The Navy's strategic use of civilians? 09/27/08
by Pat Flannery top^
John Q. Public was not allowed to record this "public"
meeting, according to
Captain Matt Brown, Commander, Navy Region Southwest PAO
(Public Affairs Office).
Watch a (cut short) video of this "public" meeting.
The financial meltdown and San Diego. 09/18/08
by Pat Flannery top^
Ordinary Americans are now wildly running into “Munis”
for a safe haven. But they are running from one fire
into another. San Diego, by its Wall Street-style
excesses, has proven that unfunded pension entitlements
undermine Municipal Bonds. Such entitlement excesses
have been repeated across the country making “Munis” the
next wave of collapse.
To end belief in this flawed financial premise, we need another Bretton Woods Agreement. The 1944 version has run its course. The American dollar became the de facto reserve currency when in 1971 Nixon ended the gold convertibility envisaged at Bretton Woods. It is now clear that the American dollar is no longer capable of fulfilling that role. Consequently the world does not have a viable monetary system to sustain world trade.
The alternative to
the free flow of international trade is war. The lack of
such free trade was the root cause of both World War I
and World War II. The trouble is that free trade
requires a viable international monetary system, which
in turn requires the pooling, to some degree, of
national sovereignty. That has been a huge problem.
The best practitioner of public
ownership is communist China. It will have a powerful
voice at the next Bretton Woods-style conference.
The Chinese may turn out to be the ultimate purchaser of
the Bank of America, which seems on the path to becoming
the chosen repository of America’s financial meltdown.
If China owns our mistakes, can it control us?
09/16/08 Stephen Whitburn demonstrates his independence from both unions and developers.
by Pat Flannery top^
Stephen Whitburn, a candidate for Council District 3,
today called for the disbandment of both CCDC and SEDC.
Here is a copy of
his speech and here is
short video clip of his press conference at 7th &
Market, the site of CCDC's most controversial project.
"Surprisingly, just as we are discovering the problems with CCDC and SEDC, there is talk of outsourcing the efforts of the City’s 11 other redevelopment areas -- those that are currently managed by our City’s Redevelopment Division. Hopefully, the City Council will not allow that idea to move forward.
This summer has highlighted profound problems at CCDC and SEDC. We should dissolve both of these corporations. We should bring these redevelopment efforts back under the city's auspices to provide better oversight and more control of taxpayer dollars.
I believe that the work that SEDC does can be better accomplished in-house, and with better oversight, through our City Redevelopment Agency. Southeast San Diego should be a top priority of that agency."
I suspect Whitburn is reading the public accurately.
He believes they want less bureaucracy, not more. He
believes they want more accountability, not less. It is
becoming clearer which candidates want to serve the
public and which want to serve special interests such as
developers and city unions. This election may finally
break that old political stranglehold.
Next giant rip-off - "Agency-Employee" Redevelopment Agency. 09/15/08
by Pat Flannery top^
Currently, management services for the eleven redevelopment projects not managed by CCDC or SEDC is provided by the Redevelopment Division of the City Planning & Community Investment Department (“CPCI”).
The Redevelopment Agency (RA) has asked the staff of
this Division to conduct the necessary studies and
prepare the necessary documents to implement an “Agency-Employee"
model for the RA. So what is an “Agency-Employee"
Review Committee" would no doubt be the RA
equivalent of DSD's "Technical
Advisory Committee", where the development industry,
and all its constituent parts, gets to "advise" the
Mayor's staff, every month, on how the City's land use
regulatory process should impact development. In other
words the developers get to regulate themselves.
The Report says "the new structure must include adequate manpower, processes, policies, procedures and controls to enable the Agency to establish and operate a more efficient and effective Redevelopment Agency". Why not build its own Redevelopment Hall? It will be far more powerful than City Hall!
In addition to its "Memorandums of Understanding" with the unions it will need Service Level Agreements (SLA) with the City Attorney, the City Auditor/Comptroller, the City Clerk (for records retention & docketing protocols) and any other City entity it comes in contact with. The City Clerk will need to hire extra staff to file all those SLAs. Unlike at present where the RA is a Division of the City, this new monstrosity will need an SLA for everything. This is a dreadful waste of public money.
They say in their report that they will need
"Personnel Manuals" containing "Personnel Regulations".
They will need By-Laws, IT software and IT systems. They
will need to purchase telephone software and telephone
hardware. They will have to develop separate payroll
systems, time cards, benefits administration, record
keeping, in other words they intend to create a whole
new bureaucracy, run by the unions and the developers.
developers' choice of who will preside over this city
within a city is "Comical Jim" Madaffer. He has served them well for
eight years on the City Council and as Chair of the
Council's Land Use & Housing Committee.
