If you’re a sleazy wannabe federal contractor begging for earmarks who has benefited from close personal friendships with Dick “Shotgun” Cheney, Duncan “Baseball Bat” Hunter, Duke “Jailbird” Cunningham, and Brian “Skiploader” Bilbray, it has to hurt when Fox News (national that is) turns on you.
That is exactly what happened to Bajagua last Friday when Fox News did a hit piece on the Rancho Santa Fe company. Things are so bad at Bajagua these days that the company could only field its hapless CEO, Jim Simmons, for the Fox cameras instead one of his younger surrogates such as Craig Benedetto, Gary Sirota and Marco Gonzalez.
For a company in a free fall like Bajagua, getting hammered by the “fair and balanced” folks at Fox is like having someone throw you a cement life buoy when you are drowning.
The Fox News piece was almost as bad for the company as the headline in the U-T on July 15, “Bajagua Plan Maybe be on the Brink.” According to the article:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein could deal a decisive blow to a decade-old proposal by Bajagua LLC of San Marcos. Bajagua has spent millions of dollars pushing its plan to build a U.S.-funded sewage-treatment plant in Mexico instead of upgrading a troubled facility in San Ysidro. But now, Feinstein wants Congress to spend $66 million on improvements at the San Ysidro site, which the federal government owns. She wields budget influence as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The San Ysidro project “offers the most certainty to the people of Imperial Beach and Coronado that the wastewater coming in from Mexico will be treated to U.S. standards,” Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a statement to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
What the UT story did was also provide more detail on the GAO study:
Although Feinstein backs the San Ysidro expansion plan, she asked the Government Accountability Office on Friday to compare it with the Bajagua proposal. She wants the GAO to look at factors such as cost-effectiveness, practicality and timeliness of completion.
The most interesting part of Feinstein’s GAO letter with implications for the army of consultants, lawyers and lobbyists on the Bajagua payroll was this question:
Are Bajagua LLC investors, employees, consultants or legal counsel associated with organizations participating in lawsuits against the International Boundary and Water Commission regarding the Tijuana River sewage?
Next up in the bad news train for Bajagua was the letter from the Regional Water Quality Control board that the UT reported on,
Also on Friday, regional water-pollution officials said for the first time that Bajagua does not seem to be a viable option. Improving the San Ysidro plant “is the best way to move forward expeditiously,” Susan Ritschel, chairwoman of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, said in a letter to Feinstein.
A few year ago when Bajagua landed Cheney and company to shill for its sole-source no bid contract (after sending them fat campaign checks), Simmons and his partner Enrique Landa must have partied like Wayne and Garth backstage with Def Leopard . Now, they are like the only guys at an N’Sync concert — feeling pretty lonely and a little ripped off.
If you are going to tie your fortunes to a bunch of San Diego congressmen who assure you they have a “lock” on the White House to deliver your fat government contract, you better make sure they really do before you put them on the payroll. Since the White House forbade former Surgeon General Richard Carmona from helping the Special Olympics because of its connection with Ted Kennedy, do you think Bush and Rove are going to do anything to help Hunter and Bilbray, when the North and East County duo helped kill their immigration bill? Why would 43 reward Bob Filner with a contract for his campaign donors when the Chula Vista congressman opposes the war in Iraq and the expansion of the border fence?
Bajagua has been a great deal for a few elected officials and lawyers who have collected big checks by making all kinds of promises they couldn’t keep. To save face, the Bajagua team made a show of badgering a couple of bureaucrats for show in congress recently when the contract didn’t get signed. Maybe Simmons and Landa can have the following bumper sticker made up for their Cadillacs, “I spent $40 million and all I have to show for it was a lousy congressional hearing.”
— SERGE DEDINA