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Blog Archives - 2008
Kittle's irrational hatred of Aguirre has got to stop.
by Pat Flannery
Bob Kittle wrote
editorial in the U-T on Monday June 23, 2008
regarding the $10.5 million recovered by Mike Aguirre in
four malpractice suits. Nevertheless Kittle
complained in his editorial:
the City Attorney's Office handled the settlement
negotiations itself, taxpayers would have collected the
$3.1 million that was paid to the lawyers."
If Mike Aguirre had invented a cure for cancer Bob
Kittle and the U-T would complain that he hadn't done it
sooner. So I checked with Aguirre's Second-in-Command,
Don McGrath to find out the truth.
McGrath told me that he had worked hands-on supervising
these two fine attorneys, Bryan Vess and Dan Stanford,
attending almost every court hearing and mediation. He
told me that he had kept the City Council fully informed
throughout the long and difficult legal process.
gave me an on-camera interview in his office on Friday,
June 20, 2008. Click on the photo to see the video.
McGrath anticipated that Kittle would do exactly what he
did - slam him for recovering
$7,166,458 for the City.
"This money has
been paid over to Jay Goldstone and the City Treasurer
for payment of other legal bills, pension deficit and
any other City debt Mr. Goldstone and his department
choose to retire." said McGrath. Not a
word of thanks from Mayor Sanders or his
joined-at-the-hip Aguirre-hating spokespersons, Bob
Kittle and Fred Sainz.
Here is a letter to the editor published in today's U-T
from one of the outside attorneys involved in the
recovery, Dan Stanford. It says it all - with a little
sarcasm - thanking Kittle
"for staying positive".
view from a contingency attorney
Regarding “Regarding “Malpractice deals/Taxpayers
lose a third to contingency lawyers” (Editorial, June
No good deed goes unpunished. Thank you for your
editorial congratulating fellow attorney Bryan Vess and
me on our recent litigation successes that add over $7
million to the city's general fund. In times of such
economic drought, it is good to see you focus on these
positive results and the fact that the glass is
These were difficult cases that required
specialized expertise in professional malpractice, plus
a track record and reputation in the field, which is not
expected to be found in any city attorney's office. Not
only did we agree to handle these risky cases, but we
reduced our normal contingency fee and advanced all
costs on behalf of our city.
The results demonstrate our experience and
reputation, as well as our willingness to fight major,
national law firms that hired multiple, major national
defense attorneys. They billed and collected more than
we have been paid.
Your thanks and gratitude for generating positive
results in excess of $7 million is greatly appreciated,
and it makes all the long hours of hard work and lost
sleep over unsure outcomes and costs advanced
worthwhile. Besides, we can only imagine the editorial
you had in mind if the lawyers hired by the City Council
had lost these cases and billed the city millions of
dollars by the hour! Thanks for staying positive – and
for your support!
The cases involved were: Callan
Associates and Gabriel Roeder Smith, $4,500,000
recovered, Caporicci & Larson, $900,000 recovered,
Calderon, Jaham & Osborn $750,000 recovered, Vinson &
Elkins $4,350,000 recovered, for a total of
The outside attorneys took $3,133,333 plus $200,208,
that left a net gain to the City of $7,166,458.
McGrath explained on Friday:
"I initially hired Heller Ehrman on an hourly basis, but
received a very strong message that the City Council
would not support hourly legal fees. Therefore, I
presented the idea of a contingent fee arrangement to
the City Council, which was agreed to in all instances
unanimously by them."
There are pending cases against bond
counsel Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Kroll
attorneys Willkie Farr that could net the City tens of
millions of dollars. No dount Kittle will complain about
In a paroxysm of nastiness Kittle threw this piece into
"As part of its wide-ranging
investigation of Aguirre, the State Bar of California
has subpoenaed city billing records of payments made to
Vess and Stanford, and investigators have interviewed
Vess. But the purpose of the bar probe is unclear."
What is he inferring? Besides, the State Bar does not
divulge information on ongoing investigations. Either
Kittle is lying or the State Bar has broken its own
rules. Surely the former. There is no end to Kittle's
hatred. It is abnormal. It is unnatural. And it must
This State Bar investigation was instigated by Scott
Peters who ran against Aguirre for City Attorney. Kittle
rails against the city unions and their pension benefits
but has done everything he can to help Peters
preserve their bloated pensions. What is in the water
down there in Mission Valley that feeds the insane
hatred that pours out of Bob Kittle and Chris Reed for
Mike Aguirre? Whatever it is, it is irrational, it is
evil, it is destructive and very, very bad for San
Diego. End it. Please!
The Francis team unwinds after the election.
by Pat Flannery
I did this post-election on-camera interview with
Charles Gallagher, Steve Francis's
manager, on Monday afternoon, June 22, 2008. Click on
the photo for the video.
I got a little "blind" sided by the window coverings. It
seemed during the shoot that there would not be a
backlighting problem, but there was. My apologies for
the image quality, but the campaign insight makes the
video worth watching.
Mr. Gallagher is a very likeable politico and would have
been a refreshing change at City Hall. He loves to talk
politics, without the slightest hint of ill will towards
his opponents. He loves it all.
He had just returned from Rome where his sister is the
Vatican correspondent for CNN. He told me he had been at
the Vatican the same time as Tim Russert, just days
before Tim's tragic death. I could not help being
reminded of Tim as I watched Charles. He has the same
twinkle in his eye. Like Tim, you could not help but
like the guy.
I have a feeling we will be seeing more of Mr. Charles
Gallagher. Perhaps I will get an interview with his boss
Mr. Francis when Steve and his lovely wife Gayle return
from a vacation celebrating their 25th wedding
anniversary. Happy anniversary Steve and Gayle.
Is there corruption in the Grant Thornton contract?
by Pat Flannery
The privatization of "inherently
governmental functions" through a Federal process known
OMB A-76 (an OMB circular) was
brought into serious question in a
special report published February 2007 by the
Washington Post. It documented the appalling conditions
Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), the
so-called "Home of Warrior Care". The report ended with
December, a contracting dispute held
up building repairs.
it," said Romero, who stays in his
room all day. "There are
cockroaches. The elevator doesn't
work. The garage door doesn't work.
Sometimes there's no heat, no water.
. . . I told my platoon sergeant I
want to leave. I told the town hall
meeting. I talked to the doctors and
medical staff. They just said you
kind of got to get used to the
outside world. . . . My platoon
sergeant said, 'Suck it up!' "
"Suck it Up!" I expect
that will be Mayor Sanders'
suggestion to the City unions on
this Item comes up for Council
approval. Sanders has signed a
contract with the Bush
Administration's favorite defense
Grant Thornton LLP (who
participated in the Walter Reed
privatization fiasco) for
"indefinite delivery, indefinite
The Grant Thornton person in charge
of the San Diego account is Mr.
Ramon Contreras, Principal, Grant
Thornton LLP, 333 John Carlyle
Street, Ste 500, Alexandria, VA
It is interesting
that Contreras appears on the
"Defense and Intelligence" page
of Grant Thornton's
web site. Here
Note that Contreras also happens to
be a presenter on "Strategic
Sourcing" for Carl DeMaio's
Performance Institute. Isn't
that interesting! Is San Diego to be
the poster child for the takeover of
local government by giant
Washington-based private "service
San Diego already appears as a
client on GT's
and Local Governments"
page. Grant Thornton considers
itself under contract to the City.
a letter from Lance Wade, the
former Purchasing Director, dated
April 12, 2007 purportedly
confirming that contract.
However, the City Attorney's
signature is required on all
City Contracts according to
this MOL dated February 11, 2008
and more importantly according to
Charter Section 40. The Grant
Thornton contract did not
receive that signature. It still
hasn't. Here is
the latest signature page.
The first anybody heard about this
supposed contract (outside the
Mayor's office) was when on April 4,
2008, Mark Patzman, the Program
Manager for Managed Competition,
requested the City Attorney's office
to "expedite review and approve" a
1472 (the form required to put an
item on the City Council agenda) to
ratify the supposed Grant Thornton
contract referred to in Lance Wade's
letter dated April 12, 2007.
In response, Deputy City Attorney
Michael Calabrese wrote
this letter to Mark Patzman on
April 8, 2008. Calabrese explained
that he could not approve the 1472
to "ratify" the Grant Thornton
contract as "the underlying
agreement is invalid for several
reasons". Therefore "no agreement
exists for the City Council to
approve, extend or ratify".
Scott Peters nevertheless put it on
the Council Agenda for April 28,
2008, only to "send it back to the
Mayor" when the day came. Perhaps he
decided to wait until after June 3,
not wanting to tangle with the
unions over Managed Competition
during an election.
Now that the election is over Peters
no longer needs the unions. He is
playing the rich-man's game again,
the (now out-of-the-closet)
conservative he has always been. So,
he has put outsourcing of city jobs
back on the Council agenda for
Monday June 23, even though
the 1472 still does not have the
City Attorney's signature.
If Peters was in the runoff with
Aguirre he would be playing the
unions' game and sending outsourcing
of city jobs "back to the Mayor" to
die on the vine. He knows that Joan
Raymond's blue collar union,
AFSCME Local 127
will be wiped out under
Managed Competition. Even the
all-powerful MEA will take severe
hits, which many people support.
The great irony is that the fate of
thousands of union jobs is now in
the hands of Aguirre. Why should he
fight their battles for them? Peters
was their champion. Now he's gone.
Their current champion, Ben Hueso,
is backing the arch-conservative and
Mayor's ally, "Judge" Jan Goldsmith
(you can't use that honored title to
run for any
Will Hueso protest the fact that
this item is even on the Council
Docket without having received the
City Attorney's signature? Probably
not. Will Hueso lead the opposition
to this obviously illegal contract?
Probably not. He will leave the
fight to Aguirre. So, Aguirre could
be forgiven for letting the unions
stew in their own juice on Monday.
The unions have protested Aguirre's
"meddling" in policy. This might be
a good time for Aguirre to heed
their advice. Calabrese's letter
makes the law clear. Hueso and the
City Council must now decide to
follow the law as outlined by
Aguirre, or follow the Mayor in
on this picture for a video
of the Mayor's Business Office
Danegger, speaking before the Budget
& Finance Committee on September 12,
2007. She was painfully trying to
explain away the slow pace of
I believe it had more to do with the
pending 2008 mayoral election than
internal work load. Sanders wanted
to give the impression to the city
unions that he was not over-eager
about Managed Competition. Wrong.
Danegger, a former Grant Thornton
employee, is married to
Chief Operating Officer for Public
They are both politically savvy.
This is where it gets interesting.
According to the Staff's Supporting
Monday's Agenda Item:
"the managed competition program
issued a Request for Proposals (RFP)
on October 19, 2006.
Four proposals were received and
were evaluated separately for
technical merit and price. Grant
Thornton was evaluated the best
value provider and was awarded
a one-year contract."
is what Sanders wants the Council to
The mayor sent
out an RFP for Managed Competition
before the voters passed
on November 7,
2006. There were
185,688 "Yes" votes (60.37%) and
121,906 "No" votes (39.63%). Sanders
and the Republican Party spent over
$1 million on the campaign.
deadline for returning the Managed
Competition RFP was November 16,
was still working for
Grant Thornton. She did not
30, 2006 and started with the City
the following Monday, December 4,
We are expected to believe that this
political savvy couple did not
discuss the managed Competition RFP
while Anna was working for Grant
Thornton and David was working for
earns $168,002 while Anna earns
i.e. $285,277 between them. They
live in Scripps Ranch and have only
a $450,000 mortgage - not bad for
government workers. One day they
will join the thousands of happy San
Diego City retired millionaires.
With the help of the Casey
Fulhorst, Executive Director City of
San Diego Ethics Commission,
Ms. Danegger got around another
little ethics problem. I wonder why
Stacey did not consider the
Ethics Commission's rules provide
that an employee
influence municipal decisions that
are substantially likely to have a
material financial effect on an
entity that has been a source of
income to you within the previous
However, Fulhorst and the Ethics
Commission conveniently found that
(i.e., not requiring you to exercise
discretion) you perform on such
matters would fall outside the scope
of the prohibition."
San Diego City
is a nice little "Ministerial"
The truth is
that you can do just about anything
in this town if it is found to be
"Ministerial". The Blackwater case
is a good example. Here is the
full letter from the Ethics
Commission to Ms. Danegger.
then did Sanders sign an
"indefinite delivery, indefinite
quantity" privatization contract
with Ramon Contreras, the Defense
Principal at Grant Thornton, who had
recently landed a huge $450 million
privatization contract with the
Department of Justice? Was Sanders
"encouraged" to hire a favorite son
of Washington, as with Blackwater?
If the City Council rejects this
"ministerial" contract tomorrow, I
see a repeat performance of the
Blackwater case in Judge
Federal Courtroom. The
would be proud
of their 21st Century counterparts.
for democracy a similar movement is
afoot in Europe known as the
Treaty of Lisbon.
On June 12, 2008,
among European nations, stopped
further erosion of their national
rejecting the Treaty of Lisbon
53.4% to 46.6%. The erosion of state
and local sovereignty is being done
in the United States not by treaty
but by compliant local politicians
like Jerry Sanders and Federal
Let's see what the City Council
decide on Monday - democracy vs.
"ministerial" - is local government
the next big business franchise?
No need for political parties in San Diego any more.
It's now Ben & Jerry's Flavor "Imagine
by Pat Flannery
Today, flanked by Andrew Jones, president of the San
Diego Deputy City Attorney's Association, Councilmember
Ben Hueso, a Democrat representing the largely Hispanic
Council District 8, endorsed Jan Goldsmith, a Republican
from Coronado, for San Diego City Attorney.
