Forecast: Based on patterns of 2013 and 2014, lobbyists will be flooded with even more cash this year.
  • Forecast: Based on patterns of 2013 and 2014, lobbyists will be flooded with even more cash this year.
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Douglas Manchester, departing publisher of U-T San Diego, has long been a big employer of high-dollar influence peddlers, which could be why his newspaper hasn't talked about them.

Paul Robinson

Paul Robinson

In his role of mega-developer, the wealthy La Jollan retained the services of city hall super lobbyist Paul Robinson to quietly resolve potentially explosive and costly environmental allegations concerning his development of the Grand del Mar resort and golf course in the northern reaches of the city.

After Robinson helped untie the knots of regulatory resistance, the project last year obtained a slew of grading and related permits "after the fact", though not without the opprobrium of planning commissioner James Whalen.

"The behavior of this developer impugns all developers," said Whalen about Manchester.

A dean of the city's lobbying corps, Robinson is a key player in the GOP Lincoln Club, which Manchester and his paper aided with major money and other backing in its repeated hits against Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher's bid for mayor, supported by Manchester political nemesis and Qualcomm Democratic billionaire Irwin Jacobs.

"I was outraged to learn that the Lincoln Club of San Diego — a supposedly pro-business political group — would fund a political hit piece that unfairly and incorrectly attacks one of San Diego’s largest employers," wrote Paul Jacobs, son of Irwin, regarding the Republican attack against Fletcher, who had been hired by Qualcomm after his failed first bid for mayor as an independent.

"Is the Lincoln Club so desperate and out of constructive ideas that they are resorting to attacks on private employers, forsaking their supposed principles and lying to serve a political agenda?"

Manchester was such a fan of Robinson that the U-T sponsored a September 2012 debate between him and Democratic assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, then secretary-treasurer and CEO for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, over Jerry Brown's Proposition 30, a bid to raise state taxes.

While the topic of developer pay-for-play has eluded the U-T’s radar, the role of special-interest pleaders at San Diego's city hall has grown ever mightier, as shown in an April 17 report to the city's ethics commission.

"During 2014, lobbying firms reported receiving a total of $3,919,456 from their clients, and organization lobbyists reported making a total of 2,228 lobbying contacts with high-level City Officials," says the document.

"83 lobbying firms and 58 organization lobbyists registered a total of 385 individual lobbyists with the City Clerk."

A quarterly breakout of the influence-peddling activity reveals that dollar amounts paid to lobbyists rose dramatically as the year progressed: $712,900 in the first three months; $894,917 in the second quarter; $966,178 in the third; and $1,345,461 in the fourth.

As for political influence, the lobbyists disclosed a total of $2,673,673 in "fundraising activities for City candidates and committees formed to support/oppose City candidates," according to the report. Direct giving by the influence peddlers to campaigns was $273,706.

Byron Wear

Byron Wear

Jim Madaffer

Jim Madaffer

Tony Young

Tony Young

Katherine Stuart

Katherine Stuart

By contrast, according to an October 2014 commission report on lobbying in 2013, "69 lobbying firms and 47 organization lobbyists registered a total of 321 individual lobbyists with the City Clerk." Total revenue was reported to be $3,252,081, with 1164 lobbying contacts having been made.

The lobbyists disclosed $2,620,935 in fundraising activities, as well as making $377,213 in direct contributions.

Lobbying has become so pervasive at city hall that no fewer than three former city council members are current practitioners. Point Loma's Byron Wear reported being retained by a breath alcohol content machine vendor, according to his disclosure report.

Fellow Republican Jim Madaffer now works on behalf of shopping-mall owner Westfield, LLC, on "agreements and ordinance related to implementation of event programming for Horton Plaza Urban Park."

The biggest grossing former council member is Democrat Tony Young, who quit his job in mid-term to become head of the local Red Cross only to subsequently depart to join the ranks of the influence peddlers.

According to its quarterly disclosure report filed April 30, Young's Civic Link Strategies has been paid $15,000 by Westfield to lobby the city council to "support [a] construction contract."

He also received $15,000 from San Diego Gas & Electric "relating to SDG&E's rate structure proposal."

In addition, Young got $10,000 from Costa Mesa developer Donahue Schriber to lobby the council against adoption of the One Paseo project backed by rival Kilroy.

