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Off the record: city attorney and U-T reporters

Did Jan Goldsmith use personal email for communications?

U-T reporters seem to have an all-hours hotline to city attorney Jan Goldsmith.
U-T reporters seem to have an all-hours hotline to city attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Reporters for the UT San Diego have a friend in city attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Whether it was the flap over the Tourism Marketing District, the project-labor agreement for the convention center, the pension deficit, Goldsmith’s view on state legislation addressing medical marijuana, or former mayor Bob Filner's management style, Goldsmith was always available for comment, clarification, or suggestions on what reporters should include in their stories.

As seen by emails turned over in a public records request, Goldsmith was available at any time of day or night. During much of 2013, Goldsmith used the paper to wage a public war against Filner and to push his own agenda. The emails span the entire year from January 2013 to December and dealt with a variety of topics.

One example of the tight relationship came August 16, when city-attorney spokesperson Thomas Mitchell released a press release celebrating a judge's decision in favor of pension reform. Less than one hour after the release was issued, Goldsmith contacted U-T San Diego's editorial editor William Osborne, reporter Craig Gustafson, and CEO John Lynch to expound on the release.

"There is more going on than just the Mayor," wrote Goldsmith, referring to then-mayor Bob Filner's desire to change elements of Prop B, known as the “Pension Reform Initiative.” "Nice win for the city and local control."

The U-T’s CEO, John Lynch, responded, "Great work!"

But the emails show more than just a chummy relationship between journalists and U-T executives. On some issues, Goldsmith would offer suggestions to reporters for their stories.

On November 21, Goldsmith contacted reporter Lori Weisberg at 7:02 p.m. with a suggestion on what to include in her story regarding the city's approval to release the assessments collected under the Tourism Marketing District.

"Lori, do you want to put something in your story that the city retains the unconditional right at any time to hold back more money up [to] 100 [percent] of the assessments?"

Two minutes later, Weisberg responded that she would add the information in the online article.

But it wasn't the first time Goldsmith and Weisberg worked together on stories pertaining to the Tourism Marketing District. Months earlier, in February 2013, Weisberg asked Goldsmith about Filner's refusal to release the Tourism Marketing District assessments.

The exchange of several emails appears to have occurred from Goldsmith's personal email address. In one email, the beginning letters of "@yahoo.com" can be made out under a blacked-out redaction.

Two years earlier, Goldsmith addressed the use of personal emails for city business in a story done by U-T San Diego.

"I cannot stop people from sending emails for city business to my personal account. A lot of people have that address. I suspect that happens to everyone in public office from time to time, whether it be Twitter, Facebook or emails. My practice when I receive an email in my personal account for city business is to forward it to the city email either with my response or, after forwarding it, respond through the city email.”

Even when using his work email, Goldsmith was more than willing to share information with U-T reporters.

On February 26, Weisberg asked Goldsmith when a closed-session meeting was. Goldsmith responded that night at 8:16 p.m., letting her know that there is "nothing to report out."

In regard to the lawsuit over the project-labor agreement, Goldsmith was open to dispel any rumors that were circulating.

"I'm hearing rumors that a settlement agreement has been signed between the City and the Coalition for Fair Employment,” wrote Weisberg.

Seven minutes later, Goldsmith responded. "Not true…. Not sure where you got rumblings but that is not even close."

And in an email later that night, Goldsmith reiterated the information. "No agreement. I don't know what the point of the rumor is, but there is no agreement."

The relationship between the daily's writers and Goldsmith included the editorial staff as well. William Osborne had a direct link to the city attorney. For example, on November 21 of last year, Osborne contacted Goldsmith for public documents related to the project-labor agreement.

"Hi, Jan," wrote Osborne. "I would like to formally request that your office provide me with copies of emails and any other communications between staff in the mayor's office and the contractor for the Convention Center expansion project regarding a project labor agreement for the expansion project."

Twenty-four minutes later, Goldsmith responded: “Thanks, Bill. I have routed this to our [Public Records Act] lead, Bill Gersten, with a request to expedite."

When not expediting requests for certain reporters, Goldsmith spent portions of his work day praising the editorial staff and their work.

"Your recent editorial on marijuana was great," wrote Goldsmith to Osborne, a longtime critic of implementing regulations while pot was still considered illegal by the federal government.

