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San Diego's auditor finds stolen water, mother supervising son, city cars parked in red zone

Labor unions back Lawson-Remer and Barrios

“An allegation that the City has provided water to a non-residential customer for years without charge was investigated and resulted in corrective action”
“An allegation that the City has provided water to a non-residential customer for years without charge was investigated and resulted in corrective action”

City corruption running rampant

Water is no longer free for an unnamed San Diego business following an investigation by interim city auditor Kyle Elser. “An allegation that the City has provided water to a non-residential customer for years without charge was investigated and resulted in corrective action,” per Elser’s January 6 quarterly audit hotline report. “A bill was issued after an unusual configuration was discovered which required a change to the billing software.” The cost to ratepayers of the purloined water and the software upgrade needed to stop the illegal freebie went unmentioned. Other auditor-uncovered fourth quarter transgressions included “fraudulent contract and billing practices” in an unnamed city department. “The department’s investigation confirmed our findings that the vendor charged the City prices in excess of those allowable under the terms of the contract. The City sent the vendor a request for refund.”

Interim city auditor Kyle Elser says mothers supervising sons is a no-no.

In yet another case of staffer fraud, “an allegation of personal use of the proceeds from the sale of recyclable materials at a City facility and receipt of gifts in exchange for City work was investigated and determined to be substantiated. The department held additional training for staff and stopped the improper practice.”

Other busts made by the auditor during the final three months of last year included “a mother supervising her son,” and “a safety concern relating to an employee’s driving history.” Notes the report, “The employee did not report a change in driver’s license status as required.” The list of bad acts remedied also included “illegal parking in a red zone by a City vehicle,” as well as “the personal use of a City vehicle.”

The Voice of money

Outflanked in its big-money fundraising race against San Diego State University’s KPBS public broadcasting operation, the Voice of San Diego non-profit news and opinion website is looking to hire a new director of development with a yearly salary of between $90,000 and $100,000. “As we approach our 15-year anniversary, VOSD has an opportunity for a new Director of Development to lead our fundraising efforts through the next phase of our organization’s growth and beyond,” says an online help-wanted notice. “This includes primary responsibility for our entire revenue portfolio, such as campaigns, individual giving, major gifts, planned giving, special events, foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, and an annual fund. The Director of Development also serves as a frontline fundraiser, with an emphasis on growing the organization’s individual donor portfolio by building and maintaining close relationships with key donors.”

The Voice of San Diego could use Irwin Jacobs to show his (financial)appreciation for the kind treatment they have always given him.

It’s that last requirement that has skeptics wondering how close the relationship between a high-dollar donor and an ostensibly fair and honest news operation can get, given the website’s past friendly treatment of Qualcomm billionaire Irwin Jacobs, a major backer. “It is expected that the amount raised will increase each year, as the Director of Development and the leadership team will work collaboratively to and improve the organization’s overall fundraising capacity,” the document adds.

Just how steep a climb the new hire faces is indicated by the Voice’s latest federal disclosure, which shows revenue sagging from $1,969,929 in 2017 down to $1,769,481 in 2018. KPBS’s income, on the other hand, burgeoned from $27.7 million in 2017 to $52.8 million in 2018, according to a November 2019 financial audit commissioned by the university.

KPBS recently snatched Voice culture and arts editor Julia Dixon Evans away from the Voice, the website’s editor Scott Lewis revealed in a Christmas Eve email requesting more donations to “make sure we can keep going.” He was paid $135,435 in 2018.

Labor’s $100,000 baby

Labor union funding has made a sudden big entrance into the heated race for District Three county supervisor with a $100,000 contribution On December 30 by the Service Employees International Union Local 221’s Independent Expenditure political action committee. The cash went to an independent expenditure committee operated on behalf of Democratic candidate Terra Lawson-Remer by Laborers International Union of North America Local 89.

Terra Lawson-Remer

That union is also running a so-called independent expenditure effort in favor of ex-employee and current San Diego city council candidate Kelvin Barrios, to which the Southern California District Council of Laborers PAC transferred $50,000 on December 16. Running to replace incumbent Democrat Georgette Gomez, who is seeking to succeed House member Susan Davis in the state’s 53rd District, Barrios agreed to pay a $4000 penalty to the California Fair Political Practices Commission in November. That deal settled charges Barrios tapped into campaign cash while acting as treasurer in a 2016 Chula Vista Elementary School Board race. “These payments were for his personal benefit,” per the FPPC’s findings. “He also spent a total of approximately $3140 on debit or cash withdrawals at local food establishments, USPS for stamps, and the Men’s Wearhouse for menswear. Barrios admitted to FPPC investigators that these purchases were for his personal benefit.”

