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Civitas, Inc., the consulting firm being used by Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs to design his controversial Balboa Park makeover, has paid $40,000 to San Diego lobbying firm MJE Marketing Services to promote the plan at city hall.
Accordng to MJE's January 5 lobbyist disclosure filing for the final three months of 2011, MJE's Lauren Bogart and Kristen Byrne huddled with mayoral staffers Rachel Laing and Gerald Braun, as well as Park and Recreation's Stacey Lomedico, to map lobbying strategy, the goal being "approval of the Plaza de Panama Project."
Mayor Jerry Sanders, a longtime beneficiary of Jacobs political largesse, has been a stalwart backer of the billionaire's projects, including the park redesign and Qualcomm's "Snapdragon Stadium" promotional gambit, which was held to be illegal by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
Jacobs unveiled his park plan, including a massive parking garage south of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, at an invitation-only event in August 2010. According to an account of the meeting in the Union-Tribune, representatives of Denver-based Civitas were in attendance.
The La Jolla billionaire did not say how much money he was prepared to give the project, which is officially being promoted by a non-profit foundation set up by Jacobs, the story added.
The tax-exempt group, named the Plaza de Panama Committee, has an address at the downtown B Street offices of the law and lobbying firm of Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek.
In addition to Civitas, MJE reported that other lobbying clients included the Otay Mesa Property Owners Association, which paid the company $4,000, and Verizon Wireless, which paid $18,000.
Byrne, vice president of MJE and daughter of Mike McDade, one-time mayoral aide to Roger Hedgecock and an influential lobbyist in his own right, contributed $150 each to the re-election campaigns of Democratic city council members Sherri Lightner and Marti Emerald on December 1, and $250 to Todd Gloria, also a Democrat, on the same date.
Founded by ex-Union-Tribune staffer Marlee Ehrenfeld, who is the firm's president, MJE has done work for Qualcomm, the Airport Authority, and in the last quarter of 2011 was paid $1193 by San Diego's storm water department to work on the city's Think Blue program, according to MJE's disclosure.