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Mayor Sanders joins Marco LiMandri against conflict charges

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis did not pursue the case

On April 23, 2007, two San Diego investigators, Gerald Cook of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Dan Vile of the San Diego Police Department, turned in a criminal investigation of wrongdoing in a local business improvement district. The report was submitted to the district attorney’s office, which ultimately did nothing about it.

Business improvement districts provide landscaping, marketing plans, and parking improvements, among other services, to older areas of town. Businesses pick up the bulk of the tab through assessments, but local governments authorize expenditures and can also award contracts and federal community development block grants to the districts.

The focus of the investigators’ report was the North Bay Association, a business improvement district in the Sports Arena area, and two entrepreneurs, Paul Mannino and the politically powerful Marco Li Mandri, executive director of the nonprofit Little Italy Association and also head of his own company, the for-profit New City America, which specializes in contracts with business improvement districts. (The Reader offices are within the Little Italy business improvement district.) Scott Kessler, who has spent much of his life working with such districts, has for several years had questions about Li Mandri’s possible conflicts of interest — for just one thing, Li Mandri’s for-profit operation getting fat contracts from the nonprofit he runs. Li Mandri has been involved in several business improvement districts in San Diego and is active in such districts around the country.

In 2006, Kessler got a job with the City riding herd on the districts. And according to a lawsuit in superior court, he lost that job because he refused a direct order from his superior to discontinue further contact with the investigators, supplied their criminal report to the Ethics Commission, and would not go along with Li Mandri’s attempts to shortcut municipal regulations.

View Kessler’s suit

The joint FBI/police investigation got under way in April of 2005, when Kessler, then head of the nongovernmental San Diego Business Improvement District Council, told the police about alleged conflict-of-interest violations in the North Bay Association. The first conflict of interest occurred, the report says, when Li Mandri, who was hired as a consultant to set up the district, became the district’s executive director, with a $50,000 salary. On a similar note, the investigators say, “Although not a focus of this investigation, Li Mandri had been hired by the City to form the Little Italy [business improvement district] and subsequently, after the [district] was formed, was hired by the organization that received the [district] administration contract.”

In 2001 Paul Mannino held the unpaid position of president of the North Bay Association and Li Mandri was its paid executive director. According to the joint FBI/police report, Mannino wanted to award a $50,000-a-year subcontract for security work to a company that Mannino would set up. Kessler told Mannino that it was an obvious conflict of interest. So, according to the report, Mannino then took over Li Mandri’s position as executive director of the North Bay Association under a subcontract from Li Mandri. Lo and behold, Li Mandri’s New City America then got two community development block grant subcontracts from North Bay. Kessler cocked an eyebrow at that nifty exchange too. So did the two investigators, who then began their exhaustive report, which is 65 pages in length, single-spaced. Li Mandri and Mannino were never interviewed because they would not talk without certain assurances and conditions, according to the report.

The investigators gathered copious documents from such places as New City America and the homes of Li Mandri and Mannino. The documents indicate that there’d been a quid pro quo arrangement between the two men. Conclusion: Li Mandri and Mannino were guilty of violating many laws.

The investigative report found that “fraudulent procurement processes” had been used when the grants were awarded to Li Mandri. Additionally, when the City asked North Bay for documentation, Mannino submitted false information.

In 2002, the North Bay Association got a block grant from the city worth $20,000 to conduct a study of vagrant-related activity. The association was to gather crime statistics and to survey businesses. In July 2004, North Bay requested payment from the City for the work. However, the investigators concluded that work had never been done, according to the report.

A year later, the City asked North Bay for the study, and after three weeks Mannino supplied a purported study. Evidence obtained through the search warrant indicates that it was written just days before it was sent in. Among that evidence were the surveys. The investigators got in touch with the people who supposedly had filled them out. One after another said they had never been contacted for the association’s so-called survey and the handwriting supposedly displaying their answers was not theirs. For just one example, Joey DeSanti, a friend of Mannino’s, “advised that he had never filled out such a survey, did not recall ever being contacted and asked the questions found in the survey, and did not recall ever giving permission to use his name in association with such a survey,” according to the investigative report.

