An intriguing debate ensued last Friday between voiceofsandiego.org‘s Scott Lewis and the Union-Tribune‘s Bob Kittle on KPBS’ “Editors’ Roundtable” that raises serious concerns about who will get the first look at the long-overdue and extraordinarily expensive investigative report from Kroll Inc. (Listen for yourself.)

Lewis, a co-executive editor of voiceofsandiego.org, commended a recent statement by Mayor Jerry Sanders that condemned Kroll for running up a $20 million bill to the city for a report while “holding the city hostage.”

Amid widespread speculation in the city that Kroll had turned over a draft of the report to federal investigators, Lewis said that the location of the report is unknown.

Lewis said, “There is a 300-page draft floating around somewhere and nobody will verify exactly where it is or what the status of it is.”

Lewis argued that the report should be turned over first to the people of San Diego – those that paid for it.

Kittle, editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s editorial pages, made a number of comments that arouse suspicion that Kroll has either provided a copy of the report to the newspaper or that that Kroll is leaking the newspaper information that is not being conveyed to the people of San Diego or city leaders.

Kittle first replied to Lewis’ comment by telling listeners that Kroll had delivered the reports to KPMG, the city’s outside auditor. He continued:

Let me explain what is really happening with this report. The draft – and it’s over 300-pages – has gone to KPMG for its review. The reason for that is, if it doesn’t satisfy KPMG that all of the investigation is thorough, then it’s useless. But, a draft will be given, it has not yet been given, to the SEC for its review before it’s released as well.

(Please note that Kittle corrected Lewis’ assumption that the report was 300-pages.)

Kittle’s comment comes just after a spokesperson for Mayor Jerry Sanders indicated that no one knew who the report was given to.

Kittle also said, with surprising certainty, what kind of conclusions that report will include:

[Kroll’s] report, unlike (City Attorney) Mike Aguirre’s reports, unlike any other report that has been done, is going to be much more detailed. It is going to name names. It is going to name, I believe, city officials including elected city officials – council members, potentially current, past, including a previous mayor as having committed violations.

Kittle added:

When this report comes out we are going to see, I believe, current members of the City Council harshly criticized for their role in the wrongdoing that has occurred.

Perhaps most curious is Kittle’s speculation that the Kroll report will be used as the foundation for any enforcement action that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission takes against the city of San Diego:

But this will be the kind of evidence that the SEC will look at very carefully and will form the basis, really, of the SEC’s enforcement action against the city. And that’s why it is so important that it be done correctly.

This raises, perhaps, the most serious doubts over the kind of information that Kroll has been disseminating while trumpeting their need for “independence.”

The debate raises a series question for the people of San Diego: Should a report funded by $20 million of taxpayer dollars be delivered to anyone else before the people that paid for it?

MIKE AGUIRRE

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