High school hijinks
An October 11 Union-Tribune op-ed by San Diego Unified school board trustee Richard Barrera argues for keeping San Diego High School in Balboa Park, citing voter approval in 2016 of a measure permitting continuation of a virtually rent-free lease between the district and city. “Voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition I, the 2016 Save San Diego High measure, which passed with over 77 percent support,” Barrera noted.
Meanwhile, as the lease renewal agreement winds its way through city hall, a campaign mailer key to the 2016 proposition’s passage has resulted in a $2000 ethics commission fine against Save San Diego High, a political committee run by Barrera. “On October 6, 2016, the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Issues Committee made a $15,000 contribution to Respondent,” says a stipulated agreement approved by the commission at its regular meeting this month. “Respondent paid for a social media advertising campaign that ran from October 20, 2016 through November 8, 2016. These digital advertisements included a disclosure indicating that they were ‘paid for by’ Respondent, but failed to identify the Carpenters Committee as a top donor. Also, Barrera and company “paid a vendor to conduct 33,000 robocalls on November 7, 2016, that included a disclosure indicating that the ads were ‘paid for by’ Respondent, but failed to identify the Carpenters Committee as a top donor. The statement adds that former school board member and political consultant Scott Barnett “accepted responsibility for the violations described herein,” and agreed to fork over the fine.
From Walmart to Cate
Republican city councilman Chris Cate, in his final term of office, has been benefiting from contributions by Walmart to his favorite causes. On October 9, according to Cate’s October 10 disclosure of the so-called behest, the giant Arkansas retailer came up with $5000 to pay for “Free Christmas Trees for Military Members.”
Back on March 5, Walmart also cut a check for $5000 at Cate’s behest, earmarked to “purchase business books for Service2CEO participants (i.e., military members, veterans, and spouses),” says the overdue disclosure filed by Cate on October 10. When San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer waited 16 months to disclose a $10,000 behest by Campland, LLC, he wound up with a $4000 fine for the violation from the city’s ethics commission
So long, GOP
Members of San Diego’s Lincoln Club, which until the departure from the Republican Party by District Attorney Summer Stephan was an exclusive bastion of the GOP, have been moving to obscure their GOP roots. The latest sign of change in the wind is an October 9 disclosure statement for a political committee calling itself Community Voices San Diego filed by ex-Lincoln Club executive director Ryan Clumpner with the county Registrar of Voters. The treasurer is listed as April Boling, one-time city council candidate and longtime GOP political bookkeeper. Clumpner, who has been a Lincoln Club political consultant since stepping down as honcho in 2016, announced last year that he was leaving the Republican Party, declaring, “Every year it becomes harder and harder to call fiscal responsibility a Republican principle. I can’t do it with a straight face any longer.”
Sleeping in city cars
Mayor Faulconer, entangled in a battle with the city council over choosing a new city auditor, continues to advertise for the vacancy left by the departure of the previous auditor Eduardo Luna for Beverly Hills. In the meantime, charges of local crime and corruption continue to pile up in the office, for now overseen by acting auditor Kyle Elser. “A total of 53 reports were filed with the Fraud Hotline between July 1, 2019, and September 30, 2019. We determined that 16 of these reports were not in the purview of the Fraud Hotline, leaving 37 reports that were added to the inventory,” says Elser’s latest report, dated October 15. Among complaints previously found to be true was “an allegation regarding theft of time by a City employee sleeping in a City vehicle.” Besides that, “ An allegation regarding unfair parking privileges for three employees was investigated and determined to be substantiated. The department corrected the issue.”
In another case, “an allegation that included a reference to a weapon was immediately referred to [Human Resources] and the Personnel Director. The weapon was determined to be a BB gun, but the City’s Weapon-Free Workplace Policy prohibits the possession of BB guns on City property. The department took the appropriate corrective action with respect to the identified employee.”
Lack of competitive bidding, a chronic problem at city hall, also drew attention. “An allegation of waste associated with vehicle purchases was investigated and resulted in corrective action. In order to achieve the most competition from vehicle up-fitters, the City and the purchasing organization advertised and invited firms to compete.”