Listen to the Nancy Graham tapes. 09/06/08
by Pat Flannery top^
In defending Nancy Graham against charges of
non-disclosure of her relationship with Related Co, the
directors of CCDC have left themselves vulnerable to
scrutiny as to why they approved this questionable
project at 7th & Market in the first place. If Nancy
Graham had nothing to do with it, then it must have been
approved by the Directors themselves. Who else?
LeSar and McNeely were on that
2005 committee that "found" Nancy Graham. How they
"found" her they have yet to explain.
Last week Sanders rushed to the aid of this insider
cabal by reappointing
the three people most closely associated with Graham: Maas,
McNeely and Kilkenny. To underline what an incestuous
little group this mayoral pool of insiders is, he
appointed McNeely's wife to the SEDC board late on
Friday evening when he thought nobody would be looking.
Proposition S is a Second Mortgage on all our homes. 09/04/08
by Pat Flannery top^
I feel like Don Quixote “tilting” at windmills or David facing Goliath in single combat, going up against the mighty San Diego Unified School District. But somebody has to slay the dragon: the District’s Proposition S, a $2.1 billion Second Mortgage on all our homes. It is just flat out wrong.
I am a long-time Realtor and know firsthand on whose shoulders this $2.1 billion Second Mortgage will fall (I get to write the purchase estimates for would-be homebuyers). The First Mortgage of $1.5 Billion, 1998’s Prop MM, is still there. It will not be fully paid off for decades.
Can you imagine being able to
take out a First, then a Second Mortgage on your
neighbors’ house and sending them the bill? Well, that’s
exactly what the School District and its business
partners have done and are trying to do again. Will they
do a Third, a Fourth, a Fifth? Just because they can!
You bet they will. You see the School Board is largely
elected by the very business interests that get to spend
this borrowed money. Our money. They even pack the
statutory Independent Citizens Oversight Committee
and give themselves "Golden Watchdog" awards!
CCDC Director Kilkenny knew all about Nancy Graham. 08/31/08
by Pat Flannery
Here is a key email between Nancy Graham and CCDC Director Kim Kilkenny, on April 9, 2008. From it we can piece together portions of the Nancy Graham/CCDC Board/Related scandal.
Some time before April 9, 2008 a person called "Joe" wrote a long email to Tim McClain, Editor of San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, attaching lengthy cuttings from various newspapers in Miami, Las Vegas and LA.
Obviously "Joe" is a little naive about how San Diego's establishment works. Instead of investigating it McLain forwarded the email to William Jones, the San Diego developer at the center of the scandal. Jones passed it on to Graham who shared it with CCDC Board members. Nice work McLain. That's why the establishment loves you. You're their guy.
But CCDC director Kim Kilkenny (opposite) smelled a rat. He immediately suspected an investigative journalist named Nancy Fay of The Reader. Fay had written a stinging exposé of his bosses, the Baldwin brothers, entitled "Promise Breakers" in The Reader back in 2002. The Baldwin brothers own most of the Otay Ranch Co. of which Kilkenny is the Executive Vice President.
Nancy Fay had exposed the Baldwins as tricksters and con artists who set the standard for the bait-and-switch tactics now routinely practiced by San Diego developers. What does that say about Kim Kilkenny - the man Jerry Sanders wants to reappoint to another three years on the CCDC Board? It means that the Baldwin-Kilkenny style of bait-and-switch is now an accepted tool of the developer trade under Mayor Jerry Sanders.
But the most disgusting part of all this is that Sanders is re-appointing both Kilkenny and Fred Maas (opposite) to the CCDC board as a direct reward for contributions.
According to this article in the U-T dated April 20, 2008, the Baldwin family and its employees is the biggest single giving bloc in the 2008 San Diego city elections.
Baldwin gave $13,800, far outstripping the next-biggest contributors, EDCO Disposal at $6,900 and Sempra Energy at $6,400. Fred Maas's Black Mountain Ranch LLC comes next at $6,100. The Beatles may have been right that "Money can't buy you love", but it sure can buy you key appointments in the Jerry Sanders' administration.
Carl DeMaio and April Boling each received $3,240 from this very civic-minded Orange County Baldwin family. Democrat-in-name-only (DINO) and good friend to developers, Todd Gloria, also got an undisclosed amount. But the Baldwin favorite public servant is still Jerry Sanders.
