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Blog Archives - 2006
developers are counting on your apathy.
The City Attorney has issued legal guidelines for the
City Council's upcoming January 9th decision, regarding
is the full MOL. It draws heavily on the
Environmental Assessment (EA) dated June 2006.
According to DSD this Navy document was not made
available to them until November 25, 2006, more than a
month after the October 19, 2006 Manis finding. That
could become a key point on January 9th.
With the benefit of having read this June 2006 EA, the
City Attorney's MOL clearly contradicts the Manis
It lists a whole range of major "changed
circumstances" identified by the Navy, where Manis found
none. The writer, Chief Deputy City Attorney Shirley
Edwards, could not usurp the Council's authority to
determine whether these changes are "substantial" or
not, so she deferred to their decision on January 9th.
If you read the MOL carefully it is hard to imagine how
the City Council will be able to ignore these "changed
circumstances" and "new information" and uphold the
Manis finding. This "new" information simply was not
available to Manis on October 19, 2006 - or was it? It
is very odd that Sanders' staff never saw that June 2006
Manchester seismic report or saw that June 2006 Navy EA.
Both documents were "unavailable" to Manis until
he wrote his finding and until after Manchester
donated $50,000 to Sanders' Prop C.
What part did the Navy play in these political
shenanigans? How badly do the brass want those
In a fit of patriotic fervor, after the 1914-18 World
War, the people of San Diego "granted" the U.S. Navy the
use of a valuable piece of public trust land on the
waterfront. The Navy had urgently needed a pier and
supply depot for their growing pacific operations and
the San Diego people responded generously. They never
imagined that the Navy would try to keep this public
trust land for ever.
For millenia, long before the Romans, all river, lake
and seafront land was public land. The reason: freedom
of navigation was universally considered vital to
commerce and defense. Nobody, not even the king, was
allowed to own or control waterfront land.
Here in San Diego the U.S. Navy has broken that trust,
sacred over thousands of years. By becoming a developer
in its own right, the Navy has abused the power of its
mission to defend us. It has taken our land for its own
gain and comfort. It did so by the simple expedient of
declaring that the land in question, Navy Broadway, is
no longer "tidelands" because it has been "filled"!
That was the spurious argument used by the U.S.
Memorandum of Decision and Order dated July 1, 1991.
Read it again on page 7. It baldly states that
public land ceases to be "tidelands" when it is
"filled". If that flawed logic were applied everywhere
"tidelands" have been "filled", there would be precious
little "tidelands" left in the U.S.
Now read the
struggle of the people of Miami to preserve their
bayfront. Note that the Navy commandeered it from the
Miami people at the outbreak of WW II but gave it back
to them in 1950. Quite a different story from San Diego.
Look at their bayfront today:
Look at Chicago's lakefront today. Miamians
KNEW they deserved a waterfront park. We San
Diegans are too shy to ask. So we get what we deserve.
Look at San Diego's pathetic bayfront. This is the scale
model proudly displayed in the downtown offices of CCDC
as I write. What is wrong with us San Diegans? Why do we
tolerate spineless City Councils one after the other?
Where is our civic pride?
The January 9th City Council session will settle the
question once and for all: "do people matter in San
or is this just a "Navy town"? Is that the
difference between us and Chicago and Miami?
In order to side with the Navy and its eager
co-developer Doug Manchester, the City Council will have
to make a highly moral choice. Each Member knows, as
everybody knows, that this whole Navy Broadway affair
has been rigged by the Navy. Its brass wants the best
view in town. And they picked the perfect partner - Doug
Instead of a bayfront park, Navy Broadway would become a
warren of dingy offices, populated by a rabble of
panhandlers, contractors who would hook a sewer pipe for
a 1,000 bed Navy dorm facility to the storm drain and
dump 14 million gallons of raw sewage into our bay.
Anybody heard from the Navy on that? An apology maybe?
The big contractors of course will have bay views and
private walkways to the Navy brass's bayfront suites. "Pappa"
Doug will get what he wants: an endless stream of
contractor wannabes, eager to rub shoulders with corrupt
politicians in a controlled environment. Any politician
worth his/her salt will want to have an office there.
So what do you San Diegans want? A nest of thieves, or a
bayfront park? What does our City Council want? Assuming
it is "ours". The moment of truth is on January
If you wait to read about it in the newspapers, you
already know the answer. The Mayor, the City Council,
the CCDC, the Navy and its greedy co-developer Doug
Manchester, are all counting on your apathy. On January
9th you will get the waterfront you deserve. On the
other hand you could go down there and speak up. It
would make a difference.
far as I am concerned the people of California still own
My thanks to Don Wood for sending me this U.S.
Memorandum of Decision and Order
dated July 1, 1991. It makes interesting and timely
Contrary to popular belief, that the City of San Diego
freely gave "fee simple" ownership of the Navy Broadway
site to the Navy in 1919, the truth is that the Navy
took it by eminent domain in 1991.
The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become
is Columbia in full flight, westwards to the Pacific.
The Indians and wild animals scattering before her. In
her train she brings covered wagons, stagecoaches,
trains, telegraphs, homesteads and the civilizing
Was "The land
ours before we were the land's"?
The U.S. Judge who
wrote the 1991 "Decision" certainly thought so.
For me the U.S. doctrine of Manifest Destiny ended when
California became a State in 1850, on land Mexico ceded
in order to end a war started by the U.S. over Texas.
"The Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo was the peace treaty
that ended the
(1846–1848). The treaty provided for the
in which Mexico
1.36 million km (525,000 square miles)
to the United States in exchange for $15
million. The United States also agreed
to take over $3.25 million in debts
Mexico owed to American citizens."
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
sovereign people of states request
entry into the United States, the United States does
not extend its government over the people of new states. California requested entry into the U.S. but
remained a sovereign State. The U.S. District Court
Memorandum of Decision and Order
dated July 1, 1991 was a rape of that sovereignty.
The Spanish Empire "acquired" California by conquering
Aztec Empire and various other Native American
William Lamport (1615-1659), an Irishman living in
Mexico and nicknamed El Zorro, posted his
Proclamation of Independence on the walls of Mexico
City. He was the "author of the first declaration of
independence in the Indies, a document that promised
land reform, equality of opportunity, racial equality
and a democratically elected monarch over a century
before the French Revolution."
Like many Irish revolutionaries he met an untimely
death, not at the hands of the British, but burned at
the stake by the Spanish. Mexico had to wait nearly three hundred years for
independence from Spain. In 1824 it became a federation
of "free and sovereign states", which unfortunately was
replaced in 1835 by a French-style "departments" system,
centralizing national power in Mexico City under
President Santa Anna.
The people of California, new Europeans and what was
left of the Native Americans, finally became a sovereign
September 9, 1850. You
wouldn't think so to read
U.S. District Court's
Memorandum of Decision and Order
dated July 1, 1991, granting itself, the United States,
"fee simple" title to the Navy Broadway site "subject
only to certain utility easement rights held by the City
of San Diego".
I wonder what would happen to this Irishman if he posted
a Proclamation of California Sovereignty on the walls of
the downtown Federal Building. Do they still burn
heretics at the stake? As far as I am concerned the
people of California still own Navy Broadway.
KPMG - blame incompetent City staff.
I thought I should republish a list of KPMG "pending"
items released by City staff earlier this year, when
they were trying to demonstrate how hard they were
working to satisfy KPMG. It actually had
the opposite effect on me. I wondered, and still wonder,
how so many basic items could still be outstanding since 2003.
The very questions asked by KPMG give some idea of the
chaotic state of the City's bookkeeping.
Here is the
audit list once again. And here is a list of
auditing terms. The City staff indicated
that they had "provided" each item, but
because KPMG had not signed
off on them, the City marked them "pending" in
the KPMG column. I wonder how many of them are still
"pending" as far as KPMG is concerned. Unless the
standard of record keeping has vastly improved the
answers "provided" are as dumb as the records
were in the
first place. My sympathies are with KPMG in trying to
make sense of anything "provided".
Read down through the "Item" column and get a feel for
the kind of basic stuff KPMG was asking for. I wonder if we will ever get a meaningful
audit. I can just imagine the internal "quality control"
discussion presently taking place at KPMG - "what are
we going to do with these idiots at San Diego? How
can anybody sign off on such garbage?" I was once an
auditor myself and know how exasperating an incompetent client can be.
A good manager needs to be able to read financial
statements, just as a good physician needs to be able to
read X-rays and lab reports. Sanders has no training or
interest in financial statements, therefore he is incapable
of telling a department head that their operating
statement doesn't make sense. He doesn't know!
That is the reason we have no audited accounts, no idea
when we are going to get them and a zero credit rating.
Sanders allows the same bunch of incompetent paper shufflers
to shuffle ever
more meaningless paper, because he has no idea what they are doing.
Putting a former police chief in charge of the City's
finances is like putting a fireman in charge of a
surgery. Sanders may be a smiley face, but he is
Sanders hired Jay Goldstone to neuter the one man at
City Hall who knew how to prepare financial statements,
John Torrel the City Auditor/Comptroller. John quit on
Thursday, totally disgusted with the police state City
Hall has become under Sanders, who is more
concerned with managing the City's news than the City's
Graham have to go. 12/21/06
In my opinion Jim
Waring and Nancy Graham should be fired on the spot.
They have been deliberately hiding
"large, 2-inch thick, final fault investigation report
consisting of analysis and interpretation of seismic
reflection surveys, Cone Penetration Test (CPT)
soundings, and borings dated June 2006".
Katheryn Rhodes, finally gained access to this report
yesterday, courtesy of Perry Dealy, Executive VP of
Manchester Financial. She was only allowed to look at it
in Mr. Dealy's presence. No copies. To his credit Dealy
seemed less interested in hiding it than do Waring and
Graham. What are these two up to?
Here are some quotes from
Ms. Rhodes' email to the City this morning:
"The developer was told by both Jim Waring and Nancy
Graham that the report was not required to be submitted
during plan review of the project and they could wait
until building permits are issued in a few years".
Perry Dealy confirmed this to Ms. Rhodes, but added:
"The developer stated that if the City of San Diego
asks that the fault investigation report be turned in
for review, they will comply with the
This means that
Waring and Graham asked Manchester to sit on the June 2006
seismic fault investigation, saying they did not need to
see it. These are not the kind of people we want in
positions of authority in this city. They did this so their compliant underling, Bob Manis,
infamous finding on October 19, 2006.
Through them the City contrived not to see this report so
it could issue a false CEQA finding. That is the long
and the short of it. If Sanders is to retain any
credibility he must immediately fire the three people
most responsible for this piece of gross
mal-administration. Waring and Graham are particularly
unfit to serve in city government.
As for Manis, his own operating manual makes his duties
abundantly clear. Rhodes writes: "according to
the City of San Diego Project Submittal Manual and
Information Bulletin 515, the June 2006 fault
investigation report should have been turned in before
CCDC were ever allowed to look at
plans for the project." Instead, he did as he was
Rhodes concludes: "we insist that an
independent review of the fault investigation report
prepared by Geocon Incorporated dated June 2006 be
conducted by the City of San Diego Geologist, the State
of California Division of Mines and Geology, and
concerned citizens for this
billion dollar-plus project as soon as possible."
Her quick look at the report yesterday revealed that
"fault or fault-like features offset and
displaced the horizontal soil
layers for hundreds of feet vertically."
Very concerned, she today warns the City (she is a civil
"The north-south trending direction of the
fault or fault-like features identified in the (also
in June 2006) Terra Physics report would correlate
well with the 2001 and 2003 fault investigations of San
Diego Bay by the California Division of Mines and
Geology, and the 2006 investigation for the Coronado
tunnel by Kleinfelder, Inc. Based only on a cursory
review of the cross sections of the seismic reflection
survey, active faulting seems to
exist on the Navy Broadway Complex."
With tongue firmly in cheek she writes: "The active Coronado
fault may abruptly stop within feet of the Embarcadero
and not reach land or it may trend to the east of the
Sure, the Coronado fault may stop dead at the water's
edge - because Nancy Graham commanded it to. Or it may
suddenly have taken a hard right turn to the east and is
now a mere "anomaly" (it is through "anomalies" in the
earth's crust we discover "faults").
We have had enough of people like Graham and Waring. It
is because we had such flawed public servants in the
past that we now face bankruptcy. The City Council did
not heed the warnings of Diann Shipione in 2002 (indeed
they tried to discredit her) will they now ignore the
warnings of Katheryn Rhodes? We will see on January 9,
Barton was wrestling with ghosts.
It was so refreshing to read
Pat Shea's piece in The Voice yesterday: "You
don't need to do anything to make them "void." They just
are as a matter of law. The secret unfunded and
unbudgeted deficits never exist because the law, as I
previously understood it, doesn't allow them to come
into existence in the first place."
I hope the law still is as Pat and I "previously
understood it". That is the way I learned contract
law many years ago as part of my accountancy and
business training. I well remember the classroom
distinction between "void" and "voidable".
What really bothers me is this modern trend towards
relativism. How can we have an ordered society if there
are no absolutes? Under relativism, concepts of truth
and moral values are not true in all cases.
"Circumstances" and "situations" have to be taken into
account. But who gets to decide the merits of these
"circumstances" and "situations"? One individual? A
judge? That's my problem with relativism. Judge Barton's
misguided and confused pension ruling is a perfect
example of this woolly kind of thinking.
Pat Shea is right. Barton was wrestling with ghosts. The
pension benefits he treated as real, didn't exist. In
the process, he nearly drove himself, and us, crazy. He
really needs to look in the mirror and ask himself what
it means to be a judge. I hope he does.
Maybe it's our own fault for running to judges with
every piece of nonsense we encounter every day. We seem
to have debased the whole judicial concept. Making sense
of nonsense is not what judges are for. Unfortunately
many of them are not smart enough to understand that.
They think they become wise when they don those robes.
They sit and listen to circular, convoluted, spurious
nonsense, unable to discern what is real and what is
not. Deciding what is real and what is not is exactly
their primary duty!
Many of them do not seem to believe in "absolute" truths
or moral values. Judge Barton for one, could have spared
us all a lot of time and expense by simply applying the
objective law as it undoubtedly exists. He could have
disposed of this case within a week. The pension
benefits he has been wrestling with are ghosts - they do
the turning point? 12/17/06
Welcome home Mike Aguirre - I hope.
lawsuit against Sunroad
negative comment from Fred Sainz, spokesman for
Mayor Jerry Sanders: “We don't think it sends a
positive message to the development community”.
Maybe not, but it sure was music to my ears. Is Mike
Aguirre finally standing up to Sanders?
The handling of this Kearny Mesa construction project by
the City of San Diego's Development Services Department
(DSD) is a classic example of how DSD exists to serve
the development community at the expense of the people
of San Diego.
On page 5, Mike's
lawsuit describes how this
project was handled under "Process Two" in order to
avoid review by the Planning Commission or by the City
Council. The first anybody knew about it, including the
FAA, was when steel framing appeared along 163. That's
how "Process Two" works, it is an inside job.
What citizens need to understand is that Sanders and
Waring are trying to make virtually all
development decisions under "Process Two", thus
rendering the Planning Commission and the City Council
irrelevant. Our thanks to Deputy City Attorney
Carmen Brock for her diligence in preparing this lawsuit
and bringing this point to the public's notice. It is
fundamental to Sanders' pro-developer policy.
Now let's hope our City Council finally wakes up and
realizes what Sanders and Waring are up to. They should
pay attention to the land use appeals of the ordinary
people in the neighborhoods, rather than consistently
swallowing the Waring and DSD snake oil.
Read Mike's entire
lawsuit for a good picture of how this City under
this Mayor tried to pull the wool over the eyes of not
only its citizens but the FAA as well. I hope this means
we have our City Attorney back. And again, well done
is subject to the Coastal Commission.
I attended the December meeting of the
State Lands Commission
(SLC) on Thursday. It was held right here in San Diego
in the Port District's board room.
Commission Members State Controller
Steve Westly and Lt. Governor
Cruz Bustamante were in attendance but the third
Member, Director of Finance
Michael C. Genest,
was represented by his Alternate, Anne Sheehan.
According to Chairman Steve Westly it was the most
important meeting in his four years on the Commission
and it attracted the largest numbers of public speakers.
The reason: a developer's attempt to build a
timeshare/hotel on a precious Harbor Island parking lot.
Harbor Island is State Land. If allowed it would set a
precedent for the whole State. Fortunately the Lands
Commission voted it down, to the great relief of those
Woodfin Suite Hotels,
a San Diego based company. Here is the
SLC staff report. It refers to the Commission's
Statement regarding the
Trust Doctrine. The SLC staff concluded that
"a timeshare development is not a use consistent with
the Public Trust Doctrine". They based their
conclusion on the fact that "timeshare accommodations
are only available to a small segment of the population
who can afford the tens of thousands of dollars for the
initial purchase and who would own personal rights to
the rooms and thereby prevent other use of these public
The San Diego Unified Port District holds title to
Harbor Island (and all other lands under its
jurisdiction) in trust from the State Lands Commission.
The Commission directed its staff: "to convey staff's
analysis as set forth in this report and the
Commission's finding (that it had adopted the
staff's report) to the California Coastal Commission
and the cities, counties and special districts that
manage public trust lands granted to them by the State
Legislature and for which the Commission retains
This means that the Coastal Commission cannot allow
Manchester, or anybody else, to build hotel-condos (or
whatever they may choose to call them) on land subject
to the Coastal Commission.
I wanted to see if
Manchester would turn up. He did, in the person of his
ever-faithful Executive VP, Perry Dealy.
Dealy's pitch was hilarious. He actually said that hotel
developers need greater returns because the cost of
building hotels on coastal land is skyrocketing as a
result of the need to mitigate seismic faults and the
accompanying risk of liquefaction.
This is the company that is telling the City that there
is no seismic fault or risk of liquefaction on
the Navy Broadway site! The City and CCDC are letting
this company do its own seismic evaluation in its own
time, which means that Manchester gets to decide
what cost he must incur to mitigate non-existing seismic
faults - none.
As a result he is setting this City up for the biggest
corporate welfare law suit in American history. If the
City Council confirms the Manis CEQA finding (that
Manchester does not need to show the City an adequate
fault investigation before getting clearance) the
City will be liable for all his cost overruns due to
fault and liquefaction mitigation. That will be decided
by the City Council on January 9, 2007.
you to read the Commission's
Statement and the
benefits are still illegal. 12/15/06
For those who might be tempted to revel in Aguirre's
embarrassment, especially some City Councilors and union
members, let them reflect that with his rollbacks now
off the table the City will have to choose between a
special pension tax and service cuts. The 1996 and 2002
pension benefits are still illegal and their cost will
continue to grow until they are either renegotiated or
strangle the city.
The people will reject a tax increase. Period. They have
made that clear time and again. They will not pay for
Cadillac pensions for overpaid public employees while
they struggle to survive in the private sector with
nothing to look forward to but social security. There is
no point in anybody proposing it. It cost Donna Frye the
That leaves only massive service cuts. Therefore "the
sins of the fathers will be visited upon the sons".
Both the people and employees will suffer. The golden
days of City employment are over. Current and future
employees will pay for the past excesses. City
employment will become less and less attractive, barely
a notch above Wal-Mart.
The finances of the City will eventually recover but the
unions will not. Many City employees will refuse to pay
union dues. The political power of the unions will be
non-existent. Italiano, Saathoff and Torres are the last
of a breed.
Aguirre will quite rightly pursue a ruling of illegality
to preserve the integrity of government law.
Barton did not rule that the benefits were legal. In
fact he was careful to point out: "the issues in
phase one do not deal with the underlying "legality" of
the benefits, but rather the procedural impact of these
past actions by the City which are not consistent with
the City’s legal position in the current litigation.
Like any party before the court, the City’s past
inconsistent positions, or failures to act when there
was a legal duty to do so, can impair the ability to
proceed in the current litigation.
Before Peters and Madaffer start crowing about Aguirre's
"failure" they should reflect on Barton's words. It was
their failure to act "when there was a legal
duty to do so" that denied Barton the ability to
rule in favor of Aguirre. "Corbett" in 2000 and
"Gleason" in 2004 merely compounded the illegalities on
MPI in 1996 and MPII in 2002.
The tragedy is that the people did not find some way of
getting rid of the four remaining City Councilors,
Peters, Madaffer, Maienschein and Atkins, who
perpetrated this fraud before they could consolidate it.
They are still in there voting to cover up their illegal
acts and blaming everybody but themselves. Peters will
now pompously assert that he was right all along. It is
a travesty of justice that he is a Councilor let alone
That is why I was so disappointed on Monday when Aguirre
offered to help Peters with the SEC. Instead of helping
these people he should be forcing them to resign in
disgrace. Not only did they grant illegal pension
benefits, they committed securities fraud, which will
affect this City's credit rating for years to come.
As a result, no progress will be made until after the
2008 election. In the meantime these four gold diggers
will outdo Juan Vargas in feathering their post-Council
nests. Madaffer wants to become the Redevelopment Czar,
a Nancy Graham on steroids. Atkins is singing the
praises of a Balboa Park Conservancy. I am sure the top
job there will pay in excess of $200,000. Why should
outsiders like Nancy Graham from Florida have all the
gravy? Toni is becoming a born-again privatization
In the end of the day the whole pension mess will have
to be renegotiated. It is either that or bankruptcy. But
before negotiations can begin the unfunded benefits must
be ruled illegal, it is the law. Aguirre may not have
delivered the rollbacks but he has made the point that
needs to be made: a city government cannot spend money
it does not have; it cannot grant unfunded pension
benefits. And Judge Barton has not said otherwise.
extraordinary act of civic duty.
Here is a summary of the Navy Broadway situation to
1. Despite Perry Dealy's
various promises to Katheryn Rhodes and despite her best efforts,
including a trip to Dealy's plush waterfront office, Ms.
Rhodes has not been shown the seismic fault
investigation done by Manchester.
2. Nor has either of the appellants, Ian Trowbridge or Katheryn Rhodes,
been given a copy of the Navy/Manchester lease. This
puts them at a huge disadvantage. That lease contains
contingency clauses the disclosure of which is essential
to the appeals. They are engaged in a contest the rules of which they are not
allowed to know.
3. As City staff care so little about protecting the
City (all they seem to care about is the developer) Katheryn Rhodes
will commission one of her own! She has
written to the Port Authority for permission "to
conduct the non-invasive seismic reflection survey on
Port of San Diego property at the northwest corner of
Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway, directly south of the
Navy Broadway Complex". This location is a lightly
used public parking lot owned by the Port Authority and
is the only place available for a limited investigation.
Hopefully her private investigation will determine
whether the Coronado fault continues right up to the
Navy Broadway site. This is the fault investigation the
Port refused to do.
This bright young lady, who just
happens to be a civil engineer, with very limited
personal means, is willing to put $12,850 on her credit
card (or however she intends to pay for it) in order to
do the right thing and protect the City. CCDC, with its
bloated $187 million annual budget could easily do it.
DSD could simply require it of Manchester.
Instead we see this extraordinary act of civic duty.
That is why she has had my total support from the very
beginning. She has given me pride in my city again.
Whatever the outcome of this sordid NBC affair, this
city will be the richer for knowing it has faithful
citizens like Katheryn Rhodes. I hope there are many
It is time the City Council started thinking about their
vote on January 9th. Who will they trust? Ms. Rhodes or
Doug Manchester? Their vote on that day will be as
critical as that infamous vote on November 18, 2002.
This time it will be Katheryn Rhodes not Diann Shipione and the issue is CEQA,
not pension underfundung, but just as critical.
If the City Council allows Manchester to start
construction on that site without knowing whether or not
a seismic fault runs through it, serious
consequences will occur.
My belief is that Manchester is backing the City into a
corner. He is setting them up. He knows there is a
seismic problem with that site. So he wants to shift the
risk to the City. Two senior City employees, Jim Waring
and Nancy Graham are helping him do it - by attempting
to defer a fault investigation until after the
City Council has voted.
