Roundtable Looks Into Dave Roberts' Troubles, Chargers Stadium Ploys, Seawall Issues
As the accusations Pollock supervisor Dave Roberts is being circled by political opponents who sent blood in the water. The Mayor says about on the funding plan for a new Chargers stadium could be held as soon as December but will it be? Seawalls protect homes but may destroy the beach, can the coastal commission protect one over the other? The California Supreme Court will decide. Earmarks aware, the KPBS roundtable starts now. Welcome to our discussion of the week's top stories, I Mark Sauer. Joining me at the KPBS roundtable today are Michael Smolens politics editor for the cynical union Tribune, good to see that Michael. Good to be here. Scott Lewis, CO voice of San Diego, I met, Scott. KPBS environment report Erik Anderson Eric Anderson. Gudas you today, Eric. Eight was a punch and counterpunch and a political tempest involving County supervisor Dave Roberts this week. Another complaint by former staffer was followed by a lawsuit against his detractors. The county board lone Democrat is being buffeted by political winds so it is no surprise that Republicans are already eyeing his seat for 2016. Is see in real trouble or is this a tempest here? First of all,, Michael, give us the lay of the land, what are some of the allegations against him, who is bringing them and then we will get a lawsuit? Pimp his in world of political trouble, I don't think it be discreet with that. Is the world of legal trouble, we will find out, but at skittles typical in this town things burst out and then they keep that skating. It is to keep up with the events. As a mentioned this week we had two big events of another claim by the staffer and a counter lawsuit, cool. Those does make a note to click my thoughts and a very and I said the district attorneys investigating, you can almost forget that. But basically what has happened is several staffers have left Dave Roberts office. Mostly women and three of them have filed legal complaints with the county which is a precursor to a lawsuit. They are claimed he created a hostile workplace, that he had an inappropriate relationship with his driver, another aide and he misused public resources for political purposes. One of the more damning once is one of the complaints say that he attempt to bribe one of his aides, have a personal might to human resources which was talking to ask wasn't about what was going on in the office. The bribe was the weight of a promotion and salary. Those are just the highlights and then the word is twist as you mentioned, the eight in which he is literally close with filed a lawsuit against County but two of the former staffers claiming they created a hostile workplace, did it to the county, didn't to Dave Roberts so like I said, you really need a square -- scoresheet keep track what's going on. As you mentioned we know the District Attorney doesn't comment on criminal investigations, but were tripping over them investigators looking at Facebook pages and the contacting some of these folks. Yes, they are looking to interview folks and taken documents and things like that. We know that. All of this going on, it is just, it is really difficult to keep up with it all. He is still not been accused or actually sued of anything in terms of in a court of law or in the [Indiscernible] The law and rules when you deal with the public agency you have to file a formal claim first and I think it is a 40 five-day period then there's discussion about whether they can settle it. 45 days before he filed lawsuits of the real question will be whether the county do and if they reject these claims and therefore hundreds of millions of dollars now I think I tell you up it is close to $800,000 that the aides were seeking from the county in damages. If they go to court is going to be a long-haul. Roberts has turned up himself and made the rounds. He has said all this is false. Is flatly denied everything they've said. Let's hear that bites from him. He was on evening edition on KPBS last week. Spent I've been in office to adapt years, my first two years went experienced Chief of Staff I had little turnover in the office and smooth operations. Glynis one was hired and officially became my Chief of Staff at January 7 of this year and since then I have had eight staff including herself leave. Two for personal reasons, three because they were part of a reorganization of the office, she wasn't satisfied with anybody in the office and then three have recently resigned, two filing these claims against the County of San Diego. All right, so that was his appearance here. Is made all the rounds, has he been ineffective so far do you think in his defense of himself? No. But the agent question hasn't been bad. He to a kill shot at the issue saying that he's not gay so how can you have an appropriate relationship with the supervisor. It is pretty good argument but who knows how does that play out but so there's a lot of contention. It is classic San Diego like you said scandal of a politician. I think we should probably be hesitant to make any huge conclusions. It still uncertain whether the big scandal that consumed [Indiscernible] campaign on most two years ago whether that was -- I guess wasn't two years ago -- cannot keep track of time. But there some information coming out today in a few days that maybe that user wasn't so trustworthy. So you've got to keep an innocent until proven guilty but he does have a political problem. Following on your point here, this latest complaint from Lindsey Amoss at our, she didn't really say complain about Dave Roberts when she was on she said this is the greatest