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San Diego's ethics commission picks nits but defends secrecy

Sweep, Inc., scooter software company, antes into Faulconer virus fund

San Diego Ethics Commission has issued a job notice for Stacey Fulhorst’s replacement, with a series of qualifications that differ from Fulhorst’s record.
San Diego Ethics Commission has issued a job notice for Stacey Fulhorst’s replacement, with a series of qualifications that differ from Fulhorst’s record.

Finding Stacey’s fix

San Diego’s super-secretive ethics commission continues to soldier on through the COVID-19 epidemic with another penny-ante fine against a failed city council candidate levied at the end of an online meeting. On June 11, the commission slapped third-place District 7’s third-place finisher Wendy Wheatcroft with a $500 fine for failing to label some of her campaign pieces properly. A “banner did not include an ‘Ad paid for by’ disclosure,” noted a stipulation agreement reached with the candidate. Although “meet and greet” fliers dispatched by the campaign “included the requisite disclosure, it was printed in a 6-point typeface,” smaller than required.

Wipe that grin off your face, former city council candidate Wendy Wheatcroft! Font-size violations are no joke!

Now comes the commission’s latest penalty, a $250 fine against council candidate Ross Naismith, who placed 5th in a field of six hopefuls in the 9th district. “On October 10, 2019, Respondent sought and received advice from the Commission’s Education Program Manager, who informed Respondent that campaign business cards must include an ‘Ad paid for by’ disclosure in 10-point type,” says the commission’s July 9 sanction. “On October 15, 2019, Respondent paid for 250 business cards that were subsequently distributed in support of his candidacy. Although the business cards included the requisite disclosure, it was printed in a 4.5-point typeface.”

Naismith further compounded his offense by running off 4500 business cards, also with 4.5-point disclosures. Insiders attribute the commission’s reticence to take on more serious violations to the imminent retirement of executive director Stacey Fulhorst, a staunch defender of the panel’s secrecy. While meeting behind closed doors on July 9, commissioners unanimously dismissed an unidentified complaint regarding “Failure to Timely File Campaign Statements.” A second complaint, involving “Campaign Ads – Telephone Communications,” was unanimously approved for investigation.

Meanwhile, the commission has issued a job notice for Fulhorst’s replacement, with a series of qualifications that differ from Fulhorst’s record. “It is essential for the Executive Director to prioritize and promote integrity, transparency, and accountability at all times,” says the notice. “This individual must be driven and independent yet recognize the position’s connectivity within a complex and diverse ecosystem of local government, which is continually changing and adapting to meet the needs of its citizens.” The announcement goes on to say that a candidate for the position must be “emotionally intelligent: utilizes strong interpersonal skills and the ability to deal effectively and tactfully with a wide variety of people in sensitive situations.”

According to the notice, a bachelor’s degree is required, with “legal and regulatory training preferred.” The prospective annual salary is listed at between $150,000 and $180,000. Last year Fulhorst received a total of $223,810 in pay and benefits, including total pay of $183,647 and benefits of $40,163, according to the website TransparentCalifornia.com.

Crash and burn

As the coronavirus continues to ravage California, San Diego city auditors remain at their posts, uncovering a wave of new corruption cases that have emerged during the viral onslaught. “We investigated an allegation that the Zebra electric-moped rental company misinformed customers regarding the legal use of their vehicles,” says the July 9 report to the city council by interim auditor Kyle Elser. As a result, says a description of Elser’s June 16 finding, some Zebra customers hit the streets without possessing class M2 drivers’ licenses and got ticketed for moving violations. “The allegation was determined to be substantiated, but during the course of our investigation, the company withdrew from operating in California “due to regulatory issues with the government.”

$150,000 of labor union money is enough to make Todd Gloria smile.

Meanwhile, Sweep, Inc., a maker of software for scooter and related vehicle regulation, came up with $5500 in cash on June 18 at the behest of Kevin Faulconer for the San Diego mayor’s COVID-19 business relief fund, according to a July 14 disclosure. “We believe micromobility can thrive in cities when locally-hired teams of hard-working individuals are given the necessary software to regulate and monitor the space,” says Sweep’s website.

Among the special interests COVID-19 cutbacks have gotten so bad that at least one city contractor has hired a lobbyist to convince San Diego city hall to roll back some of them. West Coast Tree Arborists has retained California Strategies and Advocacy’s services to “restore funding for tree trimming and removal in the City of San Diego’s FY2021 budget,” per a July 13 filing...Protect Neighborhood Services Now, a political action committee run by the San Diego Municipal Employees Association has quietly transferred $150,000 to San Diego County Democratic Party. The employee’s association is working in league with the Democrats to elect state Assemblyman Todd Gloria mayor, and the public workers’ cash will go to that end, observers predict. Meantime, Maddy Kilkenny of the Intesa Communications Group, LLC, a local lobbying firm, raised a total of $7745 for Gloria’s mayoral campaign on June 23, according to a July 14 disclosure filing with the city clerk’s office. Intesa’s lone city hall client, SeaWorld, paid the company $1000 to lobby for “master plan support recommendations” and “COVID 19 related matters.”

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San Diego Ethics Commission has issued a job notice for Stacey Fulhorst’s replacement, with a series of qualifications that differ from Fulhorst’s record.
San Diego Ethics Commission has issued a job notice for Stacey Fulhorst’s replacement, with a series of qualifications that differ from Fulhorst’s record.

