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Giving away public park space to a developer? No big deal.

Filing a lawsuit against the City for an apparent quid-pro-quo with said developer? A complete "sham."

That is the latest opinion from the City Attorney's Office in the legal fight over two nine-foot easements that Sunroad Enterprises highjacked for their Kearny Mesa mixed-use project and then later convinced City Council to give them free of charge.

The complaint filed by San Diegans for Open Government didn't stop there. It also questioned the legality of the mysterious $100,000 donation to two Filner-supported non-profits in exchange for the Mayor's blessing of the land-grab.

Since the suit was filed the checks have been returned, the federal government launched an investigation into the matter, and the Mayor is on the verge of resigning over allegations of sexual harassment.

Now, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith is free to defend the giveaway of City property in court, a complete one-eighty for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who was the first person to go public about the $100,000 donation that Mayor Bob Filner's then-Deputy Chief of Staff Allen Jones allegedly arranged in exchange for the easements.

"The project obviously is not a sale of City property," wrote Deputy City Attorney Andrea Contreras in an August 16 court document.

"Even if [San Diegans for Open Government's] 'quid-pro-quo' allegations were true, Sunroad's funds were returned, so no 'sale' could have taken place"

"The lawsuit is a sham," wrote Contreras in the August 16 court document.

The City Attorney argues that San Diegans for Open Government failed to pursue all administrative remedies and the group does not have enough stake in the outcome of the case.

Their final point is that the City Council never passed a formal ordinance dedicating the 18-feet in easements as parkland.

The attorney for San Diegans for Open Government, Cory Briggs, takes issue with Goldsmith's reversal.

"About two weeks before Donna [Frye], Marco [Gonzalez], and I asked the mayor to resign, [Goldsmith] told me that he wanted to reverse the Sunroad deal because he suspected extortion," writes Briggs via email.

"When I told him that my client planned to file suit he immediately said, 'That's great. I'll personally accept service of the lawsuit on the city's behalf.'"

But that was before Filner's harassment scandal took center stage.

"My guess is that he was later reminded that the city council favors giveaways of public property to campaign-contributing developers and was told to curb his enthusiasm about taking down the Mayor over Sunroad."

"Now, with the Mayor on the ropes because of his sexual predations, [the City Attorney] is free to stand up for the people who finance the city council and him."

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Comments

Diogenes Aug. 20, 2013 @ 10:09 p.m.

Dorian,

It just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Goldsmith does so many about faces that he must be dizzy. With Filner tied up with Gloria Allred, the big giveaways to developers may go forward unhindered.

Briggs complained of government corruption and participated in the palace coup. He then claimed that the sex scandal was part of corruption downtown.

Briggs has business downtown himself on behalf of his clients. We now see the unintended consequences of potificating while advocating.... This is nothing that I will not tell Briggs myself. He will rue the day he stood with Gonzalez and Frye and condemned our mayor. Far, far worse is yet to come. You can already see the bugs scurrying out from underneath the bucket....

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patflannery Aug. 21, 2013 @ 2:17 a.m.

This new information from Cory Briggs makes it clear that he was in personal contact with Jan Goldsmith before filing his lawsuit. If what you report is true then Goldsmith calling Briggs’ lawsuit a “complete sham” is accurate because Goldsmith himself participated with Briggs in setting it up: "About two weeks before Donna [Frye], Marco [Gonzalez], and I asked the mayor to resign, [Goldsmith] told me that he wanted to reverse the Sunroad deal because he suspected extortion".

This sham lawsuit alleges that “CITY's mayor demanded a quid pro quo payment from SUNROAD in the amount of $100,000.00 in exchange for his agreement to ask CITY's city council to override his veto of the Project's approval, and SUNROAD complied with the demand.”

It then goes on to quote the real reason why Mayor Filner vetoed the Council’s approval, as a mere secondary reason: “CITY failed to follow the procedures prescribed by law in approving the Project”. This was added for legal procedural cover. The City Council subsequently compounded its breach of proper legal procedures viz. the City’s Municipal Code, by overriding the mayoral veto.

It appears that this sham lawsuit was concocted by Goldsmith and Briggs merely as a means of publishing the damaging accusation that Mayor Filner “demanded a quid pro quo payment” for removal of his Sunroad veto. Reason: they shared a common purpose to bring Filner down.

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Diogenes Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:35 a.m.

Pat,

Your analysis is good. The conclusion is inescapable.

Machinated lawsuits are often a subtrifuge. This explains best the consequences. Not so unintended after all perhaps.

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patflannery Aug. 21, 2013 @ 8:01 a.m.

