Payoff for play
A pair of staffers for state Assembly Democrat Todd Gloria of San Diego picked up some high-dollar tickets to a glitzy Gloria Trevi and Alejandra Guzman concert at downtown Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center April 12 thanks to the generosity of cell phone giant AT&T. Yvonne Muñoz, listed as a fellow to Gloria, and his scheduler Amy Sandoval each received suite tickets for the event, worth $445.75 apiece from the communications company, which was battling a so-called net neutrality bill finally passed by state lawmakers at the end of August. AT&T also came up with two field tickets to a June 24 Giants versus Padres game in San Francisco, valued at $228 for Kimberly Rodriguez, policy director for Democratic state Senate leader Toni Atkins.
Meanwhile, utility behemoth Sempra Energy, fighting a two-front war in Sacramento and San Diego against efforts to disrupt its monopoly on electric power distribution here, has been spreading some money around to politicos in both cities, per its latest quarterly lobbyist disclosure, amended September 12. A top local recipient of Sempra’s largesse was Kensington’s Robert Gleason, a member of the California Travel and Tourism Commission, who picked up a free Padres admission and food at Petco Park valued at $180.58 on May 30. Gleason is the chief financial officer at Evans Hotels, which runs lucrative hostelries on city-owned land in Mission Bay and Torrey Pines.
Getting a smaller freebie was North County Transit Board executive director Matthew Tucker who on June 8 tucked into a meal worth $15.63 at Jimmy Carter’s Mexican Café in Bankers Hill. Last December Tucker received a 3.7 percent salary boost from the transit district, kicking his total annual compensation to $279,179, along with a bonus of $18,843, per a Union-Tribune report. This coming December, Tucker’s pay is set to jump to $315,000, the paper reported. Up in the state capital, Erik Weigand, district director for Republican state senator Pat Bates, got a Sempra-sponsored admission to a golf tournament and reception on April 23 at the Aliso Viejo Country Club near Corona del Mar valued at $144.59. And GOP Assemblyman Brian Jones picked up some free sustenance in the form of a $22.49 meal June 7, courtesy of the Barona Resort and Casino, according to the tribe’s latest disclosure report, filed July 31.
San Diego city public utilities department director Vic Bianes resigned from office August 30 following a months-long controversy over spiking water bills that prompted mayor Kevin Faulconer’s chief operating officer Kris Michell to issue a February apology. But city records show he has a personal enterprise to fall back on. According to his final personal financial disclosure filing of September 10, Bianes and his wife are broker-agents at Golden Realty Group in Chula Vista. The combined commissions for “various sales by my wife and I in family business” added up to between $10,000 to $100,000 during the previous twelve-month period, according to the disclosure. Bianes also reported he had received $2010 from the Kansas City-based American Public Works Association on an undisclosed date for his “participation on national committee.” A July 26 audit of the water department by the city auditor revealed that 10 of 36 meter readers caused at least 2750 off-kilter bills. It was later revealed that some fulltime department employees had only been working half-days.
Prison guard gassing
State-run R.J. Donovan Correctional Center on Otay Mesa is number four on a list of most gassing attacks against guards in California lockups in a September 18 report by state Auditor Elaine Howle. Donovan had an average of four such attacks each year during 2015 through 2017, the audit says, compared with the state’s California Men’s Colony outside of San Luis Obispo, in third place with 5.3, and second-ranked Santa Rita jail, under the stewardship of the Alameda County sheriff, with 6.3. The most dangerous confinement facility was Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central jail, averaging 18.9 such attacks annually. So-called gassing “involves an inmate throwing bodily fluids at correctional staff,” explains Howell’s cover letter. “These attacks can expose the victim to a communicable disease and cause psychological trauma. Inmates convicted of a gassing attack can receive increases of two to four years to their current sentences.” Adds the report, “Men’s Central is unable to modify all cells with preventive measures due to the prohibitive cost of modifying its aging facility. In part to address the infrastructure concerns with this correctional facility, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved in June 2018 a $2.2 billion plan to replace the Men’s Central facility by 2028 with a modern correctional facility.” Howle’s audit did not specifically address the situation at Donovan.