Finding Stacey’s fix

San Diego’s super-secretive ethics commission continues to soldier on through the COVID-19 epidemic with another penny-ante fine against a failed city council candidate levied at the end of an online meeting. On June 11, the commission slapped third-place District 7’s third-place finisher Wendy Wheatcroft with a $500 fine for failing to label some of her campaign pieces properly. A “banner did not include an ‘Ad paid for by’ disclosure,” noted a stipulation agreement reached with the candidate. Although “meet and greet” fliers dispatched by the campaign “included the requisite disclosure, it was printed in a 6-point typeface,” smaller than required.

Wipe that grin off your face, former city council candidate Wendy Wheatcroft! Font-size violations are no joke!

Now comes the commission’s latest penalty, a $250 fine against council candidate Ross Naismith, who placed 5th in a field of six hopefuls in the 9th district. “On October 10, 2019, Respondent sought and received advice from the Commission’s Education Program Manager, who informed Respondent that campaign business cards must include an ‘Ad paid for by’ disclosure in 10-point type,” says the commission’s July 9 sanction. “On October 15, 2019, Respondent paid for 250 business cards that were subsequently distributed in support of his candidacy. Although the business cards included the requisite disclosure, it was printed in a 4.5-point typeface.”

Naismith further compounded his offense by running off 4500 business cards, also with 4.5-point disclosures. Insiders attribute the commission’s reticence to take on more serious violations to the imminent retirement of executive director Stacey Fulhorst, a staunch defender of the panel’s secrecy. While meeting behind closed doors on July 9, commissioners unanimously dismissed an unidentified complaint regarding “Failure to Timely File Campaign Statements.” A second complaint, involving “Campaign Ads – Telephone Communications,” was unanimously approved for investigation.

Meanwhile, the commission has issued a job notice for Fulhorst’s replacement, with a series of qualifications that differ from Fulhorst’s record. “It is essential for the Executive Director to prioritize and promote integrity, transparency, and accountability at all times,” says the notice. “This individual must be driven and independent yet recognize the position’s connectivity within a complex and diverse ecosystem of local government, which is continually changing and adapting to meet the needs of its citizens.” The announcement goes on to say that a candidate for the position must be “emotionally intelligent: utilizes strong interpersonal skills and the ability to deal effectively and tactfully with a wide variety of people in sensitive situations.”

According to the notice, a bachelor’s degree is required, with “legal and regulatory training preferred.” The prospective annual salary is listed at between $150,000 and $180,000. Last year Fulhorst received a total of $223,810 in pay and benefits, including total pay of $183,647 and benefits of $40,163, according to the website TransparentCalifornia.com.

Crash and burn

As the coronavirus continues to ravage California, San Diego city auditors remain at their posts, uncovering a wave of new corruption cases that have emerged during the viral onslaught. “We investigated an allegation that the Zebra electric-moped rental company misinformed customers regarding the legal use of their vehicles,” says the July 9 report to the city council by interim auditor Kyle Elser. As a result, says a description of Elser’s June 16 finding, some Zebra customers hit the streets without possessing class M2 drivers’ licenses and got ticketed for moving violations. “The allegation was determined to be substantiated, but during the course of our investigation, the company withdrew from operating in California “due to regulatory issues with the government.”

$150,000 of labor union money is enough to make Todd Gloria smile.

Meanwhile, Sweep, Inc., a maker of software for scooter and related vehicle regulation, came up with $5500 in cash on June 18 at the behest of Kevin Faulconer for the San Diego mayor’s COVID-19 business relief fund, according to a July 14 disclosure. “We believe micromobility can thrive in cities when locally-hired teams of hard-working individuals are given the necessary software to regulate and monitor the space,” says Sweep’s website.

Among the special interests COVID-19 cutbacks have gotten so bad that at least one city contractor has hired a lobbyist to convince San Diego city hall to roll back some of them. West Coast Tree Arborists has retained California Strategies and Advocacy’s services to “restore funding for tree trimming and removal in the City of San Diego’s FY2021 budget,” per a July 13 filing...Protect Neighborhood Services Now, a political action committee run by the San Diego Municipal Employees Association has quietly transferred $150,000 to San Diego County Democratic Party. The employee’s association is working in league with the Democrats to elect state Assemblyman Todd Gloria mayor, and the public workers’ cash will go to that end, observers predict. Meantime, Maddy Kilkenny of the Intesa Communications Group, LLC, a local lobbying firm, raised a total of $7745 for Gloria’s mayoral campaign on June 23, according to a July 14 disclosure filing with the city clerk’s office. Intesa’s lone city hall client, SeaWorld, paid the company $1000 to lobby for “master plan support recommendations” and “COVID 19 related matters.”

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Comments
2

Violations of font-size are ethical lapses? They're not even nits! Maybe they're being funny. Maybe the Ethics Commission -- exactly how many people are on that body? -- has to show it's earning its keep in a slow season.

July 22, 2020

Isn't there a contradiction between ethics and secrecy? I'm rather surprised that this commission still exists, given the total breakdown in ethical behavior by the council, members of other groups, and the mayor.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but our former "Mare", "Murph the surf" Dick Murphy was the very person who wanted to have the ethics commission, and got it adopted. He, the most educated mayor the city had ever seen, turned out to be feckless and an abject failure as mayor before he quit mid-term. Isn't there some better way to investigate political corruption than such a weak-kneed operation?

July 22, 2020

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