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“An allegation that the City has provided water to a non-residential customer for years without charge was investigated and resulted in corrective action”
“An allegation that the City has provided water to a non-residential customer for years without charge was investigated and resulted in corrective action”

City corruption running rampant

Water is no longer free for an unnamed San Diego business following an investigation by interim city auditor Kyle Elser. “An allegation that the City has provided water to a non-residential customer for years without charge was investigated and resulted in corrective action,” per Elser’s January 6 quarterly audit hotline report. “A bill was issued after an unusual configuration was discovered which required a change to the billing software.” The cost to ratepayers of the purloined water and the software upgrade needed to stop the illegal freebie went unmentioned. Other auditor-uncovered fourth quarter transgressions included “fraudulent contract and billing practices” in an unnamed city department. “The department’s investigation confirmed our findings that the vendor charged the City prices in excess of those allowable under the terms of the contract. The City sent the vendor a request for refund.”

Interim city auditor Kyle Elser says mothers supervising sons is a no-no.

In yet another case of staffer fraud, “an allegation of personal use of the proceeds from the sale of recyclable materials at a City facility and receipt of gifts in exchange for City work was investigated and determined to be substantiated. The department held additional training for staff and stopped the improper practice.”

Other busts made by the auditor during the final three months of last year included “a mother supervising her son,” and “a safety concern relating to an employee’s driving history.” Notes the report, “The employee did not report a change in driver’s license status as required.” The list of bad acts remedied also included “illegal parking in a red zone by a City vehicle,” as well as “the personal use of a City vehicle.”

The Voice of money

Outflanked in its big-money fundraising race against San Diego State University’s KPBS public broadcasting operation, the Voice of San Diego non-profit news and opinion website is looking to hire a new director of development with a yearly salary of between $90,000 and $100,000. “As we approach our 15-year anniversary, VOSD has an opportunity for a new Director of Development to lead our fundraising efforts through the next phase of our organization’s growth and beyond,” says an online help-wanted notice. “This includes primary responsibility for our entire revenue portfolio, such as campaigns, individual giving, major gifts, planned giving, special events, foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, and an annual fund. The Director of Development also serves as a frontline fundraiser, with an emphasis on growing the organization’s individual donor portfolio by building and maintaining close relationships with key donors.”

The Voice of San Diego could use Irwin Jacobs to show his (financial)appreciation for the kind treatment they have always given him.

It’s that last requirement that has skeptics wondering how close the relationship between a high-dollar donor and an ostensibly fair and honest news operation can get, given the website’s past friendly treatment of Qualcomm billionaire Irwin Jacobs, a major backer. “It is expected that the amount raised will increase each year, as the Director of Development and the leadership team will work collaboratively to and improve the organization’s overall fundraising capacity,” the document adds.

Just how steep a climb the new hire faces is indicated by the Voice’s latest federal disclosure, which shows revenue sagging from $1,969,929 in 2017 down to $1,769,481 in 2018. KPBS’s income, on the other hand, burgeoned from $27.7 million in 2017 to $52.8 million in 2018, according to a November 2019 financial audit commissioned by the university.

KPBS recently snatched Voice culture and arts editor Julia Dixon Evans away from the Voice, the website’s editor Scott Lewis revealed in a Christmas Eve email requesting more donations to “make sure we can keep going.” He was paid $135,435 in 2018.

Labor’s $100,000 baby

Labor union funding has made a sudden big entrance into the heated race for District Three county supervisor with a $100,000 contribution On December 30 by the Service Employees International Union Local 221’s Independent Expenditure political action committee. The cash went to an independent expenditure committee operated on behalf of Democratic candidate Terra Lawson-Remer by Laborers International Union of North America Local 89.

Terra Lawson-Remer

That union is also running a so-called independent expenditure effort in favor of ex-employee and current San Diego city council candidate Kelvin Barrios, to which the Southern California District Council of Laborers PAC transferred $50,000 on December 16. Running to replace incumbent Democrat Georgette Gomez, who is seeking to succeed House member Susan Davis in the state’s 53rd District, Barrios agreed to pay a $4000 penalty to the California Fair Political Practices Commission in November. That deal settled charges Barrios tapped into campaign cash while acting as treasurer in a 2016 Chula Vista Elementary School Board race. “These payments were for his personal benefit,” per the FPPC’s findings. “He also spent a total of approximately $3140 on debit or cash withdrawals at local food establishments, USPS for stamps, and the Men’s Wearhouse for menswear. Barrios admitted to FPPC investigators that these purchases were for his personal benefit.”

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Comments
18

How can they, as public servants, not name the businesses and city employees involved?

Jan. 15, 2020

I think they should name the businesses but there are laws that prevent an employer from identifying an employee. The biggest problem with the City is their lack of qualified supervisors. Many, if not most, front line supervisors are in their position only because they have been around a long time and not because they are qualified. Just because someone has been doing a job for a long time does not mean they know how to supervise.

