave away the case with an agreement for no jail time. Look what the Duke got for similar conduct. I was assigned to work political crimes by Dumanis and within two hours of making a call asking questions of a major contributor in town about questionable funds to Bill Horn and Sheriff Kolender, she fired me from political crimes and shut down the investigation.
Next thing you know she marched into City Hall with the sheriff and tried to shut down Mike Aguirre -- unsuccessfully. Now she has become a Kolender mini me at republican endorsements. The current case was forced on her by Carol Lam and Aguirre and has become a joke. Casey Gwinn works one day a week, but at least the defense knows where to serve him. In my opinion Dumanis is a failure in political enforcement.
Watchdog Comments on Voice of San Diego letter...
interesting bit of information on the DA.
No. 1) The DA taking credit for something she had no hand in.
No. 2) The DA canceling a grand jury panel and a defendant getting away with no jail time.
No.3) The DA "firing" a top lawyer investigator because
he was asking questions about Supervisor Horn and
Sheriff Bill Kolender and questionable FUNDS.
No.4) The DA permitting an employee (Casey Gwinn)
to work "only one day a week" while drawing full pay.
What the hell is going on in the office of the DA? Seems
as if she learned a lot from her predecessor.
Why has the office of the State Attorney General not looked into the goings on in the DA's office and between she and Kolender. It seems where ever she is, he is. We all are aware that she is a lesbian, so what is the attraction?
And who is the person (big contributer) that Stutz was talking to on the phone just prior to the DA shutting him down and firing him from his position? And just what was he telling Stutz?
Will we ever know? —Peter D. Watchdog Aguirre, City Council joust over disclosed information
By DOUG SHERWIN, The Daily Transcript, February 1, 2006
San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre accused City Council, its attorneys and the pension board of acting in a coordinated effort with the audit committee to stall its investigation into the city's finances.
Aguirre pointed to information that was redacted (blacked out) from legal bills, released to the public Tuesday, of four council members in connection with federal investigations into the city's fiscal crisis.
Aguirre called for City Council President Scott Peters along with fellow members Toni Atkins, Jim Madaffer and Brian Maienschein to release the redacted portions of the invoices, which include summaries of the discussions. The bills totaled nearly $1 million.
"There's a coordinated effort to stall the investigation of the council that (risk consulting company) Kroll is engaged in so that they never reach any ultimate conclusions," Aguirre said. "There are backroom deals being made. People have a right to know what is going on between the SEC and council members. ... What did they say? They're stalling and it's serving the interests of council members.
"Peters said the information will be released eventually but now is not the appropriate time.
"Aguirre, as an attorney, should know better than anyone that you don't release this kind of sensitive information in the middle of an investigation," Peters said. "Jeopardizing these investigations will only mean more time, legal expense and heartache for the city. I'm not willing to take that risk simply to satisfy the city attorney's curiosity.
"Peters said the City Council has cooperated with investigators and has taken the appropriate precautions by having a retired judge, Robert O'Neill, look over every bill before it was paid.
Jo Anne Sawyer Knoll, the city's director of ethics and integrity, said the redacted portions are ethical and protected under attorney-client privilege. She also said that it's up to each individual client to decide to waive the attorney-client privilege.
Respond: Do you think the City Attorney Mike Aguirre is right to demand unedited bills? Send your opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org
Reader, Matt Potter, February 23, 2006, Breaking Stories, Excerpt:
Old moneybags Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the richest San Diego city council aide of all?
Based on recently filed financial disclosure statements, that honor goes to Geoffrey W. Lipsey, a "council representative" for new GOP councilmember Kevin Faulconer. Typically, council representative jobs go to aspiring twentysomething politicos looking to work their way up the patronage ladder. But Lipsey, 60, reports 89 various investment holdings with a total value somewhere between $770,000 and $7.2 million. They include stock valued between $10,000 and $100,000 in such outfits as oil and gas driller Nabors Industries; Barrick Gold; mortgage provider Countrywide Financial; oil giant Kerr-McGee; oil driller Noble Energy; defense contractor Lockheed; and media power Viacom. Former technical director of the Mitre Corporation's Center for Integrated Intelligence Systems in McLean, Virginia, Lipsey lives on tony San Antonio Place in Point Loma. His previous jobs at Mitre included associate technical director of national command and control systems. Lipsey's wife Jill is co-chair of the annual Point Loma Concert Series founded by Bridget Cantu Wear, wife of onetime Republican councilman Byron Wear, whose departure from office in 2002 was shadowed by ethics investigations that resulted in fines of $9000 for failing to disclose loans and accepting illegal campaign contributions. Sponsors of the concert group's events, held every summer weekend in Point Loma Park at Catalina and Varona, include the Corky McMillin Companies, developers of the controversial Freedom Station condo project on the site of the old Naval Training Center, as well as realtor Willis Allen Company. Lipsey, who taught high school for a few years after retiring from Mitre at 55, says he doesn't need the money and was hired in part to mentor younger council staffers. "I hope to give back something to the community."What a Joke
By SCOTT LEWIS, Voice of San Diego, Monday, Jan. 23, 2006
In case you're one of those whose eyes roll back into your head every time somebody starts saying the words "pension," "consultants" and "millions" there is a way to think about all these current crises and convulsions creatively.
They're a joke.
On Friday, the pension system welcomed a much-anticipated report from a firm it paid $2.7 million. The report said that the pension system did two deals -- one in 1996 and one in 2002 -- that were not very smart.Are you kidding me?
The report also said the city has underfunded its employee pension system since at least 1996.
The retirement system paid $2.7 million for that? I could have told them that -- for half the price. Come to think of it, I could have told them that for a cool $100,000.
Wait, actually, they could have just read the newspaper for the last couple of years and not had to pay anybody for those services. Heck, Mayor Jerry Sanders had that bit about the pension being underfunded in his speech Jan. 12. He said then that it was "well-documented.
"The media was one of those doing the documenting.Wait again, I forgot that the media is not to be trusted. As pension Trustee Steve Meyer told a crowd of fellow pension overseers in San Francisco recently, according to copies of his PowerPoint presentation, journalists covering the city's pension crisis have filled their reports with "disinformation" and they've been influenced by "political agendas."
So, to avoid disinformation or to make these conclusions even more official than they apparently were, the board turned to the trusted professionals at Navigant, a consulting firm. And that firm basically reported what was never really unknown. Except they did add this little piece of information: The pension system can pay the promises it's made to current retirees.
Notice it didn't say anything about the people who will retire from city service, the people who have already accumulated benefits but haven't started collecting them. Should we take the lack of inclusion of those folks to mean that their benefits are not at all secure?
Navigant's silence on this point speaks volumes.
The release of Navigant's report on Friday was an ugly ending to an ugly week. A couple of days before it released its yawner of a report Friday, Navigant's cousin -- the consulting firm Kroll Inc. -- demanded and received another $10 million to keep working on its own gargantuan report, which is supposed to cover everything that went wrong with the city and its retirement system. That makes a total of $16 million for Kroll.
What a joke. The theory has long been that the city needs Kroll to produce this report so that another firm, accounting giant KPMG, can produce its final audit of the city's books from way back in 2003. Without that audit, the city can't re-enter the bond market. And without those bonds, the city can't do much-needed work on its sewer system among other projects.Councilman Scott Peters recently told a group of local newspaper editors that he thought Kroll should be done with its work in April. Now Kroll says probably not until the "summer." Meanwhile, city officials have done a pitiful job communicating why this $16 million couldn't have been better spent in other areas.
They just say things like "we're over a barrel, what can we do about it?"
Even City Attorney Mike Aguirre -- who has long criticized Kroll and challenged funding for the firm -- caved to Kroll's demand for more money last week.
He's over a barrel, you see. He used to act like he wasn't.
So now we just get to sit by and watch as this firm -- the head of the so-called audit committee -- extorts millions from San Diego taxpayers. Here's a group whose leader, former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, charges the city $900 an hour for his services. This is a city nearing bankruptcy -- could he get by with, say, $700 an hour instead all in the name of public service?
But his expense, of course, is blindly approved time and time again by the City Council, whose lack of concern about the millions they're spending on this thing should be a crime itself.
No one is left to ask what other alternatives there might be to this expense. What could possibly be worse than paying a firm all this money to get nowhere and only be told time and time again that it needs more money to investigate deeper and deeper.
And that gets us to our final victim of last week's absurd show: Mayor Sanders.
His first major move as mayor came Jan. 12 when he asked the volunteer members of the city's pension board to resign.They gave him the proverbial finger.
He then asked the City Council to approve his funding plan for these consulting-firm extortionists. He had arranged for the city attorney's cooperation.
The council -- deftly led by the one who really seems to be in control these days, Council President Scott Peters -- found a way to approve the funding for the consultants while at the same time blaming the mayor for his "sloppy" way of presenting the inevitable cost.
The council might as well have kicked Sanders in the butt on his way out the door.
So much for the bully pulpit of the new strong mayor. What we learned last week was that if you're a consultant with experience "investigating" things, San Diego's the place to come. We'll hire you, you can charge us obscene amounts and when you produce an absolutely worthless report about the city or its pension crisis, we'll give you praise.
And don't worry about the fiery city attorney or the strong mayor -- they're both scratching their heads trying to figure out why they still don't have control of the retirement board.
Aguirre: Undo or be Sued
By EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Voice Staff Writer, Jan. 5, 2006
City Attorney Mike Aguirre was told by a judge last month that he cannot sue three former lawmakers for their role in fattening elected officials' retirement checks, so he said Wednesday that he will file a lawsuit against the current City Council unless they agree to undo the benefits themselves.His proposal enjoyed the usual support by Councilwoman Donna Frye and the expected criticism by Council President Scott Peters. But the issue also won him the backing of his newest partner at City Hall -- Mayor Jerry Sanders.Sanders, through a spokesman Wednesday, said he wanted to rein in elected officials' pensions, bringing them more in line with the city's rank-and-file workers.
"The mayor does not believe that elected officials, by virtue of being elected officials, should receive benefits that are higher than other city workers," said Sanders spokesman Fred Sainz.
Aguirre's announcement offers one of the first public tests of the new mayor's allegiances, and Sanders' choice to side with Aguirre rather than the council provides an early signal to the direction the new administration might be headed. Previously, Aguirre has found support only from Frye on most of his proposals related to the city's fiscal crisis.
Peters, who has the authority to schedule the proposal for a vote, said he didn't think rolling back pensions should be a City Council decision. Other council members didn't return phone calls.
The city attorney said he will drop his lawsuit against former Mayor Dick Murphy and resigned Councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet after the Superior Court judge presiding over the case said that three lawmakers couldn't have passed the allegedly illegal benefits without the support of other council colleagues.
Aguirre said he needs to name the current City Council as defendants if he wants to continue waging a courtroom battle to bring elected officeholders' pensions back to what they were before a series of enhancements in 2000. But the council members can save the trouble by agreeing to roll back the benefits he's seeking at an upcoming council meeting, he said.
The civil complaint is one of several Aguirre has filed that attempts to save the city an estimated $700 million by returning retirement benefits to pre-1996 levels. Currently, the city's pension system has a shortfall of at least $1.37 billion and is the focus of federal and local investigations. The city attorney says the lawsuit targeting elected officials' pension would result in savings in the millions of dollars at most.Many council members are in the same boat as Murphy and Zucchet, as they would not qualify for a pension under the previous standards Aguirre wants reinstated -- that council pensioners may not retire before age 62 and must work for at least 10 years. They would essentially lose out on any amount of retirement pay from the city if they agreed to the city attorney's proposal.Similar to Inzunza, two council members worked as council aides prior to being elected for enough years to qualify under Aguirre's desired standards, a Voice analysis shows. Only Councilman Jim Madaffer and Councilwoman Toni Atkins would still qualify for a pension, assuming all of the council members finished out their terms, but their retirement checks would be slashed by a few thousand dollars annually.
Aguirre filed the lawsuit in September after the three former officials began collecting pension benefits, thereby reaping the benefits of a contract they helped create, he argued. Murphy resigned under the duress of the city's financial and legal troubles in July, days before Zucchet and Inzunza stepped down after being convicted on federal corruption charges. Zucchet has since been acquitted by a judge of most charges and will stand retrial on others.
Currently, council members and the city attorney can qualify after working four years and other employees can purchase up to five years of service credits to use toward the ten-year threshold. Aguirre's lawsuit seeks to strike down both privileges.Aguirre is also attacking the "multiplier" for elected officials. Retirement checks in defined-contribution plans such as San Diego's are calculated using a formula that multiplies an employees' highest annual salary, years worked and the multiplier. Officeholders currently have a multiplier that is higher than all other city employees.
Peters, who sets the city's legislative agenda, said he didn't think it was worth taking up council meeting time in the hopes of saving tens of thousands of dollars a year when a more severe financial picture looms for the city of San Diego.
"I'd say there's more money tied up in attorney fees than what we could save, and there will only be more litigation" if the council approved Aguirre's proposal, he said. "This lawsuit was a mistake, and we ought to not compound it.
"Peters added that none of the current council members were in office when the elected officials' plan was upgraded.
"These are the exact benefits we had when taking office," he said.
Aguirre is also attacking the council's decision in 2002 to allow ex-council members and the city attorney to receive the enhanced pension checks. Aguirre decided to not join the pension system when taking office.Candidates vying for the City Council seats that Zucchet and Inzunza vacated would be sworn into office by the time he took his proposal to the council, Aguirre said.
District 8 candidate and organizational consultant Ben Hueso said he supported rolling back the benefits for future council members but not those who have already retired.
"It's a good gesture," he said. "We can't just make decisions that affect other people, but we also need to be part of the pain that it takes to balance the budget.
"School board president Luis Acle, Hueso's opponent for the seat vacated by Inzunza, said it was premature for him to make a decision.Environmental attorney Lorena Gonzalez, who is vying for the District 2 seat formerly held by Zucchet, said she would not vote on Aguirre's plan until she studied it, but supported the concept.
"To me, this is a no-brainer as an idea," Gonzalez said. "Pension benefits are for people who have long careers with a business or organization.
"Public relations executive Kevin Faulconer, who is also running in District 2, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Judge Richard Montes raised several doubts about the suit Dec. 16 when he granted the City Attorney's Office one month to revise its complaint. Among his concerns were whether Murphy, Zucchet and Inzunza were capable of boosting their own pensions since they served on council after vesting requirements were eased and pension formulas were made more profitable. The City Attorney's Office argued that the three former lawmakers were named because they were collecting benefits under an agreement they had control over."Just Do It'
By EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Voice Staff Writer, Dec. 14, 2005
The city's personnel director testified Tuesday that he was shot down by a city councilman when he objected in 2002 that a special pension benefit for the firefighters union president was not prudent.
Personnel director Rich Snapper told the court he thinks Councilman Jim Madaffer was the official who "did not have a friendly exchange" with him when he raised concerns over the presidential benefit, although he said he did not remember for sure the identity of the councilman.
Snapper's testimony provides one of the first glimpses into what the City Council knew in 2002 when a controversial pension deal at the heart of the district attorney's case was in the works.
The Superior Court on Tuesday heard much about the presidential benefit, which allowed firefighters union President Ron Saathoff to combine his union and city salaries in his pension calculations.
The District Attorney's Office has charged Saathoff and five other former retirement trustees for illegally boosting their own pension checks by approving a deal that relieved the city from making a budget-breaking payment to its retirement plan. Judge Frederic Link will consider whether the criminal conflict-of-interest case warrants a jury trial after pre-trial hearings conclude in January.
Snapper testified under oath that he remembers a male council member asking him "what's your objection?" to the benefit before arguing with him in the closed-door meeting. The councilman later commanded then human resources director Cathy Lexin, who was also charged by the district attorney, to "just do it."
He offered up Madaffer's name after Link asked him to venture his best guess as to which council member argued with him. A spokeswoman for Madaffer said he declined to comment because the city's pension dealings are still under investigation.
The defendants in the district attorney's case are Saathoff, Lexin, former Assistant Auditor Terri Webster, former Treasurer Mary Vattimo, city management analyst Sharon Wilkinson and Municipal Employees Association Vice President John Torres.Snapper said he had concerns over the tax implications of the presidential benefit and whether the concept was sound public policy. He noted during his testimony Monday that he was upset that he didn't find out about the benefit until he showed up to the council's private discussions of the labor talks.
"[Former Auditor Ed] Ryan and I asked what in the world were they thinking with this proposal," Snapper said.
The personnel director said he had been concerned about whether the presidential benefit was legal. Until 2002, the presidential benefit existed only for the presidents of the unions representing white-collar workers and rank-and-file police officers.
Snapper said then-Assistant City Attorney Les Girard told him that he would be granted indemnity, or guaranteed legal defense on the city's dime if litigation should ever arise from the presidential benefit. Two years later Girard delivered a memo stating he was indemnified, Snapper said.
Others also testified Tuesday about Saathoff's presidential benefit. Fire Capt. Billy Davis corroborated earlier testimony from another firefighter that the two of them had complained to the city's Ethics Commission about benefit.
"When I engage someone to negotiate for me, the negotiated outcomes should be equal for both of us," Davis said Tuesday. His letter argues that Saathoff was bought off by the city to prevent him from taking advantage of a new labor negotiating law that was advantageous to public employee unions.
Mike McGhee, a labor relations officer who reported to Lexin in 2002, testified that he knew the pension benefits granted that year were contingent on the retirement board's approval of the underfunding plan known as Manager's Proposal 2.
McGhee was assigned to work on negotiations with the firefighters and police officer union in 2002. Before working in the city's Labor Relations Office, McGhee was Saathoff's executive assistant at the firefighters union and he also served as the police union's chief of staff.
The prosecution referred McGhee to an e-mail he sent that stated, "I'm sure Ron is well aware of the contingent nature of the benefits."