And while the email exchanges covered numerous topics. The city attorney's office appears to be less than forthcoming in releasing the emails to and from some U-T reporters.

Absent were any email exchanges between Goldsmith and U-T “Watchdog” reporter Trent Seibert, despite being specifically named in the request. The omission is problematic, considering that Goldsmith’s calendar indicates that he had meetings with Seibert at a café in Little Italy — as well as at U-T headquarters — in April, May, June, August, and September of last year.

The city attorney's office has not responded the question of why these emails are missing. Questions were also sent to Goldsmith’s office asking why he was so willing to meet and chat with reporters and editorial writers when the city attorney's office has several spokespeople on its payroll.

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U-T reporters seem to have an all-hours hotline to city attorney Jan Goldsmith.
U-T reporters seem to have an all-hours hotline to city attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Reporters for the UT San Diego have a friend in city attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Whether it was the flap over the Tourism Marketing District, the project-labor agreement for the convention center, the pension deficit, Goldsmith’s view on state legislation addressing medical marijuana, or former mayor Bob Filner's management style, Goldsmith was always available for comment, clarification, or suggestions on what reporters should include in their stories.

As seen by emails turned over in a public records request, Goldsmith was available at any time of day or night. During much of 2013, Goldsmith used the paper to wage a public war against Filner and to push his own agenda. The emails span the entire year from January 2013 to December and dealt with a variety of topics.

One example of the tight relationship came August 16, when city-attorney spokesperson Thomas Mitchell released a press release celebrating a judge's decision in favor of pension reform. Less than one hour after the release was issued, Goldsmith contacted U-T San Diego's editorial editor William Osborne, reporter Craig Gustafson, and CEO John Lynch to expound on the release.

"There is more going on than just the Mayor," wrote Goldsmith, referring to then-mayor Bob Filner's desire to change elements of Prop B, known as the “Pension Reform Initiative.” "Nice win for the city and local control."

The U-T’s CEO, John Lynch, responded, "Great work!"

But the emails show more than just a chummy relationship between journalists and U-T executives. On some issues, Goldsmith would offer suggestions to reporters for their stories.

On November 21, Goldsmith contacted reporter Lori Weisberg at 7:02 p.m. with a suggestion on what to include in her story regarding the city's approval to release the assessments collected under the Tourism Marketing District.

"Lori, do you want to put something in your story that the city retains the unconditional right at any time to hold back more money up [to] 100 [percent] of the assessments?"

Two minutes later, Weisberg responded that she would add the information in the online article.

But it wasn't the first time Goldsmith and Weisberg worked together on stories pertaining to the Tourism Marketing District. Months earlier, in February 2013, Weisberg asked Goldsmith about Filner's refusal to release the Tourism Marketing District assessments.

The exchange of several emails appears to have occurred from Goldsmith's personal email address. In one email, the beginning letters of "@yahoo.com" can be made out under a blacked-out redaction.

Two years earlier, Goldsmith addressed the use of personal emails for city business in a story done by U-T San Diego.

"I cannot stop people from sending emails for city business to my personal account. A lot of people have that address. I suspect that happens to everyone in public office from time to time, whether it be Twitter, Facebook or emails. My practice when I receive an email in my personal account for city business is to forward it to the city email either with my response or, after forwarding it, respond through the city email.”

Even when using his work email, Goldsmith was more than willing to share information with U-T reporters.

On February 26, Weisberg asked Goldsmith when a closed-session meeting was. Goldsmith responded that night at 8:16 p.m., letting her know that there is "nothing to report out."

In regard to the lawsuit over the project-labor agreement, Goldsmith was open to dispel any rumors that were circulating.

"I'm hearing rumors that a settlement agreement has been signed between the City and the Coalition for Fair Employment,” wrote Weisberg.

Seven minutes later, Goldsmith responded. "Not true…. Not sure where you got rumblings but that is not even close."

And in an email later that night, Goldsmith reiterated the information. "No agreement. I don't know what the point of the rumor is, but there is no agreement."

The relationship between the daily's writers and Goldsmith included the editorial staff as well. William Osborne had a direct link to the city attorney. For example, on November 21 of last year, Osborne contacted Goldsmith for public documents related to the project-labor agreement.

