Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Out of the Loop, in a Snit

My question: why wasn't Fred Maas investigated at the same time Nancy Graham was investigated? How come she took all the blame for helping developers? Maybe Fred Maas will be investigated now. See video of Maas refusing to answer questions.

City Council members grilled outgoing CCDC leader Fred Maas on Monday about details of a deal that allows the agency to sequester $6 billion more in property taxes for downtown redevelopment.

Out of the Loop, in a Snit
by Randy Dotinga
Voice of San Diego
Nov. 16, 2010

When it comes to running the city, one might assume that the City Council wouldn't just be in the loop, it would be the loop. That would be a bad assumption, as the council learned last month when the city's downtown redevelopment agency worked out a deal with the state to sequester property tax money. The council had no idea what was going on.

The City Council, which thinks the agency went rogue, spent Monday trying to figure out what it didn't know and when it didn't know it. There was plenty of bipartisan agency-slamming and talk about whether the agency's head deserves to keep his job. It's a rather moot point: he's leaving.

Council, City Attorney Feast Again on Porkfest

November 15, 2010
by Liam Dillon

If the state Legislature is where the late-night downtown porkfest gets fattened up, San Diego's City Council is where it gets slaughtered.

For the second straight hearing, council members sliced and diced staff from the city's downtown redevelopment agency, the Centre City Development Corp., about secret negotiations that led to a last-minute state deal to eliminate limits on downtown redevelopment. The deal happened without the council's knowledge even though members were working on a plan to remove the limits themselves.

Last month, the council had requested a timeline of when key players knew about the deal, which allows the agency to collect $6 billion more in property taxes and potentially finance a new downtown stadium for the Chargers. Outgoing agency head Fred Maas, who had revealed previously that discussions about the deal began in August, attempted to do that Monday afternoon.

Maas said he spoke between five to 10 times with local Republican state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, the provision's sponsor and he had briefed others on the deal.

But that — and a bland memo from Mayor Jerry Sanders' office also released Monday — wasn't enough. Councilman Carl DeMaio wanted to know about how the deal began, specifically contact between Maas and mayoral chief of staff Kris Michell. Maas refused to answer. DeMaio, in turn, openly wondered if he could fire Maas.

"I don't think I feel comfortable with Mr. Maas staying until the end of the year," DeMaio said.

Incidentally, Maas had just formalized his resignation effective at the end of the year, as the city is seeking to replace him with a permanent downtown redevelopment chief.

Had that not happened, Councilwoman Marti Emerald said, she might have sought Maas' removal sooner.

"I think there's probably some of what you're hearing too is that maybe it should be an immediate resignation," Emerald said. "No offense to the great volunteer work you've done, but this City Council is trying to repair the damage done by previous councils and mayors in doing deals behind closed doors that have gotten us into a lot of trouble."

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who also was kept in the dark about the deal, poked a hole in one of the main arguments made by its proponents. City Council, backers say, has the ultimate decision on how and if the city should spend the new money.

But there are restrictions to how that new money could be spent, Goldsmith pointed out. Had the deal not occurred, property tax dollars would have flowed directly to the city's day-to-day operating budget, meaning it could pay for police, fire and other city services. Now the money will be sequestered downtown, meaning it couldn't pay for those services...

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