Hueso was first elected to Council District 8 in
November 2005 following the July 2005
conviction of former District 8
Councilmember Ralph Inzunza of extortion,
corruption and fraud for taking bribes from a strip club
Hueso took Inzunza's seat on a mere 7,454 votes in the
November 2005 general election and was reelected,
virtually unopposed, in the following June 2006 primary
election with only 7,994 votes. District 8 is notorious
for voter apathy. Inzunza was first elected in 2001 with
only 4,759 votes and relected in 2002 with 6,103 votes
(Imperial Beach-style numbers).
Pardee Construction paid for most of those 6,103 votes
in South San Diego and Inzunza paid them back in full
measure by killing the expansion of Brown Field. Hueso
serves the same developer/unions master. He doesn't have
to worry about the people - they don't vote. Pardee will
buy him all the votes he needs. That's democracy San
Diego-style and the "Democratic" Party does not seem to
Now this today -
here is the full video of today's bi-partisan,
tri-racial love fest
a Democrat (without a voter base) endorsing the
establishment's choice for a rubber-stamp City Attorney.
I stood in the midday sun to watch this extraordinary
press conference in City Plaza: the golden boy of the
white power elite flanked by adoring members of the two
largest minority groups in San Diego - blacks and
In his glowing endorsement of Goldsmith, Councilmember
"There's no Democratic or
Republican way to run the city .... a lot of the issues
that we deal with, potholes, graffiti, picking up trash
.... we pick up everybody's trash, Democrat's,
Republicans, Green Party, Libertarians .... everybody is
entitled to equal services in the city. I do my job with
that focus. I focus on matters important to all San
Diegans' public health and safety and I think the law
should be applied that way."
Goldsmith picked up the (sukha)
happy theme-for-the-day, saying:
"There's no Democratic or Republican way to run the
City Attorney's office". Casey Gwinn was not
really a Republican - he was a child of the
enlightenment not of the establishment. Yeah, right.
But it is now official. Ben Hueso has said so - there is
no difference between the way La Jolla is governed and
that of Barrio Logan or South East San Diego.
Everybody's trash gets picked up, everybody's potholes
get fixed; graffiti on the walls of La Jolla is cleaned
exactly the same as in South East San Diego.
According to Ben Hueso and Jan Goldsmith we already have
Nirvana and social justice in San Diego. Just don't
drive around South East San Diego, stay North of 8 and
thank God (or Buddha) every day for "enlightened" men
like Ben Hueso and Jan Goldsmith.
thinking has left most of San Diego south of
Interstate 8 a wasteland of neglect. The bulk of the
city's resources are sucked into downtown and the
affluent north. With establishment-serving Council
representatives like Ben Hueso who can be surprised?
Will the Democratic Party protest this latest sellout? I
doubt it. It has become totally dominated by the
all-powerful developer/unions coalition. All they need
for total developer/union Nirvana is to get rid of
City Attorney Mike Aguirre will appeal Blackwater.
by Pat Flannery
I sat through two hours of argument between City
Attorney Mike Aguirre and Judge Marylin Huff in Federal
Court today. Blackwater's attorney Mike Neil hardly
spoke. He didn't need to, Judge Huff argued his case for
Judge Huff went at it with Mr. Aguirre as if she were
guest hosting the Roger Hedgecock show. She then read
her decision, which drew heavily on City Auditor Eduardo
Luna's "exhaustive investigation" (as she described it)
into the Blackwater permits.
I counted over 30 references to Mr. Luna's report. I'm
sure nobody was more surprised than Eduardo. I doubt he
could find the Land Use Section in the Municipal Code
let alone write such an erudite exposition of land use
processes that so impressed Judge Huff today.
talked with City Attorney Mike Aguirre outside the
Federal Courthouse afterwards when he gave me this
which he announced that he will appeal today's
"The City has an absolute
right, through the City Council, to review whether or
not a war training facility can be put in the middle of
what is otherwise an industrial-business park and that
there is a fundamental constitutional issue that has to
be resolved by the Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit and we
will be taking an appeal at the earliest opportunity."
is what Ray Lutz
(the man who has led the opposition to Blackwater's
presence in San Diego County) had to say about Judge
Huff's decision outside the Courthouse:
"This was pretty much a
Here is a more
extensive interview with Mr. Lutz prior to going into
delves into the background of Blackwater and into Judge
Huff's close ties to the Bush Administration. His views
raise serious questions regarding the state of the
"separation of powers" in America today. How much
loyalty does a Federal Judge owe to the
Executive authority that appoints them? It was very
clear where Judge Huff's loyalty lay today.
I hope to obtain a complete transcript of today's
proceedings in the near future when I will post it here.
I think every San Diego citizen should read her
spirited, unjudgely, prolonged verbal exchange with Mr.
Aguirre today. It was a chilling lesson in reality
civics. Unfortunately no cameras or recording equipment
are allowed in her courtroom.
Judge Huff actually said that yes, occasionally, a city
is allowed to exercise "discretion" in its land use
decisions, all others, 40,000 per year in the case of
San Diego, are "ministerial". The military/business/law
enforcement power structure that now governs San Diego
is taking its "reform" seriously. It wants all
government decisions to be "ministerial", just like in
The irony is that the Blackwater case is being billed as
protecting the constitutional rights of a military
contractor. A couple of interesting items were revealed
today: (a) all the staff at Blackwater are ex-military
(who know how to shoot and can take care of themselves
according to General Neil) except for two, who are
retired San Diego cops and (b) General Neil is also the
attorney for San Diego's biggest film studio,
that happens to operate a "hyper-realistic
within the San Diego city limits.
To get a better idea of what Stu Segall and General Neil
have on offer in Kearny Mesa take a look at
their brochure. How did that particular "war
training facility" get put in the middle of "what is
otherwise an industrial-business park"?
Obviously, it occured before Aguirre's term in office
and without any "discretionary" review by the City
It puts today's court proceedings in context: the
military-industrial-law-enforcement power complex
prefers to obtain its entitlements "ministerially". And
their "ministerially" appointed judges make sure they do
not have to face any "discretionary" review. Well done
by Pat Flannery
Watch Sanders' rationale
for his line-item veto of the City Council's directive
to restore 62 mainly Park & Rec and Library jobs,
representing $4.3 million in the City's FY 09 Budget.
press release today outlining his "critical
priorities". He says:
fundamentally with the IBA’s recommendations and City
Council’s changes to my Fiscal Year 2009 Budget."
This is the "reform" San Diegans voted
for. Sanders' legacy will be privatized city services,
meaning no city services. If you want parks go live in a
gated community; public parks are city assets to be
leased for city revenue. That's the message from the 54%
who voted for Sanders.
Look again at the
Grand Jury Report on CCDC. On page 4 it says:
"CCDC’s budget for the Fiscal
Year 2007/2008 is $217.5 million of the
funds belonging to the Redevelopment Agency."
On page 7 it says:
The Redevelopment Agency owes the City
approximately $250 million in loan repayments."
Now consider Sanders' "critical priorities".
The pension system charges the City 8% on its Unfunded
Actuarial Liability, (approximately $90 million per
annum depending on whose UAL numbers you use. The
pension administrators use all kinds of actuarial tricks
to minimize it).
Why does the City not charge the Redevelopment Agency
(RDA) 8% on the $250 million it owes the City? 8% of
$250 million is $20 million. The answer lies in Sanders'
His "critical priorities"
are to the development industry. In order to avoid
collecting even $2.5 million of that $20 million
interest he vetoed the Council's effort to save our
parks. Sanders prefers to leave the money with the RDA -
to subsidize his contributors' projects.
Developers are Sanders' "critical
priorities", not the citizens of
San Diego. He will have an ideological ally on
the City Council, Carl DeMaio. DeMaio modeled his
Institute on the
Both organizations are dedicated to the privatization of
government under the false banner of "reform".
San Diego is to become DeMaio's privatization laboratory
and we his guinea pigs.
Progressive San Diego holds "Election Reflection" forum.
by Pat Flannery
Progressive San Diego held an "Election
Reflection" panel discussion tonight.
Here is the full video
By far the most interesting comments came from Lorena
Gonzalez regarding the Frye/DeMaio bonding. She does not
approve. However, Donna stuck to her guns. She likes
DeMaio. It will be interesting to see how that plays out
between now and the November election.
Several of the runoff candidates were there including
Mike Aguirre, City Council candidates Sherri Lightner,
Stephen Whitburn and Todd Gloria together with Marty
candidate for the 78th State
Assembly District. It provided a pleasant relaxed
atmosphere for candidates and media to mix with an
enthusiastic group of political activists and discuss
the post election state of play over a glass of wine and
Many thanks to the folks at Progressive
San Diego, Tommie Watson, Cory Briggs and others, for
getting us all together for a very interesting evening.
It was refreshing to be able to have a constructive
discussion of city affairs without the ever-present
heavy-handed city unions and their surrogates dominating
the proceedings. The defeat of Scott Peters seems to
have brought some balance back to civic affairs.
Watch the video, it's very informative.
Donna Frye is hedging her bets.
by Pat Flannery
As I wrote on June 4, 2008 we needed to know when
the absentee voters voted. So I went over to the County
Registrar of Voters and got the figures. Here are
absentee numbers and a timeline graph:
Dates Absentee Votes Counted
Here are the
vote numbers as they came in on election night. The
graphs below show the accumulated votes as the count
continued. The first result came from the 227,207
absentee vote count released at 8:00 PM on Tuesday
night. As the non-absentee votes were added
throughout the night and even after a further 53,182
absentee votes were added on the 4th and 5th June,
the vote share hardly changed.
That tells me that the voters made up their minds fairly
consistently over a voting period of almost a month.
Therefore the factors that determined the outcome of the
Mayor and City Attorney races are deep-seated.
The various runoff candidates will need to come to a
full understanding of those deep-seated factors over the
next five months. It seems to me that the relative
strength of the two political parties is the main
factor. The Republicans are well organized, well led and
well financed. The Party was decisive for Republican
candidates, even for Carl DeMaio. Mayor Sanders hardly
had a campaign outside the Republican Party.
The Democrats on the other hand are poorly organized,
poorly led and poorly financed. The traditional core of
the Democrat Party, the Labor Council, has lurched to
the right. It is now locked in the embrace of the City
unions who, with the exception of
AFSCME Local 127,
are largely Republican e.g. Ron Saathoff (the real Fire
Chief). Labor Council leader Lorena Gonzalez recently
told a reporter that the Labor Council might endorse a
Republican, Jan Goldsmith, for City Attorney.
Where would that leave the Democratic Party? That fact
that she could even think such a thing means that either
the Labor Council or the Democratic Party has lost its
way. Goldsmith is the antithesis of labor. Gonzalez
To add to the Democratic Party's woes Donna Frye today
announced an alliance with Councilmember-elect Carl
DeMaio, an arch-Republican. I went to their joint press
conference today and hung on every word.
Here is the full video
DeMaio is a man in a hurry for higher office. He wants
it all. He will use Frye to slingshot himself into an
immediate key position on the City Council. The
arrangement happens to suit Frye right now.
Frye may be hedging her bets against a mixed City
Council result in November. In order to be Council
President she will have to stress her non-partisanship.
Today was a good start. It was interesting that Phil
Thalheimer turned up in the 13th Floor press room for
today's press conference. He and DeMaio obviously had a
thing going. Carl looked in his direction each time he
mentioned new Councilmembers. Thalheimer is in a
November runoff with Democrat Sherri Lightner for
It may be left to City Attorney Mike Aguirre to rally
the Democratic Party (sans the city unions) in San
Diego. And he will have to do it without the Labor
Council and without Donna Frye (who is now officially
non-partisan). The candidacies of Sherri Lightner, Marti
Emerald and Stephen Whitburn may depend upon such a
rally. Otherwise it will be Republican Phill Thalheimer
in District 1, Republican April Boling in District 7 and
DINO (Democrat in name only) Todd Gloria in District 3,
joining District 5's Carl DeMaio in November for a
It could happen. The voters soundly rejected the city
unions when they soundly rejected Scott Peters on June
3, 2008. They will do the same in November to any
Democratic candidate remotely connected to city unions.
At least on that score Aguirre scores very high. It may
yet be his trump card, especially if Police and Fire
To avoid a total takeover of city government by private
interests represented by the Republican Party, the
Democratic Party will have to awaken from its slumber.
If Democrats want to protect city services from
marauding privateers they must believe in "yes, we
can". Attitude towards city services is the
essential difference between the parties.
If Barack Obama turns out voters in Bobbie Kennedy-style
numbers and if Mike Aguirre can explain to the public
what "yes, we can"
means to city services in San Diego, maybe we have a
chance to salvage some democracy in San Diego. Right now
we are looking more and more like a dictatorship of
business interests that own law enforcement.
In the meantime Donna Frye is hedging her bets.
City Attorney race - the result.
by Pat Flannery
There is something very strange about that 32% spike for
Goldsmith. Either the voter count was wrong or the
polls were wrong.
graphs of the breakdown. The SurveyUSA
polls make statistical sense, the count does not. It
defies the laws of statistics.
are always more evenly distributed among the
candidates. Sudden swings like Goldsmith's just do
not happen. Nobody picks up all the "undecideds".
A voter swing from 21% to 32% in a few days does not
happen - ever.
"Something is rotten in the
State of Denmark" (Hamlet:
Act I, Scene 4, Marcellus).
And: "There are more things in
heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your
Act I, Scene 5, Hamlet).
Either strange ghosts walk the electoral battlements of
San Diego or we have to reinvent our polling techniques.
Hopefully the later. If 57% had already voted
(absentee), how could there be 10% "undecideds" only a
few days before the election? It's a statistical
polls picked up too many "undecideds" and misled a lot
of campaign managers. We need more accurate polls in
November. We also need more analysis of the absentee
vote by the Registrar of Voters. We need to know when
those people voted (in addition to who they are,
which the Registrar of Voters already covers pretty
Perhaps many of them just hung up on SurveyUSA
who then marked them down as "undecideds", when in fact
they had already voted.
Mayoral race - the result.
by Pat Flannery
Well, it's over. Four more
years of Sanders - the giveaways continue.
