Raymond Lutz Coordinator, Citizens’ Oversight Projects (COPs)
raylutz@LutzForAssembly.org / 619-447-3246
Carol JahnkowDirector, Peace Resource Center of San Diegohttp:
//firstname.lastname@example.org / 760-390-0775
Susan FriedmanActivist San Diegohttp:
email@example.com / 619-283-1100
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 19, 2008
Citizens Groups Call for an Expanded Inquiry into Blackwater Permits
Did San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders Delay Stop Order on Cal-Mex Facility to allow Blackwater
to get New Contract?
Sanders Partner in Willow Creek Partners, LLC, a Homeland Security Consulting Firm
SAN DIEGO, CA (May 19, 2008)
Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs), Peace Resource Center and Activist San Diego called for an expanded inquiry into permits granted by the City of San Diego for the Blackwater training facility, located just blocks from the Cal-Mex border. These community groups are calling for the inquiry to include Mayor Jerry Sanders' inaction when the discrepancy was first detected, opting instead for a three-week inquiry with no stop-work order.
In the meantime, Blackwater completed the construction of the paramilitary training center, scheduled an inspection by GSA inspectors, and landed an extended federal contract. Only after City Attorney Mike Aguirre's office produced a report on the matter did Sanders execute a stop-work order.
COPs discovered ties between Sanders and homeland security consulting firm Willow Creek Partners, LLC, which shines new light on the potential reason for the delay based on a conflict of interest with that firm.
"At this point, we believe it is in the public's best interest if the inquiry is expanded to include the inaction of Mayor Sanders who delayed the stop-work order for three weeks such that Blackwater could complete their facility, have it inspected and approved by the GSA and then land an extended contract for paramilitary training in the facility,” said Raymond Lutz, coordinator for COPs.
“This seems like a re-run of the Sunroad project, where the developer completed the top floor of the office building in violation of FAA height limits before any action was taken on the project, making it all the more difficult to reverse course. "
Community activists point to Rep. Bob Filner (CA-51), who scheduled a news conference April 25th, only three days after the location of the facility was revealed to Lutz by a tipster.
"How can it take three weeks to look over a few permits to see if they were in order?” said Carol Jahnkow, director of San Diego Peace Resource Center. “Is the permitting process so obscure in the Development Services Department that it takes more than a day or two to investigate and confirm that Blackwater was using deceptive pseudonyms, such as Southwest Law Enforcement and Raven Development Group, while also calling the paramilitary training center a vocational school, all orchestrated to evade public scrutiny and start their operation without any public review?"
Jerry Sanders retired as Chief of Police of the San Diego Police Department after a 26 year career with the department. He was Chief from 1993 until his retirement in 1999. Sanders spent time as the Police Academy Director and SWAT Commander.
He has been a partner in Willow Creek Partners, LLC, since 2004. According to the Willow Creek Partners website, they deal with, among other things, "crypto-analytical and multi-level security services," and conduct business with "global reach."
"We applaud the action of the City Attorney's office, apparently the only group willing to stop Blackwater's assault on public oversight of their activities," said Susan Friedman of Activist San Diego. “We are especially concerned that there was no pubic involvement in the approval process of this new training center, especially after we just completed ousting them from the Potrero project, which was essentially voted down by the community by a landslide recall vote.”
The community groups will appear at the Tuesday City Council Meeting at 10am to make public comment and insist that the inquiry be extended.
Raymond Lutz is a resident in an unincorporated area of the county, and is a candidate for the 77th State Assembly District.