Garrett Harris 10:11 p.m., May 23
Filner's frank talk and Doug Manchester's Navy Complex lobbying plan
Will having outspoken ex-congressman as mayor throw a monkey wrench into city's well-oiled contract lobbying operation in Washington?
Yesterday's blast by San Diego Democratic mayor Bob Filner at president Barack Obama and his former Democratic colleagues in congress has been burning up the Internet, and could make life more interesting than usual for the city's D.C. lobbyist in the coming year.
In an interview posted online yesterday by Los Angles public radio station KPCC, the mayor excoriated both parties in Congress, saying half of all House members don't believe in science and that Democrats unduly coerce their members:
"They keep their control by intimidation," says Filner. If you don’t go along with the votes, he says members lose committee assignments or floor time to talk or even their chance of getting bills passed.
Democrats, he adds, have given the nation's veterans the short end of the stick:
He says he can’t understand why Democrats never figured out how powerful the veterans’ issue was. "They just didn’t seem to understand that this was a constituency that was ours if we showed that we cared," he says.
The mayor's candid remarks will no doubt find favor among many local taxpayers, but could have an unpredictable effect on efforts by the city's contract lobbyist to line up more federal pork for cash-starved city hall.
Having an ex-congressman as mayor could cut both ways, depending on the political and personal winds blowing in the House.
The city's D.C. spoils have long been used to pay for projects and balance the chronically out-of-kilter municipal budget. To get the money, the city pays relatively dearly, forking over $50,000 a quarter to Patton Boggs, L.P., a longtime Washington influence peddler.
The firm's most recent filing for San Diego reveals that during the third quarter of this year Patton Boggs partner James B. Christian, a former senate staffer, lobbied for money on multiple fronts, including the "San Ysidro Port of Entry project funding and implementation."
In addition, the city's wish list included the controversial Navy Broadway Complex downtown, to be developed on federal bayside property by U-T San Diego owner Douglas Manchester.
By some accounts, ex-GOP mayor Jerry Sanders coveted the idea of putting a new city hall into the project, boosting Manchester's bottom line.
Whether Filner will be as eager to lavish city money and assets on the Manchester complex as Sanders was remains to be seen; Manchester vigorously backed Filner's mayoral campaign foe, former Republican councilman Carl DeMaio.
As first reported here last week, the merits of a costly downtown city hall project were recently questioned by a report from the office of city auditor Eduardo Luna.
Another Sanders and local GOP lobbying priority that Filner, who was heavily supported by public employee unions, may also change: "Issues related to providing public pension program flexibility (H.R. 2934; IRS regulations)."
Yet another Patton Bogg effort involved obtaining 'Surface transportation reauthorization legislation and implementation (MAP-21), including funding, program and formula reforms, and innovative financing tools," as well as "TIGER grant program implementation and guidance," and "New Starts funding, project status and criteria."
Urban Area Security Initiative funding levels and distribution factors for FY2012 and FY2013. SAFER / AFG program funding, criteria and implementation. Securing the Cities program.