Lynn Ammons “advised that the handwriting on the survey was not hers,” says the report. “She further advised that she never completed such a survey in person, nor was she ever called by anyone and asked the survey questions over the phone.”

Using handwriting analysis, the investigators concluded that the names and answers were written by Mannino, according to the report. The vagrant study was fabricated and fraudulent, say the investigators.

The FBI/police report’s final allegation involves “a bribery and attempt[ed] extortion scheme.” On September 17, 2004, Mannino, two other North Bay Association boardmembers, and a local developer, Bill Kenton, held a meeting. At this time, Mannino chaired the North Bay Redevelopment Project Area Committee. The investigators learned that Mannino and his associates suggested that Kenton pay $100,000 in exchange for North Bay’s support for a Midway development project. The North Bay Association would supposedly provide vision, subsidy and land acquisition assistance, strategy development, and community support. Kenton said the suggestion was “outrageous.” He told the FBI/police investigators “the lever was put” to him and that the North Bay offer constituted “extortion.” The investigators concluded that Mannino and his associates violated state law in making the request. (Kenton remembered the sum as $10,000, not $100,000, but still considered the proposal an outrage.)

But even in the face of such evidence — and much more — District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis did not pursue the case.

Why? There may be answers in the civil suit that Kessler has filed against the City for wrongful termination and retaliation. After spending many years working with business improvement districts, Kessler was brought into City government in April of 2006 as deputy director of the Economic Development Division. One of his duties was to monitor these districts. Among many things, he continued to find fault with Li Mandri’s activities. In one case, Kessler found that Li Mandri had taken in more money than his contract allowed.

Another time, Li Mandri proposed that the City jettison its long-standing practice of conducting monthly audits of contract expenditures and have a particular bank do a yearly audit instead. In early 2007, Kessler was summoned to a meeting in Mayor Jerry Sanders’s office. Legislative director Julie Dubick told Kessler he was to meet with Li Mandri, Little Italy Association boardmembers, and the association’s attorney, Theresa McAteer. Li Mandri’s people presented their once-a-year audit proposal. Dubick liked the idea, according to Kessler’s suit. But the branch manager of the suggested bank was a Little Italy Association boardmember, according to Kessler’s suit. Kessler objected, and the proposal was shelved.

Kessler made it known that Li Mandri’s role at the Little Italy Association was leading to a lack of competitive procurement practices, and he placed new conditions on contracts among the association, the city, and New City America. Li Mandri complained to Sanders, and the mayor’s staff enthusiastically sided with Li Mandri, according to the suit. The mayor’s office instructed Kessler to “bend contracting rules” in favor of Li Mandri, according to the suit. Kessler refused. Dubick allegedly asked why the Little Italy Association was not reimbursed for McAteer’s legal expenses. When Kessler said this was not permissible, Dubick said, “Find a way to pay for it,” according to the Kessler suit.

Kessler testified in front of a grand jury about the alleged illegal activities brought out in the FBI/police report. After Dumanis refused to prosecute — against her subordinates’ recommendation — Kessler argued that the report’s revelations were severe enough for Li Mandri to be banned from getting further City contracts.

In early October 2008, Kessler supplied copies of the police/FBI report to his supervisors. The Ethics Commission requested a copy, which Kessler provided. But he was told that “all hell had broken loose in the mayor’s office” when it got word that Kessler had turned over the report to the Ethics Commission. Kessler was instructed to stop talking with the FBI/police probers and to turn over all copies of their reports to Jay Goldstone, the City’s bean counter and chief operating officer.

A few days later, Kessler learned that the mayor’s office supported a proposal whereby Li Mandri would get a $20,000 no-bid/sole-source contract to do work that Centre City Development Corporation was already doing for free, according to the suit. “Regardless of Li Mandri’s proposal being illegitimate, Mayor Sanders’s office supported the proposal,” says the suit. (Although Li Mandri didn’t end up getting that contract, he got a big contract for valet parking services in Little Italy.)

