This week, Attorney Michael Attanasio and those representing the SoccerCity initiative filed a lawsuit to toss out the SDSU West initiative on the grounds it violates state law. Attanasio said, "Public university names are the property of the state and its citizens, and this law was specifically intended to prevent their exploitation by private business interests."
The suit claims the SDSU West effort violated the provisions of California's Education Code by using the SDSU name in the title for a private development.
SoccerCity representatives, who were invited to be part of this story but have not yet committed, say SDSU West tricked voters into signing the petition.
The suit is the latest twist in a vicious mudslinging battle that will likely continue all the way until the November election. And it is particularly interesting in that until recently, FS Investors and SoccerCity have been courting SDSU West to partner with their proposal.
Clearly that courting is now over.
Tom Shepard is a campaign strategist for SDSU West and he joined me on the phone to discuss the lawsuit and campaign.
Initial Thoughts on the Lawsuit
"My first thought was it's an acknowledgement that the FS Investors group realizes that their initiative is going to lose and they're moving towards Plan B, which is to try to keep the SDSU West initiative off the ballot. I assume they must have anticipated there would be negative reaction by voters to the fact that they're trying to eliminate the only choice that exists to their project and must have factored that in and realized they didn't have a chance of succeeding on their own and had to do something."
Chances the Lawsuit Will Succeed
"The lawsuit itself is just plain stupid and frivolous, the points they are making are simply not correct. The election code and the education code specifically provides for use of an institution name on a measure like this and, other than their attorney's making some money by filing a lawsuit I can't imagine what makes them think there are any prospects for success here."
Hundreds of Millions of Dollars At Stake
"FS has a lot of money at stake here they've invested a fair amount in getting this far and they stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars if they can convince voters to support their initiative, so I suppose with stakes that high it shouldn't be surprising they are engaging."
Certain FS Attorney's Stand On Shaky Legal Ground?
"Yes. We looked at all those issues when City Councilman Scott Sherman's memo came out. We thoroughly researched them and there's no basis in either the election or education code for making that claim."
If Soccer City Comes Up Short, Let's Make Sure SDSU West Doesn't Either. New Strategy?
"Yes, I think that's their strategy now . They did extensive polling last month and we don't have access to the results, but I think what you're seeing now is a coming to terms with the fact that their Soccer City initiative is dead on arrival at this point, and the best they can hope for is to defeat our measure or keep it off the ballot. And then cut some sort of a deal with the city after both measures go down."