job in the world. I came into the Office of days with a smile on my face -- etc. So that would tend to countermand which is complain about. It is interesting because there's two sites that because Roberts held up her resignation letter. It was glad to work your and so forth and this has been bad it is just these two bad apples at a time. Then she turns around and sues or files a claim which totally undercuts that. She is claiming I had to write it up constructive dismissal which is in some way apparently a bad workplace, you are being forced to resign without being fired. You quit, it is illegal term for file -- you feel like you had no choice. Viewers essentially fired more or less. This -- we have been down this path in certain situations before. Here you got formal claims filed by people, tourneys, the Lord of the [Indiscernible] think was a lot schedule than this, but again will have to see what happens legally. The District Attorney I think in the past has been reluctant to weigh in on political investigations, but clearly he's got a big political problem. Where is the big damage for Roberts? Is on the political side or is it on the legal side? And right now, it is political. We will have to see how the legal aspects works out. Probably know the county which projected services from two of these women, the request of your under negotiations, they could settle and the legal stuff can go away if they don't Sue that's that then we will have to see what happens to the eight. But the Republicans are lining up and they are setting up a little more difficult cousins loved being people be mention and they want to get behind one candidate is parties always do, but it is never quite that easy. That's the problem. Some people wondering whether his image so bad that he will be even be able to run for reelection, that's what he's doing now. The Democrat are going to start organizing if they just think he's speedily wounded politically and try to find a candidate themselves. So far the Democrats are supporting him but as you say the Republicans are circling [Indiscernible] Escondida permit there he's already come out and said he is going to run against him but the Democrats is backing Dave Roberts. Sure. You have to at this stage because they are still a lot of smoke and sometimes the scandals that down pretty quick if there's not the legal aspect there and as I said it depends on what transpires with the claims and how the women follow-up if they Sue and so forth. You have to remember he barely won that race. It is not a given that that was a Democratic leaning district of all the County supervisor seats, that wasn't one of the demons that could flip for a Democrat because what's a precarious hold and so they definitely since blood in the water to really go after him but Councilman Mark Kersey has been mentioned, Sam on that, it is going to be an interesting race. The presidential election usually go Democrats favor but again this is a really split district. Brian Maienschein is the assembly men meant for my Councilman one that allowed people are looking at the Republicans would like him to run the can he can clear the field but Sam abed is not going to step down. That's not the character he is but it is another Democratic year and he did run ended Democratic -- positive selection maybe not. Let's give the final word little scientist Carl Luna waiting on this, let's hear what he had to say. The Chargers are threatening to leave town, the economy is still not fully recovered, people are trying to pay their mortgages the skin of things people worry about. I would put this down on a scale of one to 10 may be a .5. Okay. We will review the final word and I guess we will see output it is to everybody in town. It is fascinating political stuff right now. Or news this week on the effort to build a new Stadium and keep the Chargers from Boelte in LA as we just heard. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, generals for the city attorney and longtime counts -- County supervisor on Roberts announced a special election could be held in December to see if voters will approve hundreds of millions in public money to finance a new Stadium stadium. Here's the mayors announcement this week. San Diego ends at deserve a vote on a new Stadium. And today we discussed a framework that allows for a vote this year. This means that San Diego would have voter approval of a new Stadium before the NFL allows teams to seek relocation in January 2016. City Council can call a special election for the city of San Diego voters by December 15, 2015, if our negotiations are successful. All right, sounds like the Mayor wants a vote on this, what do you think? No, he doesn't want it. They are not going to go in December. They said basically they could, they are calling the NFL's bluff or bad. Saying if this deadline is really real, then we can meet its. If you are say that at the end of the season that we are going to play out in the poll and in the winter, if you are seeing you're going to move the team to LA, you're going to pull the rug out of us because we can have this notes before them. I don't think there's any chance that they are going to vote because they don't want to, it cost money, what they are basically say we can pull it off. The reason -- they could pull off something that says you want a stadium, yes or no? With a more impactful make it more meaningful you make about the harder it is going to be for them to pull it off in time. So there's various things they could decide that might trigger environmental, legal avenues that they have to follow before they can put that on the ballot. There are various things they might