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As the final mayoral term of ex-San Diego police chief Jerry Sanders winds down, longtime staffers are making plans to head for the exits.

But one of them announced yesterday she wasn't going to venture too far from the fold.

Rachel Laing, the mayor's deputy press secretary, tweeted that she was taking the newly created position of director of communications at Public Policy Strategies, a so-called public affairs and government relations outfit with a heavy lobbying presence around city hall, especially in the mayor's office.

Laing is reportedly leaving at the end of this week and assuming her new role next month.

Founded by Tom Shepard, longtime political consultant for Sanders and many other candidates fielded by the local GOP establishment--as well as a raft of ballot measures favored by them--the company has boasted such corporate clients as Sempra Energy, Phillips Petroleum, El Paso Energy, waste hauler BFI (acquired by Allied Waste), and the big North County trash project, Gregory Canyon, Ltd., run by Nancy Chase.

(Chase has been a Shepard associate since the days they both worked for ex-county supervisor and GOP San Diego mayor Roger Hedgecock.)

A one-time Union Tribune reporter, Laing was previously employed by Sempra and the San Diego regional Chamber of Commerce.

According to the company's most recent lobbyist disclosure report, during the final three months of last year Public Policy Strategies was in contact with the mayor's staff about a variety of special interests it represented.

Kimberly Hale and Khoa Nguyen of Public Policies lobbied no fewer than 15 city employees for approval of a controversial deal to sell city-owned land to the Calrton Oaks Golf Course.

Those contacted included Jay Goldstone, the mayor's top operations aide, as well as councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Todd Gloria, Marti Emerald, and Lori Zapf.

The golf course paid the lobbying firm $7,000, the filing says.

San Diego State University paid Public Policy $2,000 to "monitor" what it described only as "city decisions affecting SDSU."

That involved Hale making contact with three of the mayor's employees: senior policy advisor David Graham, chief of staff Julie Dubick, and deputy chief of staff Aimee Faucett.

The filing also says that Public Policy president Phil Rath and staffer Nguyen lobbied eight at the city, including councilman Tony Young and the mayor's Goldstone, to change a bus station plan on behalf of downtown's Sofia Hotel, for which the hotel paid Public Policy $3000.

In addition, the San Diego Police Officers Assocation paid Public Policy $4,000 to "monitor" city hall regarding "city considerations regarding Police Department matters, activities, and issues."

To accomplish that task, Hale contacted twelve individuals at the city, including the mayor's Goldstone, Faucett, Dubick, and former Sanders intergovernmental relations director Job Nelson, now Zapf's chief of staff.

Pictured: Rachel Laing

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