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Tony Romo wins Drew Brees Cox Celebrity Championship at Morgan Run Club & Resort, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif...
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo never had played the golf course at Morgan Run Club & Resort in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., before this weekend. But that didn't seem to have a negative effect on his performance.
Romo shot a 1-under 70 on Saturday and then a 4-under 67 on Sunday to finish two strokes ahead of former NHL player Dan Quinn to win the Cox Celebrity Championship, which was hosted by Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
"The number of fans and the amount of support for this tournament are each a testament to Drew Brees," Romo told SanDiego.com after accepting the winner's trophy. "It's a great tournament, and I feel lucky to be a part of it."
The tournament occurred the weekend before Romo is scheduled to get married. Romo and fiancée Candice Crawford are to wed May 28 at Arlington Hall in Lee Park.
According to SanDiego.com, Romo donated the $25,000 purse to The Brees Dream Foundation, which was founded in 2003 by Brees and his wife and is dedicated to advancing research in the fight against cancer and providing care, education and opportunities for children in need.
Former Texas cornerback Quentin Jammer, who now plays for the San Diego Chargers, finished the tournament in last place, shooting 57 over.
Romo attempted to qualify for the U.S. Open golf tournament earlier in the month, but he failed to do so after shooting a 9-over 81 in a local qualifier at Stonebridge Ranch Country Club in McKinney, Texas.
Another weekend, another victory on the links for Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo.
Romo won the Cox Celebrity Championship golf tournament this weekend, an event hosted by Romo’s New Orleans counterpart and native Texan, Drew Brees, in San Diego, California.
Romo shot a one-under 70 on Saturday and a four-under 67 on Sunday to finish two strokes ahead of former NHL player Dan Quinn for the victory. According to SanDiego.com, Romo donated his $25,000 purse to the Brees Dream Foundation.
Afterward, he was full of praise for Brees’ involvement in the event.
"The number of fans and the amount of support for this tournament are each a testament to Drew Brees," said Romo, per the Dallas Morning News. "It's a great tournament and I feel lucky to be a part of it."
BRIEF MESSAGE ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENIN' NOW: State of the state at Ah-Ha Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. News by Dan Weisman...
However, to make ends meet, I have had to take on freelance copywriting jobs. As much as my landlord loves Rancho Santa Fe and Del Dios, he also does not accept ad space in lieu of rent.
This is the only source for legitimate information and journalism about the community and will continue.
In fact, as those who have followed the "war" between the Encinitas Coast News and Gilroy-owned Rancho Santa Fe Review at Carmel Valley know, both print outlets have been hemorrhaging money for years due to poor content, no readership, huge overhead and despicably, poor management. They now have turned against each other with threats of blackmail and litigation in a cat fight to the death.
The point is these two faux outlets will be out of business much sooner than later and Ah-Ha Rancho Santa Fe News will be the only community journalism outlet moving forward.
HOWEVER PART TWO: Quality journalism needs a little, and a relatively amazingly little, quality funding
Despite some fine advertisers, whose banner and mid-rise ads we proudly display -- patronize them please, people -- these ads alone have not paid the rent.
Many people come up to me on a daily basis and say how much they enjoy Ah-Ha Rancho Santa Fe News and appreciate the effort. Many of these people are millionaires living in amazing estates, driving around very fine vehicles.
Now, if you want to talk about trickle-down economic theory, wake up call. It's not too late, but understand if you want quality to continue, it only takes AS MUCH MONEY AS ONE MEAL AT DELICIAS OR MILLE FLEURS from a few special people to make it so.
With that said, the tremendous, unique, invitation-only beta test content management system we use is going to change. The founder left the company last year and they have phased out operations. Through my contacts as a fellow at Knight Digital Media Center, University of Southern California, we have an equally exciting, state-of-the-art CMS lined up and ready to go.
Exporting all of this web site -- and I mean ALL of this site -- and transferring material to the new site will take a period of time. I am estimating it at two weeks, but do not know for sure. So, there will be a brief disruption in information level....
...The fact is this site can continue indefinitely due to low overhead and cutting edge web journalism techniques. But it will take money -- and we're talking maybe $100 a day -- to do all the amazing things for the community that are possible.
It will get done one way or another, but that's the tale of the site through June. We got a lot of stuff here and I will be posting when time allows, so ENJOY!
Predator in Print: MainStreet Media Snarls at Two Local Papers. The Review vs. Coast News and San Diego Community News. Alleged shakedowns, threats...
On Valentine’s Day, Anthony Allegretti, president of MainStreet Media Group, a company that publishes eight community newspapers in San Diego County, wrote letters to two fellow publishers. One went to Jim Kydd, owner of the Coast News Group, which publishes the Coast News and Rancho Santa Fe News, and the other to Julie Hoisington, owner of the San Diego Community Newspaper Group, which publishes the La Jolla Village News, Beach and Bay Press, Peninsula Beacon, and San Diego Downtown News.
Despite the date, the letters expressed no adoring praise. Instead, each missive consisted of two letters and 28 pages of material downloaded from the legal website Lexis.
