On Wednesday afternoon, we blogged about a lawsuit the city of San Diego filed against U-T San Diego owner Doug Manchester's Grand Del Mar resort over code-compliance violations stemming from an unpermitted equestrian center. Tuesday night, Spin Cycle columnist John Lamb was at the Hillcrest Town Council meeting where Mayor Bob Filner told the audience about how, before the lawsuit was filed, Doug Manchester and U-T CEO John Lynch tried to meet with Filner to ask him to call off code enforcement. We've been trying for a few days to confirm a tip that Lynch had met with a member of Filner's staff, but we've been unable to find out who that staff member was; Filner didn't say at the Hillcrest meeting. We also asked Lynch but haven't heard back. Here's what Filner did say:
So I get a call a couple weeks ago that Papa Doug, publisher of our paper, and his wonderful assistant John Lynch, want to see me. And they gave me a date, and I said 'OK I’ll meet with you, but it will be the week after and it will be in my office. Come and see me.' OK, so we set this up and they say Manchester can’t come at that time but Lynch will be there. So, Lynch, he doesn’t show up on the day of the appointment—he shows up when they wanted the date. That is, he couldn’t believe that somebody actually had changed the date. They don’t even like appointments—they’re used to calling up and getting stuff done....
And so I wasn’t even there, so he met with a staff member. Here’s why he wanted to meet with me. These are the guys who have opposed me for, what, 30 years? These are the guys who think they run the city. He has, in about three or four real big cases, violated zoning and code stuff. He put a heliport on one of his hotels. They did a few things which code enforcement found out and is trying to report. And up at his Del Mar place, he put in stables and horse stuff without any permits. That’s what they’re used to doing. So somehow code enforcement found out about the stables up there, and they ordered him to stop operations. He didn’t stop. He waited for the election, he calls me up, but when they come and see me, here’s what they want to do. They want me to intervene and stop the code enforcement. They did not close up their operation. They just assumed that they could keep going.
Now I wouldn’t interfere with code enforcement for a friend, let alone the U-T. But the incredible arrogance that they just have to call up the mayor, and they’re going to stop enforcement of a law which everybody has to abide by, therefore health and safety—I mean they violated all kinds of health and safety codes. Oh, and here’s the reason they gave that I should intervene—the lady who is running the stables is a Hispanic woman who has no other job. So I’m supposed to intervene. Not only do they have billions of dollars that they can give her a job—so find her a place to do something—but why are you using that on me? So we called code enforcement and said go to work faster.
It’s just a little sliver of the way... that they’re used to around here. They call people up and expect favors. It’s little things, it’s big things, it’s major things, it’s minor things. They’re just used to getting their way.
Update: We sent Lynch a link to this post and asked if he wanted to comment. His response:
I normally don’t comment on issues whatsoever, however I would like to set the record straight as Filner seems to have left out pertinent points in his comments at the Hillcrest meeting.
A day or two after election Filner was on UT TV. After his appearance, Filner ask to meet me and Mr. Manchester, who was not in at the time. We met in my office and the Mayor-elect was very cordial. We both agreed to attempt to work together for the benefit of the City. He said, “I think you will be surprised, we can work together!” I then invited him to a luncheon we could host at the UT to meet with Mr. Manchester and me to explore how the UT might be supportive of his efforts.
When the Holidays began to interfere with scheduling a luncheon, we asked to meet with the Mayor in his office. After several attempts at scheduling, each of our assistants agreed upon a day and time to meet. This meeting was memorialized and confirmed .
As it turned out Mr. Manchester was called out of town and not able to attend the meeting. I did show up at the agreed upon date and time. A member of the staff apologized as the Mayor was not there. I will write it off as early dis-organization of his office and staff.
Lynch didn't respond to a follow-up email asking if the rest of Filner's comments are accurate.
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