When Manchester later "discovers" the full impact of a
seismic fault on the project, he will blame the City. He
will claim that it did not follow CEQA law, that it allowed him to
proceed when it should have stopped him. He will cite
the Manis CEQA clearance and the fact that the City Council
upheld it. And he will have a point.
Bob Manis will be personally liable because he knows
that by law when a site is in a known risk area and is
subject to liquefaction, a fault investigation must be
done as part of a CEQA clearance, not as part of the
developer's due diligence in his own time, which is the
position Manis now holds. He has been warned. He
has read the appeal.
If each City Councilor has not
the appeal by now, it is time they did. They will
be given no opportunity to say afterwards that they did not
know the relevant law or that City staff misled them.
Their clear legal obligation to obtain an adequate
seismic fault report before voting on the Manis
CEQA clearance will be put on record on the day of the
appeal. There will be no escape afterwards from the
consequences of their actions.
Once they know the facts they may choose to accept all
kinds of seismic mitigation measures, but they must
see a report to determine the seismic risk to that
site before voting. If they try to obfuscate
through this critical vote, with the usual hypocritical
verbiage and wringing of hands, they will have proven
that developers get anything they want in this city. The
repercussions for themselves and the City will put the
pension problem in the shade. Developer power will have
replaced union power.
If they put on
the blinders for developers, as they did so many times
for the unions, there will undoubtedly be an investigation. I know
of at least one Member of Congress who is following this
case closely. I know of at last one law suit that is
already being prepared.
This City Council will be accused of something far worse than
securities fraud. They will have conspired to hide the
fact that the San Diego bayfront is unsuitable for
development due to seismic activity under hydraulic
fill. They will be exposed as developer stooges.
Waring and Graham either
already have the seismic study done by Manchester and
are refusing to release it, or Manchester is refusing to
give it to them. One is as bad as the other. Either way
they are putting
Manchester's interests before that of the
But the ultimate responsibility rests with the Members
of the City Council. They can deal with their errant
employees Waring and Graham later. Their vote on January
9, 2007 will be a test of who runs this city. If the
Council rolls over and gives the developer everything he
wants, there will be a gathering of the clans all over
the city. It will be a signal to the people that they
have lost control of city government. My guess is that
there are many more Katheryn Rhodes' out there. But she
is certainly the standard bearer.
The job of a
City Attorney is to apply the law. Period.
I went to Mike Aguirre's end of year Town Hall gig
last night - an evening of Mike
handing out valium. What surprised me was his over the
top praise of Sanders. We desperately need open government,
not Sanders-style closed government.
To cap his hero-worship of Sanders, Mike
now wants to "help" the four City Councilors who
disgraced this city and brought it to the verge of
bankruptcy. That will come as a shock to many of his
supporters. Most of them detest Madaffer and Peters. But Mike will now "help" these people with
their high crimes and misdemeanors! Will he also "help"
Murphy, McGrory, Golding, Grissom, Chapin, Herring,
Lexin, Saathoff, Torres, Webster and Wilkinson? What
about Zuchett and Inzunza?
Peters immediately spurned the offer. He says he is
unaware he has any problems with the SEC. He is spending
huge public money on private attorneys dealing with the
SEC but is unaware he has a problem with them? And
Aguirre wants to help this guy?
four Councilors did wrong and should be held accountable.
Mike should not offer
the services of the City Attorney's Office in their dealing with
the SEC. That is getting the City involved again. We
are paying their massive legal fees, that is enough.
If we are governed by laws not by men, as Mike assures
us we are, he should apply the Municipal Code
to the sale of a City property to
Hillel. He should apply the Municipal Code to NBC by
requiring a seismic fault
investigation before granting Manchester a CEQA
Finally, Mike made an error last night in not
mixing with his guests, before or after his speech. Instead of coming down into the auditorium and
shaking a few hands he gave a long interview to
two reporters, off to one side. His hero Sanders would
not have made that mistake. Jerry
knows the value of pressing the flesh. Mike needs to
best chance of fixing things is to let the light in.
I have been studying the
2007 City Budget. It is a hodgepodge of inarticulate
statements that do not fit together to give an overall
picture of the City. It raises more questions than it
answers. It is not like any financial statement you
would ever see in the private sector.
Sanders' Five Year Plan
is a mere extension based on assumed % increases and
decreases. It contains nothing new and sticks to the
same inarticulate format.
City's operations are carried out within various Funds:
The General Fund provides core services such as
public safety, park and recreation, library
services, refuse collection, finance and human
resources. Its major revenues are
Property tax, Sales tax, Transient Occupancy
Tax and Franchise Fees.
Capital Improvements Program
Special Revenue Funds
Debt Service Funds
Enterprise Funds provide various services such
as Water, Metropolitan Wastewater,
Development Services, Refuse Disposal, Recycling and
through user fees.
$147 million of Inter-Fund transfers are dispersed
throughout the Fund statements. An un-itemized total ($147 million) is shown at the end. But
these money transfers are not
grouped or totaled within each Fund.
The Mayor should require clear Revenue
and Expense Statements per Fund. Inter-Fund
transfers should be itemized and shown as a total in
each Fund. We need to know how money is moved
around. There should be a balancing statement, showing all money transfers within the system. All
we know right now is that inter-fund transfers total
$147 million. The opportunities for abuses and cover-ups
In addition to Inter-Fund Transfers there are all kinds
of internal services being billed
backwards and forwards:
Internal Service Funds
(It is unclear what the
payment of $39,470,593
to the Pension Fund represents. Can the admin
costs be nearly $40 million? Apparently so).
Again all we know is the total. There is no overall
reconciliation of these charges. We don't even know when
an expense item is internal or external. Nor is it
possible to link a revenue item with its counterpart
expense item in the fund where it is a charge.
Here are a few puzzling questions:
how does the $293 million Capital Improvement Program
(CIP) money get from other Funds, e.g. do sewer fees get
transferred from the Sewer Fund to a CIP fund? How does the 1/2 cent sales tax
get from the TransNet Fund to a CIP fund? When are Internal Services paid by fees
and when by Inter-fund transfers?
The truth is that financial reporting at the City is
a mess. How can the Mayor fix anything when he
doesn't know what is broken? The City's staff has been
allowed to get away with unbelievable sloppiness for
years. Outsourcing is not going to cure that. It will
become an even bigger mess. The Brits certified me as a
public accountant nearly 40 years ago in London and I
have never seen such bizarre "accounting" anywhere, here
or in Europe.
After a whole year Sanders has failed to demand what any
manager, from the smallest to the largest business, would
require - basic revenue and expense statements.
The citizens would quickly reform this City if the light of day
were allowed to shine into its finances. They would ask
the questions Sanders is obviously not asking. The clamor for reform would be deafening. It
makes one wonder whether Sanders really wants reform or
if he just wants to reward his developer/business
backers while he is in there.
He has surrounded himself with a team
of control freaks. To get clarification on anything
you have to fill out a public information request.
Instead of openness the information doors are closed
tight. Everything has to
go through the Mayor's control freaks.
The Five Year Plan is business as usual - under greater
secrecy. Nothing is changed. According to these people
they will fix the City in the
General Fund. All other Funds are off
limits because they are self-sustaining e.g. DSD and Waste Water.
Half the General Fund is also off-limits - it is for police and fire services. Therefore
the City will be fixed within the $500 million left in
the General Fund after public safety. That is insane.
The following Funds are not only off-limits to Sanders' cuts,
they are completely off the books and off the the
Centre City Development
General Redevelopment Fund
Data Processing Corporation Fund
Housing Commission Fund
President of of CCDC, gets to spend a whopping $176
million to service her downtown developer "clients".
Not a cent of that $176 million CCDC money goes to
service the debt or pay a cent off the Ballpark or
Convention Center bonds. All that comes out of the
General Fund. Susan Golding and Jack McGrory
reserved the tax increment money for their developer
friends and so it remains today.
The rest of the General Redevelopment Fund is spent
building theaters and other "essential"
infrastructure, to be given away to private entities
like the North Park Theater Co. Data Processing is a
slush fund for the IT well connected. Does anybody
know what the Housing Commission does with its $275
million? I sure don't.
Overall there is approximately $3 billion sloshing
around in these badly managed "Funds". Incompetence is
piled upon incompetence. Sanders, Froman & Goldstone
haven't got a clue what is going on let alone know how
to fix it. They run around doing BPR (Business Practice
Reengineering) like kids playing doctor with toy
Fred Sainz heads a bloated PR staff to put a lid on all
information while keeping the Sanders spin machine
whirring. Jerry makes soothing public appearances,
smiling to the TV cameras, kissing babies and cutting
ribbons. We must be America's Dumbest City.
waterfront projects need a fault investigation.
I went along to the Port District meeting today to see
whether they would require a fault investigation
for the Old Police Headquarters project.
They went ahead and issued a Coastal Development Permit (CDP)
despite the fact that their Final EIR for the project,
given to the Division of Mines and Geology, said that
the project is within the Downtown Special Studies Zone
and that a geotechnical investigation including a fault
investigation would be conducted before a (CDP) would be
issued. Staffers, John Helmer and Lesley Nishihira told
the Commissioners that a fault investigation was not
It seems the Port Authority and CCDC are going to great lengths
to avoid doing seismic fault investigations. Are they
afraid that they will confirm that the Coronado fault
continues under both the Old Police HQ and the Navy
Broadway projects? Isn't that all the more reason to do
a proper fault investigation? Lives could be at risk.
It is becoming inevitable that State regulatory agencies
will get heavily involved in San Diego. Lying is endemic
here. The pension crisis would never have happened if
city staff simply told the truth. Port
District staff John Helmer and Lesley Nishihira know
that a seismic fault investigation must be done for the
Old Police Headquarters project.
There is a real possibility that senior San Diego
planning staff are being told to hide the implications
of the Coronado fault. The developers of Navy Broadway
and the Old Police HQ are obvious suspects. We must get
them to do fault investigations on both their projects,
otherwise we should call for outside help.
Bob Manis saw
no fault. 12/03/06
This official seismic map shows the magnitude of
A well documented earthquake fault is headed directly
at the NBC site, but Manis said it is totally clear of all
environmental concerns. He cannot possibly believe
that. So why on earth did he say it?
Because his boss, Jim Waring, told him to? Why would the
City want to cover up
something as deadly as an earthquake fault?
Why would Sanders take such an enormous risk? For one
campaign contribution? Hardly. A seismic fault
investigation would almost certainly kill NBC because
the site is on hydraulic fill and prone to
But not even Sanders would risk it all for just one project.
Maybe that's it. It would affect not just one project,
it would affect all of downtown! Is that why Sanders,
Waring and Nancy Graham
conspired not to do a fault
investigation at NBC? Finding an active fault would bring
all downtown development to a screeching halt pending
clarification of the seismic situation? Sanders' backers
wouldn't like that.
I wondered why CCDC authorized Manchester to do a fault
investigation as part of his "due diligence" rather than
have the City do one for CEQA compliance. The difference
is that the State of California must approve a fault
investigation done for an EIR under CEQA while a "due
diligence" fault investigation can be anything
Manchester wants it to be. CCDC decided to move it out
of the public domain into the private domain. Why?
Then last Wednesday
Perry Dealy promised Katheryn Rhodes (the appellant)
that he would let her examine the fault investigation he
claims to have done but which he says will remain
private for two years. That sounded odd to me at the
time. So far Ms. Rhodes has not heard back from him
despite numerous phone calls to his office. He never had
any intention of showing it to her, just fobbing her
Therefore both CCDC and Manchester have gone to great
lengths to avoid doing a proper fault investigation.
Why? They must be covering up for something. If they had
nothing to hide they would simply have complied with
CEQA from the start and got it over with.
On January 9, 2007 each member of the City Council will
have to examine their conscience and decide whether or
not to uphold the most immoral finding ever to come out
of a city department - the notorious
finding. Manis deliberately ignored a fault declared
active in the mid 90's that runs right under the
proposed project. Unbelievable!
If the Council upholds Manis, the State of California will
have to intervene and enforce CEQA law. It is
such immorality, let alone illegality, will prevail. It
is inconceivable that anybody could look at the
above map and say "we see no fault".
site belongs to the
people of San Diego. 12/02/06
Mike Freeman's U-T report on yesterday's
announcement by Doug Manchester that he had secured a 99
year lease with the Navy and thus avoided NBC entering
the BRAC process, offers a glimpse into how the Mayor's
office "coordinates" the news.
Freeman is the Mayor's favored reporter whenever
anything to do with NBC is being released to the public.
What is not said is often more significant than what is
said. What was not said yesterday was that the City's
finding of CEQA compliance is being appealed. It's
amazing that the U-T would "forget" to mention that.
the Mayor's office would rather not stress that
particular piece of information and Mike Freeman
obliged. His continued access at the Mayor's office is
obviously more important to him than a balanced report.
After all he has a job to keep.
Then Mike Aguirre was quoted on a TV news program last
night warning the City Council that if they uphold these
appeals, scheduled for a January 9, 2007 hearing, they
will invite a law suit from Manchester. Obviously the
decks are being stacked against the appeals. The Mayor
and the City Attorney are of the same mind on this one.
If on January 9, 2007 the City Council decide that a private investor,
Doug Manchester, should be given a $1 billion asset for a
mere $160 million (the construction of a new Navy HQ for
$160 million is all that is being required of him for a
99 year lease), the State of California will intervene
to enforce CEQA. That will kill the deal.
If the US Navy was willing to offer this deal to a
private party, outside the BRAC process, surely the US
Navy should offer the same deal, within the BRAC process, to
the people who gave them that land in the
first place, the citizens of San Diego. We should offer
the Navy their $160 million and tell them go build their
HQ elsewhere. This site belongs to the people of San
Diego - for a municipal park.
12/01/06 - Manchester's
Navy Lease was signed on November 22, 2006.
According to the
Voice of San Diego this morning Doug Manchester "will
make a major announcement at a press conference this
afternoon". The Voice then goes on to say: "Officials
for the Navy and Manchester said they will not comment
until today's 3 p.m. event, but it's probable that the
announcement will be related to both parties' agreement
on a lease of the bayside property, which is due soon."
The "major announcement" the Voice are referring to
already took place on Wednesday 29, 2006 when the Navy
this document at the San Diego County Recorder's
Office. It is a Memorandum of Ground Lease between the
Navy and Manchester Pacific Gateway LLC. The lease is
for 99 years which amounts to fee simple ownership.
Was the release of this little gem of "news" carefully
managed by the Mayor's Office? Did the Voice of San
Diego have this document since Wednesday but sit on it
so as not to steal Manchester's thunder at his 3:00 PM
press conference today? This document has been on the
public record since Wednesday. If I can get it, anybody
The last sentence of Section 4.1 of the
City's 1992 Development Agreement
(page 9) says: "The Navy shall provide the City with
a copy of said memorandum contemporaneously with
recordation". So we know that the Mayor's office
received a copy of this crucial Memorandum of Lease
before the CCDC board meeting on Wednesday November 29,
2006. Yet it was not mentioned at that meeting.
The actual Lease is dated November 22, 2006. A lot seems
to have happened on that day: the Navy issued its
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), Mike
Aguirre's Office issued its
NBC MOL, and Manchester's Lease was signed by the
For me the most significant thing about this Lease is
that it is for 99 years. Section 5.9C (page 23) of the
City's 1992 Development Agreement
with the Navy sets the term of the Navy's lease to the
City for the open space parcel, at 65 years. This was
widely interpreted as also applying to a developer
lease. How could the developer's lease be longer than
the City's lease? What will happen to the open space
after 65 years? Will it be developed? There is nothing
to say that it cannot.
Section 4.4 (page 10) of the
City's 1992 Development Agreement
with the Navy says "it is the present intention of
the Navy to retain fee ownership indefinitely". Is a
99 year lease consistent with that statement? A 99 year
lease is treated as fee ownership by the County Tax
Assessor and in various other legal interpretations of
I have several other questions which I am sure will
emerge and be dealt with over the next few weeks, or at
least I hope so. For example, is the Navy required to
record the full Lease or just a Memorandum of Lease? Are
we ever going to see the full document?
The Lessee is a Delaware Limited Liability Company,
Manchester Pacific Gateway LLC. Manchester is hiding
behind the same impenetrable veil of secrecy Corky
McMillan used in NTC. Why does the City allow that? Any
one of the City Councilors could have shares in
Manchester's Delaware LLC and we could never know! That
is why they use a Delaware LLC - to hide the
true identity of the Lease owners. NTC all over again.
Is Bob Kittle
sabotaging Aguirre's pension case?
Bob Kittle today wrote a mean-spirited and highly
editorial lauding the last self-serving act of
former Mayor Dick Murphy before he shuffled off the San
Diego political stage to forever dwell in the shadows of
well-deserved ignominy and disgrace.
Kittle turned the truth about this
June 27, 2005 Council Meeting (Item 208, page 52) on
its head by defending Murphy's last "present" to San
Diego's taxpayers. Murphy tried to enact ordinances that
validated his 2002 pension giveaways. It was so obvious.
The truth is that in 2005 Murphy phonyed up a 3 year
labor agreement, designed to cover up his 2002 under
funding of the City's pension system. At the end of that
well-choreographed day in June Murphy touted the
termination of the DROP program (for new hires only) as
a major contribution towards curing the deficit. The
whole thing was a nauseating con job, unworthy of the
lowliest used car salesman. Eliminating the DROP program
for new hires only was a drop in the bucket and a decoy
for MP II.
Murphy hired an outside
attorney, Bill Kay from San Francisco, to negotiate a
series of wage agreements with the City's public service
unions. It was a total farce. Here is what
I wrote about it at the time entitled "The City
may as well have hired Ann Smith".
Now Kittle would have us believe, as Murphy inanely
asserted at the time, that this "labor agreement" was a
major contribution to fixing the pension deficit. How
could Mike Aguirre have validated such a farce? He
didn't. Now Kittle is touting Aguirre's inaction as
"obstructionism" and an "Expensive Snafu". What is
Kittle up to?
The timing of his editorial is interesting - right when
Judge Barton must make an important decision in the
pension case. Is Kittle trying to sabotage Aguirre's
rollbacks? Is the U-T coming to the aid of the
very official that brought disaster to this city, Dick
Murphy? It can't be for love of the city unions. Or is
it something else?
Winning back the City Attorney's Office in 2008 is more
important to these guys than saving the city taxpayers
$600 million. Depriving Aguirre of a major court victory
would go a long way to that objective. Aguirre won by
the slimmest of margins. If he loses his pension case he
will have a tough time getting reelected. Hence Kittle's
There is no way Aguirre could have supported a labor
agreement that was designed to validate illegal pension benefits. He could
not have given legal life to their phony MOUs.
withholding seismic information from the City?
unexpectedly told the board
of CCDC at their public meeting today that Manchester
has already done a seismic fault investigation and found
nothing. I am sure that came as a surprise to more than
When asked later if he had shared that little piece of
information with the City, he answered no but that it
would be available to the public in about two years.
Wow! However he has promised to allow Katheryn Rhodes
examine it tomorrow.
This thing gets stranger every day. Why would Manchester
keep something as crucial as a fault investigation
secret? Surely he would be showing it to everybody to
refute Ms. Rhodes' appeal, which largely complains that
a fault investigation has not been done.
I have to wonder whether it was a real fault
investigation or whether it was and they have found
something they don't want to disclose. Otherwise why
withhold it from the City? Presumably the board and
staff of CCDC heard of it for the first time today. If
they had known about it why did they not ask for a copy
and take it into account in their various "findings" and "determinations of consistency"?
If they had done so Katheryn Rhodes would not have had
to spend so much time researching it and including it in
I guess we will know tomorrow when Ms. Rhodes gets to
look at the actual document.
In the meantime I think this should raise a few red
flags for the City. As a realtor and mortgage broker I
tell every property owner and borrower to disclose,
disclose and disclose. I will not broker a loan for
anybody I suspect might be withholding anything that
affects the subject property. When non-disclosure
happens, the lender, who usually is the biggest investor
in the deal, sues everybody. If Manchester was my client
I would be very worried right about now. I don't like
things being held back from me.
I can tell Doug Manchester (even though he is not my
client thank goodness) that if he is withholding
information on seismicity, he is playing with fire. So
is the City.
If it turns out that a construction lender relied upon a
City "finding" that everything was OK at the Navy
Broadway site and it wasn't, they will sue the City and
prevail. Jim Waring, Bob Manis and
every member of the City Council are not going to be
able to say, as Dick Murphy is now trying to say: "I
didn't know what was going on".
All this city
needs is another investigation.
The Navy issued a
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) dated
November 22, 2006, regarding the Navy Broadway project
(the same day Aguirre issued his MOL).
It is based on a full
Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared by the Navy
in June 2006 but not published until now. The FONSI
concludes: "Based on information analyzed
during preparation of the EA, the Department of the Navy
finds that implementing the proposed action will not
significantly impact the quality of the environment."
Both documents were obtained from the Navy yesterday by
Katheryn Rhodes, one of the January 9, 2007 appellants.
She immediately put them on
her web site. I spoke to the Navy this morning and
they confirmed that November 22, 2006 was the first
opportunity anybody (outside the Navy) had to see them -
even the City.
These internal documents are not to be confused with the
1990 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), on which
the City's brief 12 page
1990 EIR is entirely based. The Navy confirmed that
their 1990 EIS has not been amended or supplemented.
Therefore the City's CEQA finding is still based
entirely on the Navy's 1990 EIS.
The EA and the FONSI are therefore more akin to the
CCDC's "determination of consistency"
findings than to EIR/EIS. It is just the Navy's way of
looking at the Manchester plan and checking it for
consistency with the 1992 Development Agreement.
The two biggest flaws in the City's CEQA finding remain its attempt to dodge a seismic fault investigation
and to ignore its own parking ordinances. The State Attorney General and
the Division of Mines and
Geology will come after them for not doing a fault
investigation. It is analogous to
the non-disclosure of the pension deficit.
The appeal points out: "A very significant change in
information that was not in the original EIR, is
the major change in the status of the Rose Canyon Fault
Zone (RCFZ) from "inactive" to "active" status in the
mid-1990s. Based on the active status and the new 1995
City of San Diego Seismic Safety Study12,
site-specific fault investigations are required in
all of downtown. In the mid-1990s, San Diego was
redesignated to UBC Seismic Zone 4, the highest zone of
ground shaking hazard, from Seismic Zone 3."
CCDC has said that a fault investigation can be done
by Manchester as part of his "due diligence", so long as
it is done before permits are issued. This is not so. A
seismic fault investigation is mandatory on the City for
CEQA compliance. It cannot be left to the developer. All
CCDC had to do was check with the State, as the
If on January 9, 2007 five City
Councilors vote to uphold the Manis CEQA finding (that
nothing has changed since 1990), they will repeat the
error of November 18, 2002 when the City Council upheld
a staff recommendation that it was OK to underfund the pension system.
This time staff are saying that CEQA does not require a
On January 9, 2007 it will not be just one lone
whistleblower, Diann Shipione,
warning them that they are breaking the law, this time dozens of voices,
including this blog, are providing a steady stream of
information, backed up with clear documentation, that
of California requires a fault investigation before a final EIR
can be adopted. This time City Council will not be able
to blame City staff or discredit one lone whistleblower.
If they turn a deaf ear to this appeal,
as they did to Diann Shipione in 2002, it will be the
State Attorney General, the Division of Mines and
Geology and other State agencies that they will be
dealing with. They may find these State agencies tougher
than the SEC. The fact that this City has already been found
to have committed securities fraud will fuel the
State's zeal. State and Federal agencies are getting
tired of this arrogant city, dubbed America's Finest
City, thinking it is above the law. The Wall Street
Journal and other national publications are calling for
disciplinary action against its officials.
If I were on that City Council on January 9, 2007 I
would not be inclined to push my luck, particularly if I
were one of those who ignored the Shipione warning in
Christmas Mr. Manchester. Signed: San Diego City
Early today I received Mike Aguirre's
NBC MOL dated November 22, 2006
from one of his Deputies.
