Roger Hedgecockís Interview with Mayor Jerry Sanders

KOGO Radio
June 14, 2007†† 4:30 p.m.


                  RH = Roger Hedgecock JS = Mayor Jerry Sanders 

(PF = My comments)
Links to supporting documents are in this color.

RH:††††† Well, I didnít, but, I have to admit it was _____.Sheís our Pink Floyd expert.Laughter.Uh, this has been an interesting week for you. 

JS:††††††† This has been an interesting week for me.As it is every week. 

RH:††††† Well, I know this this one got very interesting, because whereas in the first part of your term, you and Mike Aguirre were working pretty closely together and I was talking to Kevin Faulconer the other day and he was kind of pining for the time when uh you know you and he and Aguirre were getting things done and working together and it uh it blew up this week uh pretty significantly, over the subject of the Sunroad uh project. 

JS:††††††† Well you know I I actually think it blew up over the budget.And you know when you make reform everybodyís for it until it affects them and when you have to streamline the City and you have to cut staff and you have to make tough decisions, uh everybodyís for that unless it affects them.And I I really think this is as much about that issue as anything else.And you you know we cut a lot of employees.I was happy to get the budget signed yesterday.Um, not as many cuts as I had wanted, but I still think it was a good budget with 639 uh positions cut permanently, along with the ones we had last year, adding up to about seven hundred, er 650.Um, so I, you know, I I understand uh the consternation of the City Attorney over uh not getting additional staff in there.But I think thatís got a lot to do with it also. 

RH:††††† Okay, so his attack in in terms of the charges heís made of regarding Sunroad are motivated because he didnít get enough lawyers. 

JS:††††††† I think you know, I I I think Mike cares very deeply about the Sunroad issue and Iím not going to try and take that away from him.And I think thatís important to acknowledge that.And I will. 

RH:††††† Okay. 

JS:††††††† And I think itís an important issue also. 

RH:††††† Uh, last week when I asked you about this issue. 

JS:††††††† Right. 

RH:††††† Uh, let me give you the question and answer from last weekís interview so we can set this up so youíll know. . . 

JS:††††††† Well, I can read it back to you if youíd like.Iíve got it transcribed also.

RH:††††† Well I want our listeners to hear it.Here it is: 

JS:††††††† Okay. 

Running Tape:†††††††††††††††††††

 RH:††††† . . .ĒCity Attorney is saying that uh you have uh borrowed the services of an executive from the San Diego Airport Authority, one Ted Sexton, and that he is uh trying to discover a way to change the flight patterns of Montgomery Field to allow the too tall building to remain the same height because itís no longer a hazard, is that true? 

JS:††††††† No, we brought Ted Sexton over on an agreement with the uh Airport Authority where uh he is a loan executive.He is not uh paid a salary by the City of San Diego.He is instead paid by the Airport Authority and his job is to evaluate um whether Brown Field and Montgomery Field are being run uh correctly and whether we should be doing it, or whether the Airport Authority should be doing it.Ē 

(PF = Here is Sanders' letter to Bersin requesting help. No mention of Brown Field. Here is Bersin's reply: it confirms Montgomery Field only.)

RH:††††† So, thatís uh, there was a longer answer, but thatís the meat of it.Um, now, you know, then Aguirre sends me this letter dated March 2nd, signed by you to Alan Bersin at the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, the chairman.Uh, and itís regarding Montgomery Field Sunroad litigation.And it says, ďDear Alan, the City of San Diego is involved in litigation regarding a building constructed by Sunroad Enterprises near Montgomery Field.The building is already constructed to its maximum height, although interior improvements are not complete.ĒUh then you skip it skips, Iíll skip down to say the part of this,ďI would appreciate it and am requesting that the Airport Authority assist us in analyzing the situationÖ,Ē uh and I guess they are talking about Sunroad, ďÖand in working with the FAA and other interested stakeholders in an attempt to resolve this issue.Given the Authority staff experience in aviation and in FAA matters, your help would be invaluable providing my office with clear and dispassionate guidance and advice.Let me know if the Authority will help with this important effortIt doesnít say anything about the uh, you know, the evaluation of whether Brown Field/Montgomery Field are going to be run correctly or whether or not the City should be doing it, it says you need help in the Sunroad FAAís controversy. 

