Jeannette DeWyze 8:30 a.m., Feb. 17
Personal and campaign gifts to council Democrats a long tradition at GOP's Evans operation
Todd Gloria only the latest in a long line of pro-Evans council members to get campaign cash, tickets, food, and other blandishments from major city lessee.
Now that San Diego's GOP hotel moguls have reportedly decided to call off their lawsuit and cut a deal with Democratic mayor Bob Filner - in what the mayor's fellow Democrat, La Jolla city councilwoman Sherri Lightner called a "kumbaya" moment, according to UT San Diego's Roger Showley - will all be sweetness and light at city hall?
Unlikely, predict those who know the self-styled populist Filner and the long entitled Republican hotel titans, whose families' power lineage here goes back in some cases to the 1940s and before.
In particular, the mayor has long taken an interest in the political wheeling and dealing of the Evans family, which owns the Bahia and Catamaran hotels on Mission Bay and the Lodge at Torrey Pines. The Bahia and Torrey Pines properties sit on city owned land, and the Catamaran has a lease from the city for its waterfront dock complex.
Back in 1996, when then-city councilman Juan Vargas - backed by big hotel money, including that from the Evans family - challenged him in the Democratic primary, then-congressman Filner held a news conference in front of the Bahia to call for a state probe into Vargas's 1995 Coastal Commission vote for a Mission Bay master plan heavily lobbied by the Evans interests.
Reported the San Diego Daily Transcript:
Filner accused Vargas, a San Diego city councilman and California coastal commissioner, of breaking coastal law by accepting campaign donations from hotelier Bill Evans and family members, then voting for a master plan that would allow Evans to expand his Bahia Hotel into what is now Mission Bay parkland.
"It is clear that the values Mr. Vargas has do not include access to the waterfront," said Filner.
The Coastal Commission had subsequently rescinded the pro-Evans action, but only after being sued by a group calling itself Save Everyone's Access. The suit alleged that Bill Evans and those employed by him had made illegal ex parte contacts with Vargas and fellow commissioners Bill Rick and Timothy Staffel prior to the commission vote to approve the plan.
The lawsuit also criticized Vargas for accepting a ticket to the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce Insights program from Evans, contending the gift posed a conflict.
Filner focused on donations Evans and his family gave to Vargas, including $250 donations - the maximum allowed under the municipal ordinance - that Evans, his wife, and his mother, Anne Evans, each gave to Vargas in 1994.
He produced records showing Evans and his mother also donated $1000 each to Vargas' current congressional campaign.
Filner noted that coastal law specifically requires "commissioners to disqualify themselves from voting on any matter if they have received a campaign contribution of $250 or more from an interested party."
As Dorian Hargrove reported here last month, Evans and two other big hotel San Diego hotel moguls, C. Terry Brown and Richard Bartell, have given heavily to some members of the current city council, which will vote on any renegotiated deal with the hotel operators regarding the city’s controversial tourism marketing money.
According to a 2012 personal financial disclosure statement, filed earlier this week with the city clerk's office, at least one council member has personally benefited from Evans-related largesse, though the disclosure doesn't go out of its way to show the relationship.
Democrat Todd Gloria - a vocal opponent of the mayor’s efforts to renegotiate the city’s tourism marketing deal with the hotel owners - reported getting a $100 admission to a "Victory Fund Brunch" from Robert Gleason in February of last year.
Gloria's statement lists Gleason's business activity as "individual.” In fact, Gleason, a longtime friend and political backer of Gloria, is the chief financial officer of Evans Hotels.
As previously reported, both men signed the nominating petition of Timothy B. Taylor, the San Diego Superior Court judge handling the hotel mogul's lawsuit against Filner. Taylor has denied knowing either Gloria or Gleason.
It hasn’t been the first time Gloria reported gifts from Gleason. In June 2011, the Evans executive gave him a $100 ticket to the Women's Pride Brunch, according to Gloria’s disclosure statement. And in March 2010, Gloria reported getting a $75 ticket from Gleason to a “Victory Brunch.”
According to city campaign finance disclosure records, Gleason has given Gloria a total of $1040 in campaign cash since 2007. In all, Evans employees gave Gloria’s campaign fund $1750, according to a spreadsheet analysis of the city clerk's data.
Those numbers don’t include donations from friends and family.
Gleason's spouse, Marc J. Matys, has contributed $1040 to Gloria, records show. His occupation is variously listed on disclosure forms as Interior Designer and "Stay at Home Dad."