GHH2 April 25, 2012 @ 5:44 p.m.

Li Mandri is a schemer who, as owner of a private, profit making entity has no right whatsoever to put his hands into the taxpayer's pocket. If he has such good ideas he needs to market them AND SELL THEM TO THE PUBLIC...who can then decide whether they want to buy what he is selling, OR NOT. Doing it through property tax additions/manipulations is out and out piracy. And the council members who support this are co-conspirators and need to be held accountable. They are stewards of the public's treasure and have a duty to ensure that the public's money is spent wisely. When was the last time an audit was performed on where our Property taxes are spent and how? We need to have an audit to see if our public officials are acting responsibly and wisely. And if they are not, they need to be thrown out of office. Everyone is going through hard times and having to make hard decisions. Decisions on what are priorities and what are non-essential's. And I can see no reason whatsoever that our public officials be exempted from these hard times and hard decisions. if they can't come up with more efficient and creative ways to do their jobs then they need to stop sucking at the public teat and step aside to let other, more worthy people serve the public. Remember that. You are public servants, not rulers.


goodlead April 25, 2012 @ 3:40 p.m.

The City was stung by its very public defeat when the courts ruled it had violated the State Constitution in forming the Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District -- and probably other MADs as well. So it is striking back in the only way it knows how: by making it easier to form a MAD (or Community Benefit Disttrict -- a MAD by a different name) with fewer formation requirements (see the specifics in the article) that is presumably harder to challenge in court. City government officials learn only the wrong lessons from their defeats.

These districts are supposed to provide "enhanced" benefits. But as no one in the city knows what a basic benefit is, an "enhanced" benefit means whatever the person using the term means. Basically it means that people are being taxed twice, once in their general property bill and once in the special tax, for the same service.

No surprise that Todd ("Incredibly Proud") Gloria is a big fan. He's never met a tax he didn't like, and he really doesn't care how the money is spent. Let's hear him give some specifics when he says that MADs have turned neighborhoods around, and let's make sure that it was really the MAD that did it. Politicians used to run on the slogan "A chicken in every pot." Gloria's slogan is "A flowerpot on every corner."


Let’s Assess the Assessments

Residential property owners throughout San Diego might be finding an additional charge on their annual property-tax bills if a local businessman gets his way. The extra assessment would pay for enhanced services such as trash ...

downtownrealist April 25, 2012 @ 12:48 p.m.

Just to be clear, the Downtown San Diego Partnership paid LiMandri's $10,000 January invoice with public money, not from private Partnership funds. The Partnership's Clean & Safe program's bank account, which is used to pay all of LiMandri's $10,000 per month consultant contract invoices, is reimbursed monthly for all Clean & Safe program expenses from assessments paid by downtown property owners. (Assessments are supposed to be used for services of direct benefit to the properties that generate those particular funds.)


oldcitizen April 25, 2012 @ 1:31 p.m.

It wasn't only $10,000 in January. LiMandri has been paid $10,000 every month since May of 2011 with Public money. His invoices list a few "consulting" tasks each month. A lot of graffitti and trash could be picked up with this money.


BlueSouthPark April 25, 2012 @ 2:53 p.m.

The killed Vargas bill, which Li Mandri apparently wrote, was a modified PBID that eliminated the biggest hurdle in the existing state Property & Business Improvement District law, the requirement that 50% of all property owners in a proposed district sign a petition asking to go to a vote on forming a district. Li Mandri and the City Council evidently think the reduced percentage, 30%, will fly in San Diego as an ordinance, because the private business groups that would benefit will rally in support. In 2002, when Li Mandri and Vargas tried to push a similar bill, AB2561, it was vetoed by the governor, who wrote:

...this bill offers no compelling reason why the assessment period should be extended so significantly, or for why the percentage of property owners signing a petition in support of such a [bill] is reduced from 50% to 30%. I am committed to the principles of smart growth and urban revitalization, but I do not believe that this bill provides the proper balance between these principles and those of fair and just taxation.

