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The flap over Mayor Bob Filner's mishandling of the Sunroad Enterprise matter brings to mind another scandal regarding that company back in the 2007-2008 time period. Comparison of these two scandals shows the staggering hypocrisy of the San Diego establishment and its mouthpiece, the Union-Tribune.

Back in the 2007-2008 period, Sunroad built a 12-story structure near Montgomery Field; both the Federal Aviation Administration and the California Department of Transportation said it was too high, and therefore unsafe for a building this close to an airport. Then-City Attorney Mike Aguirre sued and the federal and state agencies joined the suit. A number of ugly things happened: Police Chief William Lansdowne refused to serve a subpoena to a Sunroad vice president, although the subpoena had been approved by a respected judge. Elected officials such as Bonnie Dumanis and Bill Kolender collectively denounced Aguirre. Mayor Jerry Sanders huddled with aides to figure out how to get Sunroad off the hook. Why? Well, a major reason was that Sunroad had given thousands of dollars to Sanders's campaign. Another reason is that Sunroad is a real estate developer, and that element then ran City Hall. The Union-Tribune's pathetic editorial page wrote one screed after another, claiming that Aguirre was smearing the Sunroad executive, acting irresponsibly, ad nauseam.

Now Sunroad is at it again. It wanted an easement, and to do so, paid $100,000 to the City -- repeat, to THE CITY, not, as far as can be determined, to the mayor. There appears to be no doubt that the payment was a quid pro quo; Filner was stupid to accept it for City projects. His explanations of how it all happened are shaky. It does not appear that he was massaging a donor, or putting any of the money in his pockets. But the U-T, which takes delight in smearing Filner, is on the attack, questioning his trustworthiness and integrity...blah, blah, blah.

The same establishment that fought to protect Sanders and Sunroad has now done a backflip over a much less serious issue. Do things ever change?

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Anon92107 June 30, 2013 @ 12:24 p.m.

Don, the U-T editorial sycophants to Manchester just keep ramping up their rantitorials throughout the U-T, making the paper the equivalent to reading TP, so the paper should really be renamed "Manchester TP" instead of U-T.

Manchester is schizo, part fascist tyrant who is committed to destroying American Democracy and creating a one party SuperPAC state, and part communist dictator dedicated to creating a state of poverty for the rest of us while he champions sending American manufacturing jobs to China where the SuperPAC tyrants use communist slave labor replacing "Made In USA," and then selling products in America using Wal-Mart's plantation system.


eastlaker June 30, 2013 @ 12:48 p.m.

Might be time for a new "Bleak House"--lyric to "Brick House". Because we are becoming a Bleak House.


Don Bauder June 30, 2013 @ 2:38 p.m.

eastlaker: Certainly, many people in our society -- including many in the middle class -- face a bleak future because of the radically uneven distribution of wealth and income. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder June 30, 2013 @ 2:37 p.m.

Anon92107: Manchester is neither a fascist nor a communist, but he is using the newspaper to push his political agenda and promote corporate welfare projects that will help him financially. Best, Don Bauder


Anon92107 July 1, 2013 @ 11:13 a.m.

OK Don, I meant to emphasize that Manchester is like them since he wants to remake American Democracy into an oligarchy where he is part of the tyrant class, dedicated to treating all other Americans who aren't in his social class as demo slaves using deranged rantitorials in his "Manchester TP" media empire.

Hope that clarifies it, the bottom line is that Manchester is the exact same type of Tory the American patriots fought the Revolutionary War to overthrow so we could create American Democracy in the first place.

Happy 4th of July!


Don Bauder July 2, 2013 @ 12:08 p.m.

Anon92107: Whether or not "oligarchy" is the right word, there is no question that today's upper crust, including Manchester, wants America to become a plutonomy, or if it's already there, an even more oppressive plutonomy. A plutonomy describes a society in which the majority of wealth is controlled by an ever-shrinking minority. The economic growth depends on consumption by that tiny minority..."a rising tide lifts all yachts," is the mantra. In the U.S., the richest 10% control 90% of the stocks, for example. That's classic plutonomy. The plutocrats who want an even more oppressive plutonomy don't realize that they are fouling their own nest. More than 70% of the U.S. economy is consumer spending. When middle class income and wealth, adjusted for inflation, have actually declined over the decades, as they have, those championing plutonomy will wake up some day and realize their precious ideology has picked their own pockets. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark June 30, 2013 @ 1:26 p.m.

Sunroad paid the City $100k, but they delivered it to the mayor's office. Why? "Filner was stupid to accept it for City projects. His explinations of how it all happened are shaky." That about covers it.


Don Bauder June 30, 2013 @ 2:41 p.m.

aardvark: But we don't know that he intended to put it in his pocket, and at this point we certainly can't say that he did. He definitely was wrong to set up the deal the way he did. He left himself vulnerable. The establishment is out to get him, just as it got Aguirre. Filner has to be careful, because the establishment has the mainstream media on its side. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark June 30, 2013 @ 5:19 p.m.