McGhee testified that he never believed any of the benefits, including Saathoff's, were not contingent on the retirement board's approval of Manager's Proposal 2.Defense attorneys tried to chip away at both Davis and McGhee, who were called to testify by prosecutor Stephen Robinson. Jerry Coughlan, the attorney representing Saathoff, grilled Davis on why the letter to Ethics Commission was signed by him and not co-author Capt. Dennis Pascale.
Coughlan implied that Pascale was thinking about challenging Saathoff for union president as he did several years earlier and was using the complaint as political gain.
He also challenged McGhee over his assumption that the presidential benefit was contingent on the pension board's passage of Manager's Proposal 2. By the time Coughlan was busy throwing nuanced hand grenades into McGhee's reasoning, the labor negotiator backed off his assertion that Manager's Proposal 2 and the presidential benefit were linked.
"I made the assumption that it was part of the benefits," said McGhee, the city's current labor relations manager. "Again, I don't recall seeing it in the package of benefits.
"Former Deputy City Attorney Elmer Heap is expected to testify Wednesday.
San Diego City Council elects Peters as president
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, The Daily Transcript, November 22, 2005
The San Diego City Council took the first step toward transitioning to a strong mayor form of government Tuesday when it elected Councilmember Scott Peters as president.Councilman Scott Peters will be the City Council's first president.In an expected move, the Council voted unanimously to elect Peters, who will begin his one-term as City Council president in January.
He will be eligible to serve more than one term."These are challenging times for our city and for our council," Peters said upon accepting the position. "If crisis brings opportunity, we are certainly in an enviable spot."Under strong mayor, which San Diegans passed in November 2004, the mayor is no longer the president of San Diego's City Council, making the council an eight-member legislative body that can select a presiding officer, or president, who will have responsibility for chairing meetings and managing the docket process."This city council cares about moving ahead, rebuilding confidence and trust and correcting our city's financial condition; we will do that hand in hand with our new mayor,"
Peters said. "I cannot promise that as an independent legislature, we will always agree with the mayor, or with the city attorney, or even with each other, but for the good of the city and the taxpayers, we are absolutely committed to listening, communicating and finding common ground for solutions."He added to his colleagues on the city council: "I am deeply grateful for your support and confidence in me, your support today and over the next 12 months."As the councilmember representing District 1, Peters represents Carmel Valley, Sorrento Hills, Del Mar, La Jolla, Rancho Penasquitos, UCSD, the Golden Triangle, University City and other areas north of the city.
While the vote was unanimous and eight to 10 citizens, including the president of the city employees' labor union, spoke in favor of Peters, several citizens said they would rather see Councilmember Donna Frye be appointed president as a way to reach out to those who voted for her in the mayoral race.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre also called the vote into question, saying that because two council seats are empty after the Councilmembers holding them were indicted, the vote on a president should wait. He suggested making the vote today for an interim president, and voting for an official president when the two vacant seats are filled."One-fourth of the Council is absent today, that means that π of the population will not be represented in this vote today,"
Aguirre said. "In order for us to get off on a fully supported beginning with a new council president that is the choice of a fully constituted council and a council president who enjoys the complete legitimate support of the entire council, it is appropriate to do this on an interim basis.""I believe the approach that I'm suggesting removes all politics from the process," he added, saying that there was a perception that the city council operates secretly and that the decision to appoint Peters had been made behind closed doors.
Frye, however, though she thanked her supporters and acknowledged the absence of two councilmembers posed a "difficult dilemma," supported the vote for Peters."I think it's important that we take an action today," she said. "I absolutely believe we need to move forward.
"Frye said part of her decision was based on an understanding that if the council did have a "problem" with whomever they elect president, that person can be removed.
She asked Peters to make sure he keeps his mind open and listens to opposing points of view during his term.Peters promised he would listen to various points of view and said he has spoken with both mayor-elect Jerry Sanders and Aguirre and was confident both are ready to work together to get the city back on track."Political campaigns are a time to debate issues and emphasize our differences, but now that the mayoral campaign is over, and with only weeks to go before the elections in Districts 2 and 8, it's time to work together again to make San Diego a better place to work, to live and to raise our children,"
Peters said. "We have to look forward, not backward; to build bridges, not burn them; and with hope, think the best of each other instead of with cynicism expecting the worst.""A year from now," he added, "I want to sit here and read from the these same notes, and I want my evaluation from the taxpayers, my colleagues and all of you to be: Job well done, you did what you said you would do, you did the very best you knew, the very best you could. And that's all I need.It’s not Mike Aguirre who is at the top of the list of our city’s problems, it’s these UT editors
November 13, 2005— In UT editorial (a copy is set out below), the editors of the UT would have San Diegans believe that the greatest problem facing our new mayor Jerry Sanders is bringing City Attorney Mike Aguirre in check.
These same editors should take a look into any available mirror. It’s not Mike Aguirre who is at the top of the list of our city’s problems, it’s these same editors.
For years these same folks, and the special interests their editorials have reflected, have promoted and lionized the very people who have led us down the path to our current fiscal crisis. At the same time they, hand in hand with the special interests they have promoted and lionized, have pilloried and vilified voices of dissent.
Once again these editors have got it all wrong.
First, Mike Aguirre has to take charge if he is going to actually start the process of eliminating the greed and corruption that have dominated local government for over a decade and then return us to a government exemplified by public service.
In the process Mike Aguirre has to, and will continue to, ruffle feathers.
In short it is Jerry Sanders, not Mike Aguirre, who has to get with the program.
Second, while the editors correctly state that Mayor Sanders has a mandate from the people, the editors seem to ignore that that mandate is the same mandate voters gave to our new City Attorney, namely, confront, prosecute, and eradicate greed and corruption wherever it is found.
What the editors also don’t seem to understand is that while Mayor Sanders has a mandate, he may not have the power. Starting in January Mayor Sanders can’t vote; effectively doesn’t have a veto (since the same five votes enacting a measure can also override any veto); can’t have any meaningful involvement in specific land use matters; can’t manage the agenda or debate of any issue; etc., etc., etc.
Let’s say there is a key vote at a council meeting regarding implementation of the Mayor’s platform. Today, a mayor can lead the debate and, difficult as it may be to put votes together, can work the floor during debate to line up and to firm up critical votes. Starting in January the new “strong” mayor has no such role.
The emasculation of the mayor’s political power under the new “strong mayor” system going into effect in January is Mayor Sanders first, second, and third most important problem. Mike Aguirre doesn’t even show up on the radar screen.
To conclude, it is Mayor Sanders who is going to need to create an alliance with Mike Aguirre. I was, therefore, encouraged to see Sanders reaching out; and I hope, for all our sakes, that he will continue to do so since Mike Aguirre is Sanders’ only hope to bring about the various reforms he has promised San Diegans.
Editorial: Sanders' challenge, How to put a leash on attack dog Aguirre?
The San Diego Union-Tribune, November 13, 2005
One of the most pressing challenges confronting Mayor-elect Jerry Sanders is the meddling of City Attorney Mike Aguirre in matters outside his purview. If Aguirre is not bridled responsibly, he will continue to run roughshod over the mayor and City Council, perpetuating the turmoil that is undermining San Diego's financial recovery.
In his initial months in office, the city attorney made a significant contribution by exposing the web of wrongdoing that produced San Diego's pension fund crisis. Aguirre's multiple reports brought to light key facts that city officials long sought to keep in the dark.
Meanwhile, however, in the political vacuum created by the departure of Mayor Dick Murphy and two convicted council members in July, the city attorney has sought to run the city all by himself. For instance, when the council sensibly rebuffed his bid to disrupt the essential investigatory work of the independent audit committee, Aguirre tried to go around the council and reach his own personal settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Never mind that this important policy decision properly rests with the City Council, not the city attorney. Aguirre's gambit has failed to date, but it has harmed San Diego's interests nonetheless by underscoring the disarray at City Hall.
Unsurprisingly, Aguirre's inquisitional assaults have destroyed his relationships with nearly every member of the City Council. His pugnacious style and readiness to engage in personal attacks have fomented endless conflicts. He accused Mayor Murphy, for example, of participating in a criminal conspiracy and questioned Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins' fitness to serve on the council.
With Sanders' decisive victory over Donna Frye, who often is in sync with Aguirre, the city attorney promptly promised his full cooperation with the mayor-elect. After the election, in fact, the two got off to a cordial start. We would like to take Aguirre at his word and believe he is prepared to put behind him the confrontational stance he has assumed with almost everyone else at City Hall.
But, then, we remember that he promised his full cooperation with the audit committee before maneuvering aggressively to eliminate it. Sorry to say, it may be only a matter of time before Aguirre mounts a frontal attack on Sanders' authority as mayor. The sooner Sanders deals with this looming problem, the better.
Our only suggestion is that Sanders engage Aguirre as soon as possible in a candid discussion of the city attorney's destructive tactics and his overly expansive view of his role. Certainly the city attorney should be a key player as the new mayor and City Council work their way through a solution to the pension debacle. But that will be possible only if Aguirre acts responsibly and recognizes that the mayor and council, not the city attorney, are the policy-makers. If Aguirre halts his rogue activities and works with Sanders in good faith, he can make a constructive contribution, becoming part of the solution rather than part of the problem.
FlashReport Weblog on California Politics
Zucchet Acquitted in San Diego,
by Barry Jantz - San Diego County 11-10-2005
This just in this afternoon....resigned Councilman Michael Zucchet acquitted by Judge of "stripper-gate" charges....retrial ordered on two counts only. Read it here.
Interestingly enough, if Zucchet is found not guilty in a new trial, he never needed to resign from the council in the first place. As trial sentencing was pending, the resignation was by his choice.
As noted this morning in SD Winners & Losers, Republican Kevin Faulconer led the field on Tuesday in the primary to fill Democrat Zucchet's vacancy. Irony of ironies, Zucchet beat out Faulconer in the run-off when originally winning the seat.
Now it's Faulconer's for the taking, pending a huge battle in the January run-off election. If you wait by the river long enough, the body of your enemy will float by.
San Diego Winners & Losers
by Barry Jantz - San Diego County 11-10-2005 12:22 am
n the spirit of Jon Fleischman, our illustrious FRFL (Flash Report Fearless Leader), here's my election list of San Diego's Winners and Losers:
Mayor-Elect Jerry Sanders – THE BIG WINNER
Duh. A no brainer. Not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination, yet over several weeks Sanders went from the guy who didn't even request the County Party endorsement in the primary, to the anything-is-better-than-Donna-Frye Party-endorsed candidate a few days later, all the way to apparent GOP darling and ultimate winner. That had much more to do with the local Party closing ranks than Jerry making strides toward a strong GOP philosophy. Sanders proves that nice guys can win. Interestingly enough, former Mayor Dick Murphy was viewed as too nice. Sanders effectively cast aside any comparisons with Murphy by combining decisiveness and effectiveness with a nice-guy image.
Tax Increases – LOSER
San Diego Metropolitan Magazine may have said it best in yesterday’s Daily Business Report, and even that was being nice: “It is hard to underestimate Frye's support of a 10-year, half-cent sales tax to pay for funding City Council decisions in 1996 and 2002 to boost wages and benefits for city employees.”
Donna Frye – NOT AS MUCH OF A LOSER AS IT APPEARS
Even with her support for a huge tax increase, Frye – over the course of three elections – went from surfer council-gal, to near-mayor spurned only by unmarked bubbles (as opposed to hanging chads), to actually having some national recognition. Garnering 46% of the vote may not get you a mayor’s seat, but it guarantees you star status in your council district, and makes you a strong contender in just about any state legislative seat you want … as long as it’s within the City of San Diego and near the beach. She’s set for the next decade … watch for her to be raising taxes in Sacramento some day.
Kevin Faulconer – WINNER
How do you get over 34% in a primary field of 17 candidates? With a darn good campaign and strong GOP backing. Faulconer, the SD City Council District 2 primary winner, now faces Democrat Lorena Gonzalez. Labor and the GOP will battle here unlike anything we’ve seen since … well, Tuesday. Hang in there, Kevin. The run off will be way more of a ride than this.
Luis Acle – YET TO BE DECIDED
What’s the best thing for the GOP in a heavily Democratic, minority district? A minority Republican school board president, with great credentials like Acle. What’s the worst? A minority Democrat opponent, Ben Hueso, who led the primary field in votes and dollars. Acle previously beat out Hueso for the San Diego Unified school board seat, but the District 8 council seat is considered something less than competitive for Republicans. Hueso has strong ties to former Councilman Ralph Inzunza, found guilty in the “stripper-gate” scandal (in case you lost track of which San Diego fiasco led to open council seats in the first place). With that said, it will take money to point out the Inzunza connection. Victory for Luis will ride solely on his ability to raise dollars.
Republican Party of San Diego – WINNER
The train keeps on rollin’… despite the statewide results. First Ron Nehring led the way with an outstanding precinct organization. Combining that success with Prop 34’s boost to Party organizations and the business community feeling totally assaulted by the City of SD, you end up not with a perfect storm, but a perfect fundraising machine. Unprecedented play in the mayor and council elections. The next test, perhaps even the truer test, will be the council runoffs next January.Voters must cut through Chargers doubletalk
By Michael Aguirre, San Diego Daily Transcript, November 10, 2005
The Chargers have a track record of broken promises to the city of San Diego. We must not allow that to occur again. Let me explain.
In 1997, the Chargers induced the city of San Diego to sell bonds in order to make improvements at Qualcomm Stadium that included new club seats and skyboxes. In exchange, Chargers owner Alex Spanos promised to keep the team in San Diego until 2020.
When the bonds are paid off in 2027, the city will have paid almost $173 million. If the Chargers thought that Qualcomm was not going to last until 2020, why did they persuade the city to issue bonds for the improvements? The Spanos family has never explained why they did this.
In his letter to The Daily Transcript last week ("City attorney muddies Chargers issues with erroneous statements," Nov. 7, Source code: 20051104tzb), Chargers spokesman Mark Fabiani continued with more doubletalk. He complained that the Chargers are unable to find a partner for their project, and for this he blames the city. Finding a partner for the Chargers development plans is the Chargers' problem, not the city's. It has no impact on the question of whether the city should give away $400 million to $500 million of Mission Valley property to the Chargers in exchange for another promise from the Chargers to stay in San Diego for 25 years. That is the only meaningful question that city voters have to decide.
Spin doctor Fabiani also continues to misinform the people of San Diego in another respect. He represents that the city and the Chargers got rid of the ticket guarantee. This is a false statement. The ticket guarantee would have expired by the third game of the 2007 season, at a total projected cost to the city of about $50 million. At this point in time, the contract would have turned in favor of the taxpayers. Over the next 13 years, until 2020, the city treasury would annually receive a straight 10 percent of Qualcomm's gross revenues from Chargers games. Not content with letting the city benefit, the Chargers threatened to sue to get out of the contract.
The ticket guarantee was a rent reduction provision that fluctuated based upon attendance. As attendance went down, the ticket guarantee went up, resulting in the city getting less rent. The agreement that Fabiani says got rid of the ticket guarantee actually extended rent reduction until 2020 at a fixed rate well below what the city would have received. This agreement actually increased the cost of the ticket guarantee from $50 million to $113 million. Former Mayor Dick Murphy and Fabiani issued misleading statements to the people of San Diego, claiming that the agreement of last year got rid of the ticket guarantee when in fact it was extended and made more expensive by over $60 million.
The people of San Diego have an important question to answer at the ballot box. Do they want to give away 60 acres at the Qualcomm site to Alex Spanos and the Chargers in exchange for a promise from them to stay in San Diego for the next 25 years? That is the essential question.
My job as city attorney is to make sure that the voters are not misled again. I intend to meet that obligation. I also intend to negotiate on behalf of the city in good faith. If the voters decide in favor of the Chargers, I will ensure that the city's legal work is performed expeditiously.
However, as we set sail and chart a course on this important issue, it is imperative that we implement President Reagan's axiom -- trust but verify.
Aguirre is city attorney for the city of San Diego.Is council candidate really a lobbyist?
Union Tribune, Letter to the Editor, 10/27/05
Is council candidate really a lobbyist?
I would like commend the Union-Tribune for tackling the issue of lobbyists at City Hall ("A matter of influence," News, Oct. 16). With former councilmen claiming a culture of improper influence existing in local government, it is important for issues such as this to be exposed.
The use of public relations agencies to lobby local officials is also a matter that must be examined. This issue has become a focal point in the District 2 City Council race.
Despite his claims of being a "businessman," District 2 City Council candidate Kevin Faulconer is vice president for the public relations agency Porter Novelli, which specializes in land use and public affairs issues. In fact, the agency's managing director, Jim Bartell, was included on your list of top lobbyists over the past two years.
In order to protect San Diegans from lobbyists gaining even greater access to our elected officials, candidates should be required to disclose connections to lobbyists. —ANTHONY SAAVEDRA, Point Loma
Pierce's support rattles Sanders
Candidate to return money to pension scandal figure
By Philip J. LaVelle, November 4, 2005
It's the sort of embarrassment no candidate needs in the last days of a campaign.
It hit San Diego mayoral candidate Jerry Sanders yesterday in the form of questions about fundraising support he received from Frederick W. Pierce IV, a key figure in the city's pension debacle.
Pierce was board president of the San Diego City Employees Retirement System during the time its assets slid dangerously, and his efforts to downplay the crisis and suppress dissent included planning to have board whistle-blower Diann Shipione arrested.
Sanders' criticism of pension system management has been a central theme of his campaign.
Pierce, a developer, took it upon himself to put his name and contact information on a "Sanders for Mayor" flier announcing a Wednesday fundraiser in the Gaslamp Quarter, where he showed up with a "couple of checks," a campaign aide said.
He had given $300, the maximum allowed under city law, to the Sanders campaign in July.
Sanders defended taking money from Pierce during an interview yesterday, but concluded the interview by saying that he would give the money back.
Sanders said it was unfair to question Pierce's contributions or his presence at the fundraiser at Visions restaurant. Sanders attended the event after a two-hour debate and community forum with opponent Donna Frye.
"I did see Fred there last night," Sanders said yesterday. "I have 5,000 people who are supporting me. A lot of people are supporting me in this race."
