OK. I’ve found one smoking gun (not sure if it’s more lethal than an air rifle, but it’s there).

Aguirre surprised everyone days ago when he secured a search warrant full of allegations against Sunroad Enterprises. And it made the news when the police chief refused to carry it out.

Aguirre’s target is Tom Story, Sunroad’s vice president. (Story was an aide to former Mayor Dick Murphy.)

Aguirre accuses Story of violating the city’s ethics laws by lobbying City Hall on behalf of Sunroad too soon after leaving his job in the Mayor’s Office.

To violate this law, you have to lobby unclassified city employees. In other words, you have to call up a “city official” a high-level city manager.

I thought this was missing in Aguirre’s search warrant as most of the communications described are with lower-level people. But it doesn’t look like it now.

Aguirre unearthed an e-mail that Story sent to Kelly Broughton, the deputy director of the city’s development services department — a true “city official.”

Broughton is one of those people that Story would be prohibited from trying to influence while the city is in the process of making a decision.

Now, with these laws you have to define all these words. What is a “decision?”

A “decision” according to city law is a City Council resolution or ordinance, a staff report or a contract or a step along the way to receiving a land-use permit.

Here’s how the law reads, the definition of a “decision” includes:

any decision on a land development permit, map or other matter decided pursuant to Process 2 through 5 as described in Chapter 11 of this Municipal Code;

From the city attorney’s search warrant:

On February 17, 2006, Story, (tstory@sunroadenterprises.com) directly contacted Kelly Broughton, Assistant Director for the City of San Diego Development Services on behalf of Sunroad’s contractor, Swinerton Builders’ Project Manager, Pete Cox. Story asked for Broughton’s help facilitating a meeting between Swinerton’s Cox and San Diego DSD Engineering Aide Kathy Finn for the purpose of obtaining a grading permit for the Sunroad Centrum 12 office building.

Now, in the actual e-mail exchange (you can read it here, Attachment E) Story appears to have been complaining about the way his contractor was treated by the city’s staff. Then he asked for some relief.

That appears to be an effort to influence the process toward the city making a decision on his project. Is influencing the process of the city making the decision the same as trying to influence the actual decision?

Now, the next question is why did Aguirre need a search warrant, if he has this e-mail and the other bits?

Aguirre alleges that there are documents in Sunroad’s possession that would prove that the company was conspiring to violate these laws. That conspiracy would be a felony, Aguirre’s deputy writes.

The final question, then, is why Aguirre should be interested in that. His office is not allowed to prosecute felonies.

The Sunroad folks say they have a statement coming out soon.


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