Around this time, Kessler experienced a Hemingway-like Moment of Truth: he realized why the mayor’s office had been so upset about his providing the report to the Ethics Commission. In fighting what he believed to be Li Mandri’s questionable contracts, Kessler was on the wrong team. The mayor was on the pro–Li Mandri team, explains the suit. Dubick and the mayor’s chief of staff, Kris Michell, were particularly angry with Kessler for being the skunk at the mayor’s garden party, says the suit.

In late October and into November 2008, the axe began to fall in stages. First, Kessler was told that one-third of his staff would be reporting directly to the mayor. Then Kessler heard a rumor that his own head would be in the guillotine. When he questioned his boss William Anderson, he initially acted surprised, but finally Anderson admitted it was true: Kessler would be gone. Another employee was being demoted into his position. His job was to train her before he packed up his papers and departed.

According to the suit, Kessler asked his supervisor if his (Kessler’s) cooperation with the investigators and Ethics Commission had cooked his goose. Anderson said, “It certainly ruined [Kessler’s] relationship with Mayor Sanders’s office, and Mayor Sanders’s office lost their trust in [Kessler].” Therefore, Kessler alleges in the suit that the cause of his termination, which occurred on November 21, was his cooperation with the two investigators and the Ethics Commission, as well as his attempts to rein in Li Mandri’s abuses. (The Ethics Commission later concluded that it had no jurisdiction in the matter.)

Judge John S. Meyer has already dismissed parts of Kessler’s lawsuit, “but we still have the guts of our case,” says Joshua Gruenberg, Kessler’s lawyer, who has made a settlement offer. The city attorney’s office will only say that last Friday it filed for dismissal of Kessler’s suit. Gruenberg is confident this summary judgment motion attempt won’t get anywhere. Unless the schedule is changed for some reason, the trial is set to begin June 10.

Another key matter is not discussed in the FBI/police investigation. Kessler initially went to law enforcement because a police officer told him that Mannino, who was on the board of the business improvement district council, had been convicted of a felony. In July of 1979 in New York City, undercover agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration traced Quaalude sales to a Paul Mannino and ultimately found boxes of the drugs in his car, according to federal records. Mannino was indicted in February of 1980; a jury convicted him of violation of federal drug, firearms, and racketeering laws. He lost his appeal and went to prison. Li Mandri met Mannino around 2000.

Mannino, who was ultimately fired from the North Bay Association, now heads Throwdown Elite Training Center, a Midway-area facility that teaches such skills as kickboxing and jujitsu. He did not return three calls.

Li Mandri says he didn’t know about a Mannino conviction until quite recently. However, his wife, Laura Li Mandri, says, “We found out through our attorneys” in the course of the FBI/police investigation. She and her husband claim they have never seen the final investigative report. She laments that critics see “some kind of mob connection” through Mannino. “If Italians are involved, they assume Mafia.”

Marco Li Mandri says his critics “believe there is some kind of mob connection and underworld connection. That is disgusting to me.”

The Li Mandri family is known for past organized crime ties. “There are definitely family ties to organized crime from two generations ago,” Laura Li Mandri allows.

Marco Li Mandri concedes that his family had mob ties two generations ago. But he says that is irrelevant. “No one has any evidence that I ever had anything to do with organized crime,” he says. “Isn’t it like the Kennedys?” (The patriarch of the Kennedy clan, Joe Kennedy, had close business and financial ties with rum-running hoodlums during Prohibition. His son, President Jack Kennedy, had a mistress in the White House who was a communications cipher between the President and Chicago hoodlum Sam “Momo” Giancana.)

Marco Li Mandri is also not perturbed by anyone’s offenses 30 years ago. “You are not the same person you were 30 years ago. Scott Kessler is not the same person he was 30 years ago,” Li Mandri says.

Marco Li Mandri bitterly denounces Kessler and the FBI/police report. Kessler, who had been a friend since their 1970s days at the University of California San Diego, has a vendetta, insists Li Mandri. Li Mandri sent a transcription of a voice mail that Kessler allegedly left on his phone during the heat of their battle. Li Mandri stresses that it ends with Kessler saying, “I’m going for the jugular, dude.”

