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We’ve made San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith an offer he shouldn’t refuse.

Three weeks ago, we requested the number of votes controlled by city’s largest hotelier in an election to finance the Convention Center expansion. We wanted to know how much power the hotel company, Host Hotels & Resorts, has in the election because it could result in a $1 billion visitor tax increase over the next three decades. And Host and other hoteliers have used their power in the election as leverage on issues unrelated to the Convention Center expansion.

Goldsmith refused our request. Votes in the election are weighted by a hotel’s room revenues and proximity to the Convention Center. Goldsmith said revealing Host’s votes could also reveal private and proprietary information about Host’s revenues making it illegal to disclose its votes. He persisted even after we found that most of the data he said was secret actually was publicly available somewhere else.

On Wednesday we offered Goldsmith a compromise. Host owns four hotels in San Diego: the Manchester Grand Hyatt and Marriott Marquis & Marina next to the Convention Center, the Sheraton Harbor Island and a Marriott in Mission Valley. It gets votes from all of them in the election. We asked Goldsmith to release Host’s entire vote total, not what each hotel entitles the company to receive.

It’s a win-win. We get to know how much power Host has over the election, our goal all along. So far we’ve estimated Host has around 21 percent of the almost 27 million votes at stake. And Goldsmith gets to protect the information he believes is private. There’s no way from relying solely on an aggregate vote total we could figure out the money individual Host hotels made off their rooms.

Goldsmith seemed open to this idea. He said he’d run it by the city treasurer and outside attorneys.

“If there is a way to get this aggregate vote information to you without disclosing taxpayer information, we’re happy to do it,” Goldsmith said in a comment on one of our stories.

But 48 hours after we made the offer, Goldsmith’s office hasn’t given us an answer. It’s yet another delay in a dispute that’s dragged on for three weeks.

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 liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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