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As reported earlier this week by Dorian Hargove, city councilman Todd Gloria, who is not a particularly close ally of fellow Democrat Bob Filner, has called a city council meeting Monday to provide support to the hoteliers currently suing the mayor in an attempt to get him to sign a disputed contract negotiated by former GOP mayor Jerry Sanders.

There will be shown a slideshow touting the importance that the tourism industry has on San Diego, such as its "$18.3 billion economic impact on the region."

Also on display, judging by a "call to action," posted online late Friday by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, will be a packed house of lawsuit backers. "Support Tourism - Support Jobs - Support San Diego," says the notice. "This money is solely dedicated to advertising San Diego as a tourist destination to the rest of the world."

In an exchange of news releases yesterday, the lawsuit backers accused Filner of interfering with a "partnership with the City that has served our industry and tourism employees," while the mayor called them a "small group of wealthy hoteliers [holding] our economy hostage to their personal agenda of secrecy and greed."

The coming legal battle between the Democratic mayor, who has received a major segment of his campaign cash from labor unions, and the owner of Atlas Hotels, Inc., C. Terry Brown, a Republican funding titan, is shaping up as a historic moment in San Diego politics.

Brown is chairman of the San Diego Tourism Marketing District, at the center of the storm over whether and how to collect and spend $30 million a year in public money.

In 2003, the sharp dressing mega-millionaire, along with wife Charlene, spent almost $200,000 in an attempt to pass higher room taxes and has continued spending heavily, trying to muster political clout for his plans.

Long a friend and financial supporter of GOP presidents, in October 1988 Brown wrote an impassioned letter to Ronald Reagan seeking a pardon for Dominic "Bud" Alessio, scion of the powerful San Diego family who had been convicted in 1973 of lavishing gifts on a federal prison official while his father and uncle, doing time on income tax evasion charges, got special treatment, including visits from women.

Bud's father John was a protégé of C. Arnholdt Smith, the one-time Daddy Warbucks of San Diego, brought down by fraud charges in the wake of the collapse of his bank.

Reported the Los Angeles Times on October 6, 1988:

Some of the federal investigators who worked the tax evasion and prison bribery cases contend that the letter-writing campaign for a White House pardon is another example of the Alessio family spreading its influence.

"That's his nature to make friends with big people," said Lenard Wolf, who was the lead FBI agent on the bribery case.

On the executive committee of the taxpayer association's board is Mike McDowell, Vice President Corporate Affairs at Brown’s Atlas Hotels.

McDowell previously was the taxpayer group's chairman

As we've reported, the association is a group controlled by real estate developers and other business interests; many are registered lobbyists with the city and county.

Other board members include lobbyist Craig Benedetto of California Strategies, the Republican influence peddling outfit founded by onetime Pete Wilson aide Bob White, whose employee Tom Blair is providing public relations for the tourism marketing district that is suing Filner.

According to its most recent lobbyist disclosure filing, covering the final quarter of last year and posted online by the San Diego city clerk's office, the Taxpayers Association wants to privatize city services, and also seeks "streamlining" of public works approvals, speeding up cash payments to contractors.

Association staffer Chris Cate gave $200 to the unsuccessful bid of GOP then-city councilman Carl DeMaio against Filner; Ildiko "Lani" Lutar came up with $150 for Republican Ray Ellis, who lost out to incumbent Democratic city councilwoman Sherri Lightner.

Thousands and thousands of dollars more have been given to council members by advocates of the lawsuit against Filner.

Lutar played a prominent role in the twitter tempest that broke out earlier this month at a banquet held by another city hall-oriented influence group, the Downtown Partnership, during which Filner joked about the well-known toupee worn by Republican City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Lobbyist Lutar was not happy and tweeted unfriendly remarks about the mayor. (She has subsequently announced she is leaving her position with the association.)

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Comments

HonestGovernment Feb. 23, 2013 @ 2:43 p.m.

Well, per their mission statement, the SDTA is for "opposing unnecessary taxes and fees."

They decide what is necessary.

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historymatters Feb. 23, 2013 @ 4:13 p.m.

wait a second....there is a group that cares about tourism in san diego? You would never know it since they are allowing san diego to be bulldozed and turnd into a cesspoll of banal tenement slum housing projects. Who's gonna wanna visit SD if they dont 1st and foremost protect the character of the city? They sure as hell didnt do much to protect balboa Park from developers and profiteers.

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vitalinfo Feb. 24, 2013 @ 1:17 p.m.

EXACTLY!. . . ."Who's gonna wanna visit SD if they dont 1st and foremost protect the character of the city? They sure as hell didnt do much to protect balboa Park from developers and profiteers." AND there's more to do to protect from energy/utility profiteers! Mayor Filner took an early, decisive and courageous stand early on. That's what real leaders do.

This phoney-baloney misleadingly named SD Co. Taxpayer's Assoc. (SDCTA) submitted a letter asking one agency to hold off and allow time for the other agency to slide in their decision to attempt to force UN-NECESARY power plants on San Diego residents/ratepayers!. PURE GREED & SLIME.

From L. Lutar's 2/20/13 letter to the CPUC: "The San Diego County Taxpayers Association (SDCTA) urges the Commission to postpone making a final decision on the Quail Brush Generation Project until the California Energy Commission (CEC) completes its examination of the project, so that the Commission can consider further information about the need for Quail Brush."

Firstly, it's the CPUC that approves energy "need" applications, not CEC, and these plants are NOT needed. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/feb/08/tp-more-fossil-fuel-power-plants-unnecessary/?page=1#article-copy

Secondly, a hulking un-needed, power plant, within sight, sound and walking distance from the San Diego Mission Dam (a nationally registered historic landmark) within a San Diego gem, Mission Trails Regional Park---how is that good for tourism, if you don't first give a "dam" about the locals or the treasured environment?

As one San Diegan that's sick and tired of fat cats serving their own portions in this city (a favorite city of US fat cats) and our entire country, and as a citizen who campaigned and voted for Mayor Filner, my message to the likes of SDCTA and others in that band of greed and sloth---voters sent a message to you in Nov, it was sent loud and clear . . . YOUR SELF-SERVE, FEEDING-FRENZY PARTY IS OVER!

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photog921 Feb. 23, 2013 @ 5:57 p.m.

Love that old Alessio family history review. Guess all this inside politics maneuvering is just the San Diego way.

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monaghan Feb. 23, 2013 @ 11:16 p.m.

Some wag recently dubbed the outgoing head of the Taxpayers Association as "Lani Looter."

That surely describes Ms. Lutar's coming campaign to allow hoteliers to grab the annual $30 million in taxpayer money that Mayor Filner has embargoed from use by Tourism Marketing honchos, pending reforms like better pay for hotel workers (yes!), a shorter time-frame for the arrangement to be operative (yes!) and securing an important decision about whether the money in question is a "fee" (no!) or a tax (probably.)

And of course, Democratic Council Prez Todd Not-So-Glorious who called for this rally has no competition as first among slimy opportunists, because Looter at least can claim she is a member of the Grand Old Party.

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Sjtorres Aug. 23, 2013 @ 12:18 p.m.

Bob Filner allegedly sexually harassed or assaulted AT LEAST 18 women. That has nothing to do with hotel owners. Get a grip.

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