San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, whose hopes for statewide office took a big hit from this month’s city-council rejection of his plan for a hurry-up $5 million November special election on SoccerCity and a hotel tax boost, is taking fire from both Republicans and Democrats. In the case of the GOP, opposition comes from some top party faithful who, with 20/20 hindsight, are faulting the mayor for casting his lot with wealthy La Jolla hedge-fund maven and political neophyte Mike Stone.
In addition to drawing the wrath of longtime Republican party donors Tom Sudberry and H.G. Fenton, Inc. — deep GOP pockets who were unceremoniously left out of Stone’s ballot-box scheme to privatize Qualcomm Stadium — Faulconer also stands accused of being in denial about the impact on his governance of his party’s city-council losses last year. The mayor and his staff are said to have underestimated the organizing clout and nonprofit financing of council Democrats and their big-labor backers.
Among those showing up en masse to speak against Faulconer’s plan at the contentious hearing were members of the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans. Top funders of the two-year old organization include the California Endowment, with $125,000; the Encinitas-based Leichtag Foundation, $100,000; and California Calls, partially funded by the Barbra Streisand Foundation, with $40,000.
“PANA develops leaders from refugee backgrounds to authentically engage on and advance issues and public policies that promote health and improve the quality of life of their families and broader community,” says the group’s profile at Guidestar.org. The nonprofit is also “Working with Syrian newcomers to build community, identify needs, and develop realistic strategies to achieve self-sufficiency.”
Founder Ramla Sahid, per the online profile, “has over a decade of experience as a community organizer, three years of leading health policy efforts in Sacramento, and is committed to advocacy and policy projects that address racial disparities.” In February, Sahid assisted in the drive that ended in an 8-1 council vote condemning president Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. In addition to its refugee members, the nonprofit’s board boasts some familiar faces from San Diego’s political scene: former Republican assemblyman–turned–Democrat Nathan Fletcher, regarded as a likely candidate for the board of supervisors next year, and attorney Cory Briggs, a key player in the city’s long-running legal battles over expanding its convention center. …
Meanwhile, in other nonprofit political news, giant Arkansas-based retailer Walmart has come up with $15,000 for Faulconer’s One San Diego charity, which he uses to pay for Thanksgiving turkeys he hands out in poorer parts of the city. Other contributions made by special interests at the mayor’s behest, according to a May 18 disclosure report filed with the city clerk, include $5000 for One San Diego from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group’s Union Bank, and $6500 from David A. Bialis, recently retired head of San Diego and Orange Coast — California Operations at Cox Communications, Inc., for the La Jolla Playhouse.