Intesa Communications Group just picked up SeaWorld as a client.
Viral influence peddling
The COVID-19 crisis continues to provide a cornucopia of new work for San Diego city hall lobbyists. Latest to benefit is the Intesa Communications Group, whose principals include Maddy Kilkenny, onetime aide to Republican county supervisor Greg Cox and ex-vice president of the downtown super-lobbyist Clay Company. Intesa just picked up SeaWorld as a client. A big local campaign donor, Kilkenny has given a total of $14,475 to city politicos and their causes since 2011, with $2250 provided to Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer, and $1150 to the current mayoral campaign of Assembly Democrat Todd Gloria, according to data from the city clerk’s office. In 2016 Faulconer named Kilkenny to the board of the now-defunct municipal redevelopment arm known as Civic San Diego. Her husband, developer Sean Kilkenny, came up with a total of $3064, with $1000 for Gloria.
Maddy Kilkenny is one of the lobbyists enjoying the coronavirus-related increase in work at City Hall.
Besides city matters regarding SeaWorld’s “new masterplan,” the aquatic attraction has tasked Intesa with lobbying “any and all decisions regarding COVID-19 response, reopening, and rent,” according to the firm’s new registration filing, dated April 21. SeaWorld has of late received notoriety as one of the big national companies seeking federal relief loans during the pandemic. “Over the past 10 years, records show SeaWorld Entertainment has earned nearly $193 million in pretax profits. But it has paid less than $8 million in total income taxes,” per an April 29 Orlando Sentinel review of the company’s financial statements. “That works out to a tax rate of 4 percent — over an entire decade. SeaWorld’s tiny tax bill is a result, in large part, of a multibillion-dollar private-equity buyout of the company orchestrated just over 10 years ago. When SeaWorld went public a few years later, company executives boasted to Wall Street that they weren’t paying income taxes.”
The company has reportedly furloughed 95 percent of its workforce but says it has enough cash on hand to survive through 2021, according to the Associated Press. On April 6, chief executive Sergio Rivera, in office for just five months, abruptly quit following what were described as “disagreements with the board.” Noted the Wall Street Journal, “executive officers are cutting their base salaries by 20 percent until its parks resume normal operations.”
In an additional coronavirus-related move here, another registered San Diego lobbyist, the National Electrical Contractors Association, amended its disclosure of activity on April 21 to include the matter of “permit process under covid-19.” Since 2007, three executives of the association have given a total of $19,600 to city politicians, including $1450 to Gloria’s bid for mayor.
Lynched by coronavirus
The death of Harland Svare, notorious in San Diego as losing head coach for the drug-addled Chargers of the early 1970s, is rekindling memories among old timers first revealed by team psychiatrist Arnold Mandell in his 1976 tell-all, The Nightmare Season.
Harland Svare, coach of the drug-addled Chargers during the early 1970s, survived a near lynching by drunk, angry fans after a 41-0 loss.
Svare, who died at age 89 on April 4 in a Steamboat Springs, Colorado nursing home of what daughter Mia Anderson told the Union-Tribune was suspected COVID-19, barely survived a stadium parking lot mob scene after losing 41-0 to the Atlanta Falcons back on October 21, 1973. “As I got to ground level, I faced a milling crowd of angry drunks, waiting for Harland,” Mandell wrote of the near disaster. “I had just reached my car when the mob stopped milling and turned as one toward the entrance to the underground lot. I heard Harland gun his motor a few times. I started back toward the crowd. Then I couldn’t see much because they were surrounded ten or twelve deep by screaming, gesticulating fans hurling insults, cans, bottles, rocks. The car couldn’t move forward. I got close enough to see some dauntless punks trying to soap the body and windows with obscenities. I had to fend constantly to keep from being knocked down and maybe trampled in the rush as the mob surged whenever Harland would gun the motor and inch the car forward.”
Nightmare Season by Arnold J. Mandell
Added Mandell: “The hood and trunk were pocked with dents. A clumsy drunk leaped on the hood and jumped up and down grotesquely, giving them the finger before he slid off.” After a painfully long stand-off, “sirens announced that a couple of police cars were on their way. Thank God.” Concluded Mandell, “I just stood there for a while, trying to stop shaking, to get over the feeling that I had almost witnessed a lynching.”
In June 1977, Svare told reporters regarding his disastrous tenure with the team, that “the problem was drugs, and nothing could be done about that. When you lose complete control, then nothing works.”
He told Mandell: “I don’t think that just posting signs in the locker room with a lot of warnings signed by the Commissioner is going to do anything,” adding, “The league’s attitude about dealing with the drug problem reminds me how my father dealt with sex. Mean looks and lots of no talk about it.”
Wrote Mandell: “The players that smoked pot instead of drinking booze had developed full-fledged paranoia. They saw informers everywhere.”