Vlad Kogan is exactly right: the types of property assessments that Li Mandri is always involved in creating are terrible. They are terrible because Li Mandri's self-serving fiefdoms do not address financing local needs, but, instead, address only the financing of luxuries and private groups. Li Mandri-style assessment districts finance private business groups (who will be the 30% signing the petitions and asking to be appointed managers), whose members in turn use the money handed over to them by the City for empowerment, personal leverage, and to finance their rent, office supplies, phone and computers, salaries for staff, directors, and managers, parking, lunches, promotions, retreats, and decorative luxury items such as flower baskets, decorator trash cans, and banners, not infrastructure. At least half, if not much more, of all of the assessments, which are public (taxpayer) money, are wasted on overhead. At the same time, the City, as administrator, is also spending money overseeing the business group contractor, more overhead.

Public-private partnerships are never economical, but are fiercely advocated by those who benefit financially from them and have come to expect them as a way of life in San Diego. The Downtown San Diego Partnership is a case in point: the board has no legal ground to allocate money to Li Mandri for the purpose of drafting state and local code. All of assessments are required to be spent on special and proportional benefits to the properties that are assessed.


historymatters April 26, 2012 @ 6:21 p.m.

Amen!!!! Beware of the public private partnership!!! It is being pushed by both sides as a great solution. its just a way to syphon tax dollars to special interests in a way that leaves citizens out of the loop. It always sounds good on paper. Who doesnt want to improve their neighborhood? look what the biggest public private partnership redevelopment has gotten us...unbelievable blight and enormous debt. he City is demanding 6.5 billlion dollars in state tax dollars for development projects. and there is no accountability and the gov is not standing up to them. So even though they are "dead" they created this entity to still have authority and there is nothing we can do about it. 1 more reason to vote no on any tax increases. doesnt matter what they say its for. it just goes into the giant sluch fund.


JustWondering April 25, 2012 @ 3:43 p.m.

When was 30% of anything considered a majority. If anything it should be 50% + 1, the same standard for majority rule anywhere. But that would not into the model that Vargas and Li Mandri are trying to profit from. That's right profit off the taxes paid by citizens to support something government is suppose to be doing anyway.
I question the notion government is collecting less because of Prop 13. Government is just spending well beyond it means because no one is really accountable.


Founder April 26, 2012 @ 8:54 a.m.

The 30% rule should be a RED FLAG to all voters to SCREAM NO...

Any new taxes should Require at least a majority ... OF ALL THOSE AFFECTED .... NOT JUST THOSE THAT REPLY...

This is a MAJOR point in how these MAD's are formed...


InOmbra April 25, 2012 @ 5:10 p.m.

goodlead writes: "when the courts ruled it had violated the State Constitution in forming the Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District -- and probably other MADs as well"

Bingo: The other identically formed assessment districts run by business groups and the Economic Development department are indeed equally illegal on unconstitutional grounds. They are:

  1. Little Italy MAD (formed and run by Li Mandri)
  2. Adams Avenue MAD
  3. Central Commercial MAD (formed by Hueso in 2000; Li Mandri was paid to do the setup)
  4. City Heights MAD
  5. College Heights MAD
  6. Hillcrest Commercial Core MAD
  7. Ocean Beach Newport Avenue MAD

It is going to be really interesting to watch the Council do the annual renewal on these illegal districts, coming up in about a month. What will happen to the City's favorite phrase: "Maintenance Assessment Districts (MADs) are legal mechanisms by which property owners within a specified district can vote to assess themselves..."?? Can't say that now!!!

The Municipal Code Li Mandri wrote for Casey Gwinn in 1998 and 2003 created these! Will council now rescind these and try to use Li Mandri's new code? Why are San Diego's council and downtown pols hooked on shady characters? They never, never, never go away (like Madaffer). And the likes of Kehoe, Hueso, Atkins, Peters, Young, Faulconer, Gloria, and Marti Emerald, and, alas, now David Alvarez, love them.

