Manter’s rays costly to con-center ballot bid

Mayor’s friend adds another notch to City Hall money belt

Rick Manter, a former colleague of the mayor's at the public relations and lobbying firm of NCG Porter Novelli.
  • Rick Manter, a former colleague of the mayor's at the public relations and lobbying firm of NCG Porter Novelli.

Word on the street has it that the current effort by labor unions and downtown hotels to qualify a tourist tax measure for the November ballot has hit a funding wall, with a paltry $630,531 collected by backers through this week, according to city disclosure records.

San Diego Convention Center. Pro-convention center expansion forces could be forced to return to the city council.

San Diego Convention Center. Pro-convention center expansion forces could be forced to return to the city council.

Of those funds, just $136,585 was paid to Arno Petition Consultants of Gold River, California, filings show, a mere pittance in the big money game of buying one's way onto the ballot. At the end of March, Arno was owed $37,653, per the report, covering the first three months of the year.

By comparison, in 2016 Arno got a total of $1.9 million during the two months from April 18 through June 15, gathering signatures for the ultimately ill-fated Chargers stadium. Similarly, during last year's successful bid to get the controversial SoccerCity Mission Valley privatization deal on the ballot for voter consideration, sponsors spent a total of $836,838 for Arno's signature-gathering.

SoccerCity's rival, Friends of SDSU, which subsequently mounted a competing ballot measure to pick off the city-owned land currently occupied by the former Qualcomm Stadium, spent $1.2 million last fall for the petition services of AAP Holding Company, Inc, of Westlake Village, filings show.

Thus, facing the prospect of insufficient funds to pay Arno’s price, the pro-convention center expansion forces could be forced to return to the city council to get some version of their measure onto the ballot, insiders note.

Though Democrats rejected an expansion plan tax measure backed by Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer last June on a 5-4 vote, co-sponsorship of the current initiative effort by labor unions could favorably alter the odds of success.

But certain to raise questions among some Democrats is the role with the pro-expansion group of longtime Faulconer friend and close confident Rick Manter, a former colleague of the mayor's at the public relations and lobbying firm of NCG Porter Novelli. Manter Communications of Tustin received $17,888 and was owed travel expenses of $18,551, according to the convention center committee's April 30 report, covering the first three months of 2018.

Over the past four years, records show, Manter’s firm has gotten a total of $246,362 from city campaigns, including $140,979 from 2014's successful referendum effort to beat back the Barrio Logan community plan.

Manter also made $49,671 on 2014's Faulconer-backed signature drive that put the city council-adopted minimum wage ordinance on the ballot. Though subsequently approved by voters, its effect was delayed more than a year.

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Wow, I wonder how public relations people like Mr, Manter sleep at night after they've taken money "to beat back the Barrio Logan community plan?" That was a particularly egregious stunt that merited bad dreams for ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders and retired U.S.N. Admiral Jose Luis Betancourt as well as Mayor Sunny. Presumably with the aid of Mr. Manter, those pillars of the community publicly lied that the port of San Diego would close if impoverished Barrio Logan's updated community plan passed muster. Which, of course, it didn't.

sociopaths always sleep well at night

Matt: You only mention labor unions once. Are these the same labor unions that you label "Big Labor"? It is too bad that you do not understand what labor unions do or how they work.

Labor reliably cooperates with developers when it comes to building anything -- a Seaport Village teardown and re-do, redevelopment of an entire Navy base, the baseball park and public library crammed onto a developer's windfall land-grant, endless expansions of the convention center -- it's always about jobs, which is fine, and the short-term, which isn't. What else is there to know about labor unions in San Diego?

What you say is correct as it relates to construction/construction related unions but there are many other unions in San Diego. A unions job is to negotiate a contract with the employer governing the wages, hours and working conditions of the employees/members. The members of a union directly elect the officers of the union. The members decide what they want in their contract and they, and they alone, decide whether or not to accept/reject a contract offer and whether to strike or not.

You are right, Alex. Mine was a San Diego jerk's knee-jerk response to think only about the building trades when the word "union" comes up. You describe an admirably democratic process of how unions operate, though I think internal politics sometimes subvert the ideal you describe. Still, it is a noble model.

Thank you. Any organization that is made up of people is going to suffer from the human condition. I will take the foibles of unions over corporate corruption. There are always exceptions but like law enforcement union administrators work long hours representing their members at remuneration well below their corporate/employer counterparts.

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