4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

San Diego crashes its own campaign disclosure website

Officials mum as financial filings shut down, transparency fades

"When I contacted Netfile, they said the city didn't want to renew the contract."
"When I contacted Netfile, they said the city didn't want to renew the contract."

The city of San Diego's online campaign disclosure system, at one time a stellar model of electronic reporting, now appears to have lost a key vendor and been down for weeks without any public announcement, except for a note on the site that filings would return soon.

Calls to the city clerk's office, the city’s ethics commission, and Netfile, the Mariposa-based online filing vendor that has run the city's disclosure portal for almost a decade, were not immediately returned.

A longtime professional campaign treasurer, who agreed to discuss the matter on background, said she had learned that the city's termination of its relationship with the vendor had been sudden and had come as a surprise.

"They didn't really give a lot of detail," according to this person. "[The city] told me they are not going to support Netfile anymore. When I contacted Netfile, they said the city didn't want to renew the contract."

An early effort to use electronic filing via Netfile stalled out in 2005 after the city manager questioned its then-estimated annual cost of $40,000, but the City ultimately became one of the vendor's first clients.

"The city of San Diego made history with our campaign system, having the first-ever paperless campaign statement filed on January 2013," wrote Netfile vice president Tom Diebert in an April 6, 2020, letter to Garden Grove city clerk Terri Pomeroy.

"The city has an immediate need to continue its contractual relationship with the contractor to ensure that the city's constituents. have uninterrupted access to electronic filing and review of disclosure documents required by the California Political Reform Act and the City of San Diego Ethics Ordinance," says a September 29, 2020 "amended and restated agreement" between Netfile and the city.

An ordinance approving the contract was passed by a unanimous city council vote on October 6 and signed by then-mayor Kevin Faulconer the same day.

The document calls for Netfile to "provide the services, in accordance with the agreed-upon schedule of fees, set forth in Exhibit B, from September 30, 2019, through April 30, 2021."

The contract says the arrangement can be extended "on the same terms and conditions, until September 30, 2021, or later date if the later date is mutually agreed upon by both Parties."

Fees "must not exceed $75,000 for the period from September 30, 2019, through September 30, 2020, and $81,250 for the period from October 1, 2020, through April 1, 2021, unless an increase is approved by the City's purchasing agent, mayor, or city council, as legally required."

The city's current make-shift system has been badly flawed, posting documents without timestamps and omitting years of vital campaign finance data furnished under Netflix, per recent users. The most recent filing as of Friday morning was dated May 13.

A link to what purported to be personal economic interest disclosure filings by city employees, required under state law, went instead to a lobbyist disclosure page.

Would-be electronic filers of campaign and lobbying disclosure reports were told, "filing Campaign Disclosures will be available on eFile-SD by June 2021."

In a subsequent telephone interview, Netfile vice president Diebert said his company bowed out of the competition for a new contract because city officials wanted would-be vendors to bundle a new lobbyist reporting system, with campaign and financial interest reporting modules.

"We wanted to end the life of the lobbyist platform that we had custom developed for them," he said. "We don't do one-offs.  We were basically losing money."

Without the lobbyist reporting system requirement, Diebert estimated the contract for campaign and financial interest filings would have cost the city in the neighborhood of $37,000.

"If it doesn't work out [with the new vendor], I told them we would like to have you back," Diebert said.

A spokeswoman for the city clerk's office who didn't want to be quoted said City Clerk Elizabeth Maland would be back in the office on Monday to provide further details, including whether historic data regarding previous campaign contributions provided by Netfile would be reposted online by the city's new vendor. She added a request for proposal and the final contract with a firm known as Pasadena Consulting were approved by the city council.

The spokeswoman added that during the outage of the reporting site, members of the public could still call the office and request copies of disclosure filings in PDF format.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The masterful Meistersinger singers

The best six hours I've spent in an opera house
Next Article

Another generation discovers Perry’s Cafe

Large portions of breakfast staples stand out beneath the freeway
"When I contacted Netfile, they said the city didn't want to renew the contract."
"When I contacted Netfile, they said the city didn't want to renew the contract."

The city of San Diego's online campaign disclosure system, at one time a stellar model of electronic reporting, now appears to have lost a key vendor and been down for weeks without any public announcement, except for a note on the site that filings would return soon.