"Hi, Jan," wrote Osborne. "I would like to formally request that your office provide me with copies of emails and any other communications between staff in the mayor's office and the contractor for the Convention Center expansion project regarding a project labor agreement for the expansion project."

Twenty-four minutes later, Goldsmith responded: “Thanks, Bill. I have routed this to our [Public Records Act] lead, Bill Gersten, with a request to expedite."

When not expediting requests for certain reporters, Goldsmith spent portions of his work day praising the editorial staff and their work.

"Your recent editorial on marijuana was great," wrote Goldsmith to Osborne, a longtime critic of implementing regulations while pot was still considered illegal by the federal government.

And while the email exchanges covered numerous topics. The city attorney's office appears to be less than forthcoming in releasing the emails to and from some U-T reporters.

Absent were any email exchanges between Goldsmith and U-T “Watchdog” reporter Trent Seibert, despite being specifically named in the request. The omission is problematic, considering that Goldsmith’s calendar indicates that he had meetings with Seibert at a café in Little Italy — as well as at U-T headquarters — in April, May, June, August, and September of last year.

The city attorney's office has not responded the question of why these emails are missing. Questions were also sent to Goldsmith’s office asking why he was so willing to meet and chat with reporters and editorial writers when the city attorney's office has several spokespeople on its payroll.

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Comments
11

I guess the illustration budget was cut to match the talent writing the stories.

Jan. 16, 2014

Awful kind of you to say. Thanks, JamesRhodes!

Jan. 17, 2014

Dorian: Excellent story. San Diego's redneck/Tea Party clique is worming its way back into power, even though public opinion is not on its side. All this group needs is an embarrassingly atavistic newspaper, Lincoln Club money, and prostitutes in positions of power. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 17, 2014

Thanks, Don. There is more to come, I am sure. It's interesting because back in 2008, Goldsmith was quick to attack Aguirre for playing politics in the City Attorney's Office and said he would turn the department into that of a high-level law firm whose sole purpose is to defend the city. It appears as if he has strayed from that mission and now doing the exact thing that he accused Aguirre of doing.-dH

Jan. 17, 2014

Dorian: Excellent point. And back then, it was a completely slanted, establishment-manipulated newspaper, the U-T, that smeared Aguirre. Ownership may change, but odious practices don't. Is it any wonder why prostitution is the world's oldest profession? Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 17, 2014

I say good for the reporters who have gained unfettered access to the City's top attorney. But when the City Attorney is expediting public record requests to an editorial writer, for documents from another department, then that is an issue. My PRAs aren't ever expedited. Most reporters don't receive transcripts to closed session meetings on the day of the request, especially ones that are released to show alleged inappropriate behavior by another elected official.-dH

Jan. 17, 2014

I'm glad that you link JG to Tea Party thinking. He definitely has personal/family ties to that ilk.

Jan. 17, 2014

Ricky Y seems to be peeved at something, eh? What's with the school-teacherish "In the past, I have asked you..."?? Yes sir!

This is a straightforward article reporting facts obtained. It doesn't criticize , as the UT employee complains. I guess the feeling that the facts as they exist are "criticism" is based on the understanding of what the facts imply. As Aldous H said,

There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.

And by the way, Goldsmith the Man is very transparent, but CA Goldsmith in the CA's Office is as transparent as La Jolla Cove when the sea lions are pissed.

Jan. 17, 2014

There is discrimination in the City of San Diego Public Records Request (PRR) responses.

Monday January 13, 2014. City Council Audit Committee Hearing on Item 5 – Audit of Mayor Filner Paris Trip Expenses and Fraud Hotline Report. The Audit confirmed no City taxpayer money was used. No corruption or misused of public funds as alleged by City Attorney Goldsmith.

