By Doug Porter
There was plenty of drama yesterday in downtown San Diego, as Mayor Bob Filner was ordered by the City Council to sign an operating agreement that they originally approved in November for the city’s Tourism Marketing District (TMD).
Word was out on the grapevine prior to the meeting that the Mayor and TMD officials were close to a compromise agreement in closed door negotiations. Later in the day Filner told the media he and district officials had resolved 90 percent of the issues and was confident he could complete a deal if given more time.
His request to the Council for two more days to complete those negotiations fell upon deaf ears. It was obvious that the TMD folks were playing hardball. And you have to wonder if they’re willingness to negotiate with the mayor was mere posturing.
They packed the council chamber with hospitality employees brought in to put a face on earlier threats about jobs being on the line. More than 100 tourism workers booed Mayor Filner as he argued forcefully against the resolution.
In the end the City Council voted 6-1 to change the wording in an earlier resolution from ‘authorizing’ to ‘requiring’ the Mayor sign the agreement. From 10News:
However, the resolution that was passed will cause nothing but delays, Filner said.
“As you know, I can veto the resolution,” Filner told the council members. “As you know, I think it’s illegal. As I’ve said, I think it’s a bad deal for taxpayers. I’ve tried to make it better; I think we’re this close.
“You can override the veto,” Filner said. “I can refuse to sign it. We can go back to court. The court will make a decision, and I can appeal that decision. As the city attorney pointed out, right in the contract is the ability to hold up the whole expenditure of funds as long as there is litigation.”
Filner said the delay could “go on and on” for a year or more.
The Recall Filner Rumor…
While the Mayor was arguing his case, voters around San Diego were on the receiving end of a push poll seeking to gauge support for a recall effort. Activist Bryan Pease said on twitter that he felt it was ‘clearly engineered by DeMaio to smear Filner and [Donna] Frye’.
I’m not so sure about who’s behind these calls, but I do know that Randy Dotinga will undoubtedly take to the twitterverse to denounce Pease’s conclusion as yet another example of progressive paranoia.
And I do know that 10News anchor Steve Atkinsen was promising a story on the 11pm news last night by reporter Itica Milanes about an effort to recall the Mayor. (As best I can tell, the story got canned.)
What Do They Do at TMD?
Scott Lewis over at Voice of San Diego delves into what it actually is that the Tourism Marketing District does in an article posted last night. There’s a nifty organizational chart and insight into the tasks involved with marketing San Diego.
But there’s also continuing confusion about the TMD’s relationship with the government. Quoting Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi, Lewis writes:
“Sometimes we’ll get a half-million-dollar check held up because we’re off by 20 cents. The mayor says we don’t have any accountability, but his staff audits every single cent we spend,” Terzi said.
Interestingly, this description is at odds with the Tourism Authority’s website, which says that this money is not public.
Q. Is public money being used to fund the TMD or market San Diego?
A. No. The TMD money used to market San Diego is private-money assessed by lodging establishments for the purpose of marketing San Diego to promote tourism…
If it were private money, the mayor wouldn’t be able to mess with it.
Tuesday, the mayor vowed to keep messing with it.
Fudging the Numbers?
Meanwhile, over at the SD Reader yesterday Dorian Hargrove got his hands on some raw data calling into question the anguished cries of local hoteliers, who claim the current stand off between the TMD and hizzoner is already leading them into financial ruin.
But one thing that [Tourism CEO]Terzi, and the UT San Diego, failed to point out is that year-to-date occupancy rates for San Diego are actually up from this time last year.
A March 19 report shows that year-to-date occupancy rates have increased by two percentage points from this time last year, from 63.1 percent to 65.1 percent.
Another thing that Terzi and the UT failed to touch on is that while occupancy rates fell less than a percentage point during the month of February, the Average Daily Rate went up by less than three percent. And room revenue ticked up by 1.3 percent.
