By Doug Porter
Chargers’ special counsel Mark Fabiani has done San Diego a huge favor by pointing out the obvious. He’s single-handedly challenged the existing political narrative about the politics of the process being used in deciding on the advisability of building a new stadium.
You won’t find me among those pining away for the possibility of a new football stadium in America’s Finest City, even though I sometimes wonder if I’m addicted to watching games.
First, there’s the silliness of taxpayers being expected to subsidize a rich man’s game in return for the possibility of an endorphin rush at some future time. And then there’s my sense that the long-term prospects for the sport aren’t very good, what with players’ health issues, spousal abuse scandals, and anything having to do with Patriots’ coach Bill Belechick.
(Malarkey was the best synonym I could come up with for “bullshit,” a word that’s too easy to use when describing the goings on at San Diego’s city hall.)
The Opening Shot in Yesterdays’ Stadium Drama
So, I’ll let the Los Angeles Times’ Tony Perry set the scene, for the benefit of folks who may be late to this story:
On Monday, the Chargers’ special counsel Mark Fabiani reminded a committee recently appointed by the mayor that the team has spent 14 frustrating years and $15 million developing stadium proposals that flopped amid a lack of political support from City Hall.
He suggested that the Chargers ownership suspects that the mayor’s committee will propose a “half-baked” plan that is sure to lose at the polls or courts but will allow Faulconer and others to claim that they tried to save the team and thus avoid political damage.
“Simply put, we have no intention of allowing the Chargers franchise to be manipulated for political cover,” Fabiani told the committee, “and we will call out any elected official who tries to do so.”
Fabiani also called out the questionable participation of political consultant (who I like to call the “spawn of Satan” for his mean streak) Jason Roe along with PR man Tony Manolatos and others connected with the Faulconer administration at meetings not open to the public.
Roe, who directed the Chamber of Commerce’s fight to sabotage a local increase in the minimum wage, is one of the principals of the Presidio Public Affairs Group, a lobbying firm representing Delaware North. Delaware North just happens to be bidding on the concession rights for the current (and any future) stadium.
Manolatos is reportedly being paid to handle public relations for the stadium task force, which, as an informal advisory committee, has no budget. The financial source underwriting the PR man remains a mystery, although reporters have been assured it’s coming from the private sector. Nothing to see here, folks, move along.
He drew Fabiani’s wrath in part due to his previous representation of the San Diego Unified Port District, which opposes building a joint-use stadium and convention center facility downtown.
And there’s more, via UT San Diego:
“We have read with great interest the statements of Adam Day, the Task Force’s chairperson, that ‘ultimately we’re independent from the mayor,'” Fabiani wrote. “Unfortunately, we find this statement hard to square with the actual facts.”
Fabiani’s pointed comments, which raised questions about potential political conflicts and lack of transparency, quickly re-ignited tensions between the city and Fabiani that have tended to overshadow the task force’s goal of determining the best site for a new Chargers playing field — downtown or the Mission Valley Qualcom stadium property — and how to pay for it.
Hubba Hubba. The gauntlet was thrown down.
The Administration’s Counter Attack
It should be of no surprise to longtime observers that the response to Fabiani’s questions was a personal attack by consultant Jason Roe and a letter from Mayor Faulconer complaining to the Chargers’ ownership about the “divisive tone” used by their point man.
Here’s the UT reporting on Roe’s response:
“Ryan Leaf is no longer the worst personnel decision in Charger’s history,” read the statement from Roe, who has sat in on both of the task force’s closed-door meetings to date and advised Faulconer on his mayoral campaign.
He added that Fabiani has not succeeded in his main task for the Chargers: getting a new stadium deal done.
“In 14 years of failure, Mark Fabiani has done nothing but make excuses, lay blame, and pick fights. The Mayor’s advisory committee is just that – the Mayor’s advisory committee and Mark doesn’t get to dictate how the Mayor organizes his advisory group. Rather than work constructively with the committee to find solutions, Mark’s back to his normal routine of picking fights to avoid progress.”
The Carrot and the Stick
Here’s hizzonor’s “carrot”, via KPBS:
Faulconer responded to Fabiani’s criticism in a letter addressed to Chargers President Dean Spanos.
“The group is not receiving any funding from the City of San Diego, and as such, any private resources the group chooses to bring to bear to help complete its work is solely the group’s decision to make,” the mayor said. “However, it is my personal opinion that all of our time would be better spent on creating a plan for a new stadium instead of continuing to undermine the work of the advisory group.”
Faulconer offered to personally meet with Spanos “without any advisors or staff” to discuss the best way to keep the Chargers in San Diego.
And here’s the city hall “stick”, via 10News:
The mayor of San Diego and his political consultant Tuesday blasted the Chargers’ point-man in the team’s stadium search, accusing him of “continuing to undermine” the work of a task force formed to find a site and financing plan for a new football facility.
In a letter to team president Dean Spanos, Mayor Kevin Faulconer wrote that he was disappointed with “the ongoing actions and demeanor” of Mark Fabiani, who has led the Chargers’ lengthy search for a new place to play.
