Ratifying Snapdragon Stadium Deal Is A Dangerous Precedent for San Diego-Investigation Anyone?

When a mayor acts without authority and enters into an agreement on behalf of a City, what should City Council do? Oh, just ratify the agreement.

What? That’s exactly what the San Diego City Council may just do. No consequences. No investigation. No accountability. Just ratify the unlawful agreement. Dangerous precedent, especially with the San Diego’s recent change to a strong mayor form of government.

Last December, the San Diego Mayor’s designee (Stadium Manager) apparently signed an agreement with Qualcomm, a prominent corporation in San Diego and holder of the naming rights to the City’s Stadium, to allow Qualcomm to temporarily change the name of the stadium from “Qualcomm Stadium” to “Snapdragon Stadium” during 3 nationally televised football games (NFL’s Charger v. Ravens and ESPN’s Holiday and Poinsettia Bowls), thus, exposing their new Snapdragon product to an audience of over 30 Million viewers. And, San Diego received $1000 as compensation for allowing the name change.

Not only did the City Attorney’s Office advise against the name change, before the agreement was signed, as it violated the original 1997 naming rights agreement that only allowed the name “Qualcomm Stadium” but that any name change required City Council’s prior written approval and additional compensation to the City. (http://docs.sandiego.gov/memooflaw/MS-2011-18.pdf)

No City Council approval was sought. The agreement was signed none the less by representatives from the City (Mayor’s Office) and Qualcomm without printed names or titles and signed days after the signage change. And, the agreement was signed without the City Attorneys signature which is required on all city contracts. (San Diego Charter Section 40)

According to the San Diego City Attorney January 17th memo, in pertinent part,

“The Agreement required the approval of the City Council as a matter of contract, and the approval of the City Attorney as a matter of law. While a failure to obtain the approval of the City Council is a breach of the terms of the contract, the failure to obtain the approval of the City Attorney renders the contract void and unenforcebale against the City….”

“The City is not bound by an officer’s act in excess of his authority”….

“The Agreement at issue here was not prepared, reviewed, approved or signed by the City Attorney or his designee”…

“The Agreement is void for lack of proper authority. The City Council may choose to adopt a resolution authorizing and thereby ratifying the Agreement, after which the City Attorney will approve the Agreement, making it a valid and binding Agreement that temporarily changed the name of Qualcomm Stadium to Snapdragon Stadium. Alternatively, the City Council may choose to not ratify the Agreement. This would mean that the purported name change and installation of signs was unauthorized and in violation of the Naming Rights Agreement between the parties, the City’s Charter, and Resolution R-288449 of the City Council.” (http://docs.sandiego.gov/memooflaw/MS-2012-1.pdf)


While I appreciate the City Attorney trying to clean up the mess by obtaining a proper contract with the requisite approval from the City Council, does City Council and the citizens of San Diego just look the other way when a public official ignores the City Attorney’s advice, acts without authority, misuses their office and when a party violates a city contract? Not to mention, a possible violation of the City’s sign ordinance and  failure to obtain just compensation for use of city property.

Ratifying by resolution is a dangerous precedent, indeed.

Investigation anyone? Accountability anyone?

Simply my opinion, what say you?


2 Comments on “Ratifying Snapdragon Stadium Deal Is A Dangerous Precedent for San Diego-Investigation Anyone?”

  1. Jill Estensen says:

    This sounds like something that took place in Chicago a few decades ago. Interesting. As long as the people don’t storm city hall, the crooks will continue to take advantage of them. If the city officials are powerful enough, even the people storming city hall won’t work….also events of Chicago a few decades ago. So how do the people stop the crooked city officials? I think the people need to take a careful look at what is happening in Wisconsin!!!!

    • There is a reason the “manager-council” form of government came into being, to correct the imbalance of power and influence of special interests in a strong mayor form of government, the Chicago political machines, for example. Maybe, San Diego may want to re-think it’s recent change after 70 plus years from a manager-council to a strong mayor form of government. Other cities like San Jose, Sacramento and Phoenix have a manager-council form of government.

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