In Friday’s online edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Watchdog journalist Tanya Sierra reported on this gala event, and what happened afterward.
A contractor, Echo Pacific Construction of Escondido, won a ‘Weekend With Nick Alioto’ in a silent auction they allegedly spent $15,000 to win. That weekend, which was spent at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa in late June, was only three weeks before the administration and board of SWC awarded Echo Pacific Construction a $4 million construction management contract on July 14.
Not a bad bit of gravy for a $15,000 investment, right?
(Visit our colleagues at Save Our SWC for another perspective on this situation and what you do to help.)
In addition to earning face-time with Nick Alioto, Chris Rowe, the president of Echo, also spent some quality weekend time with Henry Amigable of Seville Construction Services and Paul Bunton of BCA Architecture – the contractor who bought and “donated” that weekend “getaway.”
This proves that not only can one earn that precious face-time with an administration heavy-hitter, but one can also get it by donating a valuable gift, and that another can get one simply for being a higher-up at Seville Construction Services.
(I will also add that Amigable is part of the group that was overseeing the Focuscom PR campaign to “expose and isolate extremists” at Southwestern College and the South Bay.)
And, as Ms. Sierra’s piece points out, BCA, Seville, and Echo Pacific have – at the time of her report – donated around $35,000 to the reelection campaigns of Yolanda Salcido and Terri Valladolid – Governing Board incumbents whom Alioto himself has done active fundraising for.
If you haven’t read Ms. Sierra’s piece, you really should. When you get back, let me let you know of a few things that she may not have been aware.
The first is an interesting fact about the Foundation itself. In the piece, Alioto is quoted regarding the $1,800 that his part of the trip cost: “There wasn’t anything that wasn’t completely above board [sic]. The foundation paid directly for the costs.”
It’s interesting to note that during the October Governing Board meeting, when a discussion arose around which administrator oversaw the Foundation (but does not head up), the answer was unequivocally “Business and Finance” – Nick Alioto’s department.
In other words, Alioto spent a weekend with three contractors – all of whom had donated to the Foundation, and all of whom received contracts from the college. And Alioto’s $1,800 vacation was paid for by the Foundation, which he oversees.
Where the hell is the district attorney?
The second is that this isn’t the only time Alioto has done this. On September 27, Alioto hosted a golf tournament at the San Diego Country Club. Visit here to see the invitation.
This is the same type of event* as the “Havana Nights” gala.
*Though originally this was for the athletes of SWC, not the administration. I have been informed that this year the student athletes were allowed to participate – as caddies.
On the advertisement, you’ll see BCA, Echo Pacific, and Seville – along with dozens others – most of them contractors and construction companies. And at the end, you’ll see what it costs to play, and how much was donated from these contractors before the event even began…
Echo Pacific, Seville, and BCA had already donated $10,000 each before the advertisement flyer went out. Swinerton Builders had donated $7,500. Alta Vista Financial donated $5,000. And several others had donated $2500, $2000, or $1000.
In addition, for Title/Platinum Sponsors and Contributing Sponsors, a note is made – “Several sold, more are welcome.” These are $10,000 and $5,000 sponsorships. And at the low end are $500 single-hole sponsors.
Several are sold, more are welcome? Let’s do a little math.
Before the tournament even began, $50,000 had already been donated as sponsorships by named companies. If we conservatively assume “several” to mean 3 or 4 (I’ll figure it as 3.5), then we can add $54,250. It appears that before this golf tournament even began the Foundation had raised – from a very conservative estimate – over $100,000.
And how much did the 25 different companies on the invitation pay for the privilege of having their logos out there?
But wait, there’s more!
Want to know how a contractor who’s desperate for some drippings from the gravy train can donate to the cause four times?
1. Buy a sponsorship.
2. Donate to the silent auction, as BCA did this spring to set up that weekend.
3. Bid on the silent auction, as Echo Pacific did to win that precious Alioto face-time.
4. Participate in the tournament itself and pay for an extra foursome or two at $1,500 a pop.
Yes, it’s possible for those contractors to donate directly to the Southwestern College Foundation – which Nick Alioto oversees – four times per event. And they can “win” face-time with the same administrators who can help them “win” big fat college contracts.
And in case you’ve forgotten…
These same contractors are the same people donating to the reelection campaigns of our Governing Board incumbents Yolanda Salcido, Terri Valladolid, and Jorge Dominguez. It also bears repeating that Yolanda and Terri are the incumbents that Nick Alioto held a wine-and-cheese fundraiser for, and that Superintendent Raj Chopra has been fundraising openly for Jorge.
So I ask again… Where the hell is the district attorney?
The work has been done for you. Now how about just investigating it?