Brown Act shadows Faulconer's plan for November election and run for governor

The mayor's inner Soccer City sanctum and Summer Stephan's courtship of county supes

From Fifth Ave. Landing homepage. “The mayor needs to be negotiating with Fifth Avenue Landing while we prepare for the election.”
  • From Fifth Ave. Landing homepage. “The mayor needs to be negotiating with Fifth Avenue Landing while we prepare for the election.”

A tsunami of political cash — driven by two measures that appear headed for a special election in November — has grown even bigger, thanks to $250,000 from Fifth Avenue Landing, LLC, the partnership battling city hall for the right to build a bay-front hotel where San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and his major campaign funders want to put a convention center expansion.

Sherman: "Both will get more than the five votes needed to put them both on the ballot this November."

Sherman: "Both will get more than the five votes needed to put them both on the ballot this November."

And where money flows at city hall, say local politicos, backroom intrigue can't be far behind.

The cash went into a new political fund, called No on Bayfront Convention Center Expansion Tax. The six-figure May 18 contribution is the first salvo by Fifth Avenue Landing against the Republican mayor and his city council allies in a struggle over public land and Faulconer's 2018 shot at running for governor.

Stephan. "She told me she was going to run for district attorney if Bonnie did not run."

Stephan. "She told me she was going to run for district attorney if Bonnie did not run."

In the regular course of business, both proposals being pushed by Faulconer — the SoccerCity takeover of Mission Valley real estate now occupied by Qualcomm Stadium and a hike in the city's tax on hotel room occupants to fund convention center expansion – would go on the general election ballot in November 2018, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in election costs.

But that would come too late to meet the mayor's political schedule and risk defeat of the two development schemes at the hands of a wider electorate.

“The mayor needs to be negotiating with Fifth Avenue Landing while we prepare for the election,” Faulconer's fellow GOP councilman Mark Kersey told the Union Tribune in a May 21 story.

"And I think that is a negotiation. In spite of some of the public comments that have been out there, I think that these are businessmen we are dealing with, and I think they are generally reasonable.”

So far no one is saying what form of public subsidy or other favor the mayor and his council allies are prepared to offer Fifth Avenue, which has been waging a legal battle targeting Faulconer.

Even before public hearings begin, GOP council members are said to be prepared to vote for the mayor’s special election; councilman Scott Sherman told the U-T, "I don't think it will be 9-0, but I think both will get more than the five votes needed to put them both on the ballot this November."

One fly in the ointment may lurk in the form of the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law.

"A series of private meetings or 'serial meetings' allow a majority to commit to a decision or engage in deliberation of public business is a violation of the open meeting requirement," notes a general advisory from the California League of Cities. 

"Beware of ‘daisy chain’ contacts: A to B and B to C can lead to a collective concurrence," adds the guidance. "Beware of ‘hub & spoke’ contacts: one person is the hub who then feeds and receives information to and from other members."

According to a May 1 lobbying disclosure report filed by FS Investors, the group of La Jolla hedge fund mavens promoting SoccerCity, FS principals Nick Stone and Jon Dunbar, have directly lobbied Faulconer, Sherman, Kersey, Lori Zapf, and Chris Cate and city council president Myrtle Cole and fellow Democrats Barbara Bry, Chris Ward, and Georgette Gomez.

Democrat David Alvarez is the only councilmember not listed among those lobbied for what the disclosure described as “approval of Initiative at Council Level or Place on Ballot.”

Suspicions of serial decision-making outside the bounds of the Brown Act have shadowed a plan by the five county supervisors, all Republicans, to name Summer Stephan the county's district attorney when her boss, incumbent Bonnie Dumanis, steps down this summer in what is viewed by many as a GOP machine-driven deal to ward off undesired challengers in next year's election.

Per a May 18 Union-Tribune report, Dumanis and Stephen met 10 separate times behind closed doors with individual board members.

