David Dodd 2:33 a.m., May 19
Strong-Arming Tactics Not New For U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch
John Lynch, CEO of the U-T San Diego is back in the news, this time over his decision to build a vintage auto museum inside the paper's Mission Valley headquarters without the proper permits.
Voice of San Diego scribe Randy Dotinga contacted Lynch via email for a response to the possible code infractions. Lynch response was short and to the point: "Get a life."
Bypassing permits seems to be the norm for the U-T since Doug Manchester and Lynch took over the paper.
In May of this year, Matt Potter obtained a series of emails between staffers from Kevin Faulconer's office and Lynch. In one email, Lynch threatened to publish negative articles focusing on the City's anti-business policies after the paper was fined for hanging illegal banner signs.
"I have instructed that the banner to be taken down," read the email from Lynch to a staff member in Faulconer's office. "If it weren't for the digital sign pending approval, I would instruct our folks to run a piece on how this is so reflective of this city being anti-business. We are fighting to keep this business vital and if it were ever to go away, there would be 700 San Diego jobs that go with it...John."
Failing to obtain necessary building permits and telling a reporter to take a hike is just the latest example of Lynch's prickly business style, a prickliness documented in a court case dating back to the early '90's.
In 1993, while president of Noble Broadcast of San Diego, Lynch wound up in court after accusing another San Diego radio station, formerly known as XHRM, FM 92.5, of stealing trade secrets from Noble and engaging in unfair business competition. The lawsuit came shortly after programmers contemplated changing its format from Urban Contemporary to alternative rock, similar to Noble's station 91X.
The defendants, Urban Community Radio Incorporated, a subsidiary of Radio Moderna Mexicana (RMM), fired back with accusations that Lynch lobbied Mexican officials to revoke RMM's broadcast license, and according to a deposition from RMM owner Luis Rivas Kaloyan, threatened to do whatever possible to silence the station.
Lynch "threatened me in the presence of my attorney...that if our station was to switch its format, that he would do whatever was necessary to bury us," read the deposition from Kaloyan. "He said he would spend up to $5,000,000.00 if necessary to drive us out of business. He said he would run commercials for less than cost or do commercial-free broadcasting for whatever period of time it would take to drive us into the ground...I have been informed that Mr. Lynch's threats were not only highly unethical but illegal."
Kayolan's claims seem to be backed up in a letter to Kaloyan's attorney. In the letter, dated July 2, 1993, Lynch warned Kaloyan that if his offer to buy Kaloyan out wasn't accepted then action would be taken.
"At that time, if we do not have significant progress in negotiations and/or acceptance, I will sign a purchase agreement for an FM radio station in San Diego which I am prepared to broadcast commercial free for up to one year to mirror the XHRM format."
Read the letter here.