Don--I think we all agree it would have been worse if he put it in his pocket, but the fact that the check was sent to the mayor's office is what really concerned me. It was as if Sunroad was told to send it there--Why? That is the question I want answered, and Filner needs to answer for that.


Don Bauder June 30, 2013 @ 7:25 p.m.

aardvark: I agree: Filner should explain that. Why couldn't Sunroad just plunk it in the general fund? Best, Don Bauder


aardvark June 30, 2013 @ 8:37 p.m.

Why couldn't Sunroad just do things right? If Aguirre were still the city attorney, he would make them give that 9 feet back.


Don Bauder June 30, 2013 @ 10:02 p.m.

aardvark: One of the things that bothers me about these two episodes is that in the 2007-2008 scandal, the focus was primarily on Aguirre, who was trying to effectuate reforms. It should have been on Sunroad. Now, it's the same. The focus is on Filner. He will be investigated. Why haven't investigative bodies probed Sunroad for its activities? It takes two to tango. Best, Don Bauder


aardvark June 30, 2013 @ 11:27 p.m.

Don: It does take two to tango, and they should both be investigated. But as dumb as Filner was, someone should throw the book at Sunroad.


Don Bauder July 1, 2013 @ 8:22 a.m.

aardvark: Sunroad dodged investigation in 2007-2008. It must not wiggle off the hook this time. Best, Don Bauder


Andy Cohen July 1, 2013 @ 6:03 p.m.

Don- We do know that he DIDN'T intend to put it in his pocket. The money went to two different charitable projects: The Ocean Beach Veterans' Plaza and the Ciclos Dias event in August.

We also know that once he issued the veto of the City Council's vote, Sunroad's Tom Story contacted the mayor's office to see how they could "remove the wrench" and proceed with what the City Council had already agreed with, i.e. undo the veto. That's when the $100k donation was offered up.

This was merely a (very) clumsy effort on the part of Filner to make sure that the City wasn't giving away something of value for nothing, as City Council's past and present have been wont to do.


Don Bauder July 2, 2013 @ 8:46 a.m.

Andy Cohen: Because money moves in such surreptitious ways, I don't think we know that he didn't intend to put it in his pocket. I don't think he did...but I don't know. There are so many back alleys that moolah is steered through. On balance, I think Filner is doing a very good job, and his nemisis, Goldsmith, is simply a tool of the corporate welfare crowd -- and not a very slick tool. Best, Don Bauder


HonestGovernment June 30, 2013 @ 1:29 p.m.

Thanks for summarizing the history of this, Don. The current Sunroad burn is a big nothing-burger, except maybe for who really was involved in the ridiculous setup. Like, come on, leaving a voicemail for Faulconer, announcing your bribe? From corrupt Tom Story??? And really, though friends of Allen Jones talk about what a nice guy he is, if he wasn't involved in a setup, then he isn't someone who is smart enough to be paid by the taxpayers. If he were my employee, I'd yell very loudly at him AND fire him. At least he got to "resign."

Filner needs staffers with Allen Jones' kind of expertise, but he sure doesn't need double-crossers or people who think government can be run just like businesses. Jones' ties with Sherman, Zapf, and the whole development industry in general are a bit suspect.

Another aspect of the Sunroad setup, as reported by the new "watchdog," Trent Seibert, is that he included at least one lie in his story. He is a Tea Party hack from Nashville, by way of Colorado and Rick Perry's waking nightmare,Texas, who thinks that the sad events in Ben Ghazi are an Obama scandal worse than Iran Contra. Isn't it just an amazing coincidence that UT managed to find and hire him!


Don Bauder June 30, 2013 @ 2:45 p.m.

HonestGovernment: You are right: Filner should not have a lieutenant who is snug with real estate developers. The developers have run San Diego for far too long. Filner said as much during his campaign. He needs somebody clean. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh June 30, 2013 @ 2:56 p.m.

Bob has wounded himself here. He knew that the Manchester Mill would be waiting to pounce on any sort of indiscretion, and yet with only about a half year of his term under his belt, pulled this stunt. Worse yet, he won't admit that it was a mistake and do a mea culpa. His credibility required remaining above reproach, and now he's done something that is reproachable.

It doesn't really matter, except as a historical observation, how the rag treated his predecessor when that mayor was playing footsie with this shady developer. Bob should be on the high road, and in this case ended up in the mud.


BlueSouthPark June 30, 2013 @ 5:30 p.m.

I think you're correct, except for Filner doing anything "reproachable." When people who want to bring down a government leader are embedded in the City government as long-time staff, and are also operating outside of government and with it, in concert with insiders or not, and the job and responsibilities are complex, there will be many wounds.

The worst thing is the relentless attempt to categorize Filner as emotionally unstable, bizarre, etc. His enemies, in every skirmish, whether they win one or not, always fall back on such accusations, thus claiming a win every time. It's the same game played at the Federal level in the House by Boehner/McConnell et al..