“Your newspaper, the Rancho Santa Fe News, has violated the law through below cost selling,” read the cover letter to Jim Kydd. “The Rancho Santa Fe News has caused the Rancho Santa Fe Review to lose sales and profits of no less than $300,000 during 2010.”
Allegretti claimed that Kydd’s publication, theRancho Santa Fe News, was violating California’s Unfair Practices Act by undercharging for advertising.
“According to California Law, the Rancho Santa Fe Review is entitled to injunctive relief awards of no less than three times the amount of actual damages, or $900,000 plus attorney fees,” read the letter.
“If the below cost selling of advertising does not cease by March 15, 2011, MainStreet Communications will instruct its attorneys to commence drafting a lawsuit. Once that process begins, MainStreet Communications will not settle until the court has ruled.”
The second letter to Kydd included the statement: “MainStreet’s attorneys estimate that to take this matter thru trial will cost up to $2,000,000.”
Julie Hoisington’s (Picture, left) letters were nearly identical. In his cover letter to Hoisington, Allegretti claimed that she was selling below-cost ads in the La Jolla Village News, which was hurting advertising revenues at MainStreet’s paper, the La Jolla Light.
The letters are the latest skirmish in what has been an ongoing clash between Allegretti and local competitors, one that started shortly after Allegretti’s company, MainStreet Media, ventured south in 2004 from its Gilroy, California headquarters and began buying community papers in San Diego County.
“I’m sure this is a scare tactic that he’s probably tried before,” Kydd says from a narrow cubicle inside Coast News Group offices. Kydd, who started his paper in 1986 out of the garage in his Encinitas home, is not bashful in showing his contempt for Allegretti.
“He knows some papers are hurting and now is the time to push them out. But I won’t be bullied.”
According to the display-ad rates at each paper, both Hoisington and Kydd charge less than their MainStreet competitors. They say they can because their overhead is lower than MainStreet’s and it costs less to run their businesses.
The price for one full-page black-and-white ad in Hoisington’s La Jolla Village News is $1480 for one week or $1101 per week for 26 weeks. In Allegretti’s La Jolla Light, the same ad costs $2420 for one week or $1950 per week for 26 weeks.
In Kydd’s Rancho Santa Fe News, a full-page black-and-white ad costs $1305 for one week, $810 per week for 26 weeks. In Allegretti’s Rancho Santa Fe Review, the ad costs $1315 and $1035, respectively.
Although Kydd (pictured left) and Hoisington consider Allegretti’s letters just another attempt to corner the community-newspaper market in San Diego County, both fear that he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
In fact, Allegretti has a long history of buying community newspapers. From 1989 to 2000, he grew the Independent Media Group, where he was chief executive, from 4 daily newspapers to 44 publications throughout Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska.
In 2000, those papers were sold, and Allegretti moved west to California’s Central Valley to run Pacific-Sierra Publishing, where he continued to buy small daily and weekly newspapers.
Four years after arriving in California, Allegretti and his senior vice president, Steve Staloch, along with investors, bought out Pacific-Sierra and formed MainStreet Media Group, acquiring the La Jolla Light in the process.
Now, seven years later, with backing from Brookside Capital Partners Management out of Greenwich, Connecticut, and Housatonic Partners, MainStreet Media Group has grown from 8 publications to 17. The company owns the La Jolla Light, Del Mar Times, Solana Beach Sun, Ramona Sentinel, Poway News Chieftain, Rancho Bernardo News Journal, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Carmel Valley News. In 2009, the company acquired three competing newspapers in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, and Rancho Santa Fe and began calling its San Diego operations MainStreet Communications.
“I knew he was going to come into town and try and buy everyone out. This letter,” Kydd holds it up, “is a scare tactic so that he can buy my paper and have a monopoly. He wanted to buy me out, but I told him no, not for any price.”
Inside San Diego Community Newspaper Group’s offices near the corner of Cass Street and Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, Hoisington, who started publishing the Beach and Bay Press in 1988 and the La Jolla Village News in 1993, talks about her experience with Allegretti since he took over the La Jolla Light.Hoisington says that she has received letters from Allegretti in the past. And on two occasions, he offered to buy the La Jolla Village News.
“He threw me a ridiculously insulting offer a few years ago, after I received the first letter. This time, we met, and I told him he was a bully, but if he really wanted me out, then make me a fair offer. I gave a number. He followed with a letter of intent with some ridiculous conditions attached,” she says.
“I have no problem with competition in the marketplace. But since Allegretti and the MainStreet Media Group took over, there’s been a different type of competitiveness.”
Hoisington adds, “We are the real local community newspapers. We’ve raised our children in the community, and we run our business here. But my concern is that they are a corporation with investors and money in the bank. I don’t have deep pockets to go through some lawsuit. I am concerned that I might have to play the legal game.”
In his letters to Hoisington and Kydd, Allegretti referred to a 2008 predatory-pricing court case, Bay Guardian Company vs. New Times Media, LLC. TheBay Guardian newspaper was awarded $21 million in damages after a jury found the Guardian’s rival alternative newspaper, the SF Weekly, guilty of underpricing ads with the intent to drive the Guardian out of business. In that case, the Guardian presented evidence that shortly after New Times Media acquired the SF Weekly, a corporate executive told Weekly staff that New Times “would make the Weekly ‘the only game in town’ by subsidizing aggressive advertising sales,” according to a November 24, 2010 article in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Allegretti warned Hoisington and Kydd that he has been in contact with the same legal team that represented the Guardian.