A campaign flier announcing the fundraiser lists only the name of Sanders' fundraiser Jean Freelove and her contact information. But a flier obtained yesterday by The San Diego Union-Tribune also includes the contact information for Pierce, whose firm, The Pierce Co., is managing developer, with the San Diego State University Foundation, of the school's multimillion-dollar College Community Redevelopment Project.
Freelove said she encourages donors to add their contact information to the original invitation and then to send it to other people as a way of attracting new contributors. "A lot of people, they don't know who I am, so they're more comfortable" seeing a familiar name, she said.
Rather than discussing Pierce, Sanders sought to question the $72,000, in amounts of $99 or less, that Frye has collected. Under city law, the names of people contributing less than $100 do not need to be disclosed. Despite this, the former police chief has disclosed the names of all contributors, no matter how small the check.
Sanders suggested Frye is hypocritical for boasting of being for open government – including criticizing closed council sessions that Sanders says are legal – but standing behind the law shielding the names of small contributors.
The city councilwoman defended the practice during a debate yesterday on "The Roger Hedgecock Show" on radio station KOGO.
"I'd be happy to disclose them, once I contact the people," Frye said. "Most of these people are retirees, people who are contributing $25, and they have a reasonable expectation of privacy. . . . Jerry can paint that any way he wants."
In an earlier interview, Frye criticized Pierce giving Sanders money.
"He was one of the prime movers and shakers to get Diann Shipione off that pension board, to ban her from closed session, to try and have her arrested," Frye said.
Pierce, who left the pension board in March, did not return phone calls.
University of California San Diego political scientist Sam Popkin said the issue underscores the sometimes embarrassing situations that controversial figures can put candidates into by writing a fundraising check.
"It's like Ivan Boesky giving money to George Bush. It's not like George Bush asking Boesky to hold a fundraiser," Popkin said, referring to a key figure in a 1980s Wall Street insider-trading scandal who served time in federal prison.
"This is not a clear-cut, clean hit. I think you should ask Sanders how he feels taking money from this guy. 'What does it mean that you're taking donations from the guy who approved the scheme, the deal?' " said Popkin, a campaign pollster to Democratic presidential candidates George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale and Al Gore.
When Pierce was president of the pension board, its assets slid precipitously as a result of underfunding and benefit increases by the city and investment losses in 2000-02. With Pierce at the helm, the board gave the green light in 2002 to continued underfunding, a practice that began in 1996.
The system has a deficit now conservatively estimated at $1.4 billion, which helped spark a broader fiscal crisis at City Hall, led to downgrades in the city's Wall Street credit rating and also launched ongoing federal criminal investigations.
Six former pension board members have been charged with felony conflict of interest by the District Attorney's Office.
As news broke in 2002-03 of the pension system's slide, Pierce sought multiple times in public to downplay the crisis and took part in an organized campaign to publicly discredit Shipione.
In an open letter signed by Pierce that ran as an advertisement in The Union-Tribune on May 21, 2003, he decried reports of the pension system's woes as "sensationalism, false accusations and basic inaccuracies."
The letter began with: "Chicken Little would be proud."
He also helped organize an effort, which never came to be, to have Shipione placed under citizen's arrest at a November 2004 pension board closed session and have her handed over to police officers.
Sanders has been critical throughout the campaign of pension-system abuses and has spoken favorably of Shipione, a campaign adviser to Frye whose husband, lawyer Pat Shea, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in this year's primary. Early in the campaign, Sanders called for Shipione to be reinstated to the pension board.
He has also repeatedly criticized the City Council for failing to fire current pension board President Peter Preovolos for failing to waive attorney-client privilege to release internal documents sought by federal investigators. Pierce also refused to waive that privilege when he led the board.Mayoral Election
SANDERS CLAIMS ABOUT MANAGEMENT PROVEN FALSE!
DID NOT “TURN AROUND” UNITED WAY
Mayoral candidate Jerry Sanders has stated that he cut expenses and “turned around” United Way while he was CEO from 1999 to 2002.
A review of financial statements just completed shows this is not true!
Claim #1. Jerry Sanders “decreased overhead costs” at United Way.
The truth: The expenses were not reduced while Jerry Sanders was in charge at United Way. In fact, Total Expenses were about $10 million when he took over in 1999, and about $10 million when he left in 2002.
Claim #2. Jerry Sanders “dramatically increased fundraising”.
The truth: The "Available Campaign Revenue" went down by one and one-half million dollars in the year that Sanders joined United Way, 1999, and had not increased to its previous level by the time he left in 2002. This key revenue figure was $9.5 million in 1998, before Sanders took over as CEO, and was $9 million when he left United Way in 2002.
As a public interest project, Livable Communities Network analyzed the United Way financial statements from 1997 to 2004.
This allows us to put Jerry Sanders' results in perspective, including two years before he joined and two years after he left. He was President and CEO of United Way from April 1999 until mid-2002. Then he served in fall 2002 as fundraising chair.
The claims from Jerry Sanders were taken from his website,
1. Expense details: Total Expenses were $10,372,267 for the year ending June 30, 1999, which was Sanders’ first year. Total Expenses were $10,097,647 for the year ending June 30, 2002, Sanders’ last year. So expenses were reduced only 2.6% over the three years. The only significant improvement in expenses was a temporary decrease for one year, 2000.
2. Fundraising details: "Gross campaign revenues" were increased from 1999 to 2002, but the increase was due to "Designated funds" which are immediately paid out to specific agencies at the direction of the donor. These "Designated funds" are not available for United Way to pay out to its member agencies as allocations, or to use for expenses. The other factor that inflated the gross figure was an increase of $1 million in “uncollectible pledges”. After adjusting for these two factors, the financial statements show that the “Campaign Revenue Available for allocation and expenses” decreased from $9,537,398 in 1998 to $9,004,063 in 2002.
A one-page summary of figures and a graph showing the 1997-2004 figures are available by email. Contact LivableComm@aol.com or Tom Mullaney, 619-296-8231.
Copies of the complete United Way financial statements can be obtained from the following sources:
1. Livable Communities Network. 1997-2004. Hard copy.
2. United Way website. 2001-2004 only. Pdf format.
http://www.uwsd.org/about/fin_annualaudit.aspCandidates say stop underfunding
UNION-TRIBUNE, November 3, 2005
Four District 2 City Council candidates came together yesterday to pledge they would oppose new developments that don't have funding for parks, streets and other basic infrastructure.
The idea came from Carolyn Chase, a city planning commissioner running to replace former San Diego Councilman Michael Zucchet in Tuesday's election.
Chase said the city has a history of "overpromise and underfund." She said that is the root cause of the city's infrastructure deficit.
Three other council hopefuls – Kathleen Blavatt, Phil Meinhardt and Ian Trowbridge – stood with Chase in front of City Hall to launch the idea. Chase said five other candidates had agreed to sign her pledge statement, which she calls the Stop Underfunding Now, or SUN, pledge.
Chase criticized a proposed update to the downtown community development plan, scheduled to go before the City Council on Nov. 15.
She lambasted an environmental report on the proposed update, saying it allows increased density without identifying ways to address increased highway or transit congestion.
"Win or lose, we're all here to call for an end to it," Chase said. "We need to let some sunshine into our City Hall processes."
District 2 includes the coast from Pacific Beach to downtown.Real estate industry dominates politcal giving in mayoral campaign
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, The Daily Transcript, October 27, 2005
The real estate and development industry gave the most to this year's mayoral campaign, with miscellaneous individuals giving the second most, according to an analysis of campaign funding by the Center on Policy Initiatives.
Of the $725,706.47 total raised by both candidates, $163,778.00 -- or 23 percent -- came from the "real estate and development" industry and "miscellaneous individuals" donated $158,924.50, or 22 percent.
Most of this money in both cases went to the Sanders campaign, which raised nearly three times as much as the Frye campaign.
The analysis was based on campaign finance records from July 10 to Sept. 24, which as of Thursday were the only records available. Finance records for the month of October are expected to be available soon, said Paul Karr, a spokesman for the Center. The analysis compiled how much 14 different "industries" donated to each campaign.
Between July and September, Sanders raised $420,466.47, compared with Frye's $145,239. The industry that provided the most funding for the Sanders campaign was called "real estate and development," by the CPI report and donated $124,679, or 30 percent of Sanders' contributions. For Frye, the industry called "miscellaneous individuals" provided $52,105, or 36 percent, of her funding.
Real estate and development donated $11,099, or eight percent of overall funding to Frye. Miscellaneous individuals gave $68,404.50, or 16 percent to Sanders' campaign.
Miscellanious individuals were the second largest donation group to the Sanders campaigned, followed by "lawyers and lobbysists," which donated $60,135, or 14 percent of Sanders' total.
The second largest donation group to Frye's campaign fell under the "education" industry, which gave $14,070, or 10 percent of her total. "High-tech and bio-tech" tied with real estate and development for third on the list of industries that gave to Frye. Each made up 8 percent of her total, with high-tech and bio-tech donating about $12,000.
High-tech and bio-tech also made up 8 percent of Sanders' donations with $44,566.22. Education gave Sanders $8,899, or 2 percent of his total.
Other industries included:
Business Services: 4 percent of Frye's total, 6 percent of Sanders'.
Finance and Insurance: 5 percent of Frye's, 8 percent of Sanders'.
Government: 6 percent of Frye's, 4 percent of Sanders'.
Healthcare: 6 percent of Frye's, 2 percent of Sanders'.
Labor: 0 percent of Frye's ($650), 0 percent ($0) of Sanders'.
Media TV/Radio: 1 percent of Frye's ($1,000), 0 percent of Sanders' ($1,975).
Miscellanious Business: 7 percent of Frye's, 9 percent of Sanders'.
Tourism: 2 percent to Frye's ($2,235), 2 percent of Sanders' $10,500.
The candidates themselves were each also considered an industry, however neither used any of their own money in the campaign, according to the analysis.
According to its report, the Center on Policy Initiatives is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that does not take positions on candidates running for political office. In the introduction to the analysis report, which is titled "Follow the Money," CPI wrote that they were "motivated by our belief that democracy is stronger when voters have increased access to important information about the candidates running for public office."Reader, City Lights, 10/16/05Jerry's kids GOP mayoral candidate Jerry Sanders has been busy racking up big campaign contributions from the traditional local deep pockets -- as well as from some not-so-traditional sources. Frederick Pierce, the San Diego State University redevelopment czar, formerly chairman of the city's troubled retirement fund until he made his exit under then-mayor Dick Murphy's reform plan, gave $300. Ted Tollner, the ex-SDSU football coach, now offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, kicked in $600, as did architect and planning commissioner Mark Steele, who counts among his clients the Chargers, who are bidding for a new taxpayer-funded stadium. Rancho Santa Fe's Pauline Foster, mother-in-law of state education secretary Alan Bersin, contributed $600. Julie Dubick, a onetime Bersin-sponsored school board candidate, and her husband Mike gave a combined $600. The biggest family donation came from La Jolla Democrat Murray Galinson, wife Elaine, daughter Laura Jo, Richard, and Jeffrey, who each gave the $600 maximum. Ex-banker Galinson, business associate of Democratic donor Sol Price, now runs Prospect Investments, LLC. In his role as chairman of the California State University board of trustees, Galinson has taken fire from angry neighbors fighting a real estate development in Del Cerro that SDSU is pushing. Tom Felkner and partner Bob Lehman, co-owners of Hillcrest's Bourbon Street gay bar, gave $300 each. Henry Hunte, chairman of H.G. Fenton, the big Mission Valley landowner, gave $300. Ben Dillingham, the wealthy ex-chief-of-staff to former Democratic mayor Maureen O'Connor, contributed $300. Joe Craver, chairman of the airport board seeking to expand or move Lindbergh Field, came up with $600. Gaslamp's Ingrid Croce gave $300. Jim Dawe, the lawyer and lobbyist involved with the thus-far failed attempt to build a new downtown library near the Padres baseball park, gave $300; his colleague, library foundation fund-raiser Jim Bowers, gave $600. David and Grace Cherashore, heirs to Mission Bay's Evans Hotels empire, each gave $300, as did company matriarch Anne Evans. Among developers and their consultants were Laurie Black of Mission Hills ($300), historic-building delisting expert Marie Burke Lia ($300), and downtown's Malin Burnham ($300). But the biggest combined donation came from employees of Miami-based developer Lennar Corporation, which is in partnership with Padres owner John Moores and his JMI, Inc., to build a controversial $1.4 billion real estate development east of the ballpark. Givers included operations director Scott Kelly of San Clemente; executive Michael Kennedy of Poway; marketing director Jennifer Mares; executive Marco Vakili of Laguna Niguel; and executive Larry Clemens of Irvine.
Don't want Donna Watch out, Donna Frye, here comes the "Salute to San Diego's Republican Elected Officials." Even though the offices they hold are technically nonpartisan, the five members of the county board of supervisors, all GOP loyalists, are teaming up for a fund-raiser -- the biggest ever, they hope -- to benefit GOP-endorsed mayoral candidate Jerry Sanders and council candidates Luis Acle and Kevin Faulconer. "Because this event benefits the Republican Party of San Diego County and ongoing programs and campaigns to elect and re-elect local Republican candidates, corporate and personal contributions are allowed without limit," an invitation proclaims. Guest of honor is set to be onetime San Diego mayor and ex-governor Pete Wilson. The event kicks off next Friday night at Old Town's Plaza del Pasado, with "Platinum Sponsorships" including 30 "VIP reception" tickets going for $20,000 a pop.Some seeking Zucchet seat promote 'outsider' status
17 contenders are vying for City Council position
By Jeanette Steele, Union Tribune, September 24, 2005
In the campaign to replace Michael Zucchet on the City Council, the record crowd of 17 contenders is starting to delineate, with some getting political party support and others saying they hope their "outsider" image will sit better with voters right now.
Returning hopeful Kevin Faulconer has secured the San Diego County Republican Party endorsement, just as he did in 2002 when he lost to Zucchet in a runoff. He's also got Sheriff Bill Kolender, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and a Republican state legislator on his side.
First-time candidate Lorena Gonzalez has snared the county Democratic Party nod, in addition to several other major endorsements that have given her noticeable momentum.
Gonzalez, an environmental attorney with the lieutenant governor's office, has also been endorsed by the county labor council, three national unions, three Democratic state legislators and a Democratic congressman.
Conventional wisdom might say Faulconer and Gonzalez are the most likely names to be in a runoff after the Nov. 8 election if no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote in the special election.
But several other candidates are banking that voters are not in a business-as-usual mood.
Ian Trowbridge called Gonzalez the "anointed Democratic Party candidate." The retired Salk Institute professor added, "I think it may work against her in District 2. She'll be seen as the pawn of the labor movement."
Candidate Carolyn Chase said she's trying to pave a different path.
"The status quo on the left is lining up on one side, the status quo on the right is lining up on the other," said Chase, a city planning commissioner who was endorsed by the local Sierra Club chapter, of which she is a member, and until recently, the political committee chairwoman. "I'm guiding the plane right down the middle."
These candidates and several others are fashioning themselves as advocates of changing business as usual at City Hall. They also tout their activities as neighborhood activists on community planning boards, town councils and elsewhere.
"The issues I'm dealing with aren't Democrat or Republican," said Kathleen Blavatt, a former Peninsula Community Planning Board member who helped launch the San Diego Coastal Alliance.
Rich Grosch said he doesn't put a lot of stock in endorsements.
"I would contend it's going to be a name identification situation," said Grosch, who has served on the Ocean Beach Town Council, planning board and community development corporation. "I've got 30 years of community involvement."
The presumptive leaders in the race say they have been walking the district's neighborhoods and working the phones to get where they are.
Faulconer, who touts his own credentials as president of the Mission Bay Park Committee, said, "I don't know that anybody's in the lead at this point. It's still early in the campaign."
After Faulconer garnered a considerable amount of money in the 2002 campaign, many candidates expect him to lead the pack again. Individuals and Republican-organized development and business groups spent about $600,000 then to support Faulconer through the runoff. Zucchet won that race with 56 percent of the vote.
The candidate said those circumstances were different. "That was a long, hard-fought race over a year and a half," said Faulconer, who added that his target is to raise $100,000 for the November election.
Gonzalez, who said she has run an "aggressive grass-roots campaign," said that she has her own outsider credentials.
"I haven't been at City Hall as a lobbyist or an appointee of the mayor or somebody negotiating land deals," she said.
She said that her ties to Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, a Democrat, have not played a pivotal role in her effort. She has served as a senior policy adviser to Bustamante since 1999, but in recent years cut her work to part time to concentrate on her children.
Gonzalez – who also got support from the San Diego League of Conservation Voters, of which she has been vice president – said she hopes to raise $80,000 to $100,000 before the Nov. 8 vote. Former San Diego Police Chief Jerry Sanders Unfit to be Mayor
By Daniel L. Muñoz, Publisher, Commentary La Prensa San Diego
It is difficult to accept that Jerry Sanders believes that the Mexican American population, of the City of San Diego, could ever forget or forgive his role in the massacre that was carried out by James Oliver Huberty, at four O‚clock in the afternoon, on the 18th of July 1984, at the San Ysidro McDonalds restaurant in San Ysidro. When the violence and smoke had cleared, on that day, 22 victims lay dead, and 15 others lay seriously wounded! The majority of the victims were Mexican American children, their mothers, younger brothers and sisters and a few Grandmothers. Jerry Sanders, on that day, was the commander of the San Diego Police Departments SWAT team!
In the aftermath, of the massacre, questions began to surface. Where were the police from the San Ysidro Police Outpost? Where was the SWAT team and their Commander, Jerry Sanders? Why was their response time so slow? Why was the police station in San Ysidro so lightly armed and short of personnel? Why did it take so long for the SWAT team to arrive?
We cannot forget that while James Oliver Huberty was busy murdering the innocent victims, Jerry Sanders, who was the Commander of the Swat team, was busy drinking with other policemen at a special police event in Mission Bay. We can‚t forget that the members of the SWAT team couldn‚t get into their armored vehicle. Someone had misplaced the necessary 2nd key to the vehicle. Could it be that Jerry Sanders had it?
