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The coming Weber-Gonzalez catfight

101 Ash Street becomes make-work magnet for attorneys, lobbyists

Shirley Weber’s growing cash might could make her impregnable.
Shirley Weber’s growing cash might could make her impregnable.

Toni’s wild funding spree

Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat and former Assemblywoman, named California Secretary of State by Gov. Gavin Newsom to replace Alex Padilla, continues to collect big cash for next year’s campaign. Latest to kick in is state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, whose 2020 reelection fund gave $8100 on February 22. The Atkins move makes more likely a nasty catfight between Weber and Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez unless Gonzalez, who has long coveted the job, backs off in the face of Weber’s growing cash might. According to disclosures, the Atkins senate campaign kitty, which finished 2020 with a daunting $1.7 million in the bank, has been dribbling its largesse out to various recipients in the new year.

Toni Atkins has money to burn.

In addition to the Weber money, the California Democratic Party got $40,500 on January 27, and Protecting Choice in California, a Project of Planned Parenthood Affiliates in California, picked up $10,000 on January 5. Pre-election recipients of the Atkin’s committee money included Lateefah Simon, running for reelection to the board of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, known as BART, with $2000 on October 20. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle in an August 18, 2020 account as a “staunch police reform advocate,” Simon was pitted against Sharon Kidd of Berkeley, whom Simon had refused to reappoint to BART’s Police Citizen Review Board. “Many people that know my affiliation with BART, when we talk, they want to see more officers,” Kidd told the newspaper. “But we can’t get more officers... because of the media degrading police.” Simon won the electoral battle.

Another Atkins fund, California Works: Senator Toni Atkins Ballot Measure Committee, didn’t make any late-year contributions, per a disclosure report covering October 18 through the end of last year. But the committee was busy fundraising, nonetheless, getting $2500 on October 28 from Tesla, Inc., the Freemont automaker run by Elon Musk, who Gonzalez attacked with an unfriendly expletive on Twitter last May.

More significant donations included $10,000 from Anheuser Busch on October 28 and $15,000 from fuel cell-maker Bloom Energy of San Jose on October 22. In 2018 and 2019, according to a February 21 account by CapRadio.org, Bloom came up with a total of 56,000 for Newsom’s reelection fund. In March of last year, the state gave Bloom a $1 million (later increased to $2 million) no-bid contract to refurbish ventilators used by Covid-19 patients.

Cell phones on the lam

San Diego County’s Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board, charged with keeping the local Sheriff’s Department on the straight and narrow, has itself been criticized for playing dangerously fast and loose with its cell phones in a January 19 report by county Chief of Audits Juan Perez. “According to [the review board], the individual managing the mobile devices is on an extended leave of absence and no one else in the office has access to the systems or records used to track the mobile devices,” the findings say. Notes the auditor: “Improper management of the mobile devices increases the risk of theft, loss, unnecessary service charges, and/or misappropriation of County property. Also, unauthorized individuals may gain access to County information stored on the device.” Replied executive officer Paul Parker: “A document was created to track [the board’s] mobile devices. The document (attached) contains the name of the person to whom devices are assigned along with the devices’ brands, model numbers, serial numbers, costs, and locations.” In addition, “We will discontinue mobile phone service when users transfer or terminate employment with the County, and it will not be reassigned within a reasonable amount of time. ‘County of San Diego’ decals have been disseminated to all employees assigned a mobile device with instructions to affix them to the rear of the mobile device.”

Southwest Strategies, whose employees have come up with over $217,974 for local candidates, is looking to business from 101 Ash Street problems.

101 Ash contracts to ashes

The costly contretemps over ex-mayor Kevin Faulconer’s acquisition of 101 Ash Street has become a make-work magnet for the usual suspects. Shady wheeling and dealings over the ex-San Diego Gas & Electric high-rise headquarters have spawned rounds of investigations and lawsuits, requiring the services of lawyers and lobbyists galore. Now even the lawyers involved are lobbying up. The latest to enter the fray is Southwest Strategies, the influence-peddling shop well known for its principals’ political beneficence. Since 2007 company employees have come up with over $217,974 for an array of candidates and causes of both parties, including $12,795 for Mayor Todd Gloria, $11,350 for City Attorney Mara Elliott, and $2200 for council president Jen Campbell, all Democrats. Now the firm has gone to work for LexTerra, LLC, described in a February 18 lobbying client disclosure by Southwest Strategies as a “development company specializing in high-rise urban mixed-use projects.” The client is seeking a “resolution of litigation regarding 101 Ash building.”

