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Chris Cate – magnet for political fines

New U-T hire tasked with bringing back 12 subscribers a week

In 2020, SDG&E forked over $7500 to charities between December 11 and December 29 at Chris Cate’s behest during the same period the councilman was loudly attacking fellow city council members for holding up the renewal of SDG&E’s lucrative franchise agreement with the city.
In 2020, SDG&E forked over $7500 to charities between December 11 and December 29 at Chris Cate’s behest during the same period the councilman was loudly attacking fellow city council members for holding up the renewal of SDG&E’s lucrative franchise agreement with the city.

Voice of Cate

A self-styled “affordable housing” championing organization has agreed to pay a $1000 fine levied by the San Diego City Ethics Commission for repeatedly failing to report campaign contributions it made, including $25,000 to a political committee run by then-city councilman Chris Cate.

According to a stipulated agreement approved by the Ethics Commission last month, Chelsea Investment Corporation’s lobbyist disclosure report for October 1 through December 31, 2022, omitted the October 28 contribution to a committee calling itself “the Affordable Homes for San Diego lead by Chris Cate — Yes on Measure C committee.”

Chris Cate: a player on the side of the power people.

Only after being caught by ethics staffers, the document continues, did Chelsea finally amend its lobbying filing to reveal the contribution on June 26 of this year. Chelsea had already been warned twice before, on December 6, 2021, and November 8, 2022, that it had failed to report all contributions on its quarterly disclosure reports, says the stipulation. Measure C, a builder-financed ballot measure to raise the Midway area height limit, passed with a relatively narrow 51.14 percent of the vote after heavily outspending opponents.

Republican Cate, a longtime backer of special interests including developers and utility giant SDG&E, was termed out of his council seat late last year and started a consulting outfit called 3MC Strategies. He also nabbed a spot on the board of Voice of San Diego, a local non-profit online news operation.

“In addition to VOSD, Chris serves on the board of [Episcopal Community Services] California, UC San Diego Chancellor Community Advisory Board, and the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group,” per his profile on the Voice website. In 2020, SDG&E forked over $7500 to charities between December 11 and December 29 at Cate’s behest during the same period the councilman was loudly attacking fellow city council members for holding up the renewal of SDG&E’s lucrative franchise agreement with the city. “This is a process which has been undertaken for well over two years,” said Cate. Further delay, he added, “would not be coming from a fiscally prudent or service prudent standpoint as a city.”

In November 2017, Cate agreed to pay a maximum $5000 fine to the ethics committee for leaking an internal city memo to lobbyists and campaign donors for the now-defunct Soccer City project in Mission Valley. “I agreed to pay a fine to put the matter to rest,” Cate said in the statement cited by the Union-Tribune. “I believe I am entitled to seek information in my capacity as a policymaker and also believe the City Charter clearly establishes that authority. While the city attorney did not introduce the Soccer City memo in closed session, it became clear she did intend it as privileged information. I regret breaking her confidence.”

San Diego State University ultimately defeated Soccer City at the ballot box in a battle to take over the former Qualcomm Stadium acreage. In Spring of this year, SDSU named Chelsea as the first residential developer chosen for the school-run redevelopment project on the site. Described by SDMetro in August 2022 as “a privately held company” that “incorporates family values into everything it does, from its own family to the families it serves,” most recently gave $20,000 on March 23 to a rough-and-tumble political committee calling itself New San Diego, most noted for a series of hit pieces widely regarded as ending the political comeback of ex-Assembly Democrat Lori Saldana.

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After being repeatedly pummeled, she came in third in her 2022 challenge to incumbent council Democrat Jen Campbell. A January 20, 2023, letter from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission warned New San Diego and proprietor Gil Cabrera, a Democrat who chairs the airport board, for disclosure lapses. “The Enforcement Division has decided to close this case with a warning letter rather than a fine. First, you do not have a violation of these advertisement disclosure provisions within the past five years,” wrote FPPC enforcement chief Angela J. Brereton.


Upgrading U-T’s downgrades

MediaNews Group, the national newspaper chain controlled by controversial hedge fund manager Alden Global Capital that took over the Union-Tribune in July from LA billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, hasn’t wasted time buying out a big chunk of the staff, including noted environmental reporter Joshua Emerson-Smith. Now the company is making its first hire, according to an online job posting for what it calls a Part-Time Circulation Customer Service Representative. “This key position will provide solutions to customer needs by promoting the value of The San Diego Union-Tribune,” says the notice. “Customer Service Representatives will place a high priority on customer satisfaction and will handle and resolve product and service inquiries via phone, email, live chat, and face-to-face interactions.”

Patrick Soon-Shiong no longer has to tout the U-T. Someone else does!

But the job may not be all that pleasant. The new employee will be required to “place outbound calls to customers who have canceled their subscription or downgraded their service and attempt to win back or upgrade a minimum of 12 accounts each week.” The hourly wage is $16.30, but there’s no need to live or work in San Diego. “The agent must be able to work in the Monrovia main office when scheduled, at least 3-4 times per month.”...SDG&E, the big San Diego power franchise holder, has been called out by the state’s Public Utility Commission for the poor conditions of its substations. Eight of the facilities had problems, according to a June 15 notice to SDG&E, including Amherst at 4853 73rd Street in La Mesa, where the security fence “had a large hole cut in it;” Cameron Substation at 1835 Buckman Springs Road, where “Barbed wire was hanging outside the security fence to a height of approximately three feet from the ground;” the Santee Substation at Mast Boulevard and Eucalyptus Court, where “the Bank 40 138/2 kV transformer was leaking oil;” and the Barrett Substation at Manzanita Way and Deerhorn Valley, where “rainwater was leaking into the control and battery rooms.”

