Miscreants of influence
Morgan Dene Oliver, who sparked a months-long scandal when he hosted a secretive January 2016 luncheon with backers of SoccerCity and San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, has a new position of influence. “The lunch will be at noon at Oliver McMillan (they have a private dining room and chef in-house),” an aide to SoccerCity chief Mike Stone emailed a would-be participant in December 2015. Following the meeting, Faulconer publicly endorsed the proposal to turn city-owned Qualcomm Stadium over to SoccerCity. Then in May 2017 it came to light that Oliver had provided his Point Loma bayfront mansion for the August 2016 wedding of Stephen Puetz, the mayor’s top city hall honcho.
Even before voters spurned SoccerCity in November of last year in favor of a proposal by San Diego State University for the stadium land, Oliver had gone to ground. In February 2018, he unloaded Oliver McMillan, famous for turning downtown’s historic 1910 Eagles Hall into posh corporate offices, to Brookfield Residential Properties Inc. of Canada for an undisclosed sum.
Though making Oliver its new “Chief Vision Officer, Mixed-Use Developments,” Brookfield abandoned his flagship $361-million deal to build an “urban village” on the port district’s East Harbor Island in February of this year. “I don’t think anyone expected this,” port real estate chief Tony Gordon told the Union-Tribune after Brookfield abruptly walked. Explained Oliver in a letter to the port: “The passage of time has lead (sic) us to the place where our workload is too great with other projects to continue.”
Now comes word that Oliver, already a member of UCSD’s real estate development advisory board, has been named a member of the board of the UCSD Foundation. No mention of SoccerCity, but the school’s announcement notes without elaboration that Oliver is “known for revitalizing communities such as San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter.”
Among others joining him on the foundation’s board is Lynn Schenk, a former aide to ex-governor Jerry Brown, one-term Democratic congresswoman, and member of the board of California’s costly delay-plagued bullet train project.
Cash for praise
Kevin Faulconer keeps padding his personal charity’s assets with cash from political partisans, a September 13 disclosure reveals. Lawrence and Judith Nora of Del Mar kicked in $5000 on August 27, according to the report filed with the city clerk’s office by One San Diego, known for funding Faulconer’s televised Thanksgiving turkey giveaways in poorer parts of the city. Judith, a commercial real estate developer and currently chief financial officer of Pell Investments, and Lawrence, founder of Chicago Capital Funds, each came up with $2000 in March 2018 for the failed House bid of GOP county supervisor and ex-Encinitas mayor Kristin Gaspar to replace Darrell Issa.
A Chicago Capital affiliate developed U-Stor-It Logan Heights, per a March 2018 news release. A prior One San Diego contribution from U-Stor-It was cited by the city’s ethics commission in levying a $4000 fine against the mayor in August. “On September 8, 2018, U Stor It made two $7500 payments to One San Diego” at Faulconer’s behest, the commission found, but failed to disclose the payment until December 4, 2018, two months late.
Meanwhile, after years of promoting One San Diego, the mayor has branched out to an additional cause, prompting La Mesa-based real estate maven Laura Duggan to donate $5000 on July 30 to the Challenged Athletes Foundation. The funds are being used to sponsor ex-police chief Shelley Zimmerman as a rider in the charity’s 600-mile cycling fundraiser, per the mayor’s September 12 disclosure of the so-called behest. Zimmerman phoned KUSI TV from Solvang during last October’s event to assure viewers that she and Faulconer, who accompanied her on the tour, were “biking for a good cause.” She added, “To do it alongside our challenged athletes. That’s why we’re riding our bicycles. Every single second and every single pedal stroke, they are inspiring us and it’s just amazing, and we’re so thrilled and honored to have this opportunity.” Said news anchor Carlos Amezcua: “We appreciate your leadership and the mayor’s leadership in leading the way for this great cause.”
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