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Triple bogie Call it a small piece of good news for San Diego taxpayers: a bid to renew the sweetheart lease of the Carlton Oaks Golf Course has been thwarted by a recently hired property agent in the City's Real Estate Assets Department. The 72.8-acre parcel, owned by the City's Water Department, has been leased for a golf course since 1959 under a 50-year deal that comes due in 2009. The course operators, led by Santee's George Fang and including Gordon J. Mau of Hawaii and John Chen of Castle Rock, Colorado, have been quietly trying to get the deal extended for another 25 years.

A March 3 memo from property agent Brett Maxfield to acting real estate director Michael Boyle, obtained under the California Public Records Act, spells out the details of the saga, which began last July: "After reviewing the lease file and looking at the proposed terms of the lease, I concluded that it was not in the City's best interest to go forward with the lease because of the low return on it as an asset to the City." Maxfield said he told his boss that the deal was bad, but "He instructed me to 'not think too hard about it' and to write the report recommending the lease to the Council."

Maxfield then went to acting real estate director Jack Farris, who arranged a meeting in which Maxfield confronted his boss. "After a heated debate" during which the supervisor "defended the proposed lease vehemently," Farris agreed to sidetrack the proposal.

Maxfield added, "This was only the first such confrontation in which I had to go around [the supervisor] after notifying him of a problem and having him tell me to 'just do it' to prevent a potential fiasco. After the second incident, I started to report to Jack directly."

Maxfield said he also discovered that an appraisal of the property, called for in the lease, "had never been done." After one was conducted in January of this year, it was discovered that Carlton Oaks "should have paid the City $219,000.00 for rent in 2004 when they had only been invoiced $126,091.04, a difference of $92,908.96." An invoice for the difference has already been sent. Maxfield added, "In 2005, Carlton Oaks was invoiced and paid $134,916.60 for rent when it should have been billed approximately $225,570.00."

The ultimate fate of the lease renewal is in limbo, pending Mayor Jerry Sanders's reorganization of the Real Estate Assets Department, but Maxfield says he is convinced that taxpayers can get a much better deal than the one offered so far by Carlton Oaks.

Dragnet Ex-San Diego city manager Lamont Ewell apparently isn't the only one whose old e-mail is playing hard to get. On February 22, mayoral chief of staff Ronne Froman signed off on a new $111,940 contract extension with Novell, Inc., for "consulting services to complete email extraction (including archived mail)" from a host of employee mailboxes. According to a City report, Novell has been engaged since last November in an attempt to pull e-mails from the confusing mess that is the City's electronic document system. "To this end, Novell installed custom software on dedicated City workstations to extract emails from specific GroupWise mailboxes and convert them into a searchable format." Those records were then handed over to NTI Breakwater, yet another high-dollar City consultant, for further examination. Now even more e-mail must be "extracted for individuals of interest."

And whose e-missives are being searched? According to Novell's "Statement of Work," the company has been retained in part to "document the differences in the process used to extract mailboxes where users were inaccessible. This has reference to users ccarney, llabonte, and gloveland, where the wphost.db was modified by Novell Engineering so we can login to the respective mailboxes." A search of old e-mail addresses shows that ccarney@sandiego.gov once belonged to Clint Carney, ex-chief of policy for Councilman Brian Maienschein; Carney now works at Southwest Strategies, a lobbying outfit run by ex-Tribune reporter and council aide Alan Ziegaus. Llabonte@sandiego.gov was the address of Leslie LaBonte, former deputy policy advisor to Mayor Dick Murphy. Gloveland@sandiego.gov was where George Loveland, once a senior deputy city manager, used to pick up his e-mail. He's now retired. Carney didn't return calls placed to his office. The other two couldn't be reached.

Gift horses Former San Diego city planning director Gail Goldberg has departed to become L.A.'s planning chief. Her final statement of economic interests reveals that in January 2005 Goldberg received a $195 ticket to a real estate conference held by the University of San Diego. The giver? None other than the MW Steele Group, the outfit owned by and named after Mark Steele, the San Diego planning commissioner and well-connected architect whose clients have included the Chargers and a long list of La Jolla condo developers.

Keyser Marston Associates, an expensive land-use consultant frequently employed by the City, coughed up $100 for Goldberg to attend a December 2005 "retirement event" for Peter Hall, the outgoing head of the Centre City Development Corporation.

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