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La Mesa's Colin Parent and Chula Vista's John McCann exploit behest law

Terra Lawson-Remer blatant about taxpayers funding her polls

NewSchool of Architecture and Design has been warned by the WASC Senior College and University Commission that its accreditation is hanging in the balance.
NewSchool of Architecture and Design has been warned by the WASC Senior College and University Commission that its accreditation is hanging in the balance.

Pot and trash talking

La Mesa Vice Mayor Colin Parent, CEO of self-styled pro-transit nonprofit Circulate San Diego, has of late been under the microscope for soliciting $700,000 over the past five years for Circulate from a host of special interests that do business in La Mesa, including San Diego Gas & Electric, Byrd, and Lyft. “California does require that donations that elected officials help solicit to a nonprofit be disclosed to the public through a behested form,” Parent, who was paid $141,000 in 2021 by Circulate, told the Union-Tribune May 7. “I carefully follow those requirements and file all the necessary behested forms.” According to the U-T report, Parent “says he has recused himself from voting on any issues that present direct conflicts between his work and fundraising for Circulate San Diego and his public service as an elected official.”

Colin Parent: following the behested request.

Meanwhile, at least one elected official in another small city has also taken advantage of the so-called behesting practice to raise cash for his favorite cause, which happens to be himself. A Behested Payment Report filed by Chula Vista Mayor John McCann on February 27 shows he solicited $5000 from Awin Management Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona to cover the costs of his December 13, 2022 “Swearing-In Ceremony & Reception for Mayor and Council.” Awin is an affiliate of Republic Services, Chula Vista’s trash pickup provider. Last summer, when McCann was on the council, the city and Republic cut a controversial deal to cover the costs of a Teamsters strike, per a July 3 U-T account. On February 1, he got $4000 from San Diego Gas & Electric for the swearing-in. He also colleced $5000 each from Seven Mile Casino and developer HomeFed, as well as $10,000 from March and Ash, a city-licensed pot dispensary. Per the U-T, March and Ash was a client of Grassroots Resources, a campaign consulting outfit run by Jesus Cardenas, who quit last month as top honcho to San Diego city council Democrat Stephen Whitburn after the paper reported that Grassroots Resources had been suspended by the state, apparently for back taxes.

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New School problems

Downtown’s NewSchool of Architecture and Design, long troubled by board turmoil, financial shortcomings, and plunging enrollment, has been warned by the WASC Senior College and University Commission that its accreditation is hanging in the balance. Noting that the NewSchool “has experienced serious financial problems with total operating expenses exceeding total revenues for the past two years,” a March 17 letter to interim president Chiaoling Hsu adds that “enrollment has shown a significant downward trend over the last six years, falling short of overly optimistic projections.” In addition, “the board has experienced significant disruption, turnover, and diminution in size and capacity.” The once-vaunted design school now faces a sanction period, not to exceed two years, to repair the damage. “If an institution has not remedied the deficiencies at the conclusion of this sanction period,” per the letter, “The Commission is required, under U.S. Department of Education regulations, to withdraw the institution’s accreditation or extend the timeframe for good cause shown. The extension may not exceed two years.”

Public polling politics

As the political season ramps up, attorneys for the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission have signed off with a few warnings about an effort by San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to have local taxpayers pick up the substantial tab for professional polling in her district.

Terra Lawson-Remer: What’s in a poll?

“The County may use public funds to conduct a survey among constituents to gauge support or opposition to local issues in order to inform the Supervisor’s agenda so long as the survey does not constitute campaign activity. Additionally, should the results be used for a political purpose, it may qualify the County as a committee and it would incur reporting requirements under the Act,” says an April 7 letter of advice from FPPC General Counsel Dave Bainbridge to Senior Deputy County Counsel David Stotland. “From the facts provided, it appears the aim of the survey is to gather information from constituents regarding the policy and legislative issues of interest to residents of the district.” Adds the opinion: “While the survey is likely to identify the Supervisor as it is squarely focused on the constituents of her district, this is not the type of activity typically considered to be campaign-related barring additional information indicating a relationship to a campaign other than the mere fact that the official is an elected official. Note, however, that each communication must be assessed on a case-by-case basis considering the entirety of the message and the factual context in which the communication is made.”

Stotland also asked “whether public funds may be used to survey constituents within the Supervisor’s district in order to determine their preferred outreach methods, with the results remaining confidential for privacy purposes,” per the letter. The response: “Should the information be used for political purposes — i.e., to craft campaign communications, target likely voters, etc. — this will be a contribution from the County to the Supervisor. To the extent that the constituent contact information will be kept confidential, great care should be taken to ensure that the contact information is used for governmental purposes only and that the contact information is not used by Supervisor Lawson-Remer, or any other elected official, for campaign purposes including but not limited to campaign communications.”

