"There was a lot of folks who were
disingenuous today" said Tony Young during his
own absurdly disingenuous "explanation" of why he voted
for a measure that will all but guarantee that WalMart
will not be coming to a San Diego site near you anytime
What was really disingenuous about today's charade was
that Todd Gloria, Tony Young, Ben Hueso, Marti Emerald
and Donna Frye are protecting Vons and the other big
unionized chains, not the local mom-and-pop stores as
they so hypocritically claim.
Here is our next Council President giving us a foretaste
of the kind of gobbledygook he will inflict upon us for
a whole year as he turns the Council Presidency into a
Dickensian Circumlocution Office.
What exactly did he say? Does he think his constituents
should have a WalMart or not? Did he ask them? Or did he
just listen to the unions to whom he is beholden for his
new job as Council President. I think we all know the
answer to that - his loyalty is to the unions, not to
As my contribution to the public debate called for by
City Council on April 27, 2010 when it postponed a
decision until June 22, 2010 about whether to extend
downtown redevelopment by raising its tax increment
"cap", I offer the following
suggestion: the City Council should direct CCDC to concentrate on
the area east of 10th Avenue outlined in red in the
On April 27, 2010 CCDC
petitioned the City Council in its capacity as the
Redevelopment Agency authorizes the Centre City
Development Corporation to proceed with preparing
documentation to update blighting conditions necessary
for a proposed Amendment to the Centre City
Redevelopment Plan to increase the Tax Increment Limit
"CAP" to facilitate the completion of eliminating blight
in the Centre City Redevelopment Project."
CCDC had already approved a $536,200
with its favorite consultant, Keyser Marston, to tell it
what it wanted to hear: that it needs to increase its
tax increment cap. That's why favorite consultants are
paid big bucks.
Then the developers lined up to tell City Council what a
wonderful job CCDC has done over the years. They asked
that it be allowed to keep the tax revenue it alone
created, that without CCDC downtown would still be a
wasteland. Thus the developers and their public payroll
CCDC lackeys claim they own all downtown property tax
I therefore propose that CCDC applies its
self-proclaimed redevelopment prowess to the area marked
in red above, i.e. the downtown area east of 10th
Avenue excluding City College and Bario Logan. There is
plenty of real blight in that area, while, not even for
$536,200, will Keyser Marston be able to find genuine
blight west of 10th Avenue.
The area west of 10th Avenue has more than enough
remaining tax increment to complete its redevelopment
commitments and should be allowed to simply run its
course. The area east of 10th Avenue on the other
hand, redefined as a new project area, would provide CCDC
with unlimited tax increment, enabling it to catch up
with the rest of downtown, the true mission of
redevelopment dollars, not building developer/union boondoggles..
But CCDC, through its phony Keyser Marston report, will
attempt to use genuine
blight east of 10th to justify retaining the tax revenue
west of it. It will accordingly resist my suggestion, or
any other suggestion for that matter.
Of course we all know that the real plan is to hold on
to all downtown property tax to pay for a new
Charger Stadium, a new City Hall, a Downtown Library and
a Convention Center Expansion. That is why the
developers poured big bucks into the campaigns of
Republicans Kevin Faulconer, Carl DeMaio and Jerry Sanders.
Now they expect
The trouble is that Democrats Tony Young and Todd Gloria also took
the developers' money. Why do you think the Lincoln Club
recently endorsed Tony Young? Did Tony persuade
Republican money to finally take an interest in the
working class down at Euclid and Market? Yea, right.
Gloria is just starting on a lifetime political career.
He hopes to ride a growing Latino and gay vote to ever
higher office. But he knows it cannot be done without
money. How developers love an ambitious young
Then there is the wiliest of them all, Ben Hueso. He is
in need of immediate cash for his State Assembly race.
If Keyser Marston can pick up an easy $536,200 just for
writing a phony "finding", and Tony Young can get a
Lincoln Club "endorsement", surely Ben can squeeze a few
hundred grand out of the developers for steering a
little old "cap" increase through City Council.
On the other hand we could actually force a genuine
public debate on this issue. It is high time. We have
already lost too much to CCDC, particularly our
waterfront. It was CCDC that invited Doug Manchester
from La Jolla to downtown and made him a present of our
If we actually cared we might finally stop the
diversion of all that property tax revenue into the
pockets of private developers and put it back into the
general fund where it belongs. We might even save what
is left of our waterfront. City Councilmembers are
just watching and waiting to see if we care. If we
don't, why should they? They will just take the
developer money and move on to higher office. Debate
Today at City Council, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith paid
off a 2008 campaign debt to Ben Hueso. In doing so he
indulged in a type of tortured reasoning I hope he never allowed in his courtroom
when he was a Superior Court Judge.
"No contract, agreement or
obligation extending for a period of more than five
years may be authorized except by ordinance adopted by a
two-thirds’ majority vote of the members elected
to the Council."