Here is the transcription of Kessler’s full message. “I’m not going to be intimidated by you and you know a couple of months ago I told you I wasn’t goin’ to pay you until the end of the…until the contract was finished. Everything is always somebody else’s fault. Marco, there’s…you’ve got a lot of stuff riding…so if you want to go to war…you’re going to lose and if you want to talk to me and work this out, that’s fine but, uh, if you continue to lobby and try to disparage my character I’m going for the jugular, dude.”

“I don’t want to relive this turmoil all over again,” says Li Mandri. “It consumed my life for five to six years, was very costly, and made me consistently defend my reputation. I have gone out of my way to clear my name against these charges. The lawsuit, which in essence blames me for [Kessler’s] firing, is all speculation. The allegations he [Kessler] made against me have no substance.” Li Mandri says he has lost a lot of business because of the battles.

“This cockamamie idea floating around has no basis in legal reality,” Li Mandri complains. He says the police and FBI are clumsy. “They have turned my life around, raiding my house” in front of his children. “How can you raid someone’s house for documents when you already have possession of them?”

Li Mandri argues that a 2005 decision by the attorney general’s office got him off the hook. The office put forward the question, “Is a person who was hired by a city as a consultant in the process of forming a business improvement district precluded from being hired after formation of the district by a nonprofit corporation that is under contract with the city to manage the district?” In a six-page report, the attorney general’s office basically concludes that the consultant is not precluded from being hired after the district is formed. This was a reversal of a previous stance by the attorney general’s office.

However, this decision addressed only some of the conflicts of interest that Kessler was pointing out, says his lawyer, Gruenberg. It didn’t touch on other instances of Li Mandri’s violations of open and competitive procurement laws. Mike Aguirre, who was city attorney while the battle was going on, disagreed with the attorney general and took Kessler’s side.

In late 2007, Aguirre wrote the Little Italy Association, “The municipal code requires the nonprofit to advertise for sealed proposals when contracting for goods and services where the expenditures will be greater than $50,000. At present, we conclude that the association has not complied with these requirements. A sole-source agreement with [New City America] under these circumstances would be inappropriate.”

Li Mandri has always argued (indeed, argued to the Reader) that he is only the administrator of the Little Italy Association and not a voting boardmember. Therefore, there is no conflict when the association gives a fat contract to New City. But Aguirre’s office came up with letters in which a boardmember suggested that Li Mandri serve as president of the association and another reference in which Li Mandri is named as chairman. (Laura Li Mandri says that only means he chairs meetings.)

The local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it couldn’t comment on why the report that its agent coauthored was not acted upon. The district attorney’s office would not address that topic. The mayor’s office was asked specifically about the roles of various administration personnel in the Kessler matter, but there was no response.

“Scott Kessler is a man of credibility,” says Aguirre. “His issues should not be dismissed and should be resolved by a fair-minded, neutral judge. Why Li Mandri would be allowed to do business with the City is beyond understanding.”

“This is a story about Bonnie Dumanis, [who] protects people in power,” says Aguirre.

Li Mandri, who has been a big political donor to a number of officeholders since the early 1990s, concedes he gave money to Dumanis, but he says he hasn’t seen her for a year and a half. “I certainly have no control over Bonnie Dumanis because I gave her a donation,” he says. And he says he does not have the power to get any City official fired, although he admits he complained about Kessler to the mayor.

As to the charge that Kessler is waging a vendetta, his lawyer Gruenberg points out that the FBI and police agents say that everyone they nail accuses them of having a vendetta.

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Awesome investigative reporting again Don.

So the San Diego Cesspool of GOP Establishment corruption continues to get larger and deeper due to the new GOP culture of Social Darwinism where the San Diego GOP Establishment wealthy get richer and richer at the expense of the taxpayers, while the poor multiply, are neglected and exploited, and forced to fend for ourselves.

Maybe an earthquake will cause a cesspool tsunami that will drown San Diego politicians in their own sewage.

"while the poor multiply, are neglected and exploited, and forced to fend for ourselves." Does this mean breed like crazy and bill the taxpayers?

