A recent land use vote at City Council provides a
fascinating peek into the moral characters of our six
Democratic City Councilmembers. The issue at hand was a
proposed street vacation in front of the La Jolla home
of Democratic Party mega-contributors, Bill and Lisa
The Barketts were betting that
their prowess for hosting big Democratic fund raising
events for national, state and local Democratic
candidates, would be rewarded by the City of San Diego
relinquishing a 3,122 square feet portion of Prospect
Place, thus privatizing the cul-de-sac in front of their
They confidently expected that despite a knee-jerk "No"
from the two Republicans, Faulconer and DeMaio, that at
least five of the six Democratic Councilmembers would
obey their fund raising masters and vote "Yes". Three
did. Three did not! The Barketts were stunned.
Maybe there is hope for San Diego yet. The Barketts and
the big money set need to realize that the unprincipled
Scott Peters is gone and the principled Sherri Lightner
is now the people's choice in District 1, despite the
power of the dollar. Can you imagine how different the
outcome would have been if Scott Peters was still
representing La Jolla?
I already knew what Sherri Lightner's response would be
to the money peddling Barketts and I knew that Ben Hueso
would crawl all the way up Prospect Place and wipe the
boots of the Barketts if they asked him to. He would
sell his very soul to get to the State Assembly.
Likewise I knew that Todd Gloria is tied hand and foot
to the fund raising machine of the Democratic Party. He
is a child of the Susan Davis machine. He probably
attended dozens of fund raisers at the Barkett's home
while choir boy for Congresswoman Davis' soirées.
But "Et Tu Marti"? This is the unkindest cut of all.
With one roll of the voting drum Marti Emerald fell from
the wedding chapel of clean government down to the rat
infested cellar of prostitution politics. Was her
Council vote really only worth $1,080 or does she intend
to follow Hueso down a slimy slope to the State
Here is a page from her
Monetary Contributions Received List in 2007. The Barkett
family made four contributions of $270, one each for Mom
and Dad, Bill and Lisa and one each for their two
children, Jacqueline and Joseph. Did this mere $1,080
buy her political soul?
video starts with Jeannette Temple of the City's
Development Services Department (DSD) laying out the
case for the Barketts. DSD operates as an "enterprise
fund". In other words Jeannette's salary is paid, not by
you and I the tax payer, but by her "clients" the
Barketts. This bizarre "enterprise fund" set-up means
that developers fund our City's Development Services
Department. This needs to be changed because it is
corrupting the entire land use process.
To give an idea of the reach money people like the
Barketts have, consider that when faced with a defeat at
City Council on February 2, 2009, they were able to get
Marti Emerald to engineer a postponement for a month
while DSD staff wasted scarce police resources in
compiling a spurious crime report on the cul-de-sac in
question and wasted an entire afternoon of a police
lieutenant at Council when the item was reheard.
watch and judge for yourself who was parroting the
talking points handed to them by the Barkett's lawyers
and who was representing the citizens as they are bound
by oath to so do. Watch Lightner and Frye demolish the
bogus land use arguments concocted by DSD staff and
Then watch Emerald, Hueso and Gloria abandon every moral
principle to serve their money masters. Hueso's
contribution is particularly disturbing. His patently
false theories on public easements show the extent to
which he is willing to pervert his powers as an elected
official to further his career in politics. He is a very
If he makes it to Sacramento he will surely represent a
low point in San Diego's contribution to the State
Assembly. He will ally himself with the most despicable
elements of state politics. He will inevitably bring
shame on San Diego because he is a man completely without
moral principles. At least his run for the Assembly puts
him out of City politics in November.
I write this blog because I don't believe the Barketts
will go away. They are too heavily invested in political
contributing. They will be back to demand their pound of
But we the citizens must fight corrupting money in
politics. I believe Hueso to be a lost cause but surely
it is not too late to save Marti Emerald. Please don't
join Hueso on the dark side Marti. You are in danger of
losing your immortal soul, not to mention your Council
Shortly after Mayor
Sanders pressured the SEDC board to fire its CEO, Carolyn Smith, on July 23, 2008, he faced a "town hall"
meeting of South East San Diego residents on July 28,
2008, organized by
the The Coalition
of Neighborhood Councils
(CNC) at the
Multicultural Center (TCMC).
I videoed the event as "City Hall TV" (a name I was
toying with at the time). In it Sanders makes his case
for retaining SEDC and CCDC.
video excerpts address the basic question still
hanging over SEDC and CCDC:
are city-owned corporations the best way to administer
his support for the continued use of these corporations.
He told residents that SEDC and CCDC are "businesses" and
that these corporations need "very specific expertise"
and that he didn't see "how an election would help"
because, he explained: "I expect my appointees to
carry my point of view forward".
He referred to these two city-owned corporations as "agencies"
and suggested that if they did not
exist, blighted communities like South East San Diego
would only retain 17% of their property taxes instead of
100%. His actual words
were: "if all of a sudden you break the structure you
stop getting 100 cents on the dollar". That is
actually not true. A corporate structure is not
necessary to retain redevelopment tax dollars.
