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The U-T editorial page and local Republican Party have made fools of themselves once again by claiming that City Attorney Mike Aguirre broke city laws by permitting 6 employees in his office to donate all of $1,640 to his election campaigns. As it turned out, the Ethics Commission has no problem with such a practice, as long as the money isn't solicited. Campaign law experts agree the law originally cited by the U-T does not apply to campaigns. Other local politicians, including councilmembers Donna Frye, Jim Madaffer (a Republican) and Tony Young, received contributions from employees. Will the U-T and Republicans anathematize that princess of piety, Leslie Devaney, who ran against Aguirre in 2004? When she ran, she was manager of the city attorney's office, supervising 340 people. She took $500 from Gael B. Strack, an assistant city attorney. She got another $500 from her boss, Aguirre's predecessor Casey Gwinn. Ralph Inzunza, then on the council, chipped in $250. Twenty-one other city employees donated to Devaney's campaign.

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Anonymous Oct. 14, 2007 @ 2:51 a.m.

Legal issues aside, it seemed to me the real objectional issue here is people accepting campaign contributions from employees that they can "pay-back" with a salary adjustment/raise. Any ideas on how many of the contributions mentioned above would fall into category?

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Anonymous Oct. 14, 2007 @ 2:51 a.m.

Legal issues aside, it seemed to me the real objectional issue here is people accepting campaign contributions from employees that they can "pay-back" with a salary adjustment/raise. Any ideas on how many of the contributions mentioned above would fall into that category?

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Don Bauder Oct. 14, 2007 @ 9:49 a.m.

Most of the employees who collectively gave $1,600 to Aguirre got raises. I am told that is also true of the many other city officials whose employees gave them contributions. But I think that the idea that there is a connection is ludicrous. The donations were piddling -- to Aguirre, Donna Frye, Jim Madaffer, Tony Young, Leslie Devaney, Casey Gwinn and other candidates receiving donations from staffers. Raises were small and in almost all cases automatic. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 15, 2007 @ 11:39 p.m.

I realize I did not comment about Aguirre's role in Sunroad. That was a major victory for him and his office. Sanders and Waring were desperately trying to bury the issue and let Sunroad keep the building at its illegal height. Only because Aguirre stuck with it did Sanders finally have to capitulate. However, I understand that the building has not yet been lowered. Best, Don Bauder

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tover7 Oct. 15, 2007 @ 6:11 p.m.

Don: Saying the raises were small seems like a bit of a stretch. And isn't there a little irony here? How many columns have you written making similar "ludicrous" connections? At some point you might want to stand back and take a critical look at Aguirre, from the pension suit to the KPBS investigation to the landslide news conference -- even the way he used Sunroad as a political club. You appear to be giving him a pass.

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Don Bauder Oct. 15, 2007 @ 11:29 p.m.

I hope I haven't written anything as ludicrous as the Kittle editorial and the subsequent filing by the Republican Party. I think the pension suit was well-presented, and urgently necessary. Those benefits will eventually sink the city. You will see other cities and counties trying legal maneuvers to get out of pension obligations they cannot afford. Ditto for the private sector. I think the KPBS investigation was something that was long overdue; KPBS's relationship with Copley is a real detriment to San Diego. I thought the landslide news conference was good, too. What's wrong with factfinding? Sanders and the U-T have an aversion to facts, but a city attorney shouldn't. Best, Don Bauder

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tover7 Oct. 16, 2007 @ 3:03 p.m.

Don: This is probably pointless, but.... 1. Pension suit. You're offering the lemmings rationale. To date, most pension concessions have come through negotiations with unions or bankruptcy. Aguirre's shotgun litigation has killed any hope of negotiation. But more to the point, his legal theory appears loopy. Perhaps he'll win on appeal. I'm holding my breath. 2. Alternative spin on KPBS: Government official tries to intimidate news organization for political reasons -- namely that a show on which he appears often is canned while one that features a critic remains. And what KPBS relationship with Copley? Talk about ludicrous. The editorial editor appears for one hour every other week. 3. Nothing wrong with fact finding, but why go on TV and appear to suggest liability? If you're the lawyer for all the people of San Diego, how about trying to save all the taxpayers a buck in this settlement. 4. Sunroad. Sunroad should have never built up to 180 feet. But here's how adults handle this situation. The FAA issues a notice of presumed hazard. The developer, airport advocates, city officials, FAA etc. sit down to negotiate. They come up with a compromise. This happens all the time. End of story. Of course, you know what happened here. What San Diego needs is less vitriol and more ideas. You can help.

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Don Bauder Oct. 16, 2007 @ 4:18 p.m.