Jerry got $4,800 in 2005 and $3,520 in 2008. But he said he wouldn't know them "if they were to walk in right now". April Boling said that those nice Baldwin boys "just want San Diego to clean up its books". I just worry about what April means by "clean up", that's all. DeMaio, like Sanders, said he had never met them and would not do them any favors. We'll see.
What is most disturbing about the Kilkenny/Graham email is that Kilkenny's immediate reaction was to protect Graham, not the public interest. He wanted to know "who said something". He warned her about investigative journalist Nancy Fay, saying that if her name came up "we should talk". Working for the Baldwin brothers, Kilkenny probably knows a bit about how to fend off investigative journalists like Nancy Fay of The Reader.
The sad reality is that in San Diego the public interest comes a distant second to the interest of developers like the Otay Ranch Co. and Black Mountain Ranch LLC. Jerry Sanders is bought and paid for by the builders and developers. In return for funding his election, they get to keep the profits, while the taxpayer funds the supporting infrastructure and the schools. Jerry gets a comfortable retirement. It's called public-private partnership - the public gets the bill, the private partner gets rich.
What did CCDC board members know and when did they know it? 08-23-08
by Pat Flannery
Take a look at the number of times Nancy Graham met with people from Manchester's Navy Broadway project over a period of 2 years. Here is a compilation of her calendar for 2006, 2007 and 2008. It shows that she devoted an enormous amount of her City time to this single project.
She even had a regularly scheduled weekly meeting with Doug Manchester himself. On December 13, 2006 she attended a celebration of the successful completion of the first phase of the project.
Was she just doing her job? Or, in light of what we now know about her, was it more? It is unheard of (even in San Diego) for a single developer to have that kind of access to the very government official with decision-making authority over their project. Clearly Nancy Graham badly wanted that project to succeed. Why? Did she own part of the action?
We know from her Florida history as a public official that she likes to become partners with the developers she regulates. That's how she got involved with The Related Group and Lennar. Nancy is more than just a hard working bureaucrat . She and her ex-husband Kevin made a quick $7 million on one Florida condominium project alone.
She did not come to San Diego for a salary, not even $250,000 per year. She was way past that. She was a successful developer in her own right. She was Manchester's mentor, maybe even his partner - at City expense!
Or was she perhaps the agent of Jorge Perez of The Related Group who had asked for and got a share in the biggest deal in town: the Navy Broadway Complex? If Perez had succeeded in placing his prized asset, Nancy Graham, at the very heart of land use entitlement in San Diego, it would be natural for him to extract a price for steering Manchester's project through the permitting process, which Nancy did with extraordinary diligence and dedication. Neither Graham nor Perez are amateurs and Manchester needed all the help he could get to pull off Navy Broadway.
Manchester Pacific Gateway is a Delaware LLC. The fact that it contains the word "Manchester" means nothing. Anybody, that's right anybody, could have a share in Navy Broadway and the citizens of San Diego would never know. That's how the developer game is played in San Diego. It turned out that "local" developer Corky McMillin only owned 50% of the Navy Training Center or Liberty Station as he renamed it. We have no idea to whom we gave away that crown jewel for $1.
Attorney Ron Corrico writing about NTC in the Daily Transcript on January 29, 2002 said it best. I have often referred to his article. Thanks Ron:
"This seems like a very large giveaway to a builder. But what really concerns me is that McMillin is partners with out-of-state and perhaps out-of-country companies, and the ownership of these organizations is undisclosed. They are hidden from view because they are Delaware Limited Liability partnerships and companies, and the state of Delaware doesn't divulge the real people involved. For all we know the partners could include Ross Perot, Osama bin Laden, Richard Silberman, Byron Wear or even Susan Golding."
He goes on to describe the Charter Section outlawing exactly what has become routine practice among developers in San Diego while the Mayor, the City Attorney and the City Council turn a blind eye:
"The San Diego City Charter
mandates that all persons doing business with the city
must disclose their identities. The City of San Diego
Charter Article XIV Section 225 states "Unless the
person applying or bargaining therefore makes a full and
complete disclosure of the name and identity of any and
all persons directly or indirectly involved in the
application of proposed transaction and the precise
nature of all interests of all persons therein."
So it is not a stretch to say that for all we know
Jorge Perez of The Related Group is Doug Manchester's
partner in the Navy Broadway Complex and Nancy Graham is
his agent. That is why we need a full investigation into
everything that woman touched and why we need to finally
start enforcing Charter Section 225. Its lack of
enforcement is the enabler of so much corruption -
perhaps the reason our legislators seem to like it so
So it looks like the Nancy Graham story has a long way to go yet.
