The scandal surrounding heavy handed tactics by San Diego businessmen backing a football stadium proposal continued to spread yesterday as Port Commissioner Scott Peters released what appears to be a threatening email from UT-San Diego CEO John Lynch.
The August 9th email from Lynch, asks Peters about his stance on a proposed long term lease at the 10Th Avenue Marine Terminal, and warns of a campaign led by San Diego’s daily newspaper to disband the Port Authority should backers of the proposed stadium not approve of his vote. The UT-San Diego, owned by downtown developer Doug Manchester and operated by John Lynch, has made construction of a football stadium at the port site one of its top editorial priorities.
An investigation by I-Newsource/KPBS has revealed that CEO Lynch boasted publicly about having “concrete meetings” with “hopefully the right people” who could help with development of a stadium at the port terminal location. He was quoted in another email, saying “We actually have made significant progress, with labor, Chargers, County, business, Navy, and one of the Mayoral candidates” on the UT’s ‘vision’, suggesting that those entities could be persuaded to support dissolving the Port Authority.
Lynch now denies authoring the threatening part of the email, claiming in a KPBS interview with reporter Amita Sharma, that the document had been altered and “somebody could go to jail” for sending it. He also walked back the statement attributed to him regarding a Mayoral candidate, saying “I was trying to say something that was poorly said. There was never any one candidate that we made progress with.”
Copies of all the relevant emails are available here.
The Debate That Didn’t Happen
Scott Peters was involved in yet another news story yesterday, not as Port Commissioner, but in his role as the Democratic challenger to Republican Brian Bilbray in the race for California’s 52nd Congressional District. The Bilbray campaign issued a press release blasting Peters for “ducking” a morning debate on KFMB 760AM talk radio.
It turns out that invites for the program were supposed to be orchestrated by the Bilbray campaign, who neglected to pass the information on to Peters, according to an e-mail exchange which the KFMB host acknowledges that neither he nor his staff ever contacted the challenger to schedule the debate.
The Peters campaign was quick to point out that their candidate had accepted every debate request made of him and that Bilbray, in contrast, has rebuffed numerous invitations, including Voice of San Diego Politifest, the North County Chamber of Commerce, KPBS Radio, and the Green Experts Academy and The Sustainability Alliance of Southern California.
DeMaio Fundraiser Draws Picket Line
A fundraising event for Mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio featuring former Gov. Pete Wilson drew thirty or so pickets last night at a privately owned Museum on Pacific Highway. The protesters led by Benjamin Prado, head of Latinos Against DeMaio, werer there to draw the connection between Wilson’s promotion of Prop 187, a measure that sought to limits the rights of immigrants in California and DeMaio’s support for Arizona’s SB 1070.
Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Wilson, who as Mayor of San Diego implemented the defined pension program for City employees, is now campaigning for DeMaio, who’s made ending that program the centerpiece of his accomplishments? Mayor Jerry Sanders and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith were also attending the fundraiser, which had a suggested minimum donation of $150.
In other DeMaio news, this week’s LGBT Weekly reveals that two major gay centered political organizations, the Victory Fund and San Diego’s Log Cabin Republicans have refused his request for an endorsement. Oh yeah, Irwin Jacobs repaid Mayoral challenger Congressman Bob Filner for opposing his Balboa Park bridge to nowhere and parking garage by endorsing DeMaio yesterday. It’s hardly the “bi-partisan” move that the DeMaio campaign and the news media are touting. It’s more like paybacks are a bitch.
Your Not-A-Tax Dollars at Work – Convention Center Edition
Kudos to Liam Dillion over at Voice of San Diego for pointing out that Monday’s session of the San Diego City Council will include an almost certain approval of a rather questionable scheme to pay $520 million for expansion for expansion of the Civic Center. The plan up for consideration involves borrowing the cash and splitting up the payback using a ‘not-a-tax’ (so we don’t have to ask for public approval) collected by hoteliers from guests, monies kicked in by the Port of San Diego and an unspecified contribution from the city’s operating budget.
The only part of this deal that is on solid ground is the contribution from the Port Authority. The ‘not-a-tax’ revenue is facing a court challenge and, if not thrown out by the courts, could be affected by future economic downturns. The operating budget portion of the deal, which will draw away from monies that are supposed to provide basic city services, will also vary based on the availability of low interest financing for the project.