Mike Aguirre flies into town from his daughter's
graduation at Princeton N.J. and will hold a
press conference in Balboa Park at 5:00 P.M. when he
will comment on the election results. I hope he will
make it a call to arms to all those, like myself, who
fear a general takeover of the City's assets by the
developer and business interests that reelected Sanders.
Balboa Park is the perfect place for Mike to call on the
people to finally come together to protect what's left
of our city's civic heritage.
"The pueblo lands have been
like a dowry for San Diego, enabling her to attract
significant suitors such as military installations,
educational and research institutions, business,
industrial, and residential development, all of which
have diversified and enhanced the general economy."
That is a quote from
a paper entitled "The
Pueblo Lands: San Diego's Hispanic Heritage"
written by Clare B. Crane, winner
of the San Diego Historical Society Institute of
History's Judge Jacob Weinberger Award for Legal History
San Diego is the "Plymouth Rock of the Pacific" in that
it was the first permanent Spanish settlement in Alta
California. As it progressed from a Spanish pueblo to an
American city, San Diego received title to 47,323 acres
of land, more than any other city in the United States.
What has happened to that public land? It has been the
subject of endless giveaways from April, 1874, when San
Diego finally received a U.S. patent for those beautiful
Those pueblo lands were surrounded by three large
private Mexican land grants, whose titles were
also recognized by the United States. To the North,
Rancho Penasquitos, to the South, Rancho de la Nacion
and to the East, the ex-Mission of San Diego. Emulating
those private landholders, the City of San Diego began
selling off large parcels to subdividers like Alonzo
Horton. Balboa Park is the last remaing.
To me, it doesn't matter who got elected yesterday or
who paid for their election, they still work for us. The
people still own this city and will fight the giveways.
A good place to begin holding the line is Balboa Park.
Yesterday's low voter turnout should be a wakeup call to
those who slept through the last round of giveaways. If
they sleep through the next four years of Sanders they
may as well stay asleep: there will be precious little
left of San Diego's priceless dowry - 47,323 acres of
Mayoral race - latest poll.
by Pat Flannery
Here is the latest SurveyUSA poll for the San Diego
Here are my
graphs of the breakdown. There is still 11%
That is a large undecided at this late stage. It must be
worrying for Sanders. He still needs another 5% and he
may have already got all the undecided's he is going to
get. They tend to be unhappy with incumbents, that is
why they are undecided. They just can't make up their
mind about the challengers.
Bidwell and Morrow seem to be having a late rally and
that will help Francis who will undoubtedly get his
share. So it will be a squeeker.
We will have a good idea of the result shortly after
8:00 PM when the absentee count is announced. There are
no undecideds in an actual vote count. If Sanders shows
more than 50% at that time he will probably win. If not,
it could be late night before we know the outcome.
Today's Grand Jury Report on CCDC puts Sanders $5
million "contribution" in perspective.
by Pat Flannery
The Grand Jury's
Report on CCDC was released this morning. Its most
significant statement is on page 7:
$250 million of this debt are loans repayable to the
City of San Diego; the balance is primarily debt service
on bond issues" .
Sanders wrote in this
released April 8, 2008:
REPAYMENT FROM CCDC
IN FY09 BUDGET.
As part of his effort to appropriately allocate costs
throughout the City system, Mayor Sanders is including
a $5 million contribution to the PETCO Park debt
service costs from the Centre City Development
Corporation in the FY09 budget. The contribution
comes after months of discussions and is the first of
what will be annual contributions designed to reduce
the City’s costs for this obligation. Total debt service
costs for PETCO Park are $11.3 million annually. CCDC’s
contribution to meeting those costs is expected to grow
in coming years."
Report today the Grand Jury points out that:
"This is about 2% of what the Redevelopment Agency
owes the City."
The Grand Jury then concludes that:
Redevelopment Agency’s debt exceeds tax increment
revenue by over $550 million, repayment of loans to the
City should not jeopardize the Agency’s ability to
continue collecting tax increment revenue."
So, all this time, while the
City staggered through a giant financial crisis, CCDC
was allowed to sit on a mountain of cash, $250 million,
belonging to the people of this City. Potholes went
unfixed while CCDC "co-invested" hundreds of millions of
dollars with favored developers.
Jerry Sanders then tried to cover it all up by issuing a
fatuous "Fact Sheet":
"As part of his effort
to appropriately allocate costs throughout the City
system" and "after
months of discussions" he manages to squeeze
the $5 million out of the
developer-packed CCDC Board.
Here is a summary of the Grand Jury's
The 2007-2008 San Diego County Grand
Jury recommends that the San Diego City Council, acting
as the City of San Diego Redevelopment Agency:
Establish a dollar
threshold over which any sole source contract,
especially for consultant services and legal services,
would have to come before the Agency for justification
08-117: Take steps to insure the
timely submission of the Fiscal Year 2007/2008
Redevelopment Agency Annual Financial Report, and all
such future reports, to the Office of the State
Controller as required by law.
08-118: Direct staff of the three
component entities of the Redevelopment Agency to
compile a grid, broken down by project area, which would
list all monies owed to the City of San Diego,
the date the debt was incurred, the fund from which the
monies were borrowed and a realistic timetable for
08-119: Identify the true funding
mechanism for every approved project at the time of
08-120: Notify the Centre City
Development Corporation to identify the true funding
mechanism for every project it publicizes or in which it
is otherwise involved.
08-121: Direct City Redevelopment Division staff
now working on reorganizing the City’s component of the
Redevelopment Agency to take the additional step of
preparing a plan to consolidate all three existing
components under one administrative structure. "
Yes, it's time for a change, REAL change.
The absentee vote
count will herald citywide results early.
by Pat Flannery
According to the
County Registrar of Voters' web site there are
currently 593,445 people registered to vote in the city
of San Diego, 40% Democrats, 31% Republicans and 29%
Registered Voters in San Diego
Approximately 33% of those are Permanent Absentee Voters
(195,837). 40% are Democrats, 37% Republicans and 23%
"other". Traditionally slightly more Republicans
register absentee than do Democrats and slightly fewer
"other" vote absentee.
Registered Absentee Voters in San Diego
These ratios will become important soon after 8:00 PM on
Tuesday, when the Registrar of Voters will release the
count of absentee ballots.
For simplicity let's assume that the final absentee vote
will be 40% Democrat, 40% Republican and 20% "other". No
party correction will therefore be necessary and early
absentee polls will be strongly indicative of the final
outcome, especially in the two citywide races
(individual City Council Districts may have different
Low turnout will be a strong factor. Get out the vote (GOTV)
efforts are crucial in all elections, but especially so
in low turnout elections. Local candidates with
grass-roots organizations traditionally do better with
GOTV. It is more difficult to do good GOTV in citywide
Neither Steve Francis nor Jerry Sanders has anything
close to the GOTV organization Donna Frye had in place
in 2004 and 2005, with support from the Labor Council of
course. It will be Scott Peters who will benefit this
time from that support. The Labor Council and city
employee unions will mount a massive last minute GOTV
phone and email campaign for him. He is their pension
The firefighters will be particularly active on his
behalf. He helped get them their lucrative city pensions
and he has promised to preserve those benefits at all
costs. $900 million is riding on his candidacy.
State rights, city rights, citizen rights are what a
U.S. court says they are - Blackwater's financial
by Pat Flannery
I sat in Judge Marylin Huff's U.S. courtroom this
afternoon and listened to two Irishmen argue this
important case. Mike Neil argued on behalf of Blackwater
and Don McGrath argued on behalf of the City. McGrath
apologized for his lowly status as a mere (Army)
lieutenant going up against a (Marine) general.
Everybody including the Judge laughed.
But this was serious stuff. Neil and McGrath knew it.
McGrath said he could care less who Blackwater is, how
many generals they know or what they have done for their
country. This was about a city's right to make land use
decisions according to its own local Municipal Code.
smacks of political big wigs in Washington using a city
with a friendly Mayor, San Diego, to reward Blackwater
for services rendered elsewhere.
I was dismayed to hear a United States Judge read our
Municipal Code to our City Attorney and tell him
how to apply it. City Attorney McGrath argued that the
City's Director of Development Services Department,
Kelly Broughton, has the right to decide what permits
are "ministerial" and what are "discretionary" in our
McGrath argued that the Federal Government cannot usurp
that right. Not so, said the Judge. The U.S. Courts have
superior jurisdiction over our Land Use Code (at least
when a favored military contractor is involved). Would
an ordinary citizen in Clairemont for example get the
same U.S. protection over a swimming pool permit? Of
course not. The Federal Court would say it did not have
jurisdiction, which it doesn't.
As I listened to General Neil go on about the "fine men
and women of the U.S. Military" I wondered what kind of
America he thought they were fighting for. I doubt those
fine young people see themselves fighting for a U.S.
Government that holds the financial interests of
Halliburton and Blackwater above the rights of local
Judge Huff was so eager to grant Blackwater its
Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), ordering this City's
Development Services Director to grant a "use" permit to
Blackwater without a clear definition of what that "use"
might be. I found that profoundly disturbing. After
virtually arguing Blackwater's case for them Judge Huff
then said she would not issue her ruling until Tuesday,
the day of the election! Did Mayor Sanders ask for that
one small little favor in return?
It was disturbing that Blackwater's attorney Mike Neil
played a tape in court of Jerry Sanders on the Hedgecock
show yesterday. It was so staged - Sanders seemed to
know exactly what the judge would rule.
It will be interesting to see what City Attorney Aguirre
will do now. Will he allow the military, through the
U.S. courts, to tell this City how to process its
permits? My guess is that Aguirre will fight. It's a
matter of State, City and citizen rights. Blackwater
should be treated like every other permit applicant. We
don't need generals in the courtroom.
This is not what young Marines like Mike Neil and Don
McGrath fought for in Vietnam and elsewhere. Like many
retired generals and admirals Mike Neil has become part
of the giant corporate welfare system that President
Eisenhower warned us about -
the military-industrial complex.
Mayor-appointed City Auditor would close the doors of
City Hall to the people, further alienating them.
by Pat Flannery
This document speaks for itself. The City Auditor
should be elected by the people just as the City
Attorney. Can you imagine where we would be right now if
the procedure being proposed for appointing the City
Auditor applied to the City Attorney? Total control by
“The cure for the ills of democracy is more
four times governor of New York State and Democratic
Presidential candidate in 1928. He lost to
Herbert Hoover who went on to preside over the
Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the
Great Depression that reached bottom in 1933.
The cause of the Great Depression was a crisis of
confidence. It was brought on by the exclusion of
ordinary people from the decision-making process. They
came to distrust the Wall Street bankers who controlled
the government. People started to withdraw their savings
from banks because they felt their money was being
loaned to well-connected speculators. 9,000 banks failed
during the 1930's.
We have a similar crisis of confidence in San Diego
today. Our taxes are being used by the well-connected to
amass fortunes without risking their own money, under
the guise of "redevelopment". These "in" people are
given free public land: NTC (McMillan), the Marina
District (Manchester) and "development rights" in East
The cure for the ills of San Diego is more democracy.
The U-T and the entrenched power elite believe the
opposite. In the 1930s some countries became
dictatorships e.g. Germany and Italy. Those that
remained democracies won out, but only after a great
Prop C is a serious test for democracy in San Diego.
There has been a noticeable trend towards dictatorship
in this city. This Mayor has surrounded himself with
political "operatiks". A Mayor-appointed City Auditor
would further close the doors of City Hall to the
people. An elected City Auditor,
as applies in the five largest cities in America,
would begin to reestablish the people's confidence in
Was Backwater one "ministerial" permit too many?
by Pat Flannery
an Order from United States District Judge Marylin
Huff setting a hearing for tomorrow, May
30, 2008 at 1:30 p.m. in U.S. Courtroom 13, where she
will hear Blackwater's
plea for injunctive relief in the matter of
permitting an anti-terrorist training facility in an
existing warehouse in Otay Mesa.
Here is the
City Attorney's response
this document showing that the anti-terrorist course
in question is taught to the U.S. Navy by entities all
over the world including San Diego City College.
Here is the
Declaration of the City's Chief Building Officer,
Afsaneh Ahmadi. On page 10 somebody wrote "storage of
ammo" on the City's project tracking sheet. Did Afsaneh
Ahmadi or her boss DSD Director, Kelly Broughton, know
in February 2008 or even September 2007 who the real
On page 14 of its
complaint Blackwater states:
"No effort was made to conceal
Blackwater's management or control over the Otay Mesa
facility. Every City staff member must have known they
were dealing with Blackwater employees."
It is hard to believe that City
employees did not hustle these permits through as
"ministerial" at the request of their boss, Jerry
Sanders. After all Jerry, through his
Willows Creek Partners, LLC
inactive), is in the same business as Blackwater.
But somebody at Blackwater blew the whistle to
Raymond Lutz of Citizens' Oversight,
who in turn informed Bob Filner. Filner promptly wrote a
letter to Jerry Sanders. Sanders promised an
"investigation" by COO Jay Goldstone, to be completed by
May 23, 2008. Nothing happened. The Goldstone
"investigation" was never carried out. Did Goldstone
tell Sanders whatever the previous COO, Ronne Froman,
told him when asked to do a similar "investigation" into
It took a Memorandum of Law from City Attorney Mike
Aguirre on May 16, 2008 to force the Mayor to act. On
May 19, 2008 Kelly Broughton, Director of Development
Services wrote the CEO of Blackwater informing him that
the City would not be issuing a certificate of
occupancy. That brought the Blackwater lawsuit.
Blackwater was discovering, as Sunroad did, that Uncle
Jerry can't always deliver.
Whatever happens tomorrow in Judge Marylin Huff's
courtroom, it will not be good for Sanders. If
Blackwater prevails over the pleadings of the City
Attorney, it will be because the Judge will rule that
Sanders' staff knew all along that Blackwater was the
real applicant. If Blackwater fails, they will go after
Sanders for failing them.
