UPDATE: Comments reveal that this isn’t as under the radar as I thought. Add commenter Jefferson to the hat-tip list.
Hat tip to Mr. Murphy’s post on Marti Emerald advocating for new city revenues and Thor’s Assistant’s posting of the link to the transcript. This interview is filled with marvelous insight from Marti.
The hidden gem: her disclosure of funding plans for building the proposed new million-square-foot, and half a billion dollar City Hall building (obviously, I’ve added the bold emphasis):
“In essence, what we would be doing is trading the lease payments that we make on rented property throughout the downtown area for city employees, and replace that with a mortgage on this building. And a lot of people are concerned, oh, we’re going to put city money into building something. My understanding is that the seed money to build it is coming from a third-party pension fund, not San Diego’s but a national pension fund.”
Stop the Tape! This is HUGE. Over the past year or year and a half, this proposal has been snaking its way through the city political channels, with the pro-development CCDC folks spearheading the effort and spending more than half a million dollars on consultants claiming the project would “save taxpayer money,” and then funneling hundreds of thousands of additional taxpayer dollars on highly-priced PR spin machines to “educate the public” and “build interest and excitement in this potential project.”
But throughout all the public hearings, third party review reports, and community outreach sessions on this proposal, never has third-party pension “seed money” been discussed (at least to my knowledge).
We all know the city is broke, and its ability to pay for this project is suspect to say the least. (Not to mention all the other gigantic projects being pushed by many at City Hall and the establishment crowd.) But now there are outside pension funds that will be paying for this?
Any guesses as to what type of pension fund this might be? It couldn’t be a UNION pension fund, could it?
And I’m also sure that if it were a union pension fund providing this “seed money,” that this particular union’s workers wouldn’t be given any special treatment or sweetheart deals in terms of their role in building the new City Hall building, would they?!
And if this funding scheme ends up being legitimate, wouldn’t taxpayers have to pay back the money loaned out from the “national pension fund”?! At what rate of interest? (I would assume at least the fund’s actuarial assumed rate of return, if not more.)
Maybe I’m being too cynical, but does this project remind anyone else of a Vegas casino funding scheme from the 1970’s?
Better yet, boosters are trying to avoid a public vote on the project, telling taxpayers that they are too stupid to understand it. Let’s hope they don’t get their way, because I see this project going down in flames if taxpayers get to decide.
- As an aside, another gem from Marti’s interview where she is discussing fee increases, which is more relevant to Mr. Murhpy’s post: “It may wind up getting a little more expensive to live in San Diego.”
Because we can’t possibly live without out-of-control local government and special interests constantly raiding our wallets, can we?