Papa Doug hawks his hotel's booze license to Walmart

While blasting Jacobs-backed Democrat Fletcher for "disdain" of Arkansas retail giant, Faulconer-favoring GOP publisher quietly sells $65,000 liquor license to Walmart

U-T San Diego, the mini media empire of La Jolla’s Douglas Manchester, has become noted in local political circles for putting its words where the money of its wheeler-dealer GOP publisher is.

From a bid to install a huge video billboard on U-T 's Mission Valley headquarters, to backing fellow hotel moguls seeking to rescue a favorable city funding contract, the onetime insurance salesman has employed his ink by the barrel in various causes of personal interest.

The latest round of intrigue involves the sale of a liquor license owned by one of Manchester’s many companies, Manchester Resorts, Inc.; the license had been used for so-called off sale vending of alcohol at the firm's downtown Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel, which was sold two years ago.

In a document recorded July 19 with the county, Manchester Resorts gave notice of its intention to transfer the license to a pending Walmart "neighborhood market" at 1046 Mission Avenue in Oceanside.

Four days earlier, on July 15, U-T had run a glowing story about the new Walmart, to open early next year, which quoted local politicos and a Walmart PR woman in praise of the project.

Walmart officials said the store will be a “Neighborhood Market” that sells primarily fresh produce, meats and household goods.

Mayor Jim Wood said the new Walmart would be a welcome addition for the city. “For years, we’ve wanted to get a full grocery market in the downtown area,” Wood said.

Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern said the new store will help boost the city’s economy.

Less than a week before that, on July 11, U-T had run a feature story accompanied by a photo gallery and a promotional video touting the opening of another Walmart neighborhood market, this one in San Diego's Sherman Heights. It also quoted Walmart PR touting the new store.

[Aaron] Rios said that this market will be able to satisfy customers' need for general merchandise by offering the wildly popular Walmart.com Site to Store service, which allows customers to order from among most of the 2 million items on the retailer's website and have them shipped to their local Walmart store for free.

Under Manchester, U-T has long led the cheers for Walmart, attacking "nimbyists" and unions for opposing new stores.

A June 19 U-T editorial opined:

Walmart’s supercenters became a target for misguided labor union activism. Yet Walmart has quietly turned existing stores into full-range stores or built new ones and the sky has not fallen.

There are 19 Walmarts of varying size in the county now, with four more planned. Chula Vista has a supercenter. So do National City, El Cajon, Vista, San Diego and Oceanside.

Of late, Manchester's paper has employed the Walmart issue against Democratic mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher in the publisher's growing big money political proxy war with billionaire Democratic Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs.

A September 22 U-T editorial blasted Fletcher for his purported "disdain for Walmart in general and Walmart selling groceries in particular."

Reached this morning at Manchester's Grand del Mar resort, Manchester Financial president Richard Gibbons confirmed the firm's Walmart transaction. According to the notice of intent of sale, the license went for $65,000.

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