The battle over the City of San Diego's so-called linkage fee on commercial development to pay for subsidized housing ended with a whimper last month.
San Diego Chamber of Commerce honcho and ex-GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, the public face of a referendum campaign against the plan, proclaimed victory when the city council voted to withdraw the measure after opponents turned in 53,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Said Sanders in a statement, "The City Council heard the voices of small businesses and job creators in San Diego and voted to rescind the jobs tax."
Now campaign-finance reports have finally been filed, and they show that among key financial backers of the referendum drive was U-T San Diego, the newspaper and online operation owned by developer Douglas Manchester, which the disclosure shows kicked in $42,413 worth of newspaper ad space to the campaign.
In addition to Manchester's in-kind contribution, the anti-fee campaign, officially known as “Stop the Jobs Killing Tax, a Coalition of Jobs Creators, Economic Development, Business and Real Estate Organizations,” raised a total of $120,025 in cash from the first of the year through April 12, the document shows.
The biggest donors during the period were the Building Industry Association of San Diego County PAC, with $45,000, and the California Association of Realtors PAC, with $50,000.
An outfit called NAIOP of Herndon, Virginia, formerly known as the National Association for Industrial and Office Parks, gave $20,000, and $10,000 came from the National Association of Realtors Fund in Chicago. The San Diego County Apartment Association PAC came up with $5000.
Using that cash and funds raised the previous year, the group spent a total of $274,467, much of it paid to Arno Petition Consultants of Carlsbad.
Manchester and his news operation faced down a controversy last year over whether it had silently discounted political advertising for Carl DeMaio, his candidate for mayor in 2012.
After looking into the matter, Gary Winuk of the state's Fair Political Practices Commission last June concluded, “It does not appear that any campaign received a discount that is different from a discount made available to other members of the public,” a position disputed by some.