However, “It is only predatory pricing if the price reduction is implemented for the purpose of driving a competitor out of business,” says Richard Spirra, who practices media law in San Diego.
“There are legally permissible reasons for a newspaper, or any other business, to cut the price it charges customers to below the company’s cost of producing its product. For example, a company may offer a significant discount to new customers to generate new business.”
Predatory pricing cases are difficult to prove, says Spirra. “Under the applicable California law, if the defendant company’s owner or employees testify that the company had a valid reason for reducing its prices, the plaintiff must convince the jury that the company’s real reason for decreasing prices was to drive the plaintiff out of business. This is difficult because, in most cases, it is unlikely that an employee of the company will admit, or that there will be notes or memos that state, that the purpose of the price reduction was to drive a competitor out of business.”
Hoisington and Kydd say that the antitrust laws Allegretti cites are meant to protect small businesses like their own from large ones like MainStreet, not the other way around.
Jeffrey Shohet, who practices antitrust and complex business litigation in San Diego for DLA Piper, agrees.
“Predatory price litigation is typically a remedy for the smaller competitor to challenge the pricing practices of its more dominant rivals. Typically, the predatory ‘pricer’ is the larger company with resources to price below its cost and outlast its smaller rivals who cannot match such low prices for very long.”
Tracy Pendergast publishes the luxury real estate magazine San Diego Premier Properties and Lifestyles. In December 2009, MainStreet Communications acquired part of Premier. One year later, frustrated by Allegretti’s business tactics, Pendergast decided to buy Premier back. I called her office to ask about her experience with Allegretti.
“During our publisher meetings, he would make comments about sending letters to his competitors for selling ads below cost. He said that, technically, papers only needed to sell one page below cost to violate the law.”
Asked to comment, Allegretti stated by email, “This is a legal matter and I have no comment on pending legal matters.”
Steve Staloch, vice president of MainStreet, Joe Niehaus of Housatonic Partners, and Donald Hawks of Brookside Capital Partners Management also refused to comment.
Gene Shefrin, publicist, dies at 90 at Encinitas, Calif. Repped Peggy Lee, Connie Francis, Perry Como and the lost goes on...
(Gene Shefrin with Tony Bennett, one of many stars and celebrities the Encinitas, Calif. publicist reppresented until retirement in 1987.)
Former entertainment industry publicist Eugene "Gene" Shefrin died April 6 in Encinitas, Calif., after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. He was 90.
During his 42-year career in PR prior to his retirement in 1987, Shefrin represented, at various times, Guy Lombardo, Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis, Frankie Laine, Vic Damone, Perry Como, Sam Cooke, author Irving Wallace, composers Alan and Marilyn Bergman, Don Rickles, Norm Crosby, Don Adams, Richard Pryor, Jackie Mason, Peter Falk, James Caan, Monty Hall, Peggy Lee, Kate Smith, Connie Francis, Sarah Vaughan and Dick Clark.
Shefrin was also involved with the PR for the Beatles' first New York appearance at Carnegie Hall and a performance by Frank Sinatra and Lena Horne, also at Carnegie Hall, benefitting the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. Along with special projects for Motown Records and Simon & Schuster Publishing, which included West Coast PR for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's Watergate tome "All the President's Men," he also handled 1964 rock concert film "The T.A.M.I. Show" and numerous TV variety specials.
Born in New York City, the son of Russian immigrants, Shefrin attended graduated from City College of New York in 1942 and then joined the U.S. Army Air Force. He was initially stationed at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas, and was assigned as a reporter on the base newspaper, the Randolph Rookie. While there, he married Sophie Schwimmer. During WWII, he served in the 96th Bomber Group in England and was awarded two battle stars.
In 1945 he started his career in PR at Fred Stengel Associates in New York as an apprentice publicist. The following year, he joined David O. Alber Associates as an account exec; five years later, he was named exec VP.
While at the Alber firm, he gave a then 16-year-old Woody Allen, ne Allen Konigsberg, his first job, as a joke writer.
In 1963 he left Alber and soon thereafter moved to Los Angeles, founding Gene Shefrin Associates, which was renamed the Shefrin Co. in 1976 when his son, Paul, joined the firm.
He was a longtime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Publicists Guild.
In addition to his son Paul, a longtime publicist, Gene Shefrin is survived by his wife of 68 years, Sophie, and two grandchildren. Donations may be made to the National Parkinson Foundation.
Coast News fires front page shot at Carmel Valley (RSF) Review: More images from the local battlefront...
(Editor's Note: Put this one in the WOW category. The Coast News, of Encinitas, publishes once or twice a month a few pages about Rancho Santa Fe and calls that issue The Rancho Santa Fe News. This is not to be confused with THIS effort, AH-HA RANCHO SANTA FE NEWS.
