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Holes in San Diego Mayor Gloria's armor

Will KFMB new owners cut staff?

Standard: “We are confident that the acquisition of Tegna will open a new chapter in American media distribution, marked by an expansion in representation, diversity, and innovation.”
Standard: “We are confident that the acquisition of Tegna will open a new chapter in American media distribution, marked by an expansion in representation, diversity, and innovation.”

Throwing Goldstones

As city hall’s controversies continue to burgeon, Democratic mayor Todd Gloria has gotten his reelection paperwork in early, in the form of a January 4 candidate intention statement filed with the city clerk’s office. The move is presumably intended to forestall any viable challengers from taking the field against him, but the dam may have already broken. As the 2024 mayoral primary draws nearer, growing homeless counts, city council blowback against a sweeping downtown redevelopment scheme, and increased attention to a costly Gloria advisor have put the mayor on the defensive, possibly opening the door to a big dollar challenge backed by local Republicans or dissident pro-business Democrats.

Why is Eric K. Dargan smiling? Because he has a solid Goldstone aide!

As noted here this past July, Gloria’s longtime mentor, then-acting Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone — tied to several high-profile city financial debacles, including the costly Ash Street high-rise deal — was officially replaced by the ex-Houston chief of public works Eric K. Dargan. Besides the Ash Street controversies, Goldstone had been hit for double-dipping from the public payroll by collecting a $55,829 pension from San Diego because of his prior stint as Chief Operating Officer with GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, and also $111,059 in retirement compensation as one-time City of Pasadena finance director, bringing the total taxpayer payout, including his San Diego salary, to $439,530, per 2021 figures on the website Transparent California.

Sponsored
Sponsored

But other than criticism by onetime GOP city council member, former mayoral candidate, and current radio talk show host Carl DeMaio, Goldstone’s handsome compensation had remained under the radar. That ended last week, when an apparently freshly energized Union-Tribune reported that Goldstone was still on the public payroll as a consultant to Gloria, and noted the aide’s history as a double-dipper “Now, even as Gloria has installed a new full-time chief operating officer, Goldstone is working up to 720 hours a year — the equivalent of 18 weeks,” according to the paper’s January 8 account. “He is paid almost $200 an hour for his efforts shepherding some of the mayor’s most pressing initiatives, but no longer accrues increased pension benefits.”

Meanwhile, the U-T has turned its spotlight on incidents of violence amidst the growing hordes of homeless — another potential anti-Gloria talking point, this one inspired by the non-profit Lucky Duck Foundation, which has been loudly praised by the paper’s editorialists. “This type of criminal behavior and lack of action to prevent and eliminate it is entirely egregious,” the U-T’s January 8 story quoted Dan Shea, a wealthy Republican Fairbanks Ranch denizen, as saying. “What kind of society are we living in where someone on the streets is wearing a bulletproof vest and then starts chasing people with a weapon?”

Now a self-styled homeless expert as a member of the Lucky Duck Foundation’s board of directors, fast-food baron and Padres partner Shea has championed the group’s so-called “Shamrocks & Shipwrecks” awards, which have repeatedly slammed the city — and by implication, Gloria — for the festering homeless crisis. Lucky Duck doings get priority coverage on KUSI, which is owned by longtime Republican Mike McKinnon. “The Lucky Duck Foundation made national headlines in September 2022 when they held a press conference with icon Bill Walton, who explained how America’s Finest City has been destroyed under the leadership of Todd Gloria,” the station reminded viewers in a January 11 post. “Walton declared the new, failed state of San Diego to be called, ‘Gloriaville,’ before calling on Gloria to resign.”

Bye, bye Tegna

Are even more jobs at stake at KFMB as a pending buyout of the San Diego broadcaster creeps closer to approval by the Federal Communications Commission? That’s the worrisome question left hanging after statements of reassurance put out by would-be buyer Standard General Corporation, run by hedge fund maven Soo Kim. In a December 22 missive to federal regulators, “the company pledged it will not cut any journalism jobs for at least two years post-transaction,” per a December 29 post by Fierce.com.

“Yet Standard General noted in the letter it ‘cannot predict how future economic conditions or changes in the broadcast industry may require broadcasters to make adjustments in the composition or size of station staffing to best serve the needs of the public.’” Though the FCC has invited further public comment on the takeover through January 13, with replies to comments due a week later, the website quotes investment advisors as saying “the deal is still in the end game, with the FCC likely to resolve the matter within 60 days after reply comments are due. Meaning the transaction will likely close sometime in February.”

Elisabeth Kimmel in happier times for both herself and KFMB.

Meanwhile, Standard put out an upbeat January 10 statement: “Many have pointed to our proven track record of enhancing stations’ service to their local communities, increasing local news content, and investing in the resources stations need to compete successfully. We are confident that the acquisition of Tegna will open a new chapter in American media distribution, marked by an expansion in representation, diversity, and innovation.” Job loss fears have haunted the KFMB corridors ever since the sale of the operation for $325 million by owners Elisabeth Kimmel and family to Tegna, a spinoff of what used to be called Gannett, in December 2017. Kimmel was subsequently charged and convicted in the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions bribery scandal, did prison time, and was disbarred.