San Diego could do so much better.


Founder April 26, 2012 @ 9:03 a.m.

Remember PLEASE that the Boards that "run" MAD's should be ELECTED by Sub Districts (of the Mad) and not "at large" since the money needs to be spent fairly though out the District instead of "just" in the Business District!

Too many times we have seen those friendly to the Council Person placed on Boards by the Friends of the supporters of the Council Person...

Another Safe Guard would be to have a different Sub District act as Chairman of the Board every year, to insure that no Dynasties are formed...


dchand April 26, 2012 @ 3:11 p.m.

I have said over and over, do not let the government do things for you. Do it privately. It is cheaper and if you do not like the work, you can fire them easily. The GG MAD found that out the hard way. I am a good business man and family wealthy. Remember the city manager of Ball California got a salary of $800,000.00 plus benefits and pension and whatever he could steal. He was too greedy and got caught stealing. My son, who is a doctor told me of the director of a hospital north of San Diego whose salary is over $1,000,000.00 a year plus benefits and pension. I know what they do, they sit on their butt in an office and sign papers mostly. We cannot continue to print paper money. The Weimar Republic of Germany tried it and went broke and was over thrown. We are one step behind Greece and Europe. George Meany head of the AF of L CIO in the early1900s and FDR, a very liberal Democrat president said that government workers should not be allowed to unionize with collective bargaining rights. Well they did and all of the city, county, state and the Federal governments are bankrupt. We are one step behind Greece and all of Europe. I am a eight year graduate of a tough Catholic Jesuit University. I am not a Catholic. Those Jesuits are tough. I am a physician . I quit medicine on my 58th birthday. I could do better in business and not be called out at night. We are headed for a depression worse than the one in the 1930s Believe it.


Founder April 26, 2012 @ 9:14 a.m.

TWO other Hidden Problems in all MAD's:

  1. The "Engineer's Report" that describes the "allowed" work to be done...

This is a document that has many legal interpretations and because different Lawyers have different opinions, this document can be "gamed" to allow projects that the original voters did not even consider when they voted on the issue!

Vague wording guarantees future abuse by those then in control of the money collected!

  1. The ADMINISTRATION COSTS for these MAD's need to be limited to no more than 10% OF THE WORK DONE, this will prevent huge sums being spent every years when nothing really new gets completed! Socking away money year after year for a big project, actually only benefits the Administrator since they get a percentage of that money for doing NOTHING!

sswvjt April 26, 2012 @ 9:15 a.m.

I find it just a bit more than coincidental that none of these proposals to supposedly benefit the "community" ever seem to be mentioned, let alone explored in any kind of depth, on any major news outlet. If people were more readily made aware of these schemes, then perhaps it might be a little more difficult for schemers like Mr. Li Mandri and his minions on the city council to pick our pockets. Just wondering also why people such as Mr. Li Mandri and his ilk are given these forums to further their own interests under the banner of serving the greater good? As stated in an earlier post above, let these people sell their ideas to the public. That's not likely to happen, because they already know the public won't buy them, so the next step is to get the government to shove them down our throats. This can only work if the government has sold out to special interests and the people are kept uninformed.


historymatters April 26, 2012 @ 3:21 p.m.

Im not surprised Todd loves it. He loves building parking lots and putting in new meters everywhere so citizens will be hounded w/ parking fees everywhere they go. The provision about providing "parking facilities" scares me. seems that D3 has turned into 1 giant paid parking lot thanks to Todd Gloria. Land that could have been turned into community gardens...paid parking lots.


Twister April 26, 2012 @ 4:56 p.m.

There should be no MADs. But there are other forms of public/private work that can avoid the disadvantages.

MADs are a way to collect taxes and divert them into contractor pockets. Bad times encourage people to go MAD. Because tax revenue declines and puts the squeeze on public service budgets leaving little in the way of plums for supporters.


historymatters April 26, 2012 @ 6:46 p.m.