He escaped the Sunroad debacle intact by firing Marcela
Escobar-Eck, Director of Development Services at that
time, and also firing her boss Jim Waring. Although they
got the blame, there is no doubt that these two were
simply doing what they were told by Sanders. Broughton
and Ahmadi may not be so easy. They are
Nor may Blackwater be so ready to forgive and forget. If
it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Sanders'
word that permits would be no problem, it will be less
than happy. Why else would a hardened company like
Blackwater forge ahead without obtaining the "change of
use permit" Sanders now claims they should have applied
It will be interesting to watch the body language of
Blackwater's people in Courtroom 13 tomorrow. It will
also be interesting to see how far Broughton and
Ahmadi are willing to stick their necks
out to save their boss, Jerry Sanders. Blackwater is no
promises to taxpayers are one thing but, broken
promises to people who run the kind of "vocational
training" facilities Blackwater does is a whole
Did Blackwater buy their "vocational school" permit?
by Pat Flannery
Did Mayor Sanders grease the
wheels for a valuable Blackwater contract with the Navy
at Otay Mesa? According to
this lawsuit filed by Blackwater against the City of
San Diego the value of that contract is $400 million
(page 5). That would buy a lot of favors. Does Jerry
Sanders still have links with Blackwater through
Willows Creek Partners, LLC, a homeland security
firm with which he was associated?
Raymond Lutz of Citizens' Oversight seems to think
"At this point, we believe it
is in the public's best interest if the inquiry is
expanded to include the inaction of Mayor Sanders who
delayed the stop-work order for three weeks so that
Blackwater could complete their facility, have it
inspected and approved by the GSA and then land an
extended contract for paramilitary training in the
This seems like a re-run of the Sunroad project, where
the developer completed the top floor of the office
building in violation of FAA height limits before any
action was taken on the project, making it all the more
difficult to reverse course."
Here is Mr. Lutz explaining it all on YouTube
and Bob Filner
backing him up. If training the Navy in "basic
arrest and apprehension techniques" is
vocational training then just about any training the
military does is vocational training.
What emerges from reading the
Blackwater lawsuit and the
City Attorney's memorandum that prompted it, is that
the Mayor's staff eagerly bought into the "vocational
school" fantasy. They can't be that dumb. Did Sanders
instruct them to give Blackwater everything it wanted?
$400 million will buy a lot of influence.
If securing that $400 million contract required
political grease, then Blackwater came to the right
city. Our Development Services Department is an
Enterprise Fund. Under Sanders the entire city is an
Enterprise Fund. Here are the
Contributions in favor of Prop. C.
Why is a Mayor-appointed auditor so important to these
contributors? What do they know that we do not? Why are
they so eager to write such large checks to secure a
Mayor-appointed auditor? Because they can't risk another
Aguirre. They can't risk an outsider getting access to
the books. They have been robbing the till for years.
The Mayoral Race.
by Pat Flannery
Which way will the "undecideds"
break in the mayoral race? According to the latest poll
below, 15% of the electorate has yet to make up its
mind. Has Steve Francis done enough to educate that 15%
of San Diegans that a powerful cadre of developers want
Sanders elected so he can to give away as much as
possible to them? McMillan (NTC), Moores (Petco Park),
Manchester (Navy Broadway), Pardee (San Ysidro), Sunroad
(Kearny Mesa, Kensington) never have enough.
this 15% of San Diegans believe that giving away 91% of
all property taxes collected in
downtown to developers is ok? I doubt it. They only
know what they read in the Union-Tribune and the U-T
relies on developers for their dwindling advertizing
revenue. In other words the U-T's big advertisers run
this city - real estate, sports and hotels
Do 42% of San Diegans
actually believe that Sanders is amortizing the
pension debt as he claims he is
doing? Again, if the lie is printed often enough people
believe it. This is the result:
For a detailed analysis and graphic breakdown of the two
most recent mayoral polls, May 1, 2008 and May 21, 2008
It's a mixed bag with some bright spots but also some
warning signs. The graphs show the grim battle between
truth and lies. All too often lies have won out in San
Diego. Let's hope that this time the people will choose
truth over lies. Sanders is lying
about amortizing the pension debt. That one huge lie
alone should be enough to disqualify from holding any
The City Attorney's Race.
by Pat Flannery
Here are the latest poll
figures for the City Attorney's race. Aguirre is holding
his own at 29% while Peters has improved by 4%, up from
17% to 21%. Not surprisingly it is looking like Peters
will be Aguirre's opponent in the November runoff. Let's
examine the numbers:
Aguirre started out more popular with male voters than
in his overall poll and has increased it slightly (by
1%). On the other hand Peters' poll with males is about
the same as his overall showing but it has slipped
slightly (by 1%). So no big changes there.
Peters' overall gain is mainly with females. Those "nice
guy" TV ads are working. Peters seems to be charming the
ladies. Aguirre on the other hand is definitely a "man's
Most of Peters' female fans seem to be younger voters.
He has harvested a large portion of that giant 23%
female "undecideds" in the May 1, 2008 poll. It is
ironic that it will be this group that will shoulder the
massive pension debt being handed off to their
generation. Peters is hiding it with smiles and getting
away with it.
In the voter-rich 18-50 age group (54% of voters) only
5% separates Aguirre from Peters, with 17% still
undecided. Goldsmith does surprisingly poorly in this
group, only 13%. Likewise Maienschein with his boyish
looks. Again, it looks like TV advertising pays
Aguirre remains popular with older voters. But Peters is
making inroads in them too. Peters' share is up from 16%
For more detailed charts on the various age groups
go to this page. The Aguirre/Peters battleground is
clearly concentrated in the 18-35 age group. Perhaps
younger voters watch more TV or know less about the
pension debacle. Strangely, Aguirre has lost some ground
in one of his strongest constituencies, the over 65s -
the pension issue?
Older people are sensitive about their pensions and most
San Diego citizens, both young and old, still do not get
the connection between our exploding pension debt and
the lack of money for infrastructure and city services.
Of course they are being told not to worry by the U-T.
Good news gets votes so Sanders and Peters lie about the
For a breakdown by ethnic group
go to this page. The (polled) ethnic mix seems to be
a little better in this poll than in the last one, but
it is still very skewed in favor of whites. If blacks
and Hispanics were to come out and vote, as they should,
this poll would be virtually worthless.
The breakdown by
political party and by
conservative-liberal is more revealing. Aguirre gets
a bigger share of the Republican vote than either
Goldsmith or Maienschein, both of whom are Republicans!
As if to underline that Aguirre's fight is fiscal,
his poll with conservatives is up from 22% to 31%
while that of Peters is down from 18% to 17%, despite
Peters' overall gain. Clearly this is all about
The battle lines are therefore clearly drawn.
Conservative Republicans and most older voters
understand that Aguirre is trying to save the City's tax
dollars. Union members and retirees on the other hand
care more about their own pension dollars and Peters is
The likely outcome will be a six month duel between
Peters and Aguirre that will only be decided in
November. Massive voter education will be required. The
unions, Peters and Sanders will continue to paint a
false rosy picture. They want to cover up the pension
deficit until after the 2008 election. Each voter owes
it to him/herself to discover the truth.
The art of lying took a new twist last night - Sanders
threw MacSweeney under the bus.
by Pat Flannery
"We really need somebody that's
honest" said mayoral candidate Eric Bidwell
video clip from last night's debate
He then produced
from Mike MacSweeney (email@example.com).
contained a monologue the Sanders' campaign
wanted Bidwell to read on TV "bashing Steve Francis".
Thus did Mr. Bidwell "out" Mayor Sanders. Unfortunately
it will take more than firing his campaign manager to
restore honesty to his administration. There has been
a pattern of dishonesty throughout.
A good start in cleaning up the Sanders administration
would be the firing of Kris Michell and Fred Sainz, who
go all the way back to the dishonest Golding
administration and have been the chief practitioners of
the art of political lying ever since. They are classic
"liars for hire".
In all probability Mike MacSweeney was only doing what
he was told to do to preserve the lucrative City jobs of
Michell and Sainz for another four years. Kris and Fred
have huge pension benefits riding on a Sanders win. They
badly need those extra four years.
This is a bitter lesson for MacSweeney or any other
outsider who thinks that insiders like Michell, Sainz
and Goldstone, who care for nothing but themselves,
would hesitate for one moment to throw somebody like
MacSweeney under the bus. Honchos in the Republican
Party like Tony Krvaric and Tom Shepard did not fire one
of their own, this was the act of three ruthless
insiders: Michell, Sainz and Jay Goldstone. They have
Sanders' ear, and far more intimately than even Shepard.
What Mike MacSweeney did was wrong, we all know that,
but Sanders himself was a party to it all along. He
tried to seduce young Bidwell. I watched him do it
before and after every debate. I attended them all. The
reason MacSweeney and the Mayor's team got blindsided on
Thursday night was that Bidwell had been going along
When it backfired, Sanders listened to his City insiders
not political professionals like Shepard. That was a big
mistake. He will regret it bitterly. Shepard would never
have fired MacSweeney on his own. The leaders of the San
Diego County Republican Party, Kvaric and others know
what happened. They know that Sanders used them. He is a
City retiree and City insider first and a Republican
second, if that.
The Sunroad Timeline.
by Pat Flannery
Here is a link
to all documents relating to Sunroad.
Snowjob and the
relied upon a Development Services Department (DSD)
misrepresentation of fact regarding the zoning
applicable to the Sunroad project (the two reports look
like they were compiled by the same person on the same
Read my notes in red on the
Everybody at DSD knows that the entire Sunroad project
is subject to a CC zoning Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of
0.50%. Height limit is only one factor of that FAR.
Sunroad has already exceeded its FAR and may NOT
do any more construction on that site. Yet it continues
to do so and Sanders and his DSD continue to allow it.
Deliberately granting building permits in excess of
allowable FARs is corruption. It has
continued with the full knowledge and cooperation of
Jerry Sanders. Under him the City is flaunting its own
laws. No staff report or AG Report can change that fact.
In my book it is corruption.
Sanders should issue a "Stop Work Order" (SWO) on the
Sunroad project today. But he won't. What is really
happening is that he is deliberately helping Sunroad's
$40 million case against the City.
He may have appeared to acquiesce in Aguirre's demand
for a 20 foot height reduction but he is making sure
that Sunroad will be handsomely compensated. Sanders'
reputation with the developer community depends upon it.
They are all waiting to see how he handles Sunroad. They
need to be sure that "our Jerry can fix it".
And fix it he has done with the help of the entire law
enforcement establishment of the County. It was all
carefully planned behind closed doors long before
Sanders held his infamous press conference at City Hall
announcing that he was going to ask the State Attorney
General to "investigate" Aguirre's charges of
corruption. He already knew the result and its timing.
It went like clockwork.
Gary Schons, Chief
Assistant Attorney General
in San Diego, assured the local law enforcement junta
that Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown could be relied upon to
remain asleep at the wheel of his AG's Office. They knew
that space cadet Brown would be away on another planet
until the deed was done. They were right. Captain
"Moonbeam" didn't even know there was a Mayoral election
in San Diego! When he finally woke up he had no choice
but to defend his Chief Assistant in San Diego.
I can't imagine this "Enron-by-the-Sea" happening under
Brown's predecessor Bill Lockyer, who famously (or
infamously) told the Wall Street Journal after the
California energy rape crisis that he couldn't wait
“to personally escort Lay to an
8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed dude
who says, ‘Hi, my name is Spike, honey.’" Not
exactly the PC thing to say but I think we all shared
what Lockyer felt about Enron's Ken Lay. Rape comes in
many forms and is always ugly.
The next phase in San Diego's odyssey of corruption will
be a "settlement" with Sunroad. Sanders will have the
City cough up Sunroad's "costs" in reducing the
building's height, complete with massive legal expenses
of course. The attorneys always get paid.
We will be told that it is in the City's best interests
to "settle" with Sunroad, that Aguirre put the City at
risk by putting Sunroad through what he did. That will
teach any future City Attorney or Mayor not to interfere
with the rightful "entitlements" of a developer. Why do
you think they are so quiet? Because they already know
the outcome, just as they already knew the outcome of
the AG "inquiry".
Bonnie Dumanis and her law enforcement friends in high
places, such as the Chief Assistant Attorney General
in San Diego County, were handed the script a year ago.
You can't run a County unless you have law enforcement
in your pocket. Developers everywhere know that.
Bonnie learned early on that "you go along to get
along". She seems to "get along" with the developers
just fine. So does Schons. They know how things work in
this County - because it has always been that way. Read
this report and timeline regarding Dumanis's
involvement in the murky politics of Chula Vista. It
tells a lot about our current DA.
We are perilously close to being a
by Pat Flannery
Here is the
Attorney General's Report whitewashing Sanders'
involvement in Sunroad. It looks like it was written by
Jo Anne SawyerKnoll, Mayor Sanders' Deputy Chief of
Report is blatantly political, written by people in the
office of the AG sympathetic to Sanders and the law
enforcement elite of San Diego County.
This Report takes corruption to a new level. It shows
what an uphill battle it will be to clean up this County
after Bonnie Dumanis. Anybody who believes that Sunroad
did not involve corruption is on another planet. Bonnie
Dumanis must be the worst District Attorney anywhere in
And Gary Schons, Chief
Assistant Attorney General
in San Diego, is as totally political as she is.
In its rush to exonerate Sanders, the San Diego office
of the AG has penned gross land use and zoning
mistatements that will damage the City's ability to
defend itself against false allegations made by Sunroad
who is trying to extort $40 million in damages. Will the
AG take responsibility for that misinformation? I notice
the Report is unsigned.
This whole caper will backfire on the Mayor. It will
reopen the whole Sunroad mess. Sanders' friends at the
AG's office may be good at whitewash, but they don't
know jack about land use. There is still the matter of
the SDG&E transformer that remains in the the
residential section and the total disregard of the
City's Floor Area Ratios (FARs).
