The convention-dependent business of Katherine Stuart, wife of GOP city councilman Kevin Faulconer — said to be interested in running for mayor to succeed termed-out fellow Republican Jerry Sanders — is doing better than ever, according to Faulconer’s latest personal financial disclosure filing. Stuart’s Restaurant Events, Inc., hooks up restaurants and catering operations with convention planners, offering downtown street closings that require complicated-to-get City permits, police services, and traffic control. The business is reported to be worth between $100,000 and $1 million and to have grossed over $100,000 last year. Clients who provided more than $10,000 worth of business each were the Cohn Restaurant Group, Dick’s Last Resort in the Gaslamp Quarter, and Harbor House at Seaport Village.
“Whether you need a small banquet room for a group of 10 or would like to close down the streets of the Gaslamp for your Opening Night Gala, our detailed knowledge of the individual restaurants and 12+ years of experience selling and operating events in the downtown area will insure the perfect event at a price that meets your budget,” says Stuart’s company website. “The Gaslamp Quarter Block Party offers a unique, interactive, private venue for groups of 1,000 to 10,000+.… Delivering this ‘A List’ neighborhood to your group privately provides an unmatched VIP experience for your guests. This is something limited to a very exclusive number of people.… Attendees enjoy the freedom of partying in the streets, while networking exclusively with fellow attendees.”
In a February 2006 advice letter to Faulconer about whether he could participate in City decisions regarding the City’s Downtown Community Plan update, San Diego Ethics Commission executive director Stacey Fulhorst told the councilman, “You may not participate in a municipal decision if it is reasonably foreseeable that the decision will have a material financial effect on your spouse’s business or leasehold interests unless you determine that the decision will affect a significant segment…of the [rest of the] public in substantially the same manner.” She added that the downtown plan update under consideration was too general to have a material effect on Faulconer’s wife’s business but added, “We suggest…that you consult with the Ethics Commission again in the future if and when a decision concerning a specific project involving the downtown area comes before you in order to thoroughly assess the effects that the project may have on your economic interests in that area.”
Faulconer is one of the most enthusiastic backers of the mayor’s plan to expand the convention center, located across the street from the Gaslamp Quarter. Faulconer communications director Tony Manolatos rejects any contention that the councilman’s advocacy of the center expansion represents a conflict of interest for him. “He’s doing this for the entire city,” Manolatos said in a telephone interview last week. “The convention center is an engine of economic growth.”
Faulconer has long been a key ally of the downtown tourism lobby. Examples of Faulconer’s freebies: last year, according to his financial disclosure filing, he received an $80 ticket to the Comic-Con convention from the City-owned San Diego Convention Center Corporation. He also attended the Gold Medallion Awards banquet put on by the California Restaurant Association’s local chapter thanks to a $96 ticket courtesy of the Bali Hai restaurant. And he had a $35 lunch with city attorney Jan Goldsmith paid for by Allied Waste Services, which may be in the running to pick up contracts to operate the City-owned Miramar Landfill. Another gift-provider was David Malcolm, the onetime port commissioner who did time in a work furlough program on a conflict of interest charge; he gave Faulconer a ticket worth $70 to the GOP Lincoln Club’s Holiday Dinner.