Return To Sender
Re “Big Brother will be watching” (“Under the Radar,” March 18). I am sending you two pages from Ben Hueso’s campaign disclosure report, filed with the secretary of state and San Diego registrar of voters on March 22. Page 5 shows the receipt of the Anthem Blue Cross check on March 10, 2010, and the “Payments Made” section on page 23 shows the check was returned.
We therefore kindly ask for a retraction.
- Paola Avila
Matt Potter replies: The date on the refund check, a copy of which was provided this week by Avila, is March 17, the date the story appeared in the paper and on the Reader website.
Wrong, All Wrong
As a native San Diegan and a law-abiding citizen of Italian descent, I was appalled and utterly disappointed by the failure of your publication to verify any of the false claims made in Bauder’s articles and the reckless innuendo of ties by myself to organized crime (“Too Much Conflict,” March 4, and “What a Tangled Web,” March 18, “City Lights”). This is a blatant attack on me, my family, my community, and the Little Italy district and consistent with similar articles run previously by the Reader that alleged that being Italian in San Diego equals corruption.
Upon being contacted by Mr. Bauder before the first of the two articles was published, my wife and I presented substantial evidence to Mr. Bauder that demonstrated the falsity of the claims in Mr. Scott Kessler’s lawsuit — yet Mr. Bauder intentionally chose to ignore the documents, disregard the truth, and maliciously repeated the false claims, knowing that his words would damage my reputation in the community. I hereby demand that you retract those false and malicious articles and print the retraction in an equally prominent position in the next issue of the Reader.
Mr. Bauder’s articles repeated the claim that I have:
• engaged in violations of the State law governing conflicts of interest,
• improperly obtained contracts from the North Bay Association, and also
• implied that I have falsified study results in a conspiracy with Mr. Joseph Mannino.
Bauder also repeats false claims that I improperly influenced the Mayor’s Office to terminate Mr. Kessler and that I even used my influence to persuade the district attorney, Bonnie Dumanis, to reject my prosecution against the recommendations of her subordinates. All of these claims are utterly false and baseless, and I believe that Mr. Bauder knew that when he repeated them. No one person in this city has the kind of influence or authority that Mr. Bauder claims I have.
New City America (NCA) is a professional corporation based in San Diego’s Little Italy and has formed 55 special benefit assessment districts nationwide since 1995. My company has formed more districts in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland than any other company, as well as having extensive experience working on the East Coast. Although we have formed numerous special benefit districts, we are under contract to manage only four of them: one in Little Italy, one in Los Angeles, and two in Oakland.
In each case, our company was hired after a competitive bidding process. In no case was I a voting member of any board of directors in which NCA received a contract. We are proud that our work has transformed San Diego’s Little Italy into one of the most dynamic urban neighborhoods in the country today. This was not done via corruption and conflicts of interest; it was done through hard work, leadership of the Little Italy Association board of directors, and strong, broad-based community support.
First, it is important to address Mr. Bauder’s repetition of the false claim that I and my company have engaged in a violation of the State conflict-of-interest law. Mr. Kessler has been making this claim for years, and it is simply not true. I have undertaken extraordinary efforts to disprove it, but you must understand the entire process to recognize that there is no conflict of interest.
Process for Establishing Special Benefits Districts:
The City of San Diego and many other cities contract with the private consultants or consultant companies such as NCA regarding, first, the advisability of forming both business improvement districts and maintenance assessment districts within their respective cities. Pursuant to the terms of the contract entered into with the private consultant such as myself, the consultant is to informally serve a particular area to determine whether there is business or property-owner interest in the formation of a maintenance assessment district or business improvement district. Pursuant to the terms of the contract, if the consultant determines that there is significant interest in the formation of such a district, the consultant is further directed by the City to move to the formation stage of the contract.
To demonstrate support for a BID or maintenance assessment district, the consultant is required to write a management plan and have that plan endorsed by the advocate group of business or property owners. New City America, as the consultant, is then required to have its plan endorsed by the City of San Diego and then, once approved, circulate a petition of support demonstrating approval of the plan, its services, and assessments. Once the predetermined threshold of weighted or numerical petition support has been reached, New City America submits the petitions to the Office of Small Business or Economic Development Department for processing. The Office of Small Business or Economic Development Department then writes a staff report and submits it to the appropriate city council committee for review and approval.
The city council committee then submits that report and plan to the full city council for review and action. Once endorsed, the city council adopts a “Resolution of Intent” to form the district and mails out ballots to all affected business or property owners. This is a public hearing process conducted by the City Clerk’s Office in the City of San Diego. New City America has nothing to do with this statewide-determined public hearing process.