CCDC Kills 7th and Market Project; Chairman Maas Says Related Group May Be Victim, Attacks Local Developer

Centre City Development Corp.'s board killed the proposed project at 7th and Market this morning (Sept. 10), but was disrespectful to the previous runner-up developer, Robert Green of Encinitas, according to attorney Larry Sidiropoulos, co-owner of the nearby Clermont Hotel, which the Black Historical Society of San Diego wants incorporated in any project at that location. The project was killed because CCDC's recently-resigned president, Nancy Graham, was receiving money from an affiliate of the developer, Related Cos., while she was president of CCDC. As revealed in the Reader in late 2005, Graham had been criticized for her cozy relationship with Related back when she was mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida, then head of downtown development, and finally a private sector developer. Karen Huff-Willis, head of the Black Historical Society, says she will push to have the hotel become a part of any development at the location because of it importance in San Diego African-American history. "We supported every developer except Related. It was so fishy," she says. According to Sidiropoulos, CCDC Chairman Fred Maas suggested that the California branch of Related, which was supposed to do the project, may have known nothing about the Florida branch of Related and its relationship with Graham. If so, the California Related group is pathetically uninformed; stories about Graham's conflict with Related were all over South Florida newspapers in 2005. At today's meeting, "Robert Green got up to speak and Fred Maas got up to attack him; there was no mention of how we were the victims; we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars" on a proposal. Maas "was interrogating Green with a derogatory tone," says Sidiropoulos. "The fact that he said that Related is a victim does not give me a lot of confidence that Maas is being fair and impartial." In my opinion, the arrogance and corruption of CCDC is so blatant that the City should take the opportunity to get the money Centre City owes to San Diego, and then kill the operation. CCDC is nothing more than an extension of the real estate development industry.


I forgot Sunroad. Steven Strauss represented them, too. That is a pretty nice trifecta.

Response to post #5: CCDC and SEDC were both created as vehicles for the real estate developers and their financiers to control land use decisions and pocket taxpayers' money. Best, Don Bauder

CCDC (and SEDC) should be disbanded. Handle all development through the City of San Diego Development Authority, which handles much of the work in other areas already.


Response to post #1: Very good question. Fraud-friendly Delaware is like an offshore financial institution -- omerta, omerta, corrupt judges, the black hole. Best, Don Bauder

The CCDC and SEDC are simply a way for developers/builders and bankers to get a foothold into the decision-making process of the city, where they dont belong.

Response to post #2: Yes, same legal representation, same mayor (Sanders) in the pockets. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #3: Yes, SEDC should be jettisoned, along with CCDC. Best, Don Bauder

Adding to my previous comment: Seems pretty fishy to me that the mayor had to "ask" Bonnie Dumanis to investigate. We did not exactly see her office jump on the findings and suspicions either.

Pat Flannery speculated a little while back that Related could even be behind the Manchester bid to redevelop the Broadway navy site, since you can't tell who is behind a Delaware LLC. Now Manchester's pit bull of a lawyer (Steven Straus) shows up representing Related in front of the CCDC. Coincidence?

Don, since the city charter specifically states that the identity of all persons doing business with the city must be known, how in the world has the city been allowed for so long to do business with all of these opaque Delaware LLCs?

Response to post #13: Of course. Why do you think Dumanis will do nothing? Best, Don Bauder

As corporations, CCDC and SEDC may defy attempts at a simple winding up and closing down by the City of San Diego.

At the same time, it may be possible for the City Council to do the right thing by stripping these developer-advancement forums of their duties as redevelopment agencies and letting them go off into the night, competing with everyone else out there in a depressed construction market.

Without the monthly requests for administrative reimbursement from the City Comptroller, perhaps these two wayward corporations may just die out on their own in the face of free market competition. I think that when various developers AND consultants have discovered that two of their biggest boosters in this town have suddenly become desperate competitors, things may happen. From what I've seen of SEDC's top-heavy staff, a little competition may cause corporate death rather quickly.

Thanx to Justice4all for the informative link... and Paul's comment revelations of the Strauss connection help to put a little more sunshine on things.

Response to post #9: CCDC/SEDC smack of Fannie/Freddie, don't they? Corporate socialism gone awry. As I have said on this blog before, the San Diego establishment is not really capitalist. It will talk against government interference in business, but greed swamps ideology: it prefers socialism if that is a faster way to big bucks. And locally and nationally, you are seeing corporate socialism fail. Best, Don Bauder

I totally agree with reply #10: The SEDC and CCDC are on a par with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, not only from the looks of it and the ingrained resistance to economically sound practices, but also from the behaviors from top management in those organizations. The "corporate officers" of these GSEs (and the G can be the federal, county or city government) obviously feel themselves untouchable and will go to any length to reap their oversized paychecks. Freddie/Fannie resisted to the last moment, even when the housing market started imploding, accounting practices that would have brought the worth of their portfolios to real market value. The impending government take-over did nothing to alter their stubborn refusal to change anything, apart from some cosmetic touch-ups. The top however is walking with millions of dollars in remuneration, pension benefits and whatnot: the same mentality prevails at SEDC and CCDC. There again the corporate top feels itself to be above the law: it fits of course with the "behind closed door dealing" mentality prevalent in San Diego. It'll take more than a few DA investigations to stop or at best decrease such behavior. The good thing is that investigation into SEDC's bonus program showed obfuscation and denials that rose to the level of fraud. The mayor now requested the DA to look into the findings: I guess that once things are on paper, then there's not much else to do than proceed with getting the legal machinery involved. This being San Diego however, we'll see how "forgiving" the findings, and if it even ever comes to that, the judges will be. I bet on "very understanding" and thus lenient.

