continued "Member Redfearn agreed, adding that private concerns and corporate events have become a big business that the Stadium should get a bigger piece of. [Stadium manager] Bill Wilson reminded the Board that, in line with the recommendations of the Zero-Based management group, Stadium administrative staff would be reduced to just one manager and a secretary when the ballpark opens. It was noted the advantages of the Stadium are good weather and a big parking lot. With the departure of the Padres, more interest and competition for parking-lot events is expected. Bill Wilson added that the flea market was his biggest moneymaker when he ran the Rose Bowl."
Some have accused the nine-member board of having direct or indirect conflicts of interest as they go about their advisory roles. Chairman Doug Barnhart, a regular donor to various city council campaigns, owns one of the region's largest general contracting companies, which is helping to build the Padres' downtown ballpark. Before that, his company built the Chargers' $12 million headquarters, paid for by the city, in Murphy Canyon, and he barely lost out on a bid to construct the Qualcomm expansion in 1997. He is seen as a likely bidder if and when the Chargers or the city ever builds a new stadium, making Qualcomm obsolete.
The minutes show Barnhart has been especially active in lobbying the board and city council for more socializing in the city box, a practice some councilmembers have been reluctant to resume following controversy over the Chargers deal, Qualcomm expansion, and prolonged fight with Bruce Henderson and the county grand jury over the gifts of food and beverages from Service America. "The chair encouraged the board and city council to make more personal use of the city box for social purposes," according to board minutes of this April 2. A month earlier, during the meeting of March 6, the minutes recorded that "The chair said his goal is to bring the Mayor and City Council back to the stadium."
Another member of the board is attorney Regina Petty, the board's vice chairwoman and a partner in the firm Wilson, Petty Kosmo and Turner, LLP. According to her financial disclosure statement, one of her clients is Service America, the company that provides exclusive food, drink, and catering services at the stadium. Petty reports that in 2001, she received between $1000 and $10,000 in legal fees from Service America for representing the company.
Similarly, attorney John Wertz, a shareholder in the firm of Sullivan, Wertz McDade & Wallace, reports that he made between $10,000 and $1 million from the firm in 2001, including between $10,000 and $100,000 from Ace Parking Management, which has the exclusive contract to run the stadium's parking operation. "My law firm has rendered services to Ace Parking Management, Inc., since January 1993," notes the attorney in his disclosure statement.
Wertz also has performed extensive legal work for various members of the city council, including the defense of ex-councilwoman Valerie Stallings, who pleaded guilty in January 2001 to making false financial disclosure reports and was forced to resign from the council as a result of the John Moores gift-giving scandal, which at one point threatened the city's deal to build a new Padres ballpark. Wertz has said he recuses himself from discussions and votes regarding Ace, which has just extended its stadium contract.
Many boardmembers who don't report potential financial conflicts admit that they have personal relationships with team owners and other stadium tenants. In January, members were asked by Barnhart to file statements in connection with a "liaison" program he was setting up to personally link up boardmembers with stadium tenants and city councilmembers, ostensibly to promote stadium development.
According to a form filed by attorney and entrepreneur Simon F. Coleman, "I have known the Spanos [family] since they acquired the [Chargers] team and have played golf with them. [Padre president] Bob [Vizas] and I have struck up a beginning relationship, based upon being fellow alumni of Michigan. [San Diego State University athletic director] Rick Bay and I [also Michigan alumni] have known each other for many years."
Boardmember Stephen Redfearn, vice president of marketing and entertainment at the Viejas Casino, wrote, "[I am] not a pal of [city councilwoman] Donna Frye's -- on the other side of an issue concerning Becky's House, which I'm a boardmember of! [I'm] very good friends and am in the district of [city councilman Brian] Maienshein!"
Other boardmembers include nursing-home owner and real estate investor Karen McElliott, who mounted a failed bid for the Seventh District city council seat two years ago; architect Joseph Martinez; attorney Robert Brownlie; and McDonald's franchisee Harold Lewis. All are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council.