So far as I am aware it has not been published anywhere
In it Aguirre says that the City is not a party to a Lease
between the Navy and Manchester and therefore the City's
approval is not necessary - Manchester
can now sign his Lease any time he likes.
For me, the City may not be a party to the actual Lease but the
City's 1992 Development Agreement governs its terms. If
Aguirre's latest MOL is correct, Manchester could have
signed a Developer Lease with the Navy any time he
wanted in the last six months. Why didn't he? What
has changed? Nothing. He will not have a compliance
determination until the CEQA appeals have been heard. He
could just as easily have signed a "contingent"
Developer Lease last January as today.
Manchester will use this MOL to sue the City if it
interferes in any way with his independent "contractual"
relationship with the Navy. Aguirre has effectively
given away all the City's authority over Manchester and
the Navy with regard to this project.
In addition the City Attorney has put a loaded gun to
the head of the City Council. If it upholds the two CEQA appeals on January 9, 2007
and overrules its own Development Services Department,
according to Aguirre: "any decision of
the City Council is subject to judicial action". He
is practically daring the City to uphold the appeals.
He then says that the City is not "privy to the terms
and conditions to be contained in such a lease". No?
Then what was the point of the 1992 Development
Agreement in the first place? It was written precisely to set
the terms and conditions of a lease.
Section 5.2(e) of the 1992 Development Agreement states:
"No development under this Agreement shall
proceed unless and until a determination of consistency
has been made". What does "development"
mean? What does "determination of consistency"
mean? Does "development" not include the signing of a
Is Aguirre saying that
"development" only starts with Papa Doug turning over the
first shovelful of dirt for the cameras? This flies in
the face of everybody's understanding of what a
"determination of consistency" was all about.
If "No development under this Agreement shall
proceed" does not include the signing of a "Development
Lease", then it means nothing. This is not just a lease
to park cars, it will contain massive exclusive
development rights to Manchester. It's another exclusive
development rights giveaway, just like East Village to Moores and NTC to McMillan.
Those who believe, and there are many, that the Navy Broadway Complex
should go into the BRAC process are being cheated by
Aguirre's MOL. The people of this City had a rock-solid Agreement with
the Navy that if there is not a valid Developer
Lease in place by January 1, 2007, the Navy Broadway
Complex would go to BRAC. All that is now thrown out the
window by Aguirre's MOL. The January 1, 2007 deadline
A Developer Lease "contingent upon"
something as fundamental as an EIR is a farce. For Aguirre to
say that the City must accept such a farce is to ignore
the very fundamentals of the 1992 Developer Agreement.
Now that I think of it, as an eager proponent of Prop C.
(the outsourcing of City services) Aguirre gained from
Manchester's $50,000 "gift", just as much as Sanders
did. Perhaps it bought more than the Manis finding, it
bought this MOL. At the very least, as a result of that
$50,000 "gift", Aguirre has a conflict of interest with
regard to Manchester and the Navy Broadway project.
Merry Christmas Mr. Manchester. Signed: San Diego City
Attorneys and land giveaways. 11/24/06
CCDC will hold a meeting on Wednesday November 29,
2006. Here is a link to the
posted on their web site. Item 10 is "a status
update of the Consistency Determination Review Process
for the Navy Administration Building" as part of the
Navy Broadway Complex project. Here is the accompanying
Its Conclusion, on the last page, says: "CCDC
staff and the Developer have committed to moving this
project forward. This report indicates the steps to be
followed to continue the Consistency Determination
Review of the revised Master Plan and the revised NAB
plans." Immediately above that Conclusion they
restate DSD's finding that "no further environmental
documentation needs to be prepared".
means that at least as far as the staff are concerned
(1) CCDC does not recognize the two pending CEQA
appeals (they don't even mention them) and (2)
they view CCDC's responsibility for
"Consistency Determination Review" as an ongoing
"phased" process, which will continue, building by
building, until the project is completed.
CCDC staff's advice to Manchester, on behalf
of the City, remains unchanged and unchallenged:
Manchester is in compliance with the 1992 Development
Agreement and he can sign a lease with the Navy any time
he likes. This
report will be presented to the CCDC Board on
November 29, 2006. The staff doesn't even ask
for an action by the Board, they just want to get their
report on the record, unchallenged.
After November 29, 2006 will come an announcement by
Manchester that he has signed a lease with the Navy.
Secret collaborators will breathe a collective sigh of relief.
They know that once the City allows Manchester to sign a
lease, all appeals are useless.
Sure, Peters will
docket the appeal; it will even be heard! On January 9,
2007. Long after Manchester is home and dry.
Five City Councilors will give long speeches telling how
much they care about about our precious waterfront, but
alas their hands are tied. If they uphold the appeal Manchester
will sue. For the good of the city they must vote
"No". Everybody will have an excuse for where they were
when they were needed.
As the clock winds down to Wednesday we await some input, any input, from the City
Attorney. Right now the CCDC's staff position is
the legal position of the City. The Manis finding
remains unchallenged. The only person who can challenge it is the City Attorney.
Such a challenge would require a formal written request (form
1472) to the Council President, to hear the appeals against the DSD finding. So far only
deafening silence from Mike Aguirre. Obviously he wants
Manchester to have his NBC project - he could so easily
stop it. By turning a blind eye to the CEQA
appeals he has waved NBC through. Who could ever have
imagined such a thing, just two short years ago.
It looks like we will have to get used to the fact that
Sanders and Aguirre have an election pact for 2008:
Sanders will support Aguirre for City Attorney and
Aguirre will support Sanders for Mayor. Unfortunately
that's how politics works.
It may be a great political arrangement for Sanders and
Aguirre but it has devastating implications for land use
decisions over the next two years. We may be in for more
of the bad old Golding/Murphy/Gwinn days. If NBC was
happening under Casey Gwinn we would know who to blame.
The simple fact is that unless a City Attorney
challenges land giveaways, they will happen with ever
greater frequency. Look out for many more.
If you look at the
Docket for the City Council for this week and last,
you will be struck by the fact that each agenda item
benefits either a developer or somebody with a lucrative
contract with the City, e.g. last week's renewal of a
used car dealer's lease on the Stadium parking lot for
its "big tent" sales events. Item 330
Tuesday, (page 46) should never have been docketed.
Here's the story on that one:
At the request of Jim Waring and his DSD "client"
(that's what DSD call all developers), Scott Peters
scheduled this developer appeal. This
particular project was unanimously rejected by the
Planning Commission after it was unanimously rejected by
the Rancho Peñasquitos Community Planning Board. Peters
has now not only put it on the docket for appeal, he has
given it a much higher priority than two Navy Broadway
Two citizens have appealed DSD's outrageous finding that
a 1990 Environmental Impact Report regarding
Manchester's Navy Broadway project does not need to be
updated. Now their appeals languish in Scott Peters'
office. Developers are given the red carpet treatment
while citizen appellants are given the run around.
It is almost laughable in its transparency. The City
Attorney and the Council President put up a procedural
smokescreen to give Manchester the cover he needs to
sign a lease with the Navy. First the City Attorney
tells the appellants that all appeals must be
heard, but cannily declines to say whether the subject
of this particular appeal, the Manis finding, is
appealable. Time goes by. Peters then schedules the
appeal hearing for January 9, 2007, nine days after
Manchester will have signed his lease with the Navy!
Is there any doubt that this city is being run for the
benefit of developers? They own the Mayor - they elected
him. They own the Council President - he gives top
priority to their appeals and gives citizen appeals the
run-around. They own at least 5 votes on the City
Council - Peters, Madaffer, Faulconer, Maienschein and
Hueso. Whenever a citizen appeal makes it to the docket,
they already have the 5 votes lined up to defeat it.
But there is still hope: Aguirre may break with Sanders
and go back to his roots; Peters may tell Perry Dealy
not to come into his office ever again; Dealy's boss,
Doug Manchester, may volunteer to do a new EIR for Navy Broadway; the 5
City Councilors may vote their conscience and I may win
the Miss America Contest.
The developers may have the money - but we have the
votes! Therefore we already are Mr. and Ms.
America. Our opinions matter because our votes matter.
become a government of men (or women)?
To understand this blog you will need to first read
my blog dated 11/05/06 and then
my blog dated 11/10/06. This
matter involves the sale of City-owned land in La Jolla
to Hillel, a Jewish student organization. Before you go
jumping to conclusions that this has anything to do with
religion or race, it does not. The only matter at issue
here is the law.
The case is important, not for religious or race
reasons, but because the law has not been followed.
Favoritism raised its ugly head, when the law is the
same for everybody.
Whether or not "waste" was committed will be determined
later (there is a "waste" case pending before the courts
that will be heard sometime next year). My focus is on
the Municipal Code. It has been flaunted and broken. I
thought all that changed when Mike Aguirre got elected.
I am deeply concerned that the law is still been abused.
Has Mike changed or are some of his hirelings serving
him badly? He could have stopped this.
Judge Quinn issued a delayed
finding on November 16, 2006, following a hearing on
November 9, 2006. At that hearing Mike Aguirre's office
took the position that on November 20, 2000 the City
Council authorized City staff to enter into exclusive
negotiations with Hillel for the sale of the
subject property when in fact the authorization was for
a lease only. Here is the
Resolution. It is clear enough. It is for a ground
Not a judge nor a jury can change that. Nothing can
Judge Quinn allowed the sale to go ahead based upon what
I believe was false oral testimony by the City
Attorney's office. I was present in court. The City
Attorney's representative falsely asserted that the
November 20, 2000 authorized a "sale".
I was later informed in an email from attorney Kathryn
Burton of Mike Aguirre's office that their position is
that a transcript of the 2000 City Council Meeting
supports an "intention" to authorize a "sale" rather a
I read the transcript she provided very carefully. Juan
Vargas, the maker of the motion, asked for an assurance
assets Director William Griffith (who later resigned
following a U-T exposé of
his gross mismanagement of the City's assets) that if
Hillel made an offer to purchase rather than to lease
the property, the Motion before the Council as it stood
(for a lease only) would cover a sale. Griffith said it
He told Vargas that "the
consistent recommendation out of Committee was to
give them the opportunity... for sale or lease". So
there you have it. According to Griffith it does not
matter what a Council Resolution says. If a subordinate
committee had advised otherwise, the committee prevails.
Thank goodness this man is no longer with the City.
What concerns me is that the City Attorney's people
agree with Griffith! They, like him, believe that it is
the "intention" of the City Council that matters, not
what is written down on paper. If intention was all that
mattered Donna Frye would be Mayor.
Who gets to divine "intention"? City staff? Would the
Resolution have passed if it actually said "sale"? In
casting their vote did the Councilmembers rely on the
fact that it only said "lease"? Many Councilmembers
often sit mute throughout the discussion phase and vote
for what the motion actually says. Everything else is
That's why we must always rely on the actual wording of
a document and not get into divining "intent". To do
otherwise is to court anarchy.
If Donna Frye was denied the Mayor's Office because
people who clearly wrote her name on the ballot paper
carelessly omitted the little detail of filling in the
bubble, how can City staff now tell us what a Councilor
"intended" back in November 2000?
Yet that is exactly what Kathryn Burton has told me -
that intent trumps the written word. I find this very
disturbing. If City staffers can interpret the written
word any way they choose by divining Councilors'
"intent", then we are truly lost. I can't believe Mike
Aguirre sanctioned this. It stinks. I hope he acts
before it is too late.
But it may already be too late. He should have done this
weeks ago. The Mayor's staff will close the sale
post-haste. Perhaps on Monday. Will Aguirre act at last?
Did he know all along that games were being played with
the law or did someone on his staff have an agenda of
their own? Was somebody giving out favors at his
The manner of the Hillel sale is crucial to all
of us who want to prevent waste and abuse in government.
It should have been an open and free sale. It was not.
How are we ever going to reform the City if the law is
what some staff person says it is? The law must be
followed no matter whose brother or grandmother is
involved. I don't know whether the Jewish community at
large were influential in this case or not. I don't
care! As a Roman Catholic if the Pope himself wanted
that land I would call on the City to follow the law,
with the same degree of passion as I do now. I suspect
everybody in the Jewish community feel exactly as I do.
§22.0902 of the San Diego
Municipal Code is clear. It states what
must happen for the City to sell a piece of public land.
How can a citizen ever again appeal an action of City
Council based upon what the Municipal Code says? This
illegal sale asks the most fundamental question a
society can ask: are we governed by laws or by men? If
this sale stands, we have become a government of men (or
women), not of laws.
in San Diego's living room - "redevelopment".
The map opposite shows the 8 downtown "redevelopment"
projects. The whole area marked is officially
"blighted". All those shiny office towers and all
Manchester's hotels were built to eliminate this
Only 13.75% of that area's property taxes go to the
City. 86.25% goes to CCDC. It is called "tax increment
CCDC then sells bonds against this tax revenue to
subsidize developers. Our vote is not required. Result:
our tax dollars build private hotels and private office
buildings downtown. That's how it works.
CCDC has an administrative budget of $8.1 million. $6.2
million of that is payroll - for 51 employees - an
average of $124,000 per employee. The Mayor earns
The chart below shows the total valuation of all real
estate in San Diego - $15 billion. $10.7 billion of that
is "diverted" as "tax increment", supposedly due to
"redevelopment". Most of those increases would have
happened anyway but once an area is designated
"redevelopment" the taxes from all increases in value
are then "diverted".
One common lie about "redevelopment" is that it prevents
real estate taxes from going to the State i.e. it keeps
the money in San Diego. Politicians deliberately repeat
that lie all the time. Jim Madaffer repeats it like he
actually believes it. Maybe he does. The truth is that
not one cent of tax "remains" in the city as a result of
"redevelopment". It is merely diverted within the
City from the General Fund to a Redevelopment Fund
where by law it can not be used for city
services. It becomes the sacred cow of developers.
Therefore 71.36% of all real estate taxes collected
in San Diego city are "diverted" from the City's General
Fund to the Redevelopment Fund. Sanders cannot touch
that money. It is the Elephant in the Living Room he is
conveniently ignoring. He is going to "fix" the City on
13.75% of its revenue and ignore the 86.25% CCDC
elephant in his living room.
Downtown accounts for 70.19% of all real estate
taxes diverted in San Diego city. Last year the amount
was approximately $75 million. Here is how it will
But in addition to all that diverted real estate tax
money, CCDC receives approximately $100 million in
other revenue! Here is their 2006/07 Revenue &
Allocation Bond Proceeds (Prior Years)
$176 million "expenditure" per year is an enormous
amount of money to be off limits from Sanders' spending
cuts. CCDC gets to keep and spend all of it for the
benefit of the developers, without paying a cent towards
city services, not even for police and fire.
It is the developers' private cash box - all $176
million of it. Sanders dares not touch it. The
developers elected him and will elect him again in 2008.
I just thought you might like to see how he is "fixing"
San Diego. Maybe he has another kind of "fixing" in
and peasants of San Diego Today.
The great Princes of medieval times fought great wars
backwards and forwards across Europe, well above the
heads of the millions of peasants who patiently worked
the fields and vineyards from dawn to dusk. Ownership of
these fields and vineyards was the subject of their
Princely wars. The medieval peasants had no more voice
in the affairs of their day than the farm animals they
tended. Do we? Sometimes I'm not so sure.
Today, in San Diego, the great Princes are the land
developers: Pardee, McMillan, Manchester and
Moores, to mention but the top tier. Their charging
Knights are men like Sanders, Bersin, Steve Peace and
now a brash young wannabe called DeMaio.
The Medieval Prince got the naive peasant to leave
field, vineyard and wife to go fight and die for his
Prince, by convincing him that he was fighting and dying
for his religious beliefs. Protestants killed Catholics
and Catholics killed Protestants not for religious
beliefs, as they so foolishly supposed, but for land -
more often the stealing of it.
The modern Prince no longer uses religion to motivate
the peasants. He uses things like ballparks, stadiums,
airports, model schools, the elimination of blight,
better government through privatization and sundry such
tricks to bamboozle the work-from-dawn-to-dusk
peasantry. The only difference between today's peasants
and those of Medieval Europe is that we now drive cars,
start before dawn and work way past dark.
The modern hell's-fire-and-damnation preachers are the
commercial newspapers, like the San Diego Union-Tribune,
that depend on the Princes for their advertising
revenue, much like the church preachers of old depended
on the Princes for patronage.
As the land wars shift and we watch today's Princes
deploy or retire their Knights, we can only guess at
which Prince is winning and which is losing. We can only
guess at the great strategies being planned in the tall
downtown castles of the Princes.
Take the present airport battle. We know it is not about
an airport, no more than the Battle of the Roses,
between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists, was about the
merits of the Catholic or Protestant religions, it was
about the Crown of England. The battle of the airports
is about which Prince-developer gets to develop which
piece of land.
Former State Senator,
Steve Peace, has now entered the field in a
magnificent suit of armor bearing the heraldic colors of
John Moores, who by right of conquest has already been
granted sole development rights to San Diego's East
Village. That virgin territory is divided into four
parts (Project Areas) by the City Fathers: North, South,
East and West. Rather like ancient Gaul (France)
"Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres".
Moores has already struck gold in his new East Village
dominion and built a stadium for the peasants so they
can forget that they are a conquered people. Now,
through Steve Peace, Moores intends to conquer the
entire territory between Harbor Drive and I-8 and
between I-5 and Dog's Beach. Remember this "airport"
To this end he has enlisted the aid of sitting State
Senator Christine Kehoe who will pass the enabling
legislation just as she did with the (now defunct)
Model School Joint
Authority in City Heights. Moores is benefiting from
Sol Price's mistakes. The lesson of City Heights was: if
you want to conquer territory that vast, you need a
better ruse than a model school, you need something like
a regional airport!
The politicians create an "Authority" for the developers
and give it the power to issue tax-free bonds. Why
borrow money from banks when you can acquire the powers
of a municipality to issue municipal bonds? That's how
Moores built his Ballpark. All across the country savvy
developers are using tax-free Bonds to finance their
projects. And not just ballparks. Any "public good"
project will do, e.g. an airport "authority".
The so-called "Kehoe Hearings" are just the public act
in this process. That's her job. Her developer friends
have already written the Senate Bill, creating their
bonding entity. She knows the game well, she did it for
Sol Price and Jack McGrory, now she is doing it for John
Moores and her former Senate colleague Steve Peace.
Meanwhile out in the Northern Provinces, the 23,000
developable acres of MCAS Miramar will fall into the
hands of Pardee and McMillan, as soon as the Marine
Corps decide, "for security reasons", to move to a safer
Of course Manchester, has to be made safe within his
Waterfront Principality, otherwise he might invade
That is my guess at the strategies of the developer
Princes as they look out over San Diego from their tall
Are we "peasants" better off than our medieval
ancestors? Maybe you can figure it out as you sit in
traffic on your daily commute to the virtual fields and
vineyards of San Diego today. Or maybe I should just
relax and accept the daily sermon droning out from the
U-T every day telling us that everything is in its place
- "the Master in his Castle and the servant at his
My first impression reading the
is that Aguirre crammed it full of everything he
will need to win his pension benefits rollback case. If
so he has done an excellent job. Judge Barton will have
a tough time ignoring its very clear language regarding
the contingent and retroactive nature of the pension
benefits, any one of which makes them illegal. Barton
will have to disagree with the SEC's finding to rule
No doubt Mike will enter this finding as evidence and
call for a summary judgment in his favor. The judge will
deny it of course, citing the finding's provision: "without
admitting or denying the findings herein, except as to
the Commission’s jurisdiction".
Barton will go through the motions of trying the case,
but it is already over bar the shouting. This is a huge
blow to Ann Smith and the unions. It may be no
coincidence that the SEC finding was released for
maximum effect, right in the middle of the pension
trial. Ann Smith would have done no less.
This finding is in stark contrast to the Kroll report.
If Vinson and Elkins was Whitewash I, Kroll was
Whitewash II. I could almost forgive the City Council
for caving in to the unions in granting retroactive
benefits (I said almost) but I can never forgive them
for paying $20 million of taxpayers' money to Kroll &
Co. to find themselves merely "negligent". The SEC
finding shows how criminally negligent they really were.
The SEC says quite clearly on page 12 that "The City
had knowledge of these projections prior to all of its
2003 municipal securities offerings." It then goes
on to document at great length how it knew "through its
The SEC only cares about its bond holders. It could care
less whether retirees get their pension benefits or not.
It could care less whether San Diegans get city services
or not. What it wants to avoid is a situation where the
City is "forced to choose between paying pension
contributions, paying what the City owes on its bonds
and notes, reducing services, and/or raising fees and
taxes." That's why they have helped Aguirre win his
pension rollback case. They too want to reduce the
But what of the officials? Unlike Kroll, the SEC makes
no distinction between elected and non-elected officials
(which proves what a setup Kroll was): "The City,
through its officials, acted with scienter."
That includes the five City Councilors!
Scienter is “a mental state embracing intent to
deceive, manipulate or defraud.” We know the
elected officials had "detailed knowledge".
Pension underfunding came up again and again for Council
vote. And they all read the Blue Ribbon Report.
The "monitor" is now the "Independent Consultant".
That's good. The word "monitor" had a very negative
connotation to it. Also his/her oversight is limited to
matters "regarding its (the City's)
disclosures for offerings." That's very good.
Sanders can't use that Office to intimidate the City
Council. There are also good built-in precautions
preventing any conflicts of interest the Independent
Consultant might have.
All in all it is a good settlement and a timely boost
for those of us who want to see genuine reform. We still
need to win the pension rollbacks. We may have to accept
that the elected officials will get away scot-free. The
electorate is jaded and does want to see five City
Council elections anytime soon. Resignations or recalls
But the unelected officials are not so lucky. They still
face criminal charges. This finding really hurts them.
They bear the brunt of the criminality side of this. I
have little sympathy for them. They were unbelievably
blatant and persistent in their arrogant criminality. I
hope their ignominious fate sends a message to people
like Jim Waring and Bob Manis. If the City had honest
employees none of this would have happened.
Stadium parking lot car sales lease.
"Extension of San Diego Auto Connection’s Lease at
Item 202 on today's City Council Docket (page 12)
and its accompanying
Report to the City Council is instructive on how
pay-to-play government operates in this City.
Here is the
original contract between the City and San Diego
Auto Connection (SDAC), a firm that organizes giant car
sales events in the Qualcomm parking lot. It was signed
by Deputy City Manager Bruce Herring and Deputy City
Attorney Kelly Salt on behalf of the City. Both are now
gone. Both got dishonorable mention in the Kroll report.
This one page contract granted SDAC the exclusive right
to hold 7 car sale "events" at Qualcomm Stadium for a
flat fee of $391,000 per annum. SDAC admitted to
actually holding 19 "events" per year, approximately
$20,500 each, or $2,050 per day for the entire parking
contract defines an "event" as 10 days.
Here's how Herring granted SDAC unlimited "events"
without additional rent: "permittee is hereby given
the right to conduct additional events on an
But that's all stopped now. That could never happen
again. The Kroll report put an end to it. Mayor Sanders
is cleaning up the City. Right?
Wrong! One of our highest paid Department Heads, Jim
Waring, spent the entire afternoon trying to get this
ridiculous SDAC lease renewed for another two years. He
ducked and weaved and showed great impatience with City
Councilors like Donna Frye who asked tiresome questions.
Watching his body language this guy clearly sees the
assets of this City as his to lease or sell according to
Sanders' pay-to-play program.
Frye, Atkins and Hueso voted against him. The rest,
including Young, gave Waring and his SDAC friends
what they wanted. Highly irritated at Council Members
for trying to cap the number of events allowed, Waring
finally conceded, on behalf of his client SDAC, that
they would pay $18,000 for each of six more events. He
was advocating for them, not for the City that pays his
salary. No City Councilor pulled him on it. They have
come to accept this kind of staff behavior as completely
Waring cited the sales tax the City would receive but
was unable to verify that a single car dealer pays a
single cent in sales tax from their activities at the
City's parking lot. Does the City not have some
responsibility to ensure that all commercial activity on
its property is conducted by traders who are registered
for sales tax? Are participants not asked to show proof
Instead of being outraged at his predecessor's giveaway,
Waring was clearly upset that he wasn't able to just
walk in there and demand a repeat of Herring's giveaway.
