By Doug Porter
The outrageous conduct by the leadership for the Balboa Park Celebration, Inc. continues.
After blowing through nearly $3 million during the past three years with nothing to show for it, BPCI co-chair Nikki Clay and transition director Gerry Braun have told the City Council’s Environment Committee that they’ll be unavailable for a hearing today.
Committee chair David Alvarez is looking for answers, requesting a report be provided regarding the soon-to-be-defunct group’s activities and along with an explanation for the $13,000-a-month salary being paid to Braun while he winds things down.
UPDATE: Braun did appear, after all. According to one observer:
He was grilled by Marti Emerald for a delightfully painful 20-25 minutes. He stayed on message and script as best he could, but he had no answers to the good questions.
A spokeswoman for the Councilman said Braun and BPCI co-chair Nikki Clay said they were unavailable to attend the meeting. Other board members of the disbanded planning group did not respond to the Councilman’s invitation.
“I have not been provided any information, specifically regarding the extremely high payment made to the CEO during this transitionary period,” stated Alvarez. “This lack of transparency and accountability is the reason why I am asking for an update to be provided by the Mayor’s office and any board members at my committee tomorrow.”
Mayor Kevin Steals the Spotlight
Its a bad day for Alvarez, who also had the indignity of a mayoral campaign promise regarding funding for disadvantaged communities (conflated into attack ads by the “Good Government” PAC) rubbed in his face as Mayor Faulconer invited the press to City Heights to promise sidewalks and street improvements, paid for by $3.6 million in community development block grants.
The Western Electrical Contractors Association paid for mailers during the recent mayoral campaign listing City Heights, San Ysidro and Southeast as neighborhoods that would “get funding”along with a list of 28 other areas that would “lose funding” should David Alvarez be elected mayor.
None of those neighborhoods that would “lose” funding were eligible it in the first place, since they didn’t meeting the economic criteria mandated by block grants. So it was hugely ironic that Faulconer was now claiming credit for spending Federal Block Grant funding (that was previously being diverted for “other needs”) in City Heights.
Needless to say, no other media noticed the irony. But Kevin’s hair was perfect.
UPDATE: Kelly Davis goes into the details at City Beat explaining how the mayor is funding these sidewalks. And it ain’t pretty.
City Attorney’s Boasts Come Back to Haunt Him
“We strategized as lawyers: How were we going to remove the mayor? It was a de facto impeachment.” -City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, as quoted in the Los Angeles Times
Dorian Hargrove has a terrific story posted at the San Diego Reader about how Goldsmith’s bravado in the wake of ex-Mayor Bob Filner’s resignation is being used by attorneys for one of the women suing the city to bolster their claim that the city knew–and therefore bears some responsibility for– about Filner’s behavior as early as February 2013.
Via the Reader:
Attorneys for Ragazzino and Tyler believe Goldsmith’s willingness to share shows that the city shares some responsibility for Filner’s actions.
“Plaintiffs request that the Court take judicial notice of public statements made by city attorney Jan Goldsmith which seemingly contradict the city’s current positions in this lawsuit,” reads the March 17 legal document.
“For example, the city attorney claimed that he did a ‘de facto impeachment’ of the mayor. Yet, now the city is claiming that the city had ‘no control’ over the mayor. Which is it? Impeachment is the ultimate form of control. If the city attorney ‘impeached’ they mayor, then the city had ‘control’ over the mayor.”
“Here the city attorney’s statements to the media are capable of immediate and accurate verification because he is listed as one of five attorneys on the city’s demurrer and he can be asked about his statements; when he knew that the mayor needed therapy or was abusive, (according to his statements to the media, February 2013) and whether the city had control over the mayor (according to his statements to the media, yes).”
The two sides will appear before Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil on May 9 to discuss a motion to strike filed by the City.
The case involves claims by veteran Katherine Ragazzino and her nurse Michelle Tyler, the Filner “tried to extract sexual favors” in exchange for helping the disabled marine during a City Hall visit.
Oh my. Let me go make some popcorn.