The U-T endorses the "Big Lie" - pension
by Pat Flannery
This is the amortization schedule we are being
told is happening:
This is the actual amortization schedule
The result is negative amortization,
growing year by year:
And this is only for the deficit as of 2006,
$1,289,038,773. The Mayor's "solution" still shows a
negative balance of $548 million after 21 years and
after $2.7 billion in payments from the City - for that
deficit alone! His amortization plan does not
take into account "new" deficits being created by the
internal growth in benefits already "vested" in current
members. That figure is growing exponentially. Nor does
it take into account any pay raises e.g. the recent
police and fire pay raises. Mr. Goldstone asserts that
he can amortize those separately as they occur.
For those of you who would like to check my numbers for
yourselves (as you should, particularly the media), go
to this free
online amortization calculator and compile your own
amortization schedule. The "loan" amount is
$1,289,038,773, as certified by the Pension System's
actuary and as used in the
City's own amortization schedule as provided to me
by COO Jay Goldstone.
The annual interest rate is 8%. That is the rate the
pension system charges the City based upon its assertion
that it would earn that return if it had the money to
invest. The number of years is 20. This was set by the
Pension Board despite a ballot measure mandating 15
You will arrive at a required annual payment of
$131,291,446. Now compare it with what Sanders is
actually paying - considerably less. Yet he is telling
the public that, as required by a vote of the people, he
is fully amortizing the pension debt over 20 years. It
is the "Big Lie".
my worksheet. Note that under Sanders' "Big Lie"
schedule the balance actually goes up every year until
2019 when it starts to go down but still has a remaining
in 2028. That is outrageous. The CEO of a private
company would be fired on the spot.
Another "Big Lie" is his oft-repeated statement that
Sanders used the $100 million he borrowed against the
tobacco settlement payments to pay down the unfunded
pension liability. He did not.
Here is the truth. There is an account on the City's
books (not the Pension System's books) called the
"Net Pension Obligation" (NPO). It shows the unpaid
Annual Required Contribution (ARC) actually billed to
the City by the Pension System at the beginning of each
year, the amount it pays each year and the amount it
owes the System at the end of each year, just like any
ordinary creditor/debtor account.
A negative balance has been accumulating steadily since
1999. In other words, in addition to conniving with the
Pension System's Board to charge the City less than
needed to fund the Pension System, as we all know, the
City was not even paying that amount. Here is a summary
of the City's NPO account as published in the City's
CAFR. Note that the Pension System also charges 8%
interest on this negative balance.
(Amount in $
The Annual Required Pension Contribution (ARC)
for 2006 was $167.631. The City used the
proceeds of a revenue bond against the tobacco
settlement to increase its payment for that year
to $271.349, thus reducing the balance owing to
the Pension System from $264.060 to $160.342.
Sanders then misrepresented that payment as a
reduction to the Pension System's Unfunded
Accrued Actuarial Liability. It was not.
Yet the U-T wrote in
its editorial today:
"In incremental steps, the
mayor reshaped the city's finances and began paying
the full annual contribution to the pension system,
putting it on a path to pay off its staggering debt
on a 20-year amortization schedule."
Between Sanders and the U-T this city is morally
bankrupt. It is just one "Big Lie" after the other. The
truth is that the City's pension system is out of
control. The administration, the city unions and the U-T
are covering it up. The City's financial situation is
unsustainable. The Mayor, his staff and the U-T know it.
They simply choose to lie about it.
The City Council must resolve the impasse - no
by Pat Flannery
City Attorney Mike Aguirre told the City Council today
that it has an affirmative duty to resolve the
Mayor-union impasse. He issued this
Memorandum of Law (MOL) this evening. I received it
by email at 4:29 PM. Presumably so did Council President
Scott Peters (unless he and his staff had left early,
this pleasant Friday evening).
Council Policy 300-06 Section VII (B) gives the
power to the City Attorney to determine whether an
impasse shall be resolved by the Civil Service
Commission or by the City Council.
If no agreement is reached at an impasse meeting,
impasses shall then be resolved by a determination by
the Civil Service Commission or the City Council after a
hearing on the merits of the dispute. Determination of
which of the above bodies shall resolve a particular
impasse shall be dependent upon:
1. The subject matter of the impasse,
2. The applicable provisions of the
Charter and Municipal Code of the City of San Diego
as interpreted by the City Attorney."
MOL today he has determined that it shall be
resolved by the City Council. He cites the
San Diego City Charter, Section 15 and the above
Given this obligation on the City Council, to pass a
salary ordinance and to resolve any labor impasse, the
impasse item must be continued until the
Council achieves a majority. There is no escape.
According to Council Policy, "Impasse" cannot be used as
a negotiating tool. Once declared by the Mayor, the City
Council as the legislative body, must resolve the
impasse. The Council may consult with the parties and
encourage them to make concessions, but the parties can
no longer negotiate directly with each other.
All this Mayoral talk about going to the citizens with a
ballot measure is political grandstanding. The City
Council must either get the parties to make concessions
or impose a settlement by ordinance. We
may have a strong mayor form of government, but not
strong. The City Council is still the only body that can
pass a salary ordinance.
And pass one they must.
Jerry Sanders, the banker, goes to Wall Street.
by Pat Flannery
Jerry Sanders was President and Chief Operating Officer
of a company called
Virtual Capital of
California, LLC, while he was running for mayor in
2005. Few knew about it. As part of my sleuthing at the
this web site,
which though "under construction" had an address
downtown. So I paid it a visit. I was surprised to be
handed a prospectus for
Coronado First Bank, "in organization" at the time.
Well, Jerry is still a director of that bank he and his
old college roommate Tom Stickle formed in 2005. Here is
what its web site currently has to say about its
is Mayor of the City of San Diego. Since 2004, Mr.
Sanders has been a partner in Willows Creek Partners,
LLC, a homeland security advisory firm. From 2002 to
2005, Mr. Sanders was President and Chief Operating
Officer of Virtual Capital of California, LLC. Virtual
Capital partners with research universities and
university-affiliated national laboratories to
facilitate the transfer of technology to corporations.
From 1999 to 2002, Mr. Sanders served as President and
Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of San Diego
County. Mr. Sanders joined the United Way after a
26-year career with the San Diego Police Department.
During the final six years with the department, he was
the Chief of Police. "
Funny how the matter of Jerry being a banker has not
come up during his placement of a $103 million City loan
with Bank of America. Does Bob Kittle and the U-T know
that our Mayor is a banker in his spare time or is that
just one of those things gentlemen do not talk about?
The California Constitution
limits the State Legislature's ability to incur
debt. A similar restriction applies to local
Article 16, section 18, (a):
“No county, city, town,
township, board of education, or school district, shall
incur any indebtedness or liability in any manner or for
any purpose exceeding in any year the income and revenue
provided for such year, without the assent of
two-thirds of the voters of the public entity voting
at an election to be held for that purpose....”
In order to avoid that limitation Sanders got his
staff, most notably
his Director of Debt Management to phony up some "lease
revenue" money for a $103 million "lease revenue bond"
with the Bank of America. The City Attorney has refused
to sign off on it.
Now the Bank of America, one of Standard & Poor's
biggest customers, have got them to rate the City's
bonds. This will enable Bank of America to recast its
"private" loans to the City as "public" one's This is a
bit like purchasing raw land and getting it rezoned.
Sanders' old roommate Tom Stickle sure knows banking and
has the connections to fix things for his fellow bank
director, Jerry Sanders.
Will the unions move in for the kill, now that they have
extracted a key concession from Sanders?
by Pat Flannery
It was fascinating to watch Mayor Sanders abandon a
fundamental tenet of his much-flaunted reform agenda, by
abandoning his promise to introduce a defined
contribution element into the pension system.
the unions' demand to retain their 100% defined
benefit plan. But to watch it you would be forgiven
for missing the cave-in. He
received glowing editorials
in the Union-Tribune and elsewhere for his "visionary"
new pension plan, only to withdraw it at the last
moment, but he dared not admit it. His "spin" staff
therefore wrote his Council statement very carefully.
They are very good at it.
They produced a masterpiece of deception by omission. He
referred to his new "last best and final
offer" (LBFO) as if it had not changed since morning,
when in fact he had just gutted it in closed session.
as it started the day. The truth is that he totally
caved in and completely adopted the MEA defined benefits
Instead of hailing it for the huge concession that it
was, the unions chose to focus on whether or not the
Mayor could change his LBFO at the impasse hearing. Here
is the relevant City Council
policy document on that matter. Section VII (B) (b)
clearly states that the purpose of an impasse hearing
shall be: "a final effort to
resolve such disputed issue or issues". That
is exactly what the unions intended to do themselves!
Here is what Ann Smith had to say the following
morning on the
MEA's web site. She chose to stress that the MEA's
LBFO "was a package
proposal with each component part interdependent
on each other component part". Here is that
Now watch Smith's response to the Mayor's well-spun
Why did she stress that the MEA offer was an
"all-or-nothing" deal? Clearly it was not. The MEA
itself had earlier tried (unsuccessfully) to allow the
City Council to cherry-pick that "all-or-nothing" deal.
Smith (inadvertently?) disclosed in her
letter to the MEA membership that:
"When MEA argued that the
Council should be given the option to take what it
liked from the Mayor's LBFO and combine it with a
position it liked in the Union's LBFO, the Mayor's
response was NO!"
San Diego's labor "negotiations" rival
profession wrestling for fake moves. Thus the unions
were complaining about Sanders doing exactly what
they intended to do, negotiate their LBFO at the
Sanders might have gone along with
the Council "taking what it liked" from his LBFO but he
knew that the U-T would have flayed him alive if he had
agreed to that little MEA/City Council skullduggery.
Also, John Davies and those San Diego "givers" who gave
to Sanders' "Reform City Hall Committee" (meaning "Bust
the City Council Committee") would have demanded their
money back. The Council "taking what it liked" from the
Mayor's LBFO - that's how it used to be, not any more.
Besides, Aguirre had closed that "back door" with this
back on February 1, 2008. He made it clear that the
Mayor and only the Mayor has the authority to negotiate
labor agreements on behalf of the City. Aguirre
explained that a core principle of labor negotiations is
that "there be an independent
fact-finding group in the event there is a failure to
reach agreement during the course of negotiations".
He proposed that that group be the City Council. It is.
It was a clever move to forestall exactly what the
unions have since tried to do - "back-dooring through
individual Council offices". Aguirre believes that in
adopting a strong mayor form of government, the voters
intended to deprive the City Council of this "back
dooring". Ron Saathoff and Judie Italiano had virtually
camped at those "back doors".
Tuesday was the first real test of this reform. The
unions failed to exercise their traditional control over
a traditionally compliant majority of City
Councilmembers. Ironically the Mayor also failed to
"impose" the unions' own pension plan.
Aguirre had the last word
Much to Scott Peters' pro-union chagrin, Aguirre
explained that the Council must vote up or down on the
Mayor's last best and final offer which
was the (devalued) one he presented in closed session
only minutes earlier.
Council Policy 300-06 Section VII (A) (b) clearly
gives the parties the right to do just that. But it was
intended to be used by the Council on behalf of the
Jim Madaffer then made the motion
It failed in a 4-4 tie
The unions applauded but it was a
for both them and the Mayor, particularly for the Mayor.
He was the one who had caved in.
The truth is that the Mayor had exhausted his available
resources when he gave a 6% raise to the Police and a 5%
raise to the Firefighters. He was boxed in. That is why
he was willing to abandon his promise to introduce a
defined contribution element into the pension
Will it be business as usual at City Council today?
by Pat Flannery
The Total Revenue for the
General Fund is $1,188 millions. Here is the
breakdown. Note that Property Tax is the largest single
General Fund Revenues
Now look at where the money goes. Safety (police,
fire and lifeguard) is exactly 50%. That is a very
dangerous situation. We are not there yet, but it is
Vallejo found itself spending over 70% of its
general fund on police and fire that it had to declare
General Fund Expenses
Obviously the two big revenue and expense items are
Safety and Property Tax. Are they related in any way?
Yes. Redevelopment Tax Diversion. Below is a chart
showing the tax increment diversion for CCDC alone - a
total of $117.2 million. None of those millions
can be used for Safety or other City services. It all
goes to the developers.
- Property Tax Diversion -
In $ millions
The 1% Property Tax from all those tall buildings
"diverted" to CCDC, where it is spent by an
unelected Board, made up of developers. They spend it on
"incentives" to themselves to develop the most
desirable real estate in America. They then send the
bill for safety and other city services to our dwindling
Here is the current
County-wide figures on all property taxes diverted
to Redevelopment Agencies, from the County Treasurer's
office. It tells a frightening story. This massive
diversion of our basic revenue, property tax, is why our
police and fire will soon cost 70% of our General Fund.
Will bankruptcy, like Vallejo, then be our only option?
- Property Tax Diversion - By %
All this is without even mentioning the dreaded "P"
(pension) word. Also, the cost for police and fire
personnel seems very high. If you divide the direct cost
for Police, $409,199,362, by
2,771, the total
number of police, you get $147,672. The direct
cost of Fire Service is $188,252,919, divided by
$167,187 per person per year.
I don't know how that compares with other cities but it
seems steep to me. As far as I know it does not include
real estate or other overhead.
During the current budget and salary negotiations
"property tax diversion" or
"redevelopment" will not be mentioned. Instead,
Mayor Sanders and his financial wizards,
COO Jay Goldstone, CFO Mary Lewis
and veteran Director of Debt Management, Lakshmi Kommi,
foresaw all this and were busy phonying up "lease
revenues" to finance phony Bank of America tax-free
The money that might have paid for fixing the roads and
sidewalks was already promised to the politically
powerful police and fire.
Ann Smith and the usual parade of aggressive MEA
people will talk for hours about preserving their
gold-plated pension "entitlements". Then their placemen
on the City Council, Peters, Atkins, Hueso and Young,
presided over by their hand-picked Council President,
Scott Peters, will mouth their usual platitudes and obey
their union masters just as Dick Murphy and a long line
of union puppets did before them.