Donna Frye suggested other very good alternative,
revenue-generating uses for the Stadium parking lot. She
suggested using it as a parking lot for the businesses
of Mission Valley and even Downtown. Businesses could
put on shuttle buses or people could ride the trolley to
Downtown. Waring just stared sullenly at her.
Frye was outraged that the legitimate car dealers of
Kearny Mesa and Mission Valley were being robbed by
unfair competition sponsored by the City. It is a
lose-lose deal for the City: (1) the City gives away the
Stadium parking lot for only $2,050 per day for 190 days
of the year (2) it is undoubtedly depriving the State
and itself of sales tax - these out of town,
fly-by-night, second-hand car dealers are very unlikely
to pay sales tax. Waring said it is not the City's job
to police them.
Every time Waring sits in that staff chair it costs the
City money. That's why Sanders hired him. He is the
Giveaway Chief in Sanders pay-to-play government.
Sanders deliberately made this man San Diego's land use
Czar. Tom Shepard is the keeper of the rolls and
Shakedown Chief. That completes Sanders' pay-to-play
Remember the Manchester $50,000 contribution to Prop C?
Days later Waring's staffer, Robert Manis signs his
notorious Navy Broadway "finding". Tom Shepard was
running the Prop C campaign for Sanders. Shepard
identifies those who have business before the City
Council. Waring then sits in his staff chair at City
Council and the deal gets done. That's how pay-to-play
government works. And they are only beginning.
This is why we need Mike Aguirre as our Elliott Ness.
Right now he is mistaking Sanders for a nice guy. There
is no middle of the road in the fight against
forgotten who elected him - has Mike?
"Opponents expect to appeal
Manis' decision to the City Council, but whether it can
be appealed may be in question. City Attorney Michael
Aguirre issued an opinion that it can be, but citing a
previous legal opinion, Mayor Jerry Sanders' spokesman
Fred Sainz said his office doesn't believe it can" -
so wrote Dani Dodge in the U-T on
October 20, 2006,
regarding DSD's findings on Navy Broadway's 1990 EIR.
Karen Heumann yesterday sent this email to the
Broadway Complex Coalition (BCC), the organization that
filed one of two appeals: "Our office does not sign a
1472 in order to get an appeal docketed - it is more
administrative of a matter.. thanks. Karen".
By saying there is no need for the City Attorney's
Office to file a 1472 (see my "There
will be a Navy Broadway CEQA hearing". 10/20/06 for
a full explanation of what a form 1472 is and why
it is necessary in this instance) she is saying
that BCC should trust Manis. She is saying that he will
docket the appeal
Has Manis had an epiphany? Is he now willing to disobey
his boss, Jim Waring, in order to be a good civil
servant? Who is going to tell Manchester? Waring?
An appeal would kill the NBC project. Too many ugly
facts about that deeply flawed waterfront construction
site will become part of the official record e.g. the
likelihood of disastrous liquefaction in the event of an
Katheryn Rhodes' appeal.
That's why Manchester wants to ram this through without
the site's problems getting on the record. He would be
unable to get financing if the true facts were brought
Manchester gave a $50,000 "contribution" to Sanders'
favorite charity - the "Yes on Prop C" campaign. The
Manis finding came just a few days later. Does anybody
imagine for one moment that Sanders will now tell Doug:
"sorry, you are not in compliance with CEQA, there will
have to be a new EIR"? Yet that is exactly what
Aguirre's staff wants BCC to believe - that Jim Waring
is going to play nice.
Scott Peters understood that only intervention by
Aguirre could get the appeal on the Council Docket. He
knew that the Mayor would never allow it to be docketed
"administratively". Peters wrote
to Sanders and Aguirre, late in the afternoon on
the same day the above U-T article appeared. Now it was
up to Aguirre.
Aguirre didn't fall for it. He knew it was designed to
put him against Sanders on this. But in escaping Peters'
trap, Aguirre may have fallen into a much bigger one. He
may have pushed the loyalty of his voter base - to the
breaking point. They do not want Manchester's Broadway
complex and they will blame Aguirre if it goes through.
So far Aguirre has shown no inclination to break with
Sanders on this or any other issue.
As it stands right now the Manis finding is
non-appealable. There are 50,000 reasons why that
finding will continue to be non-appealable - all of them
spent on Prop C.
Aguirre knows that the City Council want to separate him
from Sanders. Aguirre wants to weaken both them and the
unions. To that end he supported Prop C and helped
Sanders put his 3 year monitor in place over the City
Council. The Council must be getting quite concerned
that these two powerful men are so united against them.
All except Kevin Faulconer. Kevin is Sanders' man. And
Sanders wants to make him Council President. That would
complete his coup d'é-tat
of the entire City Government.
As for Mike, how many Hillels and Navy Broadways can his
base endure? They did not elect him to help Sanders give
away city land. Sanders will be supporting Leslie
Devaney, or some other safe Republican, in 2008. All
Aguirre's favors for Sanders will account for nothing.
And he will have alienated the people who elected him in
Sitting in court on Thursday, listening to hired gun
Suzanne Varco defend
Sanders' land giveaway, with two Aguirre staff people
sitting beside her, made it abundantly clear to me that
Aguirre is helping Sanders. What a shame. How
Manchester will get his Navy Broadway complex, if
Aguirre does not break with Sanders. Hillel will get
their land at a deep discount, if Aguirre will not
oppose it. Sanders hasn't forgotten who elected him -
Aguirre hire Suzanne Varco to lie?
I went to Judge Linda Quinn's courtroom yesterday to
see if Mike Aguirre had corrected this
Resolution dated May 15, 2006,
authorize the sale of a vacant lot in La Jolla to
Hillel, a Jewish student religious organization. A
taxpayers' group are alleging collusion between City
staff and Hillel to sell the property at a much reduced
price. That is called "waste" in legalese.
The May 15, 2006 Resolution said: "WHEREAS on
November 20, 2000, the City Council authorized READ
staff to enter into exclusive negotiations with Hillel
of San Diego". It inferred that the
November 20, 2000 Resolution authorized "exclusive
negotiations" for a sale. It only authorized
"exclusive negotiations" for a lease.
Not only did Mike Aguirre not correct that error before
yesterday's court hearing, (read my
blog of 11/05/06),
but the outside lawyer hired to try the case, Suzanne
Varco of Opper and Varco, joined the Hillel attorney in
a blatant lie. They both told the Judge, in the clearest
possible language, that the November 20, 2000 City
Council Resolution authorized City staff to enter into
"exclusive negotiations" for a
sale. It did not.
The taxpayers' lawyer made a strong case regarding the
"waste". He showed blowups of the appraisal used by the
City which really wasn't an appraisal at all. On it the
appraiser clearly stated that he was appraising the
property at a price his client, the City of San Diego,
specifically requested. He wrote that disclaimer to
Unable to refute the taxpayer's charge that this was a
rigged "appraisal", Hillel and the City resorted to a
defense that "this was a negotiated sale".
According to the City's attorney the rules regarding
fair market value do not apply in a "negotiated" sale.
It is very disturbing that the City Attorney's Office
would make this argument, and back it up with a lie:
stating that the November 20, 2000 Resolution authorized
this sale, when they clearly knew it did not. Read the
November 20, 2000 Resolution again.
Was Suzanne Varco hired to say all this in court? The
City's defense depended upon it (it's now in the
transcript). Was she hired to say what the City
Attorney's Office knew to be false? If so we have bigger
problems in San Diego than even I had imagined. Are they
now hiring people to lie for them? It certainly seemed
that way in court.
Fortunately Judge Quinn did not rule on the case
yesterday but took it under advisement. She asked for
and got an undertaking from the City that it would not
close the escrow before November 20, 2006, when she
promised to have her decision.
Aguirre has one last chance to rewrite the
Resolution dated May 15, 2006 as it should have been
written in the first place, in compliance with the law.
To prevent "waste" this will require restarting the
sale process as of May 9, 2006 and declaring all
negotiations prior to that date unauthorized. It will
require a whole new RFP. The taxpayer's "waste" law suit
will then be moot. That is the proper course for the
This City cannot afford another scandal. The taxpayer's
will undoubtedly prove "waste". We particularly need to
be able to rely on our City Attorney's Office to tell us
Groups are the ultimate stakeholders in this city.
The City Council must resolutely resist being
ploughed under by Sanders' team of super-aggressive
ideologue "reformers". Interviewed the night of the
election, Carl DeMaio looked like a wide-eyed fanatic
who at any moment might lead a group of club-wielding
"reformers" onto the 10th Floor of City Hall and smash
up everything in sight.
These people are not reformers, they are totalitarians.
They want total power.
The popular vote for Props. B & C was not a vote for
mayoral power, it was an anti-union vote. Italiano,
Saathoff and Smith overplayed their hand over the last
ten years. Their unions are now facing destruction in
court as they did at the ballot box. Aguirre will win
his pension case because the popular climate is
anti-union. Not a very proud legacy for Ann Smith, whom
her followers looked upon as the union princess.
Ann Smith and Jack McGrory are the chief architects of
San Diego's pension problems. McGrory was a union
sympathizer, which was why they recommended, even
insisted upon, him for City Manager. Any other City
Manager would have stopped Ann Smith in her tracks and
she knew it. It is a travesty of justice that today she
gets to play lawyer in the pension case when she belongs
in the dock.
The biggest political dilemma facing San Diego today is
to replace failed union power with people power as the
counterweight to developer greed. The unions let the
people down in that they sided with developers to
achieve their own narrow interests. The new power can
only come from strong community groups. It is
instructive that such citizen groups are what the
mayoral power-grabbers fear the most.
Now that the mayor and his wide-eyed privatization
fanatics like Carl DeMaio have emasculated the unions
through Prop C, it is essential to show the City
Councilors, especially those who will be running for
re-election, that there is a new force in town -
neighborhood groups. These are the ultimate
stakeholders in this city.
A man we can
best consign to our past.
I dropped by Judge Barton's court room today for a
couple of hours to watch Mike Aguirre and Ann Smith
question former City Manager Jack McGrory. I wanted to
look McGrory in the eye and watch his performance, cocky
and polished as always.
The purpose of the questioning was to help Judge Barton
decide whether he can fairly roll back benefits granted
to certain City employees in 1996 that may be found
illegal, when such employees are not represented in the
case. Some city unions are not represented in court and
some city employees or retirees did not even belong to a
union. That is Barton's quandary.
But the answer to his quandary is readily at hand - if
he chooses to see it. McGrory didn't belong to any union
but he knew very well that the benefits he was
"negotiating" with Ann Smith and Judie Italiano in 1996,
would apply to him. Everybody knew that the City Council
would take whatever the City agreed with the major
unions and apply it across the board to everybody.
Otherwise there would be a two-tier system.
If these "unrepresented" employees had no problem
accepting the benefits negotiated without their presence
or participation, they should have no problem accepting
the outcome of this trial, which appropriately enough,
is being conducted without their presence or
participation. Nor should Judge Barton. There is nothing
unfair about it.
Jack McGrory was a child of this City. It sent him to
college for a bachelor's, a masters and a law degree.
His specialty was labor relations. He was the City's
labor relations manager for years. For a very long time
now the city unions have been able to mold the labor
relations position into little more than an extension of
their own union.
McGrory had a very comfortable relationship with union
people like Judie Italiano, Ron Saathoff and their
attorney Ann Smith. They were all in "labor relations".
They wandered in and out of his office as freely as
their own. Cathy Lexin carried on the tradition after
McGrory became City Manager. And we all know what
happened to her.
This is the key to this whole saga of greed: McGrory
was the unions' choice for City Manager. He was one
of them. The union tail wagged the City dog. The City
Council was unable to resist because many of them owed
their seats to the unions. Rape of the City's finances
was inevitable. It was impossible to be elected without
either union or developer backing - Republicans the
developers and Democrats the unions.
I watched as slick McGrory tried to put a good face on
that rape yesterday. He tried, but the facts belie him.
He abandoned the City that nurtured him the moment he
got his pension packet through City Council. The pension
rape could never have happened without him. The whole
sordid deal was cooked up in the cozy security of his
office - McGrory's long legs up on his desk while his
best buddies, Judie Italiano, Ron Saathoff and Ann
Smith, wandered in and out as the humor took them. In
the labor relations business it is called "meet and
confer". The poor tax payer gets shafted.
I wanted to get up and leave in disgust when McGrory
cynically replied to an Aguirre question regarding the
five year "purchase of service credit" he made just
prior to retiring: he said he couldn't remember whether
he purchased them at the old rate or the new rate i.e.
before or after he had "negotiated" a better purchase of
credits deal. And we trusted this guy to run our City
for all those years! Maybe we deserve what we got.
After McGrory got everything he wanted from the City,
after it had educated him and nurtured him, he abandoned
it like an old nag he had used and abused without mercy.
He stuffed his retirement kit bag full of all the
goodies he could lay his hands on and at the young age
of 52, he walked out whistling into the golden pastures
of the private sector where Sol Price and John Moores
were plying him with salaries the rest of us can only
The law is
the same for everybody, even for Sanders and Hillel.
Here is what has to happen in order for the City of
San Diego to sell real property, according to §22.0902
of the San Diego Municipal Code:
"Sales of Real Property
Except as otherwise provided in the City Charter,
the Council shall sell the real property of the City
in compliance with the requirements herein
established. No real property belonging to the City
shall be sold except in pursuance of a resolution
passed by an affirmative vote of five members of the
Council, which shall contain the following:
(a) The reason for selling such real property;
(b) A description of the real property to be sold;
(c) A statement of the value of such property as
disclosed by an appraisal made by a qualified real
estate appraiser, who may be a professional
appraiser or a qualified employee of the City of San
Diego, together with the minimum amount the Council
will consider for the sale of each parcel of
(d) A statement that the City may at
its discretion pay a real estate broker’s commission
under the provisions of Section 22.0905 for the sale
of such real property;
(e) A statement that the
property will be
sold by negotiation or by public auction, or by
sealed bids, or by a combination of public auction,
and sealed bids; providing, however, that in the
event that such property is to be sold by
negotiation, then the reasons therefore shall be
included in the resolution."
Resolution written by Leslie Fitzgerald of the City
Attorney's office on May 11, 2006, following a Meeting
of the City Council on May 9, 2006. You will notice that
all the "WHEREAS"s took place prior to
Why is this so important? Here is why: Jim Waring was
aware that prior to May 9, 2006 he did not have
City Council authority to SELL a particular piece of
land to Hillel (the
City Council Resolution only authorized a LEASE). To
confirm this he wrote
this email to Betsy Kinsley, Scott Peters' Chief of
Staff. Unfortunately for Mr. Waring (and Hillel) if the
City Council had not authorized a SALE (only a lease)
they had not authorized negotiations with a purchaser,
Hillel or anybody else, prior to May 9, 2006.
Mr. Waring's authority to effect a SALE started on May
9, 2006. No sooner. The
Resolution drafted by Leslie Fitzgerald is not in
compliance with the Municipal Code and therefore has no
effect. Another example of a City staff person, in this
case at the City Attorney's office, bending over
backwards to facilitate a powerful interest group.
But the law is the law. The City Attorney must now
rewrite this Resolution or face serious legal challenges
in court. It has already begun.
will be heard on November 9. It charges the City with
"waste" and accuses Mayor Sanders and Hillel with
"collusion". City Beat did an
on it last week. This is not going to go away.
Leslie Fitzgerald was a carryover from the bad old days
of Casey Gwinn. She has since
left Mike Aguirre's office. In writing this flawed
Resolution she could not have been unaware of her
"omissions". That's how things were done in those days.
She wrote a backdated check for Waring and Sanders.
She wrote: "WHEREAS on November 20, 2000, the City
Council authorized READ staff to enter into exclusive
negotiations with Hillel of San Diego". She forgot
to mention that those "exclusive negotiations" applied
to a lease only. Nor did she comply with §22.0902(e).
There needed to be a declaration that the property was
either to be sold by negotiation or by public auction.
That was not done. If the sale was to be by negotiation
a new request for proposal (RFP) needed to be issued.
That was not done.
But it is not too late. There is no reason why the City
should be exposed to law suits because of Ms.
Fitzgerald's errors, deliberate or otherwise.
to the City Clerk, which would seem to indemnify the
City in the event of law suits and allow the hiring of
an outside attorney. Now the City has indeed hired an
outside attorney to represent it in this "waste" case.
That outside attorney is none other than Scott Peters'
former law partner, Suzanne Varco of Opper and Varco.
Council President Scott Peters founded Peters and Varco
with Suzanne Varco. It became Opper and Varco when he
was elected to the City Council.
Opper & Varco has managed to become CCDC's legal
counsel. We all know that CCDC is not shy with the bucks
- if you give them the advise they want. Suzanne Varco
is apparently telling them what they want to hear with
California’s Polanco Redevelopment Act. She told
them about the sweeping powers they have under that Act.
She told them that they can even delegate their
"ministerial" powers "without
further review or ratification". They must love her
Remember the scandal about Kelco and other large
industrial users being charged the same rate for their
heavily polluted wastewater as water from domestic
sinks? It saved Kelco millions per year. Who did Kelco
hire to lobby the City when Frye and others tried to
reform the rate system? Opper and Varco! Peters
was even on the City's "Clean Water Task Force". "The
matter should be investigated," said City Attorney Mike
Aguirre at the time. That's why I don't think Aguirre
was told about any of this.
If there really was collusion between Mayor Sanders and
Hillel it can easily be ended by simply following the
law. Rewrite the May 9, 2006 Resolution. If Hillel
wishes to purchase that particular piece of property
they should bid on it like everybody else.
letter from a prominent realtor in La Jolla the
property would sell for between $2,400,000 and
$3,000,000. This sure sounds like deliberate "waste" of
City land to me. It smells like another sweetheart deal
by Peters, Sanders and Waring.
The transaction has not yet been consummated. It is held
up pending a decision by Judge Linda Quinn on Thursday
November 9, 2006. It should not be left to a judge. The
City Attorney's Office can put a stop to this right now
by simply rewriting the May 9, 2006 Resolution as it
should have been written, in compliance with the law.
I can't imagine
the courts upholding Ann Smith's premise.
Following the pension case closely through the press
Vigil for the U-T and
Evan McLaughlin for the Voice) I haven't noticed
anything new so far. The most significant point was made
yesterday by City Attorney Chris
Morris on the stand.
Mr. Morris explained to the court that, despite Ann
Smith's (and incidentally Scott Peters')
mischaracterization of the 2004 Gleason Settlement, that
action by the City only applied to its annual
contributions. It did not address the legality of the
Ann Smith's case depends on two things:
(1) that the "Gleason Settlement" validated the
benefits granted in 1996 and 2002.
(2) that pension benefits, once granted, however
illegal, are protected under Federal and State labor
this report from the Pension Board to the City
Council regarding the 2006 City Budget. It contradicts
Ann Smith regarding Gleason and explains what a “prior
service liability” is. It acts as a good summary and
history of the pension issue.
The thing that bothers Judge Barton the most is that he
will be required to set a legal precedent regarding
whether labor law trumps California government law.
Well, he is stuck with it. Judges love to quote a
precedent which gets them off the hook. In this case
their is none. Perhaps its because no city council has
ever abused its powers to the extent ours did. I can't
imaging the courts upholding Ann Smith's premise.
of a smoke and mirrors "Redevelopment" deal.
I am still waiting for the Cost of Issuance for the
October 2005 $152 million
refinance of a BofA loan made in 2004. All I got from
the City so far is
this. It refers to the original $152 million BofA
loan, not the one that was refinanced, after only one
year, in October 2005. It shows $412,253.65 issuance
costs for that 2004 loan. But it does not include any
brokerage fees, even though I know both deals
were arranged by a brokerage firm.
meantime let's take a look at a typical smoke and
mirrors deal in Poway. It involves the Poinsettia Mobile
Home Park and has more twists to it than a crime novel.
The City of Poway purchased this mobile home park in
1988, when they issued this
$10,650,000 Bond (in the form of a "Certificate of
Participation" or COP). How much actually went to the
seller and how much for costs was never disclosed. Then
they refinanced it with another Bond of $12,640,000 in
1992. They love refinance deals - they generate lots of
big fat fees for their friends in the financial services
In 2003 Poway Redevelopment Agency
(RDA) sold Poinsettia Mobile Home Park to Poway
Manufactured Communities LLC, a 501C3 subsidiary of
Wakeland Housing LLC,
also a 501C3, owned by a guy named
Kenneth Sauder. Here is the
Grant Deed. Click and read the "post-it" notes I
have attached to it.
Here is a piece in the
San Diego Daily Transcript on Ken Sauder, dated
August 3, 2006. Sauder is a strong advocate of any
source of public funds for affordable housing. That's
his business. As chair of the
San Diego Housing Federation he wrote
this piece in the U-T on June 22, 2006 urging
passage of State Prop. 1C in November. Poway RDA is
pushing affordable homes because it has a huge tax
Mr. Sauder (Poway Manufactured
Communities LLC) signed a Note and Trust Deed to the
City of Poway for
$10,615,000. The City of Poway then issued a
$10,615,000 Housing Revenue Bond, pledging future
revenue from the mobile home park and secured by
Sauder's Trust Deed on the property. Mr. Sauder put no
money into the deal. He got 100% financing and paid no
A companion "Regulatory
Agreement" imposed an obligation on Mr. Sauder to
provide housing for "persons of very low income". That
gave the Revenue Bond tax-free status.
on it is all smoke and mirrors.
The issue terms of the $10,615,000 Bond stipulated
that the proceeds were to be used for the following
(1) to "fund" the purchase by
Mr. Sauder (i.e. pay off the existing $12,640,000 bond);
(2) to "finance certain facilities, replacements and
improvements" in the Park;
(3) to "fund a
Debt-service Reserve Fund" and a "Repair and Replacement
(4) to "pay certain costs of issuance".
As the Bond issue undertook to "prepay and defease"
this underlying $12,640,000 loan, some additional money
was needed. The $10,615,000 Bond was not enough.
Mr. Sauder was not putting in anything so the only
source of cash was the City Treasury. Sauder was asked
to sign a concurrent
2nd Trust Deed
for $5,112,230. The old "silent 2nd" trick. It is
fraud on a senior lender if not disclosed (it rarely
Did the Poway City Council disclose this additional
financing to the Bond purchasers when they signed their
"Official Statement"? For Poway's sake I hope they did.
The odd amount on this 2nd TD of $5,112,230,
suggests to me that it was a "catch-all",
designed to sop up all the costs and loose ends of the
entire transaction. Effectively it was the feeding
trough for all the "service" people involved. Typically
the City Treasurer opens a disbursement account from
which he/she pays off all-comers.
Here are my
questions to the Poway City Treasurer:
(1) was the old Bond, $12,640,000, fully
(2) what was the Cost of Issuance of the new
(3) Only an additional $2,025,000 from the 2nd TD
was needed to redeem the old Bond, which left
$3,087,230. That is a lot of "closing costs". Almost 30%
of the sale price. How much was put into reserves? What
happened to the rest of it?
But the most amazing thing about the 2nd Trust Deed is
that it gives an unlimited, open-ended, line of credit
to Mr. Sauder!
Read the parts I have underlined. Any addition to the
original amount of the Note does not have to be recorded
at the County Recorder. For all we know that Note could
now be triple the original amount. The Trust Deed, as
originally recorded, covers it all.
Finally, apart from the financing questions, another
huge issue arises:
Grant Deed to Sauder, the City of Poway clearly and
unambiguously gave itself the power to change the
covenants, conditions and restrictions that "run with
the land", any time it pleases and in any way it
pleases. In other words it can "approve" a Sauder sale
to a developer like McMillan any time it wants.
