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Manchester Purchase of Union-Tribune Raises Questions of Timing

Word this morning that Doug Manchester is buying the Union-Tribune may help explain some recent editorializing by the paper.

Don Bauder first reported here on September 29 about rumors circulating that Platinum Equity, the Beverly Hills private equity outfit run by billionaire Tom Gores, was about to seal a deal allowing controversial La Jollan Manchester to take control of the Union-Tribune, San Diego's once all-powerful newspaper of record and political influence.

Manchester, who started his professional life as an insurance salesman and rose to become one of the city's most successful real estate developers, thanks in part to exclusive bayfront leases granted by the San Diego port commission, is famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for a variety of undertakings, such as his financial backing of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that overturned same-sex marriage in California, and a big waterfront development deal with the U.S. Navy that triggered environmental outcries and a recent rejection by the state coastal commission.

Until the mogul announced he was selling off his Hyatt Regency twin-tower bay-view hotel next to Seaport Village, the hostelry was the target of a lengthy boycott and noisy picket lines led by bullhorn-wielding opponents, discreetly observed by a cadre of San Diego city and port police.

On November 5, the Union-Tribune, without mentioning any prospective deal to sell the paper, editorialized in favor of going ahead with Manchester's redevelopment project with the Navy, saying coastal commission rejection of the plan "does not have to mean the death, or even the overly long delay, of the project, the thousands of jobs it would create and the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic stimulus it would spark for San Diego over the next decade."

"The biggest obstacle is the desire of commission staff for the 2.9-million-square-foot office-hotel complex to be scaled back by eliminating one of the four office towers and one of three hotels.

"The Manchester team views them as key components that would make the project economically viable while still providing the Navy a new headquarters building for free.

"What's needed, said Perry Dealy, Manchester 's consultant, is 'a reasonable and fair balance - and I'm willing to do that.'

"If the commission, its staff and project opponents adopt a similar spirit, Pacific Gateway can breathe new life."

A few days before, on November 2, the U-T had vigorously urged the commission to proceed with the project, saying, "Enough is enough...If Pacific Gateway goes down, lost with it would be thousands of jobs and economic stimulus. That is unacceptable.

"As San Diego struggles to break out of the economic doldrums, government should be doing what it can to help, not get in the way. Projects like this can't sit on the sidelines.

"The commission overruled its staff in approving the project 20 years ago. It should do so again today and let this project go forward."

Only after his project with the Navy was finally shot down by the coastal commission did Manchester go public with his desire to buy the U-T, telling the online news website Voice of San Diego of his interest on November 7.

And today, at the top of its front page, the U-T features a large color graphic with five yellow stars, touting the Grand Del Mar resort as the "the first in the county to receive Forbes Travel Guide's top rating."

A glowing story inside says the designation, "puts the Grand Del Mar in the same league as the esteemed Beverly Hills Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco." Manager Tom Voss is quoted as saying nice things about his staff.

But one seemingly important detail is missing: the resort was developed and is run by Manchester Financial Group, Doug Manchester's holding company, whose website features a smiling portrait of him and top executives, including Voss.

By uncanny coincidence, today is also the day that the state Supreme Court is expected to rule regarding Prop 8.

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Word this morning that Doug Manchester is buying the Union-Tribune may help explain some recent editorializing by the paper.

Don Bauder first reported here on September 29 about rumors circulating that Platinum Equity, the Beverly Hills private equity outfit run by billionaire Tom Gores, was about to seal a deal allowing controversial La Jollan Manchester to take control of the Union-Tribune, San Diego's once all-powerful newspaper of record and political influence.

Manchester, who started his professional life as an insurance salesman and rose to become one of the city's most successful real estate developers, thanks in part to exclusive bayfront leases granted by the San Diego port commission, is famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for a variety of undertakings, such as his financial backing of Proposition 8, the ballot measure that overturned same-sex marriage in California, and a big waterfront development deal with the U.S. Navy that triggered environmental outcries and a recent rejection by the state coastal commission.

Until the mogul announced he was selling off his Hyatt Regency twin-tower bay-view hotel next to Seaport Village, the hostelry was the target of a lengthy boycott and noisy picket lines led by bullhorn-wielding opponents, discreetly observed by a cadre of San Diego city and port police.

On November 5, the Union-Tribune, without mentioning any prospective deal to sell the paper, editorialized in favor of going ahead with Manchester's redevelopment project with the Navy, saying coastal commission rejection of the plan "does not have to mean the death, or even the overly long delay, of the project, the thousands of jobs it would create and the hundreds of millions of dollars in economic stimulus it would spark for San Diego over the next decade."

"The biggest obstacle is the desire of commission staff for the 2.9-million-square-foot office-hotel complex to be scaled back by eliminating one of the four office towers and one of three hotels.

"The Manchester team views them as key components that would make the project economically viable while still providing the Navy a new headquarters building for free.

"What's needed, said Perry Dealy, Manchester 's consultant, is 'a reasonable and fair balance - and I'm willing to do that.'

"If the commission, its staff and project opponents adopt a similar spirit, Pacific Gateway can breathe new life."

