Susan Davis itchy feet

Lobbyist dream jobs and SDSU nightmares

Susan Davis at Mile-High Swinging Bridge
  • Susan Davis at Mile-High Swinging Bridge

Summer with Susan Davis

Democratic House member Susan Davis, accustomed to partaking of free travel to exotic world locations courtesy of the Aspen Institute, stuck closer to home for her most recent all-expense-paid junket, two summer days in the rustic parts of North Carolina. The itinerary called for dining at Milner’s American Southern in Winston-Salem, whose “menus boast a delicious variety of Southern American classics re-imagined using contemporary culinary techniques,” and a Saturday, July 21 excursion to the Mile-High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mountain State Park.

“Rep. Davis’ district is home to many significant higher education institutions including the University of California-San Diego, University of San Diego, and San Diego State University and thus the trip provides an opportunity to compare and contrast these places of learning” with schools in North Carolina, according to documentation supplied by the trip’s sponsor, the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The think tank, which came up with $950 in lodging, food, and rental car expenses for the Davis journey, casts itself as a middle-of-the-road policy advocate. Calling North Carolina “a magnet for tourism focused on historical sites, entertainment, and natural wonders,” the center said Davis expected “to learn what methods the Blue Ridge Mountain region is using to draw visitors, particularly with a focus on the arts.”

A visit to a Wake Forest power plant was on the bill. “Once the power source for fueling the operations of a major R.J. Reynolds Tobacco plant, the historic building has now been redeveloped into innovation, office, entertainment, retail, and congregation space and culminates the largest historic redevelopment in the history of NC.” Another listed attraction was the Ashe County Cheese Factory. “Although Rep. Davis represents an urban district, she is interested in exploring rural agriculture activities that produce products that are sold across the nation and overseas.”

Christopher Wahl, son-in-law of Southwest Strategies' founder Alan Ziegaus

Christopher Wahl, son-in-law of Southwest Strategies' founder Alan Ziegaus

Lobbyists’ dream jobs

Stockdale Capital Partners, the Los Angeles outfit that is negotiating behind-the-scenes with Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer for rights to redevelop the failed Horton Plaza mall in the center of downtown, paid $16,000 to the lobbying firm of Southwest Strategies during 2018’s second quarter, per the influence peddler’s July 31 disclosure report. Southwest’s Christopher Wahl, son-in-law of firm founder Alan Ziegaus, was in to see mayoral staffers Elyse Lowe, Aimee Faucett, Kris Michell, David Graham, and Erik Caldwell about the still top-secret matter. Wahl also dropped in on Democratic Third District city councilman Chris Ward and his staffers Molly Chase and Brian Eliott. Planning director Michael Hansen rounded out Wahl’s city hall tour on behalf of the deal... Eugene “Mitch” Mitchell, the Sempra Energy government affairs honcho who does double-duty as a majordomo on the board of the non-profit news and opinion Voice of San Diego website, had a lucrative spring boosting the reelection campaign of city councilman Chris Cate. The utility giant’s lobbying disclosure report for this year’s second quarter reveals that Mitchell threw a May 14 fundraiser that came up with $2210 for the incumbent Republican, a staunch council ally of the utility. Sempra donors included SDG&E president Scott Drury, chief operating officer Caroline Winn, regional PR director Warren Ruis, customer services V.P. Scott Crider, gas and systems engineering chief David Geier, and longtime company influence peddler Francisco Urtansan, now head of the Sempra Energy Foundation. The company has been working furiously to defeat those who advocate breaking its city power distribution monopoly.

Dangerous disabilities

San Diego State University, battling with so-called SoccerCity over the fate of the city-owned Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, has had to contend with a negative report by California State University system auditors who found severe shortcomings with the way the school handles the handicapped. “Emergency procedures for individuals with disabilities needed improvement,” notes the June 8 document, citing lapses in “procedures to ensure that people with disabilities can evacuate the area in a variety of conditions and with or without assistance.” Concluded auditors, “We recommend that the campus revise emergency procedures to include considerations for disabled individuals in the areas of notification, evacuation, information access, and emergency sheltering.” The university promised to remedy the problems by October... Meanwhile, as the fight over the old stadium and how much rent should be charged SDSU for its interim use continues to rage, the city of San Diego is looking to hire a new turf manager there at an annual salary of between $61,713 to $75,025, per a recent online job posting. “Five years of full-time experience in a sports turf maintenance program, which MUST include three years at a sports stadium,” is required. “Qualifying experience MUST include at least two years of planning, scheduling, and coordinating a sports turf maintenance program.”

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