Faulconer’s two-faced fundraising
San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer keeps punting questions about how he feels regarding fellow Republican Donald Trump, neatly sidestepping criticism or support for the president and his immigration crackdown. “I asked Faulconer whether Trump’s border hysteria and anti-immigrant rhetoric make his job harder or if it’s just a distant noise, too feeble to defy the logic of cross-border integration,” wrote Bloomberg columnist Francis Wilkinson last month. “Faulconer, resorting to talking-point mode, never came close to answering the question, though I posed it in various forms.” Instead, per Wilkinson, the mayor replied, “We’re going to continue to work with voices in the administration and Congress.”
Why the artful dodge? The mayor frequently endorses free trade with Mexico, a position popular with the Tijuana maquiladora lobby, which has given Faulconer’s campaigns with thousands of dollars. High-stakes donors to the mayor with links to the border economy now threatened by Trump have included the billionaire Falic brothers of Hollywood, Florida, proprietors of Duty-Free Americas, and Rancho Santa Fe’s Enrique Landa, promoter of BajaAgua, a scheme to treat San Diego sewage in Mexico. “We talk about it in terms of one region,” Faulconer told Wilkinson regarding his Mexican allies. “When we work together we accomplish so much more for our businesses and our residents.”
But more than a few of Faulconer’s political financiers are Trump fans and similarly require mayoral deference to keep their largesse flowing. A regular tither to Faulconer’s One San Diego non-profit, tasked by the mayor with funding his Thanksgiving turkey giveaways in poorer parts of the city, is the J. Crivello Foundation, run by Point Loma’s Jack Crivello II. His forebears immigrated from Sicily a decade or so after the turn of the last century. Later the family made a bundle by investing in WD-40. Most recently, Crivello’s fund came up with a hefty $50,000 for the mayor’s charity on February 26, per a March 29 disclosure filed by Faulconer. An early Trump backer, Crivello made his first contribution, $2700, to the future president’s cause in August 2015; before the 2016 election season was over he wound up kicking in the total individual maximum of $5400. In addition, Crivello came up with $32,500 for the federal committee of the San Diego Republican Party.
No sex assault victims surveyed at Camp Pendleton got the chance to tell officials whether they thought the crimes against them should be handled by military courts-martial or civilian justice, per a March 20 audit by the Pentagon’s Inspector General’s office. “Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton officials either did not ask or did not document that they asked victims about their preference for prosecution in 21 of 21 cases reviewed,” per the report. “Pendleton officials stated that they asked the victims about their preference in 18 cases but could not provide documentation supporting the victims’ preference for prosecution ... because Camp Pendleton officials believed that providing this documentation would require disclosing information that is protected as attorney work product.”
Pendleton brass told auditors that they “did not ask the victim in 3 cases because civilian authorities already turned down the cases and there was no other authority to prosecute the case.” Failing to seek victim’s prosecution opinions is against a law mandating that victims’ preferences be sought, though there is no requirement to comply with their desires.
Sadly, there’s now a union
After paying $500 million-plus for the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune, along with a raft of weeklies, L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong says the operation is hemorrhaging money. “Well, I’m just telling you right now, this year we’re going to lose $50 million,” the pharmaceutical titan said to Neiman Lab’s Ken Doctor in a March 28 interview. “And that seems just a down payment,” Doctor added, “given how far the Times still has to go — its 157,000 digital subscribers remain far behind The New York Times’ 3.4 million and The Washington Post’s more than 1.5 million — to beef up for the decade ahead.”
So far not much of the cash has trickled down to San Diego, where pages are more likely to be filled with copy from L.A. as not. But with an estimated fortune of $7 billion or so, the physician may become the present-day version of Charles Foster Kane, the fictitious newspaper publisher created by Orson Welles, who proclaimed to business manager Walter Thatcher, “You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in... 60 years.”
That doesn’t mean Soon-Shiong is happy about the incipient rebellion of his well-paid corps of freshly-recruited journalists over having to surrender their rights to novels they write and other off-hours creative projects. “Sadly, the week before I took over, they voted to unionize. I think they did the unionize thing out of desperation. I’m not against a union one way or the other — but what it does is it creates now this whole us-against-them, which is not the goal. Right? Because the goal, for me, is this is one big family where we actually have to survive together and grow together and actually take shared responsibility.”