She has gone missing! Not even her family
in Tennessee seems to know where she is. Perhaps she has
sought peace and solitude in the Cayman Islands or
Montserrat for a few weeks, as David Dominelli did back
in the 1980s. But even Dominelli eventually had to come
home and face the music.
The Related Group may have brought Nancy Graham to San Diego, not the other way around? 08/12/08
by Pat Flannery
In 2000 the Black Historical Society of San Diego discovered that CCDC wanted to build an ugly parking structure, to be known as "Park it on Market South", covering the entire block between Island & Market and 6th and 7th. CCDC had already acquired ownership of all but the Clermont Hotel, one of the last remaining black historical sites in San Diego.
In an interview with Karen Huff-Willis, Chairperson of the Black Historical Society of San Diego, on Monday August 11, 2008, I took video pictures of a rendering of an alternative proposal put forward by the Black Historical Society in 2001.
The Society wanted to incorporate the historic Clermont Hotel into a more attractive mixed-use project. They suggested that CCDC publish an RFQ/P for such a project. CCDC was still thinking parking garage.
In 2002 Karen Huff-Willis, contacted an ambitious black San Diego developer named William Jones. Jones was quick to see the possibilities and became obsessed with the project. For the next year he flitted back and forth between Ms. Huff-Willis and CCDC trying to put a deal together.
By 2003 it was becoming clear to Huff-Willis that the CCDC board wanted Jones to be instrumental in getting Huff-Willis to "turn down the heat" on trying to preserve black historical sites (she had recently won historical status for the Clermont). She was told by Jones that if she wanted the Black Historical Society to be part of any 7th & Market development or even to have a black museum downtown, she better back off.
Huff-Willis stood firm. She knew that Jones had been unsuccessful in getting a development partner. He was much too small to do it on his own and had been pitching the deal to big players like Malin Burnham.
By 2005 Jones still did not have a 7th & Market partner and relations had cooled (but had not broken off) with Huff-Willis, who has money of her own and is not as hungry for developer gold as Jones. She is a mild-mannered lady and genuinely cares about black history.
At a Black Historical Society's baseball night out at Petco Park in the Fall of 2005, Jones excitedly informed Ms. Huff-Willis that he had found a developer-partner: The Related Group. He said he had talked to newly-appointed CCDC President Nancy Graham and that it was "a done deal". In the course of numerous meetings with CCDC nobody told Ms. Huff-Willis that there was a prior relationship between Graham and Related.
Could it be that Related brought Nancy Graham to San Diego, not the other way around? Very little is known about the "nationwide" search for and recruitment of Ms. Graham, except that it coincided with William Jones finding an out of town partner for the 7th & Market project. What we do know is that everything got into full swing at 7th & Market as soon as Nancy arrived. Her predecessor, Peter Hall, had resigned earlier in 2005.
Who is Related? Essentially it is one guy, Jorge Perez. Much has been written about this unusual man. He has been called the “Trump of the Tropics”, the “Bill Gates” or “Steven Spielberg of Development” and the “Messiah of luxury housing”.
Here's what Perez's Las Vegas partner, George Clooney, had to say in 2005 about Perez with regard to their much-hyped $3 billion, 11 tower, (now defunct) project called Las Ramblas:
"Related is also responsible for some of the most spectacular mixed-use projects in the world such as the Time Warner Center building in New York and the CityPlace project in West Palm Beach, Florida........Time magazine recently named Jorge Perez one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America."
Perez and Clooney later "cancelled" the Las Ramblas project in 2006, selling the land for $202 million having purchased it for $90 million. Not bad for merely pushing some paper around.
In his quest for a San Diego partner William Jones could not have been unaware of such a well-known developer wheeler-dealer as Jorge Perez. Did Jones contact him sometime in 2005? If he didn't he should have.
Who is William Jones? Here's a bio Sempra Energy had on its web site for Mr. Jones as one of its directors. He is a pretty well connected guy.
In partnering with Jorge Perez he may have wittingly or unwittingly brought Perez's favorite government insider, Nancy Graham, to San Diego.
Perez would have pointed out to Jones that if you want to do serious urban renewal you need your people on the inside. Perez learned that from Nancy Graham in West Palm Beach on the CityPlace project.
Here's what Perez had to say about Graham in May 2002: "Strong mayors can make a lot of things happen," he says. "Nancy Graham [the city's first strong mayor] had the power to make decisions ... we were no longer making decisions by committee." That was the clear lesson of CityPlace.
parachuting Graham into the heart of San Diego
government as head of CCDC, Perez's condition for
partnering with Jones? Was
the nationwide search for Peter Hall's replacement
just the usual theatrics put on by this
developer-friendly agency for a gullible public?
