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We pointed out Mayor Jerry Sanders’ silence earlier today in his failure to respond to serious questions about a deal that allowed Qualcomm to temporarily change the name of the city’s football stadium. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said name change shouldn’t have happened without a series of steps.
His office released a statement this evening. Sanders argues allowing the name change without council approval and for a nominal fee, “was for the greater good of our community.”
Here is the statement in its entirety:
Everywhere I go, San Diegans tell me they have one priority: building our economy and creating good jobs. That’s why I’ve made helping the companies that support good jobs in San Diego a top priority of my administration. So helping one of our largest employers execute a creative promotion of a San Diego innovation was a no-brainer.
Qualcomm is one of the most successful homegrown companies in the history of San Diego and a great community partner. Beyond creating tens of thousands of jobs for San Diegans, the company and its executives have improved our community through their generous support of education and the arts.
After receiving an opinion from the city attorney less than two weeks before the Snapdragon name change was supposed to take place, I decided that allowing the temporary name change to go forward was for the greater good of our community. In response to the city attorney’s concern about the sign ordinance, the company addressed it by selling the product inside the stadium.
The city was duly compensated for its staff time, but any notion that we should have exploited the occasion to shake down the holder of the naming rights is absurd.
We’re still waiting to see if any council members or Goldsmith respond. Earlier today, the chief of staff for Councilwoman Lorie Zapf told me the councilwoman was staying out of it: “This is a process debate between [Goldsmith] and Mayor.” Zapf’s district includes the football stadium.
Here were the questions, as we highlighted earlier today, that the situation raises:
1) Why did the mayor ignore an explicit opinion from the city attorney and go around the council? Why did the mayor also ignore a longstanding second opinion from the city attorney on the validity of contracts?
2) Why did the mayor do it for a company founded by Irwin Jacobs, someone who’s the major donor behind two Sanders legacy projects, the new downtown library project and a renovation of Balboa Park’s main plaza?
3) How much money did the city leave on the table by allowing Qualcomm to make the name change, especially given San Diego’s unending budget deficits?
4) Will any council member or Goldsmith speak out?
Liam Dillon is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He covers San Diego City Hall, the 2012 mayor’s race and big building projects. What should he write about next?
Please contact him directly at email@example.com or 619.550.5663.
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