The former councilman picked up $7500 from Buchanan Ingersol and Rooney, a big downtown law firm with Lincoln Club ties,regarding "procurement of a city contract."

Besides his direct lobbying activities, Young is president of One San Diego, a nonprofit group set up by Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer and his wife Katherine Stuart with funding from a raft of special interests with business at city hall.

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CaptD May 15, 2015 @ 3:27 p.m.

Sadly the real message here is that San Diego has the best Elected Officials money can buy.

The majority of San Diego voters are completely unaware of all the behind the scenes dealing that has resulted in what we have now, a system run by those elected to public office that seek to push whatever agenda is best for their donors, instead of what is best for all those that elected them.

The San Diego Reader is the one true voice in San Diego that strives to call out all those subjects that traditional MSM seeks to avoid because it will hurt someone or some groups image.

Case in point is the multibillion dollar debacle at San Onofre that will cost everyone that has a SDG&E account about $1000, yet only the tiniest tidbits are being now shared with the general public, due to the control of SoCal MSM which is simply not discussing it in detail.

Posted in the Reader earlier this week:

Don - As we both have said many times before this is a MAJOR embarrassment for just about everyone connected with this multibillion dollar debacle, since it highlights just how corrupt both the generation and the regulation of SoCal's energy really is. If we had a magic wand and could make everyone that is implicated nose grow long, most if not all of our elected Leaders would all look like Pinocchio.

Perhaps someone that is good with photoshop could provide us with some images...

The entire process is rigged as the ongoing investigation into San Onofre clearly illustrates. Also remember that even Governor Browns sister is on the Board of Sempra, so that is yet another "connection" that that needs to be included in what I call SanOnofreGate

===> #SanOnofreGate. (This new Twitter hashtag will allow you to keep up to date on the ongoing investigation into the multi-billion $ SCE-CPUC ripoff). Just enter the hashtag into the Twitter search box:


Founder May 15, 2015 @ 3:45 p.m.

Matt - I'd suggest that you consider looking into what happened to all the Redevelopment Project Area money and property that the City of San Diego absorbed, when the Redevelopment Agency was eliminated by the State. Many are now finding out that nobody is saying what happened to all the records and as far as they are concerned, nobody is talking about it at the City.

One great example is the North Park Theater which was restored at great cost which also had restriction on its deed to prevent certain alcohol related usages, yet the NP Theatre was just sold, then resold at great profit and will now be turned into a nightclub, all without any public input.

This is just one example of how those with money/influence are now controlling the City, since none of these issues make it into the news, few if any are aware of what is happening at City Hall.


dwbat May 15, 2015 @ 4:33 p.m.

Problems with North Park Theatre were caused by the poor management by Lyric Opera and and general director Leon Natker. The theater continues to have regular concerts, special events, etc. What is the "nightclub" you are talking about? Please provide details.


Founder May 17, 2015 @ 1:11 p.m.

Dwbat - The NP Theater was recently sold at a discounted rate by the City to the owner of the West Coast Tavern, who then sold it and the West Coast Tavern (making a big profit) to a new owner that has turned it into a nightclub called The Observatory. There is now late night partying behind the building which has become very worrisome for all local residents! When asked about the details of the NP Theater sale and the restrictions that were placed by the NP Project Area Planning Committee upon the deed restricting such "non theater" uses, the City is just not responding. Perhaps you can learn more.


dwbat May 17, 2015 @ 7:49 p.m.

I already knew that David Cohen at West Coast Tavern bought the theater, and that it was later sold to the Observatory, a live music venue. But it's not being turned totally into a "nightclub" from what I know. FilmOut San Diego is coming there end of May, for example. I haven't done any more articles on the property, and don't plan to do so at this time. Have you requested the information that you mentioned from the city in writing, citing the California Public Records Act? They are required by law to respond, so write your Subject something like: This is a CPRA request.


AlexClarke May 17, 2015 @ 6:03 a.m.

The public only gets to vote for the pre selected bought and paid for candidates. They all have to dance to the tune of the moneyed interests that fueled their bit for public office. The ones elected may accidently do some good but their primary objective is to further advance their handlers agenda. There is no such thing as Public Service only greed and avarice apply to elected public officials. Follow the money and you will discover who has the power it is not the public or the politician.


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