After the newspaper then known as U-T San Diego last year ran a series of stories about port honcho Wayne Darbeau tapping port tenants to provide summer jobs for his son, Darbeau was allowed to resign. Following the fracas, the port’s deputy general counsel William McMinn wrote to the California’s Fair Political Practices Commission regarding Randa Coniglio, then the port’s executive vice president for operations. McMinn’s query involved Coniglio’s daughter, an employee of Dudek, Inc., an Encinitas-based environmental consulting outfit with big port contracts, including the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan and a North Embarcadero Environmental Impact Report.
“Ms. Coniglio’s daughter was hired on about March 25, 2013 and was offered a permanent position mid-May 2013,” wrote the political watchdog’s general counsel Zackery P. Morazzini in his October 3 response. “Ms. Coniglio made no contact with Dudek regarding her daughter’s job application (or regarding anything else during the time her daughter was seeking employment from Dudek).”
Morazzini noted that the job duties of Coniglio’s daughter “have nothing to do with seeking or securing business, projects, or consulting agreements.” In addition, he said, “Ms. Coniglio has no financial relationship with her daughter.” Thus, he concluded, there was no conflict of interest. That bit of preemptive lawyering has now paid off. Last week it was announced that Coniglio, hired by Darbeau in September 2011, has been named his permanent successor as port director.