According to the report, so far this year, San Diego hotel owners aren’t doing so bad. Room revenues from January to March 19 saw a 6.9 percent increase compared to the same time last year.
It ain’t over ‘till it’s over, as a certain baseball player used to say. If either side gets their way completely as things now stand, the resulting bad feelings will haunt this city for years to come.
Say what you want about the worthiness of the TMD, if San Diego taxpayers get stuck with a $30 million bill–which is what would happen if the law doesn’t survive court challenges—then any future joint efforts will be doomed.
Cole, Crenshaw Face Runoff for D4 City Council Seat
A nine way contest to elect a successor to City Councilman Tony Young ended up, much to nobody’s surprise, with no candidate garnering more than 50% of the vote. A runoff election will be held no later than mid-May, with Myrtle Cole (33% of last night’s vote) running against Dwayne Crenshaw (15.3%).
Both candidates faced under-handed attacks during the campaign.
Cole was the subject of a slimy mailer paid for by a GOP PAC that was formatted to appear as though it was from the City of San Diego. She’s backed by the Democratic party and the labor council, which mounted an impressive get out the vote effort.
Crenshaw was publicly dissed by a community newspaper seeking to make his sexual orientation an issue. He’s run for office in District 4 before, has deep roots in the community and (until he stepped down to run for office) high visibility as San Diego LGBT Pride Executive Director.
Day Two at the Supreme Court
Let’s start off by acknowledging that the UT-San Diego actually admitted there was a local demonstration (attended by numerous big-name politicos) in support of Gay marriage. See if you can find it in this story, which appeared on-line only:
National polls indicate a slight majority of Americans are unopposed to same-sex marriage, but the difference between that group and those opposed is slim.
The division is also reflected in the position of many San Diegans and others throughout the region.
Mary Moran of La Mesa organized a rally in front of the federal courthouse in San Diego Tuesday morning in defense of Proposition 8. That was the same venue for an anti-Proposition 8 rally Monday evening.
While we’re at it, let’s go after the starting assumption in this dispatch. You know, the one that says a “slight majority of Americans are unopposed”.
Perhaps they missed the March 2013 Washington Post/ABC poll showing an 18 point spread on the issue of legalizing Gay marriage. Or the CBS poll showing a 14 point spread in favor. Or the CNN poll with a 9 point difference.
Then again, why are we talking about anything to do with polls when it comes to UT-San Diego? They had Carl DeMaio trouncing Bob Filner in the most recent mayoral race.
There is one poll that does support the Daily Fishwrap’s assumption: Fox News shows a 3 point majority favoring the idea of Gay marriage.
Best Two Paragraph Analysis of What’s Going on with the Court
People should know by now that what gets said during oral arguments at the Supreme Court is a very poor indicator of what the final decision may be.
NPR’s blog this morning is quoting Nina Totenberg about what to expect today:
“Except possibly for the fact that there are some people on the court who view same-sex marriage as so new that the democratic process should deal with it, not judges,” Nina said, it’s unlikely the themes that come up during Wednesday’s oral argument will be the same as those the justices zeroed in on Tuesday.
Wednesday’s case — a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act — “is a much clearer question of federal benefits applied to people who are married in states where [same-sex] marriage is legal and the democratic process has played out, at least at the state level,” Nina said. “The question is whether at the federal level, the federal government can deny those couples the same benefits that the federal government gives to heterosexual couples.”
Best. Petition. Ever.
Seceding from the Union? Just leave. And don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.
But I did see one outlandish idea this weekend that struck a chord. And I think people from all political persuasions can united behind the idea.
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Require Congressmen & Senators to wear logos of their financial backers on their clothing, much like NASCAR drivers do.
On This Day: 1794 – The U.S. Congress and President Washington authorized the creation of the U.S. Navy. 1904 – Mary Jarris “Mother” Jones was ordered by Colorado state authorities to leave the state. She was accused of stirring up striking coal miners. 1972 – Elvis Presley recorded “Burning Love.” It would turn out to be his last major hit.
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