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In open defiance of a memo sent by city of San Diego COO Jay Goldstone yesterday, a subcommittee of the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. met this afternoon to discuss hiring a firm to search for a new SEDC president and to begin a process to appoint a new interim general manager for the troubled agency.

Goldstone sent SEDC Chairman Artie M. “Chip” Owen a memo yesterday telling him that both of the items on the agency’s Personnel and Budget Committee’s agenda for today are “inappropriate” for the committee to consider. Four members of SEDC’s board are due to be replaced at the Sept. 2 meeting of the City Council, including two members of the four-person subcommittee that met today.

I spoke with Charles Simpson, who heads the committee, before the meeting. Simpson told me he hadn’t seen the memo. He refused to answer any questions about the committee’s actions either before or after the meeting.

Shortly after the meeting started, board member D. Cruz Gonzalez proposed that the two items on the agenda be continued to next month’s meeting, so they can be addressed by the agency’s new board. Nobody seconded his motion and it died.

The committee then voted to restart the selection process to find an executive search company to lead the recruitment search for a new president/CEO of SEDC. The agency’s current president, Carolyn Y. Smith, was terminated by the board last month and will leave SEDC on Oct. 21.

SEDC staff reported to the committee that the agency had approached 18 executive search companies but had only received proposals from two. After considering the two proposals, the committee voted unanimously to restart the process to find a successor for Smith. SEDC will now send out requests again to search companies.

The second item on the committee’s agenda was a motion to approve the process to appoint an interim general manager for SEDC.

The committee voted on a motion to begin the process to find an interim leader by advertising in a number of local publications. The motion passed 3-1 with Gonzalez the lone “no” vote.

The full SEDC board meets tomorrow to discuss a host of issues, including millions of dollars in contracts and three high-profile lawsuits that have been brought against SEDC and its outgoing president.

City Attorney Mike Aguirre has vowed to take action to persuade the board “not to go down a road that won’t be beneficial to anybody.” I called him earlier to find out what he’s planning but he hasn’t called me back yet.

WILL CARLESS

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