Scamming San Diego in 4 Easy Steps | #socialmedia | #education | #technology | #infosec



By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner / Jan. 5, 2022

Warning: this commentary is standing on its head and starting with its conclusion:

The aftermath of San Diego’s 2020-21 Redistricting process may prove to be more destructive to good government in San Diego than any monetary loss from past Ponzi schemes and political heists.

The parties of interest in this latest con game colluded to divide and conquer the San Diego public.  They were willing to shred and tear at San Diego’s civic and moral fabric for their own economic and political gain.

In a cynical abuse of the public trust, they capitalized on specters of racism, elitism, ageism, and nimbyism to gain their private objectives.

The Redistricting conflict was never about social and racial justice.  As in all scams, it was about profit-making.  And for the foreseeable future, these latest operators will be laughing all the way to the bank.

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STEP 1:  If a city has a personality, how would you describe ours?

The term that pops into my head is: GOOD-NATURED.   Aren’t San Diegans a cordial bunch of people?  Civil… undemanding… polite… nonjudgmental… forgiving?

Yes, we are definitely a good-natured, easygoing city.  Have we ever condemned former Mayor Susan Golding and City Manager Jack McGrory for foisting on us a city worker pension scam that still–to this very day–dessicates the city budget?

Did we punish ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders for his sketchy scheme to saddle the public with an additional $94 million debt for a bogus Comprehensive Pension Reform initiative—for which we’re still picking up the financial pieces?  And didn’t we forgive and forget his responsibility for reprobate police behavior, which resulted in tragic shooting deaths of many ordinary citizens in San Ysidro ?

And when nice guys like Jerry Sanders, Todd Gloria, and Kevin Faulconer handed exclusive control of a civic project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Balboa Park Panama-California Exposition to a private corporation stacked with political cronies–which cost the city $3 million but produced nothing–weren’t we too polite to raise a stink?

That’s old history, you say?  What about the get-out-of-jail pass we’re poised to give to high city officials like current-Mayor Todd Gloria, ex-Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and previous-City Attorney Jan Goldsmith as we shrug our shoulders over their criminally dodgy actions to acquire useless property like (but not limited to) the albatross at 101 Ash Street?

And yes, we’ve occasionally turned the other cheek to non-political scammers– defrauders like John Alessio and C. Arnholt Smith; underworld dabblers like Dick Silberman and Allen Glick; Ponzi-schemers like J. David Dominelli and Gina Champion-Cain; and don’t forget those slick manipulators like Alex and Dean Spanos, John Moores, and ‘papa’ Doug Manchester.

In other words, we’re not just good-natured–we’ve been trusting hosts to grifters of every shape, size, and denomination.

STEP 2:  I’ve spilled plenty of ink during these past months on the subject of San Diego City Council Redistricting, the once-every-every-ten-year ritual to redraw the map of City Council districts for the purpose of creating fair, equitable, and balanced voting opportunities through the city.  What makes this subject so riveting?

First, there’s my longstanding commitment to promoting good government practices in our city.

Then, there’s the meteoric landing in San Diego of the “life sciences” economy, an industry joined at the hip with the enormously profitable real estate and development industry—which, in turn, is dependent for its prosperity on political goodwill over decisions concerning land use, zoning, taxes and fees, environmental regulation, and so on.

And finally, there’s the sudden strange disappearance of San Diego’s unofficial trademark: good-natured civility.  Something about the Redistricting process had set us at war with one another.  A noxious smokescreen–thick with orchestrated accusations of racism, elitism, ageism, and nimbyism–was pumped into the air.  Boldly but stealthily, the public was being manipulated.  But why?  And by whom?

STEP 3:  Could it be that San Diego Redistricting was just another swindle? The answer is NO!  And then again YES!

NO, because–to their credit– San Diego Redistricting Commissioners (despite a few hiccups) played by the rules.  The Commissioners (most of them, anyway) succeeded in keeping their end of the process above board.

And YES, because the basic elements of a scam–deception, diversion, pretense, smokescreens, graft, payoffs–were deployed throughout the Redistricting process in the service of hidden agendas and monetary gain.

It might take a grand jury investigation to reconstruct this latest San Diego scam.  But we can take an early stab at identifying some of the pieces on our own.

Here are a few things we know about City Council Redistricting:

  • We know that the city of San Diego has written guidelines that exclude elected officials from engaging or interfering in the Redistricting process.
  • We know that gerrymandering to cater to political parties or political ambitions is a no-no.  Same goes for gerrymandering to promote the financial interests of a private business or industry.
  • And we know the Redistricting process must satisfy basic requirements for proportional population numbers, community integrity, and fair racial and ethnic representation.
  • Also, we know that widespread agreement existed throughout the city to promote a strong “Black” political bloc in District 4, a strong “Asian” political bloc in District 6, and strong “Latino” political bloc in District 9.

Here are a few things we did NOT know:

  • Most of us did not know that San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate–in violation of acceptable behavior for an elected official–was actively engaged in attempts to influence the outcome of the mapping process.
  • Who knew that Councilmember Cate’s fingerprints were on a prefabricated Redistricting map? And on a shell organization called Neighborhood Voices of San Diego? And on a “Confidential Plan” with $100,000 budgeted for consultants, social media, scripted talking points, and financial bonuses for recruiting students and other “community members” to deliver dictated public comments at Redistricting hearings?
  • And how could most of us know that the aggressively-publicized “Collaborative Communities” map promoted by some of San Diego’s well-respected social justice nonprofits was basically a Neighborhood Voices/Confidential Plan hand-me-down?

STEP 4: How far were the parties of interest willing to go?

What could be a cleverer way for an extended family of venture capitalists and Wall Street investors to dominate the direction of San Diego growth and land use policies than to create a hand-tailored Redistricting map that would consolidate into a single council district (District 6) prime real estate opportunities ripe for acquisition and commercial development?

And then to facilitate the election of a suitable councilperson for the district?

The icing on the cake was to be the transfer of the entire campus of UCSD out of its environment-conscious district and into a district designated for intense growth and development, alongside University City, Mira Mesa, Scripps Miramar Ranch, and Kearny Mesa.

Parties of interest in this underground scheme (in addition to Councilmember Cate) included industry heavyweights like the self-proclaimed Uniter of the Life Sciences Industry, Biocom; entrepreneurial developers like IQHQ; REITs like Alexandria Realty Equities; and in constant battle with neighboring San Diegans over his aggressive plans for university growth and expansion–the ambitious UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla.

More parties of interest included local lighter-weights like political consultant Ryan Clumpner; Clumpner’s partner and Chamber of Commerce director of public affairs Sara Kamiab; some members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community; and college student Aidan Lin.  And it was often hard to determine when Redistricting Commisioner Justine Nielsen was upholding her good government responsibility or lobbying on behalf of her Biocom clients.

By the end of many months of Redistricting Commission public meetings an acceptable City Council map was produced.  It’s tempting to issue a good-natured report that all’s well that ends well.

But it wouldn’t be the truth.



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