Response to post #1: San Diegans must ask Bonnie Dumanis why she did not pursue this case. A brilliant investigation by the FBI and San Diego police was handed to her. But it would have embarrassed the mayor and his aides such as Dubick and Michell, as well as the politically powerful Li Mandri. WHY DID SHE NOT PURSUE THIS CASE? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #2: Breeding like crazy is certainly taking advantage of tax laws. However, costs of raising the children probably offset the tax advantages, although possibly not the entitlement payments. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #3: It's more than interesting, in my judgment, although I don't have the Olympian detachment to be the judge of that. Best, Don Bauder

Sounds like Dumannis confused Li Mandri with being a Charger and swept his picadillo under the rug...

Response to post #7: Don't you think she knew that pursuing this case would be highly embarrassing, if not incriminating, to the mayor and his entourage? Best, Don Bauder

Oh sure, Don. I was just being a smartass. I just find it awfully convenient that none of the Chargers I've heard of getting arrested for dumb s*** have been prosecuted. The charges are somehow dropped.

Response to post #9: I knew you were kidding. But the fact that sports players, politicians, bureaucrats, establishment members and anybody who would embarrass the establishment is not prosecuted is quite telling. Best, Don Bauder

It's too bad the fine citizens of Sandy Eggo doesn't bitch about political policies as loud as they bitch about sex offender laws...

Special assessment districts—BIDs, MADs—are a ripe environment for corruption. The whole process starts, when an “engineer” draws the district to maximize the votes in favor of forming the district. Remember, BIDs and MADs are created by a weighted vote. The owners of the largest parcels get the most votes. Li Mandri is one of these “engineers,” who will gerrymander the district to rig the election. The City likes BIDs and MADs, because they are way to raise revenue to provide for neighborhood services. In the case of a MAD, the fee is tacked onto the property tax. The City is using this to circumvent Proposition 13. It’s no surprise you found corruption. The surprise is that Li Manrdri has his fingers in North Bay, too. Also note that both districts are in redevelopment areas and redevelopment is another cesspool of corruption.

Here is a link to a commentary I wrote about MADs and BIDs: http://www.sdnn.com/sandiego/2009-12-08/blog/a-more-perfect-union/the-trouble-with-being-mad . This was based on an excellent academic paper co-authored by Vladimir Kogan of UCSD. In the comments section there is a link to this paper. Also, Joe Deegan of the Reader wrote an excellent article about the Golden Hill MAD.

Response to post #11:The public has no idea how its pocket is being picked by Wall Street through credit default swaps and the like, but it does understand what philandering is all about (without, probably, knowing the word "philandering.") Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #12: Yes, that is a very good article you wrote. I did see Joe Deegan's Reader article in the course of reporting this one, and I agree that it was excellent. BIDs and MADs are definitely ripe for abuse. I have great respect for Vladimir Kogan's work. As we follow up on this story, I believe we should expand the inquiry into the general topic of MAD and BID abuses.

Incidentally, I have had a number of emails about the one who is identified as Paul Mannino. Yes, he is known locally as Joe Mannino. In my first writing of the article, I identified him as Paul (Joe) Mannino. Somehow, that got dropped (perhaps by me in the second writing) and I take the blame for not seeing that in the final editing.

Best, Don Bauder

Wow, the lawsuit has great stuff!

See, even though the City has rigid rules that all City staff are "off limits as far as giving information and interviews" (thanks, José Ysea; see Matt Potter this week), we can still learn how it all goes down inside the holy chambers, thanks to The Reader.

You gotta love that the FBI and Police investigations showing that Sanders et al. are in bed with a crook aren't concerning to Sanders et al., at all (courtesy of Sanders' pal Bonnie D), but whoa,... that nasty, nosy Ethics Commission. That's when the big worry starts:

"Goldstone represented to Plaintiff [Kessler] that Mayor Sanders’ office was concerned that they may get “dragged into this now that the Ethics Commission had the report.”

And here's another insight : Kessler was concerned that "LiMandri’s misuse of public funds exceeded the threshold prescribed by the San Diego Municipal Code." Really? Threshold? What IS the threshold of misuse? How much can you misuse public funds before Deputy Directors and our Muni Code decide it's too much misuse?