have to decide about financing that are going to take far longer than just a couple of months this summer to work out. So we might get to vote if they do push forward, but it is not going to mean anything. It mightmean the Mayor said something about how if we vote that will get rid of the possibility that they can throw this out with the referendum afterwards as we've seen with minimum wage and other laws that have been passed. The only way that would work as is if there's an actual package of laws and financing and as such that is approved officially in this mode. There's no way they are going to get that done in time for that so if it is just an advisory vote about it like stadiums or not, it is not going to have any impact and it could be a referendum -- river ended were friended after that. Would've the lost such a vote? It is just a straw poll and their loss, that would be pretty significant on that side so a yes vote is what you are saying is not meaningful, a no vote could be. And no vote there might actually appreciate that because they could say it is not my fault. They chose not to, but in order for a boat vote like that to pass as well would have to have the Chargers not only say okay, but they would have to be supportive that to dump money into it. They would have to pay for the campaign and create a big committee of people going around town talking about how great it was. That's not going to happen in four months. The best hope for San Diego go to keep the Chargers as of the NFL backs off of that deadline and says maybe we can wait another year, it is been 20 years since we've had the NFL in LA, we can wait another year, you guys can put together more thoughtful proposition and proposal. Doesn't the NFL have the veto power here? In other words, if they really want this team in particular [Indiscernible] to go to LA maybe with another team, or to stay in San Diego and home city, isn't that Bush really significance behind the scenes here? They are not going to make the Chargers stay unless there's a very clear route to a stadium here and if the asthma I don't think the Chargers are leveraging for more money. I think they are leveraging for more clarity exactly how the money is going to come to pay for a new stadium and they can go ahead and drop that race to LA because there is a race to LA and I think they've committed there are not going to lose that race without a fight. So the not going to drop that unless we've got a cashiers check saying we're going to build a stadium, Aldie have to do is sign off. That's how much clarity they want and there's no way we can get that much clarity in the next four months. It is hard to pull off in the next year. How much of this is an economic question? Economics for the Chargers and how much of this is that community we belong question? Are we talking about the same thing or different things? Think about the worst-case scenario for the Chargers at that they get stuck here and somebody moves to LA and they don't have that leverage to say we might move to LA That road is gone. Right, so they are speculative they don't have a path to a stadium laid out and they are going to do like they have another 10 years of this dillydallying going on. I think that this is a risk question for them. They are not willing to pull back that LA push unless they get certainty about what's happening in San Diego. It is an economic question as well because I think they are looking at LA saying that to really dollars potentially Big market. You're going to be able to keep the size of the the San Diego market because you are right next door. We can talk about civic pride all we want but a billion dollars pretty attractive to anyone. That talks. Let me ask you a couple other things. Talk about Jan Goldsmith's role in this whole stadium issue. The city attorney would think you would be a likely big player leader in this. I think Jim look at the situation and said you know at this what this thing needs, needs more Jan. So he says I'm going to get involved so he negotiates these meetings and tells the mirror AB this task force he created you created wasn't something we should talk much about. He helped as he will say he help them get back in the meeting together. Is a big we do here because the decisions that he makes about what route they take about what kind of Environ mental laws they need to follow it with a can push aside, that's will have significant consequences to that certainty question. About whether somebody Susan holds up this whole thing longer than the Chargers are able to tolerate. That's the discussion going on right now is is the city -- would say by how fast they can pull this out, is that something that can be verified in accordance somebody inevitably challenges it? I wanted to ask you Michael, we touched on this moment ago, if you are going to have a public vote on this and I don't know it seems I don't know there's been a poll but it seems tepid support at best right now to keep the Chargers maybe -- We've had -- it would likely lose -- [Overlapping/Multiple speakers] What we are talking about is you need to be campaign, you need a bunch of folks out there, any charger players coming to events and all that, do we see that happening? Scott touched on that is regulated out that the Chargers aren't even onboard. They are not happyat all with way this is going and I think our went into this and Jan Goldsmith's involvement in the disagreement between the Mayor's office and Jan Goldsmith after negotiations are being held, these guys are supposed be on the same table, they cannot get it together. They are costly traditional the NFL they are doing all they can but it