Why did Jerry Sanders rescind the orders, given by the Police Lieutenant on the scene, for a police sniper to take out Huberty? Many lives could have been saved. Why did the Commander of the Swat team, who was not on the scene, override the commands of the senior police officer present on the site of the massacre? Isn't it policy that the on-site senior officer is the commander until relieved on the scene? Why were the on-site police ordered to lie for over 40 minutes behind walls while the murderous Huberty continued his slaughter of the innocent children, women, teenagers and senior citizen?
It was revealing that the leadership of the Police Department failed to promote him for 13 times to a significant post thereafter. However on May 17, 1993, City Manager Jack McGrory picked him to succeed Chief Bob Burgreen. Mayor Golding and her City Council approved the promotion. It is also instructive to note that the rank and file, within the Department, highly disapproved of Jerry Sanders.
Unanswered questions still remain that need to be asked of Mr. Sanders: Why didn‚t you order the on scene commander to lob tear gas and/or smoke bombs to roust Huberty out before so many innocents were massacred? Why was the Police substation in San Ysidro so seriously under-manned and under-armed? Why did two Staff Officers, who had no „fire-fight‰ experience, lead the attack against Huberty? Was it because your Line Officers were partying with you? Why did you order that „Command and Control‰ of the massacre site be turned over to you while you were 20 miles away from McDonalds Restaurant?
As the Commander of the SWAT team, its Armored Van, and Personnel, you knew it took two keys, one held by the SWAT Commander and the other by Central Division Officer to open the SWAT Van? Didn‚t you have the 2nd required key in your pocket while you partied?
As you can see, the Mexican American community has a lot of unanswered questions about your abilities and leadership. You were the man in the hot seat on July 18, 1984 when a man named James Oliver Huberty decided to murder 22 people in San Ysidro. We know that the Chief of Police was W.B. Kolender, and that the Mayor was Roger Hedgecock. In spite of the role that Sanders played in the San Ysidro massacre, City Manager Jack McGrory picked Sanders to succeed Chief Bob Burgreen as San Diego‚s Police Chief. Mayor Susan Golding and the City Council went along with it. Politics played a prominent role in his selection as Sanders was held in low esteem by a large segment of the Police force.
Now, the Republican leadership of San Diego is trying to have Mr. Jerry Sanders elected as the next Mayor of San Diego. La Prensa San Diego cannot accept the Republicans choice of Mr. Sanders to be the City of San Diego‚s next Mayor! It is our opinion that the Republican leadership has a death wish and rather than support the best in their Party, they continue to foist upon the citizens the worse candidates that they have.
Especially, since the next Mayor will be the first one that will operate under a „Chicago- style‰ strong Mayor system of governance.
The Mexican American voters will find it very difficult to accept Jerry Sanders as their next Mayor. His incompetence, in the Massacre of 22 of their community by James Oliver Huberty, places in the limelight, the total incompetence and leadership of Mr. Jerry Sanders forever!'Not a time to mince words' Conscripts in the Great San Diego Pension War
By SCOTT LEWIS, Voice Columnist, Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2005
Here's a question: Can the San Diego City Council appoint a resident to the city's pension board without that person's expressed consent -- sort of like drafting a reluctant citizen to serve in the pension wars?
I mean what else could it be thinking? On the council's Tuesday docket, it has the appointments of Richard Rider and Diann Shipione to the pension board listed as item 200.
Let's start with Rider. During a quick phone conversation last week, I asked him if he had heard from the council about his potential appointment to the beleaguered board of administration of the San Diego City Employees Retirement System. The council postponed his nomination last month and Rider has since expressed reservations about joining the board if he's not part of a "slate of reformers."
So, had the council gotten back to him since then?
"Nope," he said.
He left the next day for a weeks-long vacation in Europe. He probably won't make Tuesday's council meeting.
So, how about Shipione? She's the famed whistleblower, who withdrew her name from consideration for appointment last month because she also didn't want to be part of the board unless a whole slate of reformers joined her at the same time.
The council hasn't proposed any more names to go along with her than they did last month so why did they think Shipione would have had a change of heart?
Because, well, she didn't.
"I recommend you leave the empty places on the Board empty, and let those currently on the Board continue on their own hostile path with the burden of their decisions still before them," Shipione wrote in a letter to Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins.
That was last Wednesday.
It shouldn't be much of a surprise that the council would leave those two appointments on this week's docket without the consent of the people being nominated. After all, anyone who's ever had business in front of the council, or with whom the council has business of its own, are well-aware that City Hall discusses issues on its own terms. If the council is on vacation, don't bother them. If the council is in session, you have to wait, sometimes for hours, with no guarantee your issue will even be considered.
Take, for instance, the experiences of two residents: Ezekiel Cortez and Thomas Hebrank. Atkins nominated them to the pension board. And the two sat in City Council chambers for several hours Aug. 9 waiting for officials to finally address their appointments.
Of course, at that point Councilman Jim Madaffer just left the meeting. Already short-staffed, the council found itself with only five members present. Because the council cannot get anything done without five votes, all would have to agree or nothing would happen.
Nothing happened. Cortez and Hebrank's names are again on the docket.
But Madaffer didn't just leave Cortez and Hebrank hanging, he also left his colleague Donna Frye carrying the heavy load on the issue of throwing pension President Peter Preovolos off the retirement system's board.
Madaffer had called for his ouster and he refers to Preovolos facetiously in e-mails as "Peter Provolone" -- which we're assuming is a manipulation of his name to rhyme with "baloney."
Anyway, without Madaffer, nobody would second Frye's motion to oust Preovolos. The council did agree to continue the issue though. Continuances are popular actions these days.
And it will be interesting to see what the council does with the Preovolos issue Tuesday.
Frye still wants him gone despite movement by the retirement board this week to share documents with federal investigators. Many people are anxious to see those documents. They say examining the information is a vital part of the city's effort to prove it has fully looked into allegations of wrongdoing with regard to its pension fund and disclosed what it found.
A success in that arena, many have said, will enable the city to reestablish its credit with Wall Street and jolt it out of this wrenching imbroglio that has paralyzed it for more than a year.
Now that the board has agreed to turn some of them over to the U.S. Attorney and the city's audit committee, which is headed by former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt, has everything happened that needed to?
"They've done nothing," Frye says. "What the remaining members of the retirement board have done is comply with a court order, that's it. They have continued to show they have no desire to be cooperative."
Yet some are advising the council to maybe back off a little bit.
Mitch Mitchell, the vice president of public policy at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, said there's a possibility the board's actions could indeed help speed along the publication of the city's audited financial statements. If it does, the city could move on, he said, and Preovolos should keep his volunteer job at the board.
"There are some who believe he's created a level of animosity that will continue to be an obstacle in the effort to solve this crisis," Mitchell said of Preovolos. "But we're only concerned with whether his actions will lead to the formal release of those audited financial statements."
So what would he advise the council to do on Tuesday regarding Preovolos? Get an expert opinion.
And that brings us to another interesting thing to look for during the first council meetings after nearly a month-long break: legal opinions.
The council is still confused as to whether they authorized, or endorsed, or allowed, or are paying for City Attorney Mike Aguirre's legal challenge to the benefits many city employees are expecting.
Aguirre says the council embraced his legal efforts.
Councilman Scott Peters has said the council authorized Aguirre to pursue his legal goals, and to use city funds, to argue his points in court but "in his name only." Deputy Mayor Atkins has issued only one statement, saying the council has actually taken "no action" on the issue.
Our conversation with Frye offered yet one more version.
"You can split hairs about what this or that meant but the reality of it is the vote allowed the city attorney to move forward with his claims," said Frye, whose campaign for mayor has emphasized the push to roll back the benefits she claims were illegal. Her opponent, former police Chief Jerry Sanders, has pushed for the same thing.
Representatives from the largest city employee union have said they were going to press the council to clarify the confusing issue in public as soon as the council came off its recess. Now they say they may have to wait to see what other issues might have been docketed.
Frye said that a closed session Tuesday should clarify the issue more.
Maybe it will for members of the City Council who get to attend the closed session, but it's not clear what it will do for the residents and employees who are very interested in what the city's elected leaders have to say about that issue.
And judging from the feedback I've received following the issue, there are many, many people waiting patiently for clarification.
Is that why the City Council is so determined to elucidate it behind closed doors?City hires new law firm, San Diego Daily Transcript, Sept. 1, 2005
A new law firm has been hired to represent San Diego to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in its investigation into possible violation of federal financial disclosure laws.
City Manager Lamont Ewell signed a contract with Los Angeles-based Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP to "provide legal services ... in connection with the pending investigation" on Aug. 29. The firm will charge between $160 and $750 per hour for work rendered.
The firm will also "maintain open lines of communication" with the office of City Attorney Michael Aguirre, who approved the deal.
Vinson and Elkins, the firm that formerly represented the city to the SEC, collected about $4 million for work that included two reports into the city's disclosure practices and possible criminal acts.
Paul Maco, partner for Vinson and Elkins, notified the City Council in the Aug. 9 meeting that the firm would no longer serve the city.
Aguirre said in recent weeks that he would act as the representative of the city of San Diego, an entity, to the SEC. Aguirre has issued to the City Council a proposal to enter into a consent decree with the SEC and will submit a second draft Friday.
A consent decree is essentially a settlement where an entity admits that some violations of law occurred but does not admit to any specific violations.
The move, Aguirre said, would essentially enter the city into a remediation plan with the SEC, while individuals being investigated would be represented separately.
Aguirre has said that if the City Council does not accept the proposal, he would forward the application to the SEC and seek an initiative to the people of San Diego to support the consent decree. Aguirre: San Diego should follow accounting firm's plan as way out of pension debacle
By KEVIN CHRISTENSEN, The Daily Transcript, Aug.29, 2005
City Attorney Michael Aguirre said the recent deal between the accounting firm KPMG and federal investigators should serve as a blueprint for the city's resolution of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.
Aguirre repeated his goal to seek a settlement with the SEC to end a nearly two-year investigation and possibly clear the city from any fines.
KPMG, a Big Four accounting company, was under investigation by the U.S. Attorney General for setting up a tax shelter to reduce its wealthy clients from paying capital gains and other federal taxes.
Last week the company agreed to admit to wrongdoing and pay a fine of more than $450 million.
The move will, in effect, separate the entity from the individuals that are suspected of committing wrongdoing, including KPMG partners and others, who could go on to face individual criminal charges.
The KPMG board of directors unanimously approved the move.
The city of San Diego should seek a similar deal, Aguirre told reporters Monday.
"KPMG went to the federal authorities, they arranged for a firm-only resolution of the problems if the case at federal level proceeds on against individuals," Aguirre said. "That is exactly what should happen here."
The settlement would propose a method to achieve remediation including more stringent disclosure requirements and perhaps an SEC-appointed remediation officer, who would act like "a probation officer" to the city's financial departments, Aguirre said.
Like KPMG, the San Diego City Council would have to approve the agreement.
The city has been under investigation by the SEC for nearly two years for alleged violations of federal laws on financial disclosure reports.
Shortly after the launch of the investigation, Vinson and Elkins was hired by the city to complete an analysis of disclosure practices and provide legal representation to the SEC.
In an Aug. 9 meeting of the City Council, Vinson and Elkins said it would no longer represent the city to the SEC.
The firm collected a total of about $4 million in fees and the investigation has not yet been finalized.
City Manager Lamont Ewell is reportedly working on finding and contracting replacements.
Last week, after Aguirre first announced his intention to seek a settlement, Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins called the move irresponsible because the SEC has not completed its work.
"At this point we don't know what the SEC is going to conclude," Atkins said in an earlier press conference. "That would be the same as pleading guilty before you've been charged."
Atkins was not available to comment Monday.
Meanwhile, Aguirre told reporters Monday that he is working on the settlement proposal to provide a solution to the city's aspect of the investigation and allow the city officials being investigated to go forward alone.
Aguirre said the document will be drafted by next week and will eventually appear before the City Council.
A consent decree is akin to admitting that wrongdoing occurred without actually admitting to specific crimes, said to Jonathan Schwartz, a Los Angeles-based securities attorney.
"The decree would say essentially: 'We don't admit that we've done anything wrong but we agree that we won't do it again,'" Schwartz said.
Schwartz said these consent decrees are not unusual because the interests of the entity and stockholders are different than those of the individuals being investigated.
"The settlement posture of the city is going to be different than the settlement posture of the individuals," Schwartz said.
Aguirre said the consent decree could allow the city to move forward with its business without facing any monetary penalties.
"In my judgment we should receive no penalty because the taxpayers and the city employees are the ultimate victims of what took place here," Aguirre said. "There is no reason to further damage them."
Irwin Shustak, a securities attorney and partner in Shustak Jalil & Heller, said the move would be the best thing for the city.
"It's what any good securities lawyer would do when your client got caught with his hands in the cookie jar," Shustak said. "They didn't make adequate disclosures. There is really no reason to fight about it."
Shustak also stressed the importance of separating the city from any individuals that are under investigation.
"You want to separate the city out; it's an entity. The city didn't do anything wrong," he said. "Whatever the city officials' involvement, that's their problem. The goal is to get the city back on strong financial footing."
Aguirre also pointed out that city officials would continue to receive a legal defense paid for by the city if the settlement is accepted.
"We are not abandoning the City Council members," Aguirre said. "Each of these individuals would be provided a city-paid-for counsel."Embattled city attorney shakes up local government
By DOUG SHERWIN, The Daily Transcript, August 19, 2005
The plaque is prominently displayed on the crowded walls of his 16th floor office. As you enter the room, your eyes are drawn to the massive wooden rectangle that contains a simple message:
"The city attorney is to be elected by the people. This is a guarantee that the legal head of the government will be able to fearlessly protect the interests of all San Diego and not merely be an attorney appointed to carry out the wishes of the council or manager."
The passage, enlarged from a 1931 brochure promoting the need for an independently elected city attorney, has become the mantra of City Attorney Michael Aguirre. All of his current actions can be traced back to his belief in fulfilling the ideals of the phrase, a version of which is contained in the City Charter.
"My role is not to serve the personal interests of the council and the mayor and the city manager," Aguirre said. "It's to serve the interests of the people. I hear people say all the time that the taxpayers are our customers. That's not true. They're not our customers. They're our bosses.
"I feel the people of San Diego have trusted me by voting me in, and I don't want to let them down."
Elected to the post last November, Aguirre has taken office during one of the most turbulent times in the city's history. The well-documented problems facing the city include a pension deficit estimated at more than $1.37 billion; a plummeting bond rating fueled by a pair of unfinished audits; and investigations by, among others, the Securities & Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney's office.
Some would add the feisty Aguirre to the list, having watched him launch his own investigations and lawsuits against current and former city officials.
"It's not in me to sit by and just idly watch the city slide down into the abyss without at least making some effort," he said, "and getting the public aroused and interested in understanding there are options that provide us hope. I think anyone that's elected has that obligation."
The city attorney's office has conducted an ongoing investigation for the past nine months, producing six mountainous reports detailing the flaws in the pension system. Declaring illegal pension benefits granted in 1996 and 2002, Aguirre has repeatedly called for their rollbacks.
This spring he publicly called for the resignation of former Mayor Dick Murphy and now seeks the same from City Manager Lamont Ewell, along with various other city officials.
Aguirre is unapologetic about his approach.
"This isn't a time to mince words because we're too close to the edge," he said. "The consequences of complacency are too dangerous. That's how we got here."
His detractors paint him as a power-hungry opportunist running amok in City Hall. He's been called a megalomaniac, a bully and a detriment to the city. The police union is suing to get him removed from office, accusing him of offering a $650 million bribe.
The resistance comes from officials who don't want to take responsibility for the city's current crisis, Aguirre said.
"They like me when I tell them what they want to hear, and they dislike me when I don't," he said. "I live, in some ways, in a very divided kind of existence. On the one hand, the rank-and-file members of the community are very supportive. On the other hand, the insiders of City Hall are not."
Aguirre suggests the needs for a "massive replacement" of personnel in City Hall. He isn't against the idea of promoting from within, believing there are many quality city employees in place now.
"We are leadership bankrupt if we're not financially bankrupt," Aguirre said. "We need a lot of new blood to re-establish our credibility.
"Here we are facing the greatest financial crisis in the history of the city, and the council is off on a four-week vacation, which is just mind-boggling. We haven't had a single council meeting focused on the solutions to the pension crisis since it started 17 months ago because no one wants to talk about it."
Aguirre talks about a reorganization of city government, one that doesn't cater to special interests like corporate sports, developers and the employee unions.
While admittedly not a legislator, that hasn't stopped Aguirre from issuing his own plans for the city. He recently unveiled a 15-point blueprint to jumpstart the recovery, using a nearly hourlong press conference to detail it.
Some council members quickly criticized him for stepping outside of his responsibilities.
"I'm talking in my plan about the legal problems facing the city and how to get out of them," Aguirre said. "Which council member is going to come forward and talk about the contents of the consent decree with the SEC? Or which council member is going to talk about how do we legally set aside the illegal benefits?"
A graduate of Arizona State University and the University of California, Berkeley Law School, Aguirre also holds a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University.
In the 1970s, while working for the U.S. Attorney's office, he helped expose a massive pension fraud case involving a San Diego labor union, resulting in the conviction of 17 people. It led to an appointment to work for the U.S. Senate, where he investigated a nationwide organized crime employees' benefit fraud scheme.
A native San Diegan, he opened his own practice in 1980.
"I've always wanted to be in public service from the time I was in college," he said. "I was really inspired by really great political figures when I was young."
Aguirre's zest for public service was reinforced in 1993, when he defended Cesar E. Chavez in a case pitting farm workers against a large grower conglomerate. He moved to Yuma, Ariz., for several weeks, eventually winning the case on appeal.
