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Daily Business Report — May 17, 2012

Taxpayers Group Issues Golden Watchdog and Golden Fleece Awards

Government agencies in the San Diego region came in for a round of praise and criticism Wednesday evening when the San Diego Taxpayers Association held its 17th annual Goldens Awards Dinner at the Town and Country Resort & Convention Center. Golden Watchdog awards recognized smart, sensible practices in taxpayer-funded programs. Golden Fleece awards recognized government program and services that are wasteful, inefficient or absurd.

• Winner of this year’s highest honor, the Grand Golden Watchdog Award, is the county of San Diego for “Better Than Extreme Couponing.” As a result of cost saving measures over the past decade, the county’s Capital Program will save taxpayers approximately $1.46 billion over the next 30 years by paying cash for one-time capital improvement projects rather than financing them with long-term debt thanks to having the foresight to set aside the funds to do so.

• The Golden Watchdog award went to the Port of San Diego, “The Price Is Right,” for its procurement reform policies, which have been streamlined to reduce costs and ensure best practices are in place.

• This year’s Grand Golden Fleece was presented to the Otay Water District, “Game of Thrones.” The district voted to provide free lifetime health and dental benefits to their managers and unrepresented employees in July 2011. A month later, the board then extended those same benefits to all employees in an August 2011 vote. Ratepayers have seen their water rates soar more than 40 percent in recent years and voiced vehement opposition. As a result, the district’s unfunded liability will increase by more than 90 percent.

•The 2012 Metro Golden Fleece recipient is the city of San Diego, “Let’s Not Make a Deal.” The city attempted to enter into a no-bid, exclusive 28-year deal for security services at Qualcomm Stadium in 2006. When the long-term contract and ultimate cost to the taxpayers was revealed, the city finally went out to bid. It received cost-saving offers from five other companies, but still decided to go with the original contractor. After a protest was filed and upheld because the city failed to follow specified procedures and requirements, the city has finally — again — re- bid the contract. Meanwhile taxpayers are still paying for the high-priced original contract.

• The 2012 Regional Golden Fleece recipient is the San Diego Unified School District, “Calling Mister Rogers!” The district’s Early Childhood Education Program failed to meet filing deadlines under its contract with the Neighborhood House Association. It not only lost $2.7 million in reimbursed expenses as a result, but also cost the program its First 5 funding. It also spent money on a questionable study regarding a Project Stabilization Agreement for Prop S.

• The San Diego SAFE board was recognized as a “repeat offender” for spending money on questionable marketing campaigns and extending agreements without competitive bids for managing the system. The board won last year for failing to trim its spending.

New Contribution Limits Proposed for Municipal Offices

New limits on financial contributions by political parties to candidates for San Diego’s ostensibly nonpartisan municipal offices were proposed Wednesday to the City Council’s Rules Committee, City News Service reports. The plan drawn up by the city’s Ethics Commission stems from a federal court ruling that struck down San Diego’s old ban on donations from political parties. A temporary $1,000 ceiling was later rescinded by the judge in the case, so there are no limitations on such giving in the current election year. The commission proposed a limit of $12,000 per election for citywide races, and $3,000 for City Council races. The cap would be a combined total of all levels of the parties, whether local, state or federal, said Stacey Fulhorst, the commission’s executive director.

Measure Encourages Banks to Increase Lending in Community

San Diego City Council President Tony Young has introduced legislation that encourages banks that do business with the city to increase their lending and other services to local residents and businesses, particularly those in under-served communities. “The city’s more than $1 billion in annual public tax-dollar deposits should be put into financial institutions that will help keep struggling families in their homes, doors open at fledgling small businesses and investments flowing to rebuild our hardest hit neighborhoods,” said Young,  chair of the Rules Committee that is considering the item. The Rules Committee voted to direct the city attorney to draft a responsible banking ordinance that requires the city’s financial staff to contract with banks that are responsive to the community’s needs and do not engage in predatory lending.

SD Economic Development Corp. to Hold 47th Annual Dinner

A talk by futurist James Canton highlights the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.’s 47th annual dinner May 23 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in Downtown. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will be among the guests. The 2012 Herb Klein Civic Leadership Award will be presented to Ron Fowler. EDC Chair Debra Reed, CEO of Sempra Energy, will relinquish her chairmanship to Stath Karras, executive managing director of Cushman & Wakefield. A reception is at 5 p.m. and the dinner and program is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $185 each.

Two Named to Architecture Group’s College of Fellows



Gilbert D. Cooke, who served as dean at NewSchool of Architecture and Design (NSAD) from 2001–2009, has been named a member of the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows for his contributions to the education field, in particular for his teaching, academic leadership and involvement in transforming NSAD into a nationally recognized school with a practice-oriented curriculum. Lisa Sachs, who serves as a member of NSAD’s Construction Management Advisory Board, also is being inducted into the College of Fellows. Cooke, who is among 105 AIA members elevated to the College of Fellows for 2012, has been invited to participate in a formal ceremony for recently named Fellows. Sachs is a managing principal with Cumming Corp., a provider of professional construction project services. Sachs is the author of “What is Your Construction Management IQ?”

Tri-City Hospital Foundation Council Hosts Quarterly Meeting

Local business leaders in North County have been invited to hear the progress of the new medical office building under construction  at Tri-City Medical Center’s Oceanside campus at the May 22 quarterly meeting of the Tri-City Hospital Foundation’s Corporate Council at 7 a.m. at the hospital. Major construction began in April on the new three-story, 57,000-square-foot building. Larry Anderson, CEO of Tri-City Medical Center, will describe Tri-City’s plans for the new medical building. For registration, call (760) 940-3370.

The Daily Business Report is produced by SD METRO. Contact: Manny Cruz (619) 287-1865.

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