• News Ticker alerts

San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders has finally released documents responding to the California public records act request we made on December 12 of last year regarding his then-incipient "Snapdragon Stadium" promotional name-change gambit.

As we were first to report last month, a December 7 memo from city attorney Jan Goldsmith held that the promotion — which sources say was done by Sanders as a favor to his longtime political backers at Qualcomm Inc., including founder Irwin Jacobs — violated city law.

Since then, Goldsmith has issued a follow-up opinion, holding that the Qualcomm deal would have to be taken up by the city council and retroactively ratified before it could be regarded as legal; the council has yet to consider the matter.

The documents released by Sanders late Wednesday afternoon in reponse to our December request show that the name-change plans were in motion at least as early as October 28 of last year, when Patrick Connors, president of San Diego's Gravitate Sports Marketing, sent an email to the city's stadium manager, Mike McSweeney.

It was labeled "FW: Snapdragon -Game signage change out/CONFIDENTIAL"

By November 18, a problem had cropped up regarding the legality of the project, prompting an email from McSweeney to chief operating officer Jay Goldstone, a top Sanders aide.

As Goldsmith's legal opinion would eventually point out, plans to put giant Snagdragon signs around the outside of the stadium would violate the city's so-called off-premise sign ban, which prohibits signage touting products that are not sold where the signs are located.

But McSweeney told Goldstone he had come up with an answer, and that the city's code enforcement staff had signed off on it.

"Jay, We're good to go. Spoke with Chris Larson just now.

"Many thanks to [director of the city's Development Services Department] Kelly [Broughton] on this.

"Essentially, if game attendees can download the app from their smartphones in the stadium-the product is sold within the stadium making it compliant with the ordinance."

"Thanks for your help. "

Replied Goldstone: "Wow. That is creative. I like that kind of thinking"

In an email dated November 23, Connors, a consultant on Qualcomm's name-change project, praised the stadium manager for his cooperation and offered to reward him with dinner.

"You have truly been a life savior for our project with Qualcomm!" said Connors.
 "Our drawings have been sent to the engineers and returned safely to your offices. "

"Hopefully our sign ordinance issue is behind us thanks to your efforts," said Connors.

"As a small token of our appreciation, let's grab our wife's and have a nice 'Holiday' dinner... Let's compare calendars...

"Finally, I would hope you don't mind if we give you credit to the mayor for going above and beyond in our recap and conversations.

"Happy Thanksgiving my friend!"

By December 2, Connors had much of the engineering work done:

"Hot off the press..." he emailed McSweeney.


"Please find our next round of plans from the engineer for our East Scoreboard Truss framing.
"

"Thanks again for sourcing the drawings the engineers needed to insure we are doing this safely and correctly, while returning the building back to you in its original position. They now have everything they need.
"

On December 5, Connors emailed McSweeney again, this time saying that he needed some extra equipment and hoped to get it from the city.

"Would it be possible for Chris from Kleege and Maria from SD Lighting [to] get access tomorrow around 11am to get some additional measurements on the East scoreboard?

"Any chance we could borrow a lift?"

McSweeney replied: "No problem on coming over. Where will the lift go? Will the operator be licensed'? What kind of lift? I will not have a man to operate it for Kleege or SD Lighting."

On December 6, the day before Goldsmith issued his opinion that the name change was illegal, Qualcomm marketing executive Cynthia Hurley Ray wrote McSweeney saying that she had been working with the mayor's office and the project was well under way.

"In case Pat hasn't said it enough- THANK YOU THANK YOU. We continue to chip away at all the details and make progress," Ray said. "We will all need vacations in January!

"I just wanted to make sure you knew that we have been in contact with Julie Dubick to connect with the mayor and have asked him to participate in the press conference on the morning of the 16."

"Also, see attached for the latest mock-ups of our signage artwork, Are you feeling confident with our plan to put these up?"

McSweeney replied to Ray the next day, December 7, the date of Goldsmith's memo:

"Sorry for the late reply. We' re moving forward on all points. Talk to you at 3:30 today."

Two days later, on December 9, Qualcomm government affairs director Monique Rodriguez, injected a note of caution, emailing that they should document their lobbying contacts with the mayor's staff:

"Also hate to be a stickler but please keep track of all contacts with you have had with the Mayor's staff including emails, phone calls and in person conversations they are all reportable on our quarterly lobbying disclosure.

