Mayor Filner, City Council and City Attorney Goldsmith to discuss Tourism Marketing District during closed session meeting

Meeting to discuss lawsuit brought on by government activist which challenges the validity of the TMD

Mayor Bob Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith will square off once again over the fate of the controversial Toursim Marketing District. This meeting won't be in front of the cameras, it will be behind closed doors during a closed session meeting of the City Council.

During the meeting San Diego's elected officials will decide how to proceed with two court cases, one from Mel Shapiro and the other filed by San Diegans for Open Government. Both challenge the validity of San Diego's Tourism Marketing District.

The most recent extension was approved by the largest hoteliers on November 26th, 2012, one day before former Mayor Jerry Sanders signed off on the agreement. According to a document from the City Clerk's office, out of the 1,379 ballots sent out, only 355 were returned. Of those 355, 127 approved the two percent assessment on hotel guests while 218 voted against it. The contract was approved due to the fact that the vote is weighted by the size of the hotels. By that math, the vote passed 94 percent to six percent.

After the vote, Sanders signed a last minute extension before leaving office on the hotel two percent surcharge on hotel guests, good for 39 and one half years.

On February 15, the City of San Diego filed a motion in court to consolidate the two cases. San Diego Tourism Marketing District Corporation, the non-profit that manages the assessment, supported the motion.

The City now finds itself in the strange predicament of having to defend the validity of the Tourism Marketing District in one case while simultaneously having to defend the Mayor's decision to not sign the 40-year extension of the tax.

The City is expected to appear in court on March 29 on the cases filed by Shapiro and San Diegans for Open Government.

For court documents click here:

See Matt Potter's ongoing coverage of the Tourism Marketing District:

And see some of the donations from the largest hoteliers made to city councilmembers since 2008:

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Complicated shenanigans are unraveled and laid out here in the Reader so that people can understand the stunning way big business serves itself in this town.

Mindless talk-radio shock jocks, other special interests and foes of Mayor Filner (such as defeated opponent Carl deMaio) simplistically portray Filner's principled embargo of taxpayers' money to hoteliers as a devastating economic blow to San Diego's important tourism sector.

Never mind that no authoritative body can identify or quantify whether any good flows to the City from expensive "marketing" schemes of the well-paid advertising and promotion firms.

Never mind the sordid facts of how the Tourism Marketing District was approved and set up by a tiny fraction of all its members -- 127 yea votes out of 1379 mailed ballots!

Never mind the complicity of craven City Council members and lame duck Mayor Sanders who okayed this shady deal to last for 39 more years!

Never mind the basic unanswered legal question: whether money collected from visitors to San Diego hotels is a tax (requiring a qualifying public vote) rather than merely a slush fund of "fees" for publicizing profit-making hotels.

Finally, never mind who holds the authority to decide how to use public money -- the elected Mayor of the city or campaign-financing private hoteliers.

Good for us that the Reader is paying attention and seems to mind.

Great compilation and synthesis of the Reader's reporting. Thanks for the lawsuit info. Without Reader and San Diego Free Press, which also has excellent reporting (by several reporters), we got nuthin!

A reminder that the City LOST the lawsuit regarding the Golden Hill Assessment District, and lost at Appeal Court. The voting mechanisms for these districts are astounding to anyone who took Civics classes. The weighted vote means that it wouldn't have mattered how the other potential 1,000 voters voted. The existing vote would have prevailed. You don't have to be an American Citizen, and you don't have to live in San Diego to vote. A Corporation can vote. What we think of as a "vote" and how an assessment district works - two different things entirely.

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