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What's in the Hidden Email?

According to an article from Voice of San Diego, there is an email correspondence between the Mayor's Office, the City Attorney, and the Chargers that the City Attorney does not want released to the public -- at least not yet.

Author's Note: The speculation / theories below are solely those of the author, and do not reflect the opinions of Scott Lewis or anyone involved with Voice of San Diego.

Before proceeding, I recommend everyone read Scott Lewis' piece in Voice of San Diego. For those who don't however, here is the money paragraph:

"Whatever (City Attorney Jan) Goldsmith wrote - or whatever was said in response to him - is apparently so toxic and disruptive to the mayor's strategy in dealing with the Chargers that the city is taking extraordinary measures to keep it confidential."

- Scott Lewis in Voice of San Diego, 5/29/15

So, we have an email which is OK for the City Attorney to issue, which is OK for the Mayor to see, and which is OK for the Chargers to see, but not something which is (currently) suitable for public consumption.

Anyway, here are some thoughts about what could be in the email... again, this is purely speculation on my part.

Theory #1:

I don't think the email is a correspondence between the three parties indicating the Chargers are intent on going to Los Angeles. First of all, there would be no motivation from the City's side to not make that information public immediately if the Chargers made that decision clear. In fact, it would be in the City's best interest to make that information public as soon as they had it.

Furthermore, it's not like the Chargers could have promised something (e.g. bribe, campaign contribution, etc.) to Faulconer or Goldsmith in a public document, in exchange for allowing the team to leave San Diego without a fight. If the document did contain such information, it would kill the careers of everyone involved the moment it went public - not to mention expose public officials to potential criminal investigation.

So, if it's not the Chargers leaving San Diego, what could it be?

Theory #2:

The Chargers are stalling for time, but not to leave San Diego.

They're trying to make a deal with the NFL / Kroenke regarding the Los Angeles market. In this theory, the Chargers decide to strike this agreement with the NFL / Kroenke while they have major leverage - the Carson Stadium project and an "uncertain" situation in San Diego.

However, pushing this perception requires the Chargers to foster the idea that they can't get something done in San Diego. If this were true, there would have to be a kind of agreement in place between the principals that negotiations can't really get going until the Chargers have their arrangement with the NFL / Kroenke in place. The Chargers want the best possible deal, which in turn can only help in reaching a deal in San Diego.

Theory #3:

The City / County has decided not to have a public vote.

A lot of people would view this as a politically risky (i.e. not smart) decision, simply because Mayor Faulconer has pledged from the beginning to make sure the stadium issue reached a ballot.

"I've always believed San Diegans should weigh in on this and have their say. It's the right thing to do."

-Mayor Kevin Faulconer on 5/18/15 (from the San Diego Union Tribune 5/24/15

Any decision not to pursue this path of action would be viewed skeptically (at best) by the residents in the City and County of San Diego.

I'm wondering if it's possible that Goldsmith has found a legal maneuver which would allow City and County government to bypass a public vote, and also be immune from a voter referendum. The only reason this path would be pursued is because the City and Chargers have decided the only way the team can stay in San Diego is by bypassing a public vote, and/or the team can't / won't wait for a public vote in 2016.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, the email doesn't contain anything earth-shattering.

By choosing not to divulge the contents of the email, or by choosing not to make the email public, the City of San Diego is inviting the kind of unfounded speculation in which I've just engaged.

In all seriousness, it really doesn't matter what the reasoning is for not releasing the email. It doesn't look good. Public sentiment has warmed to some extent thanks to CSAG's work, and anything which smells of back-room dealing threatens to derail the process and kill the project before it has a chance to get to the ballot.

Now, if anyone has any of their own speculation, please share it in the comments!