Diogenes: Goldsmith is caught secretly encouraging the Briggs' Sunroad lawsuit, a case of an attorney acting against the best interests of his client. How would you like if your attorney encouraged somebody to sue you by disclosing your vulnerability to such a lawsuit?

I would be interested to know the context in which Goldsmith told Briggs that "he wanted to reverse the Sunroad deal because he suspected extortion". Who called whom? On what business? Did Goldsmith just call an outside attorney, Briggs, to treacherously disclose a vulnerability and solicit a lawsuit against his client, the City? That is a disbarment offense.

It is clear from Dorian's report that Goldsmith did not know about Briggs' intention to sue the City over Sunroad when he made that remark. Even if Goldsmith and Briggs had other business to discuss it does not excuse Goldsmith for disclosing this privileged attorney-client information and making this adverse solicitation so injurious to his client the City.

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corybriggs Aug. 21, 2013 @ 9:20 a.m.

1 of 2:

Diogenes and Pat: Thanks for the much-needed comic relief this morning. I appreciate it, especially today.

Normally I do not respond to cowards like Diogenes who don't have the spine to use their real names when they criticize others. But Pat, whom I love dearly, does. So Diogenes can ride the Flannery-Briggs goodwill train this morning for free.

(Diogenes, if you'd like to "tell Briggs [yourself]" what's on your mind, here's my number today: 909-949-7115. If you call, please be prepared to tell the receptionist your real name.)

You two are crazy--to Pat I say that with love--if you think that the Sunroad lawsuit was orchestrated in any way between Goldsmith and me. One of the many benefits of the internet is that people who don't know the facts get to spew B.S. and don't have to pay their therapists to listen to it; good for you, entertaining for us, bad for therapists' pocketbooks. Pat I know likes to throw bombs, so much of what he offers stirs the pot more than it reveals what he really thinks. Diogenes obviously knows nothing about Sunroad or the "business downtown [I have] on behalf of [my] clients." If "business downtown" means representing watchdog organizations who are trying to protect taxpayers and keep the politicians honest, then Diogenes' premise is right but it undermines his conclusion. If "business downtown" means something else--well, as I said, he knows nothing and is crazy.

Regarding Goldsmith: I respect the guy tremendously for his years as a public servant, but he compromised himself--beyond redemption in my view--when he made it his POLITICAL mission to bring Filner down instead of simply acting as the city attorney and staying above the political fray because he lost his moral authority along the way. Filner has a nasty disposition--that was how I viewed it before learning about Sunroad and his sexual abuse toward women--but good lawyers work with folks like Filner all day long and still manage to make substantial progress on the issues that matter to their clients. Goldsmith lost sight of that.

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corybriggs Aug. 21, 2013 @ 9:20 a.m.

2 of 2:

The best example, in my mind, is the false story about Filner telling Andrew Jones to sit in the back of the room during a closed-session meeting of the city council last March/April. If you two knew anything, you'd know that my client (the same one who sued over Sunroad) has sued the city to obtain a copy of the transcript at which the alleged statement was made. City rules require the presence of a court reporter during closed-session meetings and require a transcription of the discussions that take place during such meetings. Goldsmith's office released the transcript from the June 18 Filner-Jones incident because comments about where a staffer sits are not subject to Brown Act confidentiality; the transcript was released in record time because Goldsmith wanted to use it to shame Filner. By the same reasoning, Filner's alleged statement to Jones about where to sit in the room would also be beyond Brown Act confidentiality. When my client asked for a redacted transcript showing only the Filner statement to Jones about where to sit in the room, however, Goldsmith's office denied the existence of any such transcript; that is to say, there is no transcript in existence with any statement by Filner to Jones about where the latter should be sitting during a closed-session meeting. Translation: the statement that Filner allegedly made was never made. Either Goldsmith's covering that up, which will come out during the course of the lawsuit, or he's illegally withholding public information.

So not only is there a lawsuit over Filner's credibility (i.e., Sunroad), but there's one over Goldsmith's credibility (i.e., withholding public records). One must be crazy to think that co-conspirators in this so-called "palace coup" would reward each other with lawsuits--at least any co-conspiracy that I'd ever be involved in. (Since I do not know what a "subtrifuge" is, I admit that Diogenes might be right that I'm involved in one.)

As I have said to many folks who've taken it upon themselves to publicly state things about my clients and me that they (the folks) know nothing about, before you go off saying false things you should call me. I'm happy to help you make an informed contribution to the important debate that the public's having over the many problems at city hall. Armed with the facts, you just might make a valuable contribution to the discussion. Armed with fiction, at best you provide comic relief.

Thanks for the laughs.

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