Pechanga Arena / Photo by Megan Wood

This post originally appeared in the Sept. 10 Politics Report. The weekly newsletter is exclusively for VOSD members. Become a member today.

Last week, a $100,000 donation developer Brad Termini and his wife gave to a committee supporting Mayor Todd Gloria’s campaign when he first ran for mayor in 2020 became news for the second time.

La Prensa reported the donation as part of a critical piece on Gloria’s support for the team Termini is leading to redevelop the city’s nearly 50 acres of land at the Sports Arena site. Termini is CEO of Zephyr, the firm that, along with Chelsea Investments and other partners are now one step away from an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city to build on the land for what could be several decades.

La Prensa, though, wasn’t the first to report on the donation. The Terminis’ donations to the independent committee supporting Gloria were actually news and controversial when they made them. Barbara Bry, who was the target of the attack ad paid for by the donation while she was running for mayor, issued a press release over the ad ripping it as hypocritical and cynical. The committee had to pull that commercial and change it. Nobody wanted to tell the Politics Report exactly why but they closed that independent expenditure committee.

A new one was eventually launched, this one headed by lawyer Gil Cabrera, the former chairman of the Ethics Commission.

“I came in to change direction of the independent spending to be more effective in the general election,” Cabrera said.

What happened: Termini was traveling and declined to comment but the Politics Report was able to piece together something of a history.

LiUNA, the Laborers International Union of North America Local 89, formed a committee to support Gloria’s election well before the March 2020 primary. They hired consultants Nancy Chase and Larry Remer to run it. It collected donations and you can see the major ones listed here

They produced an ad attacking Bry, who was running against not just Gloria at the time but also former City Councilman Scott Sherman. It was widely assumed Gloria would make it through the primary but Sherman and Bry ended up in a very close battle for the second spot.

“Bry also says she’ll stand up to developers, but big developers are funding her campaign,” the ad said, in one part.

This was awkward. Termini is a donor. And because Termini had donated so much, his name was required on the disclosure line of the advertisement.

“The most ironic contributions – given the claims in the ad – are Brad and Stefanie Termini, developers of the controversial Marisol development in Del Mar and business partners of one of downtown San Diego’s largest developers, who contributed $100,000,” wrote Bry in her press release blasting the ad, which eventually became fodder for a Union-Tribune column, who also couldn’t get Termini on the record about it at the time.

Again, we haven’t had a chance to connect with him about this but he was supposedly quite upset about the ad. For whatever reason, they pulled it and changed the commercial.

“A number of people were not happy with that ad,” Nancy Chase told us. “I think I was one of the key people who wasn’t happy with it. And that’s why we made a different one, a better one. We changed it.”

Bry survived the primary and advanced to the general election, much to the chagrin of Gloria’s allies who believed the Republican Sherman would have been much easier to beat in the general.

LiUNA shut down the committee and contributed to the new one, Neighbors for Housing Solutions Supporting Todd Gloria for San Diego Mayor 2020, which ended up raising significantly more than the previous group. You can look at those major contributors here.

Why this matters: This whole thing is moving into a more openly political battle. Not only are rivals to the team that won and media going to dig in, but there’s an actual ballot measure moving forward: Measure C. It’s the second attempt to raise the height limit in the Midway area beyond just the Sports Arena land.

But the 2022 election will attract a smaller electorate. People against the measure are going to be more motivated than people who mildly support it. Now they will have already killed the previous version and perhaps they’ll attract more powerful allies if things get uglier.

Come see that debate: At Politifest, Councilman Chris Cate and Dike Anyiwo, the chair of the Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group, who support removing the height limit will debate Council candidate Linda Lukacs and former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña who oppose it.

Politifest is going to be really good this year. Check it out.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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3 Comments

  1. Let me get this straight. Saldana opposes the height limit, and the Gloria cabal funded a PAC to bury her D2 aspirations. This Gloria backed group of immoral sharks promoted both on the QT and openly a lady from nowhere named Luckas. Turns out Luckas is now a Saldana ally. Seems if the Todd is our God folks are hedging their bet on beating Luckas a GOP newcomer. This is a relica of Nevada’s famed Chicken Ranch and the voters duped into a malaise of prostitution. What if the little lady from a little house in Clairemont loses? Then what? Will this lady Luckas keep her word ala Campbell on STVR’s? I doubt it. A vicious circle of political street walkers.

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