Sheppard Mullin was hired to conduct closed-door negotiations with the city over the sale of the Qualcomm Stadium site. But terms of hiring were secret, too.
Just weeks after San Diego State University emerged victorious in its $82 million bid to buy the city-owned land formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium, a closed-door power struggle has caused the resignation of San Diego's newest appointee to the California State University's board of trustees.
Jeffrey Krinsk, co-founder and managing partner of San Diego-based class action law firm Finkelstein & Krinsk, resigned on Friday, July 17, after what some insiders say was a behind-the-scenes facedown with past board chairman Adam Day involving university transparency.
Jeffrey Krinsk: “It was a kangaroo court.”
The agenda for the trustees' July 21 meeting shows that discussion of a "Violation of Trustees' Code of Conduct and Resolution of Censure," was to be introduced by current chair Lillian Kimbell.
"Chair Kimbell will present information regarding misconduct by a member of the Board of Trustees which Chair Kimbell has determined to be a breach of the Trustees' Code of Conduct and will recommend that the Board of Trustees vote to censure the Trustee."
The conduct code, per a Los Angeles Times account, "says, among other things, that a trustee should use designated institutional channels when conducting board business and refrain from actions that may prove embarrassing to the CSU."
“I resigned because of the censure and the belief that it took place ... without my knowledge or ability to respond,” Krinsk told the Times Friday.
Adam Day: "I would appreciate in the future ... to refrain from impugning the character of our hardworking staff."
“It was a kangaroo court.”
Seventy-year-old Krinsk was appointed to the seat in August of last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom but was still awaiting confirmation by the state senate.
The Times described a May committee meeting during which Krinsk vigorously questioned the timing and adequacy of a previous meeting notice.
After producing evidence of the date of the notice, the paper said Day told Krinsk, "I would appreciate in the future ... to refrain from impugning the character of our hardworking staff."
Krinsk told the Times that "the idea of acting politely is secondary to my belief that accomplishment and meaningful consideration of alternatives is important to a university as important as the CSU."
CSU has a widely known predilection for guarding the secrecy of many of its records, ostensibly available to the public under the state’s public records and public meeting acts.
In one recent case, a February 2019 request for the retention agreement and fee schedule between the university system and the law firm of Sheppard Mullin, hired to conduct closed-door negotiations with the city over the sale of the Qualcomm Stadium site, was denied.
"The record which memorializes the retention agreement between the CSU and Sheppard Mullin is the retention agreement itself," wrote university counsel Sasha K. Danna in a February 25 email.
"Agreements entered between CSU and outside legal firms are protected by the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product doctrine and will not be disclosed."
"With respect to any future invoices, please note that attorney billing statements are also protected from disclosure under the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine."
Ex-CSU board chairman Day is chief administrative officer of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, the East County casino owner, and onetime chief of staff to Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
He was a key mover behind the expansion of SDSU to Mission Valley to include lease of commercial and residential property.
Sycuan helped bankroll the November 2018 ballot measure by which voters greenlighted the city deal with San Diego State, contributing a total of $125,000, records show.
Day, the son of former SDSU president Thomas Day, was caught up in 2012’s Ticket-Gate scandal.
Then a member of the Del Mar Fair Board, he failed to report passing seven free Bruno Mars tickets to Glenn Quiroga, executive vice president of the Sycuan Tribal Development Corp.