Suit Against Mayor Sanders for Unlawful Termination Reaches Scandal Level

by on July 18, 2011 · 8 comments

in Popular, San Diego

by Liam Dillon / Voice of San Diego / July 18, 2011

The two-year-old allegations are as scandalous as they come: Mayor Jerry Sanders or one of his deputies fired a high-level city of San Diego employee because he was helping investigate contracting involving one of the mayor’s supporters.   And the lawsuit that makes those allegations doesn’t show signs of going away.

 Last month, the City Council approved an additional $250,000 to defend the case on top of the $200,000 the city has already spent on outside attorneys. The $450,000 cost doesn’t include more than a year of work by the City Attorney’s Office before it bowed out of the case. A trial date in San Diego Superior Court has been set for Oct. 7.

 The city’s outside lawyer, Janice Brown, said the money for her bills is well spent. The former employee’s current settlement offer is at least three to four times the entire bill, she told the City Council.   The gulf between the two sides is as wide as the allegations’ seriousness.

 Former city deputy economic development director Scott Kessler filed suit in July 2009, alleging the Mayor’s Office directed him to bend contracting rules to favor Marco Li Mandri, a well-known civic leader in the city’s Little Italy neighborhood and a Sanders supporter. Kessler says he refused. Kessler also argues the Mayor’s Office ultimately fired him after he gave a copy of a joint FBI and San Diego Police Department investigation he obtained about Li Mandri’s involvement in a North Bay parking and business improvement district to the city’s Ethics Commission. (That criminal case never came to anything. San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ office didn’t pursue charges in that case, and Li Mandri has denied any wrongdoing.)

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Radical Uterus July 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Corruption in San Diego City government? Say it ain’t so. Can we afford this continued self-serving political cabal?


avatar mr fresh July 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I’d bet the farm that there is a lot more to this story than meets the eye. Too bad we don’t have any reporters in this town willing to dig into da’ Mayor’s bizness “relationships” dating back to when he was chief of police.


avatar doug July 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

if any one does find a paper with some guts to do some digging,tell them to take a real close look at the county board of supervissors,corrupt ,back door dealing ,liers.if the tax payers knew how bad they were getting rapped…………


avatar La Playa Heritage July 18, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Don Bauder in the San Diego Reader has been following this specific case for years. Mr. Bauder wrote many great articles on this issue with documented evidence.


avatar OB Dude July 19, 2011 at 9:12 am

Trial??????….can’t wait to hear Mayor Sanders testify


avatar christine July 21, 2011 at 2:54 pm

PLEASE somebody put Sanders in prison where he belongs. He should have been there long ago. Its a crime that Dumanis dropped this case when the FBI gave her a huge stack of documents. And I agree that publications have been really timid here.

For example for years I was trying to get someone to do a story on Mayor Sanders illegal technical advisory board. Please consider doing this story…..

The people on this board have projects and contracts with the city of San Diego. In fact these people have the largest projects in San Diego.

Micheal Galasso: President of Barone Galasso specializing in in-fill developer and affordable housing projects. He received a very lucrative deal to redevelop Little Italy (which he did a very substandard job doing) and as an infill developer is very invested in being able to demolish buildings and is advising the city on how to handle historic resources and how much input the public can have and how to “streamline” the process for developers. In 2008 concerned citizens were finally able to get demolition notification on the agenda and Kelly Broughton, head of DSD, stated that he would have to consult the mayors Technical Advisory Board before they could decide if the public should have a right to demolition notification. Thus we never got it.

Kathy Riser: VP of McMillin Development. McMillin was given an extremely controversial and lucrative land deal with the city’s redevelopment agency. They were given 550 acres of prime real estate in Point Loma in a redevelopment Deal next to the airport for 1 dollar per year (and did not build a single unit of affordable housing on this development) and are advising the mayor to move San Diego’s airport which abuts this land to Miramar on the Technical Advisory Committee.

Stephen Haase: is the President of Sudberry Properties. His previous position was assistant director and acting director of the City of San Diego Development Services Department……


avatar christine July 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm

“Mr. Stephen M. Haase provides entitlement support for the company’s retail and mixed-use projects, including the recently approved 230-acre Civita mixed-use development in San Diego, CA. He is actively involved in project design and community outreach to achieve the company’s goal of delivering the highest quality development.”

“He joined the company in 2006 after 16 years in the public sector where he managed large, complex organizations responsible for all aspects of land use, planning and building safety.”

So essentially Stephen went from running Development Services to a job in the private sector for a for-profit developer which received the largest development deal in Mission Valley to develop 230 acres in mixed use. The project was approved by City Council in 2008 and broke ground in December of 2010…..


avatar christine July 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

and then there is Reese Jarrett, 1 of the worst and most corrupt of all (keep in mind this is from 2008 and some people have changed but it still MUST be investigated because these people got HUGE giveaways)

Reese Jarrett: Affordable housing developer, who was also an SEDC board member has a long history with the city of improper conduct and violating his redevelopment contracts and he is advising the mayor directly on giving cost breaks to affordable housing developers and other requirements for his projects like parking, green building codes, etc. His behavior as an affordable housing developer with SEDC (the agency just indicted for fraud and embezzlement) clearly constituted fraud and it was never investigated

In fact these development deals are so astounding many citizens believe that the City Council, mayor and other public employees are actually investors in these projects because these projects are always done under Delaware LLcs which hide the names of the investors.

the existing facts show a clear and egregious violation of both state and Federal law yet it is not being investigated let alone prosecuted. This board continues to advise the mayor in their best interests. Thus it is no surprise that the city continues to side with developers and act in their interest. The city is becoming increasingly more brazen in their illegal behavior. As we speak they are permitting a development project in Little Italy that demolishes the Star Building Company, a building that was officially designated and 1000s of tax dollars were spent restoring. It is illegal for them to do this but they literally don’t care because there have never been any real consequences for this behavior. Another example of this brazen contempt for the citizens and the law was the illegal demolition of an airport building that housed the Spirit of St. Louis. They even defied a court order to do it. From an SD UT story “In spite of a court order, demolition began earlier this week on two historic buildings at Lindbergh Field that were part of the earliest days of San Diego’s aeronautical industry.”


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