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In San Diego, attorney Cory Briggs is best known for blowing the whistle on the scandals that led to former Mayor Bob Filner’s resignation. But he also has filed more high-profile lawsuits against the city and other local entities than anyone else. Here are five big local issues Briggs has taken on and the latest on their status.
The Convention Center Expansion
The Skinny: The city has been talking about expanding its Convention Center since 2008, but has yet to stick a shovel in the ground. At this point, Briggs is the primary reason why. He has two lawsuits against the project. The first claims the hotel-room tax hike, which will pay for most of the expansion, needed to go to a public vote instead of being approved by the hotel industry. The second says the project violates the state’s environmental quality laws.
Current Status: Briggs lost the tax case last spring, but appealed the decision. A judge has yet to rule on the environmental case.
The Skinny: The city charges an extra 2 percent surcharge on hotel-room bills to pay for tourism promotion. Similar to the Convention Center expansion situation, the hotel industry approved this charge rather than the public. Briggs is arguing the public should have made the decision. The city is collecting the money now, but also is paying some of it into a reserve account in case Briggs ultimately wins.
Current Status: The city won a separate lawsuit against the charge that made a similar argument to Briggs’. A judge has yet to rule on Briggs’ lawsuit.
Street and Infrastructure Repair Loan
The Skinny: Earlier this year, city leaders wanted to borrow $120 million to repair streets and build and repair city facilities using a common but complex financing structure called a lease-revenue bond. Government agencies in California borrowed more than $4.7 billion this way last year, but Briggs contends San Diego’s charter suggests the matter should go to a public vote. The loan is on hold pending the case’s outcome.
Current Status: A judge has yet to rule.
South Bay Bribery Scandal
The Skinny: In early 2012, prosecutors charged numerous public officials and contractors in South Bay school districts in corruption and pay-to-play cases. Briggs sued some of the construction contractors who worked for Southwestern College. The case settled in the spring.
Current Status: The settlement resulted in the contractors agreeing to pay back $642,000 to the community college district.
San Diego Public Records
The Skinny: Briggs has sued Council President Todd Gloria and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith over records he wants made public. From Gloria, he wants text messages and emails from his personal cell phone and email account during Council meetings. From Goldsmith, Briggs wants emails from the city attorney’s private email account. Briggs argues both are public records because they involve city business. The city disagrees.
Current Status: A judge has yet to rule on either.