Aguirre isn't completely disappointed with City Hall. He's quick to praise many employees, including the newly installed city auditor and city clerk. He also has high regard for his staff, saying they've accomplished more than several highly paid outside consultants, whose investigations he terms as "whitewashes."
"The most important thing is we break the culture of secrecy, and we re-establish the culture of integrity within the city," he said. "We're headed for a real showdown. There's a huge conflict right now in San Diego between the forces of reform and the forces of cover-up in the city. And it's become clearer and clearer." 21 line up to run for District 2, 11 in District 8
By CLAYTON WORFOLK, The Daily Transcript, August 5, 2005
Twenty-one people have pulled nomination papers to run in a special election for the San Diego City Council seat vacated by former Councilman Michael Zucchet and eleven have taken out papers to run for the seat vacated by former Councilman Ralph Inzunza.
In District 2, Zucchet's former jurisdiction, candidates include small business owner Richard Agee; designer, teacher and small business owner Kathleen Blavatt; writer and manager Carolyn Chase; student Anthony Di Leva; teacher Tom Eaton; public affairs businessman Kevin Faulconer; environmental attorney Lorena Gonzalez; security professional and Web designer Robert E. Lee; attorney George Richard Najjar; and retired professor and civic activist Ian Trowbridge. Dave Baldwin, of the Navy; advocate David Diehl; retired CEO Greg Finley; realtor Phil Meinhardt and state deputy attorney general Pat Zaharopoulos pulled their nominations on Wednesday. On Thursday, apartment manager James Joaquin Morrison, business owner William E. O'Connor, attorney Timothy C. Rutherford, retiree Arthur Salzberg Law clerk Matthew Huchmala, and teacher, businessman and San Diego Community College District trustee Rich Grosch took out papers.
In District 8, Inzunza's former jurisdiction, the candidates are Luis Acle, president of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education; business owner Richard Amador Babcock; educator Remigia (Remy) Bermudez; attorney Dan Coffey; notary public Tim Gomez; program manager Ben Hueso; Webmaster Lincoln Pickard; and chef John F. Quesnel, Jr. Businessman David Gomez, communications analyst Matthew Moncayo and environmental engineer Kathy Vandenheuvel pulled papers on Wednesday.
Both seats were vacated in July after Zucchet and Inzunza were convicted of felonies including conspiracy, extortion and fraud.
The deadline for candidates to file completed papers with the city clerk is Aug. 12. Candidates must first collect 100 signatures in their district and pay a filing fee of $200, or collect 900 signatures to pay no filing fee. Write-in candidates must file by Oct. 25.
The primary election for the open seats will be held on November 8, coinciding with the mayoral runoff election and the statewide special election.
Winners in both district races may be elected if they receive a majority of the votes cast. Otherwise, the race will go to a runoff election, the date of which has not yet been decided. The routine primary election for Districts 2, 4, 6 and 8 will be held in June 2006, and runoffs will be held in November of that year.
District 2 serves Pacific Beach, Point Loma and the downtown area, while District 8 covers Logan Heights, Otay Mesa and San Ysidro.
Herring resigns, cites council's unwillingness to provide defense
By KEVIN CHRISTENSEN, The Daily Transcript, August 4, 2005
Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring tendered his resignation <http://www.sddt.com/images/news/2005/08/04/herring-resignation.pdf> Thursday, citing a City Council decision not to provide a legal defense in a recent lawsuit.
While some in the city hailed Herring as an asset to the city, others said his resignation could help the city overcome legal obstacles on the horizon, specifically the investigation and potential penalties from the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A 30-year veteran of City Hall, Herring played a role in completing projects that have been hailed as successes, including Super Bowls held in the city, the Convention Center expansion project and the formation of the Downtown Ballpark Redevelopment Project.
"The timing of this decision is a direct reaction to the disappointing City Council decision to not provide a legal defense for former and current officials including myself," Herring wrote in the letter, dated Aug. 4.
Herring was one of eight city employees named by City Attorney Michael Aguirre in a lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court.
The suit seeks to roll back the retirement benefits granted in the pair of Manager's Proposal deals and also carries the potential for some individual financial liability for the defendants.
A Monday council vote to provide defense for city employees named in the suit failed 4-to-2, with council members Brian Maienschein and Donna Frye opposed. An item needs five votes to pass.
Herring, whose retirement will take effect Sept. 2, was not available for comment.
Mayor pro tem Toni Atkins did not comment on Herring's resignation, but said the legal defense decision could leave other city employees wondering what to think.
"They will wonder if they will be left out there if something comes up," Atkins said.
City Manager Lamont Ewell, in a prepared released, said "Herring's services will be deeply missed."
Despite the role he played in such projects as attracting U.S. Open golf tournament, Herring's legacy may be smeared by the city's financial decline that occurred during his tenure.
Herring sat in on closed session presentations to the City Council of financial information used in bond offerings and audits.
This information is now the focus of an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to some securities lawyers, the removal of top-level officials may help the city deal with the SEC and avoid stiffer penalties, said Dennis Stubblefield, a San Diego-based securities lawyer and former-enforcement attorney for the SEC.
"The more people out of there that were wrongdoers, suspected wrongdoers, or close to wrongdoers, the easier the SEC will be," Stubblefield said. "It might very well help."
Jonathan Schwartz, a Los Angeles attorney and former SEC prosecutor, said Herring's involvement in meetings may land him on a defendants list in potential action taken by the SEC.
"Anybody who might be responsible for providing that information might have their name as a defendant," Schwartz said.
Herring, also a former trustee of the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System, voted to approve the now infamous Manager's Proposal I agreement in 1996, a large contributor to the city's current pension deficit, estimated at more than $1.37 billion.
The deal allowed the city to underfund the pension system while boosting a series of benefits to retirees including the installment of the controversial Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) and increasing the retirement multiplier, amongst others.
In 2002, Herring was also a chief adviser to the city's labor negotiating team that helped in drafting the Manager's Proposal II.
This deal, between the City Council and the board of the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System, continued the city's underfunding to the pension while further boosting retirement benefits.
Herring will receive an annual pension of about $144,000 and is scheduled to receive an additional $300,000 from his enrollment in the DROP program.
Rebecca Wilson, communications director for the city's retirement system, said that because Herring has "leave time" on the books, that DROP amount will rise, reaching as much as $350,000.
Herring is one of a slate of top-level city officials that have retired or resigned from their posts since the SEC and the U.S. Attorney began their investigations.
Former Auditor and Comptroller Ed Ryan and former City Manager Michael Uberuaga retired last year.
Former acting Auditor and Comptroller Terri Webster, former Human Resources Director Cathy Lexin and former Treasurer Mary Vattimo have all resigned from their positions at the city.
Lawrence Grissom, administrator of the retirement system, also announced his retirement last week, which will take effect Dec. 31.
Aguirre said in an interview that the resignations are a start, but others must also be removed. Specifically, he said that City Manager Ewell must also go.
"The people that caused the problems cannot be the ones that fix them," Aguirre said.
Ewell, in a Thursday appearance on a KOGO 600 radio show, said he would only leave if the mayor pro tem and the City Council make the request.
Sanders unveils 'recovery group'; Frye reminded of Murphy
By KEVIN CHRISTENSEN, The Daily Transcript, August 8, 2005
Mayoral candidate Jerry Sanders has assembled a 15-member "City Hall Reorganization and Recovery Group" to assist in designing solutions for the city's growing financial and political woes.
Standing in front of City Hall on Tuesday, Sanders, a former police chief, told reporters the recovery group will be meeting weekly over the next four months to discuss issues including pension solutions, management structure, potential budget savings and the transition to the strong mayor form of government.
"The people of San Diego deserve a plan," he said. "They deserve more than campaign sound bites."
Sanders will face off against Councilwoman Donna Frye in the Nov. 8 runoff election.
Frye called Sanders' plan "governance by committee" similar to the methods used by former Mayor Dick Murphy, who left office July 15.
"The Dick Murphy model of governing by committee is not my style," she said. "I don't have problems making tough decisions by myself."
She noted that a plan for the transition to the strong mayor of government is already on her Web site.
Sanders said his recovery group will compile information that will be periodically released to the general public in a format similar to white papers.
He could give no time frame on when or how many of the reports would be released.
"It's hard to nail anything down because most of these people still have real jobs," Sanders said in an interview.
None of the team members have agreed to join Sanders' permanent staff if he is elected. Part of the team's goals, however, will be to identify and help recruit people to fill those positions.
Sanders also noted that these individuals' agreement to assist in developing solutions does not translate to endorsements, Sanders said.
April Boling, one of the transition members and former chair of the Pension Reform Committee, said she will likely not officially endorse.
"I have not endorsed Jerry Sanders, but I would not have agreed to help on this project if I didn't believe he would make a good mayor," said Boling, a local accountant, former chair of the San Diego County Taxpayers' Association.
Boling added that she would also assist Frye if asked.
Peter Q. Davis, a member of the team and former chair of the San Diego Port Commission, echoed Boling's sentiments.
"I consider Donna a friend," said Davis, a banking executive. "I'd come out and help her, too."
In a press conference the day after advancing to the runoff election after a contentious 11-candidate primary, Sanders said he was the "outsider" in the election.
Some of the transition members, however, have also been involved in city government and helped other city officials win elections.
Boling served as a campaign treasurer for former Mayor Dick Murphy; Davis served on the port and as chair of the Centre City Development Corp.; team member Benjamin Dillingham served as chief of staff to former Mayor Maureen O'Connor; and Lani Luntar served as campaign manager for Councilman Scott Peters.
"You have to have some insiders that have a good functional knowledge of how the city works," Sanders said.
Members of Sanders' team also include Ronne Froman, a retired rear admiral for the U.S. Navy; Marilyn Creson Brown, former director of the Copley Press; Walt Ekard, chief administration officer for San Diego County; and Alexis Gutierrez, a labor and employment law attorney for Higgs, Fletcher, & Mack LLP.
Additional members of Sanders' team include Peter Hekman, retired vice admiral for the U.S. Navy; Lawrence Hinman, director of the Values Institute and professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego; and Vincent Mudd, president and owner of San Diego Office Interiors.
More team members include Garry Ridge, president and CEO of WD-40; Glen Sparrow, retired professor of public administration at San Diego State University; Deanna Sphen, a neighborhood activist; and Gerald Trimble, a real estate economist for Keyser Marston and Associates.
Sanders also "encouraged" Frye to announce her list of recovery group members.
Frye said she has been consulting with Diann Shipione, a former pension trustee and financial executive, and her husband Pat Shea, a local attorney who ran and lost in the mayoral primary on the platform that the city needs to enter into a Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
"I am already working on this, rather than waiting 'til November to come back to governance by committee," Frye said.Frye, Sanders begin contentious battle for mayor
By KEVIN CHRISTENSEN, The Daily Transcript, July 27, 2005
Excerpt: On the first day of campaigning for the Nov. 8 run-off election between Councilwoman Donna Frye and former Police Chief Jerry Sanders, both candidates came out swinging, touting their past accomplishments and dubbing each other the "politics as usual" candidate.
Frye and Sanders took first and second place in the July 26 primary, moving them into a head-to-head election, and neither wasted any time rallying their supporters to let them know that a political fight has just begun.
Standing in her mid-city campaign headquarters on Wednesday morning, Frye told reporters that she had consistently demonstrated the kind of open government advocacy and honesty that can lead the city out of its current financial and potential legal troubles.
"I am the only candidate that has been in the hot seat at City Hall and has had to make the tough decisions, actually had to vote and make a decision with all of the pressures," Frye said. "I am the only candidate who spoke out against the culture of secrecy, against politics as usual, against the backroom deals."
Frye touted her leadership abilities by pointing to her sole dissenting vote against underfunding the pension in November 2002 and her efforts to change council rules by boycotting closed-session meetings. She also publicized her efforts to make government records more accessible and to keep non-agenda public comment.
"I'm tired of the politics of usual. I'm sick. I've had it and I believe the public has as well," Frye said. "It's time to move forward. It's time to fix the pension mess, restore our city's good name, and I have the leadership."
Sanders held his own meeting shortly thereafter at his Hillcrest campaign headquarters, and told reporters that his leadership in turning around the San Diego Police Department, the local chapters of the United Way and the Red Cross are what the city needs.
"Who has the experience and ability to solve the problems at City Hall?" Sanders asked. "Who will bring in a team of outsiders, the best and the brightest, to clean house at City Hall?"
Sanders also blasted Frye's position as a City Councilmember for the last four years, saying she is partially responsible for the city's financial decline.
"Donna is an experienced politician, and for the last four years she has been a member of the City Council that's mismanaged the taxpayer's money and lost the public trust," Sanders said. "She must accept responsibility for what she's done as a member of that City Council."
Sanders has also said Frye has failed to offer solutions to fix the pension problem.
"She hasn't done it," Sanders said. "Our city is in serious trouble. We can't afford the politics as usual."
On Tuesday, both candidates cleared the first hurdle in the primary election where Frye easily advanced with 104,872 votes, or 43.32 percent of the total turnout.
"I'm thrilled," Frye said in an interview late on Tuesday night. "It feels good to feel good."
Sanders, on the other hand, finished about 4 points ahead of health care executive Steve Francis.Zucchet resigns; Council grapples with election consolidation issue
By KEVIN CHRISTENSEN, The Daily Transcript, July 19, 2005
Excerpt: Just one day after a court convicted acting mayor Michael Zucchet and Councilman Ralph Inzunza of several federal charges, the buzz around City Hall focused on the election to replace them.
The issue hot on politicos' minds is how to consolidate two council district elections with the statewide election on Nov. 8. Cash-strapped City Hall could face another $600,000 for each primary election and run-off, respectively.
Zucchet appeared at City Hall Tuesday evening and told reporters, friends and family members that he will resign from office.
"I believe the special election to replace me should be consolidated," he said with a shaky voice. "Stepping down now will allow that to happen."
Council members have also called for the resignation of Inzunza, who is currently suspended from completing any work or using office equipment.Lack of mandate, mounting woes turned the tide
By KEVIN CHRISTENSEN, The Daily Transcript, July 14, 2005
Excerpt: Mayor Dick Murphy's impressive accomplishments in politics and life were based on his most visible principles of patience and persistence, which proved to be the same characteristics that paved the road to his untimely political demise. The tale is fraught with enough irony to make Sophocles jealous.
Most interested parties in City Hall politics will agree that Mayor Murphy's resignation in April was the right move for the city for one simple reason: his skill set was just not right for the job.
Murphy entered City Hall after years of fractured city government. For the first four years in office, he issued a plan that included 10 Goals, thereby laying a clear idea of where the city was headed.Shipione says no to board
San Diego Daily Transcript, July 13, 2005
Excerpt: Former pension trustee Diann Shipione said she will not accept an appointment to the San Diego City Employees' Retirement System because the system is "broken" and "beyond repair."
Shipione was responding to a series of nominations made by Council members Jim Madaffer and Donna Frye following the Tuesday resignation from the board by Thomas King.
Shipione told reporters Wednesday that the system is irreparable and needs to be put in the hands of a court-appointed receiver or needs to go through a Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
Shipione was the lead whistleblower in 2002 alerting the city to a growing deficit in the city's pension system, currently is estimated at more than $1.37 billion. She also urged the City Council to oppose a series of retirement benefit increases while the pension system was underfunded.
Frye, a candidate for the July 26 mayoral election, was the sole elected official to vote against the increase at the council vote.Top Cop's Problem Pal
By Matt Potter and Don Bauder, June 30, 2005
Gerald R. "Jerry" Sanders and William Robert "Bob" Bradley are friends and business associates. Each faces problems. Sanders's potential woes are voluntary: he wants to be mayor of a financially ailing city, San Diego. Bradley's are involuntary: he is fighting charges that he skimmed money from a troubled company he co-founded, Metabolife International, and stashed the loot in offshore tax havens.
Both Sanders, San Diego's ex-chief of police, and Bradley, a onetime tow-truck operator, own 10 percent of a small venture capital firm, Virtual Capital of California. Until he went on leave to run for mayor last month, Sanders was president of Virtual.
Sanders's campaign website advertises that he has honed his executive skills in the private sector by nurturing high-tech startups and developing homeland security technology. He has boasted of his positions as president and chief operating officer of Virtual, such as when he is listed with Chargers Champions, a so-called leadership team for the footballers, including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's Jessie J. Knight Jr., former schools superintendent Alan Bersin, Economic Development Corp. president Julie Meier-Wright, and the team's Dean Spanos.
Headquartered in downtown's Symphony Towers, the firm was set up in 2000 to search for promising technologies to license and commercialize. But reality has fallen far short of the promise: more than five years after it was founded, Virtual has yet to close one single licensing deal and has never made money.
If that's not bad enough news for Sanders, being remotely connected with a player in one of San Diego's juiciest drug, tax, and business scandals can't be helpful to a politician who would be mayor. Although he blasts city hall's "culture of secrecy" and calls for "increased accountability" and "transparent government," Sanders refused to be interviewed for this story.
For his part, Bradley has maintained a low profile. "I've heard through the grapevine that Bob isn't happy with the investment," says local banker and entrepreneur Tom Stickel, Virtual's founder and Sanders's best friend. Stickel says he doesn't even have a current phone number or address for Bradley who by all accounts made a massive fortune from his role in Metabolife.
After initially prospering, Metabolife later got in legal hot water for selling a diet pill containing ephedra and then allegedly lying about the number of complaints the company had received about the drug's dangerous side effects.
The troubles go back decades, rooted in the criminal drug-making histories of Metabolife's other two founders. In late 1988, Mike Ellis, an ex-National City cop, and Mike Blevins had been busted for making methamphetamine at a Rancho Santa Fe residence.
Blevins, who had a criminal record including drug offenses and battery against a police officer in 1973, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison. Because he cooperated with authorities, Ellis got five years of probation.
The company and its product went through several permutations, and in 1995, Metabolife began selling a diet pill containing ephedra and caffeine. Ellis was president, Blevins vice president, and Bradley chief executive officer.