Adding to my previous comment: Seems pretty fishy to me that the mayor had to "ask" Bonnie Dumanis to investigate. == ====

I wouldn't be surprised if Col. KFC Sanders is up to his eyeballs in the CCDC mess.

Response to post #11: Too true. Fannie and Freddie knew they had the ultimate backing of the U.S. government in a crisis. I think that's one reason the accounting was phony; they knew they would get a hand slap and nothing else. The same mentality has always reined at CCDC and SEDC. We can be whores for the real estate development industry, we can pay ourselves outrageous and sometimes illegal remuneration, we can ignore conflict of interest rules when selecting developers -- the City, which is also in the pocket of developers, will come to our rescue. More cases of moral hazard. I wish the public would wake up. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #12: Bonnie Dumanis is incapable of investigating any corruption tied to the establishment. That has been proved over and over. CCDC and SEDC are quintessential establishment/developer brothels. Forget Bonnie Dumanis. Only Agurrie can tackle these. He is already doing so. Best, Don Bauder

Macias and Gini audited the SEDC books for several years before they were then hired to do this audit to uncover the fraud. The mayors office had to know preliminary results of the audit at least as much as a year before Smith was fired, yet he granted her three months to clean up. The SEDC itself has known about the fraud investigation for 16 months and has been stonewalling the investigation (and presumably "cleaning up") at least since then. What we currently see is only the public tip of this iceberg, but the rest will probably never see the light of day because of actions Sanders office has taken. Sanders has only taken this current course of action in response to the long string of reports based on easily obtainable public data by Mel Shapiro, Flannery, the Reader, The VofSD and the UT.

Dumanis is for show. She will do nothing and let it quietly go away, just like she has done nothing about Mike Madigan colluding with the City College to steal taxpayer money in a land swindle, and nothing about Jim Waring and Chip Owen in the SEDC land swindle.

Last week, the City Council, led by Scott "Million Gallon Man" Peters, voted to reappoint Fred Maas to the CCDC Board. Before the vote, I took the microphone and sang a little song for them:

Today's reappointment Is a disappointment Please don't renew these men's terms

The stench at CCDC Is enough to make me queasy Please don't renew these men's terms

CCDC, SEDC Both have got a board Do they work for San Diego? Or are we being ignored?

Renewed to Twenty Eleven Well that just stinks to heaven Please don't renew these men's terms

Todays reappointment Is a disappointment Please don't renew these men's terms

Jim Madaffer spoke after the public comments, and glaring directly at me said that what the public had to say was "sickening".

He then went on to repeat the lie that everything at CCDC is just fine, and the public is just too stupid to appreciate their wonderful work.

Donna Frye disagreed, pointing out that the reappointments would further erode the public trust in our government. But she was alone in this, and was defeated in her opposition 7-1. The good ole boys, led by Maas, are still in charge of CCDC, and San Diego hangs its head in shame.

To Heck with the DA investigating SEDC. Our STRONG Mayor should just re-appoint his ETHICS lady who did the Sunroad Cover-up have her find "noo evidence" of any wrongdoing, and carry on with whatever level of public money theft the good old boys cartel wants.

Response to post #17: That's how you perform a coverup. You hire the people who formerly did the books. They know where the muck is hidden, and they know how to keep it hidden. And you ask a good question: whatever happened to the Mike Madigan case? Just what everyone predicted: nothing. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #18: Donna Frye is always alone on these matters. She has intelligence and honesty. The others on the council have neither. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #19: You have predicted what is quite likely to happen. The so-called ethics lady who did the Sunroad whitewash will be given a bucket of paint and a paintbrush and be asked to perform again. And the public will swallow it. Best, Don Bauder

