By Doug Porter
Remember the days when San Diego was broke and broken?
Well, fear not citizens, happy days are here again. At least that’s the good news message our always-smiling mayor is busy delivering on the east coast this week.
The headline on yesterday afternoon’s press release from the Mayor’s office reads: “Mayor Faulconer to Share San Diego’s Comeback Story with National Media Outlets”.
The east coast tour includes three live, nationally broadcast interviews today on CNBC’s Squawk Box, the Wall Street Journal Live’s Lunch Break and Bloomberg News’ Bottom Line along with stories in The New York Times, Bloomberg News, CNN Money and Fortune.
The ostensible purpose of all this media hubbub is to attract new businesses to San Diego. Here’s the pitch, via the press release:
From innovations in biotechnology and cyber security, to its unique proximity to Mexico and the Pacific, to a dynamic start-up community, San Diego is rising as a global hub for business, trade and investment. Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer is heading to America’s largest media market, New York City, to raise San Diego’s national profile as a city that offers entrepreneurs and companies an environment in which they can thrive.
Watch hizzoner bob and weave as the CNBC host tries to get a straightforward statement out of him on government-mandated vaccinations.
Over at the Reader, Matt Potter saying the Mayor’s visit to the Brookings Institute on Thursday represents “opportunities to rub shoulders with certain Democratic representatives of the national establishment.”
Two weeks ago Faulconer went to the U.S. mayors’ conference in Washington DC, showing up on cable network MSNBC on January 21 to endorse president Barack Obama’s call for more taxpayer-funded infrastructure.
“When you look at the backlog of infrastructure, particularly our roads, you look at our bridges,” said Faulconer. “I mean, these are vital for commerce, these are vital for our families and obviously to drive around.”
Now, according to the website of the Brookings Institution, Faulconer is set to appear with London mayor Boris Johnson on the topic of “Governing Global Cities for Growth and Opportunity.”
While I would take serious issue with the characterization of the Brookings Institute as “mostly known for being left of center” (It’s a corporate funded think tank, whose output can best be described as centrist), it does appear that Mayor Faulconer is doing a great job of promoting himself (and presumably America’s Greatest City) anywhere that will have him.
If you take this grand expedition at face value, the problems of inequality and infrastructure in San Diego will be solved through “trickle down.”
Dems Tout AB32 Funding
While the mayor’s away, the Democrats will play. Councilman David Alvarez, along with labor leader/school board member Richard Barrera and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas held a press conference to tout $2 billion in funding for local projects made possible through California’s cap and trade carbon reduction program.
From their press release:
Projects available for funding include low-carbon transit, improving efficiency in existing housing, and construction of affordable housing. Distributed by several state agencies, the funds from this program will be made available through competitive and other grants to local governments, school districts, and transit agencies, among other potential recipients.
All the Publicly Funded News That Fits
San Diego County’s CountyNewsCenter.com has raised the hackles of UT-San Diego Watchdog editor Ricky Young.
He’s wondering if a touching story about the return of Mark the Cat to a San Carlos family is really a great use of taxpayer funding. Or if we really need a slick video explaining how to park at the county building on Pacific highway.
And I ask again — should county tax dollars go to write feature stories like ‘Area family reunited with cat’? http://t.co/B6tkva7oZc
— Ricky Young (@RickyWhy) February 10, 2015
Dave Maass at City Beat wrote about this gussied up county information service back in 2012:
As newsrooms around the country shrink, local governments are finding that the burden of disseminating information—particularly run-of-the-mill public announcements—is falling upon their shoulders.
But, if the county of San Diego’s latest mass-communication venture, CountyNewsCenter.com, is indicative of the trend, government won’t do it any cheaper than the private sector. A CityBeat analysis of the $114,000 contract for the design of the website indicates that the county paid more for CountyNewsCenter.com than KPBS, Voice of San Diego and CityBeat paid for their sites combined.
