Jacobs’s latest stand
The ultimate tab for taxpayers of the now-aborted secret deal between Qualcomm billionaire Irwin Jacobs and Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer to bulldoze a mammoth parking garage into the heart of Balboa Park remains unknown. Jacobs has pledged to someday resume his asphalt onslaught, terminated last week in the wake of soaring construction bids, though he’s never publicly committed to spending his own cash on the project. Few insiders think the controversial makeover will ever regain footing in light of other municipal capital improvement projects — including the mayor’s toilet-to-tap sewage recycling scheme — already over original estimates by billions of dollars per a February 12 report in the Voice of San Diego.
Whether the city council will ask to review any of the taxpayer-paid development costs of the now defunct project remains to be seen. On the other hand, the 2017 IRS disclosure report by the non-profit group set up by Jacobs to push the undertaking through city hall reveals that $512, 264 was paid to the KCM Group for “construction services,” along with $174,108 to Seltzer, Caplan for legal services, and $100,410 to the Innovative Design Group, also for construction services. The top three tax-exempt income sources were listed as the Legler Benbough Foundation ($507,000); the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego ($254,000); and the San Diego Foundation ($150,000). Besides chairman Jacobs, the non-profit’s board of directors included La Jolla financier Ted Gildred, who died last month at 83, retired Sempra executive Jesse Knight, Jr., and Morgan Dene Oliver, whose behind-the-scenes 2016 machinations with the mayor on behalf of the subsequently failed SoccerCity ballot initiative drew barbs from Faulconer critics.
They’re celebrating in Los Angeles over the latest additions to the staff of the Times, thanks to subsidies by the paper’s current owner, billionaire physician Patrick Soon-Shiong. “We’ve moved quickly to strengthen our daily newsgathering operation and restore many of the signature pieces of journalism that distinguish The Times from other great publications,” wrote executive editor Norman Pearlstine in a February 11 memo to employees heralding another bevy of new high-powered hires, including 1999 Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Read, the paper’s new Seattle correspondent. “Our editorial staff, though still significantly smaller than we were three years ago, has grown by more than 25% since Patrick acquired The Times in June.”
Down in San Diego, the Union-Tribune, also a Soon-Shiong property, continues on a slower track, with the latest announced recruit being a topics editor for the paper’s Accountability & Watchdog Team. “Supervise two investigative reporters, one data specialist, and beat reporters for education, military, government, and politics,” said a help-wanted notice for the spot. The winner: Denise Smith Amos, who as a reporter for the Florida Times-Union got the 2017 Best Beat-reporting Minority Issues prize from the Florida Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. “My stories resonate with readers,” says Amos on her website. “With resolve, I dig into public documents and databases to help readers understand what it means when education becomes a big business.”
She replaces Ricky Young, an Orange County transplant kicked upstairs to digital editor. How long Amos will have to show her stuff remains a question in light of another theme of Pearlstine’s L.A. Times memo. “We recognize that our legacy print business remains in secular decline, and the recent round of layoffs announced by some of the most prominent digital media companies, suggests that many of the new businesses they — and we — are developing while promising, aren’t yet profitable.”
One recent Times job opening exists in San Diego at glossy Pacific Magazine, per a help-wanted notice on the paper’s website. “The PACIFIC writer covers all facets of the lifestyle and entertainment industry, including food, drink, dating, arts, and culture, music, health and fitness, nightlife, and cannabis. We are looking for someone who has his/her finger on the pulse of what’s going on around San Diego.”
No Jack Kennedy
San Diego’s GOP mayor Faulconer, who some speculate will be the next Republican to turn Democrat following in the footsteps of county supervisor Nathan Fletcher and state Assemblyman Brian Maienschein has been out flogging his pro-immigration message. “This is just one example of the positive impact immigrants can have on our city and nation,” Faulconer writes in an Instagram post hyping his speech before a roomful of green-jacketed men and a priest. “Irish heritage and culture is kept alive through the many gatherings, educational offerings and community contributions led by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.” Last August, the mayor, once considered the GOP’s front-runner for governor, gave a “New California Republicans” speech in San Francisco, touting ties to Mexico and his actions against climate change, which garnered little enthusiasm from his fellow partisans.