If any organization ever needed change, it is the
City of San Diego. It is up to the voters -
the joint rule of union-developers, or
San Diego politics is not for the faint hearted.
by Pat Flannery
With regard to yesterday's
U-T article involving emails that contained links to
Aguirre's campaign web site sent to City employees, the
picture below is worth a thousand words. Scott Peters is
the unions' choice for City Attorney and the unions
control City Hall. The ethics complaint is entirely
It is obvious to any City Hall watcher that this
"complaint" is being coordinated by the city unions.
Scott Peters has a similar ongoing complaint against
Aguirre at the State Bar.
It is just the way the political game is played in San
Diego. It gets real nasty and is not for the faint
hearted. Unfortunately the stakeholders are the
taxpayers who receive fewer and fewer services every
Breaking down the mayoral vote
- a glimpse of June 3rd.
by Pat Flannery
KGTV Chanel 10 has released a poll it commissioned
one of the largest opinion research companies in
America. Here is the
in table form. I don't know about you but I need visuals
so I spent a few hours making graphs of the data.
The first chart is the overall distribution of the vote.
I was surprised at how poorly the three candidates
Morrow, Hart and Bidwell fared. The undecided voters are
twice the "other candidates" share of the vote.
Jerry Sanders cannot be too pleased to see Steve Francis
coming within 4% of him at this stage, with 16% still
undecided! That puts Francis within striking distance
for June 3, 2008.
The breakdown by age is the first and most crucial
analysis. Francis is ahead or level with Sanders in
three out of the four age categories but Sanders has a
significant lead with the 35 to 49 year olds, who make
up the single largest age group at 32% of total voters.
Obviously the Francis campaign will be checking
Notice how the level of undecideds is directly related
to age. Most of those over 65 have already made up their
minds but are evenly split between Sanders and Francis
while 24% of those between 18 and 34 and 18% of those
between 35 and 49 are still looking. The under 50
undecideds will therefore be the battleground for the
next three weeks.
21% of females have still to make up their minds. Many
of them are probably in the under 40 age group. In real
estate I have found women more practical than men. They
will demand real numbers about the City's finances, its
twin deficits, infrastructure and pension, before
deciding to whom they will entrust their City's welfare
for the next four years. It will take more than empty
spin to reach these voters.
Next comes the racial and ethnic mix. What jumps out at
you is the truth of the old adage: "the world is run
by those who turn up". If this poll is accurate it
clearly shows that African-Americans, Hispanics and to a
lesser extent Asians are not turning out to vote. They
are leaving the field open to the whites, who account
for a disproportionate 70% of the vote and therefore of
But those few blacks and Hispanics who are engaged in
the political process are overwhelmingly going for Steve
Francis. Surprisingly Asians favor Sanders at a higher
rate than even white voters. I have no idea why. I know
that many Asians work for the City of San Diego. Perhaps
they see Sanders as a fellow City-man.
Not surprisingly Sanders gets a much larger share of the
Republican vote than does Francis. It is Sanders' core
vote. Francis's support is more evenly spread. His
campaign message seems to be working - he is being
perceived as a potential "independent mayor".
As if to underline the fact that Sanders' core support
is the Republican Party of San Diego, the
"conservative/moderate" divide hardly exists. Both
candidates are perceived as roughly equal in the
"conservative/moderate" spectrum. Notice that over 50%
of those supporting the three other candidates are
The run-up to the June 3 election will mostly be about
the "undecideds". The Republicans have made up their
minds. They will back Sanders because he is firmly
committed to protecting their business interests, the
traditional mission of the Republican Party.
So, the old adage, "the world is run by those who
turn up", is as true in San Diego today as it has
always been, everywhere. Those with "entitlement"
business before the City will turn out in droves to
protect their special interests, largely the tourism and
To win, Steve Francis must persuade the "little guy",
whether he is white, black, Hispanic or Asian, to claim
his/her place in the corridors of power. Politics is all
about power and money. It is just that those with both,
understand it better. We can only hope that this time,
by electing an independent mayor (although rich), the
little guy will get a chance.
The truth about City employees - there are more, not
by Pat Flannery
The bar chart below is compiled from figures obtained
from City Hall under a PRA request.
again compiled from data received through a PRA request,
breaking down the number of City employees by department
at approximately the end of each half year over the
period from July 2006 to January 2008.
What the complete
schedule clearly shows is
that, contrary to what Jerry Sanders has been telling
us, the number of City employees has gone up, not
down. The total number of paid City employees
actually went up by 371 since 2006 - i.e. from
9,822 to 10,193!
Sanders knows how to play the budget game. He knew that
the City had overbudgeted when he took office - over
1,500 positions were vacant in 2006.
Big organizations do that in order to be able to spend
the money elsewhere. Jerry knows how such organizations
He proceeded to take advantage of this budget padding
to spin the yarn that he was actually cutting City jobs,
when all he was doing was partially right-sizing an
inflated employee budget, in other words he told us
about the blue (budget) column above but did not tell us
about the red (actual) column. That's slick advertizing,
from a master salesman.
Here is some of that spin from Jerry while all this was
On June 23, 2006 the
has promised to cut 500 city jobs over the next
year and streamline many city services to save
At a town hall meeting in Balboa Park on August 25,
2006, vowing to fully implement the Kroll
the U-T reported:
"Sanders estimated that the
recommendations would cost at least $45 million, take 30
months to implement, and lead to the elimination
of more than 500 city jobs, a higher total than
any he has given during his eight months in office."
In his January 2007 State of the City Address Sanders
address the deficits, I have proposed a number of cuts
that we intend to implement. Many will come from our BPR
and governmental efficiency efforts. Those efforts
account for a portion of the 959 positions I
propose to eliminate over the next 3 years,
positions this year."
Anybody reading the Union-Tribune since Sanders took
office would be forgiven for believing that Sanders has
actually cut City jobs. Remember how Bob Kittle did
on March 9, 2008 repeating Sanders' lie that his new
pension plan would save the City $25 million per year,
only to subsequently retract it in a tiny piece buried
where nobody would see it? No doubt many U-T readers
still believe that Sanders' pension plan will save the
City $25 million per year and that he has cut hundreds
of City jobs.
But the harsh reality is that the City's pension and
infrastructure deficits have got worse, not better, with
no fix in sight, only happy talk and downright lies.
Sanders may be a nice guy to have a beer with (I don't
know, I've never had a beer with him) but I know that we
still have giant financial problems and we are not being
told the truth about them.
So, we are on our own, it is left to ourselves to ferret
out the truth about our City's finances. Therefore the
more people who send in Public Records requests for
financial information, the sooner we will know the truth
and put this whole mess right. Right now we are being
kept in the dark and fed "you know what" by our
officials. Of course we could choose to remain happy
little mushrooms and buy the happy talk.
Sanders' ship of state is on "a sea of troubles".
by Pat Flannery
The Mayor "released" the
September 7, 2007 email from Fred Sainz to Bob Kittle
that got snagged by the City's email server because it
contained the "f" word. However, he did not release it
to the person who made the PRA request, he released it
to the party to whom the email was addressed in the
first instance - the Union-Tribune.
At the time of the original PRA request the maker
received an email from the Mayor's office, signed by a
Jill Monroe, verifying that ALL Sainz emails were
included on the CD provided and that none were redacted.
Yet Matt Hall of the Union-Tribune
"Sainz apologized for swearing in a city e-mail but
not for withholding it". In other
words Sainz scoffed at the Public Records Act and the
Mayor's office lied in an email to the maker of the PRA
request. Releasing the email to the Union-Tribune, a
party to the email in the first instance, does not
comply with the law. The law requires that ALL Sainz
emails be released to ALL parties who made PRA requests.
Yesterday the Mayor
told a press conference:
“You know, Fred
shouldn't talk naughty in e-mails, and I've told him
that” . He added that
that was all that was going to happen about it, which
means that the Mayor is joining Sainz in scoffing at the
Public Records Act.
Since I published Fred Sainz' email for
October 2007 other people who
received emails from Fred Sainz during that period have
informed me that their emails were also excluded from
those provided under the published PRA request.
The Public Records Act means nothing to these people.
What intrigues me is Jay Goldstone's role in all this.
Does he concur in this scoffing at the Public Records
Act? It is his responsibility. He is the
City's Chief Operating Officer. But more importantly
he is the Colin Powell of the Sanders Administration. He
is the one person left with a
shred of credibility,
and that is wearing thin.
Here is the
Mayor's press release dated December 13, 2005
appointing Goldstone the City's first Chief Financial
Officer. He later succeeded Ronnie Froman as COO
resigned on June 11, 2007.
Richard Haas, a retired Navy captain, joined Sanders'
team on the same day as Goldstone. But he quietly
resigned on November 6, 2007 to "pursue personal
projects". No resignation letter
was released. He had been Deputy Chief Operating Officer
for Public Works, responsible for the city's
water, sewage and trash operations.
He was replaced by David Jarrell, assistant deputy chief
at Public Works. Jarrell appears to be a keen Sanders'
supporter. He accompanied him on his recent Budget
presentations around town.
What is clear to City Hall watchers is that politics is
king in the Sanders Administration. Jay Goldstone
famously told Rick Reynolds and Lance Wade that they
were "not political enough"
and that that was why he had to let them go. What does
that say about Goldstone himself? Obviously he IS
political enough for a top job with Sanders.
The next few weeks will tell whether those who were "not
political enough" missed the boat or whether
those who stayed, like Goldstone, were too
political and went down with a s(t)inking ship.
Tom Shepard and Fred Sainz belong with Sanders, but does
Jay should ponder
- "To be, or not to
be--that is the question:
- Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
- The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
- Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
- And by opposing end them."
the rub" Jay. You face
the same existentialist dilemma as Hamlet: "Thus
does make cowards of us all".
Mayor Sanders is risking public money for an aide.
by Pat Flannery
"exception" claimed by the
Mayor's policy advisor
Julie Dubick for not releasing the potty-mouthed
email from her colleague Fred Sainz to Bob Kittle at the
U-T on September 7, 2007, may cost the City a lot of
money if somebody sues the City for breach of the Public
Records Act. I am told by legal experts that the
financial penalty could be severe.
The "exception" she quotes applies ONLY to documents
specifically prepared for whatever litigation is
involved. I will leave it to whoever is playing City
Attorney over at the Mayor's Office to find the case law
and I will compare it with
citation I have been given by various outside
interested parties. Here is the relevant quote from the
court also held that a document is protected from
disclosure under the pending litigation privilege (Gov.
Code, § 6254, subd. (b)) only if the document was
specifically prepared for use in litigation, but Gov.
Code, § 6254, subd. (k), confers upon public agencies a
broader exemption from disclosure by protecting the work
product generated by a public agency in anticipation of
A whole slew of San Diego lawyers are sharpening their
litigation pencils. What the Mayor needs to take into
account is the potential liability to the City if he
persists in his breach of the Public Records Act. Has he
consulted the City Attorney on this, as he is required
to do under the City Charter? Who will represent the
City in the event of a lawsuit?
The Mayor must use the lawyer the people elect. He does
not have the option of using his policy advisors as
legal counsel. It would appear that Ms. Dubick relayed
wrong legal information to Andrew Donohue of the Voice
of San Diego yesterday regarding the offensive Sainz
The Mayor should release the offending email and take
the consequences, just as he did with the "F bomb".
Right now he is shielding an aide, Fred Sainz, with
citizens' money. He promised NOT to practice "delay,
deny and deceive". Yet that's exactly what he is
doing with the Fred Sainz/Bob Kittle email.
The Mayor is not out of the woods regarding the "missing
by Pat Flannery
Andrew Donohue wrote in
Voice of San Diego yesterday:
an e-mail to me today, Julie Dubick, the mayor's
director of policy, said the Mayor's Office would not
release the e-mail because it is part of ongoing
litigation. The state Public Records Act allows public
agencies to withhold records that are part of
Yes, that is correct but only with regard to Mr.
Donohue's public records request because it was filed
AFTER Rick Reynolds filed his lawsuit. It appears that
every journalist in town filed a PRA request for the
offending email AFTER Reynolds filed his lawsuit.
Readers of my blog will remember this paragraph from
April 19, 2008:
"Pursuant to a Public Records
Request, I have Fred Sainz's emails for the period
2007. They make interesting reading for other reasons
too. More of that later."
That particular Public Records Request was filed long
BEFORE Reynolds filed his lawsuit. Therefore the
"exception" cited by Julie Dubick to Andrew Donohue
yesterday does not apply to it.
I await the Mayor's Office to properly fulfill that
prior Public Records Request, as required by law. Ms.
Dubick could not have been unaware that such a prior PRA
request had been filed. It was well publicized and
discussed. She obviously hoped that Andrew Donohue and
the Voice of San Diego would put the matter to rest
yesterday. Well, it hasn't.
Sanders' fox and the City's fragile financial chickens.
by Pat Flannery
The Audit Committee meets
tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM. They will be presented
Report together with this
cover letter from the Ad Hoc Committee formed back
July 30, 2007.
On June 4, 2007 Chairman Faulconer
requested the nominations of at least three private
citizens as provided by the Committee Charter, one to be
appointed by the Mayor and at least two by the Audit
Sanders appointed his United Way, Red Cross and Bank of
Douglas Sawyer. Atkins appointed a recently retired
State of California Small business Loan Guarantee
Program in San Diego.
Report has to be a big disappointment to Jerry
Sanders and a big boost to Councilmember Donna Frye and
mayoral candidate Steve Francis who have called Sanders'
proposal akin to suggesting that a fox be appointed to
guard the henhouse.
of how Donna Frye illustrated her side of the Prop C
argument at a meeting of the
Democratic Club on Thursday night April 24, 2008. (I
videoed the whole meeting if anybody needs any of it).
