Greg Cox. Cox’s chief of staff Danny Melgoza went to Nashville for six days to celebrate Cox's new position.
  • Greg Cox. Cox’s chief of staff Danny Melgoza went to Nashville for six days to celebrate Cox's new position.
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Tax dollars at play

Now that termed-out San Diego county supervisor Greg Cox has become president of the National Association of Counties, insiders are on the lookout for a flood of staff junketing. The first trip came in July, when Cox’s chief of staff Danny Melgoza went to Nashville for six days to celebrate the GOP supervisor’s new position at the association’s annual meeting. Melgoza’s lodging tab at the Gaylord Grand Ole Opry hotel, paid for by the association, was $1352.94, according to an August 28 disclosure statement he filed with the county. “With Supervisor Cox’s recent election to a top leadership post at the National Association of Counties, Danny serves as his liaison to this national organization, as well as to the California Association of Counties,” says the aide’s online profile. “Danny plays a critical role in developing Supervisor Cox’s strategic initiatives and major policy decisions within those organizations, positioning him as a leader at the local, statewide and national level.”

Toni Atkins: fan of horse racing, and horse racing industry money.

Toni Atkins: fan of horse racing, and horse racing industry money.


As a Legislative Assistant II in Cox’s office, Melgoza got total salary and benefits of $174,622 in 2017, per the website Transparent California. Last November, the supervisor named Melgoza his new chief of staff, replacing longtime aide Pam O’Neil who retired. On top of Melgoza’s time, ex-county chief administrative officer Walt Ekard is getting a thousand dollars a month as a special consultant helping Cox raise his national profile through his role with the association. Ekard has also been granted a total of $10,000 to attend two national conferences of the group, per a July 17 Union-Tribune account.

Carl DeMaio; Jerry Brown

Carl DeMaio; Jerry Brown

Off to the races

State senate leader Toni Atkins has been generating lots of money from the horse racing industry for her so-called ballot measure committee. Besides $15,000 given by the Thoroughbred Owners of California on August 27, the Democrat - who has long cultivated the gambling set - collected a total of $17,640 from the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, operator of the track here, during August and September. On September 20, the Sycuan casino tribe came up with $78,000. Earlier, Communities for California Cardrooms PAC gave $10,000, and the Pechanga Band, another casino operator, contributed $5200. “The new President Pro Tempore of the Senate is a longtime fan of racing,” said horse racing industry lobbyist Robyn Black in a May write-up about Atkins for California Thoroughbred magazine. “Senator Toni Atkins is a regular, studying the horses in the walking ring before each post at Del Mar.”

Recent contributions made by Atkins from her ballot fund included $5000 in September for the campaign to give San Diego State University control of the former Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley, along with $100,000 to back Propositions 1 and 2 on November’s California ballot. Per the Sacramento Bee, Prop 1 would authorize “$4 billion in state bonds for a laundry list of housing programs, projects, grants, and loans.” San Diego’s Jennifer LeSar, who is married to Atkins, owns a lucrative housing consulting outfit.

Carl vs. Jerry

Ex-San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio, battling Gov. Jerry Brown’s gasoline tax hike, has decided to fight fire with fire. “In early September, I warned you that the Sacramento politicians had intentionally changed the official ballot title of our Prop 6 Gas Tax Repeal Initiative to remove any reference to gas tax repeal and replace it with a grossly misleading and false title of ‘Prop 6: Repeals Road Repairs’,” says DeMaio in a recent email to supporters. “Our polling shows that false title causes us to lose the vote! But we can fix it — here’s how: This Friday we want to mail an ‘Election Ballot Correction Notice’ to 3 million Californians who are Absentee Voters. As you can see from the sample below, it looks like an official notice from the Registrar of Voters. Provocative and attention-grabbing — that’s what we need.” Concludes the radio talk show host, “Absentee ballots arrive next week so we absolutely must get this creative mailer into the hands of voters BEFORE they vote. Can you please help? Take a look at the piece below — I think you’ll agree it is highly effective!”...Having defeated a longtime nemesis in June, a campaign committee backed by big labor unions has changed its name from San Diegans opposed to Hypocrisy and Lori Saldaña for Supervisor 2018. The new name: San Diego Strong in Support of Nathan Fletcher for Supervisor 2018. Registrar of voter disclosure filings show that the newly-renamed committee has thus far received $10,000 each from two local union sources, Unite Here and San Diego Works, along with the same amount from the California Medical Association Independent Expenditure Committee of Sacramento. That doctors’ lobbying organization had kicked in $15,000 for the committee during its anti-Saldaña heyday in May. Democrat Fletcher, running against Republican ex-District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis in the Fourth District contest for county supervisor, is married to Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who during June’s primary funneled $370,000 to the San Diego Democratic Party through her re-election campaign kitty on Fletcher’s behalf.

