The gloves are off at San Diego city hall as mayor Kevin Faulconer and fellow Republican Lorie Zapf discover that newly empowered Democrats are not likely to play nice, given their new House majority in Washington and supermajority control of the city council here.
As reported by the Union-Tribune November 10, La Jolla Democratic House member Scott Peters fired off a November 5 letter to the mayor and his now-defeated GOP council ally Zapf demanding a city attorney investigation of major Republican giver McMillin Companies.
At stake is a plan by McMillin for the North Chapel at Point Loma's former Naval Training Center, now known as Liberty Station, which was turned over by GOP mayor Susan Golding and the council to the National City developer in June 1999 after backstage campaign finance skullduggery undermined another developer recommended by the city manager and a blue-ribbon citizens committee.
Now McMillin is said to be seeking to convert the North Chapel into an eatery and wedding venue, drawing heat from neighbors and preservationists, while simultaneously shopping its 66-acre master lease of the former Navy property to other owners.
“Several members of the community, including Save Our Heritage Organisation, have been in contact with my office to express their concerns regarding the leasings by the McMillin Company (or a successor in interest) of the North Chapel to a commercial tenant, which they claim violates the Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties at the Naval Training Center,” wrote Peters in a letter to the mayor and Zapf.
The congressman asked Faulconer and Zapf to make a request to city attorney Mara Elliott, a Democrat, to trigger an official investigation of the matter. Faulconer instead referred the issue to his staff and Zapf was noncommittal, the paper reported.
The Republican pair has benefited from money furnished by McMillin owners and executives, city disclosure filings show, with Faulconer the top beneficiary and Zapf, who lost her November reelection battle to Democrat Jen Campbell, not far behind.
Since June 2009, Faulconer has collected a total of $21,999 in campaign cash from McMillin employees, making him the biggest overall beneficiary of the developer's support during the period, according to the records.
Zapf's city council campaigns have received a total of $9000 since March 2010 from donors employed by McMillin, giving the lame-duck councilwoman less incentive, it is widely believed, to seek an investigation of the company by the Democratic city attorney.
Republicans have historically received the most city hall campaign cash from McMillin executives, including Faulconer predecessor Jerry Sanders, with $9185, city councilman Carl DeMaio's failed 2012 bid for mayor, getting $8275, and the GOP Lincoln Club, with $7325. GOP ex-city attorney Jan Goldsmith's cause picked up $6300 and Bonnie Dumanis's 2012 run for mayor received $4900.
Over the years, Democrats have managed to pick up smaller amounts of backing from McMillin employees, including former city councilman Todd Gloria, now in the state Assembly, with $2910, and city councilwoman Myrtle Cole, defeated for reelection this month, who received a total of $850 from two McMillin executives in 2015 for her legal defense fund.
Current city attorney Elliott's campaign fund got $500 from McMillin chairman Scott McMillin in January 2017, following her election in November 2016. From January 2007 through November of last year, McMillin contributions to city hall hopefuls added up $113,802, per city data.