Mayor Filner was set up by Police Chief Lansdowne and the City Attorney. They forced Mayor Filner to take two Executive Police Detail Officers on his private vacation, citing Police Department Policy and hiding behind National Homeland Security Concerns.

http://granicus.sandiego.gov/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=24&clip_id=5985

Video start time at 1 Hour 22 Minutes to end time 1 Hour 29 minutes

Public comments on redacted Public Records Act (CPRA) requests to make it look like Mayor Filner used $30,000 on City credit cards for his own personal trip. There is no evidence that former Mayor Jerry Sanders was required to take two Executive Police Detail Officers with him and his wife when they went on private vacations. Police Chief Lansdowne forced the two Executive Police Detail on Mayor Filner stating it was part of existing Policy to safeguard the mayor overseas while on personal vacation. However, due to National Homeland Security concerns, Police Chief Lansdowne refuses to show the actual Police Department policy that requires Mayoral security during private oversee vacations. Then hiding behind National Homeland Security Concerns on Police Department Policies.

http://docs.sandiego.gov/councilcomm_agendas_attach/2014/Audit_140113_5ppt.pdf

See Pages 4 and 5 where Police Chief Lansdowne misspent $24,641.86 on a deliberate and planned Political setup.

On Wednesday January 15, 2014 Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations meeting I spoke up again at Non-Agenda, and Item 1a Open Government Charter Changes proposed by David Alvarez and Donna Frye.

http://granicus.sandiego.gov/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=49&clip_id=5993

Video Start Time 3 Minutes to Video End Time 6 Minutes.

Video Start Time 47 Minutes to Video End Time 50 Minutes.

Keep up the great work Dorian.

Jan. 17, 2014

Reader, I will not take sides on this, however, it does appear very peculiar how counsel's fingers are all over everything, from an apparent political engineering standpoint. Is this part of Counsel's scope of work to provide secret press releases without cross examination? Most other practicing Counsel in California and elsewhere are much more cautious with respect to commenting on confidential client matters citing attorney / client privilege repeatedly, and rightfully so. If my attorney of record was leaking information without conferring with me first, i would feel violated. Attorney / client privilege is for the client's benefit, not for the attorney's benefit. Is the client aware of the leakage? Is this a conflict of interest by Counsel while being charged with the duty of protecting attorney / client privileged matters? Best, Gary

Jan. 30, 2014

Dorian, As a man who has had to walk the most bizarre investigation regarding my son's death, I appreciate journalists like you. When witness statements, police officers who took statements, photos that were changed I was told by a PD friend to go to the media. I took what I had including some confidential PI information and off I went. Took a witness to FBI they said they don't believe a man sleeping in a car. Called IA nothing, took my book to DA Prodigalidad. Went to Victor Torres he said something is wrong asked me to wait until he had more time. His partner Mark Skeels came to me followed me to my car I told him what I had found out. As I was begging for help he said see Steve Bellizzi and he would help me. Bellizzi took my book and information after that everything changed. I had mentioned their name to Prodigalidad. She contacted them and only them. The only reporter who helped no longer works in San Diego area. Mark Skeels now works for City Attorney, Bellizzi I later found out was fired by Dumanis. DA office promised 911 calls if they kept my book. PD, DA, FBI will not release the calls as they will prove SDPD was there at least one hour before they claim. They allowed a taxi driver to film and take pictures of my son which by the way did not match earlier photos. The taxi driver was a ex-employee of the officer who wrote the report along with Friedman. I told FBI agents in Fresno, San Diego, and reporters Friedman was dirty months before the Arevalos rapes were reported. Unfortunately I found out how bad checkbook journalism is. Regarding the UT issue, good journalists but not allowed to do their job. Has to be frustrating for them. Maybe within my lifetime my sons murder will come to light. I am not above my son losing his life in a accident. See Vimeo Murder in Mission Bay, Tracy Pansini who held his fist up threatening witnesses. Don't know Dumanis, my take is corruption fighting corruption for power. Friends tell me Dan they will never let you get to the truth, you will be dead before that happens. So I sit back and allow more vulnerable people get murdered? It eats at me in a way most people will never understand. A UT reporter said "I read the autopsy report" I asked did you get the property report also? I knew what he was thinking nothing here but a accident. I said good read it again this time really read it and you will see how this was not a accident. Sent Filner some emails when I realized what they were doing to him. Told him a little about my son and said just go to City Attorney and Skeels bring my name up to them. Don't know if he did but right after they struck a deal. Jenny Hamel said witnesses told her that my son was walking around and put his hand on the fender of cab. Not a fan of Hamel either she disappeared when Arevalos, Friedman got in trouble. If you read SDPD report not possible my son walked anywhere.

Jan. 30, 2014

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