Even more amazingly Sauder is free of the restrictions
whenever he pays off his loans of $10,615,000 and
$5,112,230! He could do that any day by selling
to a developer. He wouldn't even need City Council
approval. All he has to do is pay them back.
they want to do the exact same deal with the exact same
person with another mobile home park called Poway Royal.
Where will all this end? How do we start putting it
right? I do love San Diego County but I don't want to
live in a bankrupt city. These city officials are
totally out of control. A way has to be found to reign
The CPGs have
the votes - therefore the power.
"The recognized Community Planning Groups created
by Council Policy 600-24 and the Community Planning
Committee created by Council Policy 600-9 are
legislative bodies of the City of San Diego. Thus,
their meetings are governed by the provisions of the
Ralph M. Brown Act. Should the CPC or any CPG create
standing committees, the meetings of those committees
must also comply with the Act."
So says this
Memorandum of Law from City Attorney Mike Aguirre
dated October 27, 2006, effectively ending the despotic
Betsy McCullough, Deputy Planning Director, who on
October 17, 2006 sent
this letter to all members of the CPC
(Community Planners Committee) illegally announcing
consulting with the CPC Chair, therefore, we are
canceling the October meeting", i.e. canceling the
regularly scheduled CPC monthly meeting for Tuesday
October 24, 2006!
As I said in my blog dated October
22, 2006, this showed the incredible arrogance to
which Betsy McCullough and Steve Laub, had become
Below is a map of the CPGs in San Diego. It is easy to
see why the autocrats at DSD and Planning are scared to
death of them. If these citizen groups ever got together
and acted in concert they would have more political
power than the unions and the developers combined. Why?
Because they have the votes. All the campaign money in
the world cannot trump the influence these people can
bring to bear if they choose.
Map of Community
Now look at the Council Districts map below. Each
District consists of about a half dozen Community
Planning Groups. Imagine the influence these CPGs could
have on their City Councilor if they banded together in
each District? Enough to give any City Councilor a case
of the shingles. How Jim Waring and Betsy McCullough
must dread such a development. Right now they can
intimidate them, one CPG at a time.
Well that is about to change. The City Attorney has made
it crystal clear that Betsy McCullough and Jim Waring
are mere staff: "the City’s Planning Department
provides support and training for the groups". I
hope that Ms. McCullough now understands the magnitude
of her sin against good government canceling the October
CPC meeting was. The least she should do is send a
letter of apology to all CPG chairs.
list of their email addresses, all of them. She
could send each a nice email. After all, she works
for them - they are her bosses.
Indeed, each of us should send a nice email to the CPG
chair in our own community, showing our appreciation and
encouragement. I'm sure they would be delighted to hear
from us. Why stop there, why not send all of them
a "Thank You" note.
The CPGs might use the above email list to start working
more closely together and start supporting each other
in their appeals. Now that would really give the
autocrats at DSD and Planning heartburn. Now, it's each
small group against the might of DSD.
Next time a group of citizens from a Community prepare
to go before the City Council to appeal an inappropriate
development project, they might consider calling in help
from neighboring Communities. Each one of them has at
some time experienced a mauling at the hands of these
developer-serving DSD staff. When was the last time an
appeal was won against this DSD dictatorship? They treat
citizen groups as the enemy!
Housing can be a city's "Nuclear Waste".
"In a county with a
shortage of affordable housing, Poway, which has 45
percent open space, will feel pressure to change its
zoning to allow more multifamily housing, Cafagna said."
This strange quote caught my eye in
San Diego Union Tribune story on October 6, 2006.
I decided to investigate. Why would Poway's Mayor,
Mickey Cafagna, be "feeling pressure" with
affordable housing? What was that all about?
Then I saw this when
the U-T endorsed him (they love developers): "We
currently have a very aggressive program of partnering
with private developers to build affordable housing,
with over 750 units planned over the next
five years. I would like to continue that program."
750 units! For Poway! I don't think San Diego needs that
My first thought was if San Diego might be dumping its
affordable housing problem across the fence into Poway.
We have a huge NIMBY problem with affordable housing
here in San Diego. Almost all downtown is in
"redevelopment", generating thousands of million-dollar
condos but in the process generating a set-aside
obligation of 20% of every dollar spent by the
redevelopment agency. Of course the million dollar condo
owners don't want them anywhere near their tony pads.
Hence the problem.
Cities who get hooked on redevelopment tax diversion
dollars see "affordable housing" as nuclear plants' see
nuclear waste. They don't know what to do with it. This
"unwanted nuisance" is creating all kinds of weird
abuses like turning existing mobile home parks and
existing apartment complexes into "affordable housing".
I will explain in an upcoming blog how cities are
inventing devious ways of meeting their affordable
housing obligations by purchasing and "refinancing"
existing low income projects like mobile home parks and
single room occupancy hotels, encumbering them with
massive debt and then giving them away to their friends
under the guise of 501C3s. Poway has a few prime
examples. But even that con job only goes so far. It has
topped out in Poway with the "conversion" of three huge
mobile home parks.
Mickey Cafagna is Chairman of the San Diego Association
of Governments (SANDAG) and I wondered if he weren't
thinking more on a County level than on a Poway level. I
still don't know. But I do know that Poway now has an
enormous "affordable housing" problem, similar to the
downtown San Diego problem. That's what you get when you
go hog-wild on a redevelopment kick. It has serious
So what is going on in Poway? Well, to put it
mildly, Mayor Mickey Cafagna and his trusting City
Council (they seem to follow a "Mickey knows best"
policy), have created for themselves a giant social
problem in that Poway as a city must now have a
disproportionate level of affordable housing. I don't
think the folks understand that.
So far the City has managed to hide it from all but a
few activists. With 94.59% of the 1% property tax
collected within the city limits of Poway going to the
Redevelopment Agency, instead of to the City's General
Fund (the highest "diversion" in the County), it is easy
to see where their "affordable housing" problem is
Poway is in danger of becoming the "affordable housing"
Mecca of San Diego County. If you build them they
will come. Not exactly what the voters intended when
they kept voting in Mickey Cafagna. He is a developer
and knows this stuff very well. He is also the Chairman
of SANDAG and knows it from that vantage point. But has
he shared all his knowledge with the voters of Poway? I
doubt it. Has he told them that a by-product of their
new Town Center ("Mickey's Monument") will be 750
affordable housing units?
But just as in physics "every action has an equal and
opposite" reaction, the inevitable has happened. Two
very popular citizen-activists have thrown their hats in
the ring to stop this redevelopment craziness. Activists
Joe St. Lucas look like taking two Council seats
from the incumbents and
Nick Stavros is
mounting a last minute write-in challenge to mayor
Mickey Cafagna. Now that's exciting.
Maybe the "Poway Revolt" will electrify the rest of San
Diego county against this insidious disease called
"redevelopment". The only ones who benefit from this tax
diversion are the developers and it is no coincidence
that it has reached its highest manifestation in a
city run by a developer/mayor, Mickey Cafagna of Poway.
The San Diego U-T may have endorsed Cafagna, but this
blog and I hope the entire activist community in San
Diego, endorse Messina, St. Lucas and Stavros in Poway.
Hall. Join Tevlin and Fulhorst on the Roll of Honor.
Matt Hall of the U-T made a huge contribution to a
clean San Diego government with
this piece on Saturday. There may be many things
broken in San Diego's public life but Matt Hall is not
one of them. He can take his place alongside Tevlin and
The reason such people are important is that they are
the antithesis of Robert Manis. This is all about
integrity and the lack of it and we already know which
Matt Hall did not have to write this story. He could
have played it safe and wrote the same claptrap
emanating from other media sources that rely heavily on
the Mayor's Office for their daily stories. Mr. Hall is
not as easily spoon-fed "information" by the Mayor's
spin machine. Obviously he does not need to suck up to
them for his stories.
What Matt Hall picked up on was a classic Tom Shepard
three card trick with a smelly $50,000 "gift" from
Doug Manchester. This age-old conman's trick is to
rearrange the cards quickly in order to confuse an
observer who is induced to foolishly bet which card is
the Queen. Shepard is a master at playing political
"Find the Lady".
Jim Waring was quite happy to give Manchester a DSD
"finding" that his Navy Broadway caper does not need a
new EIR. Waring has plenty heel-clicking sycophants like
Robert Manis at his dictator's blockhouse, otherwise
known as DSD. They will sign any "finding" put in front
of them. Under Waring and Escobar-Eck, key DSD officials
either sign or take a hike into the cold wilderness of
But Shepard and DeMaio (the Mayor's political commissars
who are privy to all politically sensitive mayoral email
and telephone traffic) saw an opportunity for a
refueling pit stop in their privatization-of-government
Prop C race. A cash pump - Manis' signature on
piece of supreme treachery
- loomed up ahead. That's what Shepard gets paid big
bucks for. It was his job to shake down
Manchester for Prop. C.
Whether we like it or not, that is how our system works
- nothing illegal about Manchester giving $50,000 to the
Lincoln Club knowing that it would be immediately
forwarded to Sanders' "Reform City Hall" marketing fund
for Prop. C. Can you imagine how many more such "gifts"
Prop. C's "privatization" will bring? Enough to propel
Sanders to the Governor's chair? That's the plan.
Shepard and DeMaio are on a roll.
But for now all "Pappa" Doug cares about is his NBC
"finding" duly signed by an authorized DSD official. His
$50,000 enabling "donation" was a no-brainer of a
So what do we do to stop this "Find the Lady"
politics? We can't lay a glove on Shepard and
Manchester. They have high-priced lawyers to keep them
on the right side of the law. The way we stop it is by
putting the fear of God into weasels like Robert Manis.
Manchester's $50,000 "gift" isn't worth a plugged nickel
unless a middle-level official like Manis is willing to
sell out his employer, the people of this city. They do
it simply to keep their jobs under autocratic misfits
like Waring and Escobar-Eck.
As I said in a previous blog, Waring and Escobar-Eck
have no "business" being in government. They would make
excellent CEOs for developers like Manchester and
Moores. But they are complete misfits in government.
Which is precisely why Sanders hired them. This
aberration was inevitable once Sanders' developer
backers got him into office. They are now getting their
money's worth in spades.
But we can defeat them. We simply hold our City
officials personally liable for their official
actions. Mr. Manis for example, is in serious breach of
this part of the San Diego Municipal Code, which
requires him and his boss Jim Waring: "To ensure to
the maximum extent possible, that before public review,
all environmental documents incorporate the latest
pertinent technical or scientific information and are
factually accurate and consistent." We will hold
their feet to the flames on that and much more.
Let them defend their 1990 NBC EIR as the "latest
pertinent technical or scientific information"
before the City Council and then we will go after them
individually. They are wrong and they know it. They have
pandered to Manchester and they will pay.
The City does not indemnify them when they commit
illegal acts. We have State Laws, a City Charter,
Municipal Codes and a City Attorney willing to enforce
them. Unlike Casey Gwinn, Aguirre will not defend City
officials who break the law. Nor is he allowed to. When
a City official deliberately takes that road, they are
on their own.
In his long fight to separate the City from individual
City Councilors vis-à-vis the SEC, Aguirre has proven
that he understands this. He has infuriated
"individuals" like Peters and Madaffer, but he has won.
I suspect it cost him having to agree to a three year
monitor, rather than one for 120 days, but that's
This new order of things should be a warning to the
Robert Manis's at City Hall. Despite their false
promises, their bosses cannot defend them if they break
the law. The City Attorney will not defend them
if they break the law. The days of Casey Gwinn are gone.
The point is that a developer cannot bribe an official
unless the official takes the bribe. Sometimes, sadly,
the bribe is simply keeping his/her job. That's
what has to change.
Thanks again Mr. Hall, there is a beer with your name on
it waiting at The Old Sod, or would that be a bribe? Oh,
what the heck, I'll buy Bob Kittle one too (if he'll
leave the bowtie outside - they do have a dress code you
Fulhorst deserve our full support.
Evangelist of Privatization, Carl DeMaio and his
born-again San Diego disciple, Jerry Sanders, are
spending hundreds of thousands of outside dollars (they
have already outsourced the Prop C campaign) telling
punch-drunk San Diego voters that their city government
is broken and that unleashing corporate greed is the
only way to fix it.
According to DeMaio and Sanders: the City Council is a
joke; all good things emanate from the Mayor's Office,
now blessed by the Holy Ghost through the hands of Carl
DeMaio. They proclaim Privatization to be the new true
god and DeMaio his Profit.
I am not the only one refusing to be baptized into this
new religion. I am delighted to hear the clear voices of
two very fine civil servants,
Independent Budget Analyst and Stacey Fulhorst,
Executive Director of the
Here is what Andrea Tevlin is
saying about this new Mayor-worship. She has
appealed to the City Attorney to enforce the City
Like me, she sees the danger of political cults and like
me, she defends the City Council as the only institution
that has authority over the purse strings. Like me, she
treasures it as the only government institution readily
accessible to the people. Bless her for that. In her
professional opinion she says, this government is not
working as the voters intended in Prop F, the "strong
If this city's government is indeed broken, it is the
Mayor who is breaking it!
Stacey Fulhorst is trying to require people like Carl
DeMaio and his Reason Foundation/Performance Institute
to register as lobbyists. DeMaio responded with a
faithful lambasting her
Lobbying Ordinance Review.
This guy spends more time in City Hall than the
cleaners, yet currently he does not have to register as
a lobbyist - because he represents a "think tank". He
has unlimited money but will not tell where it comes
from. But we all know it comes from the
an extreme right wing libertarian anti-government
the ones behind State Prop 90, the so-called
"Protect our Homes Act" or anti-eminent initiative. I
must admit they had me fooled for a moment. I initially
thought Prop 90 was just a curb on eminent domain abuse
until I read their rationale on it.
When these people say "private property" they mean
They want nothing to stand in the way of urban sprawl.
They describe all land use legislation as the
"regulatory state", which they universally condemn.
Regulation they say can "dramatically reduce the
property's market value, imposing an economic hardship
and significant loss of value upon the owner".
Can you imagine the law suits Doug Manchester would file
if Prop 90 passes?
DeMaio is an evangelist for that extreme right-wing
ideology intent upon hollowing out government wherever
they find it. They want to replace it with unfettered
privatization. Unfortunately, his Reason Foundation
money has gained him unlimited access at the Mayor's
Office. But fortunately, Andrea Tevlin and Stacey
Fulhorst see the danger.
With people like Tevlin and Fulhorst in key positions,
this city's government is anything but broken. These
fine public servants deserve our full support. Unlike
Sanders they are listening to the people, not mega-rich
right-wing "think-tanks" from Washington DC.
Citizen Army is defending our City.
Ian Trowbridge is San Diego's
Horatius at the Bridge:
- Hew down the bridge, Sir
Consul, with all the speed ye may!
- I, with two more to help me,
will hold the foe in play.
- In yon strait path, a
thousand may well be stopped by
- Now, who will stand on either
hand and keep the bridge with me?
Appeal, Trowbridge (how aptly named) has rushed onto
the DSD/Navy Broadway bridge to hold the developers (Etruscans),
long enough for us San Diegans (Romans)
to destroy the DSD/NBC bridge
over which the developers are pouring to
destroy our city.
- Then out spake Spurius
Lartius; a Ramnes|Ramnian proud was
- "Lo, I will stand at thy
right hand and keep the bridge with
- And out spake strong
Herminius; of Titian blood was he:
- "I will abide on thy left
side, and keep the bridge with
A young engineer named Katheryn Rhodes, an unlikely
heroine from Point Loma, has sprung to Ian's side to
"keep the bridge with thee", by researching and
this new information outlining the real facts about
the Navy Broadway site. It is devastating.
- But with a crash like thunder
fell every loosened beam,
- And, like a dam, the mighty
wreck lay right athwart the stream:
- And a loud shout of triumph
rose from the walls of Rome,
- As to the highest turret-tops
was splashed the yellow foam.
Now it is up to the rest of us stouthearted San
to "Hew down the bridge, with all the speed we may"
(the DSD/NBC bridge). We have approximately
three weeks to destroy this outrageous
written by Robert Manis, Assistant Deputy
Director of our City's Development Services.
In it, he attempts to deliver our city into the hands of
an unscrupulous developer, Doug Manchester (already
gorged on corporate welfare from this city and others)
by asserting that after 16 years nothing has changed in
and around Navy Broadway, that an
Environmental Impact Report written in 1990 is as
good as if it were written today. Has any city ever been
more betrayed by one of its own employees?
Hang in there citizen Ian and citizen Katheryn.
While you bravely hold the enemy on the other side, we
your fellow citizens will hew down the DSD/NBC bridge.
Then we will march on the Senate (City Hall), where five
traitorous Senators (City Councilors and we all know who
they are) sit poised to deny your appeal and give the
keys of our precious city to that concrete-pouring
destroyer of waterfronts, Doug Manchester.
These five City Councilors will experience a little
citizen lobbying for a change. They are used to
closed-door, money-dropping, elitist lobbying. Let's
show them what a real open republic looks like. That's
what we are supposed to be, isn't it?
After Horatius' heroic and successful defense
of Rome at that fateful bridge over the river Tiber in
500 BC, Rome became a Republic, the first in the world.
Let's hope our citizen defense of San Diego, at the
treacherous DSD/NBC bridge, has a similar outcome. If it
hadn't been for Horatius' brave stand the world would
have known only Etruscan monarchy. The glories of
the Roman Republic would never have happened.
Start by reading what
Katheryn have already written and get involved in
the defense of your city. I will continue to post
their appeal as they get it fully written. We need to
have all the facts at our finger tips on the day of the
appeal. The facts will speak for themselves, but only if
we stand them up in front of the City Council on that
day. The best source of NBC facts is
Katheryn Rhodes special NBC web site.
This is the most important appeal ever in the history of
San Diego. The Manis' "finding" is a deliberate
abomination of logic. It is the exact antithesis of his
fiduciary responsibility to this city. We must make it
clear to every City Councilor that to uphold this
outrageous "finding" will be an illegal act and will
Manchester's invading army will include the best land
use lawyers money can buy. They will tell us that we
don't know what we're talking about, that we should
listen to our betters, that "Pappa" Doug knows what is
best for us - the great unwashed of his city.
Our sincere thanks to both Ian and Katheryn for all
their hard unpaid work on this.
The SEC is not
the problem - Sanders is. 10/25/06
Matt Hall and Jennifer Vigil of the U-T obviously
tried their best to find out and tell us what is going
on with the SEC decree or whatever City Hall is calling
it now. So did
Evan McLaughlin in The Voice.
“Silence is golden”, the U-T
quoted Aguirre. Sorry Mike, in government silence is
never golden. It is deadly. Mike of all people should
Let's suppose for one moment that this "golden" silence
is demanded by the SEC. Let's take Mike's word that “I
don't want to do or say anything that would in any way
jeopardize the city's position with the SEC.” I can
think of some reasons why Mike might need to be careful.
He may be afraid that individual Councilmembers might
later sue the City if he did anything to exacerbate
their problems with the SEC.
His silence therefore, could indicate that the SEC are
going to come down hard on individual Councilmembers and
he wants to keep the City clear of it. If that is the
case he is honestly doing his job for the City as he
But the SEC must also understand that this is a
Municipal Corporation, with responsibilities to its
1,300,000 shareholders, the citizens of this city. The
City has responsibilities under the Government Code of
the State of California, which requires more openness
than an ordinary corporation. Mike Aguirre is not just
another corporate lawyer, he has overriding
responsibilities of openness and disclosure to the
If Mike is worried about being challenged later or
caught in a legal vise, all he has to do is reread his
Oath of Office. His first responsibility is to the
people of this city. He must remind the SEC of that. He
must remind the Mayor and the City Council of that.
Whatever went on with the monitor deal is very troubling
for those of us who are on the other side of the
“Silence is golden” curtain. The SEC only requested a
monitor for 120 days, while Sanders insisted
upon, and got, 3 years. We have that on good authority -
Bob Kittle. And nobody at City Hall has disputed it.
If Sanders exploited the legal problems of five
individual members of the present City Council (a
majority of the City Council) vis-à-vis the SEC, in
order to force them to agree to a Mayor-appointed
monitor for three years, then "somebody" should be
worrying about that, not about upsetting the SEC.
The SEC is not the problem, Sanders is.
A three year monitor is a smear on this city as a whole.
Cities don't commit illegal acts, individuals do.
1,300,000 people are now smeared because 4 or 5 City
Councilmembers were negligent at best. That is a bad
deal for the city and will have long-term adverse
consequences. It may be good for those individuals who
do not like the concept of individual responsibility
(which seems to be everybody down there), but it is a
setback for those of us who are trying to promote
That is why I have been so adamant in opposing it. But
how can an ordinary citizen oppose something that has
been handled in such total secrecy? In constant breach
of the Brown Act? Isn't it interesting that the only
City Council Meetings Sanders attends are the Closed
Sessions. He actually chairs them!
This bodes ill for what Sanders calls his "remediation".
Moral "re-engineering" more like. Honest open government
loves the light, dishonest closed government thrives in
the dark. He will use his hand-picked "monitor" as a
shield against prying citizen eyes, with as much
secretiveness as in using the SEC to emasculate the City
Prop. A - a
regional airport or regional gridlock.
Look at this picture. What do you see? San Diego's
new Regional Airport?
Wrong - it will never happen. Because the Marines
will never leave? Wrong again.
a look at two huge new residential projects already in
play, colored blue opposite. Read what the San Diego
City Planning Department has to say about:
Rancho Encantada and
Do you think maybe somebody is not telling us the whole
truth here? The developers, City Planning and
Development Services have a government/client
relationship that is more privileged than
Do you thing that maybe "somebody" has already colored
in that area between the two blues? Encantada and
Elliott? Personally I believe they have colored in the
entire MCAS Miramar area and that that is what their
opposition to Prop. A is really all about.
McMillin already owns Rancho Encantada. Read their
Winter 2006 Newsletter.
It tells a little about what is going on out
there. Also the Catholic Bishop of San Diego must know
something the rest of us do not. He is building a
Catholic School out there.
The one thing we all know for certain is that as sure as
the Navy left Miramar, the Marines will leave too.
Located right in the heart of a busy metropolitan area
it is totally unsuited to their mission. The next
training accident will take care of that.
Pardee owns East Elliott. Do
you think these two huge developers, McMillin and
Pardee are not salivating over all that sweet MCAS
land? They want the Marines to leave more than
anybody. The last thing they want is a stupid
regional airport eating up their precious
developable land. That is why Jerry Sanders is
not backing Prop. A. McMillin and Pardee made
their preference clear to him - with their check
So, the North City voters do
have a choice: a civilian airport or wall-to-wall
housing and bumper-to-bumper traffic. The greater
Miramar area could accommodate up to 250,000 people.
It will be the last great urbanizing project for San
On the other hand what would happen if Prop A.
passes? It would be a giant pain in the rear for
Sanders' and his developer friends. It would create
this conditional land use restriction hanging over
the whole North City area. The City Fathers would be
constrained by a stupid promise to build a regional
airport where thousands of McMillin and Pardee
houses properly belong. Look what happened at Brown
Field. Pardee took care of Ralph Inzunza and Ralph
(with a little last minute help from Dick Murphy)
took care of Pardee. Result: FedEx still flies out
As far as McMillin, Pardee and Sanders are
concerned, we already have a perfectly fine
located in a
convenient soup bowl between Mission Hills and Point
Loma. The Lindberg acreage is tiny compared to
Miramar. You couldn't even fit a decent shopping
center on there let alone a few thousand houses.
Lindberg is on tidelands. Between the Port Authority
and the Coastal Commission any decent developer
would move to Las Vegas rather than go through all
So there you have it. That's my take on the airport
issue. Vote for Prop A, it may give us some small
bargaining chip against the developers and the
500,000 people they will cram in there. Maybe more.
Have you seen the way they build these days? How
many "city of villages" do you think they could cram
into Miramar's 23,000 acres?