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Cassander Oct. 10, 2018 @ 2:30 p.m.

Oh, boo hoo. DeMaio whining that the bogeymen are misrepresenting his initiative by saying exactly what it does rather than sound bite it per his personal spin.

He should consider himself lucky Prop 6 isn't titled for what it's really about, the "PLEASE REPUBLICANS GET RILED UP ABOUT SOMETHING ON THE BALLOT AND GO VOTE SO WE DON'T LOSE EVERY ELECTED OFFICE THIS MIDTERM" measure.


peter45 Oct. 10, 2018 @ 4:05 p.m.

Amazing of the thuggery of the most corrupt democrat party in the history of the USA. Just more of the ongoing nonsense both in Calif. and in Wash DC. Or we could rack the above comment to absolute stupidity. The dems in the name of the environment have placed more tax on gasoline then any state in the union and all to save the planet. All to save the planet, please. They have transferred more money to the general fund to save their incompetence of running a bankrupt state. They claim they are for the poor and middle class and yet everything they do in the state is geared to drive the little guy out. Other then rent most households biggest expense is their transportation cost and the largest item there is gasoline. Why do we keep standing for electing either some of the most corrupt or stupid people to office because people like Cassander are too dumb to realize, this is nary a democrat or republican issue.


Cassander Oct. 10, 2018 @ 5:01 p.m.

I'm not so stupid, peter45, that I believe the SB1 funding goes "to save the planet," rather than to road repairs and transportation only—and requires gas taxes already taken for the General Fund be repaid in full.1 If you want gas taxes (and vehicle fees) to go for what they're supposed to, Prop. 6 will do the opposite.

And if you want to know the main reason why we pay the most for gasoline in California, look no further than the thuggery of consolidation and price fixing by the oil and gas refinery industries. As much as 34% of the price per gallon goes to refinery costs and profits.2

Perhaps it would help unconstipate your thinking to loosen the strap on your MAGA hat?




peter45 Oct. 10, 2018 @ 6:32 p.m.

Perhaps not stupid but more likely clueless and all to save the planet and screw the people........just what is the lock box for stated in the ballot? It is always the oil companies who actually do something to produce a product unlike goverments who do NOTHING. i hope like hell that you are aware of refinery costs and mandated blends by the state that do nothing along with the use of ethanol that does more to pollute. Oil companies profits are less then most business and yet you lump them together with costs. Get a grip you must work for the government.

Are you a paid thug to bash DeMaio?


dwbat Oct. 10, 2018 @ 4:08 p.m.

DeMaio is only happy when he's whining, or finding a way to earn money without actually doing any real work.


peter45 Oct. 10, 2018 @ 4:34 p.m.

You must work for the thugs or the could one not vote for this ballot. It requires a lock box for the gas tax funds to be used to repair our roads. Gee, isn't that what was supposed to have happened. Talk about the ballot and not the author if you are critical. You obviously haven't read the damn thing which is typical for most Dems.

Look at the corruption about how this has been handled........changing the headline so people will not bother to read the thing.


dwbat Oct. 10, 2018 @ 5:31 p.m.

I'm registered Independent, NOT Democratic Party. Just about anything DeMaio is for, I'm automatically against. And yes, I read my Voter Information Guide.


monaghan Oct. 10, 2018 @ 8:45 p.m.

Face it, Cassander and dwbat: you are knee-jerk defenders of the most regressive tax levied in California since 1970: this onerous tax hurts poor people more than anyone else. It is outrageous to have been perpetrated by the Democrat-dominated State Legislature and the four-term Democratic governor son of a governor, Jerry Brown. That Latin-spouting show-off should be saying "mea culpa" instead of "eureka."

