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City Councilmembers - how they vote.
  11/03/10   Tony Young "explains" his position on WalMart.
  05/04/10   The CCDC tax increment "cap" game.
  04/19/10   Library Lease to School District - another giveaway.
 

04/09/10

  The Union-Tribune has slandered Marti Emerald
 

03/09/10

  Voting while under the influence - of money.
       
  11/03/10   Tony Young "explains" his position on WalMart.
      by Pat Flannery                                                              top^
 
"There was a lot of folks who were disingenuous today" said Tony Young during his own absurdly disingenuous "explanation" of why he voted for a measure that will all but guarantee that WalMart will not be coming to a San Diego site near you anytime soon.

What was really disingenuous about today's charade was that Todd Gloria, Tony Young, Ben Hueso, Marti Emerald and Donna Frye are protecting Vons and the other big unionized chains, not the local mom-and-pop stores as they so hypocritically claim.

Here is our next Council President giving us a foretaste of the kind of gobbledygook he will inflict upon us for a whole year as he turns the Council Presidency into a Dickensian Circumlocution Office.

What exactly did he say? Does he think his constituents should have a WalMart or not? Did he ask them? Or did he just listen to the unions to whom he is beholden for his new job as Council President. I think we all know the answer to that - his loyalty is to the unions, not to his constituents.

 

  05/04/10   The CCDC tax increment "cap" game.
      by Pat Flannery                                                              top^
 
As my contribution to the public debate called for by City Council on April 27, 2010 when it postponed a decision until June 22, 2010 about whether to extend downtown redevelopment by raising its tax increment "cap", I offer the following suggestion: the City Council should direct CCDC to concentrate on the area east of 10th Avenue outlined in red in the picture below.
 

On April 27, 2010 CCDC petitioned the City Council in its capacity as the Redevelopment Agency:

"That the Redevelopment Agency authorizes the Centre City Development Corporation to proceed with preparing documentation to update blighting conditions necessary for a proposed Amendment to the Centre City Redevelopment Plan to increase the Tax Increment Limit "CAP" to facilitate the completion of eliminating blight in the Centre City Redevelopment Project."

CCDC had already approved a $536,200 contract with its favorite consultant, Keyser Marston, to tell it what it wanted to hear: that it needs to increase its tax increment cap. That's why favorite consultants are paid big bucks.

Then the developers lined up to tell City Council what a wonderful job CCDC has done over the years. They asked that it be allowed to keep the tax revenue it alone created, that without CCDC downtown would still be a wasteland. Thus the developers and their public payroll CCDC lackeys claim they own all downtown property tax revenues forever.

I therefore propose that CCDC applies its self-proclaimed redevelopment prowess to the area marked in red above, i.e. the downtown area east of 10th Avenue excluding City College and Bario Logan. There is plenty of real blight in that area, while, not even for $536,200, will Keyser Marston be able to find genuine blight west of 10th Avenue.

The area west of 10th Avenue has more than enough remaining tax increment to complete its redevelopment commitments and should be allowed to simply run its course. The area east of 10th Avenue on the other hand, redefined as a new project area, would provide CCDC with unlimited tax increment, enabling it to catch up with the rest of downtown, the true mission of redevelopment dollars, not building developer/union boondoggles..

But CCDC, through its phony Keyser Marston report, will attempt to use genuine blight east of 10th to justify retaining the tax revenue west of it. It will accordingly resist my suggestion, or any other suggestion for that matter.

Of course we all know that the real plan is to hold on to all downtown property tax to pay for a new Charger Stadium, a new City Hall, a Downtown Library and a Convention Center Expansion. That is why the developers poured big bucks into the campaigns of Republicans Kevin Faulconer, Carl DeMaio and Jerry Sanders. Now they expect results.

The trouble is that Democrats Tony Young and Todd Gloria also took the developers' money. Why do you think the Lincoln Club recently endorsed Tony Young? Did Tony persuade Republican money to finally take an interest in the working class down at Euclid and Market? Yea, right.

Gloria is just starting on a lifetime political career. He hopes to ride a growing Latino and gay vote to ever higher office. But he knows it cannot be done without money. How developers love an ambitious young politician.

Then there is the wiliest of them all, Ben Hueso. He is in need of immediate cash for his State Assembly race. If Keyser Marston can pick up an easy $536,200 just for writing a phony "finding", and Tony Young can get a Lincoln Club "endorsement", surely Ben can squeeze a few hundred grand out of the developers for steering a little old "cap" increase through City Council.

On the other hand we could actually force a genuine public debate on this issue. It is high time. We have already lost too much to CCDC, particularly our waterfront. It was CCDC that invited Doug Manchester from La Jolla to downtown and made him a present of our public tidelands.

If we actually cared we might finally stop the diversion of all that property tax revenue into the pockets of private developers and put it back into the general fund where it belongs. We might even save what is left of our waterfront. City Councilmembers are just watching and waiting to see if we care. If we don't, why should they? They will just take the developer money and move on to higher office. Debate anybody?
 