The reason Sanders and his backers are anxious to retain
a corporate structure is clear from
what has happened in the past. San Diego redevelopment
administration has been tightly controlled by developers
like Fred Mass at CCDC and Artie Owen at SEDC. The
following is an account of what happened at 5335 and 5412
In May 2000 a senior official of the San Diego
Redevelopment Agency (RDA), Deputy Director Todd Hooks,
signed off on a land deal that made a gift of $500,000
to businessman Artie Owen, who later became Chairman of
the Board of SEDC. Is this the kind of "specific
expertise" Sanders had in mind when he stood before the
citizens of South East San Diego and defended a
"business" structure for redevelopment?
Todd Hooks was
born and raised in Monrovia, California and
worked 5 years for the San Diego Redevelopment
He left in 2004 to "pursue
real estate development opportunities" for the
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
He now lives in this gated community off
Gerald Ford Drive and is the immediate past
president of the Palm Springs Chamber of
On April 19, 2000 then Deputy RDA Director Mr. Hooks
signed this "Double
Escrow Disclosure" on behalf of the City,
indemnifying and holding harmless Commonwealth Title in
a transaction that clearly did not pass the smell test.
The title company wanted protection against
participating in a real estate transaction where City
money was being used by Artie Owen to "purchase" 5335
and 5412 Market Street and simultaneously "sell" it
to the city in what is known as a "double escrow".
The result was a gift of public funds to
"businessman" Artie Owen.
Using citizens' rights under the Public Records Act I
decided to check into how the city was able to convince
the mainstream media that Mr. Owen was entitled to that
$500,000 "profit". The Voice of San Diego for example
has repeatedly thrashed my assertion that it was an
illegal gift of public money. They went after Carolyn
I believe that Carolyn Smith was a sacrificial
lamb to protect bigger fish that the media are afraid to
touch. Here are the facts of the Market Street case,
judge for yourself.
The earliest document I was able to find in the city's
this letter from Artie Owen to Carolyn Smith dated
September 3, 1999. He followed up on September 15, 1999
with a draft of the
purchase contract he intended to use in the
transaction. It clearly described him as the owner of
the property. But he was not the owner and
both Smith and Hooks knew it. Here is the
Preliminary Title Report they received dated
September 8, 1999 showing the real owner
to be Federated Industries Inc, an Illinois Corporation.
On October 22, 1999 Smith docketed a request for action
as instructed by Artie Owen in his letter dated
September 3, 1999. Here is her
Report to the City Council meeting as the
Redevelopment Agency on October 26, 1999 at which they
approved the Market Street purchase as it was presented
to them. It falsely asserted that Artie Owen was
the seller. That Report undertook to do due
diligence and "ownership research" that would be
"satisfactory to the Agency". The person who would sign
off on that "research" as being "satisfactory" was the
Deputy RDA Director, Todd Hooks.
Resolution was passed and approved by the City
Attorney, Casey Gwinn. It was fraudulent on its face. It
authorized the RDA to purchase a property from an
"owner" that did not own the property. The
really bad part is that everybody involved knew it, but
said nothing. Such is the culture of dishonesty that
pervades this City.
purchase contract that ever existed for this
transaction was between the RDA and Artie Owen, showing
him as the "Seller". The fact that the real owner was an
Illinois Corporation, Federated Industries Inc, was
never even mentioned (except of course in the title
company's official title report). Nobody at the City or
Owen even pretended that he was acting as an agent of
Federated or that he had a prior option to purchase the
property at a lower price. They simply misrepresented
the property's ownership and did the deal.
It is interesting to note that in answering my public
records requests, Casey Gwinn's former Executive
Leslie Devaney, who narrowly missed defeating Mike
Aguirre for City Attorney in 2004, was being copied with
my email correspondence. Does she have some "special
knowledge" in this area, that requires the current City
Attorney Jan Goldsmith to hire her as a watchdog on
In the overall city budget somebody stealing $500,000 is
not going to break the bank. But the fact that our city
staff, including our current City Auditor, so readily
accept somebody receiving a $500,000 gift of public
funds, for no apparent reason other than that he was
politically well connected, is very disturbing. The fact
remains that on May 1, 2000 a Deputy RDA Director, Todd
Hooks, signed a $400,000
Deed of Trust in favor of Artie Owen as part of the
purchase price of a property he did not own. The
beneficial interest in that $400,000 Note was then
moved offshore to the British Virgin Islands.
The fact remains that the City Comptroller sent a check
for $433,841.10 to the British Virgin Islands tax haven
on May 22, 2001. The
payoff included the interest accrued from the note's
creation on May 1, 2000 until the City's sale of part of
the secured property, 5335 Market Street, to TayRad
Construction required the payoff on May 22, 2001.
