San Diego mayoral aide calls Chargers negotiator “poisonous,” tells him to stay out of stadium talks

Talks between the city of San Diego and the Chargers already broke down this summer in a barrage of sniping, with Mayor Kevin Faulconer complaining that the team management wasn’t a “willing partner” and team stadium chief Mark Fabiani calling the mayor’s plan “remarkably unsophisticated.” Now things have escalated to where Faulconer’s top political aide says if the Chargers want to resume negotiations, they better leave Fabiani at home:

“I think Mark Fabiani has been poisonous to a solution for the Chargers remaining in San Diego,” [Jason Cabel] Roe said. “From the very beginning of this process he has done nothing but mislead the mayor’s office, the fans and civic leaders on what the team’s intentions are.”

This does not at first seem to be the best way to get talks going with an unwilling partner, calling their lead negotiator “poisonous.” But then, you have to consider which audience Faulconer’s office is actually playing to. As it becomes clearer that 1) none of the cities facing team threats to move to L.A. (San Diego, St. Louis, Oakland) have the kind of slam-dunk overwhelmingly lucrative subsidy offers that will instantly win over team owners, and 2) the other NFL owners are going to have to pick which one or two teams get to move to L.A. and which have to stay home, mayors are starting to think about how to lobby the league directly to say “Look, we tried, the people on the other side of the table won’t listen, please don’t take our team!”

It probably won’t work — NFL owners may not all like each other, but they still like each other more than they like city mayors — but it’s worth a shot. Besides, when Mark Fabiani is just coming off an appearance at one of those bizarro NFL listening tour events where he was almost booed off the stage, it’s easy to score points by attacking him in public. And when you’re playing a game where the winners and losers are going to be determined by 32 rich guys in a room somewhere, scoring political points may be the only sure move you have.

4 comments on “San Diego mayoral aide calls Chargers negotiator “poisonous,” tells him to stay out of stadium talks

  1. A couple of thoughts…

    Everything I know about Mr. Fabiani comes from his public comments on the issue he has been hired to “manage”, so it’s difficult to understand what his “true self” is… for me and for the Charger fans, I would assume.

    Thing 2, as his job is to extract absolutely the most public money possible for his employer no matter how it happens or who gets hurt in the process, I think we can probably expect that he isn’t going to be universally loved by the taxpayers or Charger fans. There’s a reason Mr. Spanos isn’t doing this himself, obviously…

    Third, Faulconer may be correct about his impact on negotiations, but since Fabiani works for the Chargers and the Chargers are, assuredly, giving direction and input into what he does and how he does it, it would be more accurate for Faulconer to complain that the Chargers themselves are poisoning the process.

    I’m guessing he isn’t doing that for the same reason Spanos isn’t the front man for his side of the argument either… because they both have to work with each other and the fans/taxpayers afterwards.

    I’m neither defending nor decrying Fabiani here, I just don’t think we should be surprised when someone is hired to do an unpleasant job and does it.

    Frogs and Scorpions, etc.

  2. … but full marks to the fan who replied “That’s a lie” to Mr. Fabiani’s comment that it was ‘good to see them all here’.

    I take issue with the veracity of many of the Chargers’ comments, but an expression of appreciation for public attendance isn’t something I would have been moved to challenge as an opening remark…

    My guess would be there wasn’t much that could have happened at that meeting to change that spectators mind about anything.

  3. The frog/scorpion fable is a warning to frogs, not a license for scorpions, especially in cases where someone deliberately chooses to be a scorpion.

    Though the fable is pretty apt in a way: these cities end up entering what become suicide pacts. The way it’s not apt is that the scorpions, once they’re on the frog’s back, never drown.

  4. Faulconer only cares about getting reelected in 2016, his task force was a giant waste of time as expected, the issue had already been studied to death.

    Winning the blame game was always Faulconer’s top priority.