Great stuff, Bauder. Thanks, Reader!

Response to post #15: Both the FBI/police investigative report AND the lawsuit have great stuff. No wonder Bonnie Dumanis looked the other way. The establishment no doubt finds this whole matter comforting. With Dumanis and others in law enforcement in their pocket, they know they can continue their dubious squirreling of money from government into their own hands. Frankly, I think the new US attorney should take this one up. The amount of money may be considered too small for the DOJ, but the abuse of government rules and regulations is not too small. Several people have written me emails, asking if I thought the mainstream media will take up this one. No. San Diego's mainstream media are kept by the same persons keeping Dumanis et al. Best, Don Bauder

Great stuff indeed. One can only wonder how much more of this sort of thing is going on, perhaps on a much larger scale. The city will always be broke when this sort of double-dealing and hand-washing is going on.

Of course, Anon didn't disappoint. The very first comment is a typical rant about the GOP. Just what party affiliation do LiMandri and Mannino have? Kessler? It's a good thing Kessler hasn't been threatened with bodily harm. That's the usual mob approach.

Visduh:

Frankly, the whole drama of Kessler being disturbed by wrongdoing and conflict of interest is laughable. He did plenty of conflicted things during his tenure in Economic Development, when it served to empower his friends in the business community. He just wants financial compenstion from the City. He's not too employable anymore...

Scott Kessler is the unlikely hero of this article. But Kessler too has muddy feet when it comes to MADs. He was a former head of the Golden Hill CDC before he joined the city's Development Services staff. In that capacity, he was instrumental in pushing through the passage of a MAD in Golden Hill -- a MAD that is much disputed and the subject of litigation.

Among Kessler's dirty tricks were: 1) approving an official city ballot that allowed opponents no space to list arguments against the MAD, 2) approving an engineer's report that included sections of Balboa Park (a regional park) in Golden Hill to give the city a heavier weighted vote, and 3) chairing a meeting of citizens at which he chose only to address written questions that supported the MAD. At that meeting he also introduced Mitch Berner as a disinterested party, even though Berner had been hired to promote the MAD.

The lesson of all this is, as a previous letter writer commented, that MADs are a cesspool of corruption endemic to this city. City Council members, the mayor, the district attorney, the city attorney, and city staff are all complicit in this corruption. They smile and pretend not to notice the stench from the cesspool.

Response to post #17: I think the big message, Visduh, is one you have no doubt thought of. And that's this: what does this tale tell us about the strong mayor concept now being touted by the mayor and the downtown corporate welfare lobbyists? And what does it tell us about outsourcing? I have always said that outsourcing is a good idea in theory, but it won't work in a corrupt city. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #18: I don't know whether Kessler did corrupt things while he was in Economic Development. I have heard from others that he did, but I simply don't know. But here's where I disagree with you: if he did underhanded things for his friends in business, he is eminently employable in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #19: The Reader's Joe Deegan wrote a very good article about the Golden Hill MAD. I think MADs and BIDs should be the subject of more Reader articles. It sure does look like a mud puddle. Best, Don Bauder

Ehhhhh, Mr B: - That's very funny! You from Canada?

Response to post #23:I'm not from Canada. I do get called loonie once in awhile. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #24: Now it's up to Reader readers to demand answers from the DA and from the mayor's office. Best, Don Bauder

Mr. Bauder; please see the March 5 front page U-T article "No-tip policy could prove costly" for the following to make sense. Again, thanks for your good works!

Wasn't Li Mandri in one of the later Godfather movies? He sure looks familiar from some movie I've seen...

----- Original Message ----- From: xxxxx xxxxx To: Jay from the Linkery Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 5:25 PM Subject: Why in the world?

Read Don Bauder's March 4, Reader column please, evidently the City Attorney handles only the most critical issues like restaurant tipping and undefendable City of San Diego wrongful termination litigation. We came to support you and were pleased to learn the City Attorney's office dropped the matter.
Please thank Chelsea for our pleasant lunch today.

----- Original Message ----- From: xxxxx xxxxx To: [email protected] Cc: Susan Davis ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected] Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 8:01 AM Subject: Why in the world?

