Morning Report: Officials Knew ‘Volunteer’ Adviser Wanted Compensation – Voice of San Diego

Last summer, we were hit with a bombshell: The city’s purportedly volunteer real estate adviser was paid millions for his work on city lease deals – by the city’s landlord.

Former city officials including ex-Mayor Kevin Faulconer have said they were shocked by the news that adviser Jason Hughes pocketed $9.4 million on the city’s Civic Center Plaza and 101 Ash St. leases.

But deposition transcripts and other documents obtained by Voice of San Diego reveal that several officials including Faulconer’s chief of staff and the city’s ex-chief financial officer at least knew the prominent real estate broker wanted to be paid.

Our Lisa Halverstadt reports that Hughes, who in 2013 volunteered to advise the city for free, wasn’t shy about telling city officials and the city’s landlord that he wanted to collect fees just over a year later.

She documents emails that Hughes sent to city officials, text messages he exchanged with a Cisterra principal and tea-spilling testimony under oath from Hughes, former city officials and Cisterra’s chairman about Hughes’ hopes of getting paid.

Read the full story here. 

  • The Union-Tribune reported that a Superior Court judge on Friday ordered the city to produce emails and other documents that have yet to be shared with lawyers representing Hughes in city lawsuits accusing him of violating a state-conflict-of-interest law. The cases are for now set to go to trial early next year.

Another San Diego Special 

It’s official: The Sports Arena and its surrounding land is a San Diego Special (you know, one of those ongoing problems that everyone agrees is a problem but no one seems capable of solving). Our podcast hosts commiserated and then waded into the deposition of the city’s former real estate chief. She testified under oath as part of an ongoing lawsuit over 101 Ash St. 

ICYMI Megan Wood broke down the tl/dr version of events with the Sports Arena in the latest What We Learned This Week. You can sign up for her fabulous bi-weekly newsletter here.

The Politics Report took the week off but you can catch up on previous newsletters here. The weekly roundup of politics chisme is available to Voice members only. 

Speaking of members, Voice reporters and editors will be at Cafe X in Sherman Heights on Wednesday at 10 a.m. Our editors will lead a discussion about this year’s election and some of the stories we are following. You can register for free as a member — or sign up and become a member at the same time.   

In Other News

  • Cities in East County are working on more collaboration to address homelessness. Leaders of four cities have penned a 10-page memorandum of understanding to find sites for emergency and long-term housing, the Union-Tribune reports. Our Jakob McWhinney looked into a La Mesa program that is using outreach workers instead of police officers to reach its homeless population. 
  • Local entrepreneurs in City Heights are celebrating the reopening of a lot on El Cajon Boulevard. That space has served as a market and event space for small business owners to promote their work, and community members to participate in events, but it was closed for half a year due to construction. 
  • The Union-Tribune profiled veteran journalist Deanna Mackey who is stepping up to lead KPBS as the station’s new general manager. She’s the first Latina to serve in that role. 

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Jesse Marx and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.