Tired ethics network
Republican Bill Baber, a member of the San Diego’s city ethics commission, has drawn a warning from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission for his work on behalf of a political committee calling itself Citizens for a Better East County. The lawyer, a member of the La Mesa city council and long-time campaign legal consultant and treasurer, “failed to timely file a 24-hour contribution report in connection with the November 6, 2018, General Election..,” says a February 6 letter to Baber from Galena West, chief of the California commission’s enforcement division. “Failure to comply with the provisions of the Act in the future will result in monetary penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation.”
A January 23, 2019 campaign disclosure filing shows that the Better East County committee, whose treasurer is Baber, raked in $30,000 during the period from October 21 through the end of last year, the biggest contribution, $20,000 coming October 27 from the Infrastructure PAC of the Associated General Contractors. On October 25, the group picked up $4000 from the Building Industry Association of San Diego PAC. So-called independent expenditures were made on behalf of a host of East County politicos, including Santee city council incumbents Ronn Hall, Laura Kovall, and Rob McNelis. The committee’s largest expenditure, “non-monetary contributions” totally $34,964 during 2018, went to benefit the GOP’s Jonathan “John” Olsen, who lost his bid for governing board of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca community college district despite a high-profile endorsement by ex-San Diego city councilman, now radio talk show host, Carl DeMaio.
Baber also served as treasurer for the county supervisorial campaign of Republican Jim Desmond, who won his race in November. Baber got more than $10,000 for that gig, per his annual personal annual disclosure report for 2018. In what appears to be coincidental timing, members of the state commission are set to travel to San Diego on May 16 to hold their monthly meeting, with the second item on the agenda being “San Diego Ethics Commission Presentation.”
Lack of transparency by the local group, including closed-door deliberations on fines and penalties and failure to release warning letters, has drawn growing criticism. Baber’s term expires at the end of next month “(or until a successor is duly appointed and confirmed),” according to the commission’s website.
No thanks for the memories
With readership and advertising shrinking, the San Diego Union-Tribune — owned along with the Los Angeles Times by L.A. billionaire physician Patrick Soon-Shiong — has embarked on what could be a final effort to hold onto its readers to the end of life. “CaregiverSD is looking for a reporter to write about resources and support available for family caregivers,” says a job ad for the U-T section, which hawks nursing homes and “memory care” options, along with estate planning lawyers, to the paper’s predominantly elderly subscriber base and their aging children. “Posting stories online, promoting the content of the section, community outreach and helping to produce annual events will also be part of the job requirement,” the advert adds. Glassdoor.com estimates a salary for the gig of between $32,000 and $54,000.
The U-T also seeks an online analytics specialist “ to enable digital revenue generation through the creation of compelling pre-sale research such as Google Keyword analysis, Facebook avails and SEM Rush.” The work location, says the job notice, “can be either in Los Angeles or San Diego.”
Lame duck mayor
Kevin Faulconer, departing office at the end of next year, is looking to hire yet another public relations hand to highlight his final laps as head of the city. “The Press Secretary position performs communications-related work on behalf of the Mayor’s Office, including writing speeches, press materials, and social media posts; communicating with and responding to questions from media; and performing other communication-related duties as assigned,” says a help-wanted notice posted on the city’s website. “Starting salary will be based on relevant work experience and educational background.” At the moment, the mayor’s packed PR staff includes ex-U-T reporter Craig Gustafson, senior director of communications; ex-San Diego State PR man Greg Block, senior press secretary; Christina Chadwick, senior press secretary; and Ashley Bailey, press secretary, per the city’s website.
Fox guarding stadium henhouse
As haggling with the California State University over the price the state university system will pay the city of San Diego for the former Qualcomm Stadium site continues, the city council has extended its naming rights deal with Fox Sports Net, Inc. and San Diego County Credit Union. The credit union will pay Fox, which manages the property for the presumably public servant-challenged city, $720,000 during calendar year 2019, of which the city gets a cut totaling $561,600. In 2020, Fox will collect $792,000 and after taking its share hand over $617,760 to the city, per a February 7 council resolution.