  1. Not loopy. Ahead of its time. It's thrown out largely because of actions by Aguirre's predecessor, Casey Gwinn. 2. The KPBS building bears the Copley name because of big donations. The content has the Copley spin. KPBS could have shed light on many corporate scams but didn't, in my judgment, because it might upset a huge donor (Copley); 3. The really dumb remarks were by Sanders and aides, cocksure that City had no liability. This may harm chances for City to get insurance, which was what Aguirre was angling toward; 4. Sunroad, Sanders and Waring didn't want compromise; they wanted planes to be re-routed in bad weather. Ideas? You won't get any from City Hall. Just politics. There should be essentially no more residential building until infrastructure is brought up to date and water is secure. Yet the real estate industry owns the mayor and the building continues. Classic road to disaster. Only Donna Frye and Aguirre, and media such as the Reader and Pat Flannery's blog, see this mismatch. Best, Don Bauder
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Anonymous Oct. 16, 2007 @ 7:04 p.m.

Tover7 claims he wants "ideas", but shuns real information. KPBS has always slanted its coverage to the Union-Tribune views and never, ever dug deep into local issues. Come on, Tover7, it's run by the San Diego State University for crying out loud. The latest outrage is the cutting of their only TV show dedicated to local issues. And of course, they never report on the status of Steve Weber, the notoriously corruption-plagued athletic department, and the failed real estate development that has cost state tax payers millions of dollars. Tover7 is bottom line disengenous. Tover7 no doubt yearns for the days of Casey Gwinn, when millions of dollars of sports subsidies, retirement benefits, ad nauseum, were given to the insiders at the expense of local taxpayers.

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tover7 Oct. 16, 2007 @ 10:59 p.m.

SD blogger. You're a juvenile flame thrower. Vitriol over intelligent discourse every time. I have no time for you. Don: What you say about KPBS makes no sense. How do they present news with a "Copley spin." What does that mean? I don't see them ignoring news. More importantly, why would their reporting on scams potentially piss off Copley? Why would Copley care? That just doesn't ring true. I suspect your real bitch with them is they're fair, that they present both sides of an issue, which you seem to interpret as being a lapdog for Copley. That's a leap of logic into another galaxy, dude. As for the news conference, you're logic again makes no sense. The city I suspect already has insurance. Getting additional coverage AFTER THE SLIDE is likely to be prohibitively expensive, if it's available at all. So what was Aguirre angling at again? What Sanders and his people said is not the issue, by the way. It's what Mike, the lawyer who may defend the city in these matters, said. That TV clip will be the first thing the plaintiff's lawyer shows the jury. Finally, I think we just disagree about the pension lawsuit. You may be right. I hope you are. I just think the practical solution would have been to go to the unions and negotiate a reduction in benefits. If auto makers can win concessions, so could the city. In posting here, I was trying to get you to examine your logic and rethink your rhetoric. You and Pat Flannery and the rest of the crew are determined to tear down the establishment, firing .50-caliber machine guns at every turn. That's fine. Slap them around when they're wrong. But let them up to breathe when they're right.

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Don Bauder Oct. 17, 2007 @ 8:03 a.m.

A recent dialogue I had with a respected friend hit the mark. He registered complaints about Aguirre. I said the bottom line lies in the big picture: 1. San Diego should not continue residential and commercial development as long as the rotting infrastructure can't handle it, transportation is gridlocked, water will be in short supply, etc. He agreed. 2. The mayor and the U-T are incapable of grasping this: the mayor is owned by the real estate industry and the U-T used to get 35 percent of its advertising from real estate, according to one estimate of former insider (I don't know current figure). He agreed. 3. San Diego is corrupt and Aguirre is fighting the establishment's hammerlock on the mayor and council. He agreed. 4. Of elected officials, only Frye and Aguirre are on the right track on these issues. He agreed. Yet he still complained about Aguirre's personality. I say: look at the big picture. San Diego's pro-development bias at a time of infrastructure inadequacy is self-destructive. Best, Don Bauder

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tover7 Oct. 17, 2007 @ 10:23 a.m.

Don: So Qualcomm, which could be located anywhere, shouldn't have been allowed to build its new headquarters because of the city's infrastructure deficit? Ditto for Intuit, Cymer, Sharp and other large employers? Is that what you're seriously advocating? But look, that's a separate debate on which reasonable people can disagree. The point regarding your rationale above is that it's not about personality. It's about the ends not justifying the means. You've been a journalist for what, 50 years? When a government official uses his office to "investigate" (intimidate) a small news organization over its content, you should be outraged. Yet you seem to think it's fine. It makes me wonder what alien snatched your body. You would be doing your boy a favor if you held his feet to the fire once in a while.

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Don Bauder Oct. 17, 2007 @ 11:09 a.m.

Re KPBS, Aguirre made a public records request under state law for records, and posted the records he got (still incomplete) on his website. The public is entitled to such information since KPBS is owned and operated by an arm of the state of California. In re commercial and residential development; I wasn't referring to buildings that have already been built or are well along in the process, obviously. It is hardly necessary to tear anything down (although the Sunroad building should be lowered). But a downtown high-rise on an earthquake fault planned for construction by a big Sanders donor is what I am talking about. It should be stopped. Best, Don Bauder

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