— 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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NewSchool of Architecture and Design has been warned by the WASC Senior College and University Commission that its accreditation is hanging in the balance.
NewSchool of Architecture and Design has been warned by the WASC Senior College and University Commission that its accreditation is hanging in the balance.

Pot and trash talking

La Mesa Vice Mayor Colin Parent, CEO of self-styled pro-transit nonprofit Circulate San Diego, has of late been under the microscope for soliciting $700,000 over the past five years for Circulate from a host of special interests that do business in La Mesa, including San Diego Gas & Electric, Byrd, and Lyft. “California does require that donations that elected officials help solicit to a nonprofit be disclosed to the public through a behested form,” Parent, who was paid $141,000 in 2021 by Circulate, told the Union-Tribune May 7. “I carefully follow those requirements and file all the necessary behested forms.” According to the U-T report, Parent “says he has recused himself from voting on any issues that present direct conflicts between his work and fundraising for Circulate San Diego and his public service as an elected official.”

Colin Parent: following the behested request.

Meanwhile, at least one elected official in another small city has also taken advantage of the so-called behesting practice to raise cash for his favorite cause, which happens to be himself. A Behested Payment Report filed by Chula Vista Mayor John McCann on February 27 shows he solicited $5000 from Awin Management Inc. of Scottsdale, Arizona to cover the costs of his December 13, 2022 “Swearing-In Ceremony & Reception for Mayor and Council.” Awin is an affiliate of Republic Services, Chula Vista’s trash pickup provider. Last summer, when McCann was on the council, the city and Republic cut a controversial deal to cover the costs of a Teamsters strike, per a July 3 U-T account. On February 1, he got $4000 from San Diego Gas & Electric for the swearing-in. He also colleced $5000 each from Seven Mile Casino and developer HomeFed, as well as $10,000 from March and Ash, a city-licensed pot dispensary. Per the U-T, March and Ash was a client of Grassroots Resources, a campaign consulting outfit run by Jesus Cardenas, who quit last month as top honcho to San Diego city council Democrat Stephen Whitburn after the paper reported that Grassroots Resources had been suspended by the state, apparently for back taxes.

Sponsored
Sponsored

New School problems

Downtown’s NewSchool of Architecture and Design, long troubled by board turmoil, financial shortcomings, and plunging enrollment, has been warned by the WASC Senior College and University Commission that its accreditation is hanging in the balance. Noting that the NewSchool “has experienced serious financial problems with total operating expenses exceeding total revenues for the past two years,” a March 17 letter to interim president Chiaoling Hsu adds that “enrollment has shown a significant downward trend over the last six years, falling short of overly optimistic projections.” In addition, “the board has experienced significant disruption, turnover, and diminution in size and capacity.” The once-vaunted design school now faces a sanction period, not to exceed two years, to repair the damage. “If an institution has not remedied the deficiencies at the conclusion of this sanction period,” per the letter, “The Commission is required, under U.S. Department of Education regulations, to withdraw the institution’s accreditation or extend the timeframe for good cause shown. The extension may not exceed two years.”

Public polling politics

As the political season ramps up, attorneys for the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission have signed off with a few warnings about an effort by San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to have local taxpayers pick up the substantial tab for professional polling in her district.

Terra Lawson-Remer: What’s in a poll?

“The County may use public funds to conduct a survey among constituents to gauge support or opposition to local issues in order to inform the Supervisor’s agenda so long as the survey does not constitute campaign activity. Additionally, should the results be used for a political purpose, it may qualify the County as a committee and it would incur reporting requirements under the Act,” says an April 7 letter of advice from FPPC General Counsel Dave Bainbridge to Senior Deputy County Counsel David Stotland. “From the facts provided, it appears the aim of the survey is to gather information from constituents regarding the policy and legislative issues of interest to residents of the district.” Adds the opinion: “While the survey is likely to identify the Supervisor as it is squarely focused on the constituents of her district, this is not the type of activity typically considered to be campaign-related barring additional information indicating a relationship to a campaign other than the mere fact that the official is an elected official. Note, however, that each communication must be assessed on a case-by-case basis considering the entirety of the message and the factual context in which the communication is made.”

Stotland also asked “whether public funds may be used to survey constituents within the Supervisor’s district in order to determine their preferred outreach methods, with the results remaining confidential for privacy purposes,” per the letter. The response: “Should the information be used for political purposes — i.e., to craft campaign communications, target likely voters, etc. — this will be a contribution from the County to the Supervisor. To the extent that the constituent contact information will be kept confidential, great care should be taken to ensure that the contact information is used for governmental purposes only and that the contact information is not used by Supervisor Lawson-Remer, or any other elected official, for campaign purposes including but not limited to campaign communications.”

— 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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Yellowfin and dorado show, yellowtail numbers jump, and bluefin continue to chew at night

Kite or balloon fishing are good tactics to catch large bluefin
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