Jan. 23 2012 12:00 AM

With U-T purchase, John Lynch and Doug Manchester can now secretly lobby council members

Stadium-Rendering_t620
Artist's rendering of the U-T's 10th Avenue Marine Terminal proposal
Credit: U-T San Diego

If you read U-T San Diego's front-page and editorial package this Sunday, which promoted a fantastic new proposal for the bay front, complete with artistic renderings, you were probably thinking to yourself, isn't a newspaper supposed to report news, not make it?

Ideally, yes, except that the U-T's new owners, media executive John Lynch and hotel tycoon Doug Manchester, have their own set of ideals, which seem to have very little to do with journalism. Promoting this convention center/sports arena/stadium project, they say, is the newspaper's new No. 1 priority.

In the editorial, the writers make reference to "U-T San Diego executives and editorial board members" taking a meeting with Mayor Jerry Sanders to discuss the proposal. We've also heard that Lynch has been lobbying individual City Council members, who are expected to vote on a financing plan for a long-planned Convention Center expansion this week.

But is it actually lobbying? No, it's not.

Normally, developers would need to register as lobbyists if they're going to approach elected officials. They would need to disclose who they met with, the issue being broached as well as what they're spending to lobby for it. However, the city's lobbying ordinance includes this big, fat exception for media organizations:

The following persons and activities are exempt from the requirements of this division...

(b) any newspaper or other regularly published periodical, radio station, or television station (including any individual who owns, publishes, or is employed by any such newspaper, periodical, radio station, or television station) that in the ordinary course of business publishes news items, editorials, or other comments or paid advertisements that directly or indirectly urge action on a municipal decision, if such newspaper, periodical, radio station, television station, or individual engages in no other activities to influence a municipal decision

In other words, Manchester and Lynch can pretty much ignore the city's rules, including fundraising disclosures, gift restrictions and registration fees, because they now own a newspaper.

Of course, it only cost them $110 million or so, but hey, that's one way to cut through the red tape.

Calendar

  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28