101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza / Photos by Adriana Heldiz

Few local public affairs stories are as crazy as this one.

It’s a long, winding, asbestos-laden series of events that began in 2013, when the city of San Diego was scoping out downtown buildings to house its employees.

Then-mayor Bob Filner appointed a volunteer real estate adviser, Jason Hughes, to help out. If you’ve followed the podcast for some time, you know a lot of what ensued: the next mayor kept Hughes on, employees moved in, they got evacuated due to asbestos, public officials and reporters began looking into building violations and the parties involved, and a whole mess of details slowly spilled out.

The latest of which, VOSD Host Andrew Keatts says in this week’s podcast, could be the most damning of all for the man who’s now at the center of the controversy: Hughes. Turns out the real estate adviser got paid about $9.5 million dollars — as a volunteer — for the deals he facilitated. The scoop this week by VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt was that Hughes made an agreement with Cisterra Development (the city’s eventual landlord) to earn a 45 percent profit off the deals or be held financially accountable if the deals fell apart.

In this episode, Keatts and co-host Scott Lewis explain how this week’s revelation fit into the larger controversy over 101 Ash St. and why it matters.

Also on Deck This Week…

Lewis and Keatts recap this truly wild story about how local hotel magnate Bill Evans made a splash with reporters at the Elizabeth Holmes trial. You can read that story from NPR here.

And immunologist Shane Crotty joined Lewis for an interview about the state of the pandemic and vaccinations. Money quote: “You’re either vaccinated, or you’re going to catch Delta.” Check it out in the episode released Thursday and read some of the highlights here. Share it with your friends.

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Nate John

Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at nate@vosd.org.

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