His divisive tone and criticism of this group of volunteers, civic leaders and the city of San Diego as a whole are not conducive to developing a plan for a new stadium,” Faulconer wrote. “I hope his behavior is not indicative of our ability to find a solution.”
Papa Doug Manchester’s minions in Mission Valley also appealed to Chargers’ owner Dean Spanos, via an editorial accusing Fabiani of sticking”another needle in the mayoral eye.”
…Insulting the mayor, his advisers and the task force seems more like the behavior of someone trying to make it look like it is all the city’s fault and that the Chargers now may have no choice but to leave for Los Angeles or wherever.
Fabiani is obviously speaking for and acting on behalf of the Spanos family. There is no indication that the Spanoses are in any way unhappy with him. Still, San Diego deserves now to hear from the Chargers ownership itself, not the hired gun.
The Chargers have been an important part of the fabric of San Diego for 54 years. The Spanos family has been good and generous corporate citizens. San Diego, in turn, is a good football town. It deserves an NFL team. Most everyone, including this editorial board, wants that team to be the Chargers. But if it is not going to be the Chargers, this community deserves to know it now.
What do you say, Mr. Spanos?
Actually, I think the question should be: “What do you say, Mr. Faulconer.”
The Truth is Out There
The mayor’s minders, also known as the editorial board of UT-San Diego, are also seeking their own personal meeting with Spano so they can tattle on Fabiani.
Despite all the fussing about Fabiani’s tone and demeanor, the administration and the guardians of the political faith have yet to address any of the actual ethical concerns about the stadium advisory committee. All that’s left is for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to hold a press conference saying “Fabiani is a bad person and everything is legal here.”
UT-Editorial Board Member Chris Reed’s tweet…
Just saw Mark Fabiani statement on Chargers & stadium task force. Evokes this headline: pic.twitter.com/oSL7KIy3F5
— Chris Reed (@chrisreed99) February 16, 2015
DeMaio: Rising from Purgatory
Since Carl DeMaio’s loss to Congressman Scott Peters, there (thankfully) hasn’t been much noise coming from his direction.
Well, put in those earplugs and grab hold of your wallets, because he’s baaack.
From the Times of San Diego:
In an email to supporters of his congressional campaign, DeMaio said he set up a political action committee called Reform California to take pension reform statewide with a ballot measure.
“As you know we had a big win here in San Diego on pension reform and saved taxpayers billions,” DeMaio said in the email. “For the past several weeks a group of my supporters and I have been in discussions to take pension reform statewide with a ballot measure in 2016. If we qualify the measure, this will result in an earthquake in California politics!”
DeMaio said the first step is to poll voters to see if such a measure has a chance, and he urged supporters to contribute to his PAC.
“With this polling in hand, we can then build a broad coalition and raise funds to get the job done,” he wrote.
The good news about this move by DeMaio is that his “reform movement” may actually attract some scrutiny of how San Diego has fared under its his pension plan. (Hint: Bring your hip boots.)
The bad news is that DeMaio will once again have a platform to spread his bile.. And that voice…
Houston Transit Puts Riders First
Houston, we had a problem. As in the past tense.
There’s a great article at Vox.com by Matthew Yglesias about how the city of Houston, Texas just overhauled its transit system to make it better serve the population.
Here’s the really scary part. It didn’t cost anything.
How is Houston able to pull that off with no additional funding? Well, as Jarrett Walker, one of the plan’s lead designers, explains it’s all about prioritizing rides that will plausibly attract riders. The old system, like many bus routes in the United States, expended a lot of resources on very low-ridership routes for the sake of saying there’s “a bus that goes there.” The new plan says that the focus should be to provide reasonably frequent service on routes where reasonably frequent service will attract riders. That does mean that some people are further than ever from a transit stop. But it means that many more Houstonians will find themselves near a useful transit stop.
Focusing transit planning on the goal of promoting transit services that are actually used strikes me as common sense. But it’s also the best way to create a virtuous circle of sound urban planning and transportation management. A system with a lot of riders is a system with a lot of advocates for expansion and improvement.
Pussy Riot’s Solidarity Song (Video)
On Wednesday, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina released their first song in English. Titled I Can’t Breathe, it shows Nadya and Masha dressed in the blue uniform of Russia’s OMON riot police, lying in a grave. They are slowly buried alive.
Pussy Riot said they wrote the song after taking part in street protests against Eric Garner’s death at the hands of NYPD officers in Staten Island, New York last July. It was dedicated to Garner and to “all who suffer from state terror – killed, choked, perished because of war and police violence – to political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change”.
Their own first-hand experience of police brutality in Russia meant “we can’t be silent on this issue,” they said.
On This Day: 1885 – Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was published in the U.S. for the first time 1915 – D.W. Griffith showed his racist epic film “Birth of a Nation” at a private White House screening for President Woodrow Wilson. 1918 – Faced with 84-hour workweeks, 24-hour shifts and pay of 29¢ an hour, fire fighters formed The Int’l Association of Fire Fighters. 1972 – The California Supreme Court struck down the state’s death penalty.
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