Garrett Harris 8 p.m., Sept. 16
- Community Blog
- Encanto Gas Holder
Analysis: SEDC president's desire for lack of accountability
The recent interview of Carolyn Smith, outgoing president of the Southeastern Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) as a city redevelopment agency, is incredibly revealing as to the nature and quality of leadership during the last decade and a half that she has been in charge at SEDC.
In her interview, she stated that approving off-budget pay bonuses to herself and staffers was an unwritten practice that "predated" her term. Three other former SEDC presidents have denied this in print.
In 2006 or 2007, the City Attorney's office concluded that while several business projects with Carter Reese and Associates were fraught with contract recording irregularities and the appearance of favoritism, actions by SEDC did not involve intentional misconduct that amounted to "corruption, fraud, or the misuse of public funds and that SEDC and Carter Reese have not repeated recordation failures in any other projects."
At about the same time, "In November 2006, the President of SEDC recommended to the SEDC Board of Directors that the San Diego Housing Commission assume from SEDC all monitoring and enforcement of affordable housing responsibilities regarding both affordability and owner-occupancy restrictions for affordable housing developments" (http://www.sedcinc.com/reports/SEDC_Red_Perf_Review.pdf).
What we appear to have here is a corporate president who as early as 2006 wanted her agency to have as little to do with contract monitoring ond enforcement as possible.
The minutes from SEDC's June 25 meeting this year speak volumes, regarding an interview for a submitted proposal by St. Stephen's Church for several lots in the Valencia Business Park project: "Following additional discussion regarding the interview process, Ms. Smith informed the [SEDC] Board that St. Stephen's was given another opportunity to revise their proposal during their interview. It should be noted that it is unusual to allow respondents to revise proposals after they are submitted and particularly during the interview phase" (http://www.sedcinc.com/BOD_support/July08/July%2023,%202008%20Board%20of%20Directors.pdf).
The excerpt from the recent June 25 meeting demonstrates the level of irregularities tolerated or enaged in by the SEDC president during contract negotiations, two years after SEDC barely escaped charges in a City Attorney's investigation of intentional misconduct amounting to corruption, fraud, or the misuse of public funds.
In this case, the daughter of one bishop appears to have extended some form of favoritism to another bishop or his representatives during a fact-finding interview about a church's submitted real estate proposal.
I submit that an ordinary reasonable business executive, having suffered through the City Attorney's investigation of 2006, would have been much more careful than Ms. Smith's recent proposal interview behavior reveals about her managerial style in 2008.
Ultimately, there must be some accounting for how Ms. Smith came to be a corporate president while demonstrating such inept executive behavior. It appears unlikely that she has ever held any other senior executive position in her life, especially one where she had been charged with a fiduciary duty regarding the public's money.
Even without a prior history of executive management, her 15 years of service as the head of SEDC eliminate any excuse for Ms. Smith not knowing and then not following the minimal ethical standards of a public official, namely to at least obey the laws about one's own duty to the public.
Any senior military officer exhibiting such obvious ineptitude would have been summarily relieved of command and drummed out of uniform years ago.
For those in Lemon Grove who think that San Diego's SEDC has nothing to do with them, take a look at who the proponent was for the Citrus Heights development proposal for the old Encanto Gas Holder, looking to expand its influence outside of SEDC territory...