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Daily Business Report — May 21, 2010

Obama Nominates Battaglia to Seat on U.S. District Court

President Obama yesterday nominated Judge Anthony Joseph Battaglia to a seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. Battaglia currently serves as a magistrate judge for the Southern District, a position he has held since 1993. He is a former president of the Federal Magistrate Judges Association and of the San Diego County Bar Association. Prior to taking the bench, Battaglia spent 19 years as a civil litigator in San Diego specializing in personal injury, products liability and maritime law. He first practiced with the Law Offices of John Marin from 1974 to 1980, then as a sole practitioner from 1980 to 1991, and finally with the firm of Battaglia, Fitzpatrick & Battaglia from 1991 to 1993. Battaglia earned his J.D. in 1974 from the California Western School of Law and his B.A. in 1971 from United States International University. He previously studied at Mesa Community College.

Taxpayers Assn. Bestows Golden Watchdog and Fleece Awards

The East County cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove won top honors from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association last night for consolidating fire management services while the Tri-City Hospital District was slammed for its recent history of board squabbles, lawsuits and bad budget decisions. The occasion was the association’s 15th annual Golden Watchdog and Golden Fleece Awards at the Town & Country Convention in Mission Valley.

The cities won the top award — the Grand Golden Watchdog — for their “Heartland Fire Rescue Consolidation Efforts.” By consolidating fire services, creating additional staffing capacity and containing costs, the cities expect savings of $560,000 without a loss of service to the public.

Tri-City Hospital District received the Grand Golden Fleece Award for its recent “Trifecta of Troubles,” earning the judges’ comment: “We think some emergency surgery is needed, stat!”

Other Golden Fleece winners were:

• The city of Chula Vista received the Metro Golden Fleece for its “repeated failed efforts to raise taxes, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and for misleading voters in the process. “The Taxasaurus threatens to take over the whole city,” judges wrote.

• The Regional Golden Fleece recipient was the San Diego Unified School District for “Survey This! Governance Woes,” earned through a “series of nonsensical decisions,” including a parcel tax slated for the November ballot on the heels of a $2.1 billion bond, plus a revolving door of superintendents.

Other Golden Watchdog winners:

• The City/County Managers Association for its recommendations to bring pension costs under control, including contributions by all employees to their pension plans, and adoption of a new, lower cost pension plan for new employees, saving taxpayers money. Judges commented: “This effort by the association to address pension problems regionally is welcome, necessary, and long overdue.”

• San Diego CleanTECH won in the public-private partnership category for its Public Facilities Renewable Energy Project. Over the past year, the judges said, CleanTECH led the effort to capture $154 million in allocations for financing renewable energy projects for public facilities in the San Diego region available through the federal stimulus program. The money will help complete 192 projects within San Diego.

• The Metro Golden Watchdog winner was the city of Poway for lowering its unfunded pension liability. With increasing pension costs looming as a result of recent investment losses, the city prudently set aside money in a Pension Stabilization Fund to hedge against future cost increases, the judges said. By paying down the city’s fire plan unfunded liability, the city will be saving its taxpayers about $330,000 per year in interest and principal paid to CalPERS.

• The Regional Golden Watchdog winner was the county of San Diego for its new Medical Examiner’s Office and Forensics Center. The county completed construction of the new state-of-the-art facility in Kearny Mesa in 2009, actually setting aside money for it and remitting full payment in cash, saving $140 million in financing costs. The project was completed on time and under budget, with additional project cost savings expected to be about $12 million.

Media Watchdog Awards rewarded journalists who uncover poor governance and wasteful public spending practices. The Print/Electronic Media Watchdog winner was Eleanor Yang Su, San Diego Union-Tribune, for “S.D. Marathon Runs Into Controversy.” The Broadcast Media Watchdog winners were J.W. August, Mitch Blacher, Christian Cazares and Lauren Reynolds of KGTV 10News, for  “Water Department Bonuses.”

Giant Wind Power Development Announced

Cannon Power Group, a wind project developer, and Gamesa Technology Corp. announced a plan to develop a series of wind farms near the town of La Rumorosa in Baja California that would have a potential capacity of 1,000 megawatts. Groundbreaking of the wind farms, known as the Aubanel Wind Project, would occur sometime in the next 12 months. Cannon Power Group will act as the project’s lead developer and Gamesa, a turbine manufacturers, will supply all of the wind turbines installed at the project sites developed by Cannon. Gamesa also would provide additional support, maintenance and limited development services.

