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Tale of two sleazes

As team blasts Faulconer’s integrity, Chargers' new town has own ethics issues

Carson councilman Al Robles
Carson councilman Al Robles

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has a nose for things fishy.

Citing our story about the for-profit lobbying activity of Faulconer's political guru Jason Roe, Fabiani questioned Roe's association with the mayor's stadium task force.

"What legal and ethical issues are raised by Mr. Roe's dual role as an apparent de facto Task Force member and as a registered lobbyist for the Delaware North company, which is bidding to become the new concessionaire at Qualcomm Stadium and, potentially, at any new stadium in San Diego?" Fabiani wrote the mayor.

His February 17 letter continued, "Putting the legal and ethical issues aside for a moment, what sense does it make to have someone who is your chief advisor on political matters, and who advises a potential stadium vendor on business matters, play any sort of role with the 'independent' Task Force?"

Wrote Fabiani, "Have you asked the City Attorney for an opinion on the propriety of Mr. Roe's intensive involvement with the Task Force's work? If you have not yet asked for such an opinion from the City Attorney, do you intend to do so?"

It was subsequently recalled that Adam Day, an executive for the Sycuan casino tribe who is chairman of the mayor's stadium task force, had a brush with the state's Fair Political Practices Commission over some free concert tickets he picked up from the Del Mar fair, where he is on the board.

On Friday, February 20, all NFL broke loose when the Chargers announced they would partner up with the Oakland Raiders to build a new stadium in the city of Carson if things didn't work out for them in their home markets.

As fate would have it, the teams have picked a town that has also attracted the interest of federal prosecutors.

For starters, there was Carson mayor Daryl Sweeney, sentenced in December 2004 to almost six years in federal prison for his role in a multimillion-dollar bribery scandal.

"I don't think this was about losing your way or taking a wrong turn. You're nothing more than a thief," U.S. district judge Percy Anderson told Sweeney, ex–chief of staff to Los Angeles city councilwoman Jan Perry, according to an account in the Los Angeles Times.

"You might as well have taken a gun and gone down to City Hall and stuck it in their ear."

Sweeney and nine others pled guilty in the case, which involved the award of a $60-million trash-hauling contract to Browning Ferris Industries in exchange for bribes of $600,000.

A secret recording caught Sweeney telling a fellow councilmember that bribery "is a long-term opportunity."

Sweeney was on the city council in October 1998, when L.A. super-agent Michael Ovitz first pitched the idea of an NFL stadium for Carson, getting the council to pledge $180 million in public support for the ultimately unsuccessful sports and retail project.

"It's an opportunity for our city to step out of being a little country town in the South Bay," Sweeney told his council colleagues, according to an Associated Press report.

Then there was the saga of David Biggs, hired as Carson's city manager in 2011 and fired by the city council less than two years later.

"He was willing to be fired before taking a step back for corruption," said Dan Romero, a city councilman from the northern California town of Hercules, where Biggs subsequently went to work, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Sam Ghaly, hired by the council to replace Biggs in August 2013, lasted less than a month.

"Even by Carson standards, the move to hire Sam Ghaly as city manager was strange, if not bizarre," the Daily Breeze wrote in September 2013.

"In a city known for its petty politics and public back-stabbing, elected officials came together to pluck a civil engineer with little if any municipal management experience to run a city with more than 600 employees and a $68 million budget," the paper's account said.

"And they did it without so much as open debate, any public explanation or even a background check."

Earlier this month, the city council fired Nelson Hernandez, its third city manager in less than 20 months, in a closed session 3-0 vote.

"The council hired Hernandez in May in a unanimous vote after an executive search firm spent six months scouting for qualified candidates," according to the Breeze.

“Hernandez had most recently worked as San Diego’s assistant chief operating officer in 2013."

Last May, the paper reported that Carson councilman Al Robles was being investigated by the district attorney's office and other law enforcement entities "stemming from his dual elected roles with the city and a regional water board."

Said the Breeze: "At a Tuesday night City Council meeting, Robles portrayed himself as a target of harassment by Occidental Petroleum Corp. and the labor unions that support its proposed oil drilling project in Carson. Shortly before the documents were requested, Robles had announced his opposition to Occidental's plans to drill from a lot near Cal State Dominguez Hills."

"In my heart of hearts, I do believe this is a result of Occidental Petroleum showing the full breadth of their influence and political power," Robles was quoted as saying.

"They even got Gov. Jerry Brown to call the mayor and talk to him for over 30 minutes. The political muscle to have that happen is beyond my ability to grasp. It's shocking to me. But I will not be intimidated."

No case has materialized against Robles, who appeared during Friday's stadium rally in Carson wearing a jersey split down the middle between the Chargers and the Raiders.

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Carson councilman Al Robles
Carson councilman Al Robles

Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has a nose for things fishy.

Citing our story about the for-profit lobbying activity of Faulconer's political guru Jason Roe, Fabiani questioned Roe's association with the mayor's stadium task force.