The culture of corruption seems to be genetically embedded in San Diego's government: thank goodness there are some people, like Frye, who will keep integrity and honesty as guiding standard of their behavior. Unfortunately, one can count the number people like her and Aguirre on the fingers of one hand and have a few to spare. One just shakes ones head when one sees the same self-serving corrupt officials and their ilk do everything they can to protect their share of the fleshpots (i.e. the public money that is entrusted to them). On the other hand, it shouldn't surprise anyone: I've seen this behavior many times at all corporate levels. People will persist to the very last moment in nefarious behavior, they won't change. Some get fired, move on and start the same rigmarole somewhere else. The ex-CCDC head, la Graham, is a shining example: she pulled all kinds of self-enriching stunts in Florida before it was time to run and take the show to a new location. The CCDC board "knew nothing of this" (yeah, right!), eagerly hired her and the money show started all over. Interestingly enough, the conflicts or interest (to put it mildly) that dogged Graham in Florida were already being reported in (non-UT) newspapers in San Diego, but the CCDC couldn't be bothered. Eventually Maas knew he couldn't cover up Graham's conflict of interest any longer, so it was time to ditch her. Was anything going to change? Of course not. Will Maas open the CCDC books all the way? Doubtful. Will there be more "studies" or "inquiries" into the SEDC's corruption? Likely. Will we hear anytime soon of concrete examples of who stole what? Keep dreaming. What are the chances that Dumanis will proactively investigate corrupt politicians that are blatantly in the pockets of developers? Less than winning the lottery. It worked before, they'll do it again. Hopefully one day the San Diego public will wake up, but I doubt that it will be anytime soon. Maybe that day will come when San Diegans realize that they've been led by the nose for a (way too) long time and have been fleeced to the bone. One can only hope.

Response to post #23: If the CCDC board is saying it knew nothing of Graham's connections with the Related Group, every member should be fired for incompetence. Her relationship with Related was in the South Florida papers for a long time in 2005. But here's what should finish off the CCDC board: I did a column on her, prominently mentioning the Related conflict of interest, in November of 2005, before she had arrived in San Diego. The Reader is a San Diego publication. Some CCDC board members, and Mayor Sanders, take delight in saying they don't read the Reader. However, when doing due diligence on a new hire who would make a bundle of money, and be responsible for steering a bundle of money to various developers, it was incumbent upon those board members to do their due diligence. They obviously did not. Mike Aguirre has now charged her with criminal violations. It is now time for him to investigate the board of CCDC -- and Sanders -- and find out why did not know of her relationships with Related, which had been widely publicized in Florida, and also publicized in their home town of San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Don, they knew about Nancy Grahams past-come on-it would have been IMPOSSIBLE not to know. This is the age of the internet, where the typing of a name produces results in a heartbeat.

There are HS kids!! that read the local news and would know Grahams past. To think that someone would not be properly vetted for a position that is probably the highest paid in the City is pure nonsense.

They hired her because she was connected and would pull strings for her buddies-it is that simple. They knew everything there is to know.

The notion that the City/CCDC Board/Whomever hired Graham without knowing about her past connections cannot even be stated with a straight face in a stand up routine.

I noticed that Aguirre had Graham tracked down all the way to Tennessee, to serve her the criminal charge papers. However, true to form, the UT reports it more as a counterproductive move that will end up damaging the CCDC's credibility and cost SD taxpayers money: CCDC Board Member McNeely is even quoted as implying that the action of Aguirre is harming the credibility of the CCDC. Never mind the CCDC's Board's incompetence. As I pointed out before, once some of these people have their fingers in the pot, there is nothing they won't do to spin the truth and lie any which way they can, so they can keep feeding at the trough. The DA Pfingst even calls the action of Aguirre "grandstanding". Obviously it doesn't matter that serious ethical issues, even not downright fraudulent behavior, have been the hallmark of Graham's career. San Diego through and through.

Council Candidate Todd Gloria solicited Nancy Graham for campaign contributions...nine times!

See: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/election/

Also have a look at the inside story of how the Labor Council tried to blackmail Whitburn into betraying Donna Frye.


This contest is really heating up. Fascinating...

Response to post #25: That's what I stated in my Nov. 2005 column on Graham. I said she was hired because she would fit right in with the San Diego mentality. Conflict of interest? What's that? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #26: I missed that commentary by U-T. Was it on the editorial page? Or was it one of those purported news stories that are no different than the garbage that runs on the editorial page? I would like to read it before I comment on it. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #27: San Diego politics is not only run by money. It is run by dirty money. VERY dirty money. Best, Don Bauder

The comments from Pfingst and McNeely can be found on signonsandiego.com. The URL is http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20080912-9999-1m12nancy.html For once it's not information on the non-recyclable junk referred to as editorial page by the UT.

Voice of San Diego also has former DA Pfingst already defending Graham for probably not willing to show up for the misdemeanor charges: charges are only misdemeanors, her mother is sick etc, etc... Gives one a good idea of how the DA will be looking at the case.

Don, brothels sure have unusual business practices for their "specialized" services, but I think they still operate on the principle that "the quality of the goods and services are proportionate to the cost". (Not that I'd know, my opinion's just based on rumor). San Diego on the other hand would put tons of lipstick and "schminck" on a carcass and peddle it off as a high-end hooker to the gullible.

Response to post #32: So what you're saying is that the Gaslamp Quarters past as a red light district is still alive and well today? Pretty damn good analogy, I'd say.

Response to post #31: Brothels work in interesting ways, don't they? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #33: If I have insulted the world's whorehouses with my careless use of a metaphor, I apologize. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #34: It was called the Stingaree more than 100 years ago. Sailors were their best customers. Best, Don Bauder

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