The first phase of the project calls for the installation of between 70MW to 100MW of wind turbines.  Power produced from the phase 1 project is expected to be sold to customers in Mexico, with subsequent project phases selling power to both Mexico and U.S. customers. The companies said the project will create substantial employment and economic development opportunities in Baja California. A significant amount of the capital equipment – blades, nacelles, towers and transformers,– are expected to be sourced from the U.S.

The project’s 140 square-mile site is on land leased by a subsidiary of Cannon Power Group from the Ejido Aubanel Vallejo. The project is to be built in phases over the next three to four years.


Karen Hutchens, owner of Hutchens PR, has been named Woman Business Owner of the Year by the National Association of Women Business Owners San Diego at the organization’s BRAVO! Awards dinner. Five other BRAVO! Award winners also were honored:

• Women’s Advocate of the Year

Randa Cote, Moms in Business Unite

• Trailblazer Award

Nichole MacDonald, Bagonia

• Signature Award

Janet Smith, On Assignment

• Green Community Award

Jaimi Julian Thompson, Artisan Design Group

• Rising Star Award

Rae Majors-Wildman, All the Way Success

Award sponsors were Union Bank, English Management Solutions, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, CoCo & Associates, Staff Smart, Transworld Systems, The Center for Mind & Body Wellness, Avitus Group, Batten Accountancy, Herr Photography, InToInk and the San Diego Business Journal.

Women’s Foundation Awards $152,700 in Grants

The San Diego Women’s Foundation (SDWF) will award $152,700 to four new community partners at its 10th annual grants celebration from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on June 1 at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla. Grants will go to Camp Stevens for its Environmental Stewardship Program; Torrey Pines Docent Society for A Nature Connection for All Ages; San Diego Coastkeeper for its Marine Debris Program and Ocean Discovery Institute for its Canyon Community Connection Project.  “Our focus this year, in the field of Environment, resulted in an extensive review of programs that involve people in activities connected to local nature that promote informed awareness of and personal responsibility for the natural environment of the San Diego Region” said Cindy Olmstead, SDWF president.

Parking Structure Completed at Cal State San Marcos

CSU Parking Structure

PCL Construction has completed construction of a $26 million, 487,000-square-foot parking structure at Cal State San Marcos. The structure has six levels and contains 1,605 parking stalls. Two sections of a pre-fabricated pedestrian bridge were installed from the roof deck to an adjacent pedestrian walkway on campus. The pedestrian bridge is 250 feet in length. Design partners for the project included RJC Architects, DCI Engineers, Flores Lund Consultants, Graelic and Dynalectric Co. PCL’s project manager was Mike Gallen and the superintendent was Jeff McDonald. Key subcontractors included ARB Structures, Russell Coker, Pacific Coast Iron, Schindler Elevators and Simplex Grinnell.

Fornaca Center Fully Leased

The Fornaca Center at 2850 National Ave. in National City has been fully leased following the signing of three new leases.

• Lee Cochrum, doing business as My Family Nutrition, leased 1,122 square feet for five years with a value of $222,590.

• Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken’s five-year lease for 1,669 square feet is valued at $278,305. Russell Walker of Keller Williams Realty represented Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken.

• City Heights Food Services Corp. leased 1,025 square feet for six years with total consideration of $225,550. City Heights Food Services Corporation represented itself.

Joel Wilson of CB Richard Ellis is the marketing and leasing representative for Fornaca Center on behalf of the landlord, National LLC. Other center tenants include Starbucks, Express Check Cashing, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Little Caesars, Panda Express and Subway.

Brown Law Group Updates 2010 Employment Law

Brown Law Group will continue its update on 2010 employment law on June 2 at the University Club, 750 B St., in Downtown San Diego. The breakfast session will be from 7:45 to 9 a.m. Attorneys from the San Diego employment law and business litigation firm will discuss the latest court decisions, legislative amendments and proposed bills that employers must be aware of to properly manage their business while insulating themselves from employee lawsuits. The briefing specifically will address the latest amendments to the Family Medical Leave Act and how they affect a company’s existing policies; effective ways to implement meal and rest period policies despite the current uncertainty in the law on this issue; and the most effective way to avoid employee privacy claims despite an employee’s personal use of company-provided electronic devices. To reserve space, contact Valeina Jack at

Grubb & Ellis Co. Adds Retail Team

A retail team of Anthony M. Villasenor, Ryan Gonzales and Christopher Belaire have joined the San Diego office of Grubb & Ellis Co., which opened in March. They were previously at Voit Real Estate Services. Villasenor joins as senior vice president, Gonzales as senior associate and Belaire as research coordinator.