Here is the full
text of Proposition C, the City Attorney's
Impartial Analysis. Here is the official
Ballot Argument Against Prop C, which Donna Frye
co-wrote with Carl De Maio, former City Auditor John
Torell, John Gordon and Theresa Quiroz.
Here is the official
Ballot Argument in Favor of Prop C, written by Jerry
Sanders together with his hand-picked fox cubs,
which sadly includes Councilmember and Audit Committee
Chairman, Kevin Faulconer.
It will be interesting to watch how Faulconer will
conduct the Audit Meeting tomorrow morning. Will he
reject the Ad Hoc Committee's Report in order to serve
his political boss Sanders?
Here are some quotes from the
Report that must be giving Sanders and Faulconer
The Role of the City Auditor should reflect industry
"Industry relies on a strong and thorough internal audit
function and the City should do the same."
"This committee agrees that the City Auditor should be
appointed and not elected but disagrees in the method of
appointment. We suggest that
the City Council appoint the City Auditor
based on recommendations of the Audit Committee."
"The City Auditor should become
proactive performing all the audit tasks the external
audit performs with at least the same intensity."
"Intensity" is not exactly the word that comes to
mind with regard to Sanders'
current ever-so-compliant auditor, Eduardo Luna.
Last Tuesday he seemed dazed in front of the City
Council. He always does. He seemed unaware that his
Department has a web site.
As of today that City web site says:
"The position of Auditor &
Comptroller is currently vacant".
it is. Maybe it's right. Luna always seems to be on
another planet. Perhaps that's where Sanders wants his
hand-picked Auditor to remain.
But the voters will decide on June 3, 2008. If the
chickens win and the fox loses, it might bring more
"foul" language from the Mayor.
More foul language from this Mayor.
by Pat Flannery
I videoed the Earth Day
mayoral debate in Balboa Park's Organ Pavilion on
Sunday. Below are extracts of Sanders and Francis on the
issues raised by the audience. My apologies (due to web
space considerations) to the three other contestants but
it seems to me that Francis is the only viable
competition to Sanders who has the enormous advantage of
incumbency and knows how to use it.
A clear philosophical difference was also apparent
with regard to the Mills Act. Francis supports the
preservation of historic buildings while Sanders berates
the preservationists for robbing the City of property
tax revenue. He says that San Diegans are abusing the
State Parks web site says:
"Owners of historically
designated buildings may qualify for
property tax relief if they pledge to rehabilitate and
maintain the historical and architectural character of
their properties for at least a ten-year period".
It is interesting that Sanders does not use the same
argument against the massive diversion of property tax
caused by the City's Redevelopment Agency (RDA),
approximately $100 million to CCDC alone. Perhaps it's
because RDA tax diversion benefits corporate developers
not private citizens.
Sanders, who worships at the alter of corporate profits,
supports the Sunrise Power Link, which essentially would
import "dirty" electricity from Mexico to be marketed
under a "clean air" brand name in the United States.
Unfortunately the air we breathe does not recognize
Francis, despite having made his personal millions in
the corporate world, does not think that corporate
profits should dictate how our society meets its energy
needs. It was an interesting debate.
But for me the shocker came at the end. Normally, in
America, the intensity of political competition ends
when the debate is over. As Carolyn Chase thanked the
candidates and the audience for their participation and
as the candidates got up to leave, the usual handshakes
I watched in disbelief as Sanders rudely swept by Steve
Francis' outstretched hand. Even from a distance it was
an ugly moment. I found Mr. Francis a few minutes later
and asked him how he felt about the snub. He told me
that it was much worse than a snub, that Sanders
actually said "F... you Francis" as he stormed
by. All Steve could do was shake his head in disbelief.
Personally, I was not surprised.
I was reminded of the language used by Sanders'
spokesperson, Fred Sainz, in an email to the
Union-Tribune everybody in San Diego now wants released.
Is this level of discourse typical of our current Mayor
and his staff? Again, I am reminded of Richard Nixon who
was noted for his use of foul language in the Oval
The missing email. Sanders has a decision to make.
by Pat Flannery
Former Assistant Chief Operating Officer (ACOO) for the
City of San Diego, Rick Reynolds, filed a
this week against the City. Before being fired by
Sanders on September 28, 2007 he had been responsible
for nine City Departments, supervised approximately
1,400 City employees and managed more than $300 million
of the City's annual budget. He has been unable to find
a job since.
Mr. Reynolds' troubles began when the City's email
screening system flagged an email from Fred Sainz,
Director of Communications (DOC) for the Office of the
Mayor, to Bob Kittle, editorial writer for the San Diego
Union-Tribune, dated September 7, 2007. The email was
snagged by the system because it contained numerous
instances of the "f" word in reference to certain staff
at the City Attorney's office and certain members of the
Information Officer (CIO), Matt McGarvey, brought
the offending email to his superior, ACOO Rick Reynolds,
who in turn brought it to his superior, Chief Operating
Officer (COO) Jay Goldstone. As it happens, Matt
McGarvey quit the City this week to work nearer his home
in Vista. I guess he "needed to spend more time with his
This particular spate of nastiness against Aguirre
started with a blast
email from MEA
leader Judie Italiano to her 4,800 union members calling
Aguirre a "mad man". It brought this
dated August 9, 2007, from
City's Labor Relations Director, regarding its
"inappropriate use of the City's email system".
Despite being given a copy of an obscene and abusive
email written by Sainz, Jay Goldstone his boss, did
nothing about either the obscenity or the
"inappropriate use of the City's email system".
Far from being reprimanded, Sainz continued to work with
his buddy Kittle (an outside person who does not work
for the City) in an effort to destroy Mike Aguirre and
to discredit those working for him - i.e. City staff!
Sainz obtained (and presumably still has) the IP
addresses of all the computers on the desks of everybody
who works in the City Attorney's office. Whoever heard
of such a thing? Did he plan on impersonating Mike
Aguirre or members of his staff over the Internet? Why
else would he do such a thing? Did he hand those IP
addresses to Bob Kittle? What use has Kittle put them to
in the meantime?
lawsuit filed this week for a complete description
of how Sainz ordered and obtained the IP
addresses from the CIO's office on September 26, 2007.
If it weren't for the fact that the
Information Officer (CIO), Matt McGarvey, was on
vacation that day we may never have found out about it.
In the absence of his boss, a subordinate at the CIO
brought the IP request to McGarvey's boss, Rick
Thank goodness there were still a few honorable people
left in the City at the time and that Rick Reynolds was
one of them. Like everybody in San Diego Reynolds knew
that Mayor Sanders was waging a war to get rid of City
Attorney Mike Aguirre. Sanders hadn't particularly liked
being called corrupt over Sunroad a few weeks earlier.
It is clear that Sainz' boss, Chief Operating Officer
Jay Goldstone, conspired to cover up
Sainz's actions. But "what
did the Mayor know and when did he know it?".
For the Mayor the parallel with Watergate is
obvious. He can no longer blame his staff.
Attempting to gain access to the computer of the City
Attorney is the electronic equivalent of the Watergate
bag job. That cover-up led to Nixon's last helicopter
ride out of the White House - in disgrace.
Rick Reynolds, an ex-Navy officer and straight shooter,
protested Sainz action in a memo to Goldstone dated
September 27, 2007:
"the information could be combined with network logs or
other trackable system information, resulting in
individually identifiable information which would
typically not be available for or subject to disclosure.
In addition, disclosure of our internal IP addresses to
any unauthorized parties would violate system security
policies by providing information that could be used
maliciously for 'hacking' or gaining unauthorized
access, to City systems (either internally or
Goldstone's reaction: he fired Reynolds! Loyalty trumps
honor in the Sanders' administration. Goldstone chose
loyalty to his boss (and to his $250,000 salary).
But now for the interesting part.
Pursuant to a Public Records Request, I have Fred
Sainz's emails for the period concerned,
October 2007. They make interesting reading for
other reasons too. More of that later.
But surprise, surprise! The obscene email to Bob Kittle
dated September 7, 2007 is missing! Perhaps Fred
considered it too much for delicate ears such as
mine or yours.
I don't know what the legal penalty for such a breach of
the Public Records Act (PRA) is, but I can safely say
that the political penalty for withholding such a
document of great public interest as that email has now
become, may be a "for real" picture of Sanders as the
one above. And he will not be boarding a Marine
For more background information and links to various
documents associated with this story, read my blogs
September 9, 2007,
October 2, 2007
October 14, 2007.
It seems that our Mayor's Office together with our
monopoly newspaper the U-T, has dedicated an enormous
amount of City and U-T time trying to discredit Mike
Do you think Mike is paranoid? Thinking they are out to
get him? Or is there something to it? Is Sanders really
corrupt, as Aguirre says he is? We know there is a lot
of union money at stake on the pension issue. We know
there is a lot of developer money at stake on
Sunroad-style projects. Then there is the Chargers who
want a sweetheart deal. "Big Money" wants to get rid of
Aguirre and Sanders serves "Big Money".
The Mayor could clear up the IP-gate issue very quickly,
by releasing the emails that were withheld in the above
PRA request. But then he would have to fire Sainz, maybe
even Goldstone. Stay tuned.
Aguirre introduces Goldsmith to the Debt Limit Law.
by Pat Flannery
Jerry Sanders and the city unions have been wrongly
asserting for months that Aguirre has lost his pension
case. The truth is that Aguirre filed notice of his
intent to appeal Judge Barton's decision the moment
Barton handed it down. Aguirre has always strongly
asserted that Judge Barton erred on at least three key
points of law and that the Appellate Court will overturn
his flawed ruling.
the full pension case filed by Aguirre today, dated
April 18, 2008. It is a good summary of Aguirre's
position from the moment he took office - you can't
spend money that you don't have.
The most fundamental job of the courts is enforcing the
Debt Limit Law. Without it legislators and
administrators would go hog-wild with spending. The law
simply states that a government may not incur any
indebtedness or liability that exceeds its income for
that year, without the assent of two-thirds of the
voters. What could be clearer than that? Yet Barton
has ruled that it does not apply to pension systems!
Whether Aguirre wins his argument whether an extension
of the Statute of Limitations, enacted in the middle of
his court proceedings, applies to his case before Barton
or not, the Appellate Court cannot ignore the
fundamental law for good government in California - the
Debt Limit Law. Otherwise there would be
Here is a short video clip
of Mr. Aguirre telling Jan Goldsmith who is running for
City Attorney as "Judge" Jan Goldsmith, that a case is
not lost until the Court of Appeal has ruled
Earlier, at a candidate forum in the Rancho Bernardo
Inn, Goldsmith had repeated the Sanders' and union line
that Aguirre has lost all his pension cases.
It is interesting that Aguirre has won his big cases on
appeal, e.g. the $100 million De la Fuente case. Judge
Barton and Judge Wellington, two
"establishment-pleasing" judges, seem ready to declare
that black is white when Aguirre is the plaintiff.
The weekly feed at the public trough: my report.
by Pat Flannery
This week's legislative
session (Monday and Tuesday is considered one session),
was a wild ride. I sat through most of it, even though I
only intended to sit in on the
Tom Story item.
The City Council granting itself a 24% pay raise grabbed
the media headlines. But, to me the big story was the
Mayor asking the City Council to approve $250,000 for a
special prosecutor in the matter of the People of the
State of California vs. Tom Story. Said "prosecutor"
would report exclusively to the Mayor and City Council,
in other words to Sanders and Peters.
Jay Goldstone's letter to Scott Peters dated April
11, 2008 (last Friday) requesting him to docket the item
for yesterday, April 15, 2008 (the following Tuesday).
Try getting your item on the docket that fast. Peters
eagerly obliged the Mayor because they both saw an
opportunity for a political hit on Aguirre. But it
backfired. Here's why.
They have again opened up the sordid Sunroad affair. In
their eagerness to score a political hit on Aguirre, the
much-flaunted (by themselves) Mayor's team, have shot
their boss in the foot.
In the process they have also shot Bonnie Dumannis in
her dainty little foot. She is now exposed for
prosecuting Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Castanada,
as a favor to a mayoral friend, Cheryl Cox, while
refusing to prosecute Tom Story as a favor to another
mayoral friend, Jerry Sanders. Ms. Dumannis is a totally
I went to Judge Wellington's court to see for myself how
Pat O'Toole was faring in carrying out his boss's
instructions to "get" Castanada. Gerry Braun put it
better than I ever could in his U-T column today -
"Integrity is on Trial"
- 'nuff said.
So what happens next? It is not good for Tom Story. His
attorney, Pamela Naughton (with the help of Scott Peters
cutting off Aguirre's microphone every time he attempted
to speak) painted Story as a hard-working former City
employee, unfairly charged by an out-of-control City
Attorney, has also backfired. Here's why.
The fact remains that Aguirre succeeded in collecting
the evidence against Tom Story despite the best efforts
of Sanders, Dumannis, Judge Wellington and Police Chief
Lansdowne to prevent him. And he still has it! They seem
to have forgotten that. Or have they? Is that the reason
Judge Wellington barred Aguirre from
"any and all involvement in this
The "brilliant" move by the Mayor's team was brilliant
on paper only. The idea was that the Mayor would get the
City Council to "authorize" the payment of $250,000 out
of the City Attorney's budget. That must have got a big
laugh in the Mayor's office. Peters and Sanders would
then pick a Pamela Naughton style "special prosecutor",
at Aguirre's expense, who would then "find" that there
was no evidence against Tom Story. They must have been
rolling on the floor laughing over that one.
But the evidence collected by Aguirre (still in his
possession) was enough to convince a judge to issue a
search warrant against Story, the search warrant that
Sanders and his Police Chief killed off. Story's
attorney, Pamela Naughton, yesterday told the City
Council that "every law enforcement officer in the
County" determined that there was no evidence against
She forgot to mention that a judge had granted Aguirre's
search warrant in the first instance. But whenever
Aguirre tried to point that out yesterday, Peters cut
off his microphone. Peters continues to run a "Star
We clearly have a situation in San Diego where if you
are not part of the "in" crowd, you can be prosecuted
for whatever they dream up against you. Ask Steve
Castanada. And if there is evidence against a member of
the "in" crowd like Tom Story, a Judge Wellington will
issue a political pronouncement from the bench barring
our elected City Attorney (who as we all know is not
part of the "in" crowd) from
"any and all involvement in this matter".
