Jeff Smith noon, March 8
Graham Claims She Was "Spotless" in Florida. Hogwash!
Nancy Graham, former head of Centre City Development Corp. now under investigation by the Ethics Commission, claimed yesterday that "I had a spotless record" before coming to San Diego. The Union-Tribune printed her assertion apparently without searching the record. I did a Reader column on Graham Nov. 23, 2005, just before she took the job in San Diego. Graham had been mayor of West Palm Beach, Florida. She was out of office when her successor, Lois Frankel, a former political ally, charged that Graham "had a conflict or an appearance of a conflict" between her public and private real estate deals. Frankel charged that Graham was too cozy with developer Related Group. George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post noted back in 2005 that Graham "raised eyebrows when she left office by taking a job leading the Palm Beach County division" of a major real estate developer. Then she formed a development consulting firm with her husband (now ex-husband). During the same period, she headed the Downtown Development Authority. After she got to CCDC in San Diego, there was an investigation into whether she had used her influence to get the same developer, Related Group, get a fat contract downtown.
While mayor of West Palm Beach, her signature contract was done by Related. Then, in the private sector, she did a Related project with her then-husband. In my column of November, 2005, I ruminated that Graham would be perfect for San Diego because "she thinks her snug relationship with developers is an asset."
Just recently, Jose Lambiet, a columnist for the Palm Beach Post, discussed the Ethics Commission investigation: " Former West Palm Beach Mayor Nancy Graham is likely to be fined a whopping $170,000 for exporting to San Diego our area's special brand of corruption."
I continue to believe that Graham was hired in San Diego BECAUSE of her cozy relationships with developers, and her refusal to acknowledge that they constitute conflicts. Don't expect the Ethics Commission to look into that.