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Daily Business Report — March 15, 2013

San Diego Dismissed as Defendant
In Tourism Marketing District Lawsuit

Tourism Authority issues 85 layoff notices because of dispute

City News Service — The city of San Diego will be dismissed as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by the city’s Tourism Marketing District against Mayor Bob Filner, who has refused to sign off on an agreement to release administrative funds to the agency, according to a settlement agreement released on Thursday. The TMD was renewed by the City Council last fall, but ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders was unable to sign all the necessary documents before he left office in December. Filner, his successor, refused to sign the contract to provide funding because he wants higher pay for hotel workers and more money for public safety, among other things.

In exchange for the TMD dismissing the city as a defendant and waiving its rights to recover legal costs from the city, the City Council acknowledges that the mayor is obliged to sign the deal under the City Charter, according to the settlement released by council President Todd Gloria. He said the City Council agreed to the settlement on Tuesday in closed session.

“This agreement demonstrates the City Council’s belief in the tremendous benefit and value of the Tourism Marketing District,” Gloria said. “We want the TMD to continue operating. I hope the entire matter is quickly resolved so the TMD can go back to publicizing our destination, and we can focus on other priority matters.”

Tourism officials said the TMD has been unable to launch a $5.4 million advertising campaign because of the hang-up with the mayor.

Separately, the San Diego Tourism Authority — the former Convention and Visitors Bureau — said it issued 85 layoff notices this week as a result of the TMD funding dispute. The authority said it might have to close by May 13 if the issue isn’t resolved. The TMD is funded by a 2 percent charge on hotel room rates. The resulting revenue is distributed to a variety of organizations that promote tourism in San Diego.

Judge OKs Convention Center Financing Plan

A San Diego Superior Court judge gave his final blessing Thursday to the city of San Diego’s plan to finance an upcoming $520 million expansion of the Downtown convention center. Judge Ronald Prager upheld his tentative ruling, issued Monday, that says a special district formed for hotel land owners to tax themselves was “properly formed.” The judge listened to about two hours of oral arguments Wednesday from lawyers who support and oppose the funding mechanism. The go-ahead is one of the last hurdles the city needs to clear before the start of construction. The expansion plan still needs to go before the California Coastal Commission. Once construction begins, work should take about 33 months, the city said.

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center’s
Executive Director to Retire in June

Jeffrey Kirsch’s replacement is from The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia

Jeffrey Kirsch

Jeffrey Kirsch, longtime executive director of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center who saw the center quintuple its membership and double its physical size during his three-decade tenure, will retire in June. Kirsch’s replacement will be Steven Snyder, currently the vice president of exhibit and program development at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

Kirsch, who is set to retire on June 30, has guided the Fleet since 1983. He is a pioneer and major contributor to the production and exhibition of IMAX films in science museums. Associates say he has changed the face of science education in San Diego.

In announcing Kirsch’s retirement, the center said the Fleet gained international prominence under his guidance with the recent installation of a new giant dome screen and digital GSM system in the theater, making it the first in the U.S. to share a digital planetarium with an IMAX dome theater. Kirsch’s next project will be as a consulting producer on a film about the Panama Canal, now in the planning stages and due to debut as part of the Balboa Park 2015 centennial.

Coastkeeper Reaches Agreement with DoD
To Reduce Sewage Spills at Camp Pendleton

This week San Diego Coastkeeper and the Department of Defense announced they have settled litigation to reduce the number of sewage spills at Camp Pendleton. Under the Clean Water Act, a federal law that governs water pollution, Coastkeeper filed suit on April 18, 2011, to address Camp Pendleton’s upward trend in the number of sewage spills. This week’s agreement formalized a commitment by the Department of Defense to reduce the number of Camp Pendleton sewage spills to 10 or less each year by 2017. It also ensures that Camp Pendleton will alert Coastkeeper about spills larger than 50,000 gallons or spills that result in a beach closure.

Domusstudio Architecture Completes
Bethel Seminary Campus Redesign

Students and faculty at Bethel Seminary’s San Diego campus have settled into their recently remodeled campus, the result of design work done by domusstudio architecture. The remodeling included the addition of 10,700 square feet of new space and reconfiguring the existing 23,800-square-foot building at 6116 Arosa St. in the College area. Bethel Seminary, an evangelical seminary with its main campus in St. Paul, Minn., has about 300 students enrolled at the San Diego campus. Architect John Pyjar, principal at domusstudio and project lead, said the remodel  included adding a chapel/conference center to seat more than 300, new classrooms, an expanded student center, kitchen, some small meeting rooms and offices.  Work on the expansion started in March 2012, while work on the existing building was done primarily during summer break while summer classes continued at College Avenue Baptist Church across the street. The team from domusstudio also included project architect Lisa D’Ambrosia, Mark O’Brien, who handled the construction administration phase of the project. The general contractor was Legacy Building Services of San Diego. The construction manager for the Seminary was Ron Sutliff, principal at San Diego Project Management Services LLC.

SDSU Graduate Programs Rank Among Nation’s Best

U.S. News & World Report named more than a dozen San Diego State University graduate programs among the nation’s best. SDSU’s graduate business program ranked 86th in the nation, putting it in the top 50 for public business schools and in the top 10 in California. In other categories, SDSU’s highest ranked graduate program was rehabilitation counseling, in the College of Education, which ranked ninth in the nation. The Rehabilitation Counseling program trains students to help individuals with physical, emotional or mental health disabilities improve their quality of life, leading to greater levels of self-sufficiency. Other programs ranked in the top 50 include speech language and hearing services (25th), clinical psychology (26th), audiology (27th), and nursing-midwifery (29th).

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The Daily Business Report is produced by SD METRO.

Contact: Manny Cruz (619) 287-1865. manny@sandiegometro.com.

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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?

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