Nov. 2 2012 12:00 AM

Scheduling raises questions of Carl DeMaio campaign-council office crossover

Carl DeMaio
Photo by David Rolland

We've been making noise for a year now about how City Councilmember Carl DeMaio hasn't lived up to his promise to disclose his calendar, "documenting whom he has met with and for what purpose." Yes, he's disclosed what he calls his official calendar, but it's filled with giant gaps marked "Hold for Carl." 

DeMaio, who is running for mayor, claims that these holds are for personal or campaign activities, not official city business, and therefore don't need to be disclosed. Supporters of Bob Filner, the other candidate, say DeMaio is using these holds to cover up meetings with people such as Doug Manchester and John Lynch, the business moguls who now own U-T San Diego

"They can raise all the questions they want," DeMaio spokesman K.B. Forbes said in a U-T  San Diego story. "He posts his calendar with all public business, and that's something that Bob Filner refuses to do."

Well, here's a question to raise: If that's true, then why is DeMaio's public calendar missing a meeting between DeMaio and the Port of San Diego that occurred on Nov. 16, 2011? ---

There's quite a bit of gossip floating around regarding what DeMaio may or may not have said to Port staffers at a briefing last year, and the tone with which he may have said it, but without an on-record source, we're not prepared to write about it this close to the election. However, here's what we know:

The meet-and-greet 

Records obtained through the California Public Records Act show the Port had scheduled a briefing for DeMaio and two of his council staffers-Chief of Staff Felipe Monroig and policy director Brian Pepin*-on Nov. 9, 2011. The meeting had been scheduled through Ingrid Zurlo, an executive assistant in DeMaio's council office. 

Then DeMaio's office needed the meeting rescheduled. The new date, 4 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 16, 2011, was confirmed by Zurlo. 

"Ms. Zurlo will place a tentative hold on the Councilman's calendar," an assistant to Port CEO Wayne Darbeau wrote in an email to staff. "As we move closer to the date, she will advise if there are any changes."

The meeting was to be a "Meet & Greet" primarily between Darbeau and DeMaio, but 11 other Port staffers were invited to attend in addition to DeMaio's two council staffers. 

The agenda describes something that certainly sounds like the public's business: a formal meeting, with greetings and introductions, presentations from several top-level managers on issues including organizational strategy, the financial landscape and real estate projects. There was to be a discussion of "legislative issues," followed by a Q-and-A and a photo session. 

A spokesperson for the Port confirmed that the event happened, but said no minutes were taken. Staff are currently tracking down photos from the event, which may not be available until after the election.   

Carl's calendar 

The official calendar, which DeMaio's office posts online, lists no such event on Nov. 16, 2011:  

Instead, the entire afternoon is listed simply as "Hold for Carl." 

Neither DeMaio's council office nor Forbes responded to emailed questions about the omission. 

According to the Port, all four leading mayoral candidates were invited for similar briefings. The packets provided to Port staffers in advance included an attachment listing DeMaio's mayoral bullet points as well as several articles about the race. From the Port's point of view, DeMaio was attending the meeting as both a member of the City Council and as a candidate. 

What about from DeMaio's point of view? If he saw it as a campaign event, then that explains why it didn't appear on his official calendar. But if it was exclusively a campaign event, then city employees shouldn't have been involved in scheduling or attending it.

What the records do show that a city staffer actively scheduled a meeting for Carl, then listed it as nothing more than a "hold" on his public schedule. 

Maybe it's a minor error or maybe this is another piece in the larger puzzle over the Port, DeMaio and Manchester / Lynch (which you can read about here and here).

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like any of us will have it put together by election day. 

* Pepin's name is misspelled "Bepin" in the documents. 


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