Balboa Centennial committee disbands, leaves millions missing


Before the session began, economic committee chairman David Alvarez gave a statement about what the committee might have been doing although he was left in the dark, like everyone else. The celebration is supposed to begin next January, and nobody has a clue about what type of celebration San Diegans might have.
“We were told it would be a year long celebration, a spectacular celebration… now we've got basically nothing to show for it,” said Alvarez. “So today's hearing is about where are we, where was the money spent, people want to know exactly what's going on.”
Some blame has to go to the city. There was never a hearing with testimony and documentation detailing the progress; they relied on the informal updates from committee members. Wednesday's hearing began that process, and not a lot was learned.
“Hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary, over $3 million in taxpayer money being spent, and we just want to know.”
The latest accounting is this: total funds received is a little over $3 million, $1.6 million from the city. Total expenses add up to $2.6 million, cash on-hand half a million. Salaries for three of the principals totaled $430,000. The first order of business is to legally terminate the committee, that's in negotiations. Gerry Braun was one of the principals at $8.000 a month – he's now the transition director at $13,000 a month. He says the committee is heartbroken.
“All of whom I think poured their heart and soul in trying to make this work. I'd like to say on their behalf, that they're heartbroken at this outcome,” said Braun. “They did everything they could to succeed.”
The committee had been earned earlier by Interim Mayor Todd Gloria about its lack of progress.
“Unless it was able to raise money, and raise private money to help augment the public funding it had received to date that the city was interested in taking it back,” continued Braun. “Our lack of fund-raising progress in terms of bringing in corporate sponsors or private donors was very much of concern to the city at that point.”
Finally the city had enough, the committee disbanded and the city attorney indicated the mayor and council will take charge.
“The termination would result in the city administration along with the council to plan the events for 2015,” stated City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.
If money was misspent by the committee, can the city recover it?
“I don't think so,” Alvarez concluded. “I think the money has been spent. I don't know what the recourse is.”
We know there will be financial and performance audits of this committee, and that indicates it's going to be a while before we know where all the money went.
Categories: KUSI