Alvarez-Gomez expensive re-match
According to CalMatters, government giveaways motivated the formation of businesses to milk money from federal agencies while deliberately sidestepping public transparency.
San Diego Unified’s wall of stone
The San Diego Unified School District’s board of trustees has been playing fast and loose with Covid-19 testing money handed out by the federal government. But despite its best efforts, CalMatters, the Sacramento-based website which revealed the district’s no-bid financial shenanigans in a detailed June 6 dispatch, couldn’t get principals in the case to come to the phone. According to CalMatters, government giveaways motivated the formation of businesses to milk money from federal agencies while deliberately sidestepping public transparency.
“Some are new ventures launched by savvy entrepreneurs to capture some of the windfall. That includes a limited liability company formed in April 2020 and headquartered out of a UPS drop box in Los Alamitos that got a $52 million no-bid Covid testing contract in San Diego.” Per the account, “In September 2021, San Diego Unified’s board ratified a no-bid contract with a firm called Responsive Partners LLC to run a Covid testing program. The district amended the contract a few months later and the agreement — which runs through July 30 — is now worth up to $52 million.” But then reporters found themselves down a rabbit hole.
“Responsive Partners formed during the pandemic in April 2020, records show. Its manager-members in the most recent filing with the Secretary of State’s Office are three other companies. Its address listed in regulatory filings and on the company’s website is a UPS drop box in Orange County.” According to CalMatters, San Diego Unified trustees “ratified the initial agreement at a September board meeting with no discussion, a video of the meeting shows. The board approved the amended agreement in January, again, with no public discussion.”
Noted the story: “That a company with no history, no apparent physical location and murky ownership could get a massive no-bid testing contract with the second largest district in the state — all without any kind of public hearing — is emblematic of the large amounts of money flying out the door with limited oversight and little transparency.”
The paper trail becomes even more obscure from there. “The man who signed the contract for Responsive Partners was Ryan Merchant. According to his LinkedIn profile, he previously managed a Southern California ambulance company. The managing member of Responsive Partners who filled out the most recent business filing with the Secretary of State’s Office is Brandon Hudler. CalMatters attempted to speak with someone at the company.
A man who answered the phone listed on Responsive Partners’ website identified himself as Merchant’s business partner but declined to provide his name. He said the company’s attorney — whom he declined to name — would call a CalMatters reporter to answer questions. No attorney called. CalMatters also emailed a list of questions to Merchant at his Responsive Partners email listed in the San Diego Unified contract. He did not respond.”
Without providing too many details, district officials said they were more than happy with the company’s work. “I can’t say enough good things about this company. We’ve had such great care from them,” Susan Barndollar, San Diego Unified’s head of nursing, was quoted as saying. “Responsive labs really looked at the staffing, and they had a very creative solution for it. They had a huge pool of EMTs they could use in San Diego to do the testing. They had ambulances and vans to get their equipment around. Their prices were very competitive.”
David vs. Georgette
Ex-San Diego city councilman, mayoral candidate, and now 80th District Assemblyman David Alvarez has been collecting sizable contributions for his November reelection bid from an array of special interests. On May 27, he picked up $4900 each from Kilroy Realty LP and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of The Rincon Reservation, California.
On June 2, he got the same from oil giant Phillips 66. The Ford Motor Company Civic Action Fund kicked in $4900 a day later, and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association California PAC gave $2000 on June 6. Alvarez is facing off against fellow Democrat Georgette Gomez, who he beat in a special election for the seat previously held by Lorena Gonzalez, also a Democrat, who quit to go to become chief executive of the California Labor Federation.
Though Alvarez won the special election, Gomez — heavily funded by big labor — beat him in the regular June primary, setting up a big-spending November grudge match to determine the ultimate victor. Recent donors giving to a shadowy anti-Gomez committee calling itself San Diego Families Opposing Georgette Gomez for State Assembly 2022, have included the San Jose Police Officers’ Association PAC, with $5000 on June 6. Gomez’s November election fund got $9700 from the California Nurses Association Political Action Committee on June 29.
— Matt Potter (@sdmattpotter)
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