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Judge Ronald Prager of Superior Court ruled today (March 11) that the scheme concocted to evade a citizen vote on the tax assessment for the $520 million Convention Center expansion meets legal requirements. San Diego voters had twice turned down increases in the transient occupancy tax (TOT), so convention boosters adopted a plan that had been successful in San Jose. I have not been able to reach the plaintiffs in the suit to see if they plan an appeal. The expansion still faces a hearing before the Coastal Commission.

The San Diego Chargers have opposed the scheme, hoping to put forward a plan that would combine a football stadium and convention center space, even though such combinations have not worked well in cities that have tried them.

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Comments

aardvark March 11, 2013 @ 3:59 p.m.

I am not totally surprised by this, as this is, after all, the City of San Diego. Would the Chargers be one of the parties that will appeal this ruling?

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Don Bauder March 11, 2013 @ 4:03 p.m.

aardvark: With Mayor Filner trying to weaken the chokehold of the downtown overlords, I thought such court decisions would recede, at least a little bit. No such luck this time. I don't know how the Chargers could appeal since they were not a party to the suit. I have not heard from the plaintiffs yet on the subject of a possible appeal. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh March 11, 2013 @ 5:32 p.m.

Once again a local superior court judge follows the local corporate welfare line, and rules in favor of the establishment. Yeah, one would wonder when, if ever, this pattern of judicial enablement will end.

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Don Bauder March 11, 2013 @ 8:20 p.m.

Visduh: Lessening the grip the downtown boosters have on San Diego will take a very long time. Remember, the mainstream media are on their side; San Diegans don't get the truth about what is going on. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark March 11, 2013 @ 5:38 p.m.

Don--OK, perhaps the Chargers won't appeal, but didn't they infer that they would be ready to show their great plans of a new stadium/CC combo once the tax was ruled illegal? I eagerly await a response from the Chargers mouthpiece after this initial decision (I say initial because I would bet this is going to continue for quite some time).

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Don Bauder March 11, 2013 @ 8:22 p.m.

aardvark: Absolutely, the Chargers said that if the hotel tax was thumbed down by the judge, the team would come forward with a plan to combine a stadium and convention center expansion. Like all corporate welfare mendicants, the Chargers will come up with some new plan to pick the taxpayers' pockets. Best, Don Bauder

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laplayaheritage March 11, 2013 @ 6:26 p.m.

Tomorrow March 12 there is a Special Election for State Senate which includes Assemblymember Hueso.

March 26, 2013 Council District 4 is having a Special Election for a new council member.

It is very likely that Special Elections will be needed for the top two District 4 City Council candidates, Assemblyman Ben Hueso, and Lorena Gonzalez

The next wave of required Special Elections should be together on one ballot. At that time the City Council can put citywide issues on the Ballot if they choose.

The Chargers should also put up their plan for voters approval.

Potential citywide Ballots language could include:

Within the City of San Diego should our TRANSNET revenue administered by SANDAG be used for Transit First , including creating sustainable east-west pedestrian and bicycle corridors along the San Diego River, San Dieguito River, Chollas Crrek, and Otay Mesa? By this vote San Diegans authorize SANDAG to prioritize TRANSNET funds to update our local neighborhood community plans, and local streets.

SANDAG is using the excuse of the 2004 public vote for forcing increases to our Freeways and not adhering to minimum future air pollution stadards.

A 5 percent TOT increase to fund public infrastructure projects.

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Don Bauder March 11, 2013 @ 8:26 p.m.

laplayaheritage: A 5% TOT increase to fund public infrastructure is a good idea. But wouldn't the TOT be getting pretty high if the convention center expansion goes through? Best, Don Bauder

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laplayaheritage March 11, 2013 @ 8:58 p.m.

Hi Don. In the language for both the 1- to 3-percent Special Tax for the Convention Center Expansion, and the 2 percent TMD, allows the City Council the options of setting the additional Hotel Tax rate to between zero and 5 percent maximum.

If a public vote to increase the overall TOT from 10.5 to 15.5 maximum is made, the City Council can put the extra Hotel Tax rate at zero percent.

Or if a 5 percent TOT was put to a public vote, at the same time the vote could also end the 1- to 3-percent Special Tax and 2 percent TMD.

There are many solutions.

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Don Bauder March 12, 2013 @ 12:04 p.m.

Katheryn: But are the many solutions the typical San Diego solutions? E.g., good for the downtown establishment, bad for the citizenry. Best, Don Bauder

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aardvark March 11, 2013 @ 7:23 p.m.

LPH--The Chargers SHOULD put their plan on the ballot--maybe then we can all finally see just what their complete stadium plans are.

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Don Bauder March 11, 2013 @ 8:27 p.m.

aardvark: Trouble is, teams begging for taxpayer money put up a plan -- but it isn't an honest plan. Exhibit one: the ballpark that is now Petco. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 12, 2013 @ 7:04 a.m.

aardvark: The Chargers will hide the pea and the city bureaucracy may help them do it. That's what happened with the ballpark. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK March 12, 2013 @ 8:14 a.m.

Who's pocket is Prager peeking out of this time?

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Don Bauder March 12, 2013 @ 12:06 p.m.

Murphyjunk: This anti-democracy decision certainly suggests he is in the downtown boosters' pockets. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 13, 2013 @ 12:46 p.m.

PLAINTIFF WILL APPEAL IF PRAGER STICKS WITH HIS TENTATIVE DECISION. Attorney Cory Briggs gave his arguments in the hotel tax case by Skype today (March 13). Briggs is in Argentina. After giving his arguments, Briggs said, "We are optimistic that the judge will consider the points we made today and uphold the voters' right to approve any special tax. If he doesn't, we will file an appeal."

Any appeal would almost certainly delay the construction on the $520 million expansion. Incidentally, there is a very good website on the convention center expansion: www.sandiegoconventioncenterscam.com. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 14, 2013 @ 2:19 p.m.

ACTIVIST WILL ALSO APPEAL IF PRAGER STICKS TO TENTATIVE DECISION. Mel Shapiro, the other plaintiff in the suit, has told his attorney to appeal if Prager goes through with his tentative decision. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 13, 2013 @ 4:03 p.m.

PRAGER DELAYS FINAL DECISION ON CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION TAX. Judge Prager today (March 13) delayed a decision on whether convention center expansion financing package concocted by hoteliers and the city can go forward without a vote of the people. However, according to a story by City News Service, as sent out by KPBS.org, Prager stated during oral arguments that the city's plan "is completely proper under the laws of the state of California." At one point he told attorney Cory Briggs, who opposes the financing scheme, that his arguments were "off on different tangents." Briggs will appeal if Prager permits the financing arrangement. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams March 13, 2013 @ 10:53 p.m.

Judge Prager is either incompetent or corrupt. There's no possible way to make a ruling like this based on the law.

It's called taxation without representation. Prager should be ashamed of himself.

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Don Bauder March 14, 2013 @ 8:24 a.m.

Fred: Prager is not, and will not, be ashamed of himself. He is doing what the downtown plutocrats, who put him in office, expect him to do. Mayor Filner is trying to break the stranglehold of the overlords, but it is a difficult, time-consuming process. Don't expect miracles. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder March 14, 2013 @ 4:02 p.m.

PRAGER MAKES FINAL RULING: HOTEL TAX WITHOUT VOTER APPROVAL IS OK. Judge Prager officially reaffirmed his tentative ruling today (March 14), stating that the convoluted plan that evades voter approval of hotel-financed taxes to finance the convention center expansion are legal. But as noted above, the plaintiffs will appeal. Best, Don Bauder

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