Documents show the airport authority official loaned to the city of San Diego was sent after Mayor Jerry Sanders requested help with the Sunroad office building near Montgomery Field, despite the mayor’s statement last week that the two are unrelated matters.

Sanders stated on June 7 that San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Vice President Ted Sexton was on loan to help the city more effectively operate its two municipal airports and determine whether management should be transferred to his agency. He was clear about denying City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s assertion that Sexton was borrowed to help the mayor navigate the Sunroad matter:

Mr. Sexton was not brought on board to manage the Sunroad building issue.

But the mayor’s initial request to secure some expertise from the airport authority indicates otherwise.

Sanders wrote a March 2 letter to San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Chairman Alan Bersin explicitly asking for help on the Sunroad issue. The letter states:

The City of San Diego is involved in litigation regarding a building constructed by Sunroad Enterprises near Montgomery Field. The building is already constructed to its maximum height, although interior improvements are not complete. …

I would appreciate and am requesting that the Airport Authority assist us in analyzing the situation and in working with the FAA and other interested stakeholders in an attempt to resolve this issue. Given the Authority’s staff experience in aviation and FAA matters, your help would be invaluable in providing my office with clear and dispassionate guidance and advice.

Bersin responded 10 days later in a letter recognizing that help was needed for the Sunroad issue, and that a high-level official would be assigned to assist the city. He wrote:

Thank you for your letter dated March 2, 2007 in which you request assistance from the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to help resolve issues surrounding the Sunroad Enterprises building near Montgomery Field. …

With that in mind, we are more than glad to provide the assistance you requested. The President/CEO of the Airport Authority, Thella Bowens, will assign our highest level executive with the necessary expertise on these issues to work with the City.

There is no mention of the executive helping to more effectively run the city’s two municipal airports.

In an interview this evening, Sanders spokesman Fred Sainz said he doesn’t believe there’s a contradiction between the mayor’s statement last week and the March 2 letter. He pointed to a contract between the two agencies that doesn’t specifically mention working on the Sunroad issue but rather on the matters Sanders highlighted last week.

Sexton could have been working on the issue, but not exclusively, Sainz said.

“The agreement is what delineates what Ted Sexton’s role is,” he said.

Sainz said he and not the mayor should be blamed for any confusion caused by the two statements because he drafted the press release.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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