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$50K from San Bernardino fuels San Diego tax hike bid

The controversial history of a homeless housing campaign funder

San Ysidro Senior Village
San Ysidro Senior Village

Proponents of Measure A to boost San Diego property taxes for a bevy of subsidized housing efforts have found the fight tough going. The latest blow came October 1 with a Union-Tribune editorial condemning the proposal, which must garner a two-thirds voter majority to pass, as "the same old failed playbook."

John Seymour once worked for developer Douglas Manchester and ex-San Diego mayor Susan Golding.

"Measure A on the San Diego ballot would allow the city to issue up to $900 million in bonds — paid off by an increase in property taxes that lasts, incredibly, until 2068 — to build subsidized housing for poor people and the homeless," noted the U-T editorialists.

"Given that such housing costs on average more than $400,000 per unit — and that only a small percentage of the needy would actually get shelter if the measure passed — this is an extravagantly expensive and underwhelming approach to a problem that has much cheaper solutions."

CEO/President Steve PonTell got annual compensation of $508,300 in 2018.

An August poll published by the newspaper reported 36 percent of the electorate in favor and 32 percent against, woeful numbers for any measure hoping to get above the daunting two-thirds threshold.

But significant political money continues to arrive in proponents' coffers - $395,000 since mid-August- much of it from out-of-town firms with interests in the subsidized housing business.

According to disclosure filings, the biggest single donor so far, coming up with $50,000 on September 22, is San Bernardino County-based National Community Renaissance of California, also known as National CORE.

Subsidized housing has been very good for the nonprofit's executives, based on online federal disclosure filings. As of the end of 2018, CEO/President Steve PonTell got annual compensation of $508,300, according to the group's latest available federal disclosure filing, dated November 14, 2019. CFO Michael Finn got $358,115, the document says, and the nonprofit ended 2018 with net assets of $62.8 million.

Jeff Burum co-founded National CORE in 1991 but resigned from the board in 2010.

Loma Linda native PonTell got his job when his predecessor left the nonprofit in the wake of burgeoning controversy regarding the organization eight years ago, according to a February 2, 2012 account by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

"Last year, National CORE was part of a far-reaching investigation by the FBI, which raided the Rancho Cucamonga office as well as the homes of a former state senator and four defendants in a San Bernardino County corruption probe," the story relates.

"Among the defendants raided was developer Jeff Burum, who co-founded National CORE in 1991 but resigned from the board in 2010." Of the action, a National Core executive told the Bulletin, "we were not its focus. There's nothing there there."

In the summer of 2017, a San Bernardino superior court jury acquitted Burum of all charges in the so-called Colonies corruption case. according to an August 29, 2017, San Bernardino Sun account.

"Prosecutors alleged Burum paid $400,000 in political contributions to the three defendants and former Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus, who later entered a plea bargain with prosecutors and testified at the Colonies trial. The money, investigators alleged, [was] actually bribes or payments for delivering the settlement," the newspaper reported.

"Prosecutors said the bribes were disguised as contributions by Colonies Partners to political action committees secretly controlled by the defendants or members of their staffs."

"Jurors said afterward prosecutors failed to convince them that any of the charges against the defendants passed the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ test." After his acquittal, Burum returned to National CORE, where he remains the non-compensated chairman of the board, according to disclosure filings.

The nonprofit's San Diego projects include San Ysidro Senior Village, "with 51 beautiful apartment homes for seniors, ages 55 or better, who are experiencing homelessness," says the company website.

"Nestled along San Ysidro Boulevard, this stunning community is in a walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood, conveniently located next to a high-frequency bus line and less than a mile from the Beyer Boulevard Trolley Station."

San Diego city campaign disclosure filings show that John Seymour, Vice President of Acquisitions for National Core, has given a total of $6345 to city campaigns since 2013, including $250 to Todd Gloria's mayoral effort on September 27 of this year.

Seymour gave $250 to the campaign, now suspended, of city council candidate Kelvin Barrios on October 31, 2019. A onetime council hopeful, Seymour once worked for developer Douglas Manchester and ex-San Diego mayor Susan Golding.