Villasenor has more than 28 years of industry experience. He joined Voit in 2008 as a senior vice president of the company’s retail and investment group, and began his career at Merrill Lynch in 1982. In 1986, he co-founded Business Real Estate Brokerage Co., later renamed BRE Commercial. Gonzales joined Voit in 2008.  Prior to entering the commercial real estate industry, he spent more than 25 years owning and operating several retail businesses and held a management position with an architectural firm. Belaire holds a bachelor’s degree from Tulane University and an M.B.A. from USD.

Best Best & Krieger Adds 2 Partners

Best Best & Krieger LLP has added two partners to the firm — Kelly J. Salt, who specializes in financing for major public projects, and Elizabeth W. Hull, who serves as special counsel to redevelopment agencies throughout Southern California. Both Salt and Hull were previously of counsel with the firm. They join Sophie Akins of the San Diego office and Andrew Morris of the Sacramento office as the firm’s newest partners. Akins and Morris were elevated from associates earlier this year.

Salt, who joined BB&K’s San Diego office in 2006 as a member of the public finance practice group, has served as bond and disclosure counsel for several cities and public agencies in California. Salt previously worked for the San Diego City Attorney’s Office for more than 16 years and served as the primary attorney on bond finance matters for the city’s public works projects.
 Salt graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1985.

Hull serves as special counsel to the redevelopment agencies of several cities, including Azusa, Corona, Lake Forest and Yorba Linda. As a member of the firm’s municipal and redevelopment practice group, Hull splits her time between BB&K’s Irvine and San Diego offices. Prior to joining BB&K in 2007, Hull served as the assistant city attorney for development services for Chula Visa.
 She graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1995.

VMIX Names President and CEO

The board of video platform provider VMIX has named Patrick J. Burns as president and CEO. Burns has more than 20 years of experience in a variety of software, hardware and medical device companies. He has held senior leadership posts and consulting roles with start-up companies as well as industry leaders such as Ford Motor Co., Xerox, Bechtel, Brown and Root and the Maersk Group.

Mark Lambson Joins Partner Engineering as a Principal

Mark Lambson

Mark Lambson, a commercial real estate industry veteran, has joined Partner Engineering as a principal in the firm’s San Diego office. Lambson was previously vice president of sales and marketing at Green Concepts International. He will be responsible for business development and management of the firm’s national  client base, which includes REITS, developers, lenders, attorneys, brokers and  commercial real estate investors.  Previously, he was national sales manager for LandAmerica Assessment Corp. During a 15-year career, Lambson has consulted on more than 7,000 environmental  and engineering projects. Lambson earned a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State.

Hispanic Chamber Hosts Mixer and Sunset Cruise

The Hornblower

The San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will board the Hornblower yacht on May 27 for its Sunset Cruise Mixer and Speed Networking Session. The event will be from 4:30 to 8 p.m. The Sunset Cruise will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Hornblower is at 950 North Harbor Drive along the Downtown waterfront. Admission is $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers and $30 at the door. To register, visit

40 Under 40 Nominations

Nominations are still open for San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s 11th annual 40 Under 40 awards. The nomination period ends May 31. The honorees will be feted at our annual luncheon on Sept. 9 at the San Diego Convention Center and profiled in the September issue of the magazine. Visit for a nomination form.

The Daily Business Report is produced by REP Publishing Inc., publisher of San Diego Metropolitan Magazine, the North Park News, Kensington News and the West Coast Craftsman. (619) 906-4104.

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Voice Your Opinion

We Want Your Opinions on San Diego’s Big Issues In the coming months, Probosky Research (one of California’s leading opinion research firms) will continue its partnership with SD METRO to survey San Diego residents about topics of interest to our readers. We’d like to throw open the door for suggestions for topics. What do you want to know? What do you think you know, but aren’t sure? What are you certain you know, but want to prove it beyond doubt? Ideally, we’d like to see questions that have to do with public policy.

Some areas may include Mayor Filner’s first 100 days job performance, should the city be responsible for economic growth and the creation of new jobs, how important are infrastructure improvements to our daily lives (streets and bridges, etc.), how important is water independence, how satisfied are residents with public transit or how do city residents value Balboa Park and other open spaces? Do you believe the City Council should revive the Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park?

You can email Probolsky Research directly with your ideas: