Who Runs San Diego? Papa Doug the Kingmaker

by on August 14, 2014 · 7 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Labor, Media, Politics, San Diego

Who Runs San Diego? A Project of the Democratic Women's ClubBy Eva Posner / Democratic Woman’s Club

Last week we provided an overview of Doug Manchester, the U-T, and the influence this combination has on the electorate of San Diego County.

This week, the goal is to delve a bit deeper, using a recent issue to illustrate the intensity of collusion with the publisher of the region’s largest paper and other powers that be.

From Voice of San Diego:

“It was Saturday, Aug. 31. No Republican had announced his or her intention to run to replace Mayor Bob Filner, whose term in office ended quietly the night before.

“A group of about 30 of the city’s most influential conservatives and right-of-center business representatives assembled at developer Tom Sudberry’s La Jolla estate.”

The roster was impressive: Doug Manchester, Jerry Sanders (Chamber of Commerce and former mayor), Tony Krvaric (San Diego County Republican Party), Bill Lynch (Lincoln Club), Kris Michell (Downtown Partnership), Kelly Burt (New Majority San Diego), Bill Geppert (Business Leadership Alliance), Carl DeMaio (former councilmember, failed mayoral candidate, and current congressional candidate), Ron Roberts (County Supervisor), and of course Kevin Faulconer.

Long story, short: “The group decided to support Faulconer and everyone pledged to try to get their organizations to support him.”

Two days later, out of fear that DeMaio’s ambition would get in the way of his team spirit, the Manchester controlled editorial board wrote a not-so-friendly piece warning DeMaio away from the race:

“DeMaio will announce Tuesday whether he will remain a candidate for Congress or demonstrate his own political opportunism by switching to the race for mayor. His decision will mark him as a future Republican star, or could end his political career. The U-T editorial board urges DeMaio to stick with his congressional candidacy; he can count on our editorial support if he does so.”

The next day, DeMaio announced that he would stick with his congressional race, and a GOP star was born.

The wagons quickly circled around Faulconer—Manchester and his allies leading the way. Endorsements came quickly from the Republican Party, The New Majority, and the Chamber of Commerce. The Downtown Partnership’s political action committee, San Diego Jobs PAC, did its part.

U-T San Diego published glowing editorial after glowing profile after glowing story. Polls were commissioned. And the money started flowing. And so did the hit pieces.

Manchester himself donated $356,000 to the cause throughout the course of the primary and general elections. The donations were divided between the San Diego County Republican Party and The Lincoln Club (remember Tony Krvaric and Bill Lynch from the candidate-picking party in La Jolla?) as well as the Faulconer campaign. (It is also worth noting that Manchester is a member of The Lincoln Club.)

But why? From boltsfromtheblue.com:

“According to a Voice of San Diego Member Report, Manchester and Lynch were scheduled to host a private luncheon with assorted movers and shakers in San Diego, with the express purpose of ‘strategizing how we can best move San Diego forward in support of Kevin Faulconer as Mayor.’

“The agenda for this luncheon was as follows:

“’We all know the need to preserve and protect San Diego from losing the Chargers, fix the pension system, and create incentives that will allow San Diego to reach its full potential and recover from what we have experienced over these past several years….

“Notice the focus on the Chargers in this agenda. It seems clear that Manchester’s and Lynch’s enthusiasm (and possibly a fair share of support from the paper) is directly tied to Faulconer’s willingness or ability to get a stadium deal done.”

After the election Manchester Financial Group, owned by Papa Doug, also donated $5,000 to the $150,000 celebration for Falconer’s inauguration. (So did Thomas Sudberry, whose home in La Jolla hosted the above-mentioned gathering. So did New Majority. And San Diego Jobs PAC. Seeing a pattern?)

It is highly likely that Manchester will get a healthy return on his investment. With two huge development projects coming down the pipe— the $1.3 billion Navy Broadway Complex and the redevelopment of U-T San Diego’s prime Mission Valley property—it is easy to see that Manchester would be thrilled when one of his own was chosen for a position on the City’s Planning Commission. (The commission oversees community plans, zoning, and land use issues and is extremely influential. This series will go into more depth about it in the future.)

In April, Faulconer appointed architect Doug Austin to the commission. Austin had been hired by Manchester to design the Mission Valley development. According to the Reader, Austin was also a high dollar donor to the GOP, donating $5,000 to Faulconer’s mayoral bid and $1,125 to Republican Councilwoman Lorie Zapf in 2010. (Zapf will take Faulconer’s District 2 council seat after defeating Democrat Sarah Boot in the June 3rd primary.)

It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out in relation to the Convention Center expansion and the Chargers’ stadium, which the City will inevitably have to deal with soon as court cases threaten the current Convention Center plans and pressure from the NFL and others are pushing toward a new stadium.

Manchester stands to profit from both, whether separate projects or a combined project. As a hotelier and developer, he was a driving force behind building the Convention Center in the first place, and could make millions from the expansion. And even more from the stadium. Add in the Navy Broadway Complex and the Mission Valley Project and suddenly $356,000 seems like a small investment.

