It may not have been the Oscars exactly, but some of San Diego's most well-heeled developers and best connected lobbyists and influence peddlers didn't seem to mind as they made their way past a blaring mariachi band into an ultimate insiders' inaugural party for new mayor Kevin Faulconer on March 3.
Earlier Monday, inauguration day, Faulconer had given his first speech as mayor at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation in Lincoln Park.
U-T San Diego, run by Faulconer financial backer and mega–real estate developer Douglas Manchester, reported:
The location of his event symbolically underscored his pledge to pay attention to underserved neighborhoods. Faulconer, whose campaign opponents claimed would be beholden to downtown power brokers, said his was the first mayoral inaugural in southeastern region of the city.
But downtown power brokers showed up in droves at Faulconer's exclusive evening inaugural festivities, held at the Port of San Diego's Pavilion on the Broadway Pier. TV trucks and the city's dwindling press corps were noticeable by their absence.
Attendees included lobbyist Ben Haddad of California Strategies, the big Sacramento influence-peddling outfit founded by Bob White, longtime aide to ex-San Diego mayor and former GOP governor Pete Wilson. Among the firm's San Diego clients have been Bridgepoint Education, Capitol Power Corporation, Ralphs Grocery, and Clear Channel Outdoor, which wants to loosen the city's strict billboard regulations.
Nikki Clay, who runs Clay Company, with lobbying clients including Sycamore landfill operator Republic Services, New Jersey–based developer Garden Communities, Jack in the Box, and real-estate giant H.G. Fenton Company, was there with husband Ben.
Lobbyist and solid waste-facility developer Nancy Chase, whose daughter was protocol officer for fallen mayor Bob Filner and whose name was listed among backers of Faulconer's Democratic mayoral rival David Alvarez last year, also showed up for a round of hugs with the Republicans.
David Malcolm, the onetime port commissioner who did time in a work-furlough program on a conflict-of-interest charge, was there with his wife. GOP congressional candidate Carl DeMaio, who once hoped to be mayor himself, also made an appearance.
Last week, a Faulconer backer solicited free food for the event from restaurant and bar owners in the Gaslamp Quarter, where the new mayor’s wife owns an event business coordinating street closings for conventions. According to the state's Fair Political Practices Commission, any donations to the party, including food and booze, should be reported within a month as so-called "behests" on Faulconer's behalf.