Too poor to pass?
With just two months left until California primary election day on March 3, fundraisers for San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer’s convention center expansion and homeless tax boost still have plenty of work cut out for them. December contributions to the political committee calling itself Yes! For a Better San Diego, sponsored by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council and the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel, were underwhelming. Just $450,440 was raised, filings with the city clerk’s office show, the single biggest donor being the downtown San Diego Hilton Bayfront Hotel, which kicked in $100,000. Other heavy hitters included local biotech giant Illumina, Inc., with $50,000; Omni Hotels and Resorts ($50,000); and the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina ($63,180). Among second-tier donors were the San Diego Downtown Partnership ($13,000); M4 Development ($10,920); and Smart City Networks of Las Vegas ($25,000).
The measure to raise hotel taxes requires a two-thirds vote of approval by the electorate, which San Diego campaign veterans say could easily cost between $3 million and $5 million in campaign spending to assure. Less than that, the story goes, backers of the proposal risk wasting their cash on a busted election. Proponents originally wanted to qualify their measure for the November 2018 election. But following a costly signature drive widely regarded as botched, they failed to collect sufficient signatures to avoid a verification count that delayed the initiative into 2020. That rattled the confidence of many big out-of-town hotel corporations that bankrolled the ill-fated effort.
Holiday political gifts
Scott Sherman, the termed-out city councilman and top Republican in the race for San Diego mayor, has picked up the maximum $1150 contribution from Phil Pace of Escondido, proprietor of Phil’s BBQ Restaurants, a December 20 disclosure filing shows. His co-owner Jeffrey A. Loya kicked in $1149 on the same day. Phil’s BBQ was one of the largest donors to the 2014 anti-minimum wage referendum campaign that stalled ultimate implementation of the city council-passed measure, finally approved by voters in June 2016. Brian Souza of Santee’s Cass Construction maxed to Sherman, as did Nicole Souza. Within city limits, furniture maven Jerry Navara came up with $1150 on December 20, as did fellow La Jollan David Cherashore of city lessee Evans Hotels. His wife, Grace Evans Cherashore, executive chairwoman of the hotel concern, gave $1150 the previous day to the rival mayoral campaign of Democratic Assemblyman Todd Gloria. Failed La Jolla city council candidate Ray Ellis also maxed out to Sherman the same day. On December 17, downtown lobbyist Paul Robinson coughed up $1150...Meanwhile, long-time Republican kingpin Terry Brown, the now-retired Town and Country Hotel owner, came up with $1150 on December 17 for Democratic city attorney Mara Elliott, as did influence peddlers Phil Rath and Kimberly Miller. Steve South of local trash giant EDCO, gave Elliott’s campaign the same.
Kensington Democrat Susan Davis has announced her impending retirement from the House of Representatives, but her staffers continue to travel on the dime of special interests. Latest to junket is Jessica Mier, Davis’s district director, who took off for New Orleans thanks to the aptly named U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress. The two-day journey, starting December 4, “provided an opportunity to hear from other District Directors and experts on how best to inform constituents on natural disaster preparedness [and]how best to serve veterans and promote workforce development.”
Total transportation costs of $468, lodging expenses of $260, and meals priced at $170 were picked up by the ex-House members association, which is funded by “membership dues, annual fundraising dinner, donations, and grants from corporations and individuals,” per the group’s website. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, donors don’t have to disclose to the public their largesse. The group’s president, Democratic Texas ex-congressman Martin Frost, became a lobbyist after his district was eliminated in 2003 by a reapportionment move engineered by then-House speaker Tom DeLay. Where Davis is planning on performing her post-congressional service has yet to be announced.
“Revealing classic luxury reimagined through dramatic enhancements, Le Pavillon Hotel offers a premier experience in a coveted location, recognized as a ‘Top Hotel in New Orleans’ by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler,” the magazine wrote in January of 2019. “ Keeping its speakeasy charm, the vintage Brunswick mahogany bar offers hand-crafted, specialty cocktails as well as local New Orleans beers while surrounded by a railing from the Grand Hotel in Paris.”
Topics on the bill included “how to be helpful directing constituents with addiction concerns.”