The Review, of Carmel Valley, is now owned by Gilroy publisher Tony Allagreedi (Photo above) whose M.O. is buying community newspapers on the cheap, them moving them and cutting everybody and everything to show a faux profit. The Coast News this week in stories and editorials reported it was "facing the threat of a lawsuit" from the Review. The Review did not return calls seeking comment.
Coast News 'publisher' Jim Kidd, from Encinitas, catfights it out with Carmel Valley (RSF) Review 'publisher' Tony Allagreedi of Gilroy for dying Rancho Santa Fe newspaper market carcasses...
BY JIM KIDD, COAST NEWS PUBISHER. (Photo left, for more visit here...)
I rarely get on the pulpit. It takes something really, really wrong to get me going.
Enter Anthony Allegretti, the bully.
He is the CEO of the Rancho Santa Fe Review.
He is bullying me to “fix” my advertising prices to be as high as his are.
This is a direct attack against all Rancho Santa Fe advertisers — present and future. If I were to cave in, he would have no competition in the marketplace.
Here’s what he’s doing.
Last Friday I received a package of documents from Allegretti, who publishes numerous publications here in San Diego and elsewhere.
He is a big-time publisher compared to me and is backed by well-funded investment bankers. We’re talking billions here.
This “nice” package I received from Allegretti dated Feb. 14 — my valentine, I guess — contained a threat to sue me and the Rancho Santa Fe News for a violation of the California Fair Practice Act and various violations of other antitrust legislation.
He alleged I was charging too little for my ads in 2010, thereby causing him to lose money. He said that if I didn’t raise my rates he would sue me for $900,000 (three times his lost revenue) and my legal fees would be around $2 million.
That is his position.
That is also a threat.
I used to have five newspapers. I closed three of them and one office because they weren’t profitable.
If the Rancho Santa Fe News’ low ad rates were causing me to lose money, as his threatened lawsuit implies, why would I keep publishing it?
(Photo: Dumpster at Rancho Santa Fe Village primed for residue of Kidd-Allagreedi Catfight.)
His “package” is nothing but a scare tactic and also smacks of price collusion. If I were to charge what he wants me to charge for advertising, what happens to “fair competition in the marketplace?” All advertisers will be forced to pay the same rate, which will be set by Allegretti.
I run a tight business and don’t have any debt service or investment bankers to pay off. Allegretti does, so maybe that’s why he has to charge more for his ads.
Maybe he just wants no competition so he can price “gouge.”
In the end, it will be the advertiser that will be hurt.
My only reason for writing this editorial is to expose Allegretti as a mean-spirited scoundrel of a businessman and to warn current and prospective advertisers of his tactics.
I just recently learned that Allegretti served the same Valentine’s Day package to a fellow publisher who competes with Allegretti in La Jolla.
This time he got the desired reaction. Already struggling with the economy, this publisher became very upset that he could face the possible loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars and the cost of $2 million in legal fees.
Here comes the good part.
Allegretti meets with this publisher and offers to buy the competing paper for a fraction of its value or says he will sue.
If you ask me, that is also an unfair business practice and just plain mean.
If he buys it, he will probably close it, creating a price fixing situation much the same as he is trying to do in Rancho Santa Fe. La Jolla advertisers will suffer.
If you currently advertise with the Review, I just want you to know where your money is going — to Allegretti and his investment bankers.
Perhaps when your contract is up with the Review, you might want to give us a call.
Obviously we charge less. We also give more.
In addition to being distributed everywhere the Review is, the Rancho Santa Fe News is mailman-delivered to 1,100 homes in the Santaluz area and 500 homes in the Rancho Pacifica area. The Review leaves these areas out of their circulation.
I am not going to allow Allegretti and the Review to scare me into raising my ad prices.
I’ve consulted a friend in the San Diego District Attorney’s office. I was advised to have my lawyer send a warning to Allegretti and his backers that they should cease any further action. Perhaps they aren’t smart enough to know that what they’re doing is illegal, so my lawyer is currently drafting a letter to them explaining the law.
They are leaving themselves open to some very serious legal ramifications and all advertisers will suffer.
(Add: Photo below shows reality of people not bothering to take home FREE copies of both these disgraceful faux journalism products...)
SDSU WATCHDOG INSTITUTE UPDATE: Issa brunches with lobbyist whose son works on oversight team...
WASHINGTON — Tuesday morning at a fundraiser down the street from the Capitol, San Diego Congressman Darrell Issa brunched with a high-powered lobbyist whose clients could benefit from his oversight investigations — and whose son is a key member of Issa’s oversight team.
Issa, the top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, left the breakfast at 9 a.m. with a small group of people and declined to answer questions. “Yes, goodbye,” he said to a reporter for the Watchdog Institute after she identified herself.
Seconds later, lobbyist Barney Skladany Jr. (Photo, left) exited the fundraiser and also declined to comment.
Skladany — whose son Jonathan Skladany is Republican counsel on Issa’s oversight team — lobbies Congress on behalf of corporations forAkin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, whose political action committee co-hosted the fundraiser breakfast for Issa. In 2003, Corporate Board Member magazine named Skladany Jr. one of Washington’s “top lobbyists,” according to Skladany’s Akin Gump bio.
