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Faulconer Responds After Chargers Spokesman Questions Task Force

Photo caption: San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announces the members of his Citizens' Stadiu...

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announces the members of his Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group in downtown San Diego, Jan. 30, 2015.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer is firing back after a Chargers spokesman raised concerns about how separated the mayor's office is from a task force that's supposed to pitch a stadium plan by the fall.

The team's Mark Fabiani, who's been at the forefront of getting the Chargers a new stadium, sent a letter to the mayor Tuesday morning inquiring about the group's new spokesmen.

"We write to clarify the legal and practical role that your political advisors are playing in the operations of your new stadium Task Force," Fabiani said in the letter.

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Mark Fabiani's Letter To Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Mark Fabiani's Letter To Mayor Kevin Faulconer

In a letter to Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Mark Fabiani, who is special counsel to the president of the San Diego Chargers, raises questions about the independence of the Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group, Feb. 17, 2015.

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Mayor Kevin Faulconer's Letter To Dean Spanos

Mayor Kevin Faulconer's Letter To Dean Spanos

In a letter to the Chargers' Dean Spanos, Mayor Kevin Faulconer responds to criticism raised by Mark Fabiani, special counsel to Spanos, Feb. 17, 2015.

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Fabiani suggested the two spokesmen, Jason Cabel Roe and Tony Manolatos, could have conflicts of interest because Roe worked for the mayor's campaign and Manolatos once represented an entity that opposes the Chargers' preferred plan for a new stadium.

Roe and Manolatos sat in on the stadium task force's private meeting Monday with Fabiani.

Faulconer responded to Fabiani's criticism in a letter addressed to Chargers President Dean Spanos.

"The group is not receiving any funding from the City of San Diego, and as such, any private resources the group chooses to bring to bear to help complete its work is solely the group's decision to make," the mayor said. "However, it is my personal opinion that all of our time would be better spent on creating a plan for a new stadium instead of continuing to undermine the work of the advisory group."

Faulconer offered to personally meet with Spanos "without any advisors or staff" to discuss the best way to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

The team has been calling for a new stadium since 2002, and now talk of a potential NFL stadium near Los Angeles has many city officials claiming the team could move to that market.

In a phone interview with KPBS, Faulconer called Fabiani's remarks a distraction that's not helpful to the task force members.

"I want them to get the best input that they can," Faulconer said. "And I think a lot of San Diegans are scratching their heads saying, 'Why do we have this continued approach from Mr. Fabiani that’s not being conducive to us actually trying to get together and come up with a plan that will work?'"

Fabiani told KPBS he just wants clarification on who's leading the task force, known as the Citizens' Stadium Advisory Group, that the mayor appointed.

"So far all of the meetings have been private, so the public deserves to know who’s behind and pulling all of the strings," he said by phone.

Roe, who runs the consulting firm Revolvis, was a key figure in Faulconer's campaign, Fabiani said. On the Revolvis homepage, a statement from Faulconer touts the company's role in his bid for mayor.

"Revolvis built the strategy and team that turned my campaign into a nationally recognized example of how to win big on Election Day," the quote attributed to the mayor says.

Fabiani also said Roe is a registered lobbyist for Delaware North, a company that is seeking to secure a concessions contract with Qualcomm stadium.

According to San Diego's registered lobbyist list for 2015, Delaware North is a client of the firm Presidio Public Affairs Group. Roe is listed as a Presidio employee. Roe said he's co-owner but that PresidioPAG manager Janelle Riella works with the company.

Fabiani also questions the role of Manolatos, whose company Apex Strategies lists the Unified Port of San Diego as a client.

"The Port is one of the biggest supporters of a contiguous convention center expansion and so opposes the Chargers/JMI proposal for a joint use downtown stadium convention center," he said in the letter's footnotes.

Manolatos said he once worked for the port for three months on a matter unrelated to the stadium. Manolatos also worked for Faulconer during his mayoral campaign and when he was a council member.

In the letter, Fabiani asked how Manolatos was being paid. He referenced a news conference following Monday's task force meeting where the chairman of the stadium advisory group said Roe and Manolatos were "volunteers."

"Media reports following the meeting indicated that the Task Force had retained Mr. Manolatos as a spokesperson and that he would be compensated by private donations raised by the Task Force," Fabiani said.

In the event the task force is raising funds, Fabiani asked if the mayor would require the donations be disclosed to the public.

Manolatos clarified after the news conference and said he and Roe will be compensated by "donors" but are not receiving payment from any members of the task force.

"The expectation is that money will be raised for professional services, including my services. There's no guarantee of that though," he told KPBS in a phone interview Tuesday.

Manolatos also was critical of Fabiani's statements.

"Really what's going on here is he is stirring up distractions. I don't know why, but he is," Manolatos said.

Roe agreed.

"In 14 years of failure, Mark Fabiani has done nothing but make excuses, lay blame, and pick fights," he said in an emailed statement. "The Mayor’s advisory committee is just that — the Mayor’s advisory committee and Mark doesn’t get to dictate how the Mayor organizes his advisory group."

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