  04/19/10   Library Lease to School District - another giveaway.
      by Pat Flannery                                                            top^
 


Today at City Council, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith paid off a 2008 campaign debt to Ben Hueso. In doing so he indulged in a type of tortured reasoning I hope he never allowed in his courtroom when he was a Superior Court Judge.

First read the relevant part of Charter Section 99:

"No contract, agreement or obligation extending for a period of more than five years may be authorized except by ordinance adopted by a two-thirds’ majority vote of the members elected to the Council."

Hueso knew that he did not have the six votes required to pass an ordinance approving a 40 year pre-paid lease on 71,800 square feet of office space on the 6th and 7th floors of the proposed downtown central library to the School District, so he called in a political favor. He needed a legal opinion that a two-thirds' majority was not required in this case. He got it. From Jan Goldsmith himself. Watch the Video. Goldsmith's reasoning was "a stretch" at best. It was like having Casey Gwinn back on the dais.

Hueso, a Democrat, had backed Goldsmith, a Republican, for City Attorney against a Democrat, Mike Aguirre, in 2008. It was a really big favor and Ben Hueso does not even do small favors for free. Goldsmith said that he spent a great deal of time studying Charter Section 99, only to reaffirm an old Casey Gwinn opinion. Is Jan Goldsmith now becoming Casey Gwinn II?

Goldsmith may not realize it but this $20 million pre-paid library lease has all the hallmarks of a Casey Gwinn-style gift of public funds. That's why Hueso needed a big favor to get it approved. He knew that Frye, Lightner and DeMaio would question the voting requirements together with the bidding process update and the statement of project viability required by the State before May 1, in order to secure a $20 million grant. They did, to no avail.

Why do I think this is a Casey Gwinn-style gift of public funds?

Read the actual lease document itself. On page 1 it describes the "Premises" as approximately 71,800 of rentable square feet. On page 30 it undertakes to allow the School District to sell its leasehold interest to any third party and the City cannot unreasonably withhold its consent.

I believe that the School Board has no intention of putting a high school in that library building. Its only interest is helping the City create construction jobs. When the time comes for the District to pay for tenant improvements it will invent a thousand excuses to bug out and sell its leasehold interest to an "investor". This is a very valuable lease in its own right. It is collateralized by two (as yet unspecified) City properties worth $30 million in the event the City's library project falls through.

Here's how I think a library lease giveaway would work:

An unidentified inside "investor" would form a Delaware LLC and purchase the library lease from the School District. The grateful School District would carry back a note and deed of trust for the entire purchase price of $20 million. The private investor would then own a lease on 71,800 square feet of prime downtown office space, with its rent pre-paid for 40 years, without any public bid process.

There is nothing in this lease to prevent the above from happening.

But what if some lawyer files a public interest "private attorney general" lawsuit against the City once the library deal is closed? A Judge with no political favors to repay may disagree with Goldsmith's opinion. What if some private citizen calls for a State audit of the handling of RA tax increment funds for schools? A private citizen called for a HUD audit of CDBG funds, resulting in the RA having to pay back millions to the City.

When the District finally admitted that its Prop S money would not be forthcoming for the library, the RA conveniently "found" $17 million "earmarked" for schools. That means that the School District was for years denied Property Tax Revenues to which it was contractually entitled. Did the District really authorize the RA to hold all that money in a trust account? Why would the School District leave Property Tax Revenue with the Redevelopment Agency during years in which it was financially strapped?

All that time the School District was bussing hundreds of children from downtown. And the RA now wants to use "school earmarked" money to fund a downtown library. How much more "school earmarked" money is lying around at the RA? In their rush to help the library promoters they have opened a Pandora's Box.

Goldsmith's "Gwinn opinion" may prove expensive for the City if any of this is challenged in court. He should take another long, hard look at Charter Section 99. Doing political favors for the likes of Hueso could be much more dangerous than just saying "no".
 

  04/09/10   The Union-Tribune has slandered Marti Emerald
      by Pat Flannery                                                              top^
 


The following sentence appears in today's U-T article regarding Thursday's much talked about ethics hearing involving an alleged Marti Emerald campaign reporting violation: "The delay allowed Emerald to collect contributions to cover a debt that had not been disclosed."

That statement is slanderous and needs to be corrected immediately, otherwise the U-T may end up paying all of Marty Emerald's legal costs in this case. I'm sure it has not escaped her lawyer, Bob Ottilie.

The truth is that the alleged reporting delay gained no advantage for Emerald. By law, all outstanding campaign debts, whatever their nature, must be paid off within 180 days of the election involved, whether reported or not. A reporting failure, whether deliberate or inadvertent, in no way changes that campaign law. Emerald paid off her campaign debts according to that law, within 180 days. She is not being accused of violating that law. In fact she had paid off most of her winning bonus obligation as early as February 2, 2009. Watch this short video clip.

Yet the U-T reports that this delay allowed Emerald to collect contributions that she would not otherwise be able to collect and that that was why she delayed reporting the debt. That is untrue and extremely damaging to Emerald. The U-T tried a similar smear on Mike Aguirre in 2008. It later retracted, but buried it where very few readers saw it. Emerald should not accept a similar "retraction". The U-T should pay damages.