Climate Change; What “Debate?”
An article posted at Salon.com should give folks all the more reason to scream at the idiot box when the trusty servants of the dirty energy industry appear on the screen to discuss the “debate” over climate change.
Get this: Virtually all of the scientific papers published in 2013 accept climate change.
From the article:
As geochemist James Lawrence Powell continues to prove, the only people still debating whether or not climate change is “real,” and caused by human activity, are the ones who aren’t doing the actual research. In an update to his ongoing project of reviewing the literature on global warming, Powell went through every scientific study published in a peer-review journal during the calendar year 2013, finding 10,855 in total (more on his methodology here). Of those, a mere two rejected anthropogenic global warming.
PETCO Park: Good News – Bad News
NBC7/San Diego is reporting on a new study by the National University System Institute for Policy Research (NUSIPR) on the impacts of the Padres stadium after a decade of use.
The good news:
The stadium has transformed a run-down neighborhood into an attraction for both tourists and residents.
That’s where the study found the greatest impact. The area added more than 15,000 residents – nearly doubling to 32,544 – and 14,700 housing units (to 24,168) between 2000 and 2013.
The bad news:
But that didn’t really translate into more jobs. About 64,000 people worked downtown in 2014, about the same as in 2004. Kris Michell, CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, said that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“We have been through the worst recession since the great depression so the fact that we’ve stayed even is good,” she said.
Jobs or no jobs, the ballpark is sold out for Sunday’s opening day contest against the evil Los Angeles Dodgers.
The East Village Association is throwing a four block long party on J street (btwn 6th & 10th) from 10am to 7pm on Sunday, with all the local street fair amenities, including music and a beer garden, which (another story on) NBC7/San Diego promises will serve “cold, delicious craft brews.” I assume they got a taste test to back up that claim.
Since the East Village isn’t cool enough without a big community landmark sign (ala Hillcrest), they’ll be selling off a limited number of VIP ticket packages ($250) for the Sunday’s game to raise funds.
Now, if we could just field a baseball team more interesting than watching grass grow…
Correction time- UAW Strike Still on at UCSD
Friend of the SDFP Daniel Gutierrez informs me that, while the AFSCME hospital workers at UCSD and other campuses have reached a settlement, the UAW student workers are still headed for the picket lines in early April.
Different week + different union = confused columnist.
Here’s the meat of the matter from Daniel’s dispatch here at SDFP a couple weeks ago:
Graduate students affiliated with United Auto Workers Local 2865 at UC San Diego have announced a two-day strike for Wednesday, April 3, and Thursday, April 4. The dates selected for the strike fall on the first week of the school’s Spring Quarter.
The UAW Local 2865, which represents over 12,000 graduate student workers across the campuses of the University of California, voted and passed the strike. UAW Local 2865 has been in contract negotiations with the University of California for nearly a year. Union representatives have been meeting with labor-relations delegates for months trying to secure better wages for graduate student workers and improve work-place conditions…
…Graduate students are going on strike for a wide assortment of reasons. The student-workers’ union went on strike on November 20th of last year alongside the UC’s service and patient-care workers represented by AFSME Local 3299. During this strike, a number of Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) were filed against the university. At UC Santa Cruz, employees were filmed by campus police officers which resulted in worker intimidation, as argued by the UAW. The Public Employee Relations Board ruled in favor of the UAW and announced an Unfair Labor Practice against the University of California.
Currently on the table of the Public Employee Relations Board is another set of Unfair Labor Practices. The UAW alleges that the University of California attempted to intimidate student workers across campuses, including UCSD. These acts of intimidation by staff and administration include telling workers the strike was unlawful and that student workers had to adhere to their “responsibilities.”
Oh, if we only had a labor columnist who could help me sort this stuff out…. (Soon come, I hear)
Finally, a Cause I Can’t Support
I know that I will be cast as heartless, Borg-like creature for saying this, but the “saving” of the San Diego Opera, which has announced it’s closing in April, just doesn’t move me.
