Big cash for Myrtle Cole from Mission Valley

Legal defense fund reaps well-timed money before stadium vote

Councilman Scott Sherman offered this plan for the existing Qualcomm Stadium site
  • Councilman Scott Sherman offered this plan for the existing Qualcomm Stadium site

How important is cash on the barrelhead to members of the San Diego City Council?

Plenty, judging by the latest batch of financial disclosure reports delivered over the weekend to the city clerk's office.

One disclosure drawing special attention was filed by the legal defense fund of Democratic councilwoman Myrtle Cole, lately noted for her vote in favor of Mayor Kevin Faulconer's $2.1 million environmental impact report for a new Chargers stadium.

"I own two L.T. jerseys"

Cole described the stadium expenditure — regarded by critics as a waste of public money in light of the scorn the mayor’s proposal has received from the Chargers — as a "$2 million investment in keeping San Diego competitive."

Added Cole, "I own two L.T. jerseys," apparently referring to ex-Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson. "That's an investment and I want to wear those jerseys."

Myrtle Cole and Dwayne Crenshaw

Myrtle Cole and Dwayne Crenshaw

Democrat Dwayne Crenshaw’s libel suit

Cole also has more substantial personal financial concerns. As previously reported here, the fourth district councilwoman set up a legal defense fund in 2014 to pay for costs of defending against a libel suit brought by fellow Democrat Dwayne Crenshaw. He alleged he had been defamed by a hit piece dispatched by her campaign during their 2013 council race.

The case was dismissed a year ago by superior court judge Richard Strauss, who said of the mailer, "the statements therein are not provably false.”

In a disclosure filing of last December 19, Cole's legal defense fund reported a debt of $42,159 to the Lawton Law Firm, which handled the case for her.

Debt down from $42,000 to $5000

The fund's latest filing, dated July 31, shows that the legal liability has been reduced to $5,009, thanks to an influx of cash this spring from city hall lobbyists and other special interest donors.

Tom Sudberry

Tom Sudberry

The contributor list is notable for money from those with major stakes in the development of Mission Valley, including Tom Sudberry, whose Sudberry Properties is developer of the giant Civita complex off Friars Road, just down the road from the proposed new stadium.

Mission Valley developers join in

The stadium environmental impact report has been cast by many of its backers as a way of removing obstacles to future Mission Valley development, regardless of how the fight for the Chargers turns out.

In addition to Sudberry himself, who came up with $550 on April 28, Jane Sudberry contributed $550 the same day. Sudberry's Estean H. Lenyoun, III gave $125 on April 23, as did Karen Lenyoun the same day.

John LaRaia, of H.G. Fenton, gave $150 on April 23. Sudberry developed Mission Valley's Fenton Marketplace, featuring Costco, Lowes, and Ikea, also on Friars Road near the stadium site. Michael Neal, Fenton president, donated $300 the same day.

On May 4, John Baumgardner of Ace Parking, the current stadium's parking vendor, gave $3550.

Doug Manchester’s architect

Architect Doug Austin (and his original plan for U-T headquarters) says Camino de la Reina can handle the extra traffic from a new Mission Valley residential development.

Architect Doug Austin (and his original plan for U-T headquarters) says Camino de la Reina can handle the extra traffic from a new Mission Valley residential development.

Doug Austin, a city planning commissioner and the architect of ex-U-T owner Douglas Manchester’s proposed retail and residential complex on the current site of the newspaper's Mission Valley office building, gave $300 on April 23.

The donations came about a month after the mayor's stadium task force picked the Mission Valley site of the current Qualcomm stadium for redevelopment as a new football venue.

Rachel Laing

Rachel Laing

Other notable donors to the councilwoman’s fund included SeaWorld park president John T. Reilly, with $550 on May 1, and lobbyist Rachel Laing, a former PR aide to ex-mayor Jerry Sanders, who gave $550 on June 12. Sempra's Frank Urtasan contributed $250 on April 23.

In addition to the fund's disclosure, several individuals filed separate statements, as required by law, revealing that they have currently pending business before Cole. They included developer Robert Ito, who gave $250 on June 22, and Crystal Crawford, who disclosed her interest was the "PACE program with the city of San Diego (Ygrene Energy Fund)."

Wendy Urushima-Conn's disclosure said she was seeking "approval by city council for my appointment to the Library Commission." She gave $100 on June 22.

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While I know nothing about Cole (or about other new SD city councilmen/women), her comments single her out as an idiot. And if that's the kind of critical thinking we can expect from her and others on the council, I weep for the city. They'll give away everything in this misguided zeal to keep the Chargers in town, and Dean Spanos and his gang will laugh all the way to the bank.

At present the 4th District area of San Diego has two utterly crass African-American women representing the community at City Council and on the School Board respectively. They are both Democrats and they both have financially enriched themselves using their public office as a platform. It is shameful: southeast deserves much better.

Councilwoman Myrtle Cole pays her legal debts for slandering a political opponent by taking money from Mission Valley developers and then, quid pro quo, approves an empty study of Qualcomm that costs the taxpayers $2.1 million. And she's not even from Chicago either.

School Board Trustee and President Marne Foster runs an on-line fundraiser, allegedly to help finance two of her kids' expensive college costs -- the younger of whom reportedly crowed about getting his high school principal fired through Foster's direct intervention with Superintendent Cindy Martin. When criticized for the money-grab, Foster claimed she "sleeps well at night."

Follow the money and you will find who that own and operate the politician. As a citizen you only get to vote for the lesser of two evils as both are bought and paid for. Money talks and bull sh!t walks. No matter how lofty ones goals are the only way to get elected is to sell out to the highest bidder. Money determines who wins.

This might sound kind of funny, but people buy things everyday. Cars, homes and viewpoints. I always find it interesting when people pay for what they want other people feel like they don't deserve what they get. Most of the people walking around have more knowledge in their cell phones then in their heads. The sum total of all mans knowledge can be accessed in the palm of their hands, but most fail to check anything out. What ever they read they believe and what ever they see on TV they know is true. If the problem is that people with money can buy a point of view or a vote, than we should change the way money can be used in that venue. To fault someone who has money and the brains to use it for their benefit is like blaming a gun for killing people and not the bullet. Maybe we should stop the sales of bullets.

Or maybe she isn't as dumb as you think. If you are trying to build something in your community get people to invest where they have never done it before the 4th District, maybe it is a good idea to encourage people to invest not just in Mission Valley, but on Euclid Avenue right off the 94 freeway, or maybe even further into her district.

I have a lot of trouble finding fault in a mothers attempt to help her children. That is after all what mothers do, love, care for and most of all protect their children. At least she admits her mistakes and tries not to do them again. No harm No foul.

Let's vote the money out of the game and then see who wants to play. Not just local, but national as well. Right

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