Monday, July 14, 2008

Do Chip Owens' connections to a developer explain Carolyn Smith's big SEDC paychecks?

Deep Throat's advice seems to still be good 35 years later: Follow the money. Why would Carolyn Smith do what she did? Maybe she was doing what Artie Owen expected, in return for big paychecks.

Chairman Tied to Developer Sets SEDC President's Pay
July 11, 2008

The revelation this week that the chairman of a city of San Diego redevelopment department, Artie M. "Chip" Owen, is unilaterally in charge of setting the salary of a top city of San Diego redevelopment official has fueled further concerns regarding Owen's business ties to a developer and the potential conflicts it creates.

After a story Tuesday revealed a clandestine system of bonuses and extra compensation for the top officials at the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., Owen and SEDC President Carolyn Y. Smith said in a memo that Owen alone, as board chairman, is responsible for setting Smith's compensation...

Artie M. "Chip" Owen, the chairman of the SEDC board, sets the salary of the agency's president.

At the same time he has controlled Smith's salary, Owen has had financial ties to a company that has won several development deals from SEDC and is currently embroiled in a struggle over Valencia Business Park, a troubled project spearheaded by the agency.

Monday, July 7, 2008

SEDC criticized by City Council for abuse of power

Donna Frye called the secret SEDC bonuses

Carolyn Y. Smith, president of SEDC and her top deputy Dante Dayacap paid themselves handsomely with money intended to redevelop blighted neighborhoods.

Will Carless wrote this story for Voice of San Diego:

"The additional pay for the government officials came to light following a review of SEDC's tax records, which revealed a complicated system of unsupervised payments for top SEDC officials that are not explained in its public budget.

"In total, between fiscal years 2003-2004 and 2006-2007, SEDC's top four officials collectively received about $256,000 through the various bonus and extra compensation programs...

"City Councilman Ben Hueso said the agency has refused to provide a breakdown of employee payments to the City Council, citing privacy issues.

"'When we ask them for those figures, they say it's privileged information," Hueso said.

"By contrast,... CCDC and its president, Nancy Graham, recently decided to end the practice of paying annual bonuses because the process had become "too controversial.'"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

SEDC shenanigans get even worse

It looks like the SEDC was determined to give this development to PDP. Why?

Here's a story from Voice of San Diego:

"In March, SEDC's board of directors agreed to break ties with PDP and put the project back out to bid.

"Pacific Development Partners again won the bidding process. The decision to stick with the same developers passed through SEDC's board last week, with board members voting 4-3 to approve the staff's decision to award the project to PDP. (Artie M. "Chip" Owen, the board's chairman, had to recuse himself from the vote because of ongoing financial ties to the developer.)

"An SEDC staff memo about the decision to again choose PDP stated that the proposed purchase price for the land is $562,235, a drop of nearly $1 million from the previous plan..."

SEDC is playing games with public land and developers

SEDC president Carolyn Smith seems to think she doesn't need to think about the "little people" she fraudulently eliminated from a project. She is being sued by a family whose business she harmed by trickery.

The land is owned by the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., the city of San Diego's redevelopment arm for some of its poorest neighborhoods. In 2001, SEDC handed the development rights for Valencia Business Park to a local businessman, James H. Smith, who...contracted with the Petrarcas to sell them one of those warehouses.

But four years later, James Smith’s deal with SEDC fell apart... SEDC President Carolyn Y. Smith offered a settlement agreement promising the Petrarcas a warehouse in Valencia Business Park...

So when SEDC’s attorneys called on the Petrarcas to remove their claim on the land, the couple obliged, freeing the way, they thought, for their warehouse to finally be built...

Instead, PDP changed its plans for the land and designed the Petrarcas out of the deal altogether with Carolyn Smith and SEDC's consent...