Walter Mencken 12:34 p.m., July 24
Special Interests Raise Big Cash for "Voice of Downtown"
The Downtown San Diego Partnership, which calls itself "the Voice of Downtown" on its website, will be able to turn up the volume considerably, thanks to its political action committee, San Diego Jobs PAC, which has raised considerable money in June from some of the downtown establishment's biggest special interests.
Late last year the group hired Kris Michell, former chief of staff to GOP mayor Jerry Sanders and before that a key aide to ex-mayor Susan Golding, another Republican. During the Golding era, Michell handled the 1996 GOP convention here, which was advanced in part by glossing over problems with the city's underfunded pension fund.
None other than Fred Sainz, a former GOP aide and the convention center's super PR man later to become Sanders spokesman, fingered the Republican convention as the beginning of the city's everlasting pension woes, telling the Union-Tribune in August 2006: "the facts are indisputable. The city needed money in order to fulfill its obligations to the RNC (Republican National Committee), the RNC was demanding the money, and the pension system became underfunded. I'm just connecting the dots."
The downtown partnership's executive committee includes Robin Munro Madaffer, lobbyist, attorney, and wife of ex-city councilman Jim Madaffer; super lobbyist Paul Robinson; AT&T external affairs executive Ignacio de la Torre; Scott Maloni, formerly with Sanders and Golding political guru Tom Shepard and now working for desalination project developer Poseidon Resources; and lawyer/lobbyist Jim Dawe, long associated with slow-going downtown library fundraising efforts.
Donors to the partnership's PAC, according to city campaign disclosure records, include Ace Parking ($5000); real estate mogul and onetime Padres partner Malin Burnham ($5000); California Strategies, the Sacramento lobbying firm founded by ex-Pete Wilson aide Bob White ($1000); cable TV giant Cox Cable ($10,000); retired Cox executive and EDC interim CEO Bill Geppert ($5000); electrical contractor Dynalectric ($5000); developer OliverMcMillan ($10,000); Poseidon Resources ($10,000); trash giant Republic Services, which runs Allied Waste and has expressed interest in privatizing local trash operations ($5000); the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, which owns the Grant Hotel ($18,000); and Turner Construction ($10,000). In all, the partnership raised about $100,000 during the first six months of the year.
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