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Manchester Financial Group, the holding company for the San Diego media, hotel, and real estate empire of La Jolla's Doug Manchester, is using the services of Latitude 33 Planning and Engineering, a local development consulting and lobbying outfit, to help steer a U-T San Diego-related project in Mission Valley past the shoals of potentially hostile neighbors and regulators.

According to Latitude 33's most recent lobbying disclosure statement, posted online by the San Diego city clerk's office, the company's assignment has involved "trying to determine if a Community Plan Amendment is required for new Union-Tribune site," along with consideration of a "Mission Valley Planned District permit."

As previously reported here, first details of Manchester's plans to redevelop the Union-Tribune's Mission Valley office building and printing plant came to light after city planners posted a notice of the proposal on the building's front lawn early last month.

The newspaper followed up with its first coverage of the project later in the evening.

The U-T has also sought city permission to install large signs and an electronic "news ticker" around the top of its building.

During the first three months of this year, Latitude 33's filing reveals, the firm's principal planner Ted Shaw lobbied city development services chief Kelly Broughton regarding the matter; the company received a $1,000 fee for its efforts.

Manchester's relationship with Latitude 33 illustrates one of the ethical conundrums that may face the newspaper now that it is owned by a real estate developer and major political player.

According to records on file with the city clerk, since 2006, Latitude 33 employees have contributed a total of $5576 to candidates for San Diego city offices.

At the top of the recipient list is city councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican now locked in a tight race with Democratic congressman Bob Filner to succeed lame-duck GOP mayor Jerry Sanders.

Latitude 33 employees gave $1046 to DeMaio's previous city council race; they have so far given $999 to the DeMaio for mayor campaign.

Shaw, who is listed on the Latitude 33 lobbyist disclosure filing as handling the Manchester development, has given a total of $1098 to city campaigns since 2007, including the maximum $500 individual primary election contribution on November 21 of last year to DeMaio's mayoral bid, according to filings.

Manchester's U-T San Diego has endorsed DeMaio.

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citizenkurt June 19, 2012 @ 5:06 p.m.

This is news? No one should be surprised about this.


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