Dear City Attorneys, Why in the world are you chasing after Jay Porter and The Linkery over their 18% service charge policy? We always thought you were a sensible guy, even before bringing Aguirre in the thought process. I've been there several times and The Linkery's always been up front with their service charge policy, and welcome you to take it up with a manager if you have a problem with it. [So is that what you're trying to do?] I would prefer you do something more useful for the SD and Poway? citizenry , like go after the airlines [except Southwest] who have one advertised price, then add on for luggage, blankets, pillows, seat selection, food, drink, etc. I'm guessing next will be a 'restroom availability' charge, with surcharge if actually used.

Li Mandri, who has been a big political donor to a number of officeholders since the early 1990s, concedes he gave money to Dumanis, but he says he hasn’t seen her for a year and a half. “I certainly have no control over Bonnie Dumanis because I gave her a donation,” he says.

Please, when are these clowns going to get a clue that the ublic knows this is nonsense-if the $$$ didn't buy him anything (like influence) he would not have given the money.

I would not be surprised AT ALL if the US Attorney goes after not just Li Mandri-but others as well, maybe even Sanders.

Randall "Duke" Cunningham found this out the hardway, that doing dirty deals can get you tossed in the slammer-even if you were a 15 year US Congressman. I think many of these characters, including Sanders, could be an FBI/US Attorney target.

In many ways this reminds me of the exact same actions of Carolyn Smith at the SEDC. No oversight of a gov agency run amok, and being used as a piggy bank for the people running it.

It's a good thing Kessler hasn't been threatened with bodily harm. That's the usual mob approach.

By Visduh

LOL...yeah, that is called an "out of court settlement" by the mob.

Anthony "The Ant" Spilotro (Joe Pesci's character in "Casino") made one of those out of court settlements back in the 70's with that La Jolla woman who was suing the Stardust Hotel and Lefty Rosenthal .

Response to post #27: You seem to be saying that law enforcement chases picayune matters and ignores the big swindles. Amen. 'Twas ever thus, but in San Diego, it is getting far worse with Bonnie Dumanis as district attorney. You seem to be criticizing Aguirre, but you are wrong in this case. It was Aguirre who sided with Kessler, and told the mayor so. It was the mayor and his entourage who told Kessler NOT TO COOPERATE WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT, according to Kessler's suit. This is put in all-caps for a reason. Think about it. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #28: Bonnie Dumanis sat on the case until the statute of limitations had run long enough that the U.S. attorney could not pick up the case. However, it seems to me that the US attorney could pick up this case if the charge were changed: say, to OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. I am just thinking out loud here. I can't imagine this happening in San Diego currently. But there is a new US attorney....maybe there is a chance. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #29: Ah, "Tony the Ant" Spilotro. His lawyer was Oscar Goodman, mob lawyer who is now mayor of Las Vegas, and who resides in Coronado during the summer -- or, at least, once did. In the press and conversations, another dubious character was blamed for that hit (never prosecuted), as I recall, but Tony was the guy who done it. Best, Don Bauder

I hope San Diego wakes up and realizes the experiment with Bonnie Dumanis is over. If anyone with some decent credentials shows up, I’m voting for them.

She needs to go.

Response to post #33: Trouble is, she has no opposition now. It is essential that somebody get in the race to oppose her. She must be asked WHY she did not prosecute this case. She must be asked whom she communicated with in the process of deciding not to prosecute this case. She must be asked why her aides allegedly strung the investigators along -- long enough that the statute could run and she could say that she couldn't turn it over to the US attorney. She must be asked if the thought of obstruction of justice ever occurred to her. And if she looked in the mirror. Best, Don Bauder

I would just like to let Mr Don Bauder know that he is much appreciated. Don is one of only a handful left in a rare breed: the investigative journalist. Thanks, Don.

It was the mayor and his entourage who told Kessler NOT TO COOPERATE WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT, according to Kessler's suit.

There is no way to know the veracity of this statement, but assuming it is true, it shows the level of depravity our elected leaders have sunk to. How completely bankrupt they are on a moral and ethical level.

