Richard Eugene Matter, Jr., Assistant Director of San Diego's transportation and stormwater department has been meted out a $500 fine for failing to disclose a $488 gift of travel, lodging, and admission to a San Francisco 49ers football game he received December 20, 2014, from American Asphalt, a major San Diego street contractor.
After failing to include American Asphalt's gift on his March 31, 2015 disclosure filing for 2014, Matter amended the report last June 6, finally revealing the gift. "When doing so, however, Respondent erroneously reported the $175 football game ticket as having a value of only $117," per a stipulated agreement Matter reached with the city's ethics commission.
"On March 12, 2019, Respondent filed another amendment to his 2014 annual SEI to disclose the correct value of the football game ticket received from American Asphalt."
Matter's penalty was so low in part because he "fully cooperated" with ethics investigators and "immediately filed the requisite amendment to his 2014 annual [Statement of Economic Interests] after being notified that the value of the football game ticket had been reported incorrectly."
In addition to the gratis game admission, the stipulation says Matter's freebies included a one-night stay at the Santa Clara Biltmore hotel, valued at $129, along with a roundtrip Southwest Airlines ticket to Oakland, worth $184. There was no explanation in the stipulation of how the ethics commission came to find out about the gifts to Matters.
City documents show that American Asphalt South of Fontana received a total of $5.6 million in slurry seal contracts in October and December of last year alone, and millions more in past years. The asphalt business has boomed as mayor Kevin Faulconer's self-proclaimed war on potholes has rolled out.
But the big money repair rush has seen more than its botched share of slurry seal jobs, according to an account by the Union-Tribune, which laid the problems at the door of slurry seal subcontractor G. Scott Asphalt Repair of Chula Vista.
“What’s going on that you fill a pothole and a month later it’s open again,” city councilwoman Jen Campbell was quoted as saying. “It’s so inefficient and not cost-effective to have to do things twice.”
"The faulty work includes at least eight paving jobs: two in downtown and one each in Point Loma, Linda Vista, Bay Park, Kearny Mesa, Carmel Valley, and Southeastern San Diego," the paper reported, adding that even more problems might crop up.
“That particular contractor and their slurry mix didn’t have the right proportion of materials,” Kirsty Reeser, deputy director of the city’s Streets Division, told a council hearing on the matter. “They had too much rubber, which was causing the slurry seal on the particular streets they did to not adhere to the street properly.”
“We have set high standards for street repair and won’t settle for anything less," Faulconer said in an email.
American Asphalt hosts parties for its customers, including BioMed Realty in Newark, California. "This was our way of saying Thank You for their continued patronage," according to the firm's website. "We kept the asphalt and slurry off the menu; instead we offered delicious BBQ ribs, chicken and all the fixings."