— 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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Standard: “We are confident that the acquisition of Tegna will open a new chapter in American media distribution, marked by an expansion in representation, diversity, and innovation.”
Standard: “We are confident that the acquisition of Tegna will open a new chapter in American media distribution, marked by an expansion in representation, diversity, and innovation.”

Throwing Goldstones

As city hall’s controversies continue to burgeon, Democratic mayor Todd Gloria has gotten his reelection paperwork in early, in the form of a January 4 candidate intention statement filed with the city clerk’s office. The move is presumably intended to forestall any viable challengers from taking the field against him, but the dam may have already broken. As the 2024 mayoral primary draws nearer, growing homeless counts, city council blowback against a sweeping downtown redevelopment scheme, and increased attention to a costly Gloria advisor have put the mayor on the defensive, possibly opening the door to a big dollar challenge backed by local Republicans or dissident pro-business Democrats.

Why is Eric K. Dargan smiling? Because he has a solid Goldstone aide!

As noted here this past July, Gloria’s longtime mentor, then-acting Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone — tied to several high-profile city financial debacles, including the costly Ash Street high-rise deal — was officially replaced by the ex-Houston chief of public works Eric K. Dargan. Besides the Ash Street controversies, Goldstone had been hit for double-dipping from the public payroll by collecting a $55,829 pension from San Diego because of his prior stint as Chief Operating Officer with GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, and also $111,059 in retirement compensation as one-time City of Pasadena finance director, bringing the total taxpayer payout, including his San Diego salary, to $439,530, per 2021 figures on the website Transparent California.

Sponsored
Sponsored

But other than criticism by onetime GOP city council member, former mayoral candidate, and current radio talk show host Carl DeMaio, Goldstone’s handsome compensation had remained under the radar. That ended last week, when an apparently freshly energized Union-Tribune reported that Goldstone was still on the public payroll as a consultant to Gloria, and noted the aide’s history as a double-dipper “Now, even as Gloria has installed a new full-time chief operating officer, Goldstone is working up to 720 hours a year — the equivalent of 18 weeks,” according to the paper’s January 8 account. “He is paid almost $200 an hour for his efforts shepherding some of the mayor’s most pressing initiatives, but no longer accrues increased pension benefits.”

Meanwhile, the U-T has turned its spotlight on incidents of violence amidst the growing hordes of homeless — another potential anti-Gloria talking point, this one inspired by the non-profit Lucky Duck Foundation, which has been loudly praised by the paper’s editorialists. “This type of criminal behavior and lack of action to prevent and eliminate it is entirely egregious,” the U-T’s January 8 story quoted Dan Shea, a wealthy Republican Fairbanks Ranch denizen, as saying. “What kind of society are we living in where someone on the streets is wearing a bulletproof vest and then starts chasing people with a weapon?”

Now a self-styled homeless expert as a member of the Lucky Duck Foundation’s board of directors, fast-food baron and Padres partner Shea has championed the group’s so-called “Shamrocks & Shipwrecks” awards, which have repeatedly slammed the city — and by implication, Gloria — for the festering homeless crisis. Lucky Duck doings get priority coverage on KUSI, which is owned by longtime Republican Mike McKinnon. “The Lucky Duck Foundation made national headlines in September 2022 when they held a press conference with icon Bill Walton, who explained how America’s Finest City has been destroyed under the leadership of Todd Gloria,” the station reminded viewers in a January 11 post. “Walton declared the new, failed state of San Diego to be called, ‘Gloriaville,’ before calling on Gloria to resign.”

Bye, bye Tegna

Are even more jobs at stake at KFMB as a pending buyout of the San Diego broadcaster creeps closer to approval by the Federal Communications Commission? That’s the worrisome question left hanging after statements of reassurance put out by would-be buyer Standard General Corporation, run by hedge fund maven Soo Kim. In a December 22 missive to federal regulators, “the company pledged it will not cut any journalism jobs for at least two years post-transaction,” per a December 29 post by Fierce.com.

“Yet Standard General noted in the letter it ‘cannot predict how future economic conditions or changes in the broadcast industry may require broadcasters to make adjustments in the composition or size of station staffing to best serve the needs of the public.’” Though the FCC has invited further public comment on the takeover through January 13, with replies to comments due a week later, the website quotes investment advisors as saying “the deal is still in the end game, with the FCC likely to resolve the matter within 60 days after reply comments are due. Meaning the transaction will likely close sometime in February.”

Elisabeth Kimmel in happier times for both herself and KFMB.

Meanwhile, Standard put out an upbeat January 10 statement: “Many have pointed to our proven track record of enhancing stations’ service to their local communities, increasing local news content, and investing in the resources stations need to compete successfully. We are confident that the acquisition of Tegna will open a new chapter in American media distribution, marked by an expansion in representation, diversity, and innovation.” Job loss fears have haunted the KFMB corridors ever since the sale of the operation for $325 million by owners Elisabeth Kimmel and family to Tegna, a spinoff of what used to be called Gannett, in December 2017. Kimmel was subsequently charged and convicted in the Operation Varsity Blues college admissions bribery scandal, did prison time, and was disbarred.

— 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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