"Can you tell me who your contact at the stadium was I need to confirm whether or not he/she is a reportable contact as well. You gotta love City bureaucracy :) "

The same day, two days after Goldsmith's memo cautioning that the name change promotion was illegal, Rachel Shira, executive assistant to Sanders, emailed Rodriguez and mayoral chief of staff Julie Dubick:

"Per my email this morning, Mayor Sanders is on board, Thanks."

On December 16, came an email from Mary Lewis, the city's chief financial officer, raising questions about the value of the Snapdragon deal to the city. It was addressed to Alex Roth, Aimee Faucett, Natasha Collura, and city chief operating officer Jay Goldstone.

She had heard about the name change after it was announced to the press.

"ls the City being compensated for promoting a specific Qualcomm product?" Lewis wrote. "Is this above and beyond the original naming agreement? This kind of product exposure is worth a considerable amount of money and was this part of the negotiation?"

Faucett fowarded the message on to mayoral chief of staff Julie Dubick.

On the morning of December 19, McSweeney emailed Connors that he had been given approval to sign an agreement with Qualcomm.

The document, released by Sanders's office to us last month, carried an effective date of December 16 and required Qualcomm to pay the city a $1000 promotional fee.

"Haven't been able to open the file from last night yet. Need some IT help today. Thx. For sending," McSweeney wrote.

Then he added: "BTW-Cynthia (or you) sent some unbelievable cupcakes to our staff from Sprinkles! Many many thanks! Our staff is now in a collective sugar coma."

Connors had emailed McSweeney just minutes before to express his pleasure that television sportscasters were already plugging Snapdragon as a result of the name change.

"Check out the clip from last nights game...AI and Chris all over Snapdragon and the signage!

"Let chat today on the East Scoreboard options we discussed after socializing with Jim and your legal folks."

Though the emails are not entirely clear about what actually happened, transformation of Qualcomm Stadium into Snapdragon Stadium resulted in some unexpected problems, and, apparently, expenses.

"Update on the Main gate sign," McSweeney emailed Connors on December 19. "Our crew didn't finish the install of the transformer until 10 pm Friday night. Without the transformer, we wouldn't have had electricity in a large portion of the stadium.

"For instance-no cable cam for the broadcast. It was a major issue for us. Everyone of our tradesmen worked on the removal and installation of a replacement transformer.

"Major deal.

"On Sat. they went out to finish the Main gate repair.

"Once out there, they discovered the entire ballast of the sign needed to be replaced. This will take a couple of days to get done.

"I suggest we lamp the sign with a portable light if we don't get it done in time. I'll meet with our electrician this am to come up with a solution. I' ll keep you posted."

We found no records in the collection we received from the mayor to document the $1000 payment from Qualcomm as required by its contract with the city or payments from Qualcomm to defray the city's setup costs.

But on January 5, the day of our story about Goldsmith's opinion regarding the illegality of the Snapdragon name change, stadium manager McSweeney wrote to Connors.

The email was labled "Snapdragon - Game signage change out /CONFIDENTIAL"

It said: "Pat, We'll have an invoice soon on our electricians hours and perhaps some incidentals.

"Where would we send it to?

"Thx.

"Mike."

The same day, Connors emailed McSweeney about our story that morning regarding Goldsmith's opinion.

It was headlined "'Snapdragon Stadium' Was Illegal, City Attorney Memo Says."

"Have you seen this?" he asked.

"What are your people saying? Will call you.

Ten minutes earlier, Qualcomm's marketing person, Cynthia Ray, had sent Connors a copy of our story, saying:

"This headline is not going over well here today...."

  • News Ticker alerts

Comments

InOmbra Feb. 1, 2012 @ 10:16 p.m.

Wow. Great reporting, Matt. If only people working for the taxpayers applied as much energy and expressed as much joy in doing the job of really making the city work and run well for the citizens, as they do in pulling off creative end runs around regulations that get in the way of their deals and favors for their friends and donors.

Cupcakes! Sprinkles!

I'd like to give them all a permanent vacation.

0

Mr Zip Feb. 2, 2012 @ 3:41 a.m.

Exactly who has been harmed? A derelict, 45 year old, city owned stadium sitting on a a Superfund site that has no rights?

Qualcomm OWNS the naming rights and since Petco Park opened, I would argue that Qualcomm's rights have been infringed upon.

The net value of the contract with Qualcomm (when 'Q' benefitted from an additional 81 televised Padres games per year, but did not request compensation for, when Petco Park opened) is greater than the pittance of $1000 that Q paid the city for staff services.

