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San Diego new county counsel Lonnie Eldridge from Reagan country

Mani Brothers and lawyers Finch, Thornton & Baird cough up for Faulconer

Outside Reagan library in Simi Valley
Outside Reagan library in Simi Valley

Lonnie, not Ronnie, from Simi

The city attorney of Simi Valley, home to the Ronald Reagan presidential library, is making a shift to distinctly more left-leaning terrain via his appointment by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors last month as County Counsel. Lonnie Eldridge, whose total pay in Simi Valley was $244,969 in 2019, according to the website TransparentCalifornia.com, will get a starting annual base salary of $286,850 when he begins work here on June 30, according to an employment contract approved by the San Diego supervisors May 4.

Lonnie Eldridge may be headed south, but his career definitely isn’t.

“The Board will consider adjusting Employee’s salary range and base pay for the County Counsel job class in accordance with cost-of-living or other across the board adjustments, if any, provided to other executive management of the County,” the document says. In addition, Eldridge will get an automobile allowance of $675 a month, along with unspecified pension benefits as a member of the county’s employees’ retirement plan. The county will cover $15,000 in moving expenses. In addition to his Simi Valley salary, Eldridge collected benefits worth $27,164 and pension benefits of $47,380, bringing his total haul for 2019 to $319,514, per Transparent California.

By comparison, Eldridge’s predecessor as San Diego County Counsel Thomas Montgomery, appointed by the board of supervisors in January 2011, got regular pay of $333,101, other pay of $12,782, and benefits of $163,230, for total compensation of $509,113 in 2019. In his first year on the job a decade ago, Montgomery’s salary was $222,081, along with $78,877 in benefits, for total compensation of $300,958.

Eldridge encountered controversy in April 2018 over an alleged secret meeting during which Simi Valley’s city council voted to endorse then-president Donald Trump’s lawsuit against the state’s immigration sanctuary policies.

“The action taken was not in compliance with the Brown Act and Article 1, Section 3 of the California Constitution because it occurred as the culmination of a discussion in closed session of a matter which the act does not permit to be discussed in closed session,” asserted Zakia Kator, a deputy Los Angeles city attorney and Simi Valley resident. Kator added, “The Brown Act is meant to have our public agencies discuss political issues in public, open session and give the public an opportunity to come in and voice their opinions and to have a robust debate on a political decision that they are about to undertake. And they shouldn’t hide behind the Brown Act exemption in order to make a decision that should have been made in open session.” Responded Eldridge, “The city believes it has fully complied with the Brown Act, is carefully reviewing the letter at this time.” A month later, the council reversed itself and, without admitting it had broken the open meeting law, held a public session with 121 speakers in which the vote was 4-0 to reaffirm its endorsement of Trump’s anti-sanctuary lawsuit.

“The council voted to rescind the prior action of April 23 in closed session and then to re-authorize the filing of an amicus letter at the next available opportunity,” Eldridge told the VC Star. “Because the (trial) court said on June 11 that it’s not taking any more amicus letters, it will have to be on appeal.”

Kevin’s costly lifeguard law firm

Republican ex-San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer has set up two funds to collect campaign cash, one each for his gubernatorial campaign efforts linked to this year’s Gavin Newsom recall and next year’s regular race for the job. The latest giver to the 2022 stash is Daniel Mani. The West Hollywood developer has long been a patron of Los Angeles politicos; he kicked in $32,400 on June 1. Jacquie Mani Aiche gave $5000 the same day.

The Mani Brothers gave money to then-L.A. Democratic mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for an education reform fund he set up.

In February 2007, Mani Brothers, a development outfit Daniel Mani owns with brother Simon, was the subject of a Los Angeles Times expose regarding cash collected by then-L.A. Democratic mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for an education reform fund he set up. Called the Mayor’s Committee for Government Excellence and Accountability, the effort bagged $50,000 from Mani Brothers, part of the more than $761,000 collected, “some of it from companies and individuals who have had business before the city but no direct link to education,” the Times story noted. “Most of the money received during the last six months — more than $611,000 — flowed into a committee established by the mayor to promote his campaign to gain substantial control of the Los Angeles Unified School District and to pay legal fees defending against a district lawsuit challenging his involvement.”

Other big real estate interests giving to Faulconer include Jason Marcil of Palos Verdes Investments ($32,400, May 20) and $12,500 on May 12 from San Diego’s Finch, Thornton & Baird. The law firm brags on its website that it beat City Hall in a contracting battle. “The firm’s client was the general contractor for the construction of a City of San Diego lifeguard tower,” per the account. “The general contractor contended the project was delayed and disrupted by City’s management of the Project and the project plans.” Says the web entry: “As a result of the firm’s efforts, the City released all claims against the contractor for liquidated damages and backcharges and agreed to pay the contractor over $250,000 to resolve the contractor’s claims for additional work and delays.”