Brown and the Democrat legislative majority relentlessly pushed this punitive gas tax increase of 12 cents per gallon that has been in place since November 2017 -- and it will increase by another 7.5 cents per gallon next July. That's almost 20 cents per gallon more when people need to fill up to go to work. In addition, there are increased annual fees for owning your car: $25 more per year for cars valued under $5000 and up to $175 more for cars worth $60,000-plus.

You ignore unethical Democrat-driven ballot language that never states Prop 6 is meant to repeal the onerous gas tax. You slam Carl DeMaio who recognized an obvious opportunity to goose GOP midterm election turnout by sponsoring the Vote Yes on Prop 6/Repeal the Gas Tax. You pretend this gas tax was some environmentally-correct medicine our Governor was administering: it was his swan song boon to Labor and creation of another legislative slush fund.

I remind you that Brown has refused to end fracking in California and has never permitted California oil extraction to be taxed -- something that even Texas does. And there is no explicit provision in the law that gas tax revenue will actually go to repair roads and bridges. Between 2007 and 2010, as much as $1.3 billion in transportation funds that should have been dedicated to road repairs were diverted to finance other things.

I'm voting Yes on Prop 6 to get rid of the regressive gas tax that shamefully was levied on the people of California by a Democratic Governor and Legislature one year ago.


dwbat Oct. 10, 2018 @ 9:32 p.m.

Whatever. I don't care how you vote. Not really of interest. :-)


nantucket208 Oct. 12, 2018 @ 8:53 a.m.

Great response when you are faced with real facts


dwbat Oct. 11, 2018 @ 10:36 a.m.

Let's vote YES to send DeMaio back to Iowa, where he was born.


peter45 Oct. 11, 2018 @ 9:20 a.m.

WEDNESDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2018 San Diego YES ON 6 – Gas Tax Repeal Rally Want to be part of the biggest taxpayer revolt in California since 1978’s Prop 13? You are invited to attend a Campaign Rally in your...



peter45 Oct. 11, 2018 @ 11:36 a.m.

Mayor of Coronado says we spend to much on empty transit busses and trolleys and I agree. The left loons have stolen the funds to make themselves feel better with no common sense;


dwbat Oct. 11, 2018 @ 12:30 p.m.

I doubt if the Coronado mayor rides public transit, nor do most of Coronado's residents. So his opinion is meaningless.


peter45 Oct. 11, 2018 @ 7:59 p.m.

You don't seem to get it. I could care less whether he rides a bus. The point is the busses and trolleys run empty for hours all day. We subsidize every person that gets on and rides transit. Now we are spending millions on bike lanes with no bikes. I am not against any of it but please they are using the gas tax and not repairing the roads as they should be.


dwbat Oct. 12, 2018 @ 8:04 a.m.

What specific buses and trolleys "run empty" all day? You didn't say. Please back up your argument with facts. Do you have photos and video to prove it?


JustWondering Oct. 11, 2018 @ 2:18 p.m.

Vote YES on Prop 6. Repeal all tax increases period. Tell the legislature and governor to live within our means.


dwbat Oct. 12, 2018 @ 8:11 a.m.

Vote NO on 6. Vote NO on 6. Vote NO on 6. Vote NO on 6. Vote NO on 6.


clockerbob Oct. 12, 2018 @ 11:58 a.m.

Vote on pulling out of the Middle East and with the savings eliminate the gas tax in the USA. I wanted to mention this to a member of Sandag but they don't ride bus !


Maryanne Oct. 12, 2018 @ 1:22 p.m.

Funny how none of the Pension fund...errrrrrrrr I mean gas tax supporters mention that California nitwits charge tax payers up to 5X the cost per mile to build a road than other states.....think that is not all about $200k a year pensions for life think again...



MURPHYJUNK Oct. 13, 2018 @ 4:17 p.m.

I bet the greedy politicians will find a way to retaliate if their gas tax cash cow is turned down.


dwbat Oct. 15, 2018 @ 8:21 a.m.

If you use MTS, bikes, scooters, walk or have an electric vehicle, you don't pay a gas tax. Gas will eventually go away, and the Middle East oil producers know it.


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