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Newsom signs DUI driver Ben Hueso's SDSU booze promotion bill

Campus venues and Snapdragon Stadium now wide open for liquor hype

Bill sponsor Ben Hueso
Bill sponsor Ben Hueso

Championed by state Senate Democrat and drunk driver Ben Hueso, a legislative waiver signed September 13 by Governor Gavin Newsom will let alcoholic beverage makers pay to promote their wares to crowds at San Diego State University's new Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley and other campus venues.

The special waiver, per Senate Bill 1280, covers: "Any of the following facilities that are situated on the campus of San Diego State University, including the SDSU Mission Valley site, located in San Diego County," along with "a fully enclosed arena with a fixed seating capacity in excess of 10,000 seats, an outdoor baseball stadium with a fixed seating capacity of at least 1,800 seats, an outdoor softball stadium with a fixed seating capacity of at least 300 seats, and an open-air amphitheater with a fixed seating capacity of at least 4,000 seats."

Hueso, the San Diego Democrat, incurred his DUI after attending a boisterous August 21, 2014 Latino Caucus party.

The legislation, in the works for almost a year, comes on the heels of allegations regarding SDSU's worst booze-laden scandal in its history, as first revealed in a June 3 expose by the Los Angeles Times.

"The reports to campus officials late last year revealed disturbing allegations about players from San Diego State University’s winning football team," the story began. "Claims were rapidly spreading among the school’s athletes that five players had raped an unconscious girl and left her bloodied and bruised at a house party off campus."

Ex-city manager Jack McGrory claimed stadium liquor advertising and promotional rights were worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

A civil suit by the alleged victim in August against ex-SDSU punter Matt Araiza and two other football veterans of the school charged "she had already been drinking with friends when they arrived at the party on Rockford Drive, and Araiza, who lived at the home, gave her a drink. She believes the drink 'not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,'" according to a Times August 25 account.

In another high-profile case, 19-year-old Dylan Hernandez died in November 2019 after falling out of his bunk bed following a night of drinking at a "Big Brother, Little Brother" Phi Gamma Delta fraternity pledge event.

SDSU blamed the fraternity for the booze-related death and kicked it off the campus.

"Based on the preponderance of the evidence gathered during the investigation, including the San Diego State University Police Department’s report, admissions by former members of the Sigma Delta chapter of Phi Gamma Delta International Fraternity, photos, and videos, I have found Phi Gamma Delta to be in violation of Aiding and Abetting, Alcohol, Hazing or Conspiracy to Haze, Health and Safety, Illegal Drugs, and Violations of the Student Organization Conduct Procedures policies," wrote Caryl Montero-Adams, director of SDSU's Student Life & Leadership office, in an August 13, 2020 letter.

But when it came to making a buck from liquor advertising at its own venues, SDSU took a different course.

"This bill would make legislative findings and declarations as to the necessity of a special statute for the campus of SDSU, including the SDSU Mission Valley site, located in the County of San Diego," the report says of the legislation, designated Senate Bill 1280.

A January staff report to the trustees of the California University System, which lobbied heavily for the measure, made a financial case for the special treatment, but avoided discussing SDSU's long-festering student drinking problem.

"California law prohibits alcohol beverage suppliers or manufacturers from sponsoring events or other activities at a retail licensed premise,” said the document.

“When the new Snapdragon Stadium opens later this year, the stadium will have a retail license allowing a retailer to sell alcoholic beverages to event attendees,” the document explains.

“However, current law prohibits the Stadium from entering into sponsorship agreements without a statutory exemption.”

“Snapdragon Stadium is a community asset that will host a wide range of concerts and other special events for San Diegans," the report continued. “The stadium will serve as a home to a lacrosse team and is actively seeking other professional sports teams.

“The proposal is critical to the sustainability of the stadium as it has the potential to generate approximately $2 million annually and will support the future growth of San Diego State,” the staff report argued.

Backers of the move, including California State University system trustee Jack McGrory, the ex-San Diego city manager and developer, as well as a key figure in the 2018 election battle by which SDSU gained control of Qualcomm Stadium and its surroundings, argued at a January 26 trustees meeting that stadium liquor advertising and promotional rights were worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Other exemptions have been previously carved out of the ban, but to many critics, SDSU's ongoing drinking crisis will only be further exacerbated by allowing more booze promotion at the school's taxpayer-owned campus facilities.

Bill sponsor Hueso, the San Diego Democrat incurred his DUI after attending a boisterous August 21, 2014 Latino Caucus party held at the state Capitol, when he was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol and booked with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher at 3:27 a.m. He subsequently entered a no contest plea to a charge of “wet reckless” and got three years probation, an $1,100 fine, and a six-week reckless driving program.

Per Hueso’s SDSU legislation: "In order to aid in the economic viability of the new stadium and to ensure the fair and efficient application of the alcoholic beverage control licensing laws with respect to eligible facilities on the campus of San Diego State University, it is necessary that this act take immediate effect."

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Bill sponsor Ben Hueso
Bill sponsor Ben Hueso

Championed by state Senate Democrat and drunk driver Ben Hueso, a legislative waiver signed September 13 by Governor Gavin Newsom will let alcoholic beverage makers pay to promote their wares to crowds at San Diego State University's new Snapdragon Stadium in Mission Valley and other campus venues.