Jan. 16, 2020

It is said that money talks, and in the two examples mentioned, Jacobs money was talking out of two different mouthpieces, Voice and KPBS, at the same time. If anyone thinks that ol' Irwin and his sons are just local rich guys, examples of hard work and smarts paying off, and merely local philanthropists, think again. They are buying favorable news coverage in a way that newspaper advertisers in the old days could only dream of. It isn't obvious yet what the Jacobs clan is up to, but they are busy buying friends and the best of publicity. There is something sinister going on with them, probably along the lines of remaking the city into some example of what they think a 21st century city should be. If they want to do that, then by all means, why don't they unveil the plan? Or do they know that the folks who live here won't like it at all? Stay tuned.

Jan. 15, 2020

It is all about wielding power, past, present and future.

Jan. 18, 2020

Gosh, commenter Visduh may be drifting into paranoia alleging Jacobs Family "sinister" plans to remake the entire City of San Diego without public consent. How about limiting the charge to their just buying enough favorable news coverage and television time to elect their granddaughter to a seat in the United States Congress?

Jan. 15, 2020

Then, besides getting her elected, what ARE they up to?

Jan. 16, 2020

Did you ever think that some wealthy families across the US just may be spending $millions to make their communities (and the world) a better place to live? Jacobs and Bloomberg certainly do that, as do billionaires Bill Gates.and George Soros.

Jan. 25, 2020

You forgot to mention Tom Steyer who is making a strong case for idealistic rich men with social conscience. Steyer believes in reparations for African-Americans whose enslaved ancestors built this country and a "wealth tax" on billionaires -- something Mike Bloomberg scoffs at. Arts-wise and medically-speaking, Irvwin and Joan Jacobs get credit for past contributions to our community, but hubris seems to have overtaken caritas in recent years as they have dabbled in politics, plastered their names on every edifice and allowed preferred parking spaces to be set aside for them in parking lots.

Jan. 25, 2020

I don't believe your usage of "caritas" is accurate as that is generally a Christian term for charity. It is not a Jewish usage. You probably should have used tzedakah instead. ;-)

Jan. 25, 2020

Just because one is paranoid does not mean that they are not being followed.

Jan. 20, 2020

Well, didn't Joseph Kennedy pay a lot to get JFK elected? Millions were sure glad, as it helped him beat Tricky Dicky.

Jan. 25, 2020

Rich, despotic, corrupt Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. did buy the 1960 presidential election for his son. That's a good thing? JFK's short time in office included financing a Keystone Cops invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, a terrifying nuclear standoff with the USSR over Cuba-based Russian missiles, the secret build-up of "special forces" in Vietnam and an expensive man-on-the-moon. A bitter defeated "Tricky Dick" Richard Nixon lived to fight on and later win two terms as President -- until he had to resign from office in the face of Impeachment. Food for thought given our present circumstances, but nothing to be grateful for here, nothing to be proud about at all.

Jan. 25, 2020

Actually that is not quite accurate about JFK and Cuba: "US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was very concerned at the direction Castro's government was taking, and in March 1960 he allocated $13.1 million to the CIA to plan Castro's overthrow." -wikipedia JFK did later approve it, and gave it a GO in April 1961. But inadequate air cover caused it to fail. If Nixon had won, who knows what he would have done differently? Tricky might have started WWIII with the missile crisis.

Jan. 25, 2020

C'mon people, are we going to tolerate this?

"Other busts made by the auditor during the final three months of last year included “a mother supervising her son,”…"

Thank goodness the auditor discovered it and (probably?) took corrective action.

Jan. 20, 2020

You are thinking just about what I was thinking. He's uncovered some scandals and abuses, but those mentioned are definitely small fry stuff. Who knows what big rip-offs are getting past him, or are being ignored because of the people involved?

Jan. 27, 2020

The former Sempra building on Ash is definitely a major scandal. Who approved that leasing contract, and why wasn't the City informed about the major problem of asbestos, which now has the building vacated? Supposedly the building just needed a large cleaning, and it was ready for City occupancy. Instead of a few $thousands, it has already cost taxpayers $millions. Something stinks about that whole deal. And Manchester owned 49% of the building.

Jan. 27, 2020

That scandal should be front page on the Light News every few days, and not "just the facts" but some commentary. Yet it just doesn't happen. I fear that the lease was a typical thing that came out of the "strong mayor" charter change that was sold to the voters a few years back. Turn the city over to a strong mayor and all will be well. The first of such mayors was Sanders. Strong? LOL Oh, there was Filner, but he had no time to really get traction. And now we have Mayor Sunny-boy, and he presided over this wretched lease. Worse yet, it isn't over; we can look forward to lawsuits, more delays, and ballooning costs.

I still have the misfortune to drive my car in the slobberin' city of SD, and the streets are improved but still are a mess. Just think of how many miles of potholed streets could have been repaired with the money wasted on rent for this albatross building. San Diego city government got into this mess over decades, and no mayor, strong or weak or otherwise, cannot dig it out. Kev-boy isn't really even trying to fix it; he just talks about it

Jan. 27, 2020
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
March 7, 2020

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