— 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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Shirley Weber’s growing cash might could make her impregnable.
Shirley Weber’s growing cash might could make her impregnable.

Toni’s wild funding spree

Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat and former Assemblywoman, named California Secretary of State by Gov. Gavin Newsom to replace Alex Padilla, continues to collect big cash for next year’s campaign. Latest to kick in is state Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, whose 2020 reelection fund gave $8100 on February 22. The Atkins move makes more likely a nasty catfight between Weber and Assembly Democrat Lorena Gonzalez unless Gonzalez, who has long coveted the job, backs off in the face of Weber’s growing cash might. According to disclosures, the Atkins senate campaign kitty, which finished 2020 with a daunting $1.7 million in the bank, has been dribbling its largesse out to various recipients in the new year.

Toni Atkins has money to burn.

In addition to the Weber money, the California Democratic Party got $40,500 on January 27, and Protecting Choice in California, a Project of Planned Parenthood Affiliates in California, picked up $10,000 on January 5. Pre-election recipients of the Atkin’s committee money included Lateefah Simon, running for reelection to the board of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, known as BART, with $2000 on October 20. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle in an August 18, 2020 account as a “staunch police reform advocate,” Simon was pitted against Sharon Kidd of Berkeley, whom Simon had refused to reappoint to BART’s Police Citizen Review Board. “Many people that know my affiliation with BART, when we talk, they want to see more officers,” Kidd told the newspaper. “But we can’t get more officers... because of the media degrading police.” Simon won the electoral battle.

Another Atkins fund, California Works: Senator Toni Atkins Ballot Measure Committee, didn’t make any late-year contributions, per a disclosure report covering October 18 through the end of last year. But the committee was busy fundraising, nonetheless, getting $2500 on October 28 from Tesla, Inc., the Freemont automaker run by Elon Musk, who Gonzalez attacked with an unfriendly expletive on Twitter last May.

More significant donations included $10,000 from Anheuser Busch on October 28 and $15,000 from fuel cell-maker Bloom Energy of San Jose on October 22. In 2018 and 2019, according to a February 21 account by CapRadio.org, Bloom came up with a total of 56,000 for Newsom’s reelection fund. In March of last year, the state gave Bloom a $1 million (later increased to $2 million) no-bid contract to refurbish ventilators used by Covid-19 patients.

Cell phones on the lam

San Diego County’s Citizen’s Law Enforcement Review Board, charged with keeping the local Sheriff’s Department on the straight and narrow, has itself been criticized for playing dangerously fast and loose with its cell phones in a January 19 report by county Chief of Audits Juan Perez. “According to [the review board], the individual managing the mobile devices is on an extended leave of absence and no one else in the office has access to the systems or records used to track the mobile devices,” the findings say. Notes the auditor: “Improper management of the mobile devices increases the risk of theft, loss, unnecessary service charges, and/or misappropriation of County property. Also, unauthorized individuals may gain access to County information stored on the device.” Replied executive officer Paul Parker: “A document was created to track [the board’s] mobile devices. The document (attached) contains the name of the person to whom devices are assigned along with the devices’ brands, model numbers, serial numbers, costs, and locations.” In addition, “We will discontinue mobile phone service when users transfer or terminate employment with the County, and it will not be reassigned within a reasonable amount of time. ‘County of San Diego’ decals have been disseminated to all employees assigned a mobile device with instructions to affix them to the rear of the mobile device.”

Southwest Strategies, whose employees have come up with over $217,974 for local candidates, is looking to business from 101 Ash Street problems.

101 Ash contracts to ashes

The costly contretemps over ex-mayor Kevin Faulconer’s acquisition of 101 Ash Street has become a make-work magnet for the usual suspects. Shady wheeling and dealings over the ex-San Diego Gas & Electric high-rise headquarters have spawned rounds of investigations and lawsuits, requiring the services of lawyers and lobbyists galore. Now even the lawyers involved are lobbying up. The latest to enter the fray is Southwest Strategies, the influence-peddling shop well known for its principals’ political beneficence. Since 2007 company employees have come up with over $217,974 for an array of candidates and causes of both parties, including $12,795 for Mayor Todd Gloria, $11,350 for City Attorney Mara Elliott, and $2200 for council president Jen Campbell, all Democrats. Now the firm has gone to work for LexTerra, LLC, described in a February 18 lobbying client disclosure by Southwest Strategies as a “development company specializing in high-rise urban mixed-use projects.” The client is seeking a “resolution of litigation regarding 101 Ash building.”

— 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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This will be an interesting one to watch

March 3, 2021

"Catfight." Really?

March 8, 2021

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