Hueso knew that he did not have the six
votes required to pass an ordinance approving a 40 year
pre-paid lease on 71,800 square feet of office space on the 6th
and 7th floors of the proposed downtown central library
to the School District,
so he called in a political favor. He needed a legal
opinion that a two-thirds' majority was not required in
this case. He got it. From Jan Goldsmith himself. Watch the
Video. Goldsmith's reasoning was "a stretch" at
best. It was like having Casey Gwinn back on the dais.
Hueso, a Democrat, had backed Goldsmith, a Republican,
for City Attorney against a Democrat, Mike Aguirre, in 2008.
It was a really big favor and Ben Hueso does not even do
small favors for free. Goldsmith said that he spent a
great deal of time studying Charter Section 99, only to
reaffirm an old Casey Gwinn opinion. Is Jan Goldsmith
now becoming Casey Gwinn II?
Goldsmith may not realize it but this $20 million pre-paid library lease has all the hallmarks of
a Casey Gwinn-style gift of public funds. That's why Hueso
needed a big favor to get it approved.
He knew that Frye, Lightner and DeMaio would question
the voting requirements together with the bidding
process update and the statement of project viability
required by the State before May 1, in order to secure a
$20 million grant. They did, to no avail.
Why do I think this is a Casey Gwinn-style gift of
Read the actual
lease document itself.
On page 1 it describes the "Premises" as
approximately 71,800 of rentable square feet. On
page 30 it undertakes to allow the School District to
sell its leasehold interest to any third party and the
City cannot unreasonably withhold its consent.
I believe that the School Board has no intention of putting a
high school in that library building. Its
only interest is helping the City create construction jobs.
When the time comes
for the District to pay for tenant improvements it will
invent a thousand excuses to bug out and sell its
leasehold interest to an "investor". This is a very
valuable lease in its own right. It is collateralized by two
unspecified) City properties worth $30 million in
the event the City's library project falls through.
Here's how I think a library
lease giveaway would work:
An unidentified inside "investor" would form a Delaware
LLC and purchase the library lease from the School
District. The grateful School District would carry back
a note and deed of trust for the entire purchase price
of $20 million. The private investor would then own a
lease on 71,800 square feet of prime downtown office
space, with its rent pre-paid for 40 years, without any
public bid process.
There is nothing in
to prevent the above from happening.
But what if some lawyer files a
public interest "private attorney general" lawsuit
against the City once the library deal is closed? A Judge with no political
favors to repay may disagree with Goldsmith's
opinion. What if some private citizen calls for a State audit of
the handling of RA tax increment funds for schools? A
called for a HUD audit of CDBG funds, resulting in the
RA having to pay back millions to the City.
When the District finally admitted that its Prop S money
would not be forthcoming for the library, the RA conveniently "found"
$17 million "earmarked" for schools. That means that the
School District was for years denied Property Tax
Revenues to which it
was contractually entitled. Did the District really
authorize the RA to hold all that money in a trust
account? Why would the School District leave Property
Tax Revenue with the Redevelopment Agency during years
in which it was financially strapped?
All that time the School District
was bussing hundreds of children from downtown. And the
RA now wants to use "school earmarked" money to fund a
downtown library. How much more "school earmarked" money
is lying around at the RA? In their rush to help the
library promoters they have opened a
Goldsmith's "Gwinn opinion" may prove expensive for the City
if any of this is challenged in court. He should take another
long, hard look at
Charter Section 99. Doing political favors for the likes of Hueso could be
much more dangerous than just saying
The following sentence appears in
U-T article regarding Thursday's much talked about
ethics hearing involving an alleged Marti Emerald
campaign reporting violation:
"The delay allowed Emerald to
collect contributions to cover a debt that had not been
That statement is slanderous and needs to be corrected
immediately, otherwise the U-T may end up paying all of
Marty Emerald's legal costs in this case. I'm sure it
has not escaped her lawyer, Bob Ottilie.
The truth is that the alleged reporting delay gained no
advantage for Emerald. By law, all outstanding campaign
debts, whatever their nature, must be paid off within
180 days of the election involved, whether reported or
not. A reporting failure, whether deliberate or
inadvertent, in no way changes that campaign law.
Emerald paid off her campaign debts according to that
law, within 180 days. She is not being accused of
violating that law. In fact she had paid off most of her
winning bonus obligation as early as February 2, 2009.
Watch this short
Yet the U-T reports that this delay allowed
Emerald to collect contributions that she would not
otherwise be able to collect and that that was why she
delayed reporting the debt. That is untrue and extremely
damaging to Emerald. The U-T tried a similar smear on
Mike Aguirre in 2008. It later retracted, but buried it
where very few readers saw it. Emerald should not accept
a similar "retraction". The U-T should pay damages.