Now Stacey Fulhorst, Executive
Director of the City
of San Diego Ethics Commission,
will be under pressure from the Mayor's office to
exonerate Tom Story. Story's attorney, Pamela Naughton,
told City Council yesterday that Fulhorst advised Story
at the time he left City employment that he could
immediately and legally lobby the City on behalf of
Sunroad because he had not been directly involved in the
too-tall building, only in the residential portion of
Sunroad's Kearny Mesa development. Naughton displayed a
series of large maps to demonstarte this point. It is
central to her case.
It will be interesting to see if Ms. Fulhorst confirms
Naughton's assertion. She declined to do so yesterday
when pressed by Aguirre on the matter. Like the Pension
Board, the Ethics Commission has its own attorney. Ms.
Fulhorst will need all the legal advise she can get on
this one. The City Council has dumped a very hot potato
in her lap.
That is why I think the Tom Story affair eclipsed a long
list of other egregious examples of misgovernment in the
interest of "in" groups who use City Hall as their
personal welfare office. The others include:
- the MEA's attempt to
secure an unlawful pension benefit for its former
President, Judie Italiano,
- the creation of an
unfunded pension liability of $7.3 million as a
bi-product of the police salary raise,
- the selling off of
City-owned properties using favored "in" real estate
brokers, like Grubb & Ellis, who do not have to
share their commission with real estate brokers like
me who are not "in";
- the hiring of a flawed pension
consultant, Mercer Consulting, for "Additional
Services Related to the Proposed Pension Plan",
- Scott Peters' attempt to deliver
paid parking in La Jolla for his business friends,
- the approval of a $69 million
play money bond issue by CCDC's Nancy Graham and her
downtown developer friends.
In a normal city anywhere in the world any one of the
above items would be enough to shock the citizenry to
revolt in the streets. But in San Diego it was just
another business-as-usual "legislative session".
Are pension benefits pension benefits? Dumb question.
by Pat Flannery
Sanders' new pay agreement with the Police Officers'
Association (POA) says:
"It has been, and continues to
be, the position of the Mayor that the above described
DROP and service credit purchase provision are not
vested benefits and are therefore subject to
modification without compliance with the strict rules
governing modification of vested retirement benefits."
His press release today said:
"With the Council’s
concurrence, I intend to file a lawsuit to challenge
whether or not the DROP program and employees’ ability
to buy pension service credits are vested retirement
benefits. The employees unions and I fundamentally
disagree on this issue. I believe them to be employment
benefits that can be negotiated away, not unlike pay and
health care. They disagree. I think the best way
to settle this issue is to allow a judge to decide."
However, the actual agreements says:
"The City understands the
Association’s position of strong disagreement with the
City’s position on the above referenced issues, and the
need (but not the right) to litigate them."
Watch this video clip from the mayoral debate on
Thursday night April 3, 2008 in Penasquitos
I think it shows Sanders' real intent - to protect the
unions' pension benefits.
He told Steve Francis that the City's Deferred
Retirement Option Plan (DROP) and its Purchase of
Service Credits (PSC) programs are "vested" pension
benefits, not negotiable "employment" benefits,
judge said that we have to pay those benefits".
He then told Francis (testily) that if anybody thinks
they can "unilaterally step in
and fix this" they "don't
know what they are talking about". In the
same breath he told an astonished Francis that
"670 positions, whether
there's a body in them or not ... are real savings
and a business man should know that". Sanders
seems to believe his own spin. No wonder Francis looked
aghast. How does one deal with
"whether there's a body in them or not"?
But Sanders is no fool. I believe he has
worked out a deal with the unions whereby he will bring
a bogus lawsuit, before a sympathetic judge like in the
Tom Story case, who will say for the last time: "you
have to pay those benefits". That's what the
unions really want.
If it works, the unions will have their pension benefits
confirmed once and for all. Jerry will then tell the
public that he did his best for them and they will all
blame Aguirre for losing in court.
and the legal establishment already know who will try it
and what the result will be.
They will hand Aguirre another Tom Story-style
Sanders wouldn't be filing this case if he didn't
already know the outcome.
The trouble is Jerry, the money is running
out - "a businessman should
The California Constitution
limits the State Legislature's ability to incur
debt. A similar restriction applies to local governments
Article 16, section 18, (a).
“No county, city, town,
township, board of education, or school district, shall
incur any indebtedness or liability in any manner or for
any purpose exceeding in any year the income and revenue
provided for such year, without the assent of
two-thirds of the voters of the public entity voting
at an election to be held for that purpose....”
Before Sanders had his change of heart,
Aguirre was already pursuing two legal strategies
to set aside illegal pension benefits:
The first strategy asserts that the benefits
Sanders is now all of a sudden concerned about, were
granted illegally because: (a) borrowed funds were
used to pay the benefits without the public vote
required by the City Charter and State Constitution and
(b) the benefits were granted by City officials who had
a conflict of interest because they stood to
personally gain from the increased benefits.
The second legal strategy for setting aside
illegal benefits is based on the fact the pension board
administered the pension plan illegally because
the board overcharged taxpayers by more than $350
million for two pension perks.
Sanders and Peters repeatedly misinform the public by
stating that Aguirre has already lost his pension law
suits. In fact,the first lawsuit based on
the illegally granting of pension benefits is
pending in the appellate court, the second lawsuit based
on illegal administration of the pension plan is
pending in state trial court.
Sanders' lawsuit is just posturing. He should
quit trying to be City Attorney as well as Mayor. He
should take the advise of the elected City
Did the City breach the State's liability limit law in
granting retroactive and under-cost pension
benefits? Of course it did. This State law is repeated
Section 90 of the San Diego City Charter. Did the
City's pension board overcharge San Diego taxpayers by
more than $350 million for DROP and PSC? Of course it
Aguirre has it right. He was already pursuing the proper
legal startegies. Sanders should get behind the elected
City Attorney instead of playing politics with pension
benefits to get himself reelected.
Jerry Sanders is Dick Murphy II.
by Pat Flannery
"So now it is up to Sanders. Will he back off and avoid
repeating the disclosure frauds of Dick Murphy? Or is
he, like Murphy, a slave to the "strong union form
of government" this city has endured for
That's what I wrote on
February 2, 2008.
Sanders did not back off. He pressed on. He stacked the
City's five-member Disclosure Practices Working Group
(DPWG) with three of his top aides,
COO Jay Goldstone, CFO
Mary Lewis and Director of Debt Management,
This "Sanders' Three" will always outvote the
other two, City Attorney Aguirre and his public finance
deputy, Mark Blake.
For Sanders to now claim
that his administration is untainted by those who
committed the 2002 SEC fraud is staggering in its
Lakshmi Kommi was at the very
heart of the SEC fraud, yet Sanders has put her in
charge of all his bond disclosures.
Here is what I wrote about her on
February 2, 2008:
Kommi is Director of
(formerly the Financing Services Division of the
City Treasurer's Office). She has been with the City
since 1993, succeeding her Financial Services boss Mary
Vattimo, who became City Treasurer in May 2001.
announcing her appointment in 2001 said that she would
be: "responsible for initial and continuing
disclosure reporting in compliance with federal
securities regulations, and for managing the
Equipment and Vehicle Financing Program. Ms. Kommi
serves as a liaison with the bond rating agencies
and will be responsible for structuring and executing
financing plans for a variety of bond financed projects."
It seems that Sanders now wants her "disclosure"
subsequently demoted to the
department in December 2004 amid reports that employees
in her office had destroyed documents. She resigned from
the City in May 2005. How much of that rubbed off on
Kommi is not clear. I remember her from the strange bond
issuance affair involving the
"Banc" of America
who masqueraded as the "Bank" of America, in October
Sanders is in deep trouble and he knows it. His aides
are desperately trying to spin him out of it but they
are doomed to fail. Facts are facts.
And the fact is that Jerry Sanders has conspired with
the perpetrators of the 2002 securities fraud (many of
whom are still in office), the current pension
administrator, David Wescoe and the union leaders, to
try to hoodwink the SEC and rating agencies for the
Will our city ever escape its sordid past? Take the time
to read my
February 2, 2008 blog and watch the video
clips. Watch Toni Atkins walk out of the Audit Committee
when Mr. Aguirre expressed concerns about the Mayor's
disclosure practices and her rude interruption
of John McNally, the DPWG's outside disclosure counsel
and one of the top securities lawyer in the country,
when he dared express the opinion that Aguirre's
disclosure concerns were genuine.
San Diego seems to have a problem with the truth, which
has gotten worse under Sanders. Something has to change.
clear message from the SEC. 04/07/08
by Pat Flannery
Here is the full
complaint filed today alleging fraud by five former
City officials in the issuance of $260 million San Diego
municipal bonds. The accused officials are former City
Manager Michael Uberuaga, former City Auditor and
Comptroller Ed Ryan, former Deputy City Manager
for Finance Patricia Frazier, former Assistant
City Auditor and Comptroller Terry Webster and
former City Treasurer Mary Vattimo.
Here is the
SEC Press Release summarizing the case.
This, together with the
SEC Cease and Desist Order under which the City is
currently operating and the previously settled SEC case
against former outside auditors Saiz and Calderon,
should put the Mayor's office on notice that nothing but
the highest level of auditing and disclosure will be
acceptable to the SEC and the public markets.
Yet amazingly that is not what we have seen over the
past few months. The City Attorney had to force the
Mayor and his staff to re-write the 2005 Financial
Statements, which at first lacked proper disclosure of
the City's pension liability. For this the City Attorney
was accused of being an obstructionist by the Mayor and
Today's message from the SEC should also be taken to
heart by the pension administrator David Wescoe, who
often seems more concerned with protecting the pension
"rights" of union presidents than fulfilling his
fiduciary duties to the San Diego taxpayers.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of today's filing is
the names that are missing, like Lamont Ewell and Casey
Gwinn. Today's action by the SEC may be a tactic to get
at the elected officials. The five accused will sing
like canaries in court.
The SEC wants to send a strong message to municipalities
(this is what this is all about) they will not let the
elected officials off the hook. And two of these elected
officials are currently running for City Attorney? At
least Dick Murphy had the good sense to disappear.
Kensington residents show the way.
by Pat Flannery
Local communities in San Diego
feel like they are at war with City Hall; that their
city government actually militates against them.
Sanders' own community, Kensington, is a perfect
example. Out of a total of 1,400 households more than
1,000 residents signed a petition opposing Kensington
Terrace, a 3-story, 56,000 square
foot mixed-use commercial, office and residential
project in their low-rise, 1 and 2-story quiet
Kensington residents insist that the proposed
development would inflict unmitigated adverse impacts on
the character, traffic, historic resources and overall
environmental quality of their residential neighborhood.
Kensington community fought back and they are an example
to the rest of us. They produced this
73 page booklet
entitled “Kensington Terrace: Impact on Community
Donna Frye was one of only three Councilmembers who
listened to them and voted against the project saying:
“this project epitomized the
problems with San Diego’s government and the influence
developers have over it”.
Jerry Sanders and the full power of the mayor's office
is behind this project. His friend and campaign
contributor Sunroad principal, Richard Vann, is the
Margaret McCann, spokesperson for the citizens group
Heart of Kensington said:
“This City Council has now done
to us what it has done to many other San Diego
neighborhoods. And like those other neighborhoods, we
now must go to court to enforce our rights, and make the
City and the developer do what they are required to do
under the law. The City almost always loses these
battles, and we feel confident it will lose again, and
our rights will be vindicated.”
The Heart of Kensington (HoK) group is now forced
to take up legal arms against their own city government,
as so many other neighborhood groups like
Friends of San Diego have had to do. HoK filed a
lawsuit to reverse the
planning decision approved by the City Council on
February 5, 2008.
There were hundreds of protest letters by angry
residents. Here are some of them:
batch two and
batch three. To counter
them the developer-friendly Union-Tribune wrote
scathing editorial on
March 22 siding with Sanders and blasting the residents
The U-T pointedly referred to "downtown" Kensington and
went on to advocate that all San Diego neighborhoods
must inevitably become little cities complete with a
"downtown" all of their own. No doubt the U-T is looking
to future advertising revenue from these "downtowns".
Here's what the U-T editorial staff actually wrote:
just as downtown has gentrified, residential
neighborhoods are increasingly citified: The
townhouse-office-retail combination is a slice of urban
living – density and all – ever more common in built-out
cities such as San Diego. And a neighborhood's ability
to reject a legal development on land a developer owns
is and should be limited. Dread “developers,” after all,
No mention of the fact that it was a Sunroad principle
and buddy of Sanders that was doing the Kensington
residents the favor of "citifying" their quiet
neighborhood against their will.
The editorial ended with:
"Also for sure, however,
neighborhood planning committees, such as the
Kensington/Talmadge Planning Committee, have
considerable clout and pages on the city's Web site
noting meeting dates, agendas and contact information.
Win or lose, the best way – and the cheapest way – for
property owners to learn of development in their
community is to keep themselves apprised."
The U-T forgot to mention that
other community planning groups throughout the city, the
“Kensington-Talmadge Planning Committee” had been taken
over by developer-friendly shills, many of whom live
elsewhere but have business addresses in the community.
This is not only allowed by the City but actively
encouraged in order to ensure developer control.
But, the Kensington residents struck back. At the annual
election of the Kensington/Talmadge planning group on
March 12, 2008, 7 rotating (of 15) board members were
swept from office in a citizen clean sweep. The
developer stooges were replaced by real neighborhood
Hopefully we will see an upsurge of such community
revolt in planning groups all across the city.
Kensington, Sanders' own neighborhood, has shown us the
Copyright "San Diego Today"
November, 2004 -