I have dealt with City Staff. Are they not salaried? Do they not receive generous benefits? Is not the first word in their job description 'CITY'?

My argument boils down to this: Where is the harm? Under 'tort law' the 'injured party' (judging from the article) would seem to be the taxpayers. My argument is that - ignoring Mayoral/Political/City Attorney shenanigans - local taxpayers (workers, including myself, totaling hundreds of man hours and the local companies that employ us) BENEFITTED AND PAID TAXES.

We weren't killing puppies on the city's dime. Truthfully, the city staff at 'The Stadium' considered us a nuisance because we asked questions that required them to get out of their 'comfort zone' (meaning a warm dry office far from any actual work).

If you wish to be tilting windmills, this project is done.

And was completed safely.

Sancho Panza

0

SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2012 @ 10:23 a.m.

User profile: MrZip

Joined: Feb. 2, 2012 Comments posted: 1 (view all) Favorites: view ============================ Mr. Zip = Qualcomm Employee/Mouthpiece

You're not fooling anyone using a gimmck account to try to justify your scam Mr. Irwin Jacobs.

0

Mr Zip Feb. 2, 2012 @ 6:25 p.m.

Actually, I work for the sub-contractor of a sub-contractor for Qualcomm.

0

SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2012 @ 7:08 p.m.

So you're an interested party directly benefiting from Jacobs. That explains your position.

0

patikle Feb. 2, 2012 @ 7:58 a.m.

So what! Where is the harm other than a few getting their collective noses out of joint? Also, please keep in mind we need Qualcomm far more than they need us.

0

SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2012 @ 10:24 a.m.

User profile: patikle

Joined: Feb. 2, 2012 Comments posted: 1 (view all) Favorites: view ==================== Irwin Jacobs Gimmick Account #2.

0

villageram Feb. 2, 2012 @ 9:42 a.m.

So what? The Mayor goes against the City Attorney's opinion and the Chief Financal Officer does'nt get an answer whether the City is being fairly compensated? Thats not a problem? Guaranteed that you are getting a benefit from the Ole Boys Network. You are the One Percent (or want to be) and you will be on the losing side of this Revolution.

0

monaghan Feb. 2, 2012 @ 1:29 p.m.

What happened to City Hall's refusal to deal with The Reader? Did Matt Potter send cupcakes over there? Where is the record of the Reader's thank-you note for this windfall of public information about how business is really done in San Diego? This is "strong Mayor" governance in action, folks, and obviously, the People just don't count.

0

Visduh Feb. 2, 2012 @ 7:53 p.m.

Does anyone else see the resemblance 'tween Sanders and the late and unlamented Richard Daley? He was the epitome of a "strong mayor" and there are many Chicagoans who think he was a near-saint. That city had an immense city council, yet it was that one guy who ran it like a fiefdom. After his passing, with a decent interval, his son then ran the city for over two decades. Who says there are no hereditary dynasties in the US? Could Porky Sanders be arranging for his daughter to succeed after a decent interval of a caretaker mayor? Nah, nevahappen. I don't think.

0

Burwell Feb. 2, 2012 @ 9:27 p.m.

The Unites States is a nation of laws, not of men or women. The fact that Mayor Sanders willfully and knowingly violated a law is a very big deal.

0

Burwell Feb. 2, 2012 @ 9:32 p.m.

9.What happened to City Hall's refusal to deal with The Reader? Did Matt Potter send cupcakes over there? Where is the record of the Reader's thank-you note for this windfall of public information about how business is really done in San Diego?

Under the California Public Records Act Tubby Sanders is required to provide this information to the Reader. He could be taken to court and fined and held in contempt if he refuses to comply with the Readers'request.

0

SurfPuppy619 Feb. 2, 2012 @ 9:57 p.m.

As former SDPD Chief KFC Sanders thinks the law does not apply to him, he is special.

0

monaghan Feb. 3, 2012 @ 1:20 p.m.

Burwell describes the Letter of the Law which I know about. What's outlined requires money for a lawsuit from the intrepid and inquiring Press and is usually dragged out over time by the reluctant-to-disclose-anything Mayor's office.

That doesn't seem to be what happened here, hence the speculation about Matt Potter and cupcakes. Also, our Mayor is lean and hungry these days -- "Tubby" no more -- so maybe cupcakes weren't part of the Reader's delivering on the public's right to see these damning public documents.

0

SurfPuppy619 Feb. 3, 2012 @ 1:49 p.m.

Have not seen Sanders in some time, he had lost weight???

0

Sign in to comment