From when it was first brought to her attention by the
Ethics staff, Emerald readily admitted that her campaign
committee must have misinterpreted a particular
reporting rule. Further, the Ethics Commission admitted
yesterday that it had failed to properly explain that
rule to her. They said they will correct that omission
in future candidate training sessions.
The Commission also admitted yesterday that that
particular rule requires a full understanding of a
technical accounting principle known as "cash basis" vs.
"accrual basis". Emerald's treasurer interpreted the
rule as calling for a "cash basis" of accounting, while
Ethics staff later "discovered" that an accrual basis of
accounting was called for.
It is interesting that April Boling, Emerald's 2008 opponent for
the District 7 Council seat, is a CPA. Boling, an expert
on such technical accounting principles, is widely believed to be the "anonymous" complainant in
this alleged reporting violation.
This violation complaint has all the hallmarks of a political
Fulhorst, Executive Director of the Ethics Commission,
is a Casey Gwinn protégé. She is now an important
insider in San Diego's insider politics. Like ruling
elites everywhere, they carefully train their own.
A recent land use vote at City Council provides a
fascinating peek into the moral characters of our six
Democratic City Councilmembers. The issue at hand was a
proposed street vacation in front of the La Jolla home
of Democratic Party mega-contributors, Bill and Lisa
The Barketts were betting that
their prowess for hosting big Democratic fund raising
events for national, state and local Democratic
candidates, would be rewarded by the City of San Diego
relinquishing a 3,122 square feet portion of Prospect
Place, thus privatizing the cul-de-sac in front of their
They confidently expected that despite a knee-jerk "No"
from the two Republicans, Faulconer and DeMaio, that at
least five of the six Democratic Councilmembers would
obey their fund raising masters and vote "Yes". Three
did. Three did not! The Barketts were stunned.
Maybe there is hope for San Diego yet. The Barketts and
the big money set need to realize that the unprincipled
Scott Peters is gone and the principled Sherri Lightner
is now the people's choice in District 1, despite the
power of the dollar. Can you imagine how different the
outcome would have been if Scott Peters was still
representing La Jolla?
I already knew what Sherri Lightner's response would be
to the money peddling Barketts and I knew that Ben Hueso
would crawl all the way up Prospect Place and wipe the
boots of the Barketts if they asked him to. He would
sell his very soul to get to the State Assembly.
Likewise I knew that Todd Gloria is tied hand and foot
to the fund raising machine of the Democratic Party. He
is a child of the Susan Davis machine. He probably
attended dozens of fund raisers at the Barkett's home
while choir boy for Congresswoman Davis' soirées.
But "Et Tu Marti"? This is the unkindest cut of all.
With one roll of the voting drum Marti Emerald fell from
the wedding chapel of clean government down to the rat
infested cellar of prostitution politics. Was her
Council vote really only worth $1,080 or does she intend
to follow Hueso down a slimy slope to the State
Here is a page from her
Monetary Contributions Received List in 2007. The
Barkett family made four contributions of $270, one each
for Mom and Dad, Bill and Lisa and one each for their
two children, Jacqueline and Joseph. Did this mere
$1,080 buy her political soul?
video starts with Jeannette Temple of the City's
Development Services Department (DSD) laying out the
case for the Barketts. DSD operates as an "enterprise
fund". In other words Jeannette's salary is paid, not by
you and I the tax payer, but by her "clients" the
Barketts. This bizarre "enterprise fund" set-up means
that developers fund our City's Development Services
Department. This needs to be changed because it is
corrupting the entire land use process.
To give an idea of the reach money people like the
Barketts have, consider that when faced with a defeat at
City Council on February 2, 2009, they were able to get
Marti Emerald to engineer a postponement for a month
while DSD staff wasted scarce police resources in
compiling a spurious crime report on the cul-de-sac in
question and wasted an entire afternoon of a police
lieutenant at Council when the item was reheard.
watch and judge for yourself who was parroting the
talking points handed to them by the Barkett's lawyers
and who was representing the citizens as they are bound
by oath to so do. Watch Lightner and Frye demolish the
bogus land use arguments concocted by DSD staff and
Then watch Emerald, Hueso and Gloria abandon every moral
principle to serve their money masters. Hueso's
contribution is particularly disturbing. His patently
false theories on public easements show the extent to
which he is willing to pervert his powers as an elected
official to further his career in politics. He is a very
If he makes it to Sacramento he will surely represent a
low point in San Diego's contribution to the State
Assembly. He will ally himself with the most despicable
elements of state politics. He will inevitably bring
shame on San Diego because he is a man completely
without moral principles. At least his run for the
Assembly puts him out of City politics in November.
I write this blog because I don't believe the Barketts
will go away. They are too heavily invested in political
contributing. They will be back to demand their pound of
But we the citizens must fight corrupting money in
politics. I believe Hueso to be a lost cause but surely
it is not too late to save Marti Emerald. Please don't
join Hueso on the dark side Marti. You are in danger of
losing your immortal soul, not to mention your Council