Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Feb. 27
GOP super-lobbyist long tied to U-T San Diego publisher enters Padres TV fray
Growing intrigue over possible ties between "Padres to the People" bid and Time Warner Cable trench cut fee deal
As first reported here last July, U-T San Diego columnist Matt Hall kicked off his "Padres to the People" campaign - an effort to get San Diego cable operators to carry the team's baseball games - with a sidewalk rally in front of Petco Park.
He was joined by then-congressman and mayoral candidate Bob Filner. The Democrat blasted the local powers that be and suggested untoward influence was behind the blackout.
"The Padres get our money, our taxpayers' money," said San Diego's mayor-to-be. "The cable has a public franchise. We can put leverage on them. The mayor should sit down with them and get it done."
"The city has leverage, but they're all bought off by the, you know, cable guys and everything else."
With the election of self-styled populist Filner, Hall's campaign has picked up growing momentum. And yesterday Paul Robinson – a top influence peddler for U-T publisher Douglas Manchester who also works for cable giant Time Warner Cable - disclosed his firm has joined behind-the-scenes efforts to broker some kind of a deal, details of which have yet to be revealed.
The lobbyist, who is a major Republican political player, is also quietly seeking favors for Time Warner from the city regarding trench cut fees, which may raise fresh questions regarding what price city hall might be willing to pay in exchange for the getting the higher profile Padres TV deal done.
According to a somewhat cryptic lobbyist report filed yesterday and posted online by the San Diego city clerk, Robinson and his law firm, Hecht Solberg Robinson Goldberg & Bagley, disclosed they are now representing Time Warner in a "private matter between companies, encourage negotiation."
Under "specific or general municipal decisions" regarding the matter is listed "Time Warner is going to carry Padre (sic) baseball broadcast this year."
This past Friday, U-T's Hall reported on a hush-hush confab held last week in New York about the issue:
After not meeting for months, high-level executives from Time Warner Cable ￼and Fox Sports ￼San Diego met in New York City this week to discuss an impasse that has kept televisions in 185,000 county households dark during Padres games since the start of the 2012 season.
Frustratingly for fans like me who have pushed for a deal for months, few details emerged about what transpired.
Time Warner Cable ￼customers are alone without access to the Padres because four other TV providers have deals with Fox Sports ￼San Diego.
But with baseball season fast approaching, elected officials are working to change that by rallying around our “Padres to the People” movement.
At a public hearing a week ago, San Diego city officials criticized Time Warner Cable ￼for leaving 129,000 city households in the lurch.
Meanwhile, according to yesterday's disclosure, Robinson is also representing Time Warner at San Diego’s city hall regarding "negotiation of acceptable trench cut fees with City of San Diego (no particular property in City of San Diego)"
Listed as "outcome sought" is "acceptable trench cut fee negotiation." Robinson’s firm is also representing Cox Communications on the same matter, according to the filing.
As reported previously, Robinson has been the key lobbyist for UT publisher Manchester's efforts to resolve a series of permit violations filed by the city over the years against hotel mogul Manchester’s Grand del Mar resort complex. That matter is still listed on Robinson's disclosure filing.
The lobbyist has also worked extensively for Las Vegas developer Irwin Molasky, a onetime associate of the late mobster Moe Dalitz, regarding Molasky's development of a new FBI headquarters here. The Molasky Group of Companies is also listed as a client on yesterday's Robinson report.
More like this:
- Fox Sports lobbies up in ongoing civic war over Padres TV blackout — March 27, 2013
- Las Vegas developer linked to late mobster puts yet more campaign cash into San Diego GOP — Oct. 2, 2012
- Lobbyist for San Diego newspaper publisher to appear in U-T sponsored debate against labor chief — Sept. 17, 2012
- Reported Fox Sports Lobbyists Max Out to GOP's DeMaio — Aug. 1, 2012
- Union-Tribune Buyer Hires City Hall Lobbyist — Nov. 29, 2011