"What legal and ethical issues are raised by Mr. Roe's dual role as an apparent de facto Task Force member and as a registered lobbyist for the Delaware North company, which is bidding to become the new concessionaire at Qualcomm Stadium and, potentially, at any new stadium in San Diego?" Fabiani wrote the mayor.

His February 17 letter continued, "Putting the legal and ethical issues aside for a moment, what sense does it make to have someone who is your chief advisor on political matters, and who advises a potential stadium vendor on business matters, play any sort of role with the 'independent' Task Force?"

Wrote Fabiani, "Have you asked the City Attorney for an opinion on the propriety of Mr. Roe's intensive involvement with the Task Force's work? If you have not yet asked for such an opinion from the City Attorney, do you intend to do so?"

It was subsequently recalled that Adam Day, an executive for the Sycuan casino tribe who is chairman of the mayor's stadium task force, had a brush with the state's Fair Political Practices Commission over some free concert tickets he picked up from the Del Mar fair, where he is on the board.

On Friday, February 20, all NFL broke loose when the Chargers announced they would partner up with the Oakland Raiders to build a new stadium in the city of Carson if things didn't work out for them in their home markets.

As fate would have it, the teams have picked a town that has also attracted the interest of federal prosecutors.

For starters, there was Carson mayor Daryl Sweeney, sentenced in December 2004 to almost six years in federal prison for his role in a multimillion-dollar bribery scandal.

"I don't think this was about losing your way or taking a wrong turn. You're nothing more than a thief," U.S. district judge Percy Anderson told Sweeney, ex–chief of staff to Los Angeles city councilwoman Jan Perry, according to an account in the Los Angeles Times.

"You might as well have taken a gun and gone down to City Hall and stuck it in their ear."

Sweeney and nine others pled guilty in the case, which involved the award of a $60-million trash-hauling contract to Browning Ferris Industries in exchange for bribes of $600,000.

A secret recording caught Sweeney telling a fellow councilmember that bribery "is a long-term opportunity."

Sweeney was on the city council in October 1998, when L.A. super-agent Michael Ovitz first pitched the idea of an NFL stadium for Carson, getting the council to pledge $180 million in public support for the ultimately unsuccessful sports and retail project.

"It's an opportunity for our city to step out of being a little country town in the South Bay," Sweeney told his council colleagues, according to an Associated Press report.

Then there was the saga of David Biggs, hired as Carson's city manager in 2011 and fired by the city council less than two years later.

"He was willing to be fired before taking a step back for corruption," said Dan Romero, a city councilman from the northern California town of Hercules, where Biggs subsequently went to work, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Sam Ghaly, hired by the council to replace Biggs in August 2013, lasted less than a month.

"Even by Carson standards, the move to hire Sam Ghaly as city manager was strange, if not bizarre," the Daily Breeze wrote in September 2013.

"In a city known for its petty politics and public back-stabbing, elected officials came together to pluck a civil engineer with little if any municipal management experience to run a city with more than 600 employees and a $68 million budget," the paper's account said.

"And they did it without so much as open debate, any public explanation or even a background check."

Earlier this month, the city council fired Nelson Hernandez, its third city manager in less than 20 months, in a closed session 3-0 vote.

"The council hired Hernandez in May in a unanimous vote after an executive search firm spent six months scouting for qualified candidates," according to the Breeze.

“Hernandez had most recently worked as San Diego’s assistant chief operating officer in 2013."

Last May, the paper reported that Carson councilman Al Robles was being investigated by the district attorney's office and other law enforcement entities "stemming from his dual elected roles with the city and a regional water board."

Said the Breeze: "At a Tuesday night City Council meeting, Robles portrayed himself as a target of harassment by Occidental Petroleum Corp. and the labor unions that support its proposed oil drilling project in Carson. Shortly before the documents were requested, Robles had announced his opposition to Occidental's plans to drill from a lot near Cal State Dominguez Hills."

"In my heart of hearts, I do believe this is a result of Occidental Petroleum showing the full breadth of their influence and political power," Robles was quoted as saying.

"They even got Gov. Jerry Brown to call the mayor and talk to him for over 30 minutes. The political muscle to have that happen is beyond my ability to grasp. It's shocking to me. But I will not be intimidated."

No case has materialized against Robles, who appeared during Friday's stadium rally in Carson wearing a jersey split down the middle between the Chargers and the Raiders.

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3

I believe it has also been reported that the property on which this stadium is to be built was a former landfill site, and has been declared toxic.

So--one can see why Carson would be very pleased that anyone was interested in it at all.

Even if it is 'dirt-cheap' to begin with, it won't be for long.

Feb. 23, 2015

Loved this hilarious story. No wonder Carson is a possible future home to three National Football League teams! Te absolvo, sharp-tongued Jason Roe: you are small-potatoes-conflicted compared to the former public servants of Carson, CA. And how come San Diego can't get a guy on our bench like U.S. district judge Percy Anderson who sentences an errant former City Council aide with words to live by: "You might as well have taken a gun down to City Hall and stuck it in their ear?"

Feb. 23, 2015

So true!! We could use a good half-dozen of Judge Percy Anderson!!

Feb. 23, 2015

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