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San Diego's Hoteliers Win Round One in Court Fight with
Mayor Bob Filner Over Tourism Marketing Funds


By Lori Weisberg, The San Diego Union-Tribune
March 8, 2013



San Diego's tourism bureau had to cancel its TV ad campaign for this summer
because its funds are frozen. — Scott Allison

San Diego's hotel owners won round one of their battle with Mayor Bob Filner on Tuesday when a judge agreed to a speedy hearing on their request to force the mayor to release frozen tourism marketing funds.
 
At issue before Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor was a plea from the hoteliers for an accelerated hearing schedule on their suit against Filner and the city over the release of millions of dollars in tourism funds.
 
Taylor agreed to an expedited hearing that will be held March 22.
 
"This is a victory for the many thousands of San Diegans who work in the tourism industry," the Tourism Marketing District Corp. board said in a statement. "We are heartened by the court's decision to expedite the hearing schedule and its recognition of the potential impacts to those San Diegans who could lose their jobs in the next month, in addition to the threats the mayor's inaction poses to our fragile economy. Although we wish we didn't need to ask the court to compel the mayor to sign an approved contract we have been forced into this position."

While the City Council late last year agreed to renew the city's 5-year-old tourism district, the money being collected via a 2 percent surcharge on hotel room bills cannot be released until an operating agreement is signed by the mayor. Filner has refused to do so, arguing that he wants to broker a better deal that would bring the city more than the estimated $30 million a year generated by the district. He also has used the agreement to leverage better pay and benefits for hotel workers.

The city's Tourism Authority, which depends on the district for 80 percent of its funding, already has cancelled a more than $5 million advertising campaign for the spring and summer season, and it is faced with having to lay off its staff of 100 in the next couple of months if the funds are not released.

Filner, who has been at odds with City Attorney Jan Goldsmith over the demands he is making of the hotelier-run marketing district, told Taylor in court that he did not have legal representation. While the city attorney's office is obligated to represent Filner in court, the mayor does not believe he can receive strong representation from Goldsmith, who has previously questioned the legality of Filner's proposals for altering the Tourism Marketing District.

"The taxpayers deserve adequate representation," Filner told members of the media following the hearing. "The city attorney has showed that he cannot adequately represent me."

Goldsmith, in an interview, said he sees no conflict of interest.

"We have an obligation to provide a defense for all employees, and we do that, but our client is the city of San Diego," Goldsmith said. "He looks at himself as the client.

For the rest of the story please visit:
http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/mar/05/hoteliers-win-filner-court-fight/


Contact:

Lori Weisberg, Staff Writer
San Diego Union-Tribune
350 Camino de la Reina
San Diego, CA  92102
619-293-2251
lori.weisberg@uniontrib.com


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