From when it was first brought to her attention by the Ethics staff, Emerald readily admitted that her campaign committee must have misinterpreted a particular reporting rule. Further, the Ethics Commission admitted yesterday that it had failed to properly explain that rule to her. They said they will correct that omission in future candidate training sessions.

The Commission also admitted yesterday that that particular rule requires a full understanding of a technical accounting principle known as "cash basis" vs. "accrual basis". Emerald's treasurer interpreted the rule as calling for a "cash basis" of accounting, while Ethics staff later "discovered" that an accrual basis of accounting was called for.

It is interesting that April Boling, Emerald's 2008 opponent for the District 7 Council seat, is a CPA. Boling, an expert on such technical accounting principles, is widely believed to be the "anonymous" complainant in this alleged reporting violation.

This violation complaint has all the hallmarks of a political witch-hunt.
Stacey Fulhorst, Executive Director of the Ethics Commission, is a Casey Gwinn protégé. She is now an important insider in San Diego's insider politics. Like ruling elites everywhere, they carefully train their own.
 

  03/09/10   Voting while under the influence - of money.
      by Pat Flannery                                                              top^
 


A recent land use vote at City Council provides a fascinating peek into the moral characters of our six Democratic City Councilmembers. The issue at hand was a proposed street vacation in front of the La Jolla home of Democratic Party mega-contributors, Bill and Lisa Barkett.

The Barketts were betting that their prowess for hosting big Democratic fund raising events for national, state and local Democratic candidates, would be rewarded by the City of San Diego relinquishing a 3,122 square feet portion of Prospect Place, thus privatizing the cul-de-sac in front of their house.

They confidently expected that despite a knee-jerk "No" from the two Republicans, Faulconer and DeMaio, that at least five of the six Democratic Councilmembers would obey their fund raising masters and vote "Yes". Three did. Three did not! The Barketts were stunned.

Maybe there is hope for San Diego yet. The Barketts and the big money set need to realize that the unprincipled Scott Peters is gone and the principled Sherri Lightner is now the people's choice in District 1, despite the power of the dollar. Can you imagine how different the outcome would have been if Scott Peters was still representing La Jolla?

I already knew what Sherri Lightner's response would be to the money peddling Barketts and I knew that Ben Hueso would crawl all the way up Prospect Place and wipe the boots of the Barketts if they asked him to. He would sell his very soul to get to the State Assembly.

Likewise I knew that Todd Gloria is tied hand and foot to the fund raising machine of the Democratic Party. He is a child of the Susan Davis machine. He probably attended dozens of fund raisers at the Barkett's home while choir boy for Congresswoman Davis' soirées.

But "Et Tu Marti"? This is the unkindest cut of all. With one roll of the voting drum Marti Emerald fell from the wedding chapel of clean government down to the rat infested cellar of prostitution politics. Was her Council vote really only worth $1,080 or does she intend to follow Hueso down a slimy slope to the State Assembly?

Here is a page from her Monetary Contributions Received List in 2007. The Barkett family made four contributions of $270, one each for Mom and Dad, Bill and Lisa and one each for their two children, Jacqueline and Joseph. Did this mere $1,080 buy her political soul?

This video starts with Jeannette Temple of the City's Development Services Department (DSD) laying out the case for the Barketts. DSD operates as an "enterprise fund". In other words Jeannette's salary is paid, not by you and I the tax payer, but by her "clients" the Barketts. This bizarre "enterprise fund" set-up means that developers fund our City's Development Services Department. This needs to be changed because it is corrupting the entire land use process.

To give an idea of the reach money people like the Barketts have, consider that when faced with a defeat at City Council on February 2, 2009, they were able to get Marti Emerald to engineer a postponement for a month while DSD staff wasted scarce police resources in compiling a spurious crime report on the cul-de-sac in question and wasted an entire afternoon of a police lieutenant at Council when the item was reheard.

Now watch and judge for yourself who was parroting the talking points handed to them by the Barkett's lawyers and who was representing the citizens as they are bound by oath to so do. Watch Lightner and Frye demolish the bogus land use arguments concocted by DSD staff and Barkett's lawyers.

Then watch Emerald, Hueso and Gloria abandon every moral principle to serve their money masters. Hueso's contribution is particularly disturbing. His patently false theories on public easements show the extent to which he is willing to pervert his powers as an elected official to further his career in politics. He is a very dangerous man.

If he makes it to Sacramento he will surely represent a low point in San Diego's contribution to the State Assembly. He will ally himself with the most despicable elements of state politics. He will inevitably bring shame on San Diego because he is  a man completely without moral principles. At least his run for the Assembly puts him out of City politics in November.

I write this blog because I don't believe the Barketts will go away. They are too heavily invested in political contributing. They will be back to demand their pound of flesh.

But we the citizens must fight corrupting money in politics. I believe Hueso to be a lost cause but surely it is not too late to save Marti Emerald. Please don't join Hueso on the dark side Marti. You are in danger of losing your immortal soul, not to mention your Council seat.

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