Is this the kind of "special expertise" Sanders sees as
necessary for redevelopment in San Diego? Does he think
that this is the price we must pay to get "high caliber"
private developers, like Artie Owen, to "invest" in our
The wife of real estate fraudster Jim McConville filed
for personal bankruptcy yesterday. Here is the
court document. It is a petition to wipe out between
$1 million and $10 million in "mainly business debt" to
between 100 and 199 creditors. 18 pages of the document
are devoted to listing her many creditors a meeting of
whom is scheduled for January 6, 2010. Maybe the
creditors should sell the rights to some reality TV show
or maybe Jim has already done so. It should be quite a
The private creditors will be angry because they know
that McConville put all the scam real estate in his
daughter's name or a company owned by her and put all the
fast cars and art collection in his own name.
The banks, developers, mortgage brokers and attorneys
don't care. McConville put millions of dollars in their
pockets. He was a one-man real estate bubble. Their hats
are off to him. It was private investors like Andy Narraway who got burned. The bankers made a killing.
Today, Mayor Sanders laid
before the City Council his "last, best and
final offer" to the unions for Managed Competition
After 40 negotiation sessions with Local 127 and
33 sessions with the MEA, over three years, he finally declared an impasse on
By law a labor impasse must be resolved by the City
Council. So they dutifully listened to long
presentations from the Mayor's negotiating team and from
representatives of the MEA and Local 127. (The safety
unions, police and fire, are exempt from Managed
Mike Zuchett made the case for the MEA.
Mike addressed broader policy issues relating to
Managed Competition, like who is asking for real
competition and who is asking for a rigged
system? Is the City trying to achieve savings by
eliminating health care?
He strongly rejected the Mayor's assertion that
the MEA has stonewalled the process. He said
that while the MEA is willing to test and defend
its slogan that "Nobody does it better", he
believes the process is a complete waste of time
Joan Raymond represented Local 127, the blue collar
the Mayor for having wasted millions of taxpayer
dollars defending his "illegal position" and
that it took a judge and a failed legal
challenge to bring him to the negotiating table.
She further claimed that he has now done an
about-turn on health care in the middle of an
Health care seems to have become the pivotal
issue on Managed Competition.
Gloria then read the well-orchestrated motion - these things are worked out by the chiefs of
staff well in advance.
Todd made the motion:
"the Council has determined
not to impose the Mayor's last, best and final offer at
this time, that the City's negotiating team return to
the table and that the Council convene in closed session
to give direction to the City's negotiating team, with
such direction to be stayed until completion of the
Mayoral veto process".
Councilmember Emerald then seconded the motion.
final vote broke along party lines, no Democrat daring
to challenge union power.
With that kind of organized opposition the Mayor knows
very well that he will never be able to implement
Managed Competition "by agreement" with the unions.
City Attorney Jan Goldstone, has already provided the
answer - if Sanders has the courage to take it.
According to this
legal opinion dated October 8, 2009, under the
current strong mayor form of government Sanders
does not have to negotiate with the unions in order to
implement managed competition. Goldsmith
explains: "Section 117(c) does not mandate that the
Mayor solicit proposals from City departments before
He goes on to explain that outsourcing is in compliance
with state collective bargaining laws
provided certain safeguards are followed
e.g. "the City must provide notice to the affected
employee organization and [be given an] opportunity to
negotiate prior to the decision to contract out the
That's clear enough - from the elected City Attorney.
If this Mayor is serious about implementing managed
competition and/or business process re-engineering, he
should get on with it. Blaming the unions
and City Council is wearing a little thin.
Port Commissioner Lee Burdick wrote an
op-ed piece in the Union-Tribune today. I posted a
comment there only to have it taken down by the U-T. I
guess it was too "mean" for the tender ears of Ms.
Here, you be the judge:
"Spoken like the true corporate lobbyist that she is,
from her time as government affairs lawyer (that's what
lobbyists prefer to call themselves) for Jimsair, to her
present job with lobbyist/law firm Higgs, Fletcher &
Mack, where according to
its website she "recently helped a local winery
overcome Riverside County land use regulations to
establish an approved vineyard plot and planting plan."
Note the word "overcome".
lobbyists successfully engineered her appointment to the
Port Commission to help the Port District "overcome"
California land use regulations such as CEQA in the Port
District's North Embarcadero Visionary Plan.
At the time of her appointment she admitted that she
knew very little about Port District issues but promised
to listen. Yes, but to whom? My concern is that as a
veteran corporate lobbyist she will listen more to
Carnival Cruise Lines, than to "mean" bloggers like me
who happen to care about the waterfront."
That was my comment. Who does this woman represent that
it gives her such power at the Union-Tribune? I reached
her on the telephone later. She fully condoned the U-T
censorship. She said the reason the U-T removed my
comment was because it was "offensive". Offensive to
whom? I have no doubt it was "offensive" to Cardinal
Cruise Lines. Does she represent them?
I asked how her problem with the independence of blogs
comports with the following sentiments in her op-ed
piece: "So I vow to listen more and to speak less. I
will seek to understand others before I try to impose my
understanding on them." When she had finished her
lecture on blogs, our conversation was over. So much for
being a good listener.
It seems corporate interests have another puppet on the
Port Commission. The U-T's action today, once again,
gave positive proof that corporate interests dictate its
editorial policy. After all, corporations like Carnival
Cruise Lines advertize in "newspapers".