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— Time again to check up on the doings of that growing corps of lobbyists working the corridors of power down at San Diego's city hall to get contracts and permits for their well-heeled clients. Year-end activity reports filed in late January show that business has never been better for the city's top practitioners of schmooze. Over at Public Policy Strategies, Kimberly Hale represented Redflex Traffic Systems of Phoenix regarding the "procurement of red light photo enforcement program/contract." Hale also labored on behalf of the taxpayer-funded San Diego Film Commission to "maintain San Diego's film-friendly reputation and streamlined process of filmmaking activities."

For the Barona Band of Mission Indians, which owns a sprawling casino and hotel complex in East County and has repeatedly jousted with the city over water rights and other development issues, Hale provided unspecified "Intergovernmental Relations" services. She was listed as doing the same for San Diego State University. (Public Policy's founder, political consultant Tom Shepard, a close campaign advisor to Mayor Jerry Sanders, was called in by SDSU last year to help bail out its president, Stephen Weber, from a festering controversy he'd stumbled into over spiking the school's proposed Paseo retail and housing project.) Hale also assisted in the "procurement of EMS contract" for San Diego Emergency Services Enterprise.

The long client list of Craig Benedetto, revered dean of the downtown influence peddlers, is also bristling with lucrative development-related accounts. He's worked to gain "city support" for the Bajagua Project, LLC, whose controversial plan to treat Mexican sewage would be subsidized by federal funds. For Cricket Communications, the cut-rate cell phone carrier, he pitched a "wireless communications build plan." Then there's Kennedy Associates, whom he has represented in efforts to get a "Hyatt Regency Islandia lease extension" on city-owned Mission Bay waterfront. Downtown's W Hotel, on the other hand, needed Benedetto's services to clear up some "operational issues with fire marshal and vice fire marshal" that the hotel apparently had. For that service he reports he was paid between $5000 and $25,000.

Over at Southwest Strategies, the big lobbying company founded by onetime Evening Tribune reporter Al Ziegaus, former city council staffer Clint Carney worked for Australian-based Westfield Corporation to get city approval for renovations of UTC and lobbied on behalf of a "potential city contract" for American Medical Response, an ambulance outfit. He also spent time trying to combat the city's so-called big box ordinance banning his client, Wal-Mart Stores, from future expansion.

On the other side of that issue was Arturo Castanares, former chief of staff to ex-Democratic state senator Steve Peace, who represented the Joint Labor Management Committee, a union-backed group that succeeded in getting the Wal-Mart restrictions passed. His only other client was JMI Realty, owned by John Moores, who owns the Padres and has a sizable stake in big downtown real estate developments.

Latham & Watkins lawyer Allen Haynie worked for Home Depot to nail down a "potential new store" and Rock Church to obtain "land use entitlements" for a new house of worship. His clients included developers Corky McMillin Companies; International Gateway Associates, LLC; Sudberry Properties; and Black Mountain Ranch, LLC.

Another veteran lobbyist and lawyer, Lynne Heidel of Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis, also had plenty of developer business, reflecting the healthy economy: H.G. Fenton, Balboa Realty, OliverMcMillan, Quantum Properties, 301 LLC, Douglas Wilson Companies, Westfield Corporation, SRM Development, Lankford & Associates, the Robert Green Company, and 5th and Thorn, LLC. Between those assignments, she also represented the San Diego Surf Cup, a "soccer tournament organizer," regarding "land use issues related to use of Polo Fields in San Dieguito River Valley."

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