The fundraiser came on the heels of a Watchdog Institute investigation, published Monday, that revealed connections among some oversight staffers to industries that could benefit from Issa’s probe of federal regulations. Some staff members were former lobbyists, and several came to the committee from groups affiliated with Koch Industries’ billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch.
Tuesday’s “Breakfast with Congressman Darrell Issa” was held at the Fluor Townhouse at 403 E. Capitol St. SE in Washington, which sits along a stretch of manicured townhouses with a clear view of the Capitol. The unmarked redbrick townhouse is owned by — and is a lobbying base for — the breakfast’s other co-host, Fluor Corporation, a publicly traded company that provides a host of engineering services for the energy industry and the government.
An invitation for the event was posted by the Sunlight Foundation’s “Party Time,” a WikiLeaks-style document dump for fundraiser invitations. The donation “requests” were listed as “$2,500/Host; $1,000/PAC; $500/Individual.”
The invitation highlighted Issa’s position as chairman of the oversight committee, which Issa has used to broadcast industry leaders’ frustrations with government regulations. Issa sent more than 150 letters to various corporations, industry associations and think tanks asking them to identify burdensome federal rules.
Environmental regulations have been a common complaining point among those who responded to Issa’s call— and the topic of some of Barney Skladany Jr.’s lobbying for Akin Gump clients such as Volkswagen and Dow Chemical. Skladany Jr. is not registered to lobby for Fluor.
In a recent financial filing, Fluor partially attributed a dip in business to “uncertainty” about new pollution laws.
So far this year, Fluor has held at least four fundraisers at its townhouse for other politicians, according to the Sunlight Foundation.
A lobbyist with Fluor Corporation, Nydia Bonnin, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Fluor lists 20 offices in the US, but none of them are in Issa’s district, which is in San Diego and Riverside counties. Almost none of the company’s billions of dollars of federal government contracts awarded during 2000 to 2009 were targeted for projects in Issa’s district, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan, nonprofit government monitor OMB Watch.
Fluor frequently lobbies on “general issues related to congressional oversight of federal defense contractors” and received more than $60 million worth of military contracts in 2009, according to OMB Watch data.
Akin Gump spokeswoman Kathryn Holmes Johnson declined to answer a question about why Akin Gump co-hosted the fundraiser for Issa.
“I don’t have anything for you on this,” Holmes Johnson wrote in an e-mail.
Akin Gump’s PAC gave Issa at least $2,250 for the 2010 election cycle, its first reported donation to the congressman. Fluor Corporation, which occasionally uses Akin Gump to supplement its own lobbying, has given Issa’s campaigns more than $14,000 since 2000.
About a year after his son began working for the oversight committee, Barney Skladany Jr. gave Issa’s campaign $250 on March 18, 2010, also his first reported donation to Issa. Skladany Jr. gave freely in 2009 and 2010, doling out at least $32,500 to dozens of other candidates, almost exclusively to Republicans.
San Diego State University political science professor Brian Adams said there was nothing illegal about the professional relationship between Jonathan Skladany and his father as long as Akin Gump isn’t paying Skladany’s son while he works for the committee. Adams said he was troubled, however, by such a close connection between the worlds of private business and public service.
Dave Levinthal, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan nonprofit that analyzes campaign finance and lobbying data, called the father-son involvement with Issa unusual and “curious,” saying “one must wonder what gets discussed over the dinner table.”
He also said the relationship didn’t necessarily equate to wrongdoing, but he stressed the need for openness from Issa in light of his reluctance to comment.
“If there’s nothing to be concerned about here, then transparency shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.
Watchdog Institute Reporter Brooke Williams contributed to this report from the Institute’s Washington bureau.
The Watchdog Institute, a nonprofit based at San Diego State University, produces in-depth reports and partners with media organizations.
First reported here Dec. 15, Rancho Santa Fe Fire Dept. announces offices moving to Cielo...
As first reported at Ah-Ha Rancho Santa Fe News on Dec. 15 -- http://tiny.cc/wosqo -- and officially announced Wednesday, March 2, the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District is moving offices to Cielo Village off Del Dios Highway.
The 6,000-square foot office building at 18027 Calle Ambiente, was purchased, and renovated, at an undisclosed price. it will house administrative personnel and firefighters, and open for business on March 29, said Julie Taber, district information officer in a news release.
"Beginning March 29, customers seeking assistance with plan submissions, plan checks, car seat installations, accounts payable, and other administrative or prevention matters will need to go to the new office on Calle Ambiente," Taber said.
Said Fire Chief Tony Michel. “The new location will allow us to maintain a high level of service for our customers and accommodate the growing needs of our district. While we anticipate a smooth transition, we appreciate the community’s understanding should there be a bump or two along the way.”
Emergency response personnel assigned to RSF Fire Station 1, located at the district's current El Fuego headquarters, will remain at the current site, Taber said.
In December, (photo, left, of building then) when Ah-Ha RSF News broke the story, Michel said: "We are purchasing a building that is being built to suit. This gives us more room for growth and solves our parking issues."
