By Doug Porter
When it was decided that San Diego needed more convention space, local politicians and hoteliers came up with a creative funding plan bypassing the need for public electoral input. Now changes in the economy and delays in the construction are forcing consideration of “certain adjustments” that could end up increasing costs beyond what funds are expected to be available via that scheme.
Attorney Cory Briggs, along with good-government advocates Diane Coombs and Pedro Quiroz, Jr., have filed paperwork needed to launch an initiative to hold San Diego’s mayor and city council fully accountable for the cost overruns on the proposed Convention Center expansion.
NBC7 News reports city financial experts are deeply concerned over rising costs as construction is held up by legal challenges to the financing scheme make their way through the appellate courts. Those concerns were expressed to the City Council via a little noticed March 25 memo from CFO Mary Lewis and Tony Heinrichs Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Public Works/Ulilities.
While boosters for the project–the usual collection of downtown interests–have said ground could be broken on the project early in 2015, Briggs predicted “This thing is now five years away from breaking ground at the earliest.” A letter from Mayor Kevin Faulconer hand-delivered to 4th District Court of Appeal urging a speedy resolution of pending litigation, claimed the project costs estimates are rising by one million dollars a month.
Via the NBC7 report:
The opposition says the city knew a final decision – perhaps from the California Supreme Court — would take some time, but rolled the financial dice anyway on cost projections that now seem to have been unrealistic.
“They forged ahead,” says Cory Briggs, who represents San Diegans for Open Government in the court action. “Here we are a couple years later. There’s no end in sight. The only thing we do know is that now the financial people at the city are acknowledging, ‘Yeah, we’re way over budget.’
“Where’s that money going to come from? This is basically a blank check that the city, the politicians, have written for themselves,” Briggs added.
The expansion of the Convention Center will add 225,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space contiguous to the current facility giving San Diego a total of 750,000 sq. ft. The expansion program also includes an additional 101,000 sq. ft. of meeting rooms and an 80,000 sq. ft. ballroom with sweeping views of San Diego Bay. Atop the new facility will be a five-acre rooftop park with multiple programmable areas including an outdoor performance venue capable of hosting events of up to 4,500 people.
This expansion plan has been sold to the public as essential to the city’s economic future. There are plenty of naysayers out there as well as pundits who predict the project won’t live up to its expectations.
Balboa Centennial Investigation Underway by State
The California Attorney General office has opened a formal investigation into matters relating to Balboa Park Celebration, Inc. [“BPCI”], according to a letter received by activist David Lundin.
According to UT-San Diego:
“The investigation is in response to our confidential formal complaint filed with the Attorney General on March 27, 2014,” Lundin wrote in a widely distributed email.
Lundin filed the complaint with the Registry of Charitable Trusts in the Attorney General’s Office.
The tax-exempt centennial organization was formed in 2011 to promote a 100-year celebration of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. It received almost $3 million in public funds but the board voted to dissolve earlier this year.
According to Lundin, state investigators will review spending by the organization, including a five-figure monthly salary for the executive officer and lucrative consulting contracts.
City News Service reported on the City of San Diego’s investigation:
A financial and performance audit of a volunteer group that tried to put on a yearlong celebration of Balboa Park’s centennial is underway, the San Diego city auditor said Wednesday.
At a meeting of the City Council’s Environment Committee, Auditor Eduardo Luna said the investigation into Balboa Park Celebration Inc. should be completed next month, with a report released in July.
“We’re assessing BPCI’s compliance with the (memorandum of understanding with the city), and specifically we’re looking at determining sources and amounts of BPCI funding, determine how those funds were used, what was received, and also what’s outstanding,” Luna said. “In addition, we’re also assessing the city’s involvement in oversight over BPCI.”
This sorry episode of San Diego history is, in my opinion, not likely to go very far in the courts. Sure, it stinks to high heaven, but given that the project was blessed by all the right people, I’ll be shocked if the repercussions amount to more than a bit of public tsk-tsking.
Sadly, this is but one tree in a forest of double-dealing and actions not necessarily in the best interest of the citizenry. We’ve all seen the tree and will be asked to “move along, nothing to see here” before we notice the forest.
Hedgecock’s On-Air Shilling for Demaio
Attorney Brian Kyd has filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission asking for notice to be placed in the public records of broadcast radio station KFMB regarding the on-air campaigning by talk show host Roger Hedgecock on behalf of congressional candidate Carl DeMaio.
Via Matt Potter at the Reader, in an article exploring the right wing connections of the stations ownership:
Also beyond the pale for a broadcasting operation that uses the public airwaves for free, DeMaio opponents argue, has been Hedgecock’s fundraising activity on behalf of the former city councilman using the station’s address.
“I have a favor to ask. I have committed to get five contributions for Carl DeMaio’s event this Thursday evening,” says an email sent by Hedgecock to addresses on a Republican fundraising list last September. “I’m hoping you can attend, but at the least, can you agree to contribute to make the event a success?
Here’s the link — please write ‘Roger’ in the event code.”
Another email appeal said, “once in a while a candidate for Congress comes along that really impresses me — so much so that I personally contribute to them.
“I want to introduce you to one such leader: CARL DEMAIO. Mark my words — you will be hearing a lot more about Carl DeMaio in the coming months and years. Think Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.”
At the bottom of the email was the radio show’s name and KFMB’s address: “The Roger Hedgecock Show | c/o KFMB Radio | 7677 Engineer Road.”
A Sorry GOP Race for Governor
No Comment needed. Via the San Francisco Chronicle:
Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari was already facing an uphill climb to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown this year, and now a new poll shows just how steep that hill is — he’s trailing a registered sex offender.
The private poll shows the one-time federal bailout czar lagging behind not just Brown but also a field of Republicans that includes Glenn Champ, who was put on the state’s sex offender registry after he was convicted in 1993 of two counts of assault with intent to commit rape. Before his professed conversion to Christianity, Champ also killed a man while driving and was convicted of soliciting a prostitute.
Kashkari is also trailing other Republicans running against Brown, including Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks (San Bernardino County), Mayor Andrew Blount of the Orange County town of Laguna Hills, and a political unknown named Alma Marie Winston.
Have You Registered to Vote? Bạn đã đăng ký để bình chọn?
If you want to vote in the June 3 primary but are not registered to vote, the deadline is May 19th.
California’s online voter registration website has now been expanded to include eight additional languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. In addition, the new system now has improved access for people with disabilities.
People who want to register to vote can now visit http://registertovote.ca.gov and fill out an online form in any of these ten languages. Prior to the November 2012 election, over half a million people used the online voter registration website to register as new voters.
According to a press release from the ACLU of California,
Advocates expect this to help increase registration among Asian Americans and Latinos in California who tend to have relatively low voter registration rates. While 72 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 69 percent of African Americans in California reported being registered to vote in 2012, only 58 percent of Asians and 57 percent of Latinos were registered.
“This is an exciting for California, which continues to work toward expanding access to the electoral process at a time when so many other states are restricting the right to vote,” said Lori Shellenberger, director of ACLU of California Voting Rights Project. “Californians will now have equal access to the state’s online voter registration system, regardless of language preference or a possible disability. If you have access to a computer or a smartphone, you can submit a voter registration application in just a few minutes.”
So what are you waiting for? And if the Vietnamese in the headline above actually says something derogatory about somebody’s mother, please notify Google Translate.
On This Day: 1901 – New York became the first state to require license plates for cars. The fee was $1. 1979 – The film “Rock & Roll High School” starring the Ramones premiered. 1987 – In Washington, DC, 100,000 people protested the U.S. policy in Central America.
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