In the unlikely chance that Prop A would actually
give us a civilian airport at Miramar, when (not if)
the Marines leave, a civilian airport would be a lot
less noisy than the present MCAS. But it would be a
hell of a lot better than what McMillan and Pardee
(aided and abetted by our developer-financed
Development Services Department) would give us -
500,000 people and total gridlock. That's the real
issue, not an airport.
As I said at the top of this blog: the airport will
never happen. The developers will never allow an
airport to interfere with their carpet development
of North City. If you've got any better ideas for
fighting density in North City
I'd love to hear them.
"The poor are
always with us" - and so it shall remain.
I thought I had been transported back in time to the
French Royal Court in Versailles
around 1790 where
Marie Antoinette was holding a bake sale to raise
money for cake for the poor of Paris and that she had
invited all her effete courtly friends to the party.
I was not in bed dreaming, I was sitting in an
auditorium in Point Loma Nazarene University attending a
meeting of the San Diego City Council.
You get used to the dripping hypocrisy of it all if you
attend the occasional City Council meeting as I do, but
this one takes the cake, if you will pardon the pun. The
matter under discussion tonight was:
"ITEM-200: In the Matter of the United Way’s Plan to
End Chronic Homelessness in the San Diego Region.
(Citywide.) PUBLIC SAFETY AND NEIGHBORHOOD SERVICES
COMMITTEE’S RECOMMENDATION: On 6/14/2006, PSNS voted 4
to 0 to accept
the draft plan and direct the United Way and the
Leadership Council to develop an implementation plan for
presentation to the full City Council in conjunction
with the final Plan to End Chronic Homelessness."
We were treated to over two hours of self-congratulatory
nauseous speeches by our very own "effete courtly
friends" from the United Way. They even flew in some big
wig do-gooder from Washington DC to make a long speech
about nothing. He brought greetings from the White House
and with his expensive suit and hot air speech, made San
Diego sound like the Shining City on the Hill. I thought
I was going to throw up - he probably never talked to a
homeless person in his life.
What I learned from sitting through this two hours of
excruciating hypocrisy was that San Diego spends $70
million a year on homelessness but nobody was able to
tell Jim Madaffer where a penny of it goes. Total
I learned that San Diego County has more than 9,600
homeless people. I learned that we have approximately
200 agencies and programs in the County that "service"
the homeless. I learned that all this money and hot air
has resulted in nothing more than self-acknowledged
failure. But it sure feels good, according to the
This Point Loma Nazarene University "outsourced" meeting
of the San Diego City Council was pure showmanship. It
was held for the sole purpose of giving United Way a
platform for its pompous
pedagogic speeches. I noticed that Scott Peters did
not even start the timer at the podium when they
were speaking. But at the end he announced that "due to
time constraints" there would be no time to hear from
the many homeless creatures who somehow managed to drag
Perhaps this sad contingent of invisibles, some of whom
could not help coughing in the audience and breathing on
the assembled gentry, just pushed their shopping carts
into the brush nearby and spent the night in Point Loma,
while the City Fathers and their United Way rich friends
drove off in their rather more expensive shopping carts
from the VIP parking lot.
At least Marie Antoinette was willing to offer them
something! If it is left to the rich folk of United Way,
the homeless will always be with us. But maybe out of
the $70 million they can still spare just a little to
"let them eat cake". We can only hope.
denial of the public's rights.
This letter was sent out to all members of the CPC
(Community Planners Committee) i.e. all the
40 odd CPG Chairs - (Community
canceling the regularly scheduled monthly meeting on
Tuesday October 24, 2006.
The writer, Betsy McCullough, Deputy Planning Director,
says: "After consulting with the CPC Chair,
therefore, we are canceling the October meeting".
She can't do that.
Not according to the
"ARTICLE VII MEETINGS
Section 1 Regular monthly meetings, except in August and
December, shall be held at a location within the City of
San Diego. CPC shall establish a regular monthly meeting
date. A majority of the representatives or alternates
present at a CPC meeting may vote to cancel the
following month’s meeting."
There is no other provision for the cancellation of a
Further, ARTICLE VI of
Council Policy 600-24 says: "Any attempt to
develop a collective concurrence of the elected or
appointed members of a recognized community planning
group as to action to be taken on an item by members of
the [planning group], other than at a properly noticed
public meeting, either by direct communication, personal
intermediaries, serial meetings, or technological
devices, is prohibited."
That applies to CPC as well as the CPGs.
The reasons given in the letter for cancellation are
spurious at best. This may be closer to
the real reason:
“The Final Public Review Draft [dated
October 2006] of the General Plan will be released at a
press conference to be held by the Mayor on
October 25.” Did Sanders instruct McCullough to let
him preempt the CPC?
This is a career-stopper for Betsy McCullough and
grounds for removal of her hand-picked CPC Chair, Steve
Laub. They have both conspired to deny the public its
Council Policy 600-24,
order to accommodate a grandstand performance by Mayor
Sanders on Wednesday, when he will imperially announce
his Grand Plan for the City's land use. The idea
is that this will be the Mayor's plan, not the
citizens' plan. All that will be missing on Wednesday
will be the trumpets.
This citizens' meeting needs to take place on
Tuesday as scheduled, in order to protect the integrity
and independence of this citizen land use
advisory body. These people from City Hall may as well
be wearing brown shirts and saluting Sanders.
Ms. McCullough has attempted to manipulate the land use
advise this citizen body gives to City Government. She
has grossly exceeded her powers as a civil servant by
arbitrarily canceling its meeting. This action is now
part of her record and should be taken into account in
any future consideration of her services in government,
here or elsewhere.
By obeying Ms. McCullough in this, Mr. Laub has
demonstrated extreme indifference to the Bylaws of the
community organization which he chairs. As chair, he has
also failed to publish an agenda 72 hours in advance of
Tuesday's regularly scheduled meeting nor to circulate
the Minutes of the September 26, 2006 meeting.
His actions show a clear willingness to be controlled by
powerful people in the City Government that he is
charged with advising on community land use preferences.
He has failed in his duties to those communities. He
should be removed from his position as chair of this
critical citizen committee. He is no longer fit to
fulfill that function.
This totalitarianism by City staff simply has to stop.
If elected City Councilors are to be held personally
liable for their individual actions, so should staff,
especially senior staff such as Betsy McCullough. This
City is in financial difficulties because nobody was
held personally accountable for abuses of power such as
this. The best way to reestablish our reputation as a
responsible city, from the credit agencies on down, is
to hold the Betsy McCulloughs personally liable for
outrageous actions like this.
This vital CPC monthly meeting should be held as
scheduled, with or without an agenda. Her outrageous
actions are agenda enough.
Poway is the
canary in the coal mine. 10/21/06
If you want to take a look at a "hollowed out" city,
look no further than Poway. It tops the list for "tax
increment diversion" in San Diego County. Here is a
table I prepared from data obtained from the County of
San Diego Tax Assessor:
This means that 94.59% of all the 1% property tax
collected within the city limits of Poway goes to the
Redevelopment Agency, instead of to the City's General
Fund. This 1% property tax is usually the largest
revenue item on any city's budget, followed by sales
Contrary to the big lie used by politicians to justify
their creation of redevelopment projects (that
redevelopment results in more property tax being
"retained" by the city) not one extra penny is received
by the city as a whole.
All that happens is a huge amount of essential revenue
is diverted from the city's General Fund into a special
fund called a Redevelopment Fund. The County Tax
Assessor sends exactly the same proportion of the tax
money collected in each city to that city as a whole,
with or without a Redevelopment Agency.
So why do they do it? Answer: borrowing power. It
increases the city fathers' ability to borrow for their
favorite projects, you know, the ones that memorialize
their names on plaques on some boondoggle or other.
When specific revenue is earmarked exclusively to pay
back a specific bond issue it becomes much more valuable
as security than in a general revenue bond issue. It
becomes a Tax Allocation Bond (TAB). The lender
has first call on that specific tax revenue for its
interest and capital payments. It's a great deal for the
lender and to sweeten it even further Uncle Sam treats
the income as tax free to the lender.
The best source of information on redevelopment finance
Council of Development Finance Agencies. Here is
has to say about Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and
Tax Allocation Bonds (TAB). Also read a
general Wiki on TIF.
The problem with TIF or TABs is that they not only
pledge the full faith and
credit of the city's tax payers to secure private
developer financing, in doing so they deprive the city
taxpayers of the use of that revenue through the General
By law, redevelopment funds cannot be used for city
services. That is why it is called "tax increment
diversion" and in the case of Poway it is almost
100%. The City's General Fund is gutted, hollowed out.
Here is the City of Poway's 1% Tax Revenue Pie Chart:
What they don't show you
is how much of that 16% is diverted. Here are the
numbers, taken from their City Budget:
The Total Revenue into their General Fund from all
sources is $35,423,210 while the Total
Revenue into the Redevelopment Fund is $38,774,690.
The General Fund must finance all of the
Safety Services, Planning Services, Community Services,
General Engineering and the City Administration,
while the Redevelopment Fund may finance any boondoggle
the city fathers' hearts desire.
They are currently planning a $500 million Towne Center,
a sort of Baghdad "Green Zone" where they can stroll
around and fantasize that the rest of the city looks
exactly like it - so typical of the Third World
mentality. Like all Third World fantasylands, it will be
festooned with plaques of the City Councilors and
developers. We may even see statues of these glorious
Poway is now gated communities in the North and pot
holes in the South. Drive around South Poway and notice
how it is looking more and more like Third World East
San Diego. All my Redevelopment/Third World predictions
are taking place right there in the city of Poway.
"Redevelopment" tends to create blight, not eliminate
The most insidious aspect of "redevelopment" is
its abuse by private developers.
The Redevelopment Agencies almost always team up with
private developers. The tax payers raise the capital and
the developers own the projects. We have to break this
public financing of private development, conducted under
the guise of "redevelopment".
Poway does not have term limits so its city fathers are
very entrenched. The incumbents have the enormous
patronage of the Redevelopment Agency at their disposal.
Challengers have an almost impossible task.
The governing Boards of the Redevelopment Agencies
usually consist of the members of City Council. Anybody
running for City Council in a city with 94.59%
"diversion" is really running for a seat on the
Redevelopment Agency Board. When that happens, as in
Poway, there is no city government, the developers have
hollowed it out.
That is what I am afraid will happen in San Diego. We
are already at 71.36% diversion.
I have spoken to one of the three challengers out there,
Connie Messina, who understands very well what is going
on. But she is up against a massive deficit of
democracy. The big money interests have everything
wrapped up on their side.
Poway is becoming a classic North vs. South, Gated
Communities vs. Third World old side of town. Ms.
Messina has the beleaguered South on her side, whose
residents are getting madder and madder by the day at
the lack of basic city services like road maintenance.
But the North has the money and the yuppie NIMBYs.
I am reminded of the situation in which my Irish
ancestors found themselves in the big Eastern cities of
Boston, New York and Philadelphia in the late 1800s and
early 1900s. But they fought back. They told the yankee
bankers and industrialists: you may have the money but
we have the votes. That is still the answer today.
The Irish went on to take over city governments all up
and down the East Coast and indeed on the West Coast
too, most notably San Francisco. North Poway may have
the money but South Poway has the votes.
It would be nice to see this destructive force of
"redevelopment" start to reverse itself right where it
has reached its most virulent expression - in the city
There are immediate remedies at hand. A Redevelopment
Agency can voluntarily transfer any and all of
its diverted funds back into the General Fund, where the
money can be used for general services such as road
maintenance, parks, swimming pools, libraries etc. It is
entirely up to the City Council/Redevelopment Board.
California Redevelopment Law states:
The agency may in any year during which it owns property
in a redevelopment project that is tax exempt pay
directly to any city, county, city and county, district,
including, but not limited to, a school district, or
other public corporation for whose benefit a tax would
have been levied upon the property had it not been
exempt, an amount of money in lieu of taxes that may not
exceed the amount of money the public entity would
have received if the property had not
been tax exempt."
No doubt the Poway City fathers will say it can't be
reversed. Yes it can! But that would be the end of their
$500 million Town Center boondoggle extravaganza. San
Diego spent $300 million on their Ballpark and nearly
went bankrupt as a result. How can tiny Poway afford to
go one better and survive? And who is the Poway
My fingers are crossed for citizen-politician Connie
Messina. I hope she becomes a symbol of that reversal,
whereby Southern California "shall have a new
birth of freedom -- and that government of the people,
by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the
earth." All it takes is
to get out the vote Connie. Good luck.
be a Navy Broadway CEQA hearing.
The phones were busy at City Hall today culminating
in Council President Scott Peters
Memo to Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Attorney Mike
Aguirre late in the afternoon. It is short but
significant. It represents the current state of play in
the struggle for power between Sanders and what's left
of democracy in San Diego.
It gives some hope to those of us who are awed at the
scope of Sanders' power grab.
No doubt Peters was subjected to the usual Jerry
Butkiewicz intimidation to "save" his union jobs at Navy
Broadway by upholding yesterday's outrageous
"ministerial" CEQA finding. But it was more than Peters
could deliver. He probably assured Butkiewicz that it is
OK to let it go to an appeal before the Council as it
will be denied just like every other land use appeal
that comes before it.
But this appeal will be like no other. The
long-suffering public will go down there and give them
hell. Everybody who has ever suffered at the hands of
these arrogant DSD traitors, and there are many, will
fill the Chamber with their rightful wrath. This DSD is
a corrupt servant of the developer community and sees
the people as its enemy.
Not quite expecting this welcome development today, I
had done a little research of my own. I had come to the
conclusion that Mike Aguirre would have little choice
but to fill out a Form 1472 in the event that somebody
filed a request for a CEQA appeal with the City Clerk,
despite the fact that Sanders and Waring are putting it
out that there can be no appeal to their "ministerial"
The two most likely entities to file such a complaint
are the Broadway Complex Coalition
and the Save Our Forest and Ranchlands
(SOFAR). Each wrote letters to CCDC making excellent
points that would be repeated on an appeal. Read those
letters at the above links to their names.
Aguirre will now request a full City Council appeal and
go up against his buddy Sanders. Aguirre may have little
stomach for such a fight with Sanders but the people in
the communities now demand it. They are tired of DSD
staff dictatorship. Navy Broadway is a must-win for the
people. If it were lost because of lack of support from
Here are the relevant Rules in the Municipal Code:
"7.2. Initiation of Resolutions and Ordinances by
the City Attorney or the Mayor (Former Rule 27)
7.2.1. Requests for Council action may be
initiated by the City Attorney or Mayor, or any
other independent department head for any matter that is
germane to his or her official duties as prescribed by
law. Resolutions or ordinances drafted in accordance
with such requests shall be assigned by the President to
the Adoption Agenda or referred to committee in the same
way as all other resolutions or ordinances.
7.2.2. Any resolution or ordinance on which
action of the Council is mandatory under any
federal, state or local law shall be placed on the
Adoption Agenda by the City Clerk without further
action of the President. Such matters include but
are not limited to the following:
(a) Request for a change in zoning;
(b) Request for approval of a final map;
(c) An appeal from any administrative or
quasi–judicial decision as permitted under the City
Charter, state law, or ordinance of the City; and
(d) Any noticed hearing such as is involved in 1911 or
1913 Act proceedings."
If Peters had resisted, a complaint would have been
filed with the courts. Allowing a CEQA appeal is
from any administrative or quasi–judicial
decision. But now that Peters will docket an
appeal, the following Rule kicks in:
"7.4. Delivery of Resolution or Ordinance to
(Former Rule 29)
7.4.1. The official who originated the Form 1472 shall
cause the resolution or ordinance, with attached digest,
and any other supporting materials, prepared in
accordance with this Rule, to be delivered to the
President or his/her designee no later than 10:00 a.m.
on Wednesday for listing on the agenda of a regular
Council meeting to be held, at the discretion of the
President, the second or third week after receipt of
That means that Aguirre's Form 1472 has to be delivered
to Peters no later than 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday October
25, 2006 for a hearing date of November 6 or 7, 2006 at
the earliest, i.e. the second week after his
receipt of the 1472.
But Peters will only docket a hearing after a
decision by the CCDC, who meet at
1:00 P.M. on Wednesday October 25, 2006. This means
that the earliest the City Council can hear this appeal
is Monday or Tuesday November 13 or 14, 2006!
Doug Manchester may be getting a giant turkey for his
Thanksgiving dinner this year, and a giant lesson in
democracy to go along with it. It ain't over yet.
always demanded the harshest penalties.
As you read
piece of supreme treachery remember that we are
paying this man's salary, that he works for us. We are
paying this Mr. Manis, this Assistant Deputy Director of
our City's Development Services Department, to tell us
that after 16 years nothing has changed in and around
Navy Broadway. We are paying him to tell us that an
Environmental Impact Report written in 1990 is as good
as if it were written today.
This man knows that this letter is a travesty of his
fiduciary duty to the citizens of San Diego. The law
says that the people of this city have a right to honest
government, from each and every civil servant they hire.
This man has today deliberately penned a profoundly
dishonest letter and expects to get away with it. He is
knowingly and deliberately denying our right to honest
government. This cannot and will not stand.
The person whose duty it is to hold Mr. Manis
accountable to the people of this city is its elected
City Attorney. Mr. Aguirre has a sworn responsibility to
ensure that the people of this city get honest
government. It is his duty to tell Mr. Manis that the
findings in this letter constitute a grave and
deliberate act of maladministration for which there is a
severe penalty. Civilized society cannot function if its
civil servants betray their trust with impunity.
Therefore this letter strikes at the very heart of our
If Mr. Manis does not immediately correct his deliberate
error, it is Mr. Aguirre's responsibility to pursue
every means possible to hold him accountable for his
betrayal of the people's trust. We are a government of
laws not of men. Mr. Manis has placed himself above the
law. He has issued a fiat. Sanders staff calls it a
"ministerial" act. Sanders is guilty of attempting
arbitrary government. America fought a revolution to rid
this continent of such arbitrary "ministerial"
government by a King.
This culture of supreme arrogance, particularly at DSD,
is a cancer that is destroying this city. It has taken
on a frightening virulence since Sanders took office.
The misgovernment of recent years will pale in
comparison to the rapaciousness that is rushing in upon
us from the naked greed that bought Sanders his Office.
This DSD letter today has literally declared war on the
people. We must act or lose our city. Sanders' greed
machine is out of control. Manchester's money has
reached into the very heart of our city government and
brought forth this treacherous letter.
Treachery has always demanded the harshest penalties. It
is easy to see why.
is the real face of Prop C. 10/18/06
Carl DeMaio? People have been asking that since this
brash 32 year old came to San Diego from Washington DC
three years ago. He is President of
based in Arlington VA with an office in San Diego.
The most significant thing about this Washington insider
who is pushing San Diego's Prop C (upon which I debated
him on the Roger Hedgecock Show last Friday) is his
membership of the Federal Government's
Acquisition Advisory Panel in DC.
Through this secretive Panel he knows how the
"schedules" system of government
contracting works - from the inside. That's why the San
Diego business community, led by Mayor Sanders, likes
him so much and wants him to teach them.
"The panel is
dominated by contractor advocates – both inside and
outside government – who have embraced Representative
Tom Davis’ (R-VA) agenda of gutting taxpayer
protections,” said Danielle Brian, Executive
Director of the
On Government Oversight (POGO) when the Panel was
established on February 9, 2005.
In confirming that DeMaio was indeed on the Panel, POGO
explained that he: "Runs
a company that presents training seminars about the
advantages of outsourcing government jobs."
Is this how Prop C will work in San Diego?
it be modeled on the
GSA Schedule system?
Danielle Brian of POGO, speaking to the
San Diego Union-Tribune on May 18, 2005,
likened the "schedules" system to
a hunting lodge: "Once a company is invited in, 'you
don't have to worry about ... proving that you're worthy
because you've already got the secret handshake''"
If so Carl DeMaio is exactly the right man to run Jerry
Sanders Outsourcing Lodge.
SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune
To get on the approved contractor list you will need to
take one of Carl DeMaio's "seminars". But don't worry
they are not expensive, they start as low as $1,100.
Don't you just love privatization? Vote for Prop C, get
on the Sanders/DeMaio list of Approved Outsource
Contractors and you will never need to work again. Never
mind the fact that in the process you will turn San
Diego into a Third World city, but that's OK because you
will be rich enough to live in a gated community in
DeMaio was a research fellow for the
organization that pours out anti-government propaganda
like Mount St. Helens in eruption. Its mission is to
promote privatization and it's patron saint is Margaret
Thatcher. It sponsored the formation of his Performance
Institute in 2000.
As a college freshman DeMaio also worked with Newt
Gingrich at the
Congressional Institute where he picked up many of
Gingrich's brash character traits.
San Diego now seems to have its own
version of Gingrich, complete with
the bible according to the Reason Foundation. DeMaio has
the zeal of his alma mater's Georgetown
University patron saint, Jesuit founder
Ignatius of Loyola. DeMaio's cause however, is not
the glorification of God but to become rich and famous
He uses a very controversial method known as
BPR, Business Process Re-engineering. BPR is now the
buzz word at the Mayor's Office. It has been described
as the "big bang" approach to reform. It is all done in
a rush with little understanding of what is happening
and even less care about the outcome. Any attempt at
moderation is considered old fashioned and timid.
Nothing is to stand in the way of the god "profit".
Local Government in San Diego is under sever attack from
the god of profit. Whether it survives or becomes
hollowed out will depend on the Prop C vote.
A "Yes" vote will strip our city of basic services. The
rich will then create their own gated communities with
their own revenue bonds paying for their own security
and infrastructure maintenance. They rest of us will
find ourselves in an ever expanding version of
present-day East San Diego, which is already a Third
Developer/Union pact in action.
Today Councilmembers Faulconer, Atkins, Maddafer,
Hueso and Peters voted to reject an appeal by the
residents of Scripps Ranch against a mixed use
commercial and condo development that would adversely
impact traffic on Scripps Ranch Blvd.
Despite the verbal protestations and a "NO" vote from
Ranch's own City Councilor, Republican Brian
Maienschein, and the protestations of all three
Community Planner Groups in the Scripps Ranch area, the
above five Councilmembers, three of them Democrats, gave
Jim Waring and his developer client what they wanted.
The three Democrats, Atkins, Hueso and Peters cast their
votes in order to give
head of the
San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor
Council, the construction jobs that are now
part of the developer/union business plan. All three
Councilmembers owe their seats to Butkiewicz. The
developer agrees to use exclusively union labor, the
price of getting the project through City Council.
Jim Waring, in advocating for the project today, sounded
more like a paid land use attorney than a City employee.
Another example of "government for profit" at work.
But by far the biggest lesson is that it was the union
vote that betrayed the people of Scripps Ranch today.
Even with the support of their own Republican
Councilmember they lost out to the "Jerry
& Jerry and Business Plan".
hand of "Pappa" Doug again. 10/16/06
Scott Lewis lost the plot? Has he been seduced by
Read my blog dated September 23,
2006 for a different point of view and a
foreshadowing of this opinion piece today, which I
expected to come from the U-T, not from the Voice of San
Lewis says: "Doug Manchester is not the bad guy in
this deal. If you're angry or concerned about the
plans for Navy Broadway, he's not the one to blame".
Where Scott has gone seriously wrong is with this:
"The city and the Centre City Development Corp. could
refuse to sign off on Manchester and the Navy's plans.
But they'd have to come up with some kind of reason
about why Manchester's plans don't conform to the
development agreement the city and the Navy signed in
the early 90s and repeatedly reaffirmed since then."
No they wouldn't.
As I pointed out in my September 23,
1992 Development Agreement with the Navy on page 12,
Section 4.8 says "Third Parties. The contractual
relationship between the City and the Navy arising out
of the Agreement does not create any third party
In other words, what happens to Navy Broadway is between
the City, the Navy and the Federal Government, nobody
else. Scott Lewis is giving Manchester rights he does
not have. "Pappa" Doug has no rights whatsoever arising
out of the 1992 Agreement.
Here is what I wrote on
September 23, 2006:
"If I hear
anything about a Manchester threat to sue the City,
"arising out of this Agreement", not only will I know
that "Pappa" Doug is trying it on, but I will also know
that anybody who might try to articulate such a spurious
threat, is working for him. Such actions could have
consequences, if that person works for the City."