CountyNewsCenter.com was launched in September as a separate website from the county’s main hub, sdcounty.ca.gov. The site serves as the “digital newsroom” for the county’s Communications Office, which operates with a $3.1-million annual budget and 11 full-time communications officers. To the viewer, it looks not unlike any news organization’s website, with stories and YouTube videos promoting the county’s outreach campaigns and public-relations successes.
I guess we should all look at the bright side of this:
- The County didn’t name it Ministry of Information
- Al those young people with journalism degrees have got to end up somewhere.
The Mystery Money Man from Mexico
Voice of San Diego, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this week with a site redesign, has published athree part series looking at JoséSusumo
Azano Matsura, the man at the center of last year’s busts for illegal campaign contributions.
The younger Azano’s life is filled with stories that seem stranger than fiction. Wisps of detail about him appear everywhere from Singaporean business registries to the celebrity gossip site TMZ.
Azano and his attorneys have declined numerous interview requests for this series and they didn’t answer a written list of questions I provided.
Separating the reality of Azano’s life from rumors isn’t easy, but a few things are clear: Azano’s become a big player in the highly secretive world of international surveillance technology, he likes to show off his money and he’s never been far from accusations of fraud and deception.
Right On, Mike Aguire
Some time back San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre tried to ask then-California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey about what role he might have had in the decision-reaching process over closing down the San Onofre nuclear plant.
His questioning made the news after the CPUC president lost it, shouting at Aguirre to “Shut Up!” and saying he didn’t have to “answer your goddamned questions!”
Now comes this news via Don Bauder at the Reader:
This afternoon (February 9), Southern California Edison belatedly filed a document with the California Public Utilities Commission, admitting that the company met secretly with former commission president Michael Peevey.
At the secret meeting, Peevey suggested the framework for the San Onofre settlement that will cost ratepayers $5 billion as a result of the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant.
Edison said it “respectfully submits this late-filed Notice of Ex Parte Communications.” How late? The secret meeting was on March 26, 2013, at the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw, Poland. Peevey met with Edison’s executive vice president of external relations, Stephen Pickett.
“The meeting was initiated by Mr. Peevey,” revealed Edison. “In the course of the meeting, Mr. Peevey initiated a communication on a framework for a possible resolution” of the then-pending subject of how shareholders of Edison and Sempra, co-owners of the nuclear plant, and ratepayers would split the bill for the closing of the plant. Much later, the CPUC’s office of ratepayer advocates, Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and the The Utility Reform Network (TURN) came out with the so-called compromise that will cost ratepayers $5 billion.
The FBI raided Peevey’s home recently, seizing computers and other documents. The warrant mentioned the San Onofre deal.
There’s no word yet on whether we’ll be a getting our $5 billion “settlement” negated.
Imperial Beach Mayor Doomed
If newly elected Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina’s state of the city speech yesterday was any indication, he’ll be facing a trumped-up recall in no time. Not because he’s done anything wrong; it’s more like he’s trying to do things right.
First of all, he rode his bike to the Boys and Girls Club to deliver the speech. Then he advocated for term limits on himself.
Check out these subversive ideas, via UT-San Diego:
Dedina said that while the city accomplished much in 2014, this year will be even better for residents.
“I look forward to being more collaborative, participatory and transparent of how we recruit and select members of citizens advisory boards,” he said.
Dedina said he wants to create term limits for the office of mayor, limiting the amount of time a mayor can serve to two terms or eight years.
“I look forward to making Imperial Beach and even better place to live and raise a family and a gold medal example of a transparent, well managed, participatory and inclusive local government,” he said.
On This Day: 1897 – “The New York Times” began printing “All the news that’s fit to print” on their front page. 1949 – “Death of a Salesman” opened at the Morocco Theatre in New York City. 1963 – Eleven members of the Carpenters’ union in Reesor Siding, Northern Ontario are shot, three fatally, by independent local farmer-settlers who were supplying wood to a Spruce Falls Power and Paper Co. plant. Some 400 union members were attempting to block an outbound shipment from the plant. The action came as the company was insisting on a pay freeze and two months of seven-day-a-week work.
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