Gil Johnson had headed the CCDC committee that hired
The San Diego taxpayers are paying twice for schools. 08/09/08
by Pat Flannery
San Diegans are taxed enough. The assessed valuation of all properties in San Diego County grew from $10 billion in 1979 to almost $400 billion in 2008. The graph below traces the course of that explosive growth.
After deducting various exemptions, such as the
homeowners exemption, the net taxable
in 2008 is $374 billion. The graph below shows the
breakdown by land use. Residential is
78% of the total!
Of that 78% or $293 billion, San Diego City accounts for $166 billion or 44%. See the following graph for all the cities in the county. Thus, property tax on the densely populated areas within the City of San Diego is the main cash cow for all governmental agencies in San Diego County.
$166 billion in assessed valuation
translates into $1,666 million in tax revenue (1%
according to Prop 13). Of
that $1,666 million tax, $1,295 million (78%) is collected from residences
within the city boundaries.
The important point here is that almost
$400 million per
year is going to Redevelopment Projects countywide. Approximately 43% of that $400 million, $172 million, is
what schools are losing to Redevelopment Projects each
year. That could service much of our school bond
The Redevelopment Agency is stealing from the schools. 08/08/08
by Pat Flannery
Section 33680 of the California Redevelopment Law clearly states:
"(a) The Legislature finds and declares that the effectuation of the primary purposes of the Community Redevelopment Law, including job creation, attracting new private commercial investments, the physical and social improvement of residential neighborhoods, and the provision and maintenance of low- and moderate-income housing, is dependent upon the existence of an adequate and financially solvent school system which is capable of providing for the safety and education of students who live within both redevelopment project areas and housing assisted by redevelopment agencies. The attraction of new businesses to redevelopment project areas depends upon the existence of an
adequately trained work force, which can only be accomplished if
education at the primary and secondary schools is adequate and
general education and job training at community colleges is available."
Has this been happening in San Diego? Obviously not, otherwise the School District would not be strapping the taxpayers with another $2.1 billion bond measure. The School District should first require the Redevelopment Agency to fulfill its obligations under Redevelopment Law.
The fact is that whatever portion of this $2.1 billion that should have been shouldered by the Redevelopment Agency is a taxpayer subsidy to developers who have made billions on so-called redevelopment in so-called blighted areas like the Marina District, Little Italy and NTC. Over 90% of downtown property taxes are diverted to the Redevelopment Agency.
Voters need to take a close look at the effects of this tax increment diversion (the source of Redevelopment's mega-dollars) before buying into the argument that school bonds are the only source of funds for our schools. Tax increment dollars, that should have gone to teachers and books to create a trained work force, was squandered on staff parties and giveaways to insider developers like Chip Owen and Corky McMillan.
Voters are being asked to backfill developer greed - $2.1 billion of it.
Does our Auditor have to seek Sanders' permission on everything? 08/05/08
by Pat Flannery
I can (almost) understand any Mayor wanting to control the flow of information from his/her office to the media and to have it routed through a savvy communications guy like Fred Sainz, but the City Auditor? Should it apply to him too? He is supposed to be independent of the Mayor.
Here is an email from our City Auditor, Eduardo Luna, asking Fred Sainz for permission to respond to a routine media enquiry regarding the performance audit requested by Councilmember Tony Young on SEDC.
Sanders is denying all knowledge of what was really going on at SEDC, when it is obvious that he vetted every piece of information regarding that agency. Reading Luna's pathetic email to Sainz it is obvious that Sainz acted as censor and Master Inquisitor - even of the Auditor!
Our City Auditor, the very person tasked by the citizens to monitor the activities of powerful people like Sainz, had to get that very person's permission to answer a routine media inquiry! That's unacceptable.
Private water desalination vs. Public reclamation. 08/04/08
by Pat Flannery
Let's look at what has happened with our Poseidon so far:
the San Diego Metropolitan Magazine reported the move of
Scott Maloni from Tom Shepard to Poseidon on June
"Over the years, Scott has been instrumental in
advancing the company’s Carlsbad desalination project,"
says Poseidon Senior V.P. Peter MacLaggan."
In May 2006, Sanders hired Jim Barrett as Director of
the San Diego Water Department. Barrett has been an important player in the
Poseidon affair. San Diego is the biggest shareholder in
the regional water board and Barrett is
Sanders man on that board.
Goldsmith's two Democratic endorsees are actually lobbyists for Republican-controlled projects. 08/03/08
by Pat Flannery
I was not surprised last week when two ex-Democratic State Senators announced their endorsement of Republican Jan Goldsmith for San Diego City Attorney. Politics is all about money.
