February 9, 2001


Commentary

Just Who Owns The Padres?

The first life of defense against public corruption is both the adoption and the implementation of ethical standards by our public officials. Our new mayor and our four new councilmembers collectively campaigned last fall promising that they would all bring to city government a renewed commitment to ethics in their dealings with the Padres and others doing business with our city.

We all know, of course, that talk comes easy to politicians. Today we learn whether these new political leaders will walk the walk. Will it be more business as usual at City Hall, or will the Padres be held to a renewed ethical standard?

We'll soon have the answer. The handling of a variety of issues raised over the last few weeks by San Diegans will provide a true measure of the ethics of our new leaders.

1. City Charter Section 225 mandates that all ownership interests in the Padres by publicly disclosed before the council votes. The public knows from the criminal plea entered by Valerie Stallings that John Moores is but one of the owners of the Padres. Who are the other owners?

2. Once the owners of the Padres are disclosed and prior to voting, each member of the City Council should make full disclosure of all gifts received from Padres' owners, including all entertainment in the Padres owners' box—plus the various other categories of gifts identified in the criminal plea entered by Valerie Stallings.

3. Two seats on the City Council are vacant, Districts 6 and 8. Will the voters of these districts be deprived of review of decisions regarding the Padres' stadium by their duly elected representatives? Will the voters of District 6 be punished because of the criminal acts of Valerie Stallings as facilitated by John Moores? Since there is no public emergency requiring that these proposed votes occur prior to filling these two seats, will be votes be postponed accordingly?

4. Will the new City Council seek voter approval under MOU Section 38 for increased financial commitments?

a. The agreement with the Padres (MOU Section 20) states that the City is to deposit $215 Million into the project's construction account from financing chosen by the City Council, the principal amount of which shall not exceed $225 Million in total (MOU Section 15). Given this clear limitation, will the new City Council again authorize up to $299 Million in bonds without authorization from the people?

b. The agreement with the Padres (MOU Section 17) limits the total CCDC and Redevelopment Agency investment to $50 Million except with voter approval. This limit has already been exceeded according to the City Manager's report of February 2, 2001, in which the City Manager states that the financial commitment from the Redevelopment Agency alone already exceeds $55 Million —and is anticipated to eventually exceed $60 Million. Prior to any new council action will the increased commitment of the Redevelopment Agency (and CCDC) be placed before the voters for their review and approval or rejection?

6. The deliberation and voting in October of 1999 in connection with the environmental impacts of the project were as tainted by the criminal violations of Valerie Stallings and gifts by John Moores as any other votes. Therefore, will the vote of the Planning Commission and the vote of the City Council certifying the EIR for the project also be renoticed?

7. On March 31, 1999, the City Council made a variety of factual findings. Many of those findings are now known to be untrue. For example, there is no current assurance that the 1000-room hotel required by the agreement with the Padres (MOU Section 9) will be constructed in the foreseeable future on the Campbell Shipyard site. Will each of the finding made on March 31, 1999 be thoroughly re-reviewed in light of existing facts?

8. The taint of Stallings' criminal acts affected the negotiations in June, July and August of 1998 of the financial terms of the agreement (the MOU) with the Padres. For example, one of the key tainted votes identified by the U.S. Attorney occurred on June 16, 1998. Will the new City Council correct this fundamental flaw? Or, will it limit itself as its agenda now reflects to the public relations ploy of a revote without substance?

(Authored by: Association of Concerned Taxpayers. President: Bruce Henderson, San Diego, CA.).

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