Tentative Ruling Favors Filner Over Tourism Marketing District

A San Diego judge issued a tentative ruling Thursday in favor of Mayor Bob Filner in the ongoing battle between the Tourism Marketing District (TMD) and the mayor’s office.

The basics of the battle go like this: hoteliers say they have the right to money raised through a special tax levied on lodging guests put in to place to promote San Diego as a tourist destination.

Mayor Bob Filner, however, has refused to sign a contract releasing the funds without concessions that hotel owners have rejected.

In turn, the industry’s Tourism Marketing District has asked a judge to force Filner to release millions of dollars in room surcharges that it needs to bankroll promotional campaigns.

In Thursday’s tentative ruling, Judge Timothy Taylor denied demands from the TMD to force Filner to sign an agreement to release those millions of dollars.

Judge Taylor ruled that even though the City Council approved the establishment of an agreement with the TMD, it never mandated that the mayor sign a contract with the organization.

“…it is as least arguable that former Mayor Sanders did not consider the Council's action to have placed him under a mandatory duty to sign the contract…He did not do so, and no party has explained why,” Taylor wrote. “The inference is strong that he considered the matter discretionary.”

Based on this, Judge Taylor denied the request to intervene and force Mayor Filner to abide by the unsigned agreement. The entire tentative ruling can be read here.

On Friday afternoon, both sides will present arguments at the San Diego Hall of Justice. After that, Taylor will issue a final decision.

Following Thursday's tentative ruling, Mayor Filner released the following statement:

“I am grateful for the thoughtful consideration Judge Timothy Taylor gave to my position in the tentative ruling he issued today. I believe that the TMD contract is flawed and could potentially cost taxpayers millions, so I refused to sign it. It is now time to return to the negotiation table. I have maintained from the beginning that I am open to negotiating with the TMD representatives to come up with a deal that protects taxpayers. I also recognize the importance of the tourism industry and want to give the TMD board the ability to market San Diego with a full complement of employees. I am prepared to work out a deal that is good for the taxpayers and the City.”

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