— 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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In 2020, SDG&E forked over $7500 to charities between December 11 and December 29 at Chris Cate’s behest during the same period the councilman was loudly attacking fellow city council members for holding up the renewal of SDG&E’s lucrative franchise agreement with the city.
In 2020, SDG&E forked over $7500 to charities between December 11 and December 29 at Chris Cate’s behest during the same period the councilman was loudly attacking fellow city council members for holding up the renewal of SDG&E’s lucrative franchise agreement with the city.

Voice of Cate

A self-styled “affordable housing” championing organization has agreed to pay a $1000 fine levied by the San Diego City Ethics Commission for repeatedly failing to report campaign contributions it made, including $25,000 to a political committee run by then-city councilman Chris Cate.

According to a stipulated agreement approved by the Ethics Commission last month, Chelsea Investment Corporation’s lobbyist disclosure report for October 1 through December 31, 2022, omitted the October 28 contribution to a committee calling itself “the Affordable Homes for San Diego lead by Chris Cate — Yes on Measure C committee.”

Chris Cate: a player on the side of the power people.

Only after being caught by ethics staffers, the document continues, did Chelsea finally amend its lobbying filing to reveal the contribution on June 26 of this year. Chelsea had already been warned twice before, on December 6, 2021, and November 8, 2022, that it had failed to report all contributions on its quarterly disclosure reports, says the stipulation. Measure C, a builder-financed ballot measure to raise the Midway area height limit, passed with a relatively narrow 51.14 percent of the vote after heavily outspending opponents.

Republican Cate, a longtime backer of special interests including developers and utility giant SDG&E, was termed out of his council seat late last year and started a consulting outfit called 3MC Strategies. He also nabbed a spot on the board of Voice of San Diego, a local non-profit online news operation.

“In addition to VOSD, Chris serves on the board of [Episcopal Community Services] California, UC San Diego Chancellor Community Advisory Board, and the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group,” per his profile on the Voice website. In 2020, SDG&E forked over $7500 to charities between December 11 and December 29 at Cate’s behest during the same period the councilman was loudly attacking fellow city council members for holding up the renewal of SDG&E’s lucrative franchise agreement with the city. “This is a process which has been undertaken for well over two years,” said Cate. Further delay, he added, “would not be coming from a fiscally prudent or service prudent standpoint as a city.”

In November 2017, Cate agreed to pay a maximum $5000 fine to the ethics committee for leaking an internal city memo to lobbyists and campaign donors for the now-defunct Soccer City project in Mission Valley. “I agreed to pay a fine to put the matter to rest,” Cate said in the statement cited by the Union-Tribune. “I believe I am entitled to seek information in my capacity as a policymaker and also believe the City Charter clearly establishes that authority. While the city attorney did not introduce the Soccer City memo in closed session, it became clear she did intend it as privileged information. I regret breaking her confidence.”

San Diego State University ultimately defeated Soccer City at the ballot box in a battle to take over the former Qualcomm Stadium acreage. In Spring of this year, SDSU named Chelsea as the first residential developer chosen for the school-run redevelopment project on the site. Described by SDMetro in August 2022 as “a privately held company” that “incorporates family values into everything it does, from its own family to the families it serves,” most recently gave $20,000 on March 23 to a rough-and-tumble political committee calling itself New San Diego, most noted for a series of hit pieces widely regarded as ending the political comeback of ex-Assembly Democrat Lori Saldana.

Sponsored
Sponsored

After being repeatedly pummeled, she came in third in her 2022 challenge to incumbent council Democrat Jen Campbell. A January 20, 2023, letter from the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission warned New San Diego and proprietor Gil Cabrera, a Democrat who chairs the airport board, for disclosure lapses. “The Enforcement Division has decided to close this case with a warning letter rather than a fine. First, you do not have a violation of these advertisement disclosure provisions within the past five years,” wrote FPPC enforcement chief Angela J. Brereton.


Upgrading U-T’s downgrades

MediaNews Group, the national newspaper chain controlled by controversial hedge fund manager Alden Global Capital that took over the Union-Tribune in July from LA billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, hasn’t wasted time buying out a big chunk of the staff, including noted environmental reporter Joshua Emerson-Smith. Now the company is making its first hire, according to an online job posting for what it calls a Part-Time Circulation Customer Service Representative. “This key position will provide solutions to customer needs by promoting the value of The San Diego Union-Tribune,” says the notice. “Customer Service Representatives will place a high priority on customer satisfaction and will handle and resolve product and service inquiries via phone, email, live chat, and face-to-face interactions.”

Patrick Soon-Shiong no longer has to tout the U-T. Someone else does!

But the job may not be all that pleasant. The new employee will be required to “place outbound calls to customers who have canceled their subscription or downgraded their service and attempt to win back or upgrade a minimum of 12 accounts each week.” The hourly wage is $16.30, but there’s no need to live or work in San Diego. “The agent must be able to work in the Monrovia main office when scheduled, at least 3-4 times per month.”...SDG&E, the big San Diego power franchise holder, has been called out by the state’s Public Utility Commission for the poor conditions of its substations. Eight of the facilities had problems, according to a June 15 notice to SDG&E, including Amherst at 4853 73rd Street in La Mesa, where the security fence “had a large hole cut in it;” Cameron Substation at 1835 Buckman Springs Road, where “Barbed wire was hanging outside the security fence to a height of approximately three feet from the ground;” the Santee Substation at Mast Boulevard and Eucalyptus Court, where “the Bank 40 138/2 kV transformer was leaking oil;” and the Barrett Substation at Manzanita Way and Deerhorn Valley, where “rainwater was leaking into the control and battery rooms.”

— 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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