You see, both these ex-State Senators, Dede Alpert and Wadie Deddeh, are now lobbyists, one for the transportation industry and the other for the energy industry.
a California State Senator, Wadie Deddeh became
known as "the father of the State transportation
system". The 300,000 square feet,
designed, $71 million, new Caltrans regional
headquarters on a 12 acre Taylor Street site near Old
Town, was named for Wadie in 2006.
And of course Dede would undoubtedly
be dropping by to discuss the progress of
Sunrise Power Link,
particularly the SDG&E preferred route. All in a days
works for busy ex-legislator lobbyists.
Kettle calling the pot black. The Mayor's office wrote the checks. 07/29/08
by Pat Flannery
Last night I attended the monthly meeting of the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils. Mayor Jerry Sanders attended in a post Carolyn Smith charm offensive. Click here for the full video .
Sanders assured the neighborhood folk that SEDC would continue unchanged. He dismissed what had happened as due to people being in the same job for too long resulting in administrative laxity. I wish I could believe that. Here again are the facts.
His top land use official, Jim Waring, signed this Grant Deed transferring ownership of two valuable developable acres on Market Street to HarBro Construction on January 12, 2007 for a mere $300,000. That is a fact.
Two and a half weeks later, 18 days to be exact, HarBro Construction put a $3,338,800 construction loan on the property. That is a fact. Here is the Deed of Trust. Obviously the property was worth more than $3,338,800 and vastly more than $300,000. Whoever got the difference it certainly was not the people of South East San Diego. The developers got the money. That is a fact.
Whatever Mayor Sanders might now say about loose administration at SEDC being the problem, I disagree. It was more than that. The good people of South East San Diego got cheated out of $3 million on the Market St. property. How much more have they been cheated out of?
I am in favor of local control of redevelopment, not just in South East, but not like this. If you watch the video of last night's neighborhood discussion after the Mayor left it is clear that the people of South East San Diego want more control of the redevelopment dollars generated in their neighborhoods, not less. Some even suggested a locally-elected board instead of one appointed by the Mayor. Why not?
The Mayor dismissed that on the grounds that SEDC is a corporation, wholly owned by the City. Well, change it to an elected body.
It is ironic that on this very day the City Council is being asked to rule on the question of whether redevelopment dollars generated in a proposed new redevelopment project, Grantville, should be shunted to downtown. I know the answer they would get if they proposed that for South East San Diego! What is different about Grantville?
It may be that the best answer to the redevelopment conundrum is to form elected bodies in each redevelopment project. It may prove to be the best defense against the predatory practices long perfected by the developer community aided and abetted by corrupt City employees.
It is a fact that the above 2007 land deal, enriching two developers at the expense of the local community, could not have happened without the help of corrupt officials at various levels of City administration. It was not just SEDC. The Mayor's office wrote the checks. The Redevelopment Agency does not even have a bank account. It is all done at the City Comptroller's office. It is a bit of a joke to see Greg Levin ask SEDC to explain checks that his office wrote. 'Nuff said.
San Diego's own "Beverly Hillbillies". 07/25/08
by Pat Flannery
An address like "177 South Beverly Hills Drive", Beverly Hills, CA 92012 is meant to impress. Right? It evokes images of swimming pools, movie stars, of undreamt new wealth for "strike-it-rich" dirt farmers like Jed Clampett and his oh-so-happy, but seriously out of place, hillbillie clan.
I was not terribly pleased about Murphy showing the
perpetrators of dirty land deals like NTC how to take
corporate tax rates and favorable tax-treaty terms with
the United States". I finally did manage to
scuttle that little piece of financial skullduggery. It
required a three year running battle with Dick Murphy. I
believe it had a lot to do with his resignation. He got
scared. His dirty "sister city" never did get off the
ground. It is now defunct.
San Diego's own "Pirates of the Caribbean". 07/24/08
by Pat Flannery
The British Virgin Islands is a favorite safe haven for modern money launderers. This ex-British colony has become home to the modern "Pirates of the Caribbean" - slick wheeler-dealers. My ongoing "follow-the-money" investigations into "Chip" Owen's dubious financial transactions with the Redevelopment Agency of San Diego has led me to a company in these balmy tropical British Virgin Islands.
"Chip" Owen had taken $400,000 of his $500,000 "profit" on the Market Street land flip in a Note and Trust Deed from the Redevelopment Agency of San Diego. Presumably he received the other $100,000 in cash. He then assigned that $400,000 Promissory Note and Trust Deed to Pacific Development Partners LLC of Beverly Hills.