JS:††††††† You, you know Roger, I, I understand exactly what youíre saying.And if I misled you, Iím sorry, because I take this seriously.But let me take a few minutes to put this in context with a couple of other memos and some other conversations that had gone on prior to this.Um, early in the administration, and Iím talking about even before Jim Waring, Jim Barwick uh were on board, Ronne Froman, uh Rick Reynolds, uh discussed options uh for greater efficiencies and and started talking about the airport issue.Uh, and, in fact, in January of í06, uh Ronne informally contacted uh the Airport Authority and expressed interest uh in having them take a look at taking over managerial responsibility of both Brown and Montgomery Fields.So, those conversations started in January.And, in fact, in a board communication from the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and this oneís all board members, and anybody else who wanted it, Thela Bowman, and this is in March of 2006, says basically ďin January staff was contacted by members of the Mayorís staff with the idea of discovering if the Authority has an interest in managing or controlling City airports.ĒIt goes on from there.Uh, I wrote back a letter in June of 2006, and thatís to Thela Bowman, and I said, ďthis letter confirms the City of San Diegoís interest in exploring the possibility of an agreement with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority uh to assume control of Brown and Montgomery Fields.ĒAnd I uh talk about several things that an agreement we could talk about, uh general financial uh arrangements, lease terms, duration, ownership, uh revenues, the role and authority of the City Council and management and decision making.Uh, I talked about the Airport Capital Improvement Program, along with uh FAA and that, grant issues with FAA, environmental cleanup Ė a whole list of issues.Um, and another discussion took place in December uh with Ronne Froman and Jim Waring, and Mike Tussey, and Thela Bowman, and Ted Sexton, to discuss the future of Brown Field and Montgomery Field.So you weíve got all of those um issues coming forward.Uh, you know, this started almost a year before these other issues came forward.And we started talking with the Airport Authority about that.And when the whole issue with uh Montgomery Field came up we did send over those letters.Uh, but it was to, itís the whole scope.And if you look at the March 31st um services agreement, um, youíve got the scope of services right in there.It talks about FAA.Um, work with City staff to identify issues relating to FAA and Cal Trans to facilitate increased communication.And thatís something weíve sorely needed and we have used, uh over the last several months, I mean, we have worked on all the issues with Montgomery Field and the Sunroad.But, as you brought up last week, we also have identified, because of the coordination there now, uh an issue in Banker Hill.Where uh the FAA issued a stop work order to uh an architect on a project uh and then later rescinded it because the communication we had back and forth because it, they mismeasured the building.It was actually the right height; it wasnít over the height limit. 

(PF = So, the fact that there were normal contacts between the City and the Airport Authority, it proves that Sexton was brought in to deal with wider issues such as "greater efficiency". Right.)

RH:††††† Alright, but letís talk about Sunroad. 

JS:††††††† So thatís Ö.. 

RH:††††† I mean, I I under, I understand that you had these previous things, but when you actually sent a letter to ask for Ted Sexton which you hadnít done before March 2nd, 2007, right? 

JS:††††††† No, but we had asked for the help on the whole thing. 

RH:††††† Well, okay.But you didnít ask for a loan executive.You didnít ask for a formal uh sending the guy over to actually start doing work.When you did ask for that, it was for the purpose of the Sunroad litigation, and Alan Bersin wrote you back on March 12th, and he said, in part, ďThank you for your letter dated March 2nd to Mayor Sanders in which you request assistance San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to help resolve issues surrounding the Sunroad Enterprises building near Montgomery Field.We are glad to provide the assistance you requested.Ē 

(PF = The fact is that Ted Sexton is in charge of "Regulatory Affairs" at the Airport Authority, liaising with the FAA and nothing else. He has no involvement in running the airports or on land use. His Sanders' appointed boss, Alan Bersin, conformed that today, Friday, on Roger's show..)

JS:††††††† Right. 

RH:††††† Um. 

JS:††††††† We also put together that agreement, the services agreement.Uh you, you, and you know, and I sat with Mike Aguirre on May 18th and this wasnít an issue.And all those scopes of services and everything were out in the public then.So, you know I guess what Iím telling you is thereís a larger context to all of this.And if I confused you, or if Iíve misrepresented it to you, I apologize for that.Thatís my fault. 

(PF = This "wasn't an issue" because Sanders failed to disclose it to Mike Aguirre or to the public on May 18th.)

RH:††††† Well, it would have, it would have been more understandable had you said, all of what you just said.Mainly we had all these previous conversations, and we are concerned about the effect of administration, but we had a crisis situation with Sunroad, so for all of that uh Ted Sexton came over and started working. 

JS:††††††† Well, I agree with you.It would have been much less confusing. 

