An undated illustration of a proposed Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of MANICA Architecture.
An undated illustration of a proposed Chargers stadium in downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of MANICA Architecture.

By Colleen O’Connor

Why are Measures C and D doomed for failure?

Not because of the two-thirds vote required for passage; that still awaits a state Supreme Court ruling.

Nor because of the blowback against Charger’s owner Dean Spanos’ threats and shifting loyalties. The latest “No Fanos of Spanos” bumper sticker says it all.

Or, because of the recent explosive appellate court citing of Cory Briggs—the attorney leading the Measure D initiative—for “unethical and possibly criminal conduct” in another legal contest. His reputation, too, has been sullied.

Measures C (the Spanos’ Chargers’ initiative) and D (Cory Briggs’ Citizens’ Plan) will predictably go down to defeat for entirely different reasons.

It’s partially because of the NFL players’ never-ending playbook of scandals. Remember those stories? Drugs, drunk driving, domestic abuse, rape, and—oh yes, the indelible video of an NFL player dragging a near unconscious woman, by her hair, out the elevator floor in a Vegas casino.

Add those to the head traumas, concussions, costly bodily injuries, and the demonstrated “unhappiness” of these multi-million dollar players—and you get the drift of a mounting voter backlash against another taxpayer-funded stadium.

However, there’s something even bigger weighing on voters.

Measures C and D will go down to defeat because no one can show us the money. Neither side can answer that simple request.

The Chargers’ initiative “asks voters to trust that city government will run a new stadium and convention center more effectively than it has operated its old ones, which lose millions of dollars and get shabbier each year because the politicians generally don’t care about upkeep.”

The Citizens’ Plan proposes an increase in the hotel/motel tax (but please, they beg, don’t call it a “tax”) on tourists—promising no taxpayer money for a new stadium. However, the money will go to the city’s general fund with no legal prohibitions—whatsoever—against spending it on just such a boondoggle.

This election’s massive document dump will be in your mailbox shortly. Read it—carefully—and see why “no” wins. Obfuscation, land giveaways, and fairy tale calculations are just a few examples of disappearing real costs and expenses. New transit corridors, roads, and even rent payments, all seem to be lost in the disappearing ink of fine print.

So, back to who pays?

The NFL believes the city will pay for all shortfalls and possible overruns.

The city believes the NFL and Spanos will pay. The clan can surely afford it.

Spanos, knows he won’t pay. He just threatens to move the team to Los Angeles, Las Vegas or any other city gullible enough to take the bait. Anywhere but Qualcomm.

He will probably just wait out the November election—and implore the Mayor for a better deal—preferably behind closed doors.

The taxpayers have been here before. Ultimately, the property owners and residents always pay. The watchdog San Diego Taxpayers’ Association agrees.

The voters have had enough of “ticket guarantees,” an uninspired team, and non-stop threats to decamp. This growing disenchantment applies to both the Chargers’ plan and the self-dubbed “Citizens’ Plan.”

Neither plan is good for the economy. Neither passes the math test. Nor demonstrates any improvement in addressing city needs such as housing the homeless, protecting the people, repairing the streets, saving the environment, reducing the debt, fixing the public pension shortfall, or inspiring trust in our government.

These initiatives are just the latest attempts to masquerade a “rip-off” as a civic good.

Both Measures C and D both deserve an “F.”

Just saying. Read the fine print. And show us the money! After all, it is our money.


Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.

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