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Tuesday, February 06, 2007 | Editor’s note: San Diego businessman Dan Shea asked for his open letter to City Attorney Mike Aguirre to be published by Voice of San Diego.
I understand from the media that you will be sending me a letter advising me that I should register as a lobbyist. I didn’t understand the impact of your doing this until my children asked me if I was in trouble with the law. I told them that I didn’t think so, but, “Mr. Aguirre is the top legal official in the City and that he makes these kinds of decisions.” It was good of you to let the media know that I am being sent a letter, I haven’t received one, but I’ll be looking for it. So, in like fashion, I thought I would respond in the media as well.
I am in full agreement that it is important to abide by the law, we are on the same page there. However, I need your assistance to clarify a couple of points.
Now, mathematically, 17 visits to City Hall in two years amounts to (essentially) two visits per council office and one visit to the mayor. I don’t really think it worked out exactly like that, but, I don’t remember, and I don’t have to keep records (yet).
But, whatever it was, I’m unclear on “who” to register as a lobbyist for. I certainly did not represent the Chargers because if I had, I would have been all too happy to charge them a fee, and then I would have registered as a lobbyist. To be very clear, being a capitalist at heart, it would be absolutely foreign to me to do something for a multi-million dollar enterprise and not charge a fee. I am just not sympathetic in that way. I have never been paid by the Chargers, and I was never asked to take this up as an issue on behalf of the Chargers. No, I did this because I thought the city was walking into a very big financial mess that I believed to be avoidable. So I thought it was the civic thing to do.
Now, on that note, since I haven’t been compensated by anyone, and, since I made clear from day one I was doing this “for the city,” who do I register “for?” Do I register as a lobbyist for the city? I am happy to do so. Do you give me that authority, or do I need to get it from City Council? Further, when I visit City Hall at the request of you or a member of the City Council, to provide information to someone who has asked me for information, does that qualify as a lobbyist activity?
For example, when you recently asked Mitch Mitchell and myself to help mediate your troubled relationship with Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins, and City Manager Lamont Ewell, would I register as a lobbyist for the City of San Diego, the City Attorney’s Office or you personally? I want to make sure I get this right. And, when I do this, will there be compensation coming from someplace? I ask because I find it very disconcerting that you are paying others consulting fees, but you have no compunction about taking up my valuable time at no charge to the City, then sending me silly letters that eat up more valuable time.
Your clarification on these points would be appreciated.
Dan Shea is a local businessman who co-founded the Fans, Taxpayers and Business Alliance to sort through the embittered relationship between the city of San Diego and the San Diego Chargers.