RH:††††† Now, hereís a more serious problem.Um, Enoch Light is not only, I guess, the name of a uh obscure Ď70ís rock band, but uh your nom de guerre in terms of [laughs] of e-mail.  

JS:††††††† No. 

RH:††††† It isnít? 

JS:††††††† No.Itís the Cityís, uh the Mayorís Office e-mail system.And uh, I learned this today; I didnít know what it was.Uh each of the different departments in the City have their own domain.And theyíre named different things, uh by different departments.And this was named by uh the person from DPC a few years ago when uh they brought in Enoch Light, which is a uh an e-mail, itís a domain within the Cityís GroupWise system. 

RH:††††† So if something, if an e-mail goes out from Enoch Light, who is it from? 

JS:††††††† It could be from anybody in the Mayorís Office.Or anybody, I donít know how far that goes. 

RH:††††† Okay, and if you say if you got a Ö. 

JS:††††††† I donít use e-mail. 

(PF = That is  the whole idea - so no email can be traced to the Mayor. Blame it all on a dead music man: Enoch Light. I think we will be hearing more about this. Everything the Mayor said here can be checked.)

RH:††††† Okay -- laughs. 

JS:††††††† I donít use it at all. 

RH:††††† Okay, well then that, that may be a problem.Um, but here is a, a copy of an e-mail and a copy a cc: of this went to Shelia, Sheila? Billiard from Enoch Light to Enoch Light and Jim Waring; Date: Tuesday, December 19, 2006; uh Time: 4:30-5:00 p.m.; Subject: Meeting with Aaron Feldman and, and Tom Story; Re: Sunroad (Jim Waring); Place: Mayorís Office. 

JS:††††††† Right. 

RH:††††† Now, the Aguirre accusation is that this date, December 19, two days before the stop work order was modified to allow uh Sunroad to complete the building, um, there was a meeting in your office with you, Tom Story, Aaron Feldman, and Jim Waring, who heads up your department.Uh, two days later the stop work order was modified and Aguirreís charge is that you modified it on behalf of a campaign contributor. 

JS:††††††† Well (laughs), let me go back into that one.Uh we did have that meeting.Aaron Feldman asked to come over and explain his side of the story.Um he came over and uh said that uh he didnít want to file a lawsuit against the City.Uh he didnít want to file a lawsuit for quite a bit of money against the City, but he was feeling compelled to because uh he felt that he had done everything correctly, even though we now know that thatís not the case.Uh he also felt that um it was if we couldnít winterize that building, it was going to create damage in there uh that couldnít be taken care of and if they sued us we were going to owe a lot more money for that.Um I talked with Jim Waring, we had conversations, and basically the decision was made to let the building be winterized so we could mitigate any damages in case there was a lawsuit and in case we lost.Because we lose quite a few lawsuits.Uh and I thought that the right decision was to let it be winterized so that if we did lose the lawsuit, and we have been sued since then, uh that we were not going to have to pay as much of the damages because it simply hadnít allowed it to be destroyed on the inside. 

(PF = The threat of a law suit is sufficient reason to continue building an illegal structure that is a danger to aircraft?.)

RH:††††† Do you think that Aaron Feldman lived up to the verbal agreement that youíre now describing that he had with you? 

JS:††††††† No. 

RH:††††† In what specific respect? 

JS:††††††† Well, when uh they talk about winterizing, uh, you know, I I think what my expection [sic], or or my impression of winterizing is is you uh put some type of coating around the outside so that rain canít get in, so that wind canít blow in, so that all that canít happen.It certainly didnít mean putting new architectural features at that wing thatís on there now.It didnít mean any of those things.And thatís the mistake we made in not stopping it quickly enough. 

(PF = Sanders could have stopped it any time, but he refused to do so.)

RH:††††† You know the um the modification of the stop work order that went out on December 21st, two days later, was signed by Marcela Escobar-Eck, who had been involved in this uh project for some time and knew exactly uh what uh was uh expected.And she said, quote, in the letter sent to Tom Story, uh in the ďin the interest of saving the structure from damage which could be caused by weather, your request will be allowed for this phase of construction for the items discussed at the field meeting of December 1, with Joe Harris, subject to your concurrence with the terms of this letter.ĒUh, unquote.Do you think Marcela Escobar-Eck would follow this project very minutely?Tom Story who was aware of this project very minutely.Um, that they understood that the weatherization part of this uh thing would be basically be the construction of the top two stories. 

JS:††††††† You, you know I donít know what Marcela understood.I I just donít know that answer. 

RH:††††† You havenít asked her? 

JS:††††††† No I havenít asked that specific question. 