Our Mayor, a former San Diego Chief of Police, telling a subordinate government employee NOT to cooperate with law enforcement in a public corruption investigation. In essence, instructing that subordinate government employee to obstruct the finding of fact, to obstruct justice.

Does not get much lower than this.

These people are supposed to be role models, to lead by example. They have severely breached their loyalty and duty to the public at large.

That pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson last year-Sully, he graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and had gone back there recently and some pics of him with the cadets hit the papers. One of the pics that stood out was at the entrance to the academy. In GIANT letters was their honor pledge, or honor code. It really struck me as something special, partly because I had to sign the exact same honor code in grad shcool.

Here is what United States Air Force Academy Honor Code says upon entering their campus;

"We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does."

That is a very powerful and moving messege (at least to me it is), and in my book it is one to live by.

We need someone to lead this City by example, using that honor code.

Response to post #35: Rather than thank me, let the DA's and mayor's offices know that you don't like what appears to be happening, and you're of a mind to throw the rascals out. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #36: San Diego has a politician who doesn't lie, steal, or cheat: Donna Frye. What happened? She won the mayoralty and a bunch of liars and crooks stole it from her. Or look at the way Mike Aguirre was smeared out of office. San Diego has no honor code -- at least not one that those in power follow. Best, Don Bauder

Fascinating.

I can only assume that plaintiff's lawsuit contains a couple of typos in paragraph 25 and should read as follows:

"25. Assistant Deputy Chief Murray told Plaintiff that, “all hell had broken loose in the Mayor’s office, and that people were upset with [Plaintiff], including the Mayor himself, and that [Plaintiff] should lay low for awhile.”"

As for paragraph 32, I find any mention of a HUD audit in plaintiff's suit to directly challenge the validity of any recent city self-study (wherein collecting forbidden interest on HUD block grants is profoundly damning in terms of potential San Diego taxpayer liability, incurred as previously reported by unsupervised layers of two wayward redevelopment agencies CCDC and SEDC):

"32. In addition to Plaintiff’s cooperation in the investigation of LiMandri, THE CITY had knowledge that Plaintiff had cooperated with the Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (“HUD”). HUD’s Office of the Inspector General was conducting an in-depth audit of THE CITY with regard to THE CITY’s past management of HUD funds."

A link to the mentioned HUD audit: http://www.hud.gov/offices/oig/reports/files/ig0991005.pdf

I have no record that the required documentation covering $139 million in then-outstanding HUD loans was ever actually taken care of by our current City Attorney. If it had, I'm sure there would have been a parade down Broadway to mark the event...

a2zresource, did you go down to the 330 W Broadway and pull the lawsuit????

If not- Where did you read it?

Response to post #36: There may be typos in the documents posted on the Reader site. The story doesn't mention the HUD investigation, but the documents do. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #37: Both the Kessler lawsuit and the FBI/police report on Li Mandri and Mannino are posted on the Reader site. Go to the Reader story above and click where you can pick them up. Best, Don Bauder

Don

This is exactly why I Founded NP-RID. I modeled the RID on the BID's. Simply put, it supports the folks that live in Residential Improvement Districts (those Residential areas within walking distance of the BID's), that until now, have had no voice in protecting themselves from being BLIGHTED by the BID's.

Like most of San Diego, the major issues now facing us in MidCity are:

  1. BID related: a. lack of enough PD enforcement b. new or changing ABC licenses. c. parking d. late night noise/partying e. increased crime

  2. a. City related Density increases aka Mid City Plan Update. b. The 2010 Parking Plan = the same old NIMBY "solutions". c. The "Mobility Plan" (a major reconfiguring of Univ. Ave.

ALL these "Plans" need to be openly discussed with much better City provided public noticing than in the past; true discussion is hard to find because our local newspapers get most of their advertising budget from local business and are most careful not to appear supporting residents "against the BID's"...

Now is the time for real change, before things get much, much worse! San Diego Residents "Just Say No" to more BID Blight!

"No More Business As Usual".

For more about RID see: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/20...

Response to post #43: Now is the time for San Diegans to rise up against a host of abuses. Will it? Keep up your crusade. Best, Don Bauder

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