is a dysfunctional situation down here. One thing that we have to keep side of it and Scott hit on it that is everybody angling even the Chargers as well as the city to push this back? I think that's what they would like. to go Idaho there are deadlines up in Carson on the land purchase but it rest with stand Gocke. He's the guy driving this Keystone of the St. Louis ramps. He's going to build something, stadium in Inglewood or Hollywood Park and the question is he's got money coming can go in and start building if not today very soon. I have this notion that the owners are the starch evidence, -- they try to get out in front of him figure out how to deal him? You doesn't say much we don't really know but that I think is driving things as much if they can get him to hold off to get some clarity to this, but if he's moving ahead on the timetable that he's said, is that will of the dice for the Chargers and do they have to try to lead to LA or -- One final thing -- The team thing. This mother aspect they can have a team and say we will have another team try and string along the Chargers and Raiders but once they lose only the lose leverage in every city for new Stadium they have been busily holding hostage for the last decade. We are out of time of this but we will certainly be watching I'm sure everybody will be writing about as we go forward. California may not be falling into the sea but some homes on coastal bluffs here might be. Homeowners in Encinitas have build Seawalls to protect their homes against eroding sandstone close but the powerful coastal commission says the walls ultimately must go. Erik, let's start with coastal commission, with their objection to these walls? Then it is not that the object the walls. With the coastal commission is saying basically is that what they have some power, they would have some authority, they would have some say in managing these walls. If you go along the beach up and Encinitas you will see a lot of that beach is backed up with Seawalls that some have been there for very long periods of time, some are relatively new and the coastal commission says we know this has an impact on the beach. We want to make sure that the public access to the beach is protected. We want to make sure the peak is protected amino Seawalls plate a role in there so we want to manage them and the difference that was brought up in this case and is now in front of the Supreme Court is the fact that the coastal commission was asking for recently was a time limit on the Seawalls. Basically, you can build us to welcome you can rebuild a single that's been damaged, but in order to get that new permits we will put a time limit on a 20 year limit. There werecouple families and Encinitas that objected. And they lost their seawall in 2010 during his term, the wanted to replace it before the be for the love that their house it is on roads anymore so the great the coastal commission conditions. They signed off on this 20 year time limit and then they said but we really don't like this whole idea and they rebuild the wall and they challenged in court. Let's hear from one of these homeowners there on -- this is Ellen fails what she thinks about the cushions 20 year permit rule. I don't believe that it is fair to ask people to give up their homes, maybe there only home, some of these residents have lived here they're entire lives. If they were to have an event and start to lose and a property that they would actually lose their home if they didn't mitigated with the seawall, I feel that's completely unreasonable. All right, she is talking to you about losing there physically losing their homes but also the value of these homes is at stake if I only have a 20 year permit and I cannot renew that seawall, how much is my homework all of a sudden? These are expense of homes. You take a half a step back and you look at the reality of the situation. These homes are built on sandstone bluffs. Sandstone is about as porous material is you can get next to it, use these when you walk on the beach, stuff comes off the Cliff. It is not the best place. They have built the homes. They have for the Seawalls up to protect those homes and yes, their property values are at stake but I don't think that's with the coastal commission is saying. With the coastal mission is saying is you want the ability, we want to protect our ability to manage the Seawalls. If they cause erosion, say you build a new seawall and the causes erosion 40 feet down from your property against somebody else's seawall, maybe your seawall needs to be adjusted. Maybe needs to be rebill. The coastal commission want the authority to do that. If the presence of the Seawalls is causing the beach to be eroded, and the beach is going way and all you have is cobblestoned cobblestone of the coastal commission is saying it is our job to make sure that we protect public access to the beach if there's no beach to protect that we are not doing our job. That's where they fall. The Surfrider foundation has a beef about all this and you talk with attorney Angel the [Indiscernible] of that foundation. Let's hear that This is such a controversial issue because it it is pilot property rights against public right to access the beach. That's important to everyone. I think what we need is more collaboration and looking at science and engineering reports about how to preserve the Sandy Beach for public access and also benefits the homeowners and coastal community at NYMEX as you heard before. All around. So the California Supreme Court takes this up, what's the specific issue now that they will here? The specific issue is whether or not the California coastal commission has