RH:††††† Do you know that in your bureaucracy thereís somebody whoís supposed to, that actually is designated by your procedures and state law, to sign uh, because itís a pretty serious matter.You know, stopping work.A stop work order is a pretty serious matter.And thereís actually a building official thatís designated to do that. 

JS:††††††† Right. 

RH:††††† Itís not Marcela. 

JS:††††††† (Mayor did not respond) 

RH:††††† I mean, and and and and Waring had to change the the policy in your department because the guy who was supposed to do it, the guy who was actually uh under the policies and the state law required to do it, in terms of modifying any stop work order, refused to do it. 

JS:††††††† You know, we talked about that issue this afternoon and I I I donít, Iím not sure thatís exactly right. 

RH:††††† What is exactly right? 

JS:††††††† Well, my understanding is Marcela asked him if he wanted to do it, if we was willing to do it, and he said no. 

RH:††††† And heís the officer thatís supposed to do it. 

JS:††††††† Well, Iím not, I I I donít know that [sic] answer to that.UmÖ 

(PF = The Mayor does not know to whom he delegated this important function?. He is either lying or incompetent.)

RH:††††† But itís an important point. 

JS:††††††† Well, it itís an important point and thatís the reason Iím not going to commit to something I donít know the answer to. 

RH:††††† Okay. 

JS:††††††† Uh, I do know she said if you donít want to do it, then Iíll do it myself.And thatís what she did. 

(PF = Did Escobar-Eck appoint herself as the "responsible officer"? If so why has he not fired her? Or did Sanders appoint her pro-tem, but is now denying it? Sanders is the only one who could make that important designation. Which is it?)

RH:††††† Uh, this particular building official who was designated to issue stop work orders and any amendments to them, any changes to them, refused to do it, wouldnít allow his deputies to do it, and Marcela did tell him, as I understand it, Okay, then Iíll do it.Uh sheÖ. 

JS:††††††† And and I understand it differently, but thatísÖ. 

RH:††††† WhatÖ how do, how do you under, Iíd like to know how you understand theÖ. 

JS:††††††† I understand that she went to him and asked him if he was willing to do it and he said no.And she said alright, Iíll do it.She didnít try to put the pressure on him to do it, knowing that it was a political situation. 

(PF = Different rules apply in a "political situation"? Just how "political" is Escobar-Eck?)

RH:††††† Did she have the authority? 

JS:††††††† I I donít know that answer.Thatís what I told you, Roger. 

RH:††††† Okay.So I just wanted to make that clear that a stop work order modification went out, not from the person that would normally do it, because Marcela went and asked him to do it in the first place.Right?

JS:††††††† Yeah, I I just donít know that answer. 

RH:††††† Well you just told me she did. 

JS:††††††† Iím telling you that she did not pressure him to do it.She said if you donít want to do it, Iíll do it. 

RH:††††† In other words, in other words she went and asked him to do it. 

JS:††††††† Right. 

RH:††††† And he wouldnít do it. 

JS:††††††† He said he would prefer not to. 

RH:††††† Yeah, so, she went ahead and signed it, when in fact, while that was not normally done.

JS:††††††† Inaudible (both talking at same time) 

RH:††††† How many other stop work order modifications do you think Marcela signed? 

JS:††††††† I I donít know.I donít even know how many we put out. 

(PF = The simple fact is that Mayor Sanders authorized the repeal of a legitimate Stop Work Order. He did it in response to a request by a campaign contributor. That was a corrupt act. Just as Watergate finally toppled Nixon, this single corrupt act will inevitably topple Sanders. It will probably also turn out that he similarly authorized the July 7, 2006 Sunroad building permit. That also was a corrupt act)

RH:††††† Alright.I donít, I donít either.But, it was an, it was an unusual moment in your bureaucracy.Anyway, uh I I, and more importantly than that, let me get back to Ted Sexton.And I want to uh I want to ask you, now that we know a little bit more about the circumstances under which he came over from the Airport Authority, isnít it true that his responsibility at the Airport Authority is interaction with uh with the FAA and regulatory bodies? 

JS:††††††† He heís an executive vice president.He has extensive interaction with the FAA and regulatory bodies. 

(PF = Wrong, that is ALL he does)

RH:††††† Right.So when he came over, this was part of the thing you were you were seeking is that expertise.And in fact he prepared for a meeting down in Texas of FAA officials, some a, a solution, an alternative solution to the Sunroad uh problem, right? 

JS:††††††† As I said, we looked at every solution we could think of to protect public safety. 