The new office is somewhat larger than the current facility, and more central to total operations in the district tat includes Rancho Santa Fe, 4S Ranch, and Del Dios, according to Michel. He would not disclose the building purchase price, pending conclusion of negotiations between fire district leaders and Cielo management. A postal store at the building was relocated to another Cielo location.
The new location is just across the street from the department's Station No. 4, which was the department's newest station, constructed in 2004 at the Cielo entrance, 18040 Calle Ambiente. That station covers the district's northeast corner.
That's not all for district moves. The rebuilt Fairbanks Ranch Fire Station continues on schedule for a May opening. "The contracted completion date of May 2011 is still on schedule pending any unforeseen delays," fire officials said.
The Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District was formed on Oct. 14, 1946 under an order adopted by the County Board of Supervisors. At the time, the Fire District was comprised of one Chief and 15 volunteer suppression personnel who protected an estimated 3,800 residents.
The District now spans 38-square miles and protects about 26,000 residents. The fire agency also operates under a cooperative efforts agreement with the Encinitas, Del Mar, and Solana Beach Fire Departments.
The Fire District is governed by a five-person elected Board of Directors. The Board is responsible for establishing policies, guidelines and providing direction for Fire District staff. Board meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month at 1:00 p.m.
For a comprehensive look at the department's history, visit the official web site:
SDSU Watchdog Institute: Issa staff has close ties to industry raising concerns by some...
Issa staff has close ties to industry
SOME RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT PANEL'S ABILITY TO BE IMPARTIAL
First as ranking minority member and now as chairman of one of the most powerful watchdog committees in Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, has built a team that includes staff members with close connections to industries that could benefit from his investigations.
Issa took control of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last month, and asked companies, nonprofits and industry associations for guidance on federal regulations.
The committee has broad powers to subpoena and investigate government and industry.
His committee staff has issued findings sympathetic to industries bent on softening or eliminating certain regulations.
A preliminary report this month, for example, focused largely on Environmental Protection Agency standards and relied heavily on input from industry.
Some on Issa's team know the territory from the inside.
Several have ties to billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, who have made much of their fortune in oil and chemical businesses and have a reputation as staunch small-government conservatives.
Their influence through campaign contributions, lobbying and nonprofit groups ---- such as Americans for Prosperity, an activist organization with connections to the Tea Party movement ---- is legendary and has become more high-profile since the shift in power in the House of Representatives last November.
One oversight staffer listed as committee counsel is the son of a lobbyist pushing for regulatory changes on behalf of about two dozen big corporations.
At least four other staffers once lobbied Congress for companies and industry associations.
Another counsel worked for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which Issa recently asked for input on government regulations.
Gary Bass, a regulatory expert who has monitored government transparency and spending for nearly three decades as founder of the nonprofit OMB Watch, said it's business as usual to see committee staffers close to subjects in their cross hairs ---- no matter the political party in charge.
But Bass said it's concerning that this staff has connections to the very industries Issa asked for input.
"What you're going to see are regulations that are tilted in favor of those interests," he said.
Frederick Hill, spokesman for Issa and the oversight committee, declined to answer questions about connections to lobbying and the Kochs.
"I only have a short comment for you on this subject," Hill wrote in an e-mail. "The committee makes all hiring decisions based on the ability of individuals to help the committee do its job."
Dave Levinthal, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan nonprofit that analyzes campaign finance and lobbying data, called for openness.
"If there is even a whiff of conflict of interest, it's important for them to be transparent and upfront about any interests that the committee or its staffers might have," he said.
Ties to industry
During the past five weeks, the Watchdog Institute, an independent nonprofit reporting center based at San Diego State University, examined a list of 66 Republican staff members working for the committee as of January.
Their work experience was viewed in light of Issa's high-profile investigative agenda.
The minority members of the oversight committee, who lack the majority's subpoena power, have not announced an agenda and largely have reacted to Issa's actions.
The Committee on House Administration released a list of more than 50 minority staffers on Feb. 22.
Many are longtime Hill staffers; some are former lobbyists.
The Institute's examination of the majority list showed many veteran Hill employees who had been with the committee before Issa's leadership.
In most cases, the Institute did not identify connections to companies or industries with a stake in oversight investigations.
However, of those hired after Issa took over as ranking Republican at the start of 2009, one person completed a Koch Associate Program with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and coordinated a regulatory studies program at the Mercatus Center, a think tank co-founded by a Koch Industries executive and heavily funded by Koch's foundation.
Another, Republican counsel Daniel Epstein, was at the Koch foundation and worked "together with Koch Industries Inc.'s assistant general counsel" before joining the committee, according to an interview with The Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based publication.
At least three more oversight staffers have ties to the Mercatus Center, which counts two Koch Industries executives on its board of directors, including Charles Koch.
Catherine Behan, spokeswoman for Mercatus, defended its independence.
"We don't do directed research," she said. "No one comes to us and says, 'We want to do a study on X.'"
In the past three years, Koch companies reported spending about $40.5 million lobbying on behalf of energy and manufacturing interests.
The companies lobbied significantly on Environmental Protection Agency regulations ---- which oversight committee staffers scrutinized in a recent report and which were the focus of many industry responses to Issa's solicitations for guidance on regulations.