A few days before, on November 2, the U-T had vigorously urged the commission to proceed with the project, saying, "Enough is enough...If Pacific Gateway goes down, lost with it would be thousands of jobs and economic stimulus. That is unacceptable.

"As San Diego struggles to break out of the economic doldrums, government should be doing what it can to help, not get in the way. Projects like this can't sit on the sidelines.

"The commission overruled its staff in approving the project 20 years ago. It should do so again today and let this project go forward."

Only after his project with the Navy was finally shot down by the coastal commission did Manchester go public with his desire to buy the U-T, telling the online news website Voice of San Diego of his interest on November 7.

And today, at the top of its front page, the U-T features a large color graphic with five yellow stars, touting the Grand Del Mar resort as the "the first in the county to receive Forbes Travel Guide's top rating."

A glowing story inside says the designation, "puts the Grand Del Mar in the same league as the esteemed Beverly Hills Hotel and the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco." Manager Tom Voss is quoted as saying nice things about his staff.

But one seemingly important detail is missing: the resort was developed and is run by Manchester Financial Group, Doug Manchester's holding company, whose website features a smiling portrait of him and top executives, including Voss.

By uncanny coincidence, today is also the day that the state Supreme Court is expected to rule regarding Prop 8.

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Comments
18

I question anyone who buys the UT-it looks like a black hole for $$$$, and wonder what kind of cash flow it has, if any.

Nov. 17, 2011

It appears to be a win-WIN!!! situation, according to this rosy propagan, ummm, I mean, assessment:

. http://www.10news.com/news/29795745/detail.html?treets=sand&taf=sand .

Nov. 17, 2011

This capture of the U-T brand name might at first glance seem to be a restoration of San Diego to its plutocratic past, when Illinois utility baron Ira Copley rode into town and installed his lackeys in positions of power, and the town was treated to the rise of C. Arnholt Smith, who, with James Copley's help, proceeded to own banking, tuna canning, the Padres, Pacific Southwest Airlines.... but no, Doug Manchester isn't the guy who's gonna infect our minds. San Diego's a different place now, more digital than real, more a part of a globalism and therefore less likely to fall to a single band of local money barons. It's gonna get more interesting now that Pious Doug Manchester has purchased his Bullshit Horn. Let's all get to work!

Nov. 17, 2011

Doesn't often seem that EVERYTHING that involves the U-T raises questions? Why is it such a questionable operation and institution?

Nov. 17, 2011

Newspapers are dirty. Always have been. Newspapers WERE once the mass media. Nowadays? Not so much. Newspapers... television news... are there less trustworthy sources of objectives reporting? Ah, and therein resides the beauty. IT MUST BE TRUE I READ IT IN THE PAPER.

Nov. 17, 2011

Help me out here: what's your point about the Grand Del Mar Resort ad in the U-T today? -- that the new owner of the paper (Doug Manchester)is improperly hyping his other properties above the headline?

I also don't get what the "question of timing" point is either. The motivated sellers of the U-T (Platinum Equity) were editorializing in favor of a project being floated by their hottest prospect/potential buyer (Doug Manchester) just before transfer of the U-T from Platinum to Manchester was complete.

Standard Operating Procedure for moguls and bottom-feeders. Call me when somebody goes to jail.

Nov. 17, 2011

This is a sad day for San Diego. Manchester is described in the UT announcement as businessman, visionary, industrialist and philanthropist. Other adjectives that could have used are bigot, litigious, unfaithful and hypocrite. We'll see which of the good journalists and news editors survive this latest indignity.

San Diego now has our very own Rupert Murdoch in spades.

Nov. 17, 2011

Shoot! Now I'm probably going to have to come up with a new nickname for the miserable rag. The Light News seemed to sum it up all so nicely. When (not if) Light leaves, what am I gonna call it? Help me! I/we need a new nickname for this failing attempt at journalism.

Nov. 17, 2011

The Unreadable-Treacle?

Nov. 17, 2011

The Onion-Tripudium

Nov. 18, 2011

Manchester Untied

Nov. 18, 2011

The Propaganda Press

Nov. 17, 2011

the the brit fried onion

Nov. 18, 2011

It's much worse than I thought: Lynch told the Voice of San Diego that the U-T is going to be a "cheerleader" for the owners' agenda. The sports page will attack opponents of the Chargers corporate welfare stadium as "obstructionists."

I had entertained mild optimism about the new owners, but no more. We'll need the Reader more than ever to expose machinations of the corporate welfare pigocracy.

Nov. 18, 2011

READERREADERREADERREADERREADERREADERREADERREADERREADERREADERREADERREADER!!!

did i mention the Reader?;-D)

Nov. 18, 2011

Darn link. Here's the VOSD article: http://j.mp/uF8aSX

Nov. 18, 2011

In case Manchester runs low on cash after that big purchase, the State Controller's Office is holding some money for him. Funny how the state can never seem to locate very-well-known and easily locatable people.

Date: 11/18/2011 Source: INT Property ID Number: 018673083 Owner(s) Name: MANCHESTER DOUGLAS F Reported Owner Address: 1175 MUIRLANDS DR, LA JOLLA CA 92037- Type of Property: Refunds Cash Reported: $62.11 Reported By: PACIFIC BELL TELEPHONE COMPANY

Nov. 18, 2011

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