According to demonology, the Leviathan is the gatekeeper among the seven princes of Hell. It is believed that hell is the kingdom of Satan by many Christians. — ask.com
By Doug Porter
If there’s one commonality to all the indiscretions of San Diego politics in the 20 months I’ve been writing this column, it’s City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. Now, facing increased scrutiny in light of his actions, he’s fighting a desperate rear guard action to avoid public examination of the behind the scenes machinations at City Hall.
Contrary to what many of my progressive friends might believe, he’s not an ideologue, bound to the socially conservative mantras of the far right. In looking over his actions as City Attorney, I’ve come to believe he’s merely a dedicated functionary for the (largely Republican) economic interests that have ruled the roost in San Diego for decades. It’s all about the money.
According to a story by Dorian Hargrove in the San Diego Reader, Goldsmith is now fighting a court battle seeking to have public officials declared above the law when it comes to the California’s Public Records Act. A February 27th legal brief filed by the City Attorney in San Diego Superior Court makes the claim that the law only requires “local agencies,” a “city,” or a “municipal corporation” to turn over documents, not individuals, officials, or employees.
From the Reader account:
Within the past year, the City of San Diego has been named in several lawsuits for failing to abide by the public records act. Goldsmith, in particular, has been named in two lawsuits, one of which for releasing closed-session transcripts to the U-T San Diego during his feud with former mayor Bob Filner while refusing to release other closed-session transcripts to other members of the media. The second lawsuit, both filed by San Diegans for Open Government, challenges Goldsmith’s refusal to make public his correspondence from his private email account — through which he discusses city business — to reporters.
Last week, council members voted against placing a ballot measure aimed at improving access to local government and granting access to emails from elected officials. According to those involved, the city attorney’s office resisted the measure off the bat.
“From the start of the discussion about the proposed amendments to the city charter, the city attorney raised questions but did not offer much in the way of solutions,” councilmember and proponent of the measure David Alvarez stated in a comment for an upcoming cover story on the ballot measure and Goldsmith’s public records policy. “Two of the three reports written by the city attorney were either released the day before or the day of a public hearing where the proposal was discussed, which allowed little to no time to address their ever evolving concerns, which I think was by design.”
The City Attorney’s blessing of the illogical (and untrue) “we need to save money” move by iMayor Todd Gloria to to delete all year-old emails from city servers in the last week of his tenure is yet another symptom of the problem.
While newly ensconced Mayor Kevin Faulconer has placed this idea on hold, his rhetoric--“I am going to ensure that there is a balance between transparency and cost. We will see what makes sense from a cost standpoint.”-– gives me no confidence. I read that as: “We’ll change the policy if the stink keeps up.”
Balboa Park: Nothing to See Here?
The latest San Diego scandal simmering away concerns the now-defunct Balboa Park Celebration, Inc. It’s intertwined with the Saunders administration, the Tourism Marketing District and a host of long-time local bigwigs.
On Friday a few documents trickled out to activist David Lundlin and UT reporter Jeff McDonald.
Lundlin, a retired attorney and reasonably (as in you could find him in Google) well-known activist, got himself branded as “unstable, possibly violent” according to an email from Balboa flackster Gerry Braun, who was former communications director for Jerry Sanders.
The UT ran with an online story on Saturday focusing on expense account receipts from former CEO Julie Dubick, who was former chief of staff for Jerry Sanders.
There’s much more to be found, but it will take some digging. Is Dubick’s February 14th departure (to go to work for BPCI board member Yehudi Gaffen) connected with a UT San Diego story or David Lundlin’s letters seeking more information about the groups’ activities?
Here’s the Valentines Day story announcing her resignation:
The programming is on track, fundraising is beginning to produce results, and a great team is in place and ready to go,” Dubick said in a statement Friday. “As such, I have contributed what I came in to do, and it is a good time for me to follow my desire to transition to private industry.”
Dubick is joining Gafcon Inc., “where she will work on special projects focused on public-private partnerships in Southern California,” according to a news release. Gafcon is a San Diego-based architectural, engineering and environmental consulting firm.
Were the various contractors, like Marketing Partnership Solutions (at $10,000 monthly) really qualified? They have a Facebook page with 65 “likes” and are run out of a residence in north San Diego. I wasn’t really impressed with the claims made about experience on the MPS website.
