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Officials Say Blackwater Used Subcontractor’s Name on Permit Application

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Aired 4/19/09

The head of San Diego's development services department said today he welcomes a probe into how Blackwater USA got permits to build a military training center in Otay Mesa. Yesterday, the mayor called for an investigation into the permitting process for the private contractor. KPBS Reporter Amita Sharma has more.

City official Kelly Broughton says it's not unusual, nor improper for companies to use subcontractors' names when applying for permits. And that's what Blackwater did. The company used the names Raven Development and Southwest Law Enforcement when applying to build the indoor training center at an Otay Mesa warehouse.

Local political leaders say Blackwater deliberately concealed its identity to push the project through without public objection. And Broughton says even though Blackwater plans to train military personnel in counterterrorism at the site, the project still qualifies as a trade school.

Broughton: We really can't discriminate based on what they're training for. And in this case they identified themselves at least as a security firm so training in security would be considered a trade or vocation.

Blackwater's local spokesman Brian Bonfiglio says the mayor's investigation is a good idea.

Bonfiglio: And I'm also very confident that the mayor and his office will find out that we did everything asked and required of us through this process with the department of development services.

If the permitting process is found to be flawed, the permits can be revoked.

Amita Sharma, KPBS News.

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