Stickel, who says he raised the money to finance Virtual, says he met Bradley through Sheriff Bill Kolender, former police chief and now a backer of Sanders's mayoral bid. According to Stickel, Sanders became friendly with Bradley from his days as a cop. One reason for the chumminess is that Bradley formerly owned Bradley's Towing, says Stickel. Police get to know towing companies.
Contacted by telephone late last week, Kolender declined to be interviewed but sent word through Glenn Revell, a captain in the sheriff's department, that he can't remember introducing Stickel to Bradley, although he does recall meeting Bradley at a social function several years ago, and he knew his father when he ran Bradley's Towing.
Kolender doesn't know anything about Virtual Capital and can't specifically remember meeting Blevins and Ellis, though he is aware of Metabolife's problems, according to Revell.
Stickel launched Virtual in 2000. Torrey Pines-based Titan Corp., then calling itself an incubator of high-tech firms, "wanted access to technology information being developed by the University of California," says Stickel. Titan chipped in some of its stock for 10 percent of Virtual's original capitalization.
Stickel used that as collateral for loans and set out to have a venture capital fund that would exploit U-Cal-developed technologies. He brought in investors such as Dr. John Littlejohn of Colorado Springs (10 percent), Richard Torykian of Wall Street's Lazard Freres (20 percent), Irvine's Les P. Barkley (5 percent), and V. Wayne Kennedy, retired senior vice president of business and finance of the U-Cal system (10 percent). Stickel has 25 percent, and Jonathon Vance, former chief financial officer, has 1 percent.
But shortly after Virtual got off the ground, the dot-com and NASDAQ bubbles burst. With a war looming and tech no longer titillating Wall Street, Titan went back to being almost entirely in the defense business. "Titan lost interest but is still an investor," says Stickel.
In August of 2002, Sanders resigned as chief executive officer of United Way of San Diego and joined Virtual as president with ten percent ownership. Two months later, Bradley put his money in the pot through a Las Vegas real estate transaction.
As his investment, Bradley put up a piece of property in Las Vegas. "I looked at the property; it was a great piece of property," says Stickel, who believes Bradley had paid $2.2 million for it. Stickel tried to borrow against the land unsuccessfully and later sold it for $1.8 million in cash.
Bradley's investment came three years after word of Metabolife's founders' criminal pasts hit the headlines but preceded the November 23, 2003, Reader revelation that an Internal Revenue Service investigator filed an affidavit charging that Bradley had skimmed money from both Metabolife and the towing company, had stashed money in offshore tax havens, had kept two "off-the-books" accounts at a bank, cheated on his taxes, kept a million bucks in cash in his home, and took kickbacks from Metabolife's ad agency, among other things. According to the affidavit, Ellis and Blevins participated in similar activity.
When that news hit, Stickel says he went to his attorney "to make sure everything was right" with Bradley's investment in Virtual. He was satisfied that it was. Had he known about the affidavit when he took Bradley's investment, he still would have gone ahead. "I am not anti-Bob Bradley," says Stickel. "He hasn't been charged and convicted. If he gets that, I will have a different opinion." Both he and Littlejohn say Bradley is a passive investor who doesn't participate in meetings or telephone strategy sessions.
Overall for Virtual, "There are a certain set of investment goals we have not been able to reach at this point," says Littlejohn, a scientist and venture capitalist, pointing to "a dribble of success."
"It's a very good idea, but ideas take time to develop," says Vance, who has left Virtual to join the San Diego office of Avondale Partners, an investment-banking firm.
Virtual is now pushing one idea: a device that can run over a bridge "and, like an X-ray, tell if there are structural problems," says Stickel. It was developed at U-Cal's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Virtual's scorecard since 2000: "Investors haven't made or lost anything," says Stickel.
According to the statement of economic interest that Sanders filed upon becoming a candidate, his Virtual stake is worth between $10,000 and $100,000, and he received less than $500 from the venture during the last year.
It's been more of a roller coaster ride for Bradley, Ellis, and Blevins.
Last year Ellis and Metabolife were indicted for making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration in attempting to cover up 14,000 complaints (including heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and deaths) between 1997 and 2002. The next court hearing is in September. The food and drug agency banned ephedra last year, but a federal judge in Utah overturned the ban this April. That matter is up in the air.
Metabolife, selling its products through multilevel marketing -- a variation on a pyramid scheme -- chalked up $1 billion in sales in 1999 but is now down to a shadow of its former self as it fights civil lawsuits that could break it. According to papers on file in Bradley's pending divorce, his second, Metabolife could be sold.
The Metabolife saga began in the fall of 1988. "On or about June 30, 1988, an anonymous caller advised that Mike Blevins, who is believed to have been involved with Colombian cocaine traffickers, has recently moved to San Diego from the San Francisco area and is currently living with Mike Ellis" in a San Diego-area condo, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter Shepp wrote in an affidavit dated October 27, 1988.
Soon, the FBI swooped down and busted Blevins and Ellis on charges of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine. The agents said they found lab equipment and chemicals capable of manufacturing 50 pounds of meth.
Internal Revenue Service agent Thomas Fox reported that during a search of a home that Ellis and Blevins had rented, there was an address book with phone numbers of drug figures including that of Chicago mobster Sam Sarcinelli.
Once behind bars, Blevins began to help the feds, using his extensive knowledge of the West Coast's drug underground. "Mr. Blevins has been very cooperative with law enforcement since his first arrest," wrote U.S. Marshall James J. Molinari in a November 1995 pitch for clemency on Blevins's behalf.
"I came in contact with Blevins in 1989 while commanding the Narcotics Division of the San Francisco Police Department," wrote Molinari. "Mr. Blevins provided information and assistance that led to the dismantling of a major drug-trafficking network operating in the San Francisco Bay Area."
After Blevins got out of prison and Ellis completed his probation, a federal judge in San Diego allowed them to resume working together and agreed to seal their records. The result was the new Metabolife miracle pill.
Millions of dollars poured into the company as desperate dieters lined up at mall kiosks across the country to plunk down $50 or more for the ephedra-laden elixir. According to the divorce papers, Bradley was making $30 million a year.
In San Diego, Padres announcer Ted Leitner extolled Metabolife's virtues over the airwaves. The company courted the Beautiful People: on July 25, 2000 -- 14 months after news of the founders' criminal pasts had surfaced -- Metabolife, Qualcomm, Wells Fargo, John and Becky Moores, the Padres, and Alliance Pharmaceuticals sponsored a charity dinner at the Hyatt Regency that a Union-Tribune society writer called "a love-fest." Bradley was a celebrity guest.
The company also gave to politicians. But complaints of ill effects piled up. The Food and Drug Administration began looking into ephedra's safety. Metabolife was hit with lawsuits. On July 2, 2002, agents of the Internal Revenue Service raided the office of a former Metabolife outside accountant, Michael Compton. They raided Blevins's Rancho Santa Fe home.
An affidavit filed three days later by IRS agent Thomas Martinez charged that Bradley, Ellis, and Blevins were siphoning money out of Metabolife and evading taxes through offshore trusts. Bradley appeared to be the main helmsman steering the money headed offshore, according to the affidavit, which charged that Metabolife failed to account for $93.7 million in deposits between 1996 and 1999 in its corporate tax returns.
According to the affidavit, former employees, including a chief financial officer, charged that during 1997 and 1998, "Ellis, Bradley, and Blevins were skimming large amounts of cash from the operations [before the cash receipts were deposited into the corporation's bank accounts]. [The former CFO] explained that the three principals were able to siphon off the cash because the company's accounting was closely controlled by Bradley."
Jeff Anderman, the former CFO, "added that Bradley had bragged about setting up a bank account in Switzerland to hide the cash skimmed from the corporation." Anderman "stated that Ellis, Bradley, and Blevins believed they could make money untraceable by using a web of limited liability corporations set up by the owners."
A footnote added, "Amazingly, Metabolife's banking statements were sent not to corporate headquarters but directly to Bradley's personal residence. This practice continued up to and including January 1999. Subsequently, the statements were sent to Metabolife corporate headquarters."
A former in-house counsel named Ken Dix said that the three founders skimmed cash from the will-call counter, according to the affidavit. Dix said Ellis and Bradley paid for their houses and other items with cash. "According to Dix, Bradley hated to pay taxes, and Metabolife maintained multiple sets of books to disguise its true financial activities. Dix also stated that all three owners had offshore bank accounts -- Bradley in Switzerland and Ellis and Blevins in the Cayman Islands."
Compton, who committed suicide in late 2003, told one person "that he had prepared Bradley's personal and business tax returns. These returns included Bradley's Towing, Inc. -- a towing company located at 6980 Mission Gorge Road #C, San Diego, CA. According to Compton, Bradley was also skimming large amounts of cash that he received through the sale of cars by Bradley's Towing."
According to the affidavit, Compton told Anderman that Bradley was skimming cash from the towing business and that it was not declared for tax purposes.
˜Compton asked a lawyer if he would have criminal liability "based on his knowingly preparing corporate tax returns which did not reveal all of the cash received by either Metabolife or Bradley's Towing," according to the affidavit. The lawyer said he might.
"A review of information from the Treasury Enforcement Computer System reveals that both Bradley and Ellis did, in fact, travel to the Cayman Islands in December 1997," says the affidavit. "These records show that Bradley traveled to Europe in November 1998."
The Internal Revenue Service hasn't made an official charge on the alleged financial finaglings of Bradley, Ellis, and Blevins. The affidavit is the only document it has released publicly.
In current divorce proceedings, Bradley's wife, Beatriz L. Bradley, is zeroing in on his real estate holdings and other investments, including Virtual Capital.
An aide to Beatriz Bradley's lawyer says that she is being denied access to Metabolife's books and records, as well as Bradley's personal accounts. Income-producing assets, such as rentals, are being sold. Real estate has been transferred to C corporations, or corporations whose profits are taxed separate from their owners. This means that the corporation would get the income and not Bradley, says the aide.
She says it is impossible to understand Bradley's income without analyzing books and records of Metabolife and the Bradley Foundation. "We also understand the IRS seized a great deal of records from both Metabolife and Mr. Bradley personally," says the aide. "Mr. Bradley also has many trusts and has an ownership and/or financial interest in at least five foreign corporations. I personally feel that I may never get complete access or cooperation relating to Mr. Bradley's financial affairs."
Accountant Jean Goddard, doing work for his wife's attorney, noted that expenses had been blacked out in certain personal banking records. She was told that certain foreign trusts were no longer active. She expressed skepticism.
Goddard, on behalf of Mrs. Bradley's attorney, was doing the due diligence that Virtual Capital should have done.
As Campaign Trail Widens, Personalities and Plans Emerge
By ANDREW DONOHUE, Voice Political Writer, June 30, 2005
Voters go to the polls to make one of the most important decisions in San Diego's history in less than four weeks, and they've just begun to get to know many of the candidates.
As the troupe of mayoral hopefuls scampers across town for the rapid-fire series of debates, interviews and television spots in this rushed election cycle, subtleties in style and substance have emerged between a group that includes an environmentalist, a former police chief, a CEO, a motorcycle dealer, a taxpayer activist and a bankruptcy attorney.
Eleven candidates officially qualified for the ballot at the end of May in the wake of Mayor Dick Murphy's announced resignation. Of those, slightly more than half have put together effective public information campaigns.
One of them will be given the duty, be it in July or November, of extracting the nation's seventh largest city from the murkiest of financial and legal muck.
The two frontrunners in the month-old campaign, Councilwoman Donna Frye and former police chief Jerry Sanders, take precise care in their speeches to remind crowds that they don't merely need to trust them. Instead, both have begun saying lately, the public already knows them and their records: Frye as the maverick councilwoman who rarely voted with a City Council largely blamed on the campaign trail for today's messes, and Sanders as the former patrolman who made decisions that affected San Diegans every day as chief.
The rest of the candidates went into the debate cycle weeks ago dealing with a lack of name recognition, lack of money to get their name known, or both. In the numerous debates over the course of the last two weeks -- including two separate debates Wednesday before retired city workers and a downtown business group -- each has forged a specific identity, leaving San Diegans to find stark enough contrasts in the personas of their candidates, if not in most of the financial plans.
Since kicking off his campaign with a bizarre press conference in which he initially refused to answer basic questions from reporters standing only inches from him, Francis has since found his footing with the help of a $455,000 television ad campaign and the controversial endorsement of the Republican Party of San Diego County.
Francis also appeared calm and comfortable this week in debates after coming across as slightly tense and formulaic in the first gatherings. The founder of AMN Healthcare, Inc., a large provider of temporary health care staffing, Francis came into the debates as the candidate with the least experience dealing in local politics, and it showed as he often tripped his way through specifics.
However, the immaculately coiffed Francis grasped issues and arguments more strongly this week as his popularity rose in polls following the media blitz.
He at times quotes a plaque from Ronald Reagan's desk and brings a simple message: He's a businessman and an outsider. It's a mantra repeated time and again in nearly every answer he gives.
"We're going to need someone with business experience, someone from the outside," Francis told retirees at the War Memorial Building in Balboa Park yesterday.
The 50-year-old former Nevada state legislator is consistent in his repeated message, though he continued to answer some specific questions with answers that were more or less unrelated.
For example, when asked by the moderator at the Downtown Partnership's debate about how he would deal with three public projects downtown, Francis reverted back to criticism of the City Council. Relying on one of his frequent campaign lines, he accused members of "mortgaging our future for short-term political gain."
And while Francis can boast a successful business career, his claim that he is an outsider without ties to the "nest of special interests at City Hall" raises doubts in some who refer to his ties to hotelier Doug Manchester, someone who has also used his independent wealth throughout the years to influence municipal decisions.
Francis, who has spent $750,000 of his own money on the campaign, is one of the few candidates to promise not to use Chapter 9 municipal bankruptcy to reorganize the city's finances.
Frye's campaign is an oddity: a grassroots frontrunner who will struggle to raise enough money to do television ads. She's also the most well-known candidate, so there has been less to learn about Frye's personality in the debates.
In some debates, she has surprisingly read off of a prepared script for her opening or closing statement. Frye is the only candidate to advocate placing the pension system in receivership, a method she and others believe may be the only way to get the pension board to release documents sought by the city's outside auditors and federal investigators.
Frye, who became somewhat of a national celebrity last year after her near-victory in the fall mayoral election, has also repeatedly pounded home one of her key campaign pillars: open and transparent government.
One of the biggest challenges for Frye, however, is shaking off the perception that she is unfriendly to the business community and not suited for the job of vast fiscal reform.
"I think part of your fear is that you don't know me," she said to the group of downtown business interests Wednesday. "And to know me is to love me."
Rider's made a quick impression for his wit at the debates -- the debates, that is, that he's been invited to. He's a focused candidate, selling one solution to cure the heart of all of the city's problems: putting city services up for competitive bidding.
In one debate, when two candidates stated that staying in their first marriage for too long was their biggest regret in life, Rider quipped that he better not choose that answer because he is still married.
The anti-tax advocate's plan is based on one implemented in Indianapolis in the 1990s. Rider calls it the "Yellow Pages Test." If there's a company providing services that the city provides, he wants to pit city workers against the private sector to promote efficiency. This will force employees to become more efficient or their departments will become casualties to the free market.
"It's all about getting more bang for your buck," Rider said.
One of his key struggles will be just getting into all of the debates. The libertarian hasn't been invited to a number of the debates, including the kick-off debate held by the Lincoln Club of San Diego County. The conservative business group didn't invite Rider, he said, because he was "too Republican" for them.
He also admits that he's not a visionary who will never get reelected.
"My popularity will start low and end up even lower, I suspect," he said.
Then, there's the nasty side of privatization that arose in Indianapolis, allegations of waste, mismanagement and scandal -- a private version of today's public San Diego.
On stage, the former police chief has come across as the kind of guy with whom it would be fun to sit down and guzzle a beer after work.
His competition has poked fun at him for the slow-trickle release of his financial plan, which has come out gradually since May in five chapters and given him lots of free media time. When pressed on specific financial measurements of the plan, the grandfatherly Sanders has said that he will need to get into the mayor's office and open up the books before being able to calculate the savings. He has been measured, relaxed and funny in the debates.
He told retirees Wednesday that the solution to the city's financial plan won't be easy: "There is going to be pain for everybody and I'm sorry."
Sanders, a former patrolman who has attracted the support of the city's downtown business establishment, banks on a public trust built over six years as police chief and his experience in turning around two nonprofit agencies.
"Trust my record, trust my 26 years on the police department," Sanders said.
Shea, one of the lead attorneys in the Orange County bankruptcy of the 1990s, says the stars are aligned for him: The city has a pension problem, no one knows more about the pension than his wife, Diann Shipione, the pension whistleblower; he's an expert in structured finance; and the new strong-mayor form of government that begins in January would allow him to devote all of his time to fixing the city's ills. Through bankruptcy.
Shea's still working on getting people to see past the word and actually look into the process, which he makes sound pretty great.
"If this were called basketball or eating a sandwich, you people would jump all over this," Shea said at a debate last week.
He's got low name identification outside of the civic community, and he's got a campaign that's built on one specific, in-depth financial program. It's no frills, slogans or catch phrases.
None of the other financial plans will work, Shea says. So, San Diego can go through the bankruptcy process now and protect its assets or go through it in five years once its sold its land and raised taxes.
"I'm not here to throw candy off the fire truck at the Ocean Beach parade This is about doing the structural finance work that gets us back out in our lifetime," he said. "We don't need to do this for the next 18 years. We can do it in a year or a year and a half."
The Harley-Davidson dealer has established his personality quickly, and it's all New York bravado, ponytail and biker bar. He's also focused on issues that aren't traditional issues for the mayor and that no other candidate appears concerned about: border security and saving the Mt. Soledad Cross.
Shelby, who like Rider doesn't get invited to all the debates, is airing television ads and is already known by many from other political campaigns and ads for his dealership.
