By Raoul Lowery Contreras
After District 1 in La Jolla and Carmel Valley, District 7 in the San Diego State University area was considered by professional politicos to be the key to governing San Diego.
But with Councilman Scott Sherman now a termed-out lame duck, with two years left on the council, that is no longer true. Especially after the blatant anti-SDSU campaign he waged against Measure G, the victorious ballot measure authorizing the city to negotiate a sale of the Mission Valley stadium site to the university.
Sherman was an early and vocal supporter of the defeated SoccerCity measure that would have forced the city to sell or lease that valuable Mission Valley real estate to Wall Street money men, none of whom were San Diego-born, raised or educated at any local university.
Out-of-state money flowed freely into the campaign for SoccerCity’s Measure E. Final campaign spending reports will show that pro-SoccerCity spending was, in some pre-election TV buys, up to nine times what SDSU West supporters spent on a weekly basis.
Aiding and abetting this attempted out-of-town take over of the city’s valuable real estate was and still is Councilman Sherman. For example, despite the voters’ expressed desire to organize a sale of the land to SDSU, Sherman, since the election, has said, “Unfortunately, rumors are swirling around City Hall of plans to sell the property at less than market value and possibly give it away for free.”
Sherman apparently is unaware of San Diego’s history regarding city lands used to bring payrolls and taxes into the city. He also is alone. Mayor Kevin Falconer, though an original Soccer City supporter, reportedly voted for the SDSU West plan.
A century ago, Democratic Congressman William Kettner snatched a multi-million dollar federal enterprise — the naval training center — from the San Francisco Bay area. How? City fathers gathered over 200 acres of bayfront land in Point Loma to give to the Navy. The base eventually grew to 300 buildings and was home to thousands upon thousands of nascent sailors until the 1990s. The city gave the land to the U.S. Navy free of charge.
Sherman predicts that “accounting tricks or fancy legal maneuvers (will be) used to change the value of an independent appraisal. San Diego taxpayers were swindled in the past from bad stadium agreements and still pay millions annually to cover those costly mistakes. This time, for one, they deserve a fair deal.”
The city does pay to maintain the 51-year-old stadium, but not because of past mistakes. Maintaining the stadium is costly because it’s half a century old.
That’s what he says now, in defeat. Early on he was supporting the rich out-of-towners. When the SDSU West signature gathering began early this year, Sherman said, “I urge San Diegans to refrain from signing the ballot measure currently being circulated; San Diegans deserve to review the details before committing to placing the measure on the ballot.”
Not allow the voters to vote? Not very democratic.
In retrospect, the SoccerCity plan was unenforceable at 1,300 pages long, while the SDSU West plan was a straightforward 13 pages. SoccerCity supporters pounded the media about the disparity in size as if it was important. Sherman authored a comparison report that was at best semi-professional.
Any deal to be reached under the victorious SDSU West plan must, according to Measure G, be approved by the City Council. Let’s see the agreement before one takes a position on it, Councilman Sherman.
My prediction: The city will sell the Mission Valley property to SDSU for a fair price and the sale will be approved by a council vote of 7-1.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant and the author of “The Armenian Lobby & American Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.
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