Matthew Lickona 10:56 a.m., May 24
Deep inside the Filner transition
Sanders office emails reveal stress of quick transition from GOP to new Democratic administration
Democratic congressman and San Diego mayor-elect Bob Filner hasn't been offering many details about his plans for the administration to come, but emails obtained from the office of departing GOP mayor Jerry Sanders following a request under the California public records act shed new light on the early stages of the city’s hasty mayoral transition, set to conclude when Filner takes office on December 3.
Much of the email traffic, according to documents provided by the city, was generated by Allen Jones, a former Filner city council staffer turned real estate development company lobbyist who is serving as Filner's transition director.
The documents portray a degree of confusion and a hint of tension between the outgoing and incoming staffs, one Republican, the other Democratic, over operational briefings for Filner and his staff. They also show that Filner himself was not available to be briefed by the Sanders staff until about two weeks after the election.
"I fear I may have miscommunicated," Jones wrote Sanders aide David Graham on Sunday, November 11. "I thought I had suggested scheduling the briefings for the first two days of Thanksgiving week, and then spilling over into the week after. It will not be possible to do any briefings this week (Nov 12 to 16)."
Replied Graham: "I understand how schedules must be quite crazy right now. From my recollection we discussed the fact that we had staff scheduled to begin briefings starting on November 13th.
"You explained that the Mayor-elect was unavailable until the two days prior to Thanksgiving and then the final week before the swearing in ceremony. Given the compressed time frame, you and I discussed prioritizing briefings for you to attend without the Mayor-elect. Because we had discussed briefings next week with the Mayor-elect, when we discussed prioritizing some briefings with the Mayor-elect and some without perhaps we had a breakdown in communication.
"I will send you the full list of all of the proposed briefings and we will cancel the briefings for next week."
Graham also sent Jones a list of Sanders employees who wanted to stay on at city hall. Some are longtime Republican staffers who might not be expected to seek work with a liberal Democrat.
"Attached are job descriptions for each of the current Mayoral staff who are interested in potentially transitioning into a new administration," says a November 9 email. "I also have resumes if you would like them provided electronically or I can have hard copies for you when you come to our offices for the next transition meeting. Feel free to call me if you have questions regarding any of the people listed."
Replied Jones: "Thank you very much, David. It would be very helpful to also have job descriptions for the other positions in the office (those currently vacant or with incumbents who do not desire to stay); could I prevail on you to provide those as well?"
Names of those wishing to remain were redacted in the emails provided by the city.
Most intriguing of the posts listed is Director of Council Affairs, Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Relations and Fiscal Policy Advisor, a key liaison to the city council.
The job is currently held by Almis Udrys, who arrived in April 2011 after being a policy advisor in Sacramento to North County GOP Assemblyman Martin Garrick, who is expected to seek a state senate seat.
Another on the list: Director of Appointments, Boards & Commissions and Protocol Director—Director of Bi-national affairs Denice Garcia. "Denice serves in multiple roles. In addition to the appointment and protocol responsibilities, she also is the main liaison on bi-national affairs and policies affecting our relationship with Mexico."
Besides reviewing job slots, Jones was also called upon to field a request from Balboa Park’s Earth Day maven Carolyn Chase, who endorsed Republican-turned-independent Nathan Fletcher against Filner in the spring primary, saying "I've watched the polarization of Big Labor vs Big Business (along with Big Legal) downtown while the rest of us are left at the sidelines working to pay the bills. The environment takes a back seat to everything else, instead of being considered as part of everything else."
"Hi Allen, Carolyn Chase here," the November 14 email begins. "I understand you are working on transition for Bob.
"I have an issue I need to put on the ‘Urgent and Short’ list, which is to say an item that 1) requires early action due to a prior delay from the previous administration and 2) shouldn't take much time to help along (by the right person).
“I'm hoping you can help get me into the loop. Here's the issue.
"The Park Permit for the 23rd annual Earth Day in Balboa Park (April 21, 2013) was turned down by Park & Rec in August, citing the construction concerns re: the Plaza de Panama project.
"Since then the Construction Plans have been published and we have reviewed them and there are no impediments that Earth Day cannot work around.
“FYI We have worked around significant construction projects for 22nd prior years in Balboa Park. The urgency? City Special Events requested we submit in October and cannot process without the Park Permit. (Yes, requires two separate permitting processes).
"We need Bob or the direction of Bob to his COS to check with Director of Park & Rec and ensure this is happening IN DECEMBER. We normally open for registration the last week of December, and legally we cannot do so without the park permit."
Jones routed the request to Sanders chief of staff Julie Dubick, saying, "Here is the issue raised by Carolyn Chase. I am taking no action on this matter other than to forward it on to you.”
The emails reveal that Filner and his transition staff are using a suite of offices on the fourth floor of city hall. He has also retained Sandi Laird, Dubick's assistant, according to the documents.
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic team," says a November 16 email. "I am most appreciative of your warmth and support. I am working on compiling recommendations for both the scheduler and assistant to the COS.
“Bob mentioned that he would like to have responses sent to those who have already reached out to him. Until he is officially sworn-in, what is your stationery preference?
Dorian Hargrove provided research and contributed to this item.