Constant provocation ought to elicit outrage; that Filner fights back hard is a strength that is respected in many quarters, including my quarter. But if enemies want to proclaim that push-back equates to craziness and instability, and citizens who don't read the fine print accept that assessment at face value, what can Filner do? It's easy to say that Filner should just outsmart his enemies, but it's not always possible. And, he was born with the personality he has. He may not be able to find the right intermediaries in San Diego, because they jdon't exist here. That said, he has done many good things for many people in his political career and I am happy that he is here, trying to help the citizens of San Diego.


Don Bauder July 1, 2013 @ 8:31 a.m.

BlueSouthPark: Filner is disliked by a lot of people, including many Democrats. He has a prickly personality. Thus, the corporate welfare crowd, such as the Lincoln Club and the various downtown boosters, have attacked him personally, rather than focusing heavily on the issues. Watch out: the people picking San Diegans' pockets are going to attack Filner dispiteously so they can rake in money from the citizenry. And they have their own propaganda vehicle: the UT. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder June 30, 2013 @ 7:27 p.m.

Visduh: Agreed. Filner should be really careful. He won't be given a free pass by the mainstream media and the establishment, as Sanders was. Aguirre found that out. Filner needs a Mr. Clean for an aide. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard June 30, 2013 @ 5:06 p.m.

I would be concerned if the UT did not attack Filner. So long as they attack him we know the developers don't have a flunky mayor for the first time in my memory. I need to know more about this, but I like what Filner has done so far generally, and hope we can find another like him to continue the fight when he retires.


monaghan July 10, 2013 @ 10:27 a.m.

Filner is in for the long haul and will not be retiring anytime soon. The guy is seven months into a four-year term and surely will run again. He thrives on public service and he doesn't mind the politics.

We are watching an epic battle here, but the people are going to win because Filner always represents their interests. There will be setbacks and even mistakes from time to time, but true value shines through and Filner is sterling.

The oligarchs should be embarrassed by their unimaginative tactics and tawdry language -- their playbook's chapter and verse is used against Filner as it was used against others in the past to discredit and crush any/all opposition. It will not work in this instance: Mayor Filner doesn't crush or fold.


Don Bauder June 30, 2013 @ 7:30 p.m.

Psycholizard: I agree: on balance, Filner has done a good job steering San Diego's priorities in the right direction -- that is, away from downtown and away from corporate welfare projects. But to accomplish this, he has to be sure that he is clean. He can't micromanage, because he might miss some things that come back to bite him. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard June 30, 2013 @ 9:16 p.m.

After reading more, I have to wonder what Sunroad did to jam their variance through City Council. Filner's crime seems to be delaying the council's rubber stamp for a few weeks. If something was wrong, Sunroad was conspirator, and any investigation should look at the donations made by those associated with the firm.


Don Bauder July 1, 2013 @ 8:33 a.m.

Psycholizard: Any investigation should focus more on Sunroad and council than on Filner, although the mayor has some explaining to do. Best, Don Bauder


MURPHYJUNK July 1, 2013 @ 7:47 a.m.

sometimes it seems road blocks ( regulations) are put in place to elicit "donations" to get special consideration to get around them.


Don Bauder July 1, 2013 @ 8:36 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Yes, regulatory roadblocks often elicit so-called "donations." This is the modus operandi in many nations throughout the world -- Mexico being only one example. It happens zillions of times in the U.S., too. Best, Don Bauder


Psycholizard July 1, 2013 @ 1:58 p.m.

Sunroad seems to like to build over the limit, and then use their connections to rubber stamp their stealing of public land or airspace. They must be very confident of their influence with the City to erect buildings in violation, then ask for the variance. Sunroad's actions seem a blatant attempt to smear a political enemy rather than reward a friend, remember that Filner never took an official action in their favor. But since Sunroad has confessed it's willingness to use improper influence, perhaps State or Federal Attorneys should look at Sunroad's donations and dealings with the council members who overrode Filner's veto. I expect the powers smearing Filner will drop this soon, because if they wanted Sunroad investigated, Mike Aguirre would still be City Attorney.


Don Bauder July 1, 2013 @ 2:21 p.m.

Psycholizard: Tom Story, who handled both the 2007-2008 and the current payoffs for Sunroad, is a former top City official. Now he is a top official at Sunroad. That's one factor that makes it even more redolent.


checkthistidbit July 9, 2013 @ 10:05 p.m.

Don, one of your former collegues and recent Pulitzer Prize winner David Hassemyer was on to Sunroad in 2007, and kept at it, surprisingly getting the UT to publish his revelations.

Scan down to see how many stories: http://m.utsandiego.com/staff/david-hasemyer/stories/?page=3&;

This was as the UT was dismantling itself. People like Dave and yourself are gone. The old days of worrying about UT investigative journalism is over, now it is more like a Fox News outlet in print. I like Filner and hope he irons things out. He may have been in DC when Sunroad was caught the first time, regardless as it is inexcusable that he didn't see any red flags on his watch. On other issues he is in for one hit piece after another from the UT. Good luck to him.


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