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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Outside Reagan library in Simi Valley
Outside Reagan library in Simi Valley

Lonnie, not Ronnie, from Simi

The city attorney of Simi Valley, home to the Ronald Reagan presidential library, is making a shift to distinctly more left-leaning terrain via his appointment by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors last month as County Counsel. Lonnie Eldridge, whose total pay in Simi Valley was $244,969 in 2019, according to the website TransparentCalifornia.com, will get a starting annual base salary of $286,850 when he begins work here on June 30, according to an employment contract approved by the San Diego supervisors May 4.

Lonnie Eldridge may be headed south, but his career definitely isn’t.

“The Board will consider adjusting Employee’s salary range and base pay for the County Counsel job class in accordance with cost-of-living or other across the board adjustments, if any, provided to other executive management of the County,” the document says. In addition, Eldridge will get an automobile allowance of $675 a month, along with unspecified pension benefits as a member of the county’s employees’ retirement plan. The county will cover $15,000 in moving expenses. In addition to his Simi Valley salary, Eldridge collected benefits worth $27,164 and pension benefits of $47,380, bringing his total haul for 2019 to $319,514, per Transparent California.

By comparison, Eldridge’s predecessor as San Diego County Counsel Thomas Montgomery, appointed by the board of supervisors in January 2011, got regular pay of $333,101, other pay of $12,782, and benefits of $163,230, for total compensation of $509,113 in 2019. In his first year on the job a decade ago, Montgomery’s salary was $222,081, along with $78,877 in benefits, for total compensation of $300,958.

Eldridge encountered controversy in April 2018 over an alleged secret meeting during which Simi Valley’s city council voted to endorse then-president Donald Trump’s lawsuit against the state’s immigration sanctuary policies.

“The action taken was not in compliance with the Brown Act and Article 1, Section 3 of the California Constitution because it occurred as the culmination of a discussion in closed session of a matter which the act does not permit to be discussed in closed session,” asserted Zakia Kator, a deputy Los Angeles city attorney and Simi Valley resident. Kator added, “The Brown Act is meant to have our public agencies discuss political issues in public, open session and give the public an opportunity to come in and voice their opinions and to have a robust debate on a political decision that they are about to undertake. And they shouldn’t hide behind the Brown Act exemption in order to make a decision that should have been made in open session.” Responded Eldridge, “The city believes it has fully complied with the Brown Act, is carefully reviewing the letter at this time.” A month later, the council reversed itself and, without admitting it had broken the open meeting law, held a public session with 121 speakers in which the vote was 4-0 to reaffirm its endorsement of Trump’s anti-sanctuary lawsuit.

“The council voted to rescind the prior action of April 23 in closed session and then to re-authorize the filing of an amicus letter at the next available opportunity,” Eldridge told the VC Star. “Because the (trial) court said on June 11 that it’s not taking any more amicus letters, it will have to be on appeal.”

Kevin’s costly lifeguard law firm

Republican ex-San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer has set up two funds to collect campaign cash, one each for his gubernatorial campaign efforts linked to this year’s Gavin Newsom recall and next year’s regular race for the job. The latest giver to the 2022 stash is Daniel Mani. The West Hollywood developer has long been a patron of Los Angeles politicos; he kicked in $32,400 on June 1. Jacquie Mani Aiche gave $5000 the same day.

The Mani Brothers gave money to then-L.A. Democratic mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for an education reform fund he set up.

In February 2007, Mani Brothers, a development outfit Daniel Mani owns with brother Simon, was the subject of a Los Angeles Times expose regarding cash collected by then-L.A. Democratic mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for an education reform fund he set up. Called the Mayor’s Committee for Government Excellence and Accountability, the effort bagged $50,000 from Mani Brothers, part of the more than $761,000 collected, “some of it from companies and individuals who have had business before the city but no direct link to education,” the Times story noted. “Most of the money received during the last six months — more than $611,000 — flowed into a committee established by the mayor to promote his campaign to gain substantial control of the Los Angeles Unified School District and to pay legal fees defending against a district lawsuit challenging his involvement.”

Other big real estate interests giving to Faulconer include Jason Marcil of Palos Verdes Investments ($32,400, May 20) and $12,500 on May 12 from San Diego’s Finch, Thornton & Baird. The law firm brags on its website that it beat City Hall in a contracting battle. “The firm’s client was the general contractor for the construction of a City of San Diego lifeguard tower,” per the account. “The general contractor contended the project was delayed and disrupted by City’s management of the Project and the project plans.” Says the web entry: “As a result of the firm’s efforts, the City released all claims against the contractor for liquidated damages and backcharges and agreed to pay the contractor over $250,000 to resolve the contractor’s claims for additional work and delays.”

— Matt Potter

(@sdmattpotter)

The Reader offers $25 for news tips published in this column. Call our voice mail at 619-235-3000, ext. 440, or sandiegoreader.com/staff/matt-potter/contact/.

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