Then there’s always the possibility that the project won’t be approved by the California Coastal Commission, which could cause costly delays and legal battles. And then there’s this little problem, as described in the Wall Street Journal:
For two decades, America‘s convention center business has been declining, resulting in a nationwide surplus of empty meeting facilities, struggling convention halls and vacant hotel rooms. How have governments responded to this glut? By building more convention centers, of course, financed by debt backed by new taxes and fees on already struggling taxpayers.
Back in 2007, before the recession began, a report from Destination Marketing Association International described America‘s convention industry as a “buyer’s market” suffering excess capacity. It’s only gotten worse, attracting just 86 million attendees in 2010, compared to 126 million in 2000. Meanwhile, the amount of convention space angling for business has increased to 70 million square feet, up from 53 million in 2000 and 40 million two decades ago.
That’s largely because governments refuse to stop making convention centers bigger and hotels even more dazzling, arguing that whatever business remains will flow to the places with the fanciest amenities. To finance these risky projects—which the private sector won’t build by itself—cities float debt backed by new taxes and fees on already struggling taxpayers. As Charles Chieppo, a former board member of Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, lamented last year, “Logic rarely has a place in the convention business.”
Tweet of the Day:
Carl DeMaio claims an unspecified stadium task force. U-T CEO John Lynch claims a secret mayoral candidate supporter. Neither naming names.
— Rob Davis (@robwdavis) September 28, 2012
Feed Your Brain #1: The second annual Politifest is happening Saturday at Liberty Station Starting at 10am. I call it “a Super Mall of Ideas”. There will be three, count ‘em, three significant political debates, an idea contest and over 90(!) community-based organizations seeking to share their views with people. We’ll be there with our own table, spreading the good word about ‘Progressive Views and Grassroots News’. Oh, and there will be a kids place, a beer garden, food trucks and live music. More information via Voice of San Diego. (And a quick word to those who emailed us, concerned about our participation in an event with some sponsors who have less than progressive agendas: we’ll take our chances, thank you. Hopefully we won’t catch any reactionary cooties.)
Feed Your Brain #2: The Centro Cultural De La Raza and The San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality are co-hosting a forum Saturday, September 29th, entitled ‘LGBT Immigrants, Asylees and Refugee Seekers Explore Emerging Issues’ from 6 to 9pm at the Centro (2004 Park Blvd., San Diego). Experienced attorneys will speak about issues impacting LGBT immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, including the progress madein adjudicating claims by same-sex bi-national couples, the impact of DOMA litigation or repeal of DOMA on LGBT immigrants and more. For more information go here.
Fun Stuff: The Adams Avenue Street Fair begins on Saturday September 29 from 10am to 10pm and continues Sunday September 30 from 10am to 7pm. Ninety (90!) musical acts on seven stages will appear, including headliners: Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Paladins, Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper, Coco Montoya, Plena Libre, and Cuckoo Chaos. Other highlights of the event include four beer gardens and beer tastings for grown-ups plus carnival rides for the kiddies and young-at-heart. And did we mention that it’s Free?
Quote of the Day: “I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” Clarence Darrow
On this Day: In 1542 San Diego was ‘discovered’ by Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. In 1963 “She Loves You” by the Beatles was played on the radio by Murry The K in New York. It is believed that this was the first time a Beatles song was played in the U.S. In 2004Nate Olive and Sarah Jones arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border to complete the first known continuous hike of the 1,800-mile trail down the U.S. Pacific Coast. They started the trek on June 8.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Fallbrook (102 S. Main, at Alvarado) 10 am – 2 pm, Imperial Beach (Seacoast Dr. at Pier Plaza) 2 – 7:30 pm, Kearny Mesa (No. Island Credit Union pkg lot 5898 Copley) 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, La Mesa Village (Corner of Spring St. and University) 2 – 6 pm, Rancho Bernardo (Bernardo Winery parking lot 13330 Paseo del Verano Norte) 9 am – noon, Southeast San Diego(4981 Market St. West of Euclid Ave. Trolley Station) 2 – 6 pm
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I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.
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