His messages, despite being forcefully delivered, have varied. He's called the city's living wage ordinance a fraud and a welfare program, but he's also been the most sensitive toward city employees on the campaign trail. Shelby has called for San Diegans to feel good and optimistic about their city, but warned them that illegal aliens and terrorists are ominous threats because of mayoral neglect of border security.
"I think instilling confidence in the people of San Diego is our number one job," he said. Three councilmembers given negative ratings in poll
By ERIK PISOR, The Daily Transcript, June 13, 2005
According to a Datamar survey that reported on the mayoral candidates and the city council, 47 percent of those surveyed said they think the mayor and council have committed a crime regarding the pension scandal.
The poll also measured how strongly respondents felt about recalling their council representative.
Councilmembers Inzunza and Zucchett had the highest percentage for recall, with Inzunza at 55 percent and Zucchet at 48 percent. Scott Peters was third with 24 percent followed by Toni Atkins and Tony Young at 23 percent each. In addition, 20 percent of voters said Maienschein should be recalled, while 15 percent said Frye should and 14 percent said Madaffer should.
The survey also reported how voters in specific districts rated their councilmember. Three councilmembers received a negative rating, which is approval rating minus disproval rating. Peters, District 1, received a ˆ5 rating; Zucchet, District 2, received a ˆ49 rating; Inzunza, District 8, received a ˆ43 rating.
The councilmembers with a positive rating were Maienschein, District 5, with a 25 rating; Young, District 4, 18 rating; Madaffer, District 7, 16 rating, Atkins, District 3, 14 rating; Frye, District 6, 13 rating.
The survey was based on a random sample of 1,042 San Diego registered voters. San
Diego City Council OK's new members of pension board
Critics assail exclusion
of whistleblower Shipione
KEVIN CHRISTENSEN, The Daily Transcript, March 14, 2005
The San Diego
City Council approved the appointment of seven new members to the San Diego City
Employees Retirement System Monday despite public criticism over the exclusion
of a key member.
Pension Trustee Diann Shipione, a key whistleblower who
notified the city of the $1.37 billion deficit in the pension, was not reappointed
despite requests from three City Council members.
"You will notice that
these are seven new board members, I did not reappoint any of the existing retirement
board members," said Mayor Dick Murphy. "It is not meant to necessarily
be a reflection on them, I just felt that we needed to have a fresh start."
nomination of the new board members was given considerable publicity after two
members suddenly dropped out of consideration and City Attorney Michael Aguirre
said that proposed members would undergo background reviews by members of his
The seven new appointees will take their new positions April 1, thanks
to the passage of Proposition H on Nov. 2. The measure set new standards for board
members, including extensive educational and professional experience in finance
The council voted eight to zero, with Councilwoman Donna Frye
Toni Atkins requested - but was denied -- a continuance until Tuesday
to allow Frye, a vocal Shipione supporter, to vote.
"I do not support
doing that," Murphy said.
The ensuing public testimony was split evenly
between community members impassioned about the reappointment of Shipione and
business organizations satisfied with the mayor's selections.
of the council discussion, however, was the SDCERS board of administrators' willingness
to waive attorney client and document-privacy privilege.
The City Council requested
the waiver more than a month ago but the board voted not to comply. Since the
board's vote, Aguirre has repeated the need for Murphy to apply political pressure,
urging the release of documents.
Aguirre's requests have added to a contentious
atmosphere in City Hall that has lead to spats of verbal effrontery in the local
media between he and the mayor.
Councilman Scott Peters told appointees that
decisions by the board will have to be made with respect to their fiduciary obligations.
told the new members present, "Each of you pledge, subject to your fiduciary
obligation to the retirement system, to cooperate fully with the city's audit
committee, KPMG, and the federal government."
Peters said he would request
the same of the two members not present.
City Attorney Aguirre, who expressed
frustration over the exclusion of Pension Trustee Shipione, cited concerns that
federal agencies investigating the city could see the action as a step "in
the wrong direction."
Aguirre then put three of the five members present
under a more aggressive line of questioning.
Aguirre asked Ted Roth, Tom Page
and Peter Preovolos if they had completed a public service as commensurate with
"I want to know which one of you can set and has set a higher
standard than Ms. Shipione in serving the interest of the people of San Diego
in a way in which you have demonstrated in your past," Aguirre said.
all had answered "No," Aguirre then asked a series of questions to determine
if documents and the attorney-client privilege held by the SDCERS board would
"Is it your commitment that you will provide to KPMG any and
all documents that they need to complete their audit of the city's finances which
include the SDCERS fund," Aguirre asked.
All three answered they would
not make that determination at this time.
"What you are asking, if I will
waive that privilege," Roth said. "No, I will not make that decision.
will sit as a member of the board and listen to both sides, but I will not predetermine
my decision at this time, and I don't think you should expect me too," Roth
Page and Preovolos gave similar responses.
The seven new appointees
include Roth, Page, Preovolos, Susan Snow, Thomas King, William Sheffler, and
Attorney Casey Gwinn's appointment calendar
March 14, 2005, SAN
DIEGO (AP) - A former San Diego city attorney who left office in December
spent his last two years in office working on domestic-violence issues and devoted
little time to the city's mounting financial problems.
Former City Attorney
Casey Gwinn's appointment calendar for 2003 and 2004, obtained by The San Diego
Union-Tribune, shows that he spent large blocks of time on the San Diego Family
Justice Center. Gwinn is a nationally recognized expert on the issue.
spent hours in meetings and site visits for Camp Hope, a retreat at Lake Sutherland
near Ramona for the center's clients and made 19 trips on domestic-violence issues.
a handful of the visible entries are for meetings with Mayor Dick Murphy or former
City Manager Michael Uberuaga at a time of burgeoning city problems. That largely
reflects how Gwinn ran the office, delegating the task of dealing with the council
largely to deputies.
In all, Gwinn's redacted calendar lists 52 meetings related
to the Family Justice Center, Camp Hope or other domestic-violence issues for
the six months between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2004, when the city's problems were
coming to a head in public.
Gwinn declined several requests for interviews
about his calendar. In an e-mail exchange he said his calendar speaks for itself.
MURPHY BRINGS NEGATIVE IMAGE TO SAN DIEGO IN TIME MAGAZINE STORY MAGAZINE IDENTIFIES MURPHY AS "DISCREDITED"
"Dick Murphy / San Diego 17 APRIL 2005
When he was elected mayor in 2000, Dick Murphy thought he had his hands full dealing with a troubled ballpark project and sewer spills that were shutting down San Diego's beaches. But then Murphy, 62, a state superior court judge, became embroiled in an even bigger mess: a $1.35 billion deficit at the city's public-employee pension fund.
The crisis has so discredited him, he almost lost his job last November to Donna Frye, a last-minute write-in candidate who runs a surf shop. She actually won more votes, but some 5,500 people who wrote in her name failed to shade in an oval box, and the courts ruled the ballots invalid.
It was Murphy's predecessor who first approved underfunding the pension fund. But when a balloon payment became due in 2002, Murphy dodged it by fashioning another underfunding plan, winning the pension board's acceptance with a promise to hike pension payouts and give special benefits to the union presidents. Now the FBI, the U.S. Attorney and the SEC are investigating the deal."
-By Terry McCarthy.With reporting by Jill Underwood/San Diego What
did Mayor Murphy know?
Ron Carrico, San Diego Daily Transcript, Jan. 26, 2005
Sen. Howard Baker's question about Richard Nixon during the famous Watergate Hearings: "What did the mayor know, and when did he know it?" The hearings that
launched a million lawyers.
Although in 1972, Baker was asking the question
about President Nixon's knowledge of illegal activities. Recently, many people
are asking the same question about Mayor Dick Murphy. In fact, the city attorney,
the SEC and FBI are wondering the same thing about Mayor Murphy, the City Council
and other city officials. They want to know what the mayor and other officials
knew about deliberate city pension underfunding and why it was not disclosed to
But there is a lot more. For instance, why did the city incur
even more debt by increasing benefits to union officials in the face of the looming
According to a report published by the city attorney and recent
actions by pension officials, it is beginning to appear that not only did various
city officials know about the pension shortfall, they appear to be actively covering
up the mess.
My last article dealt with Mayor Murphy's Blue Ribbon Commission
on City Finances that was completed in February 2002. The report concluded that
the committee believed there was a shortfall of payments of at least $37 million
from 1997 to 2001. It went on to state that the pension was 97 percent funded
as of the date of the report. These numbers were not even close to accurate.
Thursday, City Attorney Michael Aguirre held a special meeting for citizens and
city employees. Aguirre gave a concise statement of what he had learned so
far. Key points were that city officials supposedly relied on the Blue Ribbon
Commission report to incur bond debt to build the ballpark, when it should have
been clear that the pension assets were in decline and that the city needed to
deposit another $500 million.
To make matters worse, rather than deposit
the money, city and union officials agreed that in exchange for more benefits
for union officials the city would not have to bring the pension fund current.
showed conclusively how the city had failed to deposit the funds necessary to
keep the pension fund at proper levels. But even more amazing (and even more
nefarious) is that the city was apparently taking pension fund profits for use
elsewhere in the city budget.
Aguirre's information suggests that the financial
information used to develop the Blue Ribbon report was false -- and several members
of the committee either knew or should have known. It appears that a number of
city officials might have known something was amiss, judging by how many official
records, letters and e-mails are apparently missing.
Since this all seems to
revolve around the pension plan, there are some questions that many taxpayers
would like answered. First of all, the pension is currently funded at about 67
percent and $1.3 billion short, which indicates to me that the total fund should
be $4.5 billion.
There are about 5,500 retired city employees and around
11,500 current employees. That is a total of 17,000 people the fund will eventually
serve. That is a reserve of over $250,000 per person. Why is that much necessary,
when some of the retirees are elderly and some of the employees haven't worked
Why does the pension fund require a highly paid investment management
firm? Why didn't the managers blow the whistle? What is the difference between
the city of San Diego borrowing money from the fund and failing to put the money
in the fund in the first place? Why doesn't the city pension fund just lend
money to the city to build ballparks or libraries?
With all of this
apparent destroying of records and hiding files by city officials, it appears
some bad things were going on. But why is there only one whistle blower? Isn't
there some code of ethics? Shouldn't we expect complete honesty from city
I have always considered Mayor Murphy to be an honorable man who
came into a situation with problems caused during the Golding administration.
But now I am beginning to wonder.
Maybe it's just that old adage about power
and its corrupting influence. Couple that within billions of dollars in pension
funds, pressure from within and without, and maybe it's understandable that Mayor
Murphy knew a lot more than he wanted to tell us.
With the combined questions
of the FBI, the SEC and our city attorney, we are learning a lot more about San
Diego's political dark side. But the big question for me is: What did Mayor Murphy
know and when did he know it?.What's Going On at City Hall?
By Matt Potte, San Diego Reader, January 6, 2005.
Of all the bad things said about Dick Murphy before 2004, he was never thought to have been a crook. If the word "corruption" was ever associated with his name, it was a small-c kind of corruption: a small favor done for a friend, a redevelopment subsidy approved because it would help the old neighborhood, the benefit of the doubt given to city council colleagues who might have gotten just a bit too chummy with a Mafia-linked strip club owner from Las Vegas. But as the year went on, as the financial clouds darkened around City Hall and city investigators analyzed computer disks using sophisticated software in an effort to retrieve the data that had been erased by persons unknown, there were second thoughts. How could Murphy have made such a mess of it? How long could his defense based on ignorance hold up? full article: www.sdreader.com/php/cover.php?mode=print&id=20050106Aguirre a swearing-in hit, Remarks on city in crisis bring crowd in Golden Hall to its feet
By Matthew T. Hall, UNION-TRIBUNE, Dec.6, 2004
Mayor Dick Murphy, left, stood next to other city council members at the start of the inauguration ceremony at Golden Hall Monday morning. The mayor was emcee for the event but could not be sworn in because the election's certification remains in the courts.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre's first 15 minutes in office Monday was the equivalent of a thunderclap amid the storm of financial problems lashing San Diego.
Characterizing the collision of a billion-dollar pension deficit and ongoing federal investigations into city finances as "the most serious legal and financial crisis in our history," Aguirre said satisfactory answers will come when "a new generation of leadership takes hold of our city government."
His remarks at a swearing-in ceremony followed short speeches from four re-elected City Council members, who focused more on accomplishments and goals than the ongoing problems.
Their speeches drew smatterings of applause, but Aguirre had many of the 700 people at Golden Hall standing when he was done.
San Diego's bleak fiscal condition came to light in January when the city admitted making errors and omissions in its 2002 financial statements. Since then, two Wall Street credit rating agencies have downgraded the city's rating and a third suspended it, crippling San Diego's borrowing ability.
The city's finances are subjects of investigations by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Two annual audits have been delayed, most recently because of allegations of fraud.
Aguirre, who campaigned as an outsider, said Monday he would cooperate with the federal agencies investigating the city's finances and would restore his office's public integrity unit to prosecute city employees for violations of law, conflicts of interest, and criminal waste, fraud and abuse.
Without being more specific, Aguirre also said the city is paying legal bills for criminal defense lawyers for past and present city officials.
"The casualties of this legal war are the innocent people of San Diego," he said.
After his remarks, Aguirre said he was conducting an internal review of legal bills for past and present city employees associated with the federal inquiries and would have more information in coming days.
While his speech didn't earn praise from everyone, it did among those accustomed to criticizing City Hall.
Raving about Aguirre's remarks were Mel Shapiro, a government watchdog and retired accountant; former Councilman Bruce Henderson, an attorney who has sued the city over the downtown ballpark development and other issues; and Port Commission Chairman Peter Q. Davis, a mayoral candidate in 2000 and 2004. All were in the audience.
"I think the concern all of us had was that once elected he'd become part of the herd, and it's clear that he's not, that he's going to be his own man," Davis said.
Less effusive were outgoing City Attorney Casey Gwinn and Councilman Brian Maienschein, who was sworn in to a second term Monday with members Scott Peters, Toni Atkins and Jim Madaffer.
"Mike and I haven't always agreed on issues, but I have pledged to him that he has my full support," Gwinn said. "I'm not going to be critical of him."
Maienschein and Councilman Ralph Inzunza were the only two council members on the stage not to stand and applaud at the end of Aguirre's speech.
"Everybody who was up there got elected and has a right to say whatever they want to say," Maienschein said. "I'm not going to judge him based on one speech, for better or for worse."
Shapiro, on the other hand, called Aguirre's remarks "sensational, to say the least."
Aguirre "talked about the new leadership on the council," Shapiro said. "That's a direct hit against the current leadership, isn't it?"
Mayor Dick Murphy didn't address that element of Aguirre's speech when asked to comment on the city attorney's overall remarks.
"He's putting forth what he honestly sees as the problems of the city and what he's going to work on, and he and I are going to work on those two things together," Murphy said.
Murphy, whose term ended Monday, is remaining in office until legal challenges resolve a tight three-way race he is in with Councilwoman Donna Frye and county Supervisor Ron Roberts.
Last week, a state appeals court delayed the certification of a final vote tally from the county registrar of voters that showed Murphy 2,108 votes ahead of Frye, a write-in candidate. Roberts was in third place.
Murphy said the public integrity unit that Aguirre talked of resuscitating "might be a good idea," but the mayor said some of its efforts may conflict with the Ethics Commission, which he pushed to create. It replaced the public integrity unit three years ago.
"At the same time," Murphy said, "the more watchdogs the better."
Monday began with some levity when Murphy accidentally knocked a microphone cover to the floor while emceeing the event. Aguirre picked it up but didn't put enough on his toss to the mayor, so the foam cover fell again.
"I'm not sure that's the city attorney and the mayor working well together there," Murphy quipped.San
Diego city manager resigns
Diego Daily Transcript , Friday, November 12, 2004
San Diego City Manager
P. Lamont Ewell announced Friday he's decided to tender his resignation effective
July 1, 2005. Ewell said the recently passed strong mayor form of government
would significantly alter the city manager's role in the organization.
he'd like to pursue future opportunities in a council-manager form of government
consistent with his chosen profession.
Ewell said he chose the end of this
fiscal year as his planned date of departure to allow him the opportunity
to assist in resolving several important matters the city faces. He'd hoped discuss
his decision with the newly elected mayor shortly after the swearing-in-ceremony
on Dec. 6, but chose now to make the announcement in order to avoid speculation
that it's based on who ultimately elected mayor.
Ewell said he has prepared
a proposed work plan reflecting the most critical issues that need to be addressed.
He pledged to complete the development and implementation of three key organizational
strategies that he shared with city officials before being appointed. They include
a five-year financial plan; a comprehensive communications strategy; and a customer
mayor yet, lawyers continue where race left off
Ethics Commission: Attorneys'
fees not subject to campaign finance rules
By Scott Lewis, The
Daily Transcript, Dec. 3, 2004
A state appellate court Friday guaranteed
that San Diego's still unresolved mayoral race will remain so well into another
week as intense legal arguments will now keep the City Council from declaring
a winner before the current mayor's term expires.
Lawyers for the city
and Mayor Dick Murphy could not persuade the judges to release their stay on the
election certification. The injunction had come at the request of opposing lawyers
seeking to prove that the Nov. 2 election was illegitimate.
Now, it appears,
those and other legal jostles also may be exempt from the city's complex campaign
finance regulations, according to an informal advice letter released by the city's
Ethics Commission last week.
Asked to provide guidance as to whether all of
the legal expenses incurred in the last month of post-election bickering were
subject to the city's strict Campaign Control Ordinance, the commission said most
legal challenges probably were not.
Because they are part of efforts to influence
judges and bureaucratic officials, and not voters, the legal activities are not
subject to the scrutiny of ethics officials. Such review might have ended up limiting
the resources available to challenge the election.
The opinion means most people
interested in participating in the debate about the outcome or validity of the
election are free to use the funds available to them as long as the candidates
themselves don't solicit the funds.
San Francisco based elections attorney
Jim Sutton, of The Sutton Law Firm, said the opinion letter presumably frees potential
clients of his to raise money freely from multiple sources without conforming
to the city's campaign contribution limits.