RH:††††† And how many solutions did he present to the FAA in Texas? 

JS:††††††† Uh, Iím not sure.I think he only presented one, which was the southern uh flight pattern. 

RH:††††† Okay.And he did that after consulting with you? 

JS:††††††† Uh, no.

RH:††††† Who did he consult with? 

JS:††††††† Iím sure he consulted with uh our staff and all of that.I knew that he was going to present possible solutions.Uh we also presented uh having the Sunroad building down to 163 feet with uh one elevator tower in there.Uh, so we presented a range of solutions and basically the FAA came back and said uh we are willing to change the flight pattern, but we are not willing to uh allow you to uh take the building down to 163 feet with the uh elevator tower sticking up.Uh so you need to change the flight pattern, or you leave it in place like it is.And thatís when I made the decision.I made the decision later uh that weíre not going to change the flight pattern.Uh Sunroadís got to reduce the size of the building. 

(PF = Sexton did NOT present "a range of solutions". He presented only one: a solution: circle "south-of-the-field" and clear the airspace over the Sunroad building.)

RH:††††† Now, in terms of (laughs) reducing the size of a building, I mean, the building is there.Itís at 180 feet. 

JS:††††††† Right. 

RH:††††† Itís twenty feet higher than uh the FAA says it should be. 

JS:††††††† I agree. 

RH:††††† So, youíre putting the whole thing now on a lawsuit filed by Aguirre uh after the actions of people who work for you allowed them to build a building to 180 feet. 

JS:††††††† Well, yeah I am.In fact Iíve said we made a mistake on that building.We tried to get advice from the City Attorneyís Office before it went up to the 180 feet and couldnít get it.Uh we made a mistake and let that building go up.Iím Iím relying on the City Attorney now uh to get the lawsuit in there where we have them reduce that. 

(PF = Does he have any evidence of this? I have read all the emails and I have not seen such a request. Quite the contrary. The City Attorney had great difficulty to get the Mayor's staff to even discuss Sunroad.)

RH:††††† And heís saying, and I think this is the latest I got here, that, based on the Cityís actions, it undercuts the uh lawsuit because the Sunroad gets to go into court and say wait a minute, everything we did, we have all these letters from everybody at the City telling us these are things we can do. 

JS:††††††† Well I donít think thatís entirely true, Roger.And Iím Iím not going to quibble as things Mikeís saying about undercutting.But I made it very clear and then a a letter I put out on Monday of this week, I said that we were going to stick with the same flight patterns, we were going to stick with everything so that the uh lawsuit that the City is putting together would not be undercut.Um, I feel very strongly that we have a good lawsuit on that, and itís time for Mike to get into court and get that taken down. 

(PF = Sanders now expects Aguirre to roll back the entitlements Sanders granted to Sunroad. It doesn't get much more cynical than that, even in San Diego.)

RH:††††† Uh, is Ted Sexton still a loan to the City? 

JS:††††††† Yes. 

RH:††††† And what is he working on now? 

JS:††††††† He has helped us on, as I said, uh he has helped us uh the Banker Hill issue, on the Sunroad issue in uh the harbor, uh he has helped us on, on the La Jolla Colony uh project, where we got uh, or the the developer got approval from the Marine Corps. uh to build anything to 360 feet and then FAA came in and said wait a minute, they do not speak for us.Uh and we worked it out, the developers voluntarily after working on that issue, taking the project size down.So heís worked on those, along with um, heís still working on the Brown Field and the Montgomery Field issues to my understanding. 

(PF = But Sanders specifically asked the Airport Authority for his services in lobbying the FAA on behalf of Sunroad's illegal building. Sanders must continue to deny it because he knows it was a corrupt act.)

RH:††††† Other than the um, that southern uh flight, reorientation of the flight pattern at Montgomery, to help try to solve the Sunroad problem, did he offer any other alternatives to uh solve the problem with Sunroad, you described the one about uh leaving it at uh 163 plus the elevator and so forth, but in terms of of the actual with the FAA, was there any other alternative he developed? 

JS:††††††† There was uh, I I think there still is another alternative, and it involves uh newer instruments that uh has everybody land from the east and uh, I donít know the details of that.Um, he had worked on that solution also.Thatís a a long term solution.But uh really what we decided was that um in order not to undercut the lawsuit and uh to keep us from rerouting traffic over residential areas, that we were going to uh keep the same uh level that we are at right now uh in terms of that level of hazard thatís up there.The pilots have to fly at I think itís 960 feet instead of 880 feet.And weíll keep that in place until the Sunroad building comes down.