Pacific Development Partners LLC then re-assigned it to Lawnec Investment Corporation, a British Virgin Islands corporation. That was on November 18, 2000. The following day, November 19, 2000, two developers, Kenneth Taylor and Tony Radovich formed a California corporation they named TayRad LLC. "Chip" Owen has admitted some association with TayRad and HarBro by abstaining from voting "on any activity involving TayRad LLC or HarBro Construction" (page 3).
Shortly thereafter, on December 10, 2000, TayRad secured an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) from the City Council for the Market Street property. "Chip" Owen and Angela Harris (a lady who was very vocal last night in favor of retaining Carolyn Smith as SEDC President) spoke in favor of the ENA before the City Council.
On May 21, 2001, the Redevelopment Agency
sold the western half of the Market Street/54 Street
property to TayRad for $2.1 million. Surprisingly this
did not trigger a payoff of the City's $400,000 Trust
Deed (the TD secured both properties, east and west of
We the voters? 07/21/08
by Pat Flannery
Below I have created a series of graphs analysing the citywide voter registration in San Diego as of the June 3, 2008 Election.
first series of graphs shows the
citywide voter registration broken down by
party for each Council District
and the second series breaks the same voters
for each party.
Why do we have a Republican Mayor? What is wrong with
More to SEDC scandal than Carolyn Smith's bonus. 07/17/08
by Pat Flannery
The history of two commercial lots on Market Street in South East San Diego, tells much about how the insider system works in San Diego. These particular lots were purchased by the current chairman of SEDC, Chip Owen, for $1.8 million on May 1, 2000 and resold the same day to SEDC, for $2.3 million, an instant profit of a half million dollars. Not bad for one day's work without putting up any of his own money.
Chip Owen's secret half a million dollars profit on that day could not have happened without the cooperation of SEDC's President, Carolyn Smith. Such insider cooperation raises questions of conflict of interest, if not outright fraud, on many SEDC projects.
On January 12, 2007, the present owners of one of the Market Street lots, Har-Bro Construction Company, purchased it from SEDC for only $300,000. Jim Waring, Sanders' former staffer, signed the grant deed. Sanders will therefore be reluctant to dig into Chip Owen's land deals for fear of other dubious land deals tumbling out of the closet.
However, acting on an insider tip, the online newspaper Voice of San Diego, recently launched an investigation into certain bonus payments made to SEDC President Carolyn Smith. I suspect the tip came from Councilmember Jim Madaffer. It is well known that Madaffer wants to be the Redevelopment Czar after he is termed out on the City Council this November. The creation of this position will require the scaling back of SEDC and CCDC, even their demise. The firing of Carolyn Smith would serve nicely.
Sanders probably agrees, but has a different person in mind for the top Redevelopment job - his staffer, Janice Weinrick, who lives with her boyfriend, Lin Martin of Grub & Ellis and who happens to be the City's real estate broker. They are Sanders neighbors in Kensington.
But all Madaffer needs is one year at that $250,000 a year Redevelopment job and then Janice Weinrick, or some other faithful servant of the Mayor, can have it.
You see, city retirement is a product of years of service and final year's salary. Madaffer is not about to retire on a percentage of his Council salary. If he can quadruple his final salary, just for one year, he can quadruple his retirement for life! City employment is all about gaming the pension system. It's all they ever think about.
So a deal will be worked out. It is how things are done in San Diego.
Aguirre's new campaign manager. 07/11/08
by Pat Flannery
I had lunch today with Mike Aguirre's newly appointed campaign manager, Steve Rivera. Currently Steve is Regional Director for the 21st District of the California Democratic Party.
Mr. Rivera expressed confidence that he can get his client, Mike Aguirre, over the finishing line ahead of his Republican opponent, Jan Goldsmith, in November. Click on the picture opposite for a video of his very first interview.
By contributing one of their best and brightest to Aguirre's campaign, the Democratic Party seems to be signaling its determination to hold on to the office of San Diego City Attorney for another four years. It now looks like this non-partisan race will be very partisan indeed.
Rivera looks like an excellent choice. He is bright, articulate, with a very winning personality. If anything he seems a little shy, but that is more likely to be part of his winning personality than a lack of toughness. He assured me that he fully understands the task he is embracing. "I like a challenge" he said. I assured him that he had found one and wished him well. I asked him if he was ready to do battle with Bob Kittle and he just smiled. His opposite number, John Hoy, Goldsmith's campaign manager, is a perfect gentleman compared to "bare-knuckles" Kittle.
