Mayoral aides turned lobbyists

Laing and Pudgil meet up again in the lobby
  • Laing and Pudgil meet up again in the lobby

During the eight-year reign of Republican San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders, his chief media gatekeeper Darren Pudgil was famous for tightly controlling access to the higher reaches of city hall. At the mayor’s news conferences, Pudgil told National Public Radio in April 2012, “We don’t let anyone in that we’re not familiar with,” adding, “We’re very open and we’re very transparent, but we’re very thorough in checking out who we let have access to the mayor.” In 2010, his then-assistant Rachel Laing told city public information officer José Ysea that there was no need to block a Reader reporter who followed him on Twitter, “However, their seeing something on Twitter or a Web site that interests them does not automatically grant them right to interviews, and we should continue to refrain from talking to them.”

These days the shoes are on the other foot, with both Laing, and now Pudgil, having joined the corps of compensated favor-seekers hired to breach the barricades of local government. According to her most recent lobbyist disclosure filing, dated January 30 and covering the final quarter of last year, Laing picked up $1200 from the Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access for her attempts to gain “appropriate changes in [the] public safety ordinance” regarding marijuana. She also bagged $2200 from Los Angeles–based Kilroy Realty for peddling her influence on behalf of Kilroy’s controversial One Paseo project.

Meanwhile, ex-colleague Pudgil has recently started working the lobby at the county building. According to a disclosure filing dated February 25, the ex-mayoral mouthpiece has been retained by mega-developer Newland Communities to put the arm on the board of supervisors. Pudgil was formerly married to lobbyist Kimberly Hale Miller, whose current firm Rath Miller recently picked up a new client in the form of Helix Environmental Planning. Miller’s April 6 disclosure filing says Rath Miller is performing “monitoring” duties for Helix, which the disclosure identifies as an “ongoing provider of consulting services to the city.”

Earlier this month, Helix agreed to pay $143,382 to the city to end accusations by Republican city attorney Jan Goldsmith that former Helix employee Sarichia Cacciatore may have had a “potential conflict of interest” regarding her work for the firm while at the same time being married to Cory Briggs. He is plaintiffs’ attorney in anti-tax lawsuits against city hall that have aroused the ire of Goldsmith and his GOP hotel-industry backers, including Bill Evans and Terry Brown. The other half of Rath Miller is Republican Phil Rath, onetime aide to ex-mayor Sanders and GOP county supervisor Bill Horn.

Fresh off their deal with San Diego GOP mayor Kevin Faulconer on wages and working conditions, the city’s cops, through their San Diego Police Officers Association political action committee, anted up $2500 on April 13 for the San Diego County Republican Party.

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We in America's Finest City have never let a little (or a lot of) conflict of interest interfere with doing the people's business which, it seems, is deemed closely-held information rather than flooded with sunshine. I wonder if the new National Geographic magazine feature on our town will mention our long tradition of ostensibly civil civic corruption.

If those two are stonewalled the way they stonewalled others, they'll find their effectiveness sharply limited. Turnabout is fair play, and if anyone deserves to be ignored, it is they.

On March 25, Kilroy hiree Rachel Laing crowed on Twitter:

Rachel Laing @RachelLaing · Mar 25

29,552 San Diegans asked to withdraw their signatures from anti-One Paseo referendum petition. Prior record for sig-withdrawal was 2,900.

Well, too bad Rach. Your PRopaganda was defective. San Diego Daily Transcript reports today that the San Diego City Council will vote again on May 18, whether to block the development or send the issue to a public vote:

"The opposition group collected enough signatures to call a referendum, the San Diego City Clerk’s office announced Friday. Of 61,301 signatures submitted, 51,796 signatures were verified, reaching the required 5 percent of the city’s registered voters — or 33,224 valid signatures — for a referendum." "Kilroy Realty Corp. (NYSE: KRC) said it submitted an unprecedented 29,552 signature-withdrawal forms for the referendum petition. But of the 18,572 signatures found not sufficient among 51,796 verified signatures, just 3,220 matched withdrawal forms."

Kudos to Matt and Dorian Hargrove of The Reader for excellent coverage of One Paseo.

Like I've said before, Rachael Laing would yell Fire in a crowded theatre if someone paid her enough. She's a prime example of what's wrong with Political Lobbyists in San Diego. Completely devoid of any level of ethics.

Yes, and today she's being unusually parsimonious with her typically incessant tweeting (and snarking about residents concerned with impacts of development and density) to Jan Goldsmith shills, KOGO radio talkers, and Carl DeMaio spokesmen. Not a word about the failure of her PRopaganda campaign. By the way, Rach (I know you check The Reader for mention of your name), it's spelled Occam, not Occum.

It's gonna be Kilroy WAS here, and then wasn't. Bye bye. Next job?

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