“A development group led by Toll Brothers Housing initially proposed a $125 million renovation of the existing arena, but recent public feedback prompted the group to decide a new arena costing $300 million to $600 million is an option,” the Union-Tribune reported August 1.
John Moores’ hidden hand
How much would a brand-new Midway sports arena cost San Diego taxpayers? The answer hasn’t yet been made public, but leaks and news releases emerging from city hall indicate a closed-door deal for a costly new sports palace may be just around the corner. It comes as no surprise to city insiders that a key covert player in the potential giveaway is John Moores, the ex-Padres owner. The super-rich Rancho Santa Fe denizen got himself a ballpark and millions of dollars in taxpayer-financed downtown development rights after showering then-city councilwoman Valerie Stallings with undisclosed gifts back in the 1990s. “A development group led by Toll Brothers Housing initially proposed a $125 million renovation of the existing arena, but recent public feedback prompted the group to decide a new arena costing $300 million to $600 million is an option,” the Union-Tribune reported August 1. Without mentioning Moores, the paper’s account said that Erik Judson, “who helped coordinate the development of Petco Park in San Diego’s East Village,” had signed onto the project.
Taxpayers beware, John Moores is up to his old tricks.
Though also unmentioned, Judson, an ex-minor league baseball player and former Padres official under Moores and his then-sidekick Larry Lucchino, is the chief executive officer of Moores-owned JMI Sports. That ubiquitous consulting operation has a major piece of San Diego State University’s new football stadium development. Per the U-T, the would-be kingmaker of the deal is Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, who departs office at the end of the year. “Once the mayor chooses a developer, his staff will start the process of negotiating a comprehensive lease and development agreement with the winning developer.”
Much of the behind-the-scenes intrigue involves a measure on the November ballot favored by development interests to raise the 30-foot height limit in the Midway district. It promises to turn the area into a forest of high-rises in a repeat of Moores’s lucrative downtown densification. Observers fear that Faulconer may attempt to gift the Moores-led group with the sports arena site and surrounding city-owned property as a down payment on the construction of a new arena. But among the unknowns are whether such a sweeping land giveaway by the mayor and city council would be prudent or even possible amid a growing city budget gap caused by the COVID-19 economic meltdown.
Nathan’s and Gavin’s shared moneyman
Democratic county supervisor Nathan Fletcher, whose 2018 bid for the job was financed by cash transfers to the San Diego Democratic party from the campaign fund of wife Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, is already raising 2022 reelection money via Sacramento connections. Having come up with $39,687 during the first half of this year, Fletcher’s campaign reported a total of $90,826 in the bank as of June 30.
When it comes to campaign finance, Nathan Fletcher married well.
Maximum contributions of $1700 included those from divorce lawyer Myra Fleischer of Rancho Santa Fe and downtown workers comp attorney Robert McLaughlin. Further afield, Sacramento-based lobbyist Paula Treat came up with $1100. “She’s built a formidable list of a dozen clients that includes Tesla, the California Medical Association, the Brandenburg Group and two major Native American tribes — the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians and the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of Colusa,” reports Capitol Weekly.
Mark Weideman, listed on Fletcher’s disclosure report as an attorney from Loomis, California, gave $1700. A full-time Sacramento lobbyist, Weideman has been fingered by the investigative website Cal-Matters as representing four of the biggest COVID-related contractors chosen by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. “His firm represents BYD, an electric bus maker that landed a $1 billion contract to produce medical masks for California; Bloom Energy, which the state is paying $2 million to refurbish ventilators; Blue Shield, the health care behemoth that dominates the task force Newsom assembled to increase testing for COVID-19; and NextGen America, the progressive advocacy group headed by Tom Steyer, whom Newsom named as the co-chair of his economic recovery team. Those four organizations paid The Weideman Group a combined total of $663,000 last year to lobby before the Legislature and the Newsom administration, according to disclosure reports lobbyists file with the state.”
Added the account: “Campaign finance records show that some of Weideman’s clients wrote big checks to support Newsom’s gubernatorial run in 2018. Blue Shield and the California State Council of Service Employees each donated about $1 million to an independent campaign supporting Newsom.” Personal injury attorney Shabnam Raiszadeh of Tork Law in Los Angeles gave the 2022 Fletcher campaign fund $1000. Biotech PR maven Carin Canale-Theakston gave $850, as did Fletcher himself, along with investment banker Ted Roth of Carlsbad. San Diego Gas & Electric president Scott Drury and chief operating officer Caroline Winn each gave $250.
— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)
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