continued There was no plan to build a convention center next door until the spring of 1983, when Hedgecock, newly elected in a special election to replace Pete Wilson, threw his weight behind his friend Manchester's proposal to have the port build the center next to the Marriott. Hedgecock told voters in an advisory election that the project would cost $95 million; it turned out to be closer to $215 million. Hedgecock was forced to resign after being convicted in a campaign contribution scandal; he became a radio talk show host. Using his new pulpit, he joined with Manchester in writing a self-published book touting Manchester's controversial and ultimately futile pet project to turn Miramar Naval Air Station into the region's commercial airport. Manchester and Carroll also go way back. Each summer, the hotel magnate, who now spends much of his time in his adopted hometown of McCall, Idaho, is a major patron of Carroll's St. Vincent de Paul's big society fundraiser. Last year's event, which raised $150,000, was held at Manchester's Hyatt Regency.
Busch Entertainment Corp. dba Sea World of California
The giant amusement park, which sits on extremely valuable public land next to Mission Bay, has at least two reasons to contribute to the Yes-on-A campaign. More tourists mean more business to the attraction, owned by a subsidiary of St. Louis brewing giant Anheuser-Busch. The park is also seeking city council approval of a lucrative lease extension and 16.5-acre expansion that has run into a sharks' nest of critics who claim that the deal is too sweet and thus unfair to local taxpayers. "There are three major problems we have with the deal," says Mission Bay activist Scott Andrews speaking for Sea World critics. "The first is it was negotiated in secret before the appraisal was even finished and has resulted in them paying only 3.8 percent gross revenues as lease payments. This is clearly a sweetheart deal that's under the going rate. Our second problem that we've discovered is that 86 percent of the runoff from their 75-acre parking lot flows untreated into the San Diego River and Mission Bay. Thirdly, the city says they are going to require a traffic study to be done by Sea World. They claim that their expanded park will attract another half million a year, which, coupled with the city's award of a public street to Anheuser-Busch, Perez Cove Way, will severely impact what is already terrible traffic that blocks access to the coast. The traffic study looks like it will be done after the fact."
Andrews also worries that Sea World's request to exceed the 30-foot height limit, which it is trying to qualify for the November ballot, means the company will attempt to build 16-story hotels and other disruptive attractions to wring even more money out of the city-owned property. Sea World's lease proposal is due to go to the full city council on Monday, June 8, just days after the June 2 election.
Turner Construction Co.
Turner, a giant New York builder, was awarded the contract to build the convention center expansion without competitive bidding. Instead, a small panel of city hall insiders, including then-city manager Jack McGrory, selected the firm, which was rubber stamped by the city council. The contract calls for establishment of a so-called "guaranteed maximum price" that the firm will not exceed but that hasn't been set yet. Thus, a city hall insider notes, the $216 million estimate of the cost of the expansion project "is an imaginary number." Once the final price has been set, the city council has the option of removing features from the project or adding to its cost. Veterans of the process say that the council would be hard-pressed to say no to cost overruns once the project was under way. They point to Turner's track record with other big projects, including expansion of Ohio's Cuyahoga County Jail, a project known as "Jail II." According to an account in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a special county auditor there raised serious questions about how the company did business. "Almost from the beginning," the paper wrote, the auditor, James Stacy, "clashed with officials from Turner Construction Co., the senior firm in the TOZ [Turner-Ozanne-Zunt] partnership. At issue was what he considered Turner's failure to meet contract requirements and its incessant requests for additional fees." Stacy made his files available to the paper, which reported, "Those files show that before the Jail II project was a year old, Stacy began withholding payments to TOZ on the grounds that personnel supposedly assigned to the project were not actually on the site, as the contract required. He also complained that TOZ failed to provide a wide array of promised services, including safety monitoring and quality control. Subsequent memos refer to his having caught TOZ 'with its hand in the cookie jar.'"
The report continued: "So serious were TOZ's failures, in Stacy's view, that he accused the company of a 'total lack of concern for quality contract compliance and the public's best interests.' During one discussion about TOZ's claims, according to a Stacy memo dated May 1, 1990, Turner vice president Alfonso Sanchez said the company 'would be interested in securing my services as a consultant. I declined the offer,' Stacy wrote, adding that he did so again when Sanchez renewed it a few minutes later." The Plain Dealer also reported allegations that Turner had attempted to lobby county commissioners in an effort to increase its fees, quoting one of the commissioners as saying, "We were reluctant to interfere with what Stacy was doing, because he was trying to do our bidding" in holding down costs.
The trash-hauling giant went to court against then-District Attorney Ed Miller in 1992 after his office released a report saying that the company had ties to organized crime. Both Waste Management and its owner, WMX Technologies, denied Miller's charges that Waste Management "engages in practices designed to gain undue influence over government officials" and that the company's history "presents a combination of environmental and antitrust violations and public corruption cases which must be viewed with considerable concern." Miller won a lower court ruling against the firm's defamation suit. Conventions generate massive amounts of solid waste.