I’m fine with the art form and respect its contribution to our culture. But to make a cause out of supporting a specific entity (and the bureaucracy that goes with it), whose mission is present elaborate productions that the public doesn’t care about anymore just doesn’t cut it.
All the public input in the world can’t change the reality that there isn’t demand. Lots of art forms exist (and some thrive!) without all the baggage carried by an ongoing “company.” And, yes, losing a bunch of decent jobs for people really sucks. I’d rather see a bunch of money get raised to support those workers while they sort out their lives than continue to subsidize a lost cause.
My reading of the tea leaves here is that implicit in all this hand wringing will be access to tax dollars.While I’m supportive of the arts as a public good (and thus worthy of a modest amount of government encouragement), this is a bottomless well as far as I can see.
In any case, I’ve been asked to share the link for people to sign a petition to convince the San Diego Opera Board of Directors to keep opera alive in San Diego.
On This Day: 1910 – Congress passed an amendment to the 1907 Immigration Act that barred criminals, paupers, anarchists and carriers of disease from settling in the U.S. 1969 – John Lennon and Yoko Ono began their “bed-in” for peace in Amsterdam. 1982 – Ground breaking ceremonies were held in Washington, DC, for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
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@
Brent E. Beltrán says
One year of SD Opera funding would probably cover the budgets of all Barrio Logan arts organizations. Shut the opera down and fund barrio arts instead! More good would come from it.
Anna Daniels says
The BPCI is a little taste of what happens when we privatize public functions. Committee members blow off a city council meeting and are not forthcoming with internal documents. This is leaving a very bad taste in the mouth, as it well should.
Not in "The City" says
Hear, Hear! As Anna points out, this is a capstone example of the myth of privatization. “The private sector can do it better” is an old saw. Now we’ve seen, once again, that private greed trumps public good.
Not as clear-cut as that, Anna; BCPI was officially a non-profit group.
Anna Daniels says
Good point about non-profits. The city is also contracting with non-profits–think Civic San Diego– to carry out responsibilities that utilize public monies to putatively provide public benefits. If their activities lack transparency and accountability, they too raise the same concerns as contracts with for profit private entities and should engender the same scrutiny.
In the 1990’s, I was treasurer of a community non-profit that received CDBG funds at that time (City Heights Community Development Corporation). If I am remembering correctly, we had to send monthly financial reports to the city, which administered CDBG funds; we were charged for the city’s administrative oversight; and I think we were required to have an independent audit and provide that info to the city. Are these policies still operative today? Should they be?
john eisenhart says
BPCI fiasco: I hope David Alvarez continues to press for information and pursues legal civil penalties if warranted . He has an opportunity to demonstrate his support of the general citizen and take on some “old boy” networks which Filner began exposing. Go David!!
John Lawrence says
The “closing down of the Opera” is a well thought out campaign to flush out a few multi-millionaires whose egos can be flattered by “saving the Opera.” They’ll probably be successful with said multi-millionaires getting naming rights. The San Diego Opera will become the J. Penobscot Flippingham San Diego Opera. Although the Opera like a lot of art forms has a negligible audience, there is prestige value in saving it. Also none of the art forms has enough of an audience to pay for it through ticket sales alone. That’s the difference between an art form and popular music. Government should get out of the business of funding the arts. Let the millionaires and billionaires with their eyes on naming rights and leaving a legacy do that. The rest of us will remain anonymous.
“Government should get out of the business of funding the arts.”
ALL the arts, John? What about the Alvin Ailey company, recognized by U.S. Congressional resolution as a vital American “Cultural Ambassador to the World.”?
What about the CPB that helps fund PBS?
John Lawrence says
As for the Alvin Ailey company, yes government should get out of funding it. If it can’t stand on its own two feet with audience support, tough. There are a lot of other worthy art forms that don’t have government support, and they make it or don’t based on audience and/or patron support. As for PBS, it’s not an art form; it’s a commercial free media outlet and as such represents as close to an unbiased presentation of the news as we are likely to ever get. It should be government funded.