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Port Commissioner Claims U-T CEO Threatened Him; CEO Says Not True

Evening Edition

Above: U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch talks to KPBS reporter Amita Sharma.

The CEO of U-T San Diego Thursday denied sending a threatening email to a port commissioner running for Congress, suggesting the email had been doctored and “somebody could go to jail” for sending it.

Commissioner Scott Peters, who received the email and released it to the Investigations Desk of I-Newsource/KPBS, said, “That’s a doozy,” when told John Lynch was contending the email “is not accurate.”

KPBS Evening Edition

Scott Peters on Emails

Above: KPBS reporter Amita Sharma talks to Port Commissioner Scott Peters, also a 52nd Congressional candidate.

Aired 9/28/12 on KPBS News.

The CEO of U-T San Diego Thursday denied sending a threatening email to a port commissioner running for Congress, suggesting the email had been doctored and “somebody could go to jail” for sending it.

Special Feature Tenth Avenue Terminal

I-Newsource looked at all the leases on the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, talked with port supporters and opponents, maritime experts, and dozens of employees and small business owners affected by what happens on that land. What follows is a look at the terminal from all angles

A photo of the email Port Commissioner Scott Peters says he received from U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch.
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Above: A photo of the email Port Commissioner Scott Peters says he received from U-T San Diego CEO John Lynch.


John Lynch's Version of Email

John Lynch's Version of Email

The email U-T CEO John Lynch says he ...

“You guys can come and examine my server,” Peters said. “I will turn my computer over and you can verify it.”

The email -- from Lynch to Port Commissioner Scott Peters on Aug. 9 -- asked Peters how he intended to vote on a 24.5-year lease with Dole Food Company at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal downtown. It also purports to threaten Peters with a “campaign to disband the PORT [sic]” over provisions he wanted to see in the lease.

The U-T has made the terminal site its mission for development of an entertainment complex, including a football stadium. The extension of the Dole lease was seen as a blow to the U-T’s vision.

The email, which sounded like a power play by the county’s largest newspaper, has now taken on its own significance. Lynch and Peters are at odds about exactly what was said. And the email itself has been released publicly in two different forms.

Both Lynch and Peters sent I-Newsource/KPBS emails –- one shorter than the other -- late Thursday. They both say they are authentic.

Lynch insisted all he said in the email to Peters was, “Do you intend to vote for the Dole lease?” He continued: “If someone is changing emails that is serious. Someone could go to jail for this.” Lynch said he’s consulting lawyers about the email.

Peters said Lynch sent the email to his personal account. Peters said he took out the portion about the campaign when he forwarded the email to Port lawyers. Peters’ response to the email, in part, assured Lynch the Dole lease could be rescinded.

He said he removed the sentence because the Port had been under assault and he didn’t want to demoralize the staff with a “threat of extinction.”

That two-sentence email was cited in an I-Newsource/KPBS investigation aired and published Monday, documenting financial and political ties among U-T owner Doug Manchester, his business partner Lynch, and elected officials.

Thursday, Peters said, there was more to the email, sharing what he said is the entire email exchange.


Truncated Email from John Lynch to Scott Peters

Truncated Email from John Lynch to Scott Peters

A truncated email exchange between John Lynch and ...


Full Email from John Lynch to Scott Peters

Full Email from John Lynch to Scott Peters

The full email exchange between U-T CEO John ...

The investigation detailed how Lynch has boasted publicly about having “concrete meetings” with “hopefully the right people” who could help with the U-T’s vision for developing the port terminal. But Lynch said the U-T has “tried to keep it down low.” He also told Peters in another email, “We actually have made significant progress, with labor, Chargers, County, business, Navy, and one of the Mayoral candidates.”

Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican who was endorsed on the front page of the U-T in his bid for mayor, has known Manchester since 2003, not long after DeMaio came to San Diego. Despite the endorsement, DeMaio said he does not favor the U-T vision but rather supports continued maritime uses at the terminal. He insists he is not the candidate Lynch was referring to in the email.

In an interview yesterday, Lynch said he didn’t mean to say he had the support of one candidate.