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San Ysidro Senior Village
San Ysidro Senior Village

Proponents of Measure A to boost San Diego property taxes for a bevy of subsidized housing efforts have found the fight tough going. The latest blow came October 1 with a Union-Tribune editorial condemning the proposal, which must garner a two-thirds voter majority to pass, as "the same old failed playbook."

John Seymour once worked for developer Douglas Manchester and ex-San Diego mayor Susan Golding.

"Measure A on the San Diego ballot would allow the city to issue up to $900 million in bonds — paid off by an increase in property taxes that lasts, incredibly, until 2068 — to build subsidized housing for poor people and the homeless," noted the U-T editorialists.

"Given that such housing costs on average more than $400,000 per unit — and that only a small percentage of the needy would actually get shelter if the measure passed — this is an extravagantly expensive and underwhelming approach to a problem that has much cheaper solutions."

CEO/President Steve PonTell got annual compensation of $508,300 in 2018.

An August poll published by the newspaper reported 36 percent of the electorate in favor and 32 percent against, woeful numbers for any measure hoping to get above the daunting two-thirds threshold.

But significant political money continues to arrive in proponents' coffers - $395,000 since mid-August- much of it from out-of-town firms with interests in the subsidized housing business.

According to disclosure filings, the biggest single donor so far, coming up with $50,000 on September 22, is San Bernardino County-based National Community Renaissance of California, also known as National CORE.

Subsidized housing has been very good for the nonprofit's executives, based on online federal disclosure filings. As of the end of 2018, CEO/President Steve PonTell got annual compensation of $508,300, according to the group's latest available federal disclosure filing, dated November 14, 2019. CFO Michael Finn got $358,115, the document says, and the nonprofit ended 2018 with net assets of $62.8 million.

Jeff Burum co-founded National CORE in 1991 but resigned from the board in 2010.

Loma Linda native PonTell got his job when his predecessor left the nonprofit in the wake of burgeoning controversy regarding the organization eight years ago, according to a February 2, 2012 account by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

"Last year, National CORE was part of a far-reaching investigation by the FBI, which raided the Rancho Cucamonga office as well as the homes of a former state senator and four defendants in a San Bernardino County corruption probe," the story relates.

"Among the defendants raided was developer Jeff Burum, who co-founded National CORE in 1991 but resigned from the board in 2010." Of the action, a National Core executive told the Bulletin, "we were not its focus. There's nothing there there."

In the summer of 2017, a San Bernardino superior court jury acquitted Burum of all charges in the so-called Colonies corruption case. according to an August 29, 2017, San Bernardino Sun account.

"Prosecutors alleged Burum paid $400,000 in political contributions to the three defendants and former Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus, who later entered a plea bargain with prosecutors and testified at the Colonies trial. The money, investigators alleged, [was] actually bribes or payments for delivering the settlement," the newspaper reported.

"Prosecutors said the bribes were disguised as contributions by Colonies Partners to political action committees secretly controlled by the defendants or members of their staffs."

"Jurors said afterward prosecutors failed to convince them that any of the charges against the defendants passed the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ test." After his acquittal, Burum returned to National CORE, where he remains the non-compensated chairman of the board, according to disclosure filings.

The nonprofit's San Diego projects include San Ysidro Senior Village, "with 51 beautiful apartment homes for seniors, ages 55 or better, who are experiencing homelessness," says the company website.

"Nestled along San Ysidro Boulevard, this stunning community is in a walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood, conveniently located next to a high-frequency bus line and less than a mile from the Beyer Boulevard Trolley Station."

San Diego city campaign disclosure filings show that John Seymour, Vice President of Acquisitions for National Core, has given a total of $6345 to city campaigns since 2013, including $250 to Todd Gloria's mayoral effort on September 27 of this year.

Seymour gave $250 to the campaign, now suspended, of city council candidate Kelvin Barrios on October 31, 2019. A onetime council hopeful, Seymour once worked for developer Douglas Manchester and ex-San Diego mayor Susan Golding.

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Comments
2

An increase in property taxes until 2068 is absurd. Property taxes are high enough already.

Oct. 2, 2020

These are the same people that brought you 101 Ash St. These taxes would be based on the market value of your property. It could cost you more than what you pay now under Prop 13. The price of housing has San Deigo awash with money. Putting the homeless up in hotels will afford them better living standards than many hard working low wage San Diegans.

Oct. 7, 2020

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