Walter Mencken 7 p.m., Dec. 10
Allen Jones reportedly out as Mayor Filner's Deputy Chief of Staff.
Jones reportedly let go one week after mystery donation from developer Sunroad is exposed.
Was there a shakeup in the Mayor's Office after an alleged shakedown? That could be the case. There have been rumors circulating that Allen Jones, former developer turned Filner Deputy's Chief of Staff, will be stepping down and out of City Hall.
According to a reliable source, Jones was let go today. Calls to the Mayor's Office to confirm have gone unanswered.
In the past week, questions have been raised about Jones's role in a $100,000 mystery donation from Sunroad to two of Mayor Filner's pet projects. The checks were written after the Mayor had vetoed a permit issued to Sunroad, allowing the developer to ignore city setbacks and build on 9-feet of nearby parkland. Shortly after receiving the checks, the Mayor's office went back on the refusal to ignore the setbacks and urged council to override the veto.
This was Filner's response to the Reader one day after the council voted to override the veto:
"They made some donations, a couple of checks, to important initiatives. One of which is the Ocean Beach Veteran's Plaza. It was in need of $74,000 for design work and [Sunroad] said they can help with that. The other donation went to help the bike, CicloSDias, initiative."
*Update The Voice of San Diego's Scott Lewis asked the Mayor during an event yesterday. Click here to read their exchange and for new information on Jones' departure.*
Jones has had a storied past in City Hall, mostly behind the scenes. As reported by Matt Potter, Jones was the former Deputy planning director for the city before serving as an aide to then-councilmember Filner. He left to work for developer H.G. Fenton, later becoming one of the firm's key lobbyists.
A deputy city planning director and Filner city council aide before joining Fenton in 1990, Jones is listed as one of four individuals designated to lobby for the firm. The others are Fenton president and C.E.O. Michael P. Neal, general counsel Kari Prevost, and Carroll Whaler, vice president of residential property management.
But his storied past had some seemingly sordid tales. In the past Jones was accused of allegedly giving illegal donations to city councilmembers. This from November 2012:
In February 1996, Fenton agreed to pay a $90,300 fine after acknowledging that between 1989 and 1993 it had routed almost $10,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Golding and various city council members through 53 separate checks from six employees and the wife of one worker, all later reimbursed for the expenditures, according to the Union-Tribune's account of the settlement.
Recipients of the funds included Filner, who by the time of the settlement had been elected to congress. None of those who received the money were charged in the case, and the assistant city attorney handling the matter said the politicians were not aware of the ultimate source of the cash each had gotten.
"This was a real shock to me," then-councilwoman Valerie Stallings told the newspaper. "It makes me sad, because it does not help anybody's reputation." (Stallings was forced to resign in January 2001 by a subsequent influence peddling scandal involving Padres owner John Moores.)
Jones, then Fenton’s planning manager, and the company's then-real estate development manager Neal were identified by the city attorney's office as two of the donors, according to the U-T report of February 14, 1996. Like Filner and the other city officials who received the funds, no individual Fenton employees were charged or sanctioned. Jones declined to comment, the newspaper reported.
His brief time serving on Filner's transition team and as Deputy Chief of Staff was also not without controversy.
His upfront and abrasive style was first seen during the transition, as reported by Matt Potter.
At that same time, Jones came under fire for his refusal to meet with Earth Day proponent Carolyn Chase who at the time had been having problems obtaining permits for the festival.
"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)," read Chase's November 14 email to Jones.
“I'm hoping you can help get me into the loop...
Added Chase: "We need [Filner] or the direction from [Filner] 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 passed the email on to Sanders chief of staff Julie Dubick with the following message: "Here is the issue raised by Carolyn Chase. I am taking no action on this matter other than to forward it on to you.” Chase is upset over the inaction and feels that Balboa Park is being run by the shop and museum owners. "A policy requirement of the Master Plan is to maximize public access," writes Chase. "It's not about the events, it's about usage of the public space on the Central Mesa. And, why should decisions about park permits for publicly available facilities rentals be made behind closed doors without any route for appeal?" Jones declined an offer from Chase to meet. Likewise, Mayor Filner and his staff also declined a request for comment on the issue.
Calls to the Mayor's Office have gone unanswered.
More like this:
- To gift or not to gift. City Attorney's Office questioned donation of homeless shelter but was silent for Sunroad land giveaway — Sept. 10, 2013
- Public records show a close working relationship between Councilmember Lorie Zapf and Sunroad Vice President Tom Story — July 8, 2013
- Then along came the $100,000 -- City Attorney and councilmember question two mystery checks from Sunroad — June 12, 2013
- City denies permits to San Diego's annual Earth Day event — Jan. 4, 2013
- Filner transition team to be headed by lobbyist for big developer with storied history of campaign finance violations — Nov. 8, 2012