Here’s what MPS had to say about their deal with BPCI:
San Diego based Marketing Partnership Solutions (MPS) will lead the sponsorship effort for the 2015 Balboa Park Centennial Celebration. Local, Regional and National companies will be approached to participate in programs designed to allow maximum event association and ROI in return for their support of the event.
And how is it that Ferris Thompson, is listed as working for both MPS and Utopia Entertainment Inc, the company hired by BPCI to stage all the shows in Balboa Park during the centennial? This thing is like peeling an onion; the more you learn, the more questions arise.
Of course in a real City Government , the City Attorney’s office would be looking into all these relationships. The emails from BCPI show their concern to be the possible expense of fighting lawsuits by Lundlin and UT-San Diego asking for documents, not any official inquiries
We already know that the fix is on to blame the failure of the Balboa Park Centennial group on former Mayor Bob Filner. Jerry Sanders said so. Todd Gloria said so. And I’m sure the City Attorney’s office will leak some documents real soon implicating the ex-Mayor.
City Councilman Scott Sherman posted a statement via Facebook this weekend calling for the City Council’s audit committee to look into the Balboa Park matter, saying “The taxpayers have a right to know.” Of course, they’ll probably have to rely on the City Attorney’s office for help, should they decide to dig into this.
So like I said at the onset of this column, Jan Goldsmith is the gatekeeper, the Leviathan. All roads lead back to him: the TMD “deals”, the inside scoop on the Filner administration, the Jack-in-the-Box rebuilt without legit permits in North Park, and, now, Balboa Park are just the examples that come immediately to mind.
It’s going to take more than a few media stories and a curious city councilman to get past him.
California Democrats Meet: Pot Good, Fracking Bad
California Democrats gathered in Los Angeles this weekend for a three day session. The adopted a platform plank by nearly unanimous voice vote supporting “the legalization, regulation and taxation of pot in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol.”
From the Huffington Post:
California Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom, formerly the mayor of San Francisco, made the case for the position change during the Democrats’ 3-day convention in Los Angeles.
“It’s time for all of us to step up and step in and lead once again in California, just as we did in 1996. We did just that with medical marijuana,” Newsom said during his Saturday address to the convention. “But for almost 20 years now, we’ve sat back admiring our accomplishment while the world, the nation, and states like Colorado and Washington have passed us by. … It’s time to legalize, it’s time to tax, it’s time to regulate marijuana for adults in California.”
Newsom continued, “This is not a debate about hippies. This is not a debate about stoners. We can’t diminish this issue or the people involved in this debate by belittling them and trivializing them. Let me be clear. You can be pro-regulation without being an advocate for drug use.”
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press”, Gov Jerry Brown warned last week of the perils of legalizing marijuana, saying “How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?”
The party also broke with the Governor by calling for a ban on hydraulic fracking.
Via the Los Angeles Times:
And although he has approved restrictions on fracking, an oil and gas drilling technique that environmentalists say is dangerous, the governor has also suggested it might offer California some economic opportunities. Fracking opponents heckled Brown’s otherwise well-received speech to several thousand Democrats at the convention Saturday.
The clash fit a tradition of California governors disappointing party activists. At a state Republican convention in 1991, conservatives tarred and feathered an effigy of GOP Gov. Pete Wilson in protest against a tax hike he had signed.
The declining number of voters calling themselves Democrats was a matter of concern for some party activists. The party is, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee, slowly losing – not gaining – registered voters as a proportion of the electorate. While not falling as fast as GOP registrations, now at 29%, the proportion of the electorate willing to call themselves Democrats has fallen by 4% since 1997.
From the Sacramento Bee article:
While other delegates partook in an “evening of Cumbia and cocktails” or a “funkfest” billed as “the convention’s hottest hospitality dance party,” disillusioned members of the party assembled Friday night over coffee and desserts at a cafe on Flower Street.
“I wouldn’t say this is like an AA meeting, but this is an unusually sober oasis in the middle of a Democratic convention,” said Tom Hayden, the former California lawmaker and legendary activist. “People actually speaking and thinking. I don’t know how long this can last.”
On This Day: 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell made a successful call with the telephone. He spoke the words “Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you.” 1971 – The Senate approved an amendment to lower the voting age to 18. 1979 – Soul Singer James Brown played at the Grand Ole Opry.
Check Out the SDFree Press Calendar
Thanks to the efforts of Brent Beltran, the San Diego Free Press now has an on-line calendar of events. You can see events in the arts, performances and political gatherings of every persuasion by clicking on the ‘Calendar’ Tab at the top of the page. To get your event listed, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
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@