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The decade-long push to expand the Convention Center is dead.
This week, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s top priority – a tax increase that would have funded an expanded Convention Center, homeless services and road repairs – morphed into the biggest failure of his tenure so far.
On the podcast, Andrew Keatts, Sara Libby and Scott Lewis discuss the decisions that led to the epic demise of the mayor’s top pursuit.
This was not the first time a plan to expand the Convention Center unraveled. A similar effort by the mayor failed just last summer. The hosts revisit those past efforts, then walk through the timeline of decisions – including blowing off concerns about the campaign’s signature-gathering strategy – that ultimately ended in Thursday’s failed last-minute effort by the mayor and some City Council members to try to salvage the measure by putting it on the November ballot through a Council action.
When that last-ditch effort didn’t get the votes it needed, it was a flop felt across City Hall. And now fingers are being pointed in myriad directions.
More funding for homeless services is out the window. The Convention Center and the growing pains it’s causing its most important client, Comic-Con, aren’t resolved. The millions of dollars that went into the failed campaign have been wasted.
Things are bleak for city leaders.
“What a shit show,” said Tom Lemmon, the leader of the Building Trades Council, a coalition of labor unions. He made the point in a public comment at the City Council meeting Thursday, and actually went on to encourage Council members to put the measure on the November ballot, but his assessment of the Convention Center saga couldn’t be more on point.
San Diego city clerk Elizabeth Maland is the hero this week. Maland always makes herself available to the press and the public, and acts professionally as she juggles many complex and provocative political issues.
Phil Rath, board chair of Civic San Diego, is the goat. Rath was fined $11,000 this week by the city’s Ethics Commission for four violations of the city’s municipal code related to his failure to disclose his financial relationship with a development company that was awarded a $47 million project by the redevelopment agency. Rath even voted on the project — twice — without recusing himself. The developer also got a $5.8 million loan from city affordable housing funds.
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