Scott Lewis ends his piece today: "Because,
probably the only thing we can really guarantee now is
that if we don't go through with Manchester's plan, he's
going to sue. And he, unfortunately, is pretty good at
That sounds like articulating Manchester's threat to me.
achieve balance in the development process.
The present "policies and regulations that impact
development" allow the CPGs (Community Planning
Groups) no means of influencing the design of the
process. The TAC, which I described yesterday, has
that exclusive right.
This is its Mission Statement:
“To proactively advise the Mayor and the Land Use and
Housing Committee on improvements to the regulatory
process through the review of policies and regulations
that impact development. And to advise on improvements
to the development review process through
communications, technology and best business practices
to reduce processing times and improve customer service.
And to advocate for quality development to meet the
needs of all citizens of San Diego.”
The TAC is all about the process and making it
developer-friendly. That needs to change. The
communities are "stakeholders" too. The TAC would be
more properly called the "Developer Advisory Committee"
because it has no representation from the Communities.
It consists entirely of developer "stakeholder"
Here are two suggestions:
(1) Send the DSD back under the General Fund, where it
will be run as a government department, not as a
fee-based service to developers.
(2) The Community Planning Groups should create an
Advisory Committee equivalent to the existing TAC, in
order to achieve societal balance.
A taste of
"government for profit". 10/14/06
Jarvis Ross and I went along to a meeting of the
Technical Advisory Committee
on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 at DSD
headquarters, 1220 First Street, downtown. How many of
you knew such a thing existed? Not many I think.
Jarvis and I were both curious to see who was advising
whom and about what. They in turn were just as curious
about us at it was the first time any members of the
public had ever attended one of these get-togethers.
The chairperson, architect Kirk O'Brien, was very
courteous and asked if we wished to speak. I offered a
few observations and questions at the end of the
I asked if an
Enterprise Fund is the best way to deliver
development services? In reply, the new Department head,
Marcella Escobar-Eck, referred to various law suits
that the City had lost and assured me that an Enterprise
Fund is the best way to defend the City against such law
suits and that keeping development fees out of the
General Fund facilitated the tailoring of fees to the
size of the project.
I asked whether developer fees could not be similarly
tailored within the General Fund. I didn't receive an
answer on that. I will look into the law suits she
referred to and see if that argument has any merit.
I told them that the advisory meeting seemed more like a
business meeting than a government meeting and that
perhaps it was because the DSD is an Enterprise Fund. I
noted that much of their earlier conversation was about
the Department's slumping revenue and about their
concern that they were not getting enough big projects.
There had been laughter earlier when they were
discussing the amount of work they have to do on
multiple small projects compared to their workload on
I asked if this did not suggest a departmental bias
towards larger projects. Ms. Escobar-Eck shook her head.
I finished by asking if any community groups were
represented on this Advisory Committee. I was told that
the TAC is the "equivalent" of the CPC
(Community Planners Committee). I wondered what they
meant by that so I sought out Ms. Escobar-Eck after the
meeting and asked her to explain it.
I expressed concern that Community Planning Groups were
conspicuously absent from this high-powered meeting,
that CPGs were not getting equal access to the top DSD
management, as this meeting was solely between key DSD
staff and the various developer and business interests.
She assured me that the Communities have equal access. I
asked her to explain. She said she attends CPC meetings
up in Kearney Mesa. I asked if it was her official duty
to do so. She said no, she does it voluntarily. How that
constitutes equal access, I assured her, I failed to
understand. Neither the CPGs nor CPC has any direct
involvement with DSD, they advise the Planning
Department, not DSD. The assertion that TAC is
equivalent in any way to CPC is just plain wrong. It has
an entirely different function.
My overall impression was that the DSD is indeed run as
an "Enterprise". They consider the big developers their
prized customers and treat them as such. The developers
and their service providers are invited to formally
"advise" the staff and top management of DSD but there
is no input from the neighborhoods where that
development will take place. They are stakeholders too,
in fact the major stakeholder. Right now the ordinary
people have no effective voice in land use.
It seems to me that
these 40 odd
Community Planning Groups need to start demanding
parity of esteem at the DSD. Maybe if that were the case
there would be less wrangling in front of City Council
and both developers and public would be better served.
Right now the developers control DSD because it relies
on revenues from their big projects. Obviously the DSD
staff do not wish to go back under the General Fund
where they would be subject to layoffs and budget
constraints like everybody else.
The DSD should be a normal government department, not a
Ms. Escobar-Eck would be an excellent CEO for John
Moores or Doug Manchester, but she has no business being
in government (pardon the pun). We need to get the DSD
back where it belongs, inside the General Fund, where it
would be headed by a civil servant, not a savvy business
woman handpicked by her developer clients.
Mayor Sanders will make "government for profit" the
norm, if Prop C passes.
Prop B is a
win-win for Sanders -
Is Proposition B the best way to fix the pension
problem, or an opportunistic ploy by the current
executive branch to weaken the legislative branch of our
I have pondered this question long and hard and come
down on the "Vote No" side. The more I thought about it
the more I became convinced that preserving the
integrity and preeminence of the People's House, the
Council Chamber, far outweighs all other considerations.
We must distinguish between individuals and the
It is in that hallowed hall our democracy takes place
every week. I am in awe every time I walk into that
room. I love the rough and tumble of what goes on there.
In that room everybody is equal. Even the Mayor has to
come to the podium and make his case, just like the rest
of us. People can watch it live on TV, or study it again
and again, using streaming software on their home
computers, and make their own decisions on every issue.
Democracy is government by discussion.
I am so proud to be part of that discussion, simply by
virtue of being a citizen of this great city. I believe
every major public decision should be made there,
including setting employee pension benefits. That is
an integral part of managing a large labor force and can
only be done by our City Council who must take the whole
city picture into account.
Nobody in this city, least of all me, wants to see a
repeat of what happened on November 18, 2002, when the
City Council approved fake pension benefits they knew to
be illegal. Union leaders did their membership little
service by "negotiating" such a flawed deal. These
benefits were illegal and therefore subject to
rollbacks. The courts do not make law, they enforce it.
Judge Barton has no choice but to enforce the law.
If by any chance the courts fail to enforce the law,
then we have a problem. Then and only then could an
argument be made for Prop B. Much of the argument so far
is based on the false premise that the system has
failed. It has not failed. The rollbacks are before the
courts and 8 City officials are facing criminal charges.
That's not failure.
To pass Proposition B is to degrade the laws we already
have. What these elected officials did was already
illegal. They knew it. We must punish the individuals
who did it, not the institution.
Passing Prop B is saying that it is OK to disregard
State Law, the City Charter and City Ordinances, that we
will fix it by adding another law, and another, and
another. This mentality prevails in our schools and
elsewhere. We will do almost anything rather than hold
people accountable for their individual actions. When an
individual makes a mistake, rather than correct the
individual, we call it a systemic failure. That's what
is going on here. The best remediation is to enforce the
One of the classic "victims" of rollbacks would be Jerry
Sanders. After 25 of his 26 years of service, his
retirement was based on 2.5% benefit for every year of
service. Sanders was entitled to 25 X 2.5% = 62.5% of
his base pay at retirement.
But in his 26th year, 2002, the City Council,
illegally, boosted the 2.5% "multiplier" to 3%. Fair
enough you might say, but, they made it retroactive!
That's what was illegal. $561,700,000 illegal. That's
how much the total city benefit enhancements came to,
according to the Pension Reform Committee Final Report
dated September 15, 2004.
Sanders will now receive 26 X 3% = 78% of his base pay
Does this explain his introduction of Prop B? I think
so. In fact I think Prop B was designed to help all
those who are fighting the rollbacks. It is why the city
employee unions are only putting up token opposition.
Prop B will be presented to the courts as a fix. The
judge will be told that the people have spoken. It will
get him off the hook.
Every "settlement" of the pension issue weakens the case
for rollbacks. Read Diann Shipione's excellent
explanation of the damage done by the
Gleason Settlement. Prop B is intended to be the
last nail in the coffin of illegal pension benefit
I think this is a win-win for Sanders. He gets to keep
his inflated pension benefits and he gets to weaken the
City Council as an institution.
The "Jerry &
Jerry Business Plan".
Prop C exposes the flawed
underpinnings of current San Diego politics: there is an
unnatural alliance between big business and the unions.
head of the
San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor
Council, makes closed shop
deals with big employers rather than recruit union
members the old fashioned way.
His deals with big business do his recruiting for him.
That may be “good business” but it is a betrayal of
labor. He is more suited to being head of the Chamber of
Commerce than being head of the Labor Council.
The reason we have not heard much
from city employee union members on Prop C is
that Butkiewicz has persuaded them they will do better
under outsourced contracts than under civil service
contracts. The MEA leaders were never part of his Labor
Council and will now pay dearly for not kissing his
ring. Many MEA members will migrate to outside unions
under Butkiewicz’s control. A big win for Jerry.
Thus this so-called “managed competition” begins life as
The “pay-to-play” rule will apply
equally to employees as to employers. To get an
outsourced job you will have to pay Butkiewicz his
membership dues, to get a City contract you will have to
be blessed by the Chamber of Commerce and be on Jerry
Sanders’ contribution list. There is no provision in
Prop C prohibiting campaign contributors
from bidding on public contracts. Guess what will
The trouble is Butkiewicz’s method works. He made
similar deals with developers like John Moores. He
enabled Moores to get his ballpark through City Hall.
Butkiewicz owns five seats on the Council. The Labor
Council endorsement is critical for Democrats. Sanders,
like Murphy, can count. John Kern “advised” Murphy how
to get the job done. Moores got his ballpark and
Butkiewicz got his membership dues.
Prop C proponents say the city labor
unions (those not affiliated to Butkiewicz’s Labor
Council) created the financial crisis. That fits nicely
with the “Jerry & Jerry Business Plan”. It provides the
perfect cover for a far greater financial crisis in the
As part of his “reform" package Sanders wants to float
Pension Obligation Bonds (generating tens of millions in
financial services fees for his friends in the process).
Shifting the pension loan (that’s what the pension
deficit actually is) from the City to Wall Street does
not cure it, merely renames it. Why not call it what it
is now and save tens of millions in financial service
fees? But we all know the answer to that.
The $1.4 billion "deficit" could be wiped out with the
stroke of a pen by entering it in the pension books as a
loan from the City. The City is paying 8% on that loan
to prove it. Where could the pension fund manager get a
better investment deal than that? If he were offered the
cash proceeds of a $1 billion Wall Street bond right now
he could not match the 8% investment deal he has with
the taxpayers of this City.
Much of what is going on is pure politics disguised as
"reform". Control of City finances is a huge business
opportunity for Sanders' backers. They avoid words like
“cost effective” and use “efficient”. To them
efficient means producing the maximum amount of profit.
Isn’t that what business does? That's
what these folks are. They are not in government, they
are in business.
They carefully avoid the use of the word “out”. It is
“contract for” not "contract out”.
They call Prop C a “no brainer”. Meaning: the electorate
has no brain. If it passes Prop C will perform a
lobotomy on the Civil Service sure enough. Civil Service
will be replaced with Chamber of Commerce service. Nikki
Clay will effectively be in charge of City Services.
City Hall will be gutted. If you want anything done you
will have to go to the Chamber of Commerce, who will
effectively be handing out the City contracts.
As least as far as San Diego will be concerned the Civil
Service form of government that has served America well,
will be no more. If Halliburton can take over the
Defense Department, Sanders backers can take over City
Hall. If Prop C passes San Diego will become
Halliburton-by-the-sea. That's the "Jerry & Jerry
the politicians won't take responsibility, the staff
must take the fall. 10/11/06
Watch the City Council hear the
Peninsula Community Planning
Board's Appeal of Upper
Voltaire Mixed Use Project, Item 336 on
Tuesday, October 10, 2006. It has significance well
beyond the Point Loma area because it illustrates the
appalling attitude of DSD personnel to anybody other
When the Item was called by Council President Peters,
Project Manager Cory Wilkinson was not there!
Somebody announced that he would be 10 minutes late. He
kept the City Council waiting ten minutes. When he
finally did appear he went right to it without a word of
apology and even more amazingly, Mr. Peters did not ask
Throughout the appeal hearing he kept referring to the
developer by first name. He stumbled through several
different versions of how many parking spaces were being
provided. Donna Frye picked up on this and asked for
clarification. She received little more than sullen
silence from Wilkinson. He seemed totally bereft of
information other than what benefited the developer.
Then he failed to explain to Ms. Frye why he was
removing a traffic light on Voltaire Street. She was the
only one who asked any questions. Faulconer and Peters
congratulated the developer and the staff on what a
wonderful job they had done.
I went over to the development site today to figure out
what Wilkinson and the developer were up to with the
traffic lights. The answer was immediately obvious.
Currently there is a concrete median on Voltaire Street
in front of the development site. The street is too
narrow to allow a u-turn at the traffic lights at either
end. So they simply removed the nearest traffic light
and the whole median, to accommodate access to the
project. A center turn lane was added, which will
replace the median.
The traffic light removal remedy was announced at the
last moment in order to prevent the Community Planning
group commenting on it or realizing what was afoot. The
first they heard of it was yesterday. But it had to have
been planned by Wilkinson and the developer well in
advance. That stretch of road is now a deathtrap.
The representatives of the Community Planning Committee
solemnly warned the City Council that when (not if)
there will be a tragic accident as a result of their
approving this project, these public proceedings will be
part of the record. They were warned.
I would go further and warn Mr. Wilkinson that he is
personally responsible. He made a choice. Yesterday he
gave the advise Jerry Sanders and Kevin Faulconer
wanted. But there is a personal price to be paid for
blindly following political orders. He should talk to
who, if they had it to do over again, would do it
According to Kroll, politicians do no wrong, staff lie
to them. When a few more photographs are added to the
above eight, some DSD staffers may start to get the
message. Maybe then we will start to get our city back
from the developers.
Prop C would
Don't be fooled by
DeMaio is financed by big service employers like Doug
Manchester who want to weaken the unions and create
juicy government outsource contracts for themselves.
“Hold City Departments
Accountable for Efficiencies. By allowing
for a competitive environment, taxpayers can have more
assurance that their money is being spend efficiently
and effectively. Proposition C would also require
routine performance audits to hold the City accountable
for cost and performance targets.”
Guess who will do the "routine performance audits"
for his new best friend Jerry Sanders, you guessed it,
DeMaio's Performance Institute of course.
As for their
"competitive environment" providing accountability
and efficiencies, quite the reverse. Sanders' business
friends will be given commercial monopolies. Once the
outsource contracts are signed these Sanders-franchised
civil servants can charge whatever they please. San
Diego will become Halliburton-by-the-sea.
To Sanders and his business friends, government is a
business opportunity. Prop C would be a disaster for the
taxpayers of this city. We can control our civil
servants, if we have a mind to, but we will have no
control whatsoever over the cost of our city services if
they are outsourced to the greed machine Mr. DeMaio
We need to hear more from our public employee unions on
this. We may have had our differences with them over
their pensions but they are our Civil Servants
and we want them under our control not answerable
to the gang of thieves and carpetbaggers recently swept
into City Hall on Sanders' (Tom Shepard-created)
DeMaio says he helped author Proposition C, not a very
proud boast. Its faulty drafting caused hours of
wrangling at the City Council meeting today. It required
the passing of a "resolution of intent" to correct it
and will require another ballot measure in 2008 to
correct it with regard to the intent of not outsourcing
public safety services.
This is not a very inspiring "performance" from the head
of the "Performance Institute". Nor is it a very good
advertisement for the privatization of our civil
How to break the
developers' grip on DSD - 10/09/06
There is a way to break
the developers' grip on the Development Services
Department (DSD) - hold its employees accountable under
their employment contracts and as Civil Servants. They
have legal responsibilities to the people they serve.
The fact that San Diego’s development services are
financed by an Enterprise Fund, rather than by the
City’s General Fund, does not change that employment
contract. The method of financing DSD is purely
administrative; it has no legal effect on their
employment. There is no conflict of interest – all DSD
employees serve us. Period.
But read their Staff Reports. The developers’ attorneys
write them for them. That is dereliction of duty by City
employees. That is actionable, on an individual basis.
Who should sue them? The City Attorney should sue them.
The City Charter says he is the people's attorney,
responsible to the people, paid for by the people. We
are his client. Clients get to tell their attorney whom
I would suggest Mr. Aguirre start with his own staff
attorney David Miller, who is a blatant advocate for the
developer every time. Miller would not get away with
that in private practice, why should he get away with it
in public practice? Some member of the public should
file an ethics complaint with the State Bar.
That is how we break the developers’ grip on DSD.
Here is the
Peninsula Community Planning
Board's Appeal of Upper
Voltaire Mixed Use Project, due to be heard as Item 336
City Council on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 (go to
bottom of agenda page, last Item). It is typical of the
"Staff Reports" that are signed by staffers like Gary
Halbert and Jim Waring but written by the developer's
lawyers (they will deny it of course).
Development Process calls for a
Project Manager, in the Voltaire case Cory Wilkinson
(619) 557-7900. That person is prohibited from being an
"advocate" for the project, yet that is exactly what
these Project Managers have become, in breach of their
personal employment contracts with the City and the
Mr. Wilkinson's "recommendations" to the City Council on
Tuesday is extreme advocacy for the Voltaire
project. He has allowed the developer's lawyers to do
his job for him. That is actionable by the City Attorney
on behalf of the people. It is dereliction of his duty
to the people.
Here is the
Staff Report on the
Appeal of the Environmental Determination for the
Pacific Coast Office Building, heard by the
City Council on September 26, 2006,
as Item 336 (go to the bottom, last Item on the
agenda). The Environmental Determination was deferred
because it requires the positive action of 5 City
A Great job by Donna Frye against developer attorney
Mike McDade who was sickeningly supported by our
Worth watching. David Millar's behavior was
particularly reprehensible. We get to pay his legal
salary while he advocates for developers. Karen Heumann
on the other hand is an outstanding City Attorney.
The Project Manager's "recommendations", Anne B. Jarque
(619) 687-5961, shows extreme advocacy for this
Mission Valley project. She allowed the developer's
lawyers to do her job for her. That is actionable by the
City Attorney on behalf of the people.
Here is the Project Manager's, Patrick
Hooper (619) 557-7992, "recommendations"
to approve the "Site Development
Permit/Tentative Map/Easement Abandonment to develop a
0.81 acre site with a 12-story commercial
mixed-use development consisting of a 10,304 square-feet
of commercial space, 96 residential condominium units
and a total of 322 off-street parking spaces located at
301 through 333 University Avenue."
His written "recommendations" shows
extreme advocacy of the Project.
I could go on and on. The pattern is clear. The
Development Services Department has been taken over by
the developers. But we are paying these civil servants'
salaries and have employment contracts with them. We
need to enforce them.
City Council on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 to support
Peninsula Community Planning Board's Appeal of the
latest inappropriate use of developable land. Local
people know what's best for their neighborhoods but are
being ploughed under every day by the developers, while
the people we pay as a check on them go to lunch. The
result is a steady deterioration of our neighborhoods,
in this case traffic.
Call and ask Cory Wilkinson
at (619) 557-7900, whether he has read his employment
contract recently. Put him on notice that we are holding
him personally responsible for every word of his
"recommendations". And we will.
We do not want to see another performance like that of
Anne Jarque's September 26, 2006 arroganct advocacy of
Dr. Pollacks encroachment above the 150-foot
environmentally sacred Mission Valley contour line - and
get away with it!
We need to hold these people INDIVIDUALLY and
personally responsible. That is how we get good
government. That is how we REMEDIATE the errors
of the past.
The City Council must reject this
tainted SEC decree
or face corruption charges
Here is Aguirre's
report to the Mayor and City Council dated September
1, 2006. Scroll down to page 5, Section V, regarding a
"Monitors may be appointed to oversee the
implementation of court-ordered remediation plans and
given jurisdiction over certain affairs of a City in
appropriately filed legal proceedings. Likewise, they
may be included in certain administrative proceedings,
“consent decrees” and the like. The City is in
discussions with the Securities and Exchange Commission
regarding securities related issues.
It is not inconceivable that a “Monitor” will be a
required element of the resolution of our efforts with
that agency. In such case, the term of service, and the
role, of the person serving as the City’s Monitor will
be tailored to the specifications of services deemed to
be required by the SEC and that person will have
authority under well established legal authority.
Adopting the “Monitor” suggested in the Kroll Report is
inconsistent with the grant of jurisdiction required by
the City Charter. It also adds nothing to the resolution
of the monitoring functions which may be required by the
SEC, and may in fact conflict with that process."
Obviously Aguirre knew on September 1, 2006 that the SEC
was calling for a 120 day monitor and was OK with it.
Bob Kittle of the U-T also knew but was loudly
condemning the SEC staff for not requiring a 3 year
monitor for Sanders.
Kittle wanted to facilitate a Sanders' power grab by
putting a monitor over the City Council for 3 years. Can
you imagine the arrogance of a newspaper opinion editor
wanting to neutralize the elected legislative body of
the city his newspaper serves? Yet that is exactly what
Kittle has been doing.
What continues to puzzle me is why Aguirre did not
release the SEC decree back then. I can think of no good
reason why he did not do so.
The decree was against the City as an entity therefore
the public had a right to know. Release was actually a
legal imperative. Political reasons are not legal
reasons. The best defense against political tampering
was to release it. Political tampering is exactly what
has now happened and that tampering process was corrupt.
today's U-T report:
"The council has held at least
16 closed-door meetings on the SEC probe, which began in
February 2004." I would like to see a list of those
meetings as I have not been able to find anything like
that number on the public record. Those meetings,
however many, were all about covering the rears of
individual Council Members, not about what was best for
the City. If there is a conflict of interest now, there
was a conflict of interest at each of those 16 meetings.
Aguirre said that the SEC staff at Los Angeles had
assured him that they would never allow their findings
to be tampered with by Arthur Levitt.
Aguirre and the LA staff not know about Levitt's
involvement with the
he is their
Here is a
on Carlyle. This is what
had to say about them. This article in particular is a
Once Levitt became involved in this case, tampering and
corruption were inevitable.
Levitt owned the influential Capitol
until, using political the contacts he made on the
Hill, he got himself appointed Chairman of the SEC in
1993. Bob Kittle worked as a journalist on Capitol Hill
from 1977 until coming to the SD Union in 1986. How
could he not have known of such an influential fellow
If Levitt can change the SEC decree with respect to the
length of the monitor (from 120 days to 3 years), which
he has now done, he can easily get individual Council
Members off with a slap on the wrist. That is why they
voted him $20 million.
Lam is seeking to make her mark in corruption cases"
according to this
U-T report shortly after she won convictions against
Councilmembers Inzunza and Zucchet in July 2005 for
multiple counts of extortion, wire fraud conspiracy and
wire fraud. The $20 million to Kroll was a bribe.
While they were holding those 16 Closed Sessions about
the SEC "settlement", they were voting extra millions to
Levitt. Can there be any doubt about what was really
going on? By changing its decree under political
pressure from an ex-chairman, the SEC has allowed itself
to become corrupt.
Carol Lam may seize this opportunity to make a name for
once said, "I don't think there's anybody much worse
than a public official who sells his office, except
maybe for a murderer."
He became famous as the U.S. Attorney in New York when
he fearlessly convicted two corrupt congressmen, Mario
Biaggi and Bert Podell, and a local politician called
Stanley Friedman. His prosecution of Mafia boss, Joe
Bonanno, had less impact on his meteoric career rise.
People hate corruption.
The City Council must reject this tainted SEC decree or
face corruption charges.
They do have a way out, if they take it. They can simply
refuse to sign this tainted version of the SEC decree
and offer to sign the one that existed at
the time of
to the Mayor and City Council on September 1, 2006.
Some may take a leaf out of Dick Murphy's book and
simply resign. It would certainly solve their conflict
of interest issue. The "law of necessity" does not
which way they vote. It will not
save them from corruption charges.