A Koch Industries spokeswoman declined to be interviewed.
Koch Industries does not appear among the more than 150 letters Issa sent on his hunt for onerous government regulations, but it lobbied against some of the same laws many responses objected to.
A registered lobbyist ---- whose son, Jonathan Skladany, is Republican counsel on Issa's oversight team ---- also lobbied for companies on the same bills as Koch and some of the same regulations industries identified in their responses to the congressman.
Among his clients: Dow Chemical, Mortgage Insurance Companies of America and Volkswagen.
The Watchdog Institute examined Koch Industries' campaign contributions to members of the oversight committee and found it gave only to Republican committee members ---- at least $72,750 ---- in the past election.
Koch Industries began contributing to Issa's campaigns in 2008, and has given him at least $12,500.
Levinthal, of the Center for Responsive Politics, said the Kochs "have a portfolio filled with ways to influence the government."
"The committee at the end of the day may be more reflective of the interests that the company and its executives espouse," he said.
In a Feb. 9 report, oversight staff explained the committee is "uniquely positioned" to examine "barriers that stand in the way of job growth and economic recovery" and recommended "additional scrutiny" of certain regulations, including EPA standards.
As the committee acts, inside and outside worlds intersect.
Oversight committee counsel Kristina Moore worked in the same office as an auto alliance executive whom oversight staff interviewed about EPA standards for its report.
Moreover, industry associations that count Koch companies as members provided staff with input on EPA rules.
Last year, as ranking minority member of the oversight committee, Issa was one of many on the committee to co-sponsor legislation ---- lobbied on by Koch Industries ---- opposing a decision from the EPA that would greatly expand the agency's authority to regulate air pollution.
Think tank ties?
In February 2009, after Issa became ranking Republican, he approved a trip to a Mercatus-funded retreat for his committee staff director to "provide in-depth briefings on issues of relevance to oversight investigations."
That month, the committee brought on two alumni of Mercatus; it would hire at least two more within two years.
Based at George Mason University, Mercatus' activities overlap with the commercial and ideological interests of Charles Koch, CEO and chairman of Koch Industries.
The company's vice president co-founded Mercatus.
Mercatus' research policy states that "Mercatus financial supporters have absolutely no influence or control" over its work, and Behan said Koch executives on the board have no influence either.
Issa asked the Mercatus Center for regulatory advice in his recent solicitation blitz, and it outlined ways that government regulations can hurt the economy.
Several Mercatus scholars testified before the committee this month.
Bass, from OMB Watch, said industry influence on the committee should concern the public because "Almost every walk of our life, every step of our life, can be in one way or another can be traced back to some kind of federal protection."
The Watchdog Institute, a nonprofit based at San Diego State University, produces in-depth reports and partners with media organizations across Southern California, including Ah-Ha Rancho Santa Fe News For more visit the Watchdog Institute website here.
TWO DEGREES OF DARRELL ISSA: O'Connor takes anti-Issa and Krvaric takes pro-Issa positions
GENERAL PUBLIC SQUARELY AT ODDS WITH ISSA, INDUSTRY FRIENDS
Darrell Issa took to Twitter last week, trumpeting a report from the conservative American Enterprise Institute analyzing into graph form the responses Issa received from industry groups criticizing industry regulations. The AEI report highlighted what Issa and his carefully-orchestrated hearing already had been saying: polluting industries have strong objections to EPA regulations that attempt to control pollution.
AEI is one of the longest-standing institutions of the establishment right. AEI provided the backbone of much of George W. Bush's public policy, and has provided a soft landing for the likes of John Bolten, Lynne Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich and countless other major players of the last 20 years. So it's perhaps no surprise that they titled this study "Industry Has Spoken... Will the President Listen?" It is, of course, directly in line with the coordinated messaging structure of the right, and the think tank is providing Issa with an echo chamber.
What it leaves out though, is... everyone else. In a new national poll out last week, commissioned by the American Lung Association, Americans come down directly opposed to industry objections. As David Roberst points out at Grist, "The top line is this: The public overwhelmingly supports EPA in updating Clean Air Act standards and overwhelmingly opposes congressional efforts to block EPA."
And when he says "overwhelmingly," he isn't kidding. 69% somewhat or strongly agree that the EPA should update Clean Air Act standards to make them more strict. 68% say that Congress should not block the EPA from updating the standards, and it holds at 64% when asked specifically about CO2 'greenhouse' gas standards. And, perhaps most directly to Darrell Issa's raison d'etre with his crusade against the EPA, only 18% think the EPA is currently overreaching.
But Darrell Issa didn't send letters to the people who make up this overwhelming public sentiment. The ones who are the first to suffer if pollution isn't kept in check. The millions who, if Issa gets his way, will lose their health care and be put at increased risk for a wide range of debilitating health problems from asthma to cancer.
Issa sent letters to rich corporate friends instead, and they -- unsurprisingly -- would prefer to be regulated less and profit more. And in the world that Issa and his allies on the right are trying to construct, that would be reflective of the real priorities of Americans. But just like previous polling on the same subject, the American Lung Association has again found that Americans aren't buying it.