The special waiver, per Senate Bill 1280, covers: "Any of the following facilities that are situated on the campus of San Diego State University, including the SDSU Mission Valley site, located in San Diego County," along with "a fully enclosed arena with a fixed seating capacity in excess of 10,000 seats, an outdoor baseball stadium with a fixed seating capacity of at least 1,800 seats, an outdoor softball stadium with a fixed seating capacity of at least 300 seats, and an open-air amphitheater with a fixed seating capacity of at least 4,000 seats."

Hueso, the San Diego Democrat, incurred his DUI after attending a boisterous August 21, 2014 Latino Caucus party.

The legislation, in the works for almost a year, comes on the heels of allegations regarding SDSU's worst booze-laden scandal in its history, as first revealed in a June 3 expose by the Los Angeles Times.

"The reports to campus officials late last year revealed disturbing allegations about players from San Diego State University’s winning football team," the story began. "Claims were rapidly spreading among the school’s athletes that five players had raped an unconscious girl and left her bloodied and bruised at a house party off campus."

Ex-city manager Jack McGrory claimed stadium liquor advertising and promotional rights were worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

A civil suit by the alleged victim in August against ex-SDSU punter Matt Araiza and two other football veterans of the school charged "she had already been drinking with friends when they arrived at the party on Rockford Drive, and Araiza, who lived at the home, gave her a drink. She believes the drink 'not only contained alcohol, but other intoxicating substances,'" according to a Times August 25 account.

In another high-profile case, 19-year-old Dylan Hernandez died in November 2019 after falling out of his bunk bed following a night of drinking at a "Big Brother, Little Brother" Phi Gamma Delta fraternity pledge event.

SDSU blamed the fraternity for the booze-related death and kicked it off the campus.

"Based on the preponderance of the evidence gathered during the investigation, including the San Diego State University Police Department’s report, admissions by former members of the Sigma Delta chapter of Phi Gamma Delta International Fraternity, photos, and videos, I have found Phi Gamma Delta to be in violation of Aiding and Abetting, Alcohol, Hazing or Conspiracy to Haze, Health and Safety, Illegal Drugs, and Violations of the Student Organization Conduct Procedures policies," wrote Caryl Montero-Adams, director of SDSU's Student Life & Leadership office, in an August 13, 2020 letter.

But when it came to making a buck from liquor advertising at its own venues, SDSU took a different course.

"This bill would make legislative findings and declarations as to the necessity of a special statute for the campus of SDSU, including the SDSU Mission Valley site, located in the County of San Diego," the report says of the legislation, designated Senate Bill 1280.

A January staff report to the trustees of the California University System, which lobbied heavily for the measure, made a financial case for the special treatment, but avoided discussing SDSU's long-festering student drinking problem.

"California law prohibits alcohol beverage suppliers or manufacturers from sponsoring events or other activities at a retail licensed premise,” said the document.

“When the new Snapdragon Stadium opens later this year, the stadium will have a retail license allowing a retailer to sell alcoholic beverages to event attendees,” the document explains.

“However, current law prohibits the Stadium from entering into sponsorship agreements without a statutory exemption.”

“Snapdragon Stadium is a community asset that will host a wide range of concerts and other special events for San Diegans," the report continued. “The stadium will serve as a home to a lacrosse team and is actively seeking other professional sports teams.

“The proposal is critical to the sustainability of the stadium as it has the potential to generate approximately $2 million annually and will support the future growth of San Diego State,” the staff report argued.

Backers of the move, including California State University system trustee Jack McGrory, the ex-San Diego city manager and developer, as well as a key figure in the 2018 election battle by which SDSU gained control of Qualcomm Stadium and its surroundings, argued at a January 26 trustees meeting that stadium liquor advertising and promotional rights were worth “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Other exemptions have been previously carved out of the ban, but to many critics, SDSU's ongoing drinking crisis will only be further exacerbated by allowing more booze promotion at the school's taxpayer-owned campus facilities.

Bill sponsor Hueso, the San Diego Democrat incurred his DUI after attending a boisterous August 21, 2014 Latino Caucus party held at the state Capitol, when he was pulled over by the California Highway Patrol and booked with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher at 3:27 a.m. He subsequently entered a no contest plea to a charge of “wet reckless” and got three years probation, an $1,100 fine, and a six-week reckless driving program.

Per Hueso’s SDSU legislation: "In order to aid in the economic viability of the new stadium and to ensure the fair and efficient application of the alcoholic beverage control licensing laws with respect to eligible facilities on the campus of San Diego State University, it is necessary that this act take immediate effect."

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2

All things like the long-past date of Senator Ben Hueso's DUI considered, it doesn't seem fair to nail him for it in the first sentence of this story. But that said, it also doesn't seem right that Hueso is carrying legislation to permit alcohol advertising and promotional events at San Diego State gathering spots where many attendees will be students younger than the legal drinking age of 21. What will be next -- legal weed? And the bill passes? Truth be told, SDSU has a gross social culture of hearty partying that too often spills over into sadistic hazing of fraternity pledges, gang rapes of minor girls and incidents of murderous fighting. There's insufficient will to do better among six-figure salaried leaders at the school, its Foundation and among the many civic-minded SDSU grads living in greater San Diego.

Sept. 20, 2022
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
Sept. 21, 2022

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