But this is what we have all been waiting for; let the battle for the constitutional soul of San Diego begin - the law vs. an insider elite.
A further SEDC question for Mayor Sanders. 07/11/08
by Pat Flannery
First, read this "Alternative Reality" story in the Voice of San Diego today, then read today's "Oversight Needed" editorial in the Union-Tribune. It is great that these two San Diego publications are competing with each other for the next Pulitzer Price in investigative journalism.
But here's the problem. I posted a comment to the "The People's Reporters" Cafe San Diego on the Voice Tuesday July 9, 2008, which was promptly taken down after less than an hour. As you can see, Ian Trowbridge's comment # 9 remains the last comment (mine was #10).
Why did the Voice censor my comment? I started by congratulating them on discovering the irregular "bonus" payments to SEDC President Carolyn Smith. Then I suggested: "now that you have the Mayor's attention" tell him about the $500,000 profit made by Chip Owen on May 1, 2000 when he "flipped" a property to SEDC. I provided this link.
I wrote a personal email to Will Carless questioning the removal of my comment but received no reply. I find that very strange. Why would Carless and Donohue not want to investigate the much bigger scandal of a $500,000 secret profit made by current SEDC Chairman Chip Owen? My hat is off to the Voice for going after Smith for facilitating Owen's dubious financial shenanigans, but why stop there?
I also provided the Voice with this link. Carolyn Smith wrote this letter to Jim Waring on July 11, 2007. Apparently Waring had read my blog dated July 3, 2007 and had requested an explanation from Ms. Smith. Her July 11, 2007 letter did not explain the secret profit made by Owen nor why Waring later sold the Market Street property for $300,000.
Why in the world would the Voice of San Diego pull back on its investigation of Owen? Is it OK to go after a staff person, Carolyn Smith, but not her powerful boss, the SEDC Chairman Chip Owen?
I think both the Voice of San Diego and the Union-Tribune should stop their petty journalistic squabbling and discover the truth about what is going on at the South East Development Corporation (SEDC). Now that they have the Mayor's (and the public's) attention, they should pursue this story with all the resources at their disposal.
Chip Owen, or any insider, should not have been allowed to make a secret profit of $500,000. Jim Waring should not have been allowed to sell 2.09 acres of developable city land for less than the price of a one bedroom condo. I will await the Mayor's explanation, even if the Voice of San Diego, "now that they have his attention", refuse to ask him.
The real political battle is: city services vs. city pensions. 07/09/08
by Pat Flannery
I went to the regular monthly meeting of the Democratic Party last night that endorsed Mike Aguirre for City Attorney.
Click on the photo opposite for a video interview with Mike immediately after he received this important enorsement. Addressing the meeting before the vote was taken, Aguirre spoke passionately about "what is best for San Diego".
He said: "my opponent has spent a lifetime speaking, voting and working against what we care about. He opposed equal rights, wage earner rights and a woman's right to choose."
That seemed to hit a chord with the audience. Three people spoke in favor of Mike's endorsement. Nobody spoke in opposition. The vote was unanimous by a show of hands. Not one hand went up in opposition.
The local Democratic Party now seems to be united with Aguirre in what they both "care about". This is good news for those of us who care about "citizen rights". San Diego has a long history of rule by privileged insiders. Perhaps now the emphasis will be on "citizen rights" instead of "developer entitlements" and "pension rights".
One set of "privileged insiders" that did not turn up to protest Aguirre's endorsement last night was the city employee unions. They lost their long-time champion, Scott Peters, in the June primary election, in which the city unions were undoubtedly the biggest losers. Now the fight is between the left and the right: Aguirre vs. Goldsmith. An Aguirre/Peters contest would have been: the left vs. a pseudo-left.
Much will now depend on Lorena Gonzalez, leader of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council. Will she allow the San Diego City employee unions' tail to continue to wag the Labor Council dog? Only the firefighters IAFF Local 145 and AFSCME Local 127 belong to the Labor Council. The main bulk of City employees, represented by the MEA and POA, do not belong to the Labor Council. Why then does Gonzalez allow them such influence? They are not even paying into her organization! Maybe that will change now. It should.
If what "we care about" vs. what "they care about" comes to define the city elections in November, then it should be a nice clean fight between insider privileges vs. city services. Goldsmith is the champion of the insiders and Aguirre is the champion of the outsiders.
The defining moment will come when Lorena Gonzalez decides whether her Labor Council represents the insiders, the MEA, or the city taxpayers who look to the MEA membership for city services. Then the real political battle, city services vs. city pensions, will be joined.
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