The people who voted for them are the only friends
they've got. The voters can either be their best friend
or their worst enemy. They would help them through an
SEC securities fraud charge, but would reward Carol Lam
for sending them to jail with the same intensity as New
they close this corrupt
deal with Levitt. A 3 year monitor
would be an insult to the people of San Diego.
Strongman Sanders is trying to
become a right wing dictator -
It gives me little pleasure to say it: I was right.
Read this in
the U-T today: "One
difference between the current agreement and earlier
versions, the source said, is that it now calls for
an outside monitor to observe city operations for
three years rather than 120 days." That's
what the SEC "negotiations" were all about. Sanders got
the SEC to change the decree to include his 3 year
This would be a devastating blow to citizen government
in San Diego if our City Council approved this amended
version of the SEC settlement. Sanders and his strong
mayor backers have used the SEC to weaken the
legislative wing of our government so they can get their
land steals through unopposed.
But as with Manchester's Navy Broadway Monstrosity, we
will fight it. Nobody, but nobody, can curb the people's
sovereignty. The City Council only has the power we give
them. That does not include appointing a monitor
Appointing a monitor, or anybody, else over and above
our elected representatives, is appointing a monitor
over us. That we will not accept.
Let's start with a legal opinion from our City Attorney
that a 3 year monitor is an infringing on the people's
This strongman Sanders is trying to become a right wing
Aguirre provides for the "rule of
Memorandum of Law published today by Mike Aguirre's
office, entitled: "Approval of SEC Order; Conflicts
of Interest; Rule of Necessity" explains a lot.
Dealing with the SEC Cease-and-Desist Order raised the
specter of conflict of interest with some City Council
Members. So Mike had to carefully establish a method of
invoking the law of “legally required participation”,
i.e. the "rule of necessity".
"To summarize, the Council is required to seat a
quorum of its members to handle this matter, and, if too
many Councilmembers are disqualified, it can invoke the
“legally required participation” law to seat them."
Five City Council Members will have to recuse themselves
as they have a financial interest in approving the SEC
decree, no matter what its terms are, therefore the rule
of necessity will be invoked for at least two of the
five, randomly selected.
Nice piece of legal work with regard to the conflict of
interest issue, but it still does not explain why this
whole thing could not have all been dealt with a long
time ago and out in the open.
I still worry that they were wheeling and dealing with
Sanders over the SEC decree. I still worry that somehow
in the end he will get his monitor. I worry that the
City Council, as an institution, is so weakened that it
is no longer able to resist him. If he has leverage over
them, you can be sure he will use it. Bad as it is, we
must have a legislative arm independent of this strong
Does DSD have a conflict of
Some readers have emailed me expressing concern that
because the DSD (Development Services Department) is
financed on a fee-for-service basis (as an Enterprise
Fund rather than from the General Fund), there might be
a conflict of interest.
submissions from various organizations when
developer review user fees were revised in 2003,
particularly the submission from the CPC (Community
Planners Committee) starting on page 7. With the
exceptions of a few caveats (e.g. regarding affordable
housing), they were generally supportive.
Also look at the DSD
fund history up to that time (an update would be in
order). Charging user fees is a good system provided it
is not abused or discriminatory. But if they can do it
Maybe, just maybe, Waring or Escobar-Eck could invent a
special "fast track" for those who could afford a
"special fee" - you guessed it, Doug Manchester, around
December 29, 2006, to beat his January 1, 2007 deadline
with the Navy. As I said, if they can do it they will.
As it is right now, the developers can get anything they
are willing to pay for. That is why it is called an
This is our Charter Document to
defeat developer takeovers -
"The City retained CEQA responsibilities under the
Development Agreement". This according to a
CEQA applicability opinion issued by Aguirre's
As lead agency the City is still responsible for
evaluating the current adequacy of the 1990 EIR, which
will have to be done before CCDC can complete its
consistency determination and even then is appealable to
the City Council by any member of the public. So CCDC's
big meeting on September 13, 2006 is moot. They are a
mere "subcontractor" of the City. I love it.
This document, written apparently by Shirley Edwards,
Chief of the Land Use & Environmental Section in Mike
Aguirre's office, is our charter document
to defeat Manchester's Monstrosity. This document,
placed alongside the first opinion, which I still
believe was written by Nancy Graham, makes it clear how
near we came to a coup and how arrogant and out of
control CCDC had become.
Shirley Edwards was part of the important team
Aguirre announced on August 6, 2006:
"Edwards has over 15 years of comprehensive
environmental, litigation and advisory experience,
including direct involvement in CEQA, NEPA, Clean Air
Act, Endangered Species Act and other related
environmental matters. Prior to joining the City
Attorney's office, Edwards was the Directing Attorney
for the Stockton office of the California Rural Legal
Assistance, Inc. (CRLA) and also worked for over a
decade as an environmental and prosecuting attorney for
and on behalf of enforcement agencies at the federal and
state level. She is a San Diego native and a graduate of
the University of San Diego where she obtained her B.A.,
M.B.A., J.D., and L.L.M."
The document this San Diego girl and USD graduate
has written is a must read for anybody who cares about
what happens to that precious 14.7 acres called Navy
Broadway. It provides us with all the legal ammunition
we will need to stop this outrageous land giveaway that
almost took place right in front of our eyes.
Doug Manchester is one of the most greedy and
politically influential developers in San Diego's
history (it is ironic that he is a big patron of
Edwards' alma mater, USD). If not stopped at Broadway he
was headed towards owning the entire San Diego bay
front. He would have populated it with institution-style
boxes designed to maximize rentable floor space. Almost
anything would have been better than that.
Nancy Graham was groomed by the Republican establishment
in Florida. She was sent hear to make San Diego the
poster child for developer takeovers all across the
country, under the guise of urban renewal. She almost
got away with it. Thanks Shirley, your experience with
SEQA saved the day. And thanks Mike for hiring her. You
sure cleaned up Casey Gwinn's rubber stamp factory.
All we needed was somebody to
uphold the law - 10/04/06
See, the people do have power. It's called the law.
All we need is somebody to enforce it. The CCDC had to
cancel their vote again today on the Navy Broadway
project, because they simply do not have the powers they
claim. According to the City Attorney's Office, the City
Council does have a role.
second legal opinion by the City Attorney's Office
on the Navy Project got it right. The
first one, in my opinion, was written by Nancy
Graham, herself a land use attorney. Read footnote 2 at
the bottom of page 2. It was added after she wrote it.
It says: "This footnote is being added as a result
of the City Council informational meeting held on
September 19, 2006. The sections cited in this paragraph
were meant to be a general description of the subject
matter contained therein, and were not meant to be
dispositive of all issues set forth in each section.
Accordingly, a further memorandum will be issued
relative to the City’s role under
The CCDC is fully aware of Aguirre's pending SEQA
opinion, as can be seen in this
staff report for the September 27th meeting, page 7.
Why they held a meeting today is anybody's guess. They
knew they could not decide anything until Aguirre rules
on whether CEQA will require a new EIR or not. They were
just putting on a show.
You have to wonder why Aguirre chose Friday September
13, 2006 to issue his "further memorandum"
regarding SEQA compliance. Later that day CCDC will
reconvene to make a "decision" that is looking more and
more irrelevant by the day.
It is this "further memorandum" that is giving
Nancy Graham and her boss Doug Manchester conniptions.
She and "Pappa" Doug know that a
EIR would be the kiss of death for their (almost)
stealth of San Diego's finest 14.7 acres. There is no
SEQA process could be completed by January 1, 2007.
I think I'm starting to like this guy
Huston Carlyle after
all. And kudos to Carol Leone his (not just a pretty
face) assistant. What a change from the bad old days of
"rubber stamp" Casey Gwinn. We actually have a City
Attorney's Office that upholds the law.
Mike Aguirre, the Boston Red Sox of San Diego politics,
in that he lost many political battles in his long
odyssey to the City Attorney's Office (he lost the
infamous Charger's ticket guarantee battle), may be
about to win the World Series by handing a major San
Diego developer, "Pappa" Doug Manchester, the first
major defeat of any developer in San Diego's history.
Like the Yankees, they had it their way for too long.
I shudder to think what would be happening right now if
Mike had not got those last precious votes that sent
Leslie Devaney tending her backyard in Scripps Ranch and
gave Mike the power to take on the predator developers
that have preyed on this town for too long.
One final caution: Section 5.3 of the Development
Agreement states that the “construction standards and
specifications for buildings and structures developed on
the Property only shall be those City construction
standards and specifications in effect at the time that
any building permits are issued.”
Marcela Escobar-Eck as Director of
gets to "apply the City’s current construction
standards and specifications for buildings and
structures developed on the Property prior to the
issuance of building and other related permits by the
City". In other words, she will issue
Manchester's permits. Is that a scary thought or what? Why
do you think Sanders appointed her. It ain't over 'till
Who will take personal
responsibility now? -
Here is the draft "Fiscal Year 2003 Draft
Comprehensive Annual Financial Report" (CAFR).
It was released yesterday to the City Council and
therefore to the public. The City staff who released it
want to give the members of the City Council a whole two
weeks to study it. This is being delicately described as
"giving a greater role for the City Council in the
review and approval process".
They are being asked to review, comment and then approve
the entire 310 page CAFR document at a Council
meeting on October 16, 2006 because it will become part
of all future bond offering information. This generation
of staffers is not going to take the fall for
politicians, ever again. Sanders appointed an ex-KPMG
John Dyer, to help "manage the implementation of
the 121 point remediation" - essentially to make
sure that Councilmembers cannot weasel out of their
financial oversight responsibilities. Sorry Toni Atkins,
you will have to BE a City Councilor.
This may have unintended consequences. Councilors will
seek to minimize their citywide role and emphasize their
responsibilities to their Districts. They will seek to
distance themselves from Executive matters at City Hall
in order to minimize their personal liability. To
prevent them from doing that, some will now argue for
Me, I am a dedicated District man. I think all public
representatives should have the closest possible
relationship with the people who elect them, not those
who lobby them. Citywide elections would only benefit
the big money special interests. The developers would
heavily finance those they have groomed and ready.
Developer money would account for 90% of all campaign
spending and we would end up with only ex-lobbyists,
ex-PR people and land use attorneys on the City benches.
It may be a good time to try out my long-time
suggestion: to disperse the whole 10th Floor to the
Districts. I can think of a dozen reasons why. That 10th
Floor is in continuous breach of the Brown Act. They are
in there in one big incestuous hamster pile, swapping
staff backwards and forwards. Many of the Councilors
were longtime staffers themselves. They are all
creatures of that floor, either as staffers or
lobbyists. Then we are supposed to believe they never
discuss the public's business until they come up to the
City Chamber on the 12th Floor, as the Brown Act
Wouldn't it be nice if your representative's office was
in your local shopping center as an information center?
You could wander in and out whenever you liked. Apart
from the $800,000 per annum that would be spent in each
District rather than downtown, the lobbyists would have
to run all over town to round up the votes for their
land deals. Only people who like being personally
available to the people would run for office.
I could go on and on. I just don't know if its time has
come yet. But this individual responsibility thing could
get them thinking about it. Being asked to take personal
responsibility for everything Sanders does scared the
heck out of them, and it should.
Dispersal would sure achieve separation of powers -
physically. Sanders and his Executive would be
tied to their desks downtown while the Legislators would
be loose among the people for whom they legislate. They
would spend their days in the physical presence of real
people, not be the captive listeners of paid attorneys
and lobbyists, as they are right now. Disperse them, so
we can monitor them.
If their defense (of the present cozy 10th Floor set up)
is that they need to be able to talk among themselves
(about the issues of the day), they will be admitting
that they are in perpetual breach of the Brown Act. It
may well be time to break up the party.
Don't believe everything you read
in the papers - 10/03/06
Despite its partisan spin it is still possible to
glean information from the U-T. And it is not just the
U-T, the entire City Hall itself is one big spin
machine. So let's see what we can accurately deduce from
yesterdays orgy of spin.
First of all we know that the tooth fairy came to Mike
Aguirre in the middle of the night. After a hard bike
ride, he woke up to go to the bathroom and there on his
pillow beside him was the SEC decree.
So now that Mike has miraculously got the coveted SEC
decree in his hand (at midnight, on a weekend), he calls
his friend Jerry Sanders and tells him he can "keep his
regular schedule in town" on Monday. I wonder what that
schedule was? (Can you imagine being a reporter and
having to write this stuff down with a straight face?)
When its time to meet the press, everybody runs for
cover. Not me, says Peters, I'm just the Council
President. Go talk to somebody in authority, like Tony
Young maybe. Yeah, he's Deputy something. Council
President "pro tem" I think, something like that, he's
the man to speak to. So Tony bites his lip for gravitas,
puts on his best "pro tem" voice and acts as
spokesperson for the entire city menagerie.
Vigil and Hall report: "Although
he had not seen the preliminary settlement, Young said
Aguirre characterized it as “very favorable” to the
city. Young, who joined the council a year after the
investigations began, said the deal would resolve the
commission's issues with the city as a whole, without
assigning blame to individuals."
Sanders: well, the tooth fairy has asked for total
confidentiality - in the best interest of the City of
The quote that worries me the most is this one from
Aguirre: “The public will be
completely briefed at a time when it's in the city's
best interests to do so.” Does Mike get to decide
"when it's in the city's best interests"?
Not according to the Brown Act.
Perhaps the most significant quote from all the
hypocritical posturing yesterday was this in the same
U-T report: "Aguirre said
the SEC can also take formal legal action, but he said
that step has not come up in talks with regulators."
Then what is the basis for "Conference with Legal
Counsel - anticipated litigation - significant exposure
to litigation, pursuant to California Government Code
section 54956.9(b)", the published reason for
the Special Closed Session this Thursday?
They can't just invent some "anticipated litigation"
when they want to go into secret session to discuss
other business. That is a breach of the Brown Act. There
has to be a reasonable basis for "anticipated
litigation". If the possibility of legal action by
the SEC has never come up in two years of discussions,
where is the legal basis for this Closed Session? There
Believe me, this is all about the monitor. Read
my blog of Saturday September 9,
2006. Nothing has changed. Here is a small extract
regarding the highly staged public session of City
Council the Wednesday before, September 6, 2006, to
approve, "in principle", Sanders' 121 point remediation
I had known for sure, not just guessed it, that the only
one asking for a 3 year monitor was Mayor Sanders, if I
had known that the entire City Council sitting there
before me, including presumably the City Attorney, had
already met and decided to appoint this monitor to cover
their involvement in the upcoming massive borrowing
spree, I would have had some tough questions. But of
course that is why we were kept in the dark."
The wheeling and dealing with the SEC decree that
is still going on is all about agreeing or not
agreeing to Sanders' key strategy of appointing an
outside monitor, under his control, who will pull down
the shutters on all his secret deals with his developer
backers and the bond issues that will finance them.
That's what will be discussed on Thursday under cover of
litigation" with the SEC. If they end up
accepting the 3 year monitor we will know they sold out
the city for personal protection.
The only way to defeat Sanders' monitor and the land
giveaways it will facilitate, is to smoke them all out
into the open. I hope I will not be the only one down
there at 8:00 A.M. on Thursday Morning to protest this
abuse of the Brown Act.
The land giveaways that are being planned, will put NTC
in the shade. Why do you think Sanders just hired the
world's foremost expert on land giveaways,
Marcela Escobar-Eck as Director of
That should be like a red rag to a bull for anybody who
cares about this city. Yet nobody seems to care.
Why do you think he appointed
Jim Waring head of Land Use and Economic
Development? In the best interests of the city? Nobody
cared. Because Sanders is a nice guy?
There will be no point crying about all this after it
has happened. It is now too late to stop the NTC
giveaway, but not Manchester's Monstrosity at Navy
Broadway. And there will be others, lots of them.
The entire City Government is not only in regular breach
of the Brown Act, by constantly discussing the public's
business in private, it is in fundamental breach of
California Redevelopment Law with regard to CCDC:
When a decision, determination, or other action by the
agency or legislative body is required by this part,
neither the agency nor the legislative body shall
delegate the obligation to decide, determine, or act to
another entity unless a provision of this part
specifically provides for that delegation."
The California Brown Act says:
"The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty
to the agencies which serve them. The people, in
delegating authority, do not give their public servants
the right to decide what is good for the people to know
and what is not good for them to know. The people
insist on remaining informed so that they may retain
control over the instruments they have created."
Print it out and pin it to your pillow, so
whenever you get up to go to the bathroom in the middle
of the night you can read it and call Jerry Sanders to
The DC gig is off. Aguirre removes
Sanders' "wraps". 10/02/06
I think the other side just blinked. Kevin Faulconer
didn't get to sip champagne with the Mayor all the way
to Washington DC today after all. I have individual
confirmation that neither Sanders, Aguirre, Faulconer
nor Hartigan got on that plane. Instead there is going
to be another City Council
Closed Session this Thursday at 8:00 AM. Mike
Aguirre may have just taken away the politicians toys
and sent them to their room.
What does this mean? I hope it means that Mike Aguirre
has asserted his rightful place as the man in charge of
this SEC issue. I hope he has just stopped a slick PR
guy, Kevin Faulconer, from making it a media event for
his self-aggrandizement. That is Faulconer's profession.
He was (is?) a VP with
They have a great slogan: "Many Minds. Singular
Results" - the perfect slogan for those of us
who wish to counter his use of the City Council on
behalf of his Porter Novelli clients.
I think we are near the end-game in the SEC fiasco. Mike
has won. The politicians prolonged the agony of the
Kroll investigation as long as they could. They
prolonged and delayed the SEC investigation as long as
they could. They tried to play games with the SEC over
its findings. Now they must finally face the music.
I think Aguirre is about to lift Sanders' "wraps". We
sure needed some fresh air around here and we may
finally be about to get it. If Mike wouldn't play their
games behind closed doors then there will be no game.
Good. From now on the public's business will be done in
public. We may be starting to get somewhere.
Sanders is a nice guy. 10/02/06
Kevin Faulconer! Now I know for sure that Aguirre
has lost control of the SEC issue:
"Accompanying Sanders in Washington are John
Hartigan, the lawyer hired by the city to represent it
before the SEC, City Attorney Mike Aguirre and, most
encouraging, Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a strong
advocate for reform. After his discussions with the
SEC's enforcement chief, Faulconer may be able to
persuade his foot-dragging City Council colleagues that
perpetuating the discredited status quo is no longer a
Forget my musings about what Aguirre and Sanders might
talk about on the long trip to DC, Mike may be sitting
in tourist class while important people like Kevin
Faulconer sips champagne with Sanders and plans the
future of San Diego.
How did Mike allow them to gain control of the SEC
issue? The SEC is supposed to come in, do an
investigation, write a finding, and leave. It did that.
Months ago. Now it is being used to propel Sanders to
Sacramento with Faulconer by his side. Did Mike not know
that the Republican establishment would play politics
with the SEC?
Mike will come to bitterly regret that he did not just
release the draft SEC decree the moment he received it.
This was a legal matter and the handling of it should
never have left the City Attorney's Office. It should
never have become politicized. The best way to have done
that was to share it with the public. But Mike kept it
Now he is being made to look like a bit player in
"reform". They have made concrete mixer PR wise guy
Faulconer the reformer! They have stolen the reform
agenda right out from under his nose. Sure Mike, Sanders
is a nice guy. Maybe now you will realize that you can't
play games with these people. The public is your only
Developers intend to outsource most
of our City Government -
Sanders is the compliant tool of developers, bought
and paid for, yet Mike Aguirre thinks he is a nice guy.
What are we to do? Bite our tongues and just trust Mike?
Wait for them to get this SEC thing behind them? Will
Mike start opposing Sanders' developers then? Is Sanders
practicing a little "managed competition" on Aguirre?
Finalizing the SEC action against the City is of huge
importance and if managed correctly could change the
dynamics of the present situation: it could introduce
the concept of individual responsibility into local
government, something desperately needed. The problem is
that the SEC is the political wing of Wall Street. It
acts entirely in the interests of the big financial
services firms, which may not correspond with the best
interests of the people of San Diego. We will wait and
see what Mike brings back.
But while Mike and Jerry craft a deal with the SEC in
DC, a developer power grab is going on here. It is a bad
time for Mike to be out of town. Maybe Sanders planned
it that way. The Navy Broadway deal will be bundled up
and tied when he gets back.
Then there is
Prop C. Sanders and his developer backers have
craftily hidden their intention of outsourcing police
and fire services by not naming police and fire as
unclassified services and the City Attorney's Office
currently providing EMS to the City, stands ready to
extend its role into fire. Not surprisingly it is a big
supporter of Prop C. Something big is going on here.
CCDC is planning to build two new fire stations. What
does that tell you? CCDC intends to be the leader in
this power grab that will outsource much of the
administration of the City of San Diego to its
redevelopment projects, despite the fact that
Redevelopment Law prohibits redevelopment projects from
providing city services. However, they can administer
them. That's what CCDC does, administer. There will be
many more CCDCs if we do not stop them now. Navy
Broadway is our last chance.
What they will do is set up public/private partnerships
San Diego Medical Services Enterprises, SDMSE, the
City's current 911 paramedic ambulance provider, which
was the first in the nation. The City of San Diego and
corporations like Rural/Metro, the private partner in
SDMSE, will then become commercial monopolies.
They will charge whatever they like for whatever
services they provide. Remember how they used the
enterprise fund for waste water to raise tax-equivalent
revenue by the backdoor and to absorb other City costs
such as Casey Gwinn's office. Susan Golding paid for her
Republican Convention without one penny appearing on the
If the Sanders plan succeeds, this city will be run by
developers, for profit, using tax increment dollars.
Only a shell of its General Fund will remain. That is
what Sanders is all about. Surely Mike can see this.
Developers intend to take over municipal government all
up and down the State and Sanders intends to be their
champion. Aguirre is blinded by his distrust of the
public employee unions.
What will Mike and Jerry talk about for the ten hours
they will sit together going to and from their
appointment with the SEC in Washington tomorrow? Will
they talk about which ex-director of the SEC will make
the best San Diego monitor?
Will they talk about what a great Director of
Development Services Sanders' new appointee, Marcela
Escobar-Eck, will make? About the great job she did when
she was liaison on the Naval Training Center Reuse
(Giveaway) Project and what a perfect teammate she will
be for Jim Waring?
Mike could take the opportunity to explain to Jerry that
the City Council, acting as the Redevelopment Agency,
does not have the authority to delegate any
decision-making powers to CCDC:
When a decision, determination, or other action by the
agency or legislative body is required by this part,
neither the agency nor the legislative body shall
delegate the obligation to decide, determine, or act to
another entity unless a provision of this part
specifically provides for that delegation."
He could point out to Jerry that the City's 1992
Development Agreement with the Navy is subject to the
above California H & S Code. It would be a great
opportunity for Mike to bring Jerry up to speed on
redevelopment law in general. He and his developer
friends seem to be a little behind in that department.
The City Attorney's Office is a very powerful Office
which needs to be used for the benefit of the people,
not for the narrow interests of developers. That has
been the situation in the past. Developer attorneys
wrote legal "opinions" and Casey Gwinn just signed them.
Has Mike Aguirre sufficiently changed that? I'm not so
As for what we can do, it is no coincidence that the
first three links on the top right hand side of this
blog are: the Brown Act, the City Charter and California
Redevelopment Law. If they were properly applied much of
the current abuse would cease. We are governed by laws,
not by men. It is up to us to know our laws and see that
they are applied. This city need not be the private
of those who can afford to fund political campaigns. The
people have power if they choose to use it.
If the SEC fails to impose individual responsibility, as
it may, we will have to quickly find other means of
holding City Councilors accountable to us. Right now
they are accountable only to the developer/unions pact
that elected them. Let's hope that Mike and Jerry bring
back an SEC decree that will quickly force the four
compromised City Councilors to find alternative
employment. Otherwise we go to war.
Copyright "San Diego Today"
November, 2004 -