But, he said, now that Councilwoman
Donna Frye appears unlikely to prevail as the winner of the post-election squabbles,
it may be a moot point.
"The type of people who called me were individuals,
trade associations and business entities who were generally opposed to Frye becoming
mayor. But Frye loses and 50 percent of them are less interested in legally challenging
the election," Sutton said.
Sutton has represented County Supervisor Ron
Roberts in the past. Roberts came in third in what became a three-way contest
in the mayoral runoff election after Frye spontaneously announced a write-in bid.
Fourth District Appellate Court in Santa Ana Friday heard arguments about the
validity of the election in light of the fact that the city's charter appears
to disallow candidates who didn't participate in a primary election from seeking
office as legitimate candidates later.
The case in front of the court was brought
by local attorney John Howard, of J.W. Howard/Attorneys, a lawyer, who admitted
to having little experience with municipal or elections law.
But the post-election
squabbles attracted well-versed legal talent from San Diego and other parts of
the state. But with city law strictly regulating the amount and source individuals
and organizations can anonymously contribute to campaigns, many wondered if those
same regulations transferred over to the financing of post-election legal challenges
The League of Women Voters, for instance, solicited funds from
labor unions and other interested individuals to finance its challenge to county
and state laws that may have cost Frye the election by invalidating potentially
thousands of ballots.
In response to Sutton's inquiry as to whether such legal
efforts would be regulated by city laws, the Ethics Commission said no.
contemplated action involving a legal challenge to Donna Frye's candidacy is an
attempt to influence the courts ... but it is not an attempt to influence the
voters," reads the opinion signed by Stacey Fulhorst, the executive director
of the Ethics Commission.
Those payments, then, cannot be considered contributions
unless they are made "to, or at the behest of, a candidate."
in of the four City Councilmembers who won re-election and the new City Attorney
Mike Aguirre was scheduled for Monday. Outgoing City Attorney Casey Gwinn released
an opinion recently stating that incumbent Mayor Dick Murphy should retain his
seat until he, or a replacement, is certified as the winner of the mayor's race.Amid
turmoil, newly elected officials pledge to tackle problems
investigations, culture of openness
By SCOTT LEWIS, The Daily
Transcript, December 6, 2004
San Diegans got a taste of what may come
to characterize the next few years of debate at City Hall Monday when a new
class of elected officials took the same pledge to serve but issued different
takes on what needed to change and what needed to stay the same.
Attorney Mike Aguirre drew boisterous cheers after announcing his determination
to organize a Public Integrity Unit led by the head of his criminal prosecution
division, Rupert Linley.
"The city attorney's office will not remain on
the sidelines and watch San Diego slide deeper into the financial abyss," Aguirre said in his speech.
Afterward he clarified his determination
to order lawyers working under him to investigate city officials and employees
who may have been involved in what he said were potentially illegal activities
related to the city's beleaguered pension fund and disclosure practice.
are going to be shifting the city's focus from any perceived effort to try to
cover things up to an all-out onslaught to make sure that we get to the bottom
of all the alleged wrongdoing," Aguirre said.
Aguirre said he would
determine whether city officials acted in a legal manner when they granted benefits
to the city's future and current retirees. If the benefits were granted illegally,
Aguirre said he would work to repeal them.
Even City Councilwoman Toni
Atkins, beginning her second term, told the audience that difficult times were
ahead for the city.
"We can solve the pension fund deficit, but we will
still not have adequate resources to do what we need to do. Unless we move forward
together with a plan to respond to critical needs," Atkins said.
is facing an estimated $1.167 billion shortfall in its pension system. The
deficit and a lack of adequate reporting about it to financial markets ultimately
led to federal investigations and a suspension of the city's credit rating.
being able to demonstrate its creditworthiness, the city is facing the possibility
it may have to delay vital infrastructure improvements.
Peters, who was also beginning his second term in office, said city insiders have
perpetuated a hostility "that has something to do with the violent way we
talk about each other."
Peters said the city can solve its problems as
it has others in the past.
"We can focus on solving the problem or we
can focus on laying the blame," Peters said. "In my opinion, what gets
in the way of our success are conspiracy theories, the demonizations and the willingness
to believe the worst about each other."
Mayor Dick Murphy did not take
an oath of office. Though he emceed the event, the certification of Murphy's re-election
has been delayed by the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, which is
determining if there was any merit to the charge that the Nov. 2 mayoral election
going to have to ask the City Attorney's Office. I was not aware of it."
Diego Mayor Dick Murphy, asked why it was never disclosed that 27 city officials
received supoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission six months ago.
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 31 Oct 2004
city has absolutely nothing to hide here."
Attorney Les Girard, recipient of letters from San Diego's accounting firm about
an inadequate $2 million city probe and evidence of possible illegal acts.]
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 31 Oct 2004Strong
mayor plan has a twist, Murphy, apparently trailing, was the leader envisioned
Matthew T. Hall, Union Tribune, November 5, 2004
Mel Shapiro's $22,000
attempt to defeat a strong-mayor ballot measure failed after he was outspent considerably
by San Diego's business leaders, many of whom also contributed to Mayor Dick Murphy's
Now Shapiro, a retired accountant and civic watchdog,
can't help but laugh.
"If Donna Frye becomes mayor, then the joke's on
them," he said yesterday, as officials continued to count the write-in ballots
cast for Frye in Tuesday's election.
The strong possibility that the
maverick councilwoman will prevail in the three-way mayor's race is the talk of
the business community.
Padres owner John Moores, who contributed $99,000
with his wife, Rebecca, to give San Diego's mayor more power, said Frye would
be closely watched as the first person to benefit.
"If she succeeds,
the electorate will express its approval; if not, she will be toast in short order,"
he said yesterday in an e-mail sent from a ship in the Mediterranean.
supervisor Ron Roberts conceded defeat Wednesday, leaving Murphy and Frye awaiting
the final tally. The write-in vote and Murphy are separated by one percentage
With Tuesday's passage of Proposition F, the mayor will become the
city's chief executive in January 2006. The mayor will get the city manager's
budget and personnel powers and be removed from the nine-member City Council,
which will meet with eight members. The council will get its own budget analyst
and the ability to override mayoral vetoes with five votes.
out the details in private this spring, with advisers, academics and business
leaders pushing to shift power from an unelected city manager. Similar plans had
failed since 1973.
Frye, who sometimes casts a lone vote of dissent during
council meetings, led the campaign against the measure. That irony isn't lost
on its supporters as they prepare for the possibility she'll shepherd the transition.
"If she wins the election, she will be accountable for all of her actions,
which will be the subject of a great deal of public scrutiny," Moores said.
Councilwoman Toni Atkins, who opposed the strong-mayor measure and was the
only council member to endorse Frye, said business leaders would be able to collaborate
with her under a strong-mayor form of government.
"Many of these people
are civic leaders who have been around for a long time, and they are going to
want to work with Donna to implement it," Atkins said. "I think she
will carry out the will of the voters. We're required to by law, but I think she's
going to do it in a very thoughtful manner."
Real estate magnate Malin
Burnham, a large donor to the strong-mayor campaign, sounded a hopeful note about
"In order to be a leader, you can't be a no voter most of the time,"
Burnham said. "I'm optimistic that there will be quite a change in her demeanor
and her approach, and I'm prepared to work with her."
Burnham and his
wife, Roberta, each gave $250 to Murphy in the primary and general elections.
Burnham gave $49,000 to the strong-mayor campaign.
Businessmen Bill Geppert
and Ted Roth, who also gave to Murphy's campaign and made sizable donations to
the strong-mayor effort, said they would work with Frye to ease the transition
but were skeptical about her teamwork skills.
"I think it remains to
be seen whether Donna Frye, as mayor potentially, can build consensus, get things
done," Geppert said. "She has been on the (losing) side of an 8-1 vote
on many, many issues."
Roth added that Frye will have to focus on finding
support behind the scenes because the mayor won't be a voting member at council
meetings after the strong mayor system starts in 2006.
"If one sees that
role as being the person who is every week the public figure and the person who
is the focal point of the council meetings, that isn't going to happen," he said.
Like Geppert and Roth, strong-mayor supporter George Mitrovich said
Tuesday's vote was more about the structure of government than personalities.
"We're going to have a mayor at some point," said Mitrovich, a civic
leader who has lobbied for a strong mayor for years. "We'll figure out who
that person is, and that person is going to be the beneficiary of these additional
"From the business community, it's always been an issue of accountability,"
he said. "They want to know who to blame if things are going wrong."
Longtime San Diego lobbyist Michel Anderson was among the group of people,
including Mitrovich, Geppert and Burnham, who helped to draft the final strong-mayor
proposal with Murphy.
A former aide to Mayor Roger Hedgecock, Anderson contributed
equal amounts to the campaigns of Murphy and Roberts this year.
for strong mayor no matter who's in the mayor's office," Anderson said. "I think that Donna Frye has a great opportunity to rise to the challenge
even though she didn't support it."Hotel
chief, City Hall critic combine on mailers, Ethics Commission director explains
LEWIS, San Diego Daily Transcript, October 25, 2004
mailers that recently touched off a fresh round of scrutiny of the city's elections
laws were supported not only by the Performance Institute and its President Carl
DeMaio, but by San Diego hotel magnate Doug Manchester as well.
Monday that Manchester, president of Manchester Resorts LP and the owner of the
Manchester Grand Hyatt downtown, has infused financial support into the campaign
group Citizens for Accountable Government.
According to recent disclosures,
two organizations run by Manchester and headquartered at the hotel gave a total
of $50,000 to the group, which has taken credit for a series of mailers that declare
San Diego to be in "a financial crisis" and present possible reforms.
and the Performance Institute have contributed $200,000 to Citizens for Accountable
Taxpayer Protection Association and Summit Resources, both headquartered at the
Manchester Grand Hyatt, are not included in the "paid for by" statement
sent out with the mailers.Manchester's Taxpayer Protection Association
and Summit Resources, both headquartered at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, are not
included in the "paid for by" statement sent out with the mailers.
city law a campaign group can issue voter information mailers or advertisements
without financial limitations. But if they "urge a particular result in a
city election" they can be considered campaign expenditures and subject to
Wealthy individuals or businesses can spend freely in
support of a candidate for a city election but they must acknowledge who paid
for the ad in a reasonable way.
In order for a group of people to form a campaign
organization and use that name as the group responsible for the ads, the group
can only accept contributions of $250 or less.
DeMaio said his mailers do not
advocate for any particular outcome in the race for mayor, city attorney and City
Council District 1. Citizens for Accountable Government, therefore, is not bound
by the obligation to publish on their mailers the names of those who supported
it financially, he said.
"Since the very beginning, we've been very vocal
about the fact that we don't endorse candidates," DeMaio said.
doesn't mean things don't need to change in San Diego, he said. "We're going
to continue to educate the public on need for financial reform at City Hall," DeMaio said.
On Oct. 19 the city's Ethics Commission issued an impromptu "Fact Sheet on Independent Expenditures and Express Advocacy" that prompted
DeMaio's attorney, San Francisco-based Jim Sutton of The Sutton Law Firm, to upbraid
the agency for potentially "chilling free speech" two weeks before a
The Ethics Commission's guidelines warned that a campaign advertisement
that "identifies a candidate's voting record" or that "grades one
or more candidate on specific issues" would indicate that it might be subject
to the city's $250 per donor restrictions.
Sutton said the Ethics Commission
should not have sent out such a definitive announcement of what could be considered
"I applaud the efforts to give guidance, but not
two weeks before the election," Sutton said then. "I've been at this
for a while and I will say that for the first time ever, I physically felt what
it means to have free-speech chilled when I looked at the fact sheet and I was
trying to tell my clients what to do."
Stacey Fulhorst, the executive
director of the Ethics Commission, said she could not comment about DeMaio and
She said she distributed the fact sheet after many inquiries
came into the Ethics Commission from parties seeking to find out what, exactly,
was an independent expenditure that was subject to the campaign finance limitations.
Fulhorst took issue with Sutton's allegation that his clients' free speech protections
were being violated.
"The law in no way limits the amount of money they
can spend," Fulhorst said.
Individuals who want to support a particular
candidate with independent expenditures, must disclose who they are on their communications
to voters, she said. But if they want to form a committee -- and use that committee's
name on their campaign communications in support of a candidate -- they can only
accept donations of $250 or less.
"One of the fundamental purposes of
our law is to encourage these committees to seek out a broad base of political
support," Fulhorst said.
DeMaio said many other local residents, in
addition to Manchester, had sent in contributions to his political efforts to
keep financial issues at the top of the city's mayoral campaign debate.
Citizens for Accountable Government cash stockpile will remain a valuable resource
to push reforms in the future, he said.
"Having funding on hand
allows us to support city leaders if they need to go to the public to effect change
with an ordinance or charter amendment," he said.
DeMaio said he was
confident the mailers conformed to election laws.
"When a city has as
many problems as the city of San Diego does, their standard policy is to go and
shoot the messenger," DeMaio said.
indictment in City Hall case, Alleged bribery amount is mentioned $70,000
Kelly Thornton, Union Tribune, October 9, 2004
A federal grand jury issued
a second indictment yesterday in the San Diego City Hall corruption case that
disclosed for the first time the amount of bribes allegedly paid to public officials:
More than $70,000.
The new indictment deleted as defendants the late Councilman
Charles Lewis and two who have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the government strip club owner Michael Galardi and former club manager John D'Intino.
Yesterday's indictment also added a third extortion charge against the remaining
defendants Councilmen Ralph Inzunza and Michael Zucchet and former Galardi
consultant Lance Malone and added a special allegation that Inzunza was
the "organizer and leader" of a criminal conspiracy, which if proved
could subject him to harsher penalties.
councilmen and Malone were first indicted by a grand jury Aug. 28, 2003, on charges
they schemed with Galardi, D'Intino and Malone to try to repeal a no-touching
law in strip clubs in exchange for money and favors.
The councilmen and Malone,
a Las Vegas resident, have pleaded not guilty. The councilmen have said any money
they received was properly reported as campaign contributions.
Michael Wheat and Paul Cook, along with the grand jury's forewoman, appeared at
2:15 p.m. yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge James F. Stiven, who formally
accepted the jury's indictment.
"The evidence will speak for itself" was Wheat's only statement outside court. Cook declined comment.
lawyer, Jerry Coughlan, said he could not comment until he had read the new indictment.
Inzunza's lawyer, Michael Pancer, said the development is inconsequential.
really no substantive changes other than they've added a count," Pancer said.
"They didn't have a provable case before this indictment and they don't have
Regarding the $70,000, Pancer said: "How they've come
to that number I have absolutely no idea."
The indictment does not spell
it out, except to indicate that the value of payments in connection with the three
extortion counts "exceeded $10,000," and that bribes to a police officer
amounted to "more than $30,000."
It's unclear if those sums are
included in the $70,000. And once again, the indictment does not indicate if that
money was in the form of campaign contributions, cash, gifts, or a combination.
This has been a point of contention for more than a year.
precisely calculates the dollar amounts. Rather, both list various instances in
which Galardi gave or prepared to give at least $17,750, and perhaps thousands
more, to the councilmen, through his employees. And the first indictment said
Galardi, Malone and D'Intino in attempts to circumvent the rule prohibiting
touching between dancers and customers paid $43,600 to an undercover San
Diego police vice detective they believed to be corrupt, in exchange for warnings
about vice inspections at Cheetahs strip club.
There appear to be three reasons
the new indictment was necessary to add the new extortion charge, to change
the document to reflect the death of Lewis and the guilty pleas of Galardi and
D'Intino, and to comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.
known as Blakely v. Washington, has caused confusion about the constitutionality
of federal sentencing guidelines that have been in effect for 17 years.
justices who went on summer break after the decision held a special
two-hour oral argument on the case Monday in response to a post-Blakely clamor
from lower courts and federal prosecutors for a definitive Supreme Court ruling.
Blakely established that juries, not judges, must rule on the facts that are
the building blocks of a criminal sentence. The court said the Sixth Amendment
right to trial by jury requires that any fact like the amount of money
in an extortion case that leads to a sentence greater than the maximum
the defendant could otherwise receive must be proved to a jury beyond a reasonable
The court would normally have until July to issue a decision, but given
the demand for a clarification, the court may issue a ruling much sooner.
the City Hall case, the government likely felt compelled under Blakely to disclose
the $70,000 figure, which according to federal statute is substantial enough to
increase sentences; and the allegation that Inzunza was the leader of the conspiracy,
which involves a harsher sentence.
"By including the $70,000 figure,
they're providing notice under Blakely this is the dollar amount to rely upon
for purposes of sentencing calculations," said an attorney familiar with
the case. He spoke on condition of confidentiality because of the its sensitive
In a parallel investigation in Las Vegas, an indictment alleges that
Galardi and Malone paid public officials there up to $400,000 in bribes. One public
official has pleaded guilty.
Some experts said it's difficult to compare the
$70,000 amount here.
"Money isn't always huge in these cases and it really
depends on how long it was going on and what you're able to find out," said
former U.S. Attorney Charles La Bella.
"The way I would interpret these
amounts is that these are the amounts the government feels confident that it can
prove at trial and that these amounts are significant when read in the context
of the federal sentencing guidelines should these individuals be found guilty."
Most of the language in the new document is the same as the first.
there were two extortion counts alleging that Inzunza on Feb. 7 and Oct. 14, 2002,
unlawfully obtained money from Malone, Galardi and D'Intino for the benefit of
new extortion count added a third instance, on July 12, 2001.
says that on that day, Inzunza told Malone that Zucchet was "good on the
issues" and that Inzunza arranged for a meeting between Malone and Zucchet.
That meeting occurred a week later, according to the indictment, and Malone "gave Zucchet checks totaling $6,750 from several individuals, including
defendant Malone, Michael Galardi, and John D'Intino."Key questions MoveOn members discuss..... Which issues were most important for all of us to pursue together in the next four years?
1. Election reform & 2. Media reformPOLITICAL