Calls to the city clerk's office, the city’s ethics commission, and Netfile, the Mariposa-based online filing vendor that has run the city's disclosure portal for almost a decade, were not immediately returned.

A longtime professional campaign treasurer, who agreed to discuss the matter on background, said she had learned that the city's termination of its relationship with the vendor had been sudden and had come as a surprise.

"They didn't really give a lot of detail," according to this person. "[The city] told me they are not going to support Netfile anymore. When I contacted Netfile, they said the city didn't want to renew the contract."

An early effort to use electronic filing via Netfile stalled out in 2005 after the city manager questioned its then-estimated annual cost of $40,000, but the City ultimately became one of the vendor's first clients.

"The city of San Diego made history with our campaign system, having the first-ever paperless campaign statement filed on January 2013," wrote Netfile vice president Tom Diebert in an April 6, 2020, letter to Garden Grove city clerk Terri Pomeroy.

"The city has an immediate need to continue its contractual relationship with the contractor to ensure that the city's constituents. have uninterrupted access to electronic filing and review of disclosure documents required by the California Political Reform Act and the City of San Diego Ethics Ordinance," says a September 29, 2020 "amended and restated agreement" between Netfile and the city.

An ordinance approving the contract was passed by a unanimous city council vote on October 6 and signed by then-mayor Kevin Faulconer the same day.

The document calls for Netfile to "provide the services, in accordance with the agreed-upon schedule of fees, set forth in Exhibit B, from September 30, 2019, through April 30, 2021."

The contract says the arrangement can be extended "on the same terms and conditions, until September 30, 2021, or later date if the later date is mutually agreed upon by both Parties."

Fees "must not exceed $75,000 for the period from September 30, 2019, through September 30, 2020, and $81,250 for the period from October 1, 2020, through April 1, 2021, unless an increase is approved by the City's purchasing agent, mayor, or city council, as legally required."

The city's current make-shift system has been badly flawed, posting documents without timestamps and omitting years of vital campaign finance data furnished under Netflix, per recent users. The most recent filing as of Friday morning was dated May 13.

A link to what purported to be personal economic interest disclosure filings by city employees, required under state law, went instead to a lobbyist disclosure page.

Would-be electronic filers of campaign and lobbying disclosure reports were told, "filing Campaign Disclosures will be available on eFile-SD by June 2021."

In a subsequent telephone interview, Netfile vice president Diebert said his company bowed out of the competition for a new contract because city officials wanted would-be vendors to bundle a new lobbyist reporting system, with campaign and financial interest reporting modules.

"We wanted to end the life of the lobbyist platform that we had custom developed for them," he said. "We don't do one-offs.  We were basically losing money."

Without the lobbyist reporting system requirement, Diebert estimated the contract for campaign and financial interest filings would have cost the city in the neighborhood of $37,000.

"If it doesn't work out [with the new vendor], I told them we would like to have you back," Diebert said.

A spokeswoman for the city clerk's office who didn't want to be quoted said City Clerk Elizabeth Maland would be back in the office on Monday to provide further details, including whether historic data regarding previous campaign contributions provided by Netfile would be reposted online by the city's new vendor. She added a request for proposal and the final contract with a firm known as Pasadena Consulting were approved by the city council.

The spokeswoman added that during the outage of the reporting site, members of the public could still call the office and request copies of disclosure filings in PDF format.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

San Diego aggressive rollerbladers return in strength

Big Wheels invade Balboa Park, Liberty Station
Next Article

High cloud ice crystals cause: solar halo, corona, sundogs

San Diego's most colorful liquidambars
Comments
2

What led city officials under the administration of Democratic mayor Todd Gloria to dispense with Netfile in favor of what appears to be a home-grown filing and disclosure system remains a tightly held city hall secret.

What secret? Is there a better way to ensure that disclosures required by law from Gloria or his allies that are embarrassing or explosive can be hidden and, if finally revealed, claimed as yet another "inadvertent oversight"?

May 21, 2021

Wish the Reader would describe exactly what kinds of information the now-suspended Netfile contract provided the public so that we can fully understand what has been lost. It sounds like ex-GOP Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who signed the original agreement, is more sunshiny-transparent than present Democratic Mayor Todd Gloria, who shut it down without notice.

May 22, 2021

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close