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Judge Backs Mayor Filner In Blocking San Diego Tourism Marketing District

Demands by San Diego's Tourism Marketing District to require Mayor Bob Filner to sign an operating agreement that would release administrative funds to the visitor promotions agency were tentatively denied today by a San Diego Superior Court judge.

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Embarcadero Marina Park North in San Diego.

Filner has the discretion whether to sign the deal, something the mayor has argued since he first refused to give his blessing to the agreement, according to Judge Timothy Taylor's tentative ruling. He will issue a final decision after hearing oral arguments tomorrow afternoon.

The City Council renewed the TMD last November, but ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders did not sign the operating agreement before he left office. His successor, Filner, calls it a bad deal for taxpayers.

In his ruling, the judge pointed to the City Council's renewal resolution that authorizes -- but does not require -- the mayor or his designee to sign an'' agreement, not "the'' agreement.

"A plain reading of the 2012 resolution simply does not yield the conclusion that the council directed the mayor to enter the specific contract petitioner now claims must be signed,'' Taylor wrote.

Sanders seemed to think he had discretion, since he didn't sign the deal, according to the judge.

The City Council attempted to clarify its intention this week with a proposed resolution that sought to require the mayor to sign the TMD operating agreement, but the document was returned to staff before it was introduced. The judge said he knew about the new resolution but was unaware of its fate as he wrote his ruling.

In a statement, Filner said he was grateful for the “thoughtful consideration" from Taylor.

"I believe that the TMD contract is flawed and could potentially cost taxpayers millions, so I refused to sign it," Filner's statement continued. "It is now time to return to the negotiation table...I am prepared to work out a deal that is good for the taxpayers and the City.”

Filner last week issued a counter-offer to the TMD which, among other things, called for stronger indemnification for the city in case a judge rules against the agency's funding mechanism, which is being challenged in a separate court action.

He also demanded that the TMD spend $6 million on the 2015 centennial celebration of Balboa Park, encourage member hotels to pay a living wage to employees, and prohibit funding to organizations that pay annual salaries above $160,000.

The agency rejected the demands.

The TMD receives a 2 percent surcharge on room rates to advertise San Diego as a destination. Money also goes to organizations that stage events that attract visitors.

Comments

Avatar for user 'b4goodnow'

b4goodnow | March 21, 2013 at 1:25 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

definitely not business as usual.

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Avatar for user 'laplayaheritage'

laplayaheritage | March 21, 2013 at 1:29 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

Mayor Bob Filner video on his alternative Tourism Marketing District (TMD) Proposal to get money for advertisement immediately.

Mayor Filner not only wants a $160,000 maximum salary, he is also asking that all TMD records, salaries, pensions, benefits, golden parachutes, etc. be subject to the Public Records Act.

"Filner also insists that TMD executives be prohibited from earning an annual salary of more than $160,000. The current President and CEO of the TMD, Joe Terzi, earns $435,000 per year, while Vice President Margie Sitton earns over $203,000. Two other executives earn over $170,000.

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Avatar for user 'dorndiego'

dorndiego | March 21, 2013 at 1:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

Words mean what they mean. The council resolution, according to the judge, authorized the mayor to sign "an" agreement, not "the" giveaway later amended by the council to avoid their problem with Filner. Thank you judge. The proposals of the Mayor are being ignored by the hoteleros and the council members. Thank you, again, judge, for not being moved by the oligarchs. And thank you KPBS for quick and keen coverage that easily overwhelms the hype of ragged politicians and a greedy set of innkeepers.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | March 22, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

It's good to see that San Diego has at least one judge, Tim Taylor, who won't knuckle under to the fat cat hotel owners and their tourism mafia and bend the law for special interests. Too bad the same thing can't be said about Judge Ronald Prager, who ruled that increasing city taxes to fund an expansion of the convention center doesn't require a public vote, in a one man attempt to repeal Prop 13 and Prop 26 to benefit the hotel owners.

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Avatar for user 'glennyounger'

glennyounger | March 25, 2013 at 4:44 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

If the Council wanted to have "The" agreement signed, they need to have a resolution written to reflect that. I imagine that won't happen again.
Many legal cases ride on just that kind of issue.

If you want to leave it general for the mayor to negotiate, do so.
If you want to direct the mayor, do that too.

This is no great win for anyone. The judge just read what was written.

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