San Diego Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, a veteran of the high-dollar public relations world via the firm of NCG Porter Novelli, has tapped a Democratic practitioner of the art of spin to run his flagging downtown anti-homelessness effort. Per Stacie Spector’s LinkedIn profile, she has specialized in “project management; applying and maximizing the relationship between policy, politics, and communications to priority initiatives and issues; strategic planning; creative marketing; advocacy based and non-traditional communications tactics; relationship and coalition building; problem solving, crisis and public affairs consulting.”
If putting a positive spin on the city’s ever-growing plight of the homeless proves to be an impossible gig, it won’t be a new experience for Spector. A former political operative for ex-Democratic vice president Al Gore, Spector arrived in town back in August 2004 to become vice chancellor of university communications and public affairs at UCSD for the then-tidy annual salary of $180,000 a year. During her five-year reign, Spector announced a six-figure “branding initiative” for the campus, promoting it to national media and telling the Union-Tribune, “The bottom line is, outside of San Diego the UCSD name is not that well known.”
Spector’s flashy tenure peaked in May 2007 with a $100,000 on-campus appearance by Gore. “Sponsor shall provide the monetary equivalent of round-trip air transportation at first class fare from Nashville, Tennessee or New York, or Vice President Gore’s then current location, at Vice President Gore’s discretion, to the place of engagement for Vice President Gore and one (1) additional individual,” said a May 25, 2007, contract between the university and the Harry Walker Agency. A margin notation said, “Airfare $12,200.”
Added the agreement, “the Sponsor will also pay for first class hotel accommodations, for Vice President Gore plus one additional individual. The Sponsor will be responsible for meals, phone calls, and any other related expenses for Vice President Gore and one additional individual.” To avoid any appearance of being an energy glutton, Gore specified that his UCSD-supplied chauffeur-driven car would be “a sedan, NOT an SUV. In addition, sponsor will make best effort to use [a] hybrid car for Vice-President Gore’s transportation in the city of engagement.” As for the media, the contract said, “There will be no press opportunities or availabilities, i.e., press conferences or statements,” and “Vice President Gore will accept no interview requests.”
Two years later, in October 2009, Spector was out at UCSD, said to be let go due to university budget cuts. She later became chief communications officer at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies from 2011 to 2013 and went on to handle public relations for the nonprofit nutrition sciences initiative in Washington DC. This past April, Democratic governor Jerry Brown put her on the board of California’s state Bar. Local GOP wags assert that if Spector fails in her homeless mission, Faulconer can say it’s the Democrat’s fault.