When you follow the money and the relationships, it seems that Manchester is stacking the deck to use taxpayer-funded government positions of influence to line his pockets, and using his media bullhorn to distract the voters from realizing it. It is a long standing pattern and this is just the most recent example.

We cannot continue to allow that to happen.

This is the third installment of the Who Runs San Diego? series, a project of the Democratic Woman’s Club published weekly in the San Diego Free Press. The Democratic Woman’s Club mission is to promote Democratic Party principles including equality of opportunity, a level playing field, and fair and equal treatment for all.

If you missed it, here’s the intro and here’s  Part 2  covering the local TV News. Part 3, giving a synopsis of Doug Manchester and the U-T San Diego is here.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

just askin' August 14, 2014 at 1:25 pm

And your point is? Of course Manchester gives money to business-oriented candidates. Just like the unions give money to union-supporting candidates. FYI, The Navy Broadway Complex is way past the City phase. It is with the Coastal Commission…for about the 3rd time, because of lawsuits brought by democrats. So instead of working folks having jobs, the lawyers get them. Regardless, your hit piece is silly


Nik August 14, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Pretty sure the point is simply a demonstration and explanation of how the wealthy elite use the political system (and tax payer $) to make money, all while crying out of the other side of their face about how bad gov is and shouldn’t be used to help people. This happens all across the country and really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone paying attention. The problem is that most people are not paying attention. Which is not surprising because the game is overly complicated and mysterious (on purpose), and most people are just trying to survive while slipping in a little fun before they die.

On another note, if the Democrats want to score another chance at SD power, they need to stop kissing union a. Most people in SD are not union members and could really care if union pensions are paid while most are trying to figure out how to save enough for retirement while average worker wages stay stagnant. Unions had a time and place, but in today’s economy many people just see them as gov workers scoring a better deal than the average worker. That said, seriously, how much are unions contributing to campaigns anymore? What unions are even left besides Police, Fire, and other gov workers?


jsfish August 14, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Those who love beautiful Sad Diego make political choices that supports growth. Without a strong, large and well to middle class America would stumble. That means more support for those who have families and have children to raise and educate for the future. It’s unfortunate to know that San Diego has being strangled by the same bad guys who’s being dragging down America everywhere else by funneling back the money for those who already have it. This is a sure formula for That was what King George government used to do before the American Revolution in 1776. No wonder our beautiful city is getting a name for being a corrupt place…


Harpster August 15, 2014 at 8:34 am

Wow, you cannot be more off with your opinion. Growth is supported by these people through construction projects and development. Building a stadium not only creates jobs but sustains community through increased conventions and the potential for superbowls and other big ticket events. This in turn feeds much needed revenue to hotels, restaurants and all the others fringe businesses that are linked (See middleclass). I don’t mean to educate you on basic economics but your response assumes all this money goes directly in the typical liberal boogey man “Big Businessman” wallet. The real faction in this city that keeps the middleclass down is complex regulations, big government and the unions. But you wont hear that from the left. Why? Because organizations like the one who wrote this article are bankrolled by them. Take a look at the corrupt practices of Bob Filner, or PLA agreements right here in San Diego today. Also take a look at the money pit that is the new Library downtown. The library is nothing more than a gathering place for the homeless. Sad…


doug porter August 16, 2014 at 10:29 am

Stadiums are nothing more than welfare for developers. In 2012 Bloomberg News documented stadiums as costing taxpayers more than $4 billion dollars. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-05/in-stadium-building-spree-u-s-taxpayers-lose-4-billion.html
Convention centers are nothing more than a welfare program for hotel owners. From Governing.com: http://www.governing.com/blogs/bfc/better-benchmarks-for-convention-investments-needed.html
The national supply of convention exhibit space has increased by more than 70 percent over the last 20 years, but the past decade hasn’t been kind. According to the now-defunct industry publication Tradeshow Week, attendance at conventions, trade and consumer shows decreased from 126 million in 2000 to 86 million in 2010.

Even such industry leaders as Las Vegas, Orlando, Atlanta and Chicago saw business decline after completing expansions in recent years, according to Prof. Heywood Sanders, who tracks the convention industry. Some opened their expanded facilities during a recession, but all saw business drop.

With hotels–particularly the large, moderately priced kind convention planners favor–proving increasingly difficult to finance, many industry insiders are blaming the downturn on a shortage of rooms proximate to convention centers. The response has been a spate of publicly owned or subsidized hotel development.

But that hasn’t cured what ails the industry. Convention hotels in Baltimore, Austin and Phoenix are doing poorly, and St. Louis’ convention headquarters hotel is in foreclosure.


Manny Lopez August 14, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Nice work Eva.


Michael Russell August 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm

So, when Manchester uses the UT to write hit-pieces against his financial/political opponents, it is wrong. But, when the OB Rag runs a hit-piece against Manchester, that’s OK?


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