Also SD Pay close attention to WHO is running your elections!! I have been raising flags about this for years!!! We need to ensure we have an honest elect. We need to demand a handcount at precincts of at least a portion of votes to ensure accuracy. Many people dont realize San diego hired Micheal Vu from the Ohio election fraud of 2004 to RUN our elections w/ Deborah Seiler sales rep for Diebold.


BlueSouthPark April 29, 2012 @ 6:11 p.m.

I believe that this article raises disturbing questions:

  • Why is a business owner writing Municipal Code?
  • Why is the Mayor, the City Attorney, and what used to be City Planning (now Economic Growth) relying on, and seemingly beholden to, the business community, particularly a person who has been investigated for conflicts of interest, to write Municipal Code?
  • Why is State Senator Vargas willing to introduce a bill written by a local businessman?

I can't think of any answers to these questions that make good sense. But something is really, really wrong in this town. Recent revelations about the lobby group ALEC, and how ALEC members have written entire bills for many State and Federal legislators, show that voters have no voice in government, unless they are part of powerful groups with money to give or withhold. San Diego has its powerful business groups and lobbyists - especially Southwest Strategies in the downtown and near-urban areas. To paraphrase one interpretation of this (

The problem with [this] isn’t that [businessmen and lobbyists] write ... legislation, or that legislators use that legislation, it’s that the legislation they write sucks and their ideas are generally bad for the public interest. ... journalists should continue to do a good job of being vigilant in monitoring whether proposed bills have ... ties, and whether legislators who propose them are being forthcoming about the fact that they’re introducing business lobby-written legislation.

In San Diego, we've had sparse investigative journalism on this; only The Reader covered the following events:

  1. Li Mandri co-writes Muni Code in 1998/2003, "allowing" the City Council "legally" to approve formation of MADs that assess residential properties for business services.
  2. The last of these illegal MADs formed results in a lawsuit that the City loses.
  3. Within a month of the court decision, Li Mandri goes before the Public Safety & Neighborhood Services Committee, "as a citizen," presenting the need for a new way to impose assessments, because of "problems with the municipal code" that he authored, which resulted in the lawsuit that the City lost.
  4. At the same time, Li Mandri is being paid by the City to do solve their PBID and MAD "problem," including contacting the powerful commercial owners (and David Alvarez) in Barrio Logan and lining up their support for his CBD ordinance.
  5. The PS&NS committee is ecstatic to receive Citizen Li Mandri's CBD Municipal Code, yet no action is taken locally.
  6. Li Mandri's CBD Municipal Code appears in January 2012 as Senate Bill 949, with language modified only to make it a State law, rather than a local ordinance.

When and if this mayor or council, or the next ones, and/or Vargas, or Hueso, Atkins, or Kehoe, try to subvert perfectly adequate State law embodied in the restrained, existing Property & Business Improvement District law, be ready to fight. I will.


BlueSouthPark April 29, 2012 @ 6:42 p.m.

enjoyPB -On residential assessments being the focal point of the CBD ordinance, if you need convincing: Li Mandri was instrumental in working with his friend Gavin Newsome to create multiple CBDs in the early 2000s. Here is the San Francisco ordinance in Business and Tax Regulations Code, Article 15, Business Improvement Districts Procedure Code, verbatim link text:

a) State law provides procedures to form property and business improvement districts. This Article provides authority for the City to invoke those state procedures and in addition to apply those procedures to residential property that would not be covered were the City to follow the state law exclusively. This Article incorporates the state law and then specifies how the Board of Supervisors may choose to augment the state law provisions by choosing to: (1) reduce the percentage of petitions required from owners in order to initiate formation; (2) have the district encompass and assess residential property; or (3) extend the term of the district to a maximum of 15 years, unless a longer term is authorized by state law; or (4) authorize the district to recover through assessments the costs incurred in its formation.


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