KPBS keeps fraudster
Gloria Penner, the host of KPBS-FM's Editors Roundtable, told CityBeat this week that John Warren, one of the popular Friday morning program's regular panelists, will remain on the show, even though Warren admitted in court last week to attempting to defraud the city of San Diego.
"Whatever he did," Penner said, "is not directly connected with his role on the program."
To be fair and precise, it was an entity, the San Diego African American Sports Association, that pleaded guilty on July 21 to two misdemeanor charges-forgery and presentation of fraudulent claims. The charges stemmed from phony hotel invoices the group submitted to the city totaling more than $37,000, said Deputy City Attorney Kim Urie.
The organization runs the annual Gold Coast Classic football game. It has for years received public funding. Tax records from 2003 show John Warren as president and his wife Gerri Warren as vice president. Urie said the decision was made to prosecute the organization because it would have been more difficult to convict individuals.
John and Gerri Warren are editors and publishers of San Diego Voice & Viewpoint, a newspaper that caters to the city's black community. John Warren has for years appeared on Editors Roundtable along with Union-Tribune editorial page editor Bob Kittle and San Diego Metropolitan editor Tim McClain. Warren, who's also a minister, can be counted on for moderately liberal opinions on economic issues and staunchly conservative opinions on social issues such as gay rights.
Asked if Warren might lose credibility among listeners when the show's panel discusses the topic of fraud, Penner said she believes people generally sympathize with those who run into trouble. And, she added, "it's a misdemeanor."
Warren didn't return CityBeat's call.
(Full disclosure: I occasionally appear as a panelist on Editors Roundtable, but not alongside Warren because Kittle, his co-panelist, refuses to be on the show with me.)
For housing-policy wonks, a three-year legal challenge to a San Diego affordable-housing law has provided more drama than an episode of Masterpiece Theatre.
To boil down the plot: the San Diego County Building Industry Association (BIA) has wanted to do away with the law, which requires developers building in the city of San Diego to either price 10 percent of a market-rate project's units below market rate or pay a fee to the city's affordable-housing trust fund. (Money in that trust fund helps subsidize low-income housing projects like Lillian Place, currently under construction at 14th and J streets downtown.) The lawsuit's been a dance of sorts-from the courtroom, to settlement talks, back to the courtroom, back to settlement talks, with allegations of back-room deals in between.
In the end, it became obvious that, in 2003, the City Attorney's office, under the leadership of Casey Gwinn, wrote a crappy law, one that could have-but didn't-jibe with a model Northern California inclusionary-housing law that prevailed in a 2002 Supreme Court challenge. Because of this, in May, the city lost to the BIA in court and so, in order to keep the trust fund intact-roughly $12.5 million-on Tuesday the City Council agreed to settle.
The settlement is a slightly watered-down version of one rejected by the City Council in April: the council may not tinker with the terms of the fee option or else the BIA can revive the lawsuit, and some developers will be allowed to pay a lesser fee, resulting in an estimated $16 million hit to the trust fund. Under April's settlement terms, that loss could have been as much as $43 million.