Already brimming with backstage intrigue, speculation over the ultimate fate of the San Diego Chargers is being fueled by behind-the-scenes activities of a city hall influence peddler and political consultant with close ties to Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer.
Jason Roe, a key consultant to Faulconer's 2014 mayoral campaign and by many accounts one of the mayor's closest advisors, has been retained as a lobbyist by Delaware North, the giant food-and-beverage contractor at professional sports venues around the world.
According to a disclosure statement filed with the city January 16, the Buffalo, New York–based corporation has hired Roe's Presidio Public Affairs Group to lobby for "Delaware North to be selected as the concessionaire for Qualcomm Stadium."
As previously reported here, the city-owned stadium's current food-and-beverage contract with Centerplate expires next month, and a request for proposals to provide services on financial terms to be negotiated has been issued by the city.
According to the city's notice, the successful Qualcomm concessionaire would have right of first refusal regarding the provision of similar services solicited for any replacement football venue.
Disclosure filings show that Centerplate has hired longtime city hall lobbyist Richard Ledford to represent the firm. Another would-be concessionaire, Ovations Fanfare, owned by cable and entertainment industry giant Comcast, has retained the services of California Strategies, a Sacramento lobbying powerhouse founded by former Pete Wilson aide Bob White.
In addition to Delaware North, the disclosure shows that Roe and Janelle Riella, his associate in Presidio Public Affairs, represent Kilroy Realty Corporation in the L.A. firm's bid to obtain city-council approval of the controversial One Paseo project in Carmel Valley. Riella previously worked for the San Diego Association of Realtors and the Downtown San Diego Partnership.
Though he has no disclosed official role with the city, Roe has been quoted by U-T San Diego as being inside the mayor's negotiations with the football team and its voluble lobbyist and spokesman, former Bill Clinton "master of disaster" Mark Fabiani.
"What’s frustrating for us is we told Mark specifically what we intended to do, and we followed through, and his reaction is not consistent with what he told us in private meetings," Roe was quoted as saying by the U-T on January 16, following Fabiani's attack on Mission Valley real estate mogul Steve Cushman for allegedly interfering with prior stadium-building efforts.
Besides speaking for Faulconer on the Chargers issue, Roe has been quoted by the website RealClearPolitics.com regarding what he estimated to be Faulconer's bright political future.
"Democrats need hate, for lack of a better word, to get the base to turn out,” Roe was quoted as saying in a June dispatch. “Kevin is not a hateful guy. Even if you’re a Democrat, you don’t hate the guy.”
The same may not be said, at least among some San Diego critics, of Delaware North, which in 2003 won the state contract for what was known as Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town from then-operator Diane Powers.
Powers fought a losing appeal before a state administrative law judge before being forced to move her operation to private property down the street. Among Delaware North's defenders were Bruce Coons and historic preservation architect Wayne Donaldson.
Noted Don Bauder: "But here's a very big caveat: Coons admits to being a paid consultant to Delaware North. Similarly, architect Wayne Donaldson consulted for Delaware North. Recently he left his firm to take a post at a fat salary with Parks and Rec. And Delaware North has the contract to run a facility near Monterey that state parks officials use for meetings and training.”
The renamed Plaza del Pasado turned out not to be "financially what we expected,” a Delaware North spokesman told the U-T in December 2008 and it was handed off to a local restaurant operator.
Delaware North is currently in the midst of trying to renew its federal contract to run Yosemite’s food and lodging facilities. One of its aces in the hole, the company says, is that it has the rights to names including Ahwahnee Hotel, that are worth $51 million. If anyone else gets the concession, they'll have to pay Delaware North, the company says.
We have a call into Roe regarding Delaware North's Qualcomm bid.