San Diego journalists were rousted from their watering holes last night by a quick-spreading report out of a Toronto radio station (at the 8:20 mark) that billionaire Philip Anschutz “has or will be purchasing up to 35% of the equity in the San Diego Chargers and the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles … and they’re building a one-billion-dollar stadium.”
Andrew Donohue, our editor and a football enthusiast, checked in with a special dispatch for the Morning Report:
On its face, the report adheres to some logic: Anschutz, a phenomenally private and wealthy man, has been a primary threat to snatch the team from San Diego and move them to Los Angeles.
His company is a major player in LA sports. He is a part owner of the LA Lakers (as has been Magic Johnson, who told Kimmel that after ten championship rings from the Lakers, it was time for other things), owner of the LA Kings, owner of the Staples Center and owner of the Home Depot Center, a sports complex that is home to LA’s two major soccer teams and frequently hosts U.S. national team soccer games. That’s also where the Chargers temporarily moved their training camp in the heat of this whole stadium search.
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But Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani threw some water on the party shortly after the news broke by issuing this statement: “There is no truth to the rumor out of Toronto that the Chargers have agreed to sell a portion of the team to Mr. Anschutz.”
Good lawyers will tell you that every word of every statement is there for a reason. So perhaps there’s a reason that Fabiani only said the team hasn’t “agreed” to the sale. There are also plenty of signs that now wouldn’t be the right time for a deal. Regardless, we seem to be moving closer to a decision day on a drama that’s played out for the better part of a decade.
Planning to Cut the Planning
If you live in San Diego, your neighborhood was once on a drawing board. City planners were good, bad and in between. (And seemingly soused on occasion. I live between two streets with the same name, for instance.) But there was definitely a blueprint, a guide to what would come.
But now, budget cuts are threatening to hack away at regular updates to neighborhood blueprints, potentially eliminating the city’s ability to carefully adjust long-term planning as the world evolves. As we’ve shown in previous articles, planning has allowed major improvements in Barrio Logan, Logan Heights and San Ysidro.
Divert Those Dollars!
• Several members of the City Council want to move a debt out of the city’s coffers to free up money. The proposed deal, which would saddle the downtown redevelopment agency with $9.2 million in annual debt, is a bit like asking your sister to pick up the loan payments on a car that you share. The city attorney says it can be done legally.
• San Diego schools got confused about $2.8 million in funding meant to help disadvantaged students. The result: “Kids at schools that left the money on the table lost out, while kids at schools that spent all their funds got an extra boost.”
• KPBS reports that the “City Council must decide how to make up more than $100 million that was underpaid when employees bought benefits in 2003. Either the city or the employees will have to cover the cost, and the IRS is waiting for a decision.”
A court says the city doesn’t have to cough up the money, but the city may still choose to pay some of it to avoid more legal hassles. A city employee says retirees “are having the sleepless nights, the panic attacks and the failing health.”
• It sure sounds like the Walmart ordinance would make it impossible for mega Walmarts to exist in the city. The Walmart people, who have been bombarding the community with fliers and newspaper ads, certainly think so. Not necessarily so, say proponents.
• The City Council is moving forward toward a cross-border airport terminal, although it’s still in its early stages. Meanwhile, the World Cup people are expected to announce the countries that will get the soccer tournament in 2018 and 2022. The U.S. — with a possible stop in San Diego — is a major player in the 2022 bid. At the same time, a scandal uncovered by the BBC is shaking up the World Cup organization.
Dead and/or Gone:
• Gone: The controversial president of Chula Vista’s Southwestern College — the community college that serves the South Bay — is out. Raj Chopra has resigned, taking the equivalent of a six-month salary with him. Earlier this year, we wrote that “the blunt and confrontational Chopra has a long history of turning around troubled districts and educational systems — and of igniting brutal labor clashes.”
• Still Dead: The folks under Mission Hills Park (also known as Pioneer Park). Photographer Sam Hodgson offers spooky nighttime outtakes from his photo shoot of the few remaining tombstones at the park, which was once a big cemetery. The bodies, hundreds of them, are still there.
Answer Me This:
• New stats suggest the worst of the local recession may be over, but flatlined jobs and a building slowdown are still hampering a vigorous recovery.
• Who’s gleefully mocking Councilman Kevin Faulconer on the WhatKevinMeans account on Twitter? And when will someone mock me somewhere? Please? (I’ll probably regret this, like back when I felt bad about never having a stalker.)
• New York Times columnist and president-bashing aficionado Maureen Dowd is now the star of a new comic book. Is there a local scribe who deserves a comic book of his or her own? If you can come up with a snappy title for a compilation of columnist adventures (maybe Don Bauder or Diane Bell?), send me a note.
• My cynical take on holiday songs for the North County Times and the annual roundup of the cost of the items in “The 12 Days of Christmas” got me to thinking: Is it possible to buy all those things in San Diego? People can be hired to play the various parts (leapers, dancers, pipers, milkers), and we seem to have geese and swans in residence. But what about partridges, turtle doves, calling birds or French hens? Are there any to be found in this county?
Let me know, bird-lovers. And if you have five golden rings to spare, just drop them in the mail. I’ll make sure they find a good home.