"Frea is not knowledgeable about the project.
"Steve Bloom and Fred do not have the standing and have proven themselves to be 'true believers' -- which is to say, I doubt they have much credibility.
"I am supportive -- but technically deficient."
Four months later, with the Paseo status still unresolved, Carter again e-mailed Weber, this time to say that he had contacted Bob White, an influential SDSU alumnus and Sacramento insider who is a longtime advisor to ex-governor Pete Wilson and has also worked for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"I have discussed the Paseo financing issue with Bob White," wrote Carter, in the e-mail dated December 5.
"Interesting," responded Weber.
"He said he would represent us for free as long as I am not making any money on this. I am sure you can clarify that for him," Carter wrote.
"Of course," said Weber.
"He understands that issue and is an excellent person to precede our visit," continued Carter.
"Tom, you are always a source of wonder," wrote Weber.
Weber apparently didn't tell his second-in-command Roush about White's involvement, as evidenced by her frantic e-mail to Weber a little over a month later, on January 19, 2005.
"Dennis Hordyk from the Chancellor's Office called me this morning in regard to the Paseo," said Roush. "One of the items he wanted to discuss was a conversation he had with Bob White, whom he knows well from the days when Dennis was in the state Department of Finance. Bob talked about how the Paseo project has been underway for years, much has been spent to date, etc. He talked as though the [chancellor's office] is blocking the campus from proceeding with the project. Dennis was much taken aback. Dennis, a generally mild mannered individual, was very displeased that we had in essence raised the stakes by having Bob White lobby him.
"I think it is a bad idea to have this kind of outside lobbying on an issue such as this," she continued. "I hope I am wrong. What is it we want to occur as a result of the lobbying by Bob White? We already have approval from the Chancellor himself to move forward with the project. It is the debt-capacity problem that we are struggling to manage, and the likelihood of an exception is non-existent. I'm afraid we are using a contact for no useful outcome."
On February 11, with the Paseo still alive, if limping along, SDSU Facilities Planning and Management director Tony Fulton e-mailed Roush with his criticisms of its design. "They are still proposing a pedestrian bridge crossing College at Lindo Paseo," said Fulton. "And it's the ugliest bridge I've seen in some time. Reminds me of a railroad trestle." He added that the project "will barely meet the proposed energy standards and guidelines that even the City of SD is adopting. This won't sell well with the Trustees but I'm sure it can be faked."
On March 17, a worried Tom Carter again e-mailed Weber. "I understand that Sally Roush or her staff is proposing that SDSU could acquire the Foundation position and develop the Paseo. This would never be accepted by the city."
Replied Weber: "In the best of all possible worlds, that would not be our preference. If it is on our credit no matter what, then we would be better off to do it ourselves and at least have the control we would otherwise lose to a third party."
As to possible opposition to the takeover by the City, Weber responded: "They would block the state from undertaking a development they want to see??? How does a city trump the state of California?"
Weber then forwarded Carter's message to Roush and proposed that Carter be "briefed" by her about the takeover, but she quickly demurred.
"I think it would be difficult and likely unproductive for me to talk to Tom absent you," she wrote on March 17. "His comments regarding me sound increasingly critical, and I don't think it is appropriate for me to be involved in a 'spat' with a community member and an alum."
Alluding to the rapidly developing controversy over the university's sudden move to take control of the project, Roush singled out Fred Pierce, the consultant/
developer in charge of the Paseo, as an unwelcome source of opposition. Pierce was lobbying heavily to complete the Paseo under control of the foundation. (Pierce is a former president of the troubled San Diego pension board. This April, his offices at the foundation were raided by FBI agents, who hauled off computers and piles of records. He has not been charged with wrongdoing.)
"The Foundation or Fred is presenting this as the Foundation and City vs. the University. In my position, I cannot cajole, require, or otherwise get them to stop. As long as that is the position that Tom and other community board members believe in, the whole mess is just that much worse."
Then she threw down the gauntlet to the wavering Weber: "It is really only presidential authority and direction that can get things going in a different direction, if that is even possible."
The next day Weber fired off a terse memo to the foundation's Frea Sladek: "It seems to me more and more likely that the only way in which the Paseo Project can be done is if it is done by the university using university credit. Have you reached that conclusion as well? If not, why not? Assuming you have reached the same conclusion, I think it is time to direct our energies to that end."
But that was not the end of Weber's dallying. In early April 2005, Carter came up with a proposal to sell the project to a real estate investment group from the East. Roush had a quick response. "Bond counsel refers to this group as 'shady,' " she told Weber in an April e-mail. "They have no construction, project management or other related experience. They are a 'shell' corporation for off-book financing. If we want to pursue this effort, you need a discussion with Charlie to ensure you have his approval to proceed in this manner.