Best eaters money can buy

There may be no free lunches in this world, but free dinners are another matter, at least when the City’s bond underwriters are picking up the tab and the diner is Jay M. Goldstone, top aide to San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders. Goldstone, whose official title is chief operating officer, attended a “bond closing dinner” held to commemorate the “sale of city’s water bonds” on February 2 of last year. Morgan Stanley, which managed the bond issue, picked up the check, valued on Goldstone’s recently filed statement of economic interests at $129. The month before, the City’s Public Facilities Financing Authority had sold $157 million worth of debt in the form of water revenue bonds through a syndicate led by Morgan.

Then last June 24, it was Banc of America and Citibank’s turn to do the honors, paying $166 for Goldstone’s meal at a closing dinner for the sale of a City sewer bond issue. In that case, $453.8 million in debt was issued. Chowing down with Goldstone at both events was Mary Lewis, the mayor’s chief financial officer.

Wall Street firms weren’t the only ones to feed Goldstone’s face. Public Policy Strategies, the campaign consulting and lobbying outfit run by the mayor’s top political guru, Tom Shepard, paid $200 so Goldstone could make an appearance at the Golden Watchdog and Fleece Awards dinner thrown last May 13 by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, a business interest lobbying group. Many other mayoral staffers also got free passes to that event from various special interests.

Merriam Mountains, the Escondido-based development outfit whose controversial 2700-unit subdivision was voted down earlier this year by county supervisors, gave Stephen Michael Lew, the mayor’s director of community outreach, a $200 ticket. Gerry Braun, director of the mayor’s special projects, got in thanks to the Westfield Group, owner of Horton Plaza and other big shopping centers. The Barona Indian tribe paid for community and legislative affairs policy director Julie Dubick’s admission. Denice Garcia, a community outreach staffer, went courtesy of cell-phone giant Qualcomm. Deputy policy director Philip Rath reported owing his attendance at the dinner to Poseidon Resources, the desalination firm that is a regular donor to various Sanders causes. Unlike the others, deputy press secretary Rachel Gibb Laing valued her admission to the event, reportedly received directly from the Taxpayers Association, at $135. Her boss, director of communications Darren Pudgil, also reported that his ticket, worth $200, came from the association.

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Obviously top city officials won't be found in line at the Grab&Go sub shops... as they might actually be exposed to voters and the rest of the unwashed masses...

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