“When I met with Summer in September, she told me she was going to run for district attorney if Bonnie did not run and we also talked about the human trafficking work she was doing,” supervisor Greg Cox told the paper. “The subject of an interim appointment did not come up at that meeting.”

Skeptical political observers note that D.A. Dumanis is unlikely to initiate an investigation into the paper’s findings.

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And, what about a story about Dumanis trying to Rig the DA's Election Race?!

Kind of a Slick "Insiders Move" to hand pick her interim successor by resigning as DA.. Then, Dumanis anoints her hand picked successor, Summer Stephen, with a "wink, wink" to the entirely Republican County Board of Supervisors (part of the Downtown Establishment running this Region)....Then, Dumanis's hand picked choice for DA goes to the TERMED OUT Republican County Board of Supervisors seeking a public "anointing/interim appointment" as DA by the Republican Establishment Board of Supervisors. So Summer Stephen can run as an incumbent DA?! Then, all the powers that be "Insiders" endorse Dumanis's "hand picked successor" AND DO AN END AROUND DEMOCRACY...NOT LETTING THE VOTERS PICK THE NEXT DA.

WHAT A COMPLETELY SHAMELESS POWER GRAB AND TACKY MOVE. Then, Dumanis wants to be "Elected to " The County Board of Supervisors?! Looks like Dumanis continues to carry the water for the Downtown Republican Business Establishment Community. They have turned this Region into their own political and economic Fiefdom... This is a complete mockery of the term limits initiative that was passed by the Voters for the Board of Supervisors to rid our local government of the same lifetime politicians.

They are just recycling the same Republican Retreads endorsed by the Downtown business establishment for all the important political jobs in San Diego County to keep their iron fisted political control of this region.

Good for the Downtown Business Establishment in San Diego. Bad for the other 3.2M people living in this Region... who are affected by their actions running this Region.

Basically the same thing happened for County Sheriff, when Gore took over for Kolender after Kolender stepped down., and then Gore was elected sheriff in the next election.

Stephan doesn't have to be elected, even if she runs as incumbent. As reported elsewhere (the U-T of all places) she was lead prosecutor in the Crowe case back when "Perfidious Paul" Pfingst was DA. In case you don't remember, it was that horribly botched case that cost Pfingst his reelection bid. Sadly his replacement was Bahnee. Just how Stephan managed to survive the purge of Pfingst loyalists and then prosper under this current regime isn't clear. She must be a hell of a politician in her own right. Any decent opponent will hang that Crowe case around her neck from day one, and keep reminding the voters about her, and the case that eventually cost the county over $7 million in a settlement with the family.

I also remind anyone who has forgotten that the case was eventually taken over by the state attorney general who agreed that the boys were wrongfully accused, and who got a conviction against another perp. That conviction was, unfortunately, overturned on a technicality, and when retried, ended in acquittal. But she was right in the middle in perhaps the worst miscarriage of justice and botched police/prosecutorial work in many decades.

In a turnabout of its usual stance, now that it is part of the LA Times, our U-T has editorialized twice that the supervisors should appoint an interim DA, and definitely not appoint Stephan. How 'bout them apples?

She should not be a shoo-in at all.

I agree, but I don't think this county has changed enough--yet--to avoid having an interim DA winning an election for a full term. What's worse, I fear Teflon Bonnie will be elected to the BoS.

Fear not, justice will be done. Or not. Strange things happen in elections--if you doubt me, just think back to November--and the outcomes are never sure things. The San Diego County voters are a somnolent lot and tend to vote for "nice" candidates, generally meaning those who are attractive and who keep the rhetoric on the positive side. But from time to time they can rise up and vote a bum out.


Why the bums rush for a 2017 ballot? When is San Diego going to pick up on just how valuable the site and SDSU is? Get 3 or 4 vetted proposals and choose what is best for the taxpayers. FS may turn out to be the selected proposal. 2018 ballot at the earliest.

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