“You know, there was no one mayoral candidate. I was referring actually to all of the mayoral candidates who had come in and the mayor himself,” he said. “I was trying to say something that was poorly said. There was never any one candidate that we made progress with.”

Peters’ two-sentence email was shared with I-Newsource/KPBS as part of a Public Records Act request to the port. The email, sent to his personal account, showed up as a public record because it had been forwarded to port lawyers with port email addresses.

The law is unclear in California and across the country about whether emails sent to private addresses are public, even if they deal with the public’s business.

Peters defended cutting the line.

“I was trying to avoid making the battle any bigger,” he said.

Peters also did not include an email from former Port Commissioner Peter Q. Davis, which Lynch forwarded to him, when he Cc’d the Port attorney. In his email, Davis appeals to Lynch’s position as head of the newspaper, hoping he will have a reporter quiz the port on the lease.

“This would appear to be about 1/5 of the space at 10th Avenue Terminal---But it ends stadium talk for 24.5 years----I have to believe the Port will make a big deal about that and rubbing it in the uT's face at next Tuesdays meeting--Sure hope you have a reporter cover that and ask investigative questions--Like How much is Dole Paying----Also once unl;oaded [sic] "where do these containers go"? Davis wrote.


Avatar for user 'maryanne_pintar'

maryanne_pintar | September 27, 2012 at 4:06 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

We have repeatedly objected to the assertion that Scott Peters “deleted” any emails. That is not true.
At the time of the Dole lease vote, Peters forwarded a part of an email from John Lynch to Port staff for an answer to a question, and to ensure that Mr. Lynch could follow up if he had additional questions. The issue was whether the Dole lease could be terminated before the end of the term. The rest of the email exchange was not relevant to the question that Peters had.
Weeks later, when a reporter asked the Port for records, the Port turned over all of the records in its possession, including the partial email exchange described above.
Yesterday, when a reporter asked Scott Peters if there was any more background, he provided the entire exchange, without regard to whether it was a public or private record. He was happy to do so.
It was never deleted. How could KPBS have it if it had been deleted?

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | September 27, 2012 at 4:46 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

This whole thing is a can of worms.

I applaud KPBS for digging into this, and I'm startled and disgusted as to what lengths Lynch and Manchester will go to in order to get their way.

We don't have a major newspaper anymore.

It's been bought and turned into some perverse tool to use for a couple rich guys to manipulate the city with.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | September 27, 2012 at 4:50 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Both Lynch and Manchester know San Diegans would never elect either of them to public office so they have to use their money, rape our media outlets, and bully elected officials to get their way instead of running for office themselves.

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Avatar for user 'TonyinSD'

TonyinSD | September 27, 2012 at 7:55 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

It is truly disgusting what Lynch and Manchester are trying to do.

I was on the fence about Peters. Now I know who I'm voting for.

I figure if you do something to get those two on your case, you're doing something right.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | September 27, 2012 at 8:57 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago



Includes the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal, Navy Broadway Complex (NBC), the Sports Arena, and Qualcomm Stadium.

Carl DeMaio’s Bull$%@!

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Avatar for user 'iPhone5'

iPhone5 | September 28, 2012 at 7:16 a.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Wow... key word.. HOTELS!! How did Manchester get rich? Development!! Lynch and Manchester want a piece of the Port so badly that he had to buy the the UT and the North County times to promote their propaganda.. Hotels do not drive the economy, trade drives the economy... More trade more money into the US economy... If we hit a bad recession again, guess what San Diego.. No one will take vacations, which also means tourism will go down... The economy thrives in Import and export.. Trade has always stabilized the economy... Simple macroeconomics....

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Avatar for user 'ICare'

ICare | September 28, 2012 at 4:06 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

Has Lynch read the SAN DIEGO UNIFIED PORT DISTRICT ACT enacted March 14, 1963?

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Avatar for user 'jenjen'

jenjen | October 4, 2012 at 1:05 p.m. ― 2 years, 2 months ago

So whatever happened with this? If the city paper is threatening the Port I think this should be followed up on.

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