Which begs the question, how long will Issa persist in trying to push this line? How many more taxpayer dollars will he invest in transparently trying to foist unpopular and dangerous rollback of basic protections? And when will he get down to the business of actually important -- and needed -- oversight?
ISSA ABANDONING COMMITMENT TO JOBS?
~ Jason Chaffetz, Oversight Subcommittee Chair and favorite of both Darrell Issa and Glenn Beck, was floated in a recent poll as a potential primary challenger to six-term Senator Orrin Hatch, and came out tied at 42% Chaffetz will certainly get all the spotlight he wants with Issa's help.
~ Last week, Issa confidently predicted that there would be no government shutdown. He then was extremely active in loading up the House budget proposal with narrow, line-item cuts targeting things like condoms, yoga, video games, malt liquor, and menopause to begin the process of dismantling health care and other reforms passed in recent years. Today, Jon Berstein explains why it's specifically those sorts of add-ons that make a government shutdown likely.
~ Speaking of those exceptionally small-scale and rather silly proposed cuts, Issa tried defending them with Norah O'Donnell last week. He managed to unexpectedly hit on an important point when he told O'Donnell: "in those 12 years we’ve gone from having a budget surplus to a deficit. So everything that’s been added should be the first to be looked at."
As Ben Armbruster notes at ThinkProgress, in terms of major budget impact, that discussion would naturally begin with Afghanistan and repealing the Bush tax breaks. One might also add the steady de-regulation of the private financial sector that led to economic collapse late in the Bush administration. But it's hard to imagine that Issa will actually act on his statements.
~ An independent analysis of the proposal from House Republicans found that the it could reduce U.S. economic growth by 1.5 to 2 percent. It follows a study finding the proposed spending cuts could deliver a million lost jobs. John Boehner says "so be it" about the job losses, but it flies even more blatantly in the face of Issa's pursuit of "job-killing" government actions.
Local congressman in spotlight
-- Tony Krvaric, Chairman, San Diego County Republican Party
There’s an adage: “If they’re attacking you, you must be doing something right.” Ever since the run-up to the November elections, there has been a concerted effort to attack Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, the new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
For months, leading Democrats and liberal interest groups have devoted an extraordinary amount of time and resources to convince the American people that the agenda pursued by Issa will somehow damage America. Despite their best efforts to make Issa their boogeyman, the voters responded resoundingly and put Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and entrusted the power of the committee gavel to Issa.
A recent work of fiction penned by the self-proclaimed “Courage Campaign” (“Chairman Issa: Oversight for whom?” Opinion, Feb. 24) egregiously distorted the facts about the oversight and reform agenda being led by Issa.
The missive attacked Issa for having the audacity to reach out to job creators about impediments to job creation. Mind you, this is the exact same thing the Obama administration is doing. If you go to oversight.house.gov, you will see that all of the responses are available in a downloadable and searchable PDF. Of course, when the administration solicited the opinions of the Business Roundtable, held a CEO summit, hired a new chief of staff to build better relationships with private industry and ordered a governmentwide review of regulatory barriers to job creation, the Courage Campaign was noticeably mute. Perhaps the campaign’s members would be better-served doing their homework first before leveling baseless accusations that are easy to disprove.
The second criticism had to do with heeding the president’s call for publicly disclosing meetings. The ironic thing is the very day the campaign’s commentary appeared in the Union-Tribune, a story broke headlined: “Lobbyists: White House sends meetings off-site to hide them.” We’re still waiting for the Courage Campaign’s reaction to this latest revelation.
The next distortion was an attack on the first hearing held by Issa that focused on a report issued by the inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. This hearing included as witnesses the Treasury Department and the inspector general. It’s worth noting that Issa courageously led the effort against the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. It’s also worth noting that an almost identical hearing was held by the Democrat-controlled committee last year when the inspector general released his statutorily required report and the Courage Campaign didn’t seem to have a problem then with the content of the hearing. Now, all of a sudden, it takes issue with it.
Issa then partnered with Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan to introduce legislation to eliminate the continued funding of a program that, according to the inspector general, “has had the most devastating consequences” for “distressed homeowners on Main Street.” Apparently, the Courage Campaign is better informed than the inspector general because the organization saw fit to attack Issa over it.
The Courage Campaign writes that Issa has offered no “accountability for the financial industry heavyweights who preyed upon the middle class and drove our economy off the cliff.” Yet Issa’s first subpoena as chairman was to uncover all the details of Countrywide’s infamous “Friends of Angelo” program that offered sweetheart deals to people in high places. Issa’s investigation already has uncovered the alarming fact that more than 150 people at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received VIP loans, all the while turning a blind eye to a subprime mortgage market that was on the verge of a meltdown.
It is very clear that the Courage Campaign is nothing more than a left-wing activist group intent on furthering the smear campaign targeting Issa. It’s insulting that these groups have the audacity to distort and demonize someone who has been part of the very fabric of our community for decades.
Congressman Issa has promised San Diegans an oversight agenda that will be vigorous and vigilant. That will target waste, fraud and abuse in government. That will work to hold the administration accountable and to the highest standard of transparency. In case the Courage Campaign missed it, that’s exactly what the American people have asked Issa to do.