Rare Exposure of a Union Backroom Deal: Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders Surrenders to Former Top Union Official Lorena Gonzalez
Since 2009, the City of San Diego has been planning a major expansion of its downtown convention center. It is expected to cost $520 million, or more than $1 billion if interest payments to bond investors are included in the total cost.
The city’s downtown business and civic leaders are eager to expand the convention center to maintain trade shows such as Comic-Con and attract new trade shows.
That eagerness presented the devious union leaders of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council with an opportunity to establish themselves as the chief opponents and obstacles to the proposed project. Opposition could be withdrawn – for a price.
After exploiting the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and filing a lawsuit to challenge the financing plan, unions were able to obtain several economic and political benefits through the office of former Mayor Jerry Sanders. In exchange for these payoffs, the unions withdraw their obstacles and committed to end their opposition and support the convention center expansion.