the ability to regulate these walls. That's what's been challenged. The lower court said the homeowners were right. That was appealed 20 pills court in California and the pills court said no, the homeowners don't have the right, the coastal commission does. The state Attorney General step income asked the Supreme Court to deny that, let the Bill Corr will extent and they decided not to. There'll take the issue up. It will set a President, what they decide will set a precedent that will affect any place where Seawalls are Encinitas is not the only place in California along the coast. It is up-and-down the state. We have 900 plus miles of coastline's. This is a big issue that they are going to decide. In San Diego do we have any sense of how many homeowners might be affected here? BioT stomach we are not talking about hundreds of homeowners. They are up there on the plus, they could see the ocean, these are typically not how do we say it come at these people have means. You don't live next to the ocean with a view of the ocean if you don't have means. They are doing what they can to protect their property rights, yes, but the coastal commission tries to balance that because it is job, its mandate is to protect -- to the beach. These are not cheap. Some of them are quite elaborate. They are elaborate elaborate. There a sophisticated. Another issue there and it is a this if you walk in and of the beach will see it is a lot of people who have these Seawalls of the bottom of the cliffs and also have these elaborate wooden staircases that go down the side of the mountain and that's their pilot access and this particular case I think the coastal commission also asked the family to remove the staircase. They say it is a bit of an eyesore. It doesn't help public access at all and that's part of the fight as well. That love is cluttered up with all these wooden staircases that a lot of -- allow people to have access to the beach. A few seconds left, access that is when the Google issues here than. That's what will be decided. If they retain the right of the coastal commission to issue these permits, to put limits on to decide whether or not access is protected, that's one thing that will be decided. Away, we will see spam they may decide by the end of their got it might stretch into the first couple months of next year. We will give for that decision. That rubs another week of stories that the KPBS roundtable. I would like to thank my guest, Scott Lewis was of S an Diego, Michael Smolens of the San Diego Union Tribune and Erik Anderson of KPBS news. Reminder on the stories we discussed today are available on our website KPBS.org. I Mark Sauer, things for joining us today on the roundtable.
Roberts teetering on the edge of his seat
Big-time turnover (8 of 11 have quit) in the office staff of first-term county Supervisor Dave Roberts and three claims alleging he misused both his office and his staff have now put a big target on his third district seat.
The claims for compensation from the county are thought to be preludes to lawsuits. Roberts says he has done nothing wrong.
Roberts, the lone Democrat on the board, is up for re-election in 2016. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed was the first to announce a run for the seat. Others expressing interest are State Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey, and Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar — all are Republicans.
So far, the San Diego Democratic Party does not appear to be hedging its bets. Local party chair Francine Busby vigorously defended Roberts on NBC7's "Politically Speaking" last weekend.
Stadium vote: Plan or ploy?
This week Mayor Kevin Faulconer, along with the city attorney and Supervisor Ron Roberts, said the city could call a special election on the stadium issue by December 15, if the Chargers were up for it.
He didn’t say the city would, mind you, just that it could.
Chargers and NFL had asserted that San Diego couldn’t move on a new stadium before the NFL’s January decision on which teams would move to L.A. Some analysts believe the vote announcement was simply a response and not a real plan. (Oh, yes we can! See?)
If there is a vote, there are a ridiculous number of important questions yet to be answered, including what the election would actually be for. There are others. How can a detailed plan be ready by the September ballot deadline? What kind of election? Mail-in only? In-person balloting? What about the California Environmental Quality Act? CEQA requires the city to look at several alternatives to Mission Valley, which could take a year. Will the County vote also?
Lastly, will the NFL believe any of this?
It's beaches vs. homes on San Diego's coast
In Encinitas and Leucadia the coastal cliffs are eroding, endangering the homes perched on top, as well as the beach-goers below. To stop the erosion, some homeowners have paved the walls.
The California Coastal Commission takes a dim view of this practice and has ruled that permits to build seawalls are only good for 20 years. After that, a new permit must be requested.
There are no guarantees it will be given.
The California Supreme Court is on track to rule on the California Coastal Commission’s authority to set a 20-year time limit on seawall permits. The appeal was filed by two Encinitas families with homes atop the bluffs. When waves destroyed their seawall in 2010, they were given a 20-year permit to rebuild. They believe the structures are necessary to keep their houses from toppling over the cliffs.
The Coastal Commission’s argument, that seawalls lead to the demise of public beaches, was seconded this week by the Surfrider Foundation.