Does Councilman Ryan Know His Brother May Profit from Quail Brush Work?

Joe Spencer: “Shock is about the only word I could use to describe the moment I realized that Hal Ryan had agreed to work with Cogentrix.”

Read John Ryan's response to this letter:

To the editor:

served the community of Santee for 20 years as a member of the .  First elected in 1990, Hal Ryan completed five terms in office until leaving in 2010. Having served the community for that many years, one would think that he cares a great deal about this fine city. One would never suspect that Hal Ryan was a supporter of the Quail Brush Power Plant

Yet the signs point to the fact that he actually does support the power plant, and has a deal with Cogentrix to provide parking during construction.
In doing some research on the project, I came across a report with a map included in it. This is the link to that report. (Also attached as a PDF.)
If you scroll down to page four you will see a map labeled "FIGURE A Construction Traffic Distribution - Employee Traffic."  On that map I noticed that an offsite crew parking lot was noted on Mission Gorge Road.  I was curious where that was, so I continued to see what information I could find.
I then came across another report with a detailed project description for the Quail Brush Power Plant.  This is the link to that report. (Also attached as a PDF)
If you use the arrow buttons and click to page 21 you will note at the very top of the page it identifies the location of the "temporary construction parking" to be located at 7927 Mission Gorge Road in the City of Santee.
My first thought was if the to draft a resolution stating their , then how in the world was Cogentrix making use of land in the City of Santee for their project? 

The next logical move was to "Google" the address. By doing so, I discovered that address was the location for . It was obvious to me that the deal was not being orchestrated by the restaurant. I assumed that it was brokered by the owner of the land. However, I wanted to do my due diligence so my next step was to contact the owner of Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse.
I was told that the ownership of the restaurant had nothing to do with the land use.  Ownership was aware something was going on with the construction parking but that it would not interfere with business. 
Doing a bit more research led me to find that the land ownership was listed as Davisson Trust, and more importantly, that the executor of the trust is former Santee City Councilman Hal Ryan.
Shock is about the only word I could use to describe the moment I realized that Hal Ryan had agreed to work with Cogentrix. The one-time Vice-Mayor of Santee turned his back on the community that voted him into office on five separate occasions over 20 years.  The same man who served on the Mission Trails Regional Task Force now seems not to care if a . 
I would like to know just how much money Cogentrix paid the Davisson Trust for the use of their land for this project.  I would also like to know what cut of that Hal Ryan gets, or if Cogentrix made a separate payment to Hal Ryan or his company.
The deal also leaves other questions.
Hal Ryan's brother John is one of the CURRENT members of the Santee City Council!  Are we to believe that had NO idea what his brother was up to?  Are we to believe that Hal Ryan wouldn't have a conversation about this with his brother John since John was now a member of the Santee City Council and certainly Cogentrix and the Power Plant were going to be a hot topic at some point?
When the in opposition of the Quail Brush Project, the Santee Patch quoted Councilman as saying "This is the first time I can recall in 27 years living in Santee that no one can be found that's in favor of a project." Family members excluded, I guess. 
Is it possible that John Ryan did NOT know that his brother was a part of this deal with Cogentrix?  Did any of the other current City Councilmen know about it? 

After all, Hal served on the City Council with three of the four other current members at one point or another so one can assume that he had some sort of relationship with them.  The only person that Hal Ryan never served with is . That being said, he obviously knows Rob McNelis well enough that he made a contribution to his campaign in 2010. That's according to this article in the Santee Patch:

So the question is: Did any of them know of this deal that Hal Ryan was involved in with Cogentrix? More importantly, why did a man who served the community for 20 years turn his back on the people of Santee for a payday from Cogentrix?
It appears that Cogentrix is like a computer virus that you know is screwing your computer up but you have to keep digging to find what hidden files the virus has attached itself to.  Once we find all the hidden files, perhaps we can get rid of the Cogentrix Virus.

Read more about the Quail Brush project

Doug Curlee May 15, 2012 at 06:26 PM
that still does not give either of you the right to deliberately blacken the reputation of a good man and a good businessman just because he MAY not agree with your position on the power plant. for all i know, hal is against the power plant..i haven't asked him.. obviously, you haven't either.. he's a businessman doing business..and it's frankly none of YOUR business what he does with his property.. stop trying to force people to take sides by underhanded tactics, joe.. doug
Joe Spencer May 15, 2012 at 06:37 PM
I really dont get you on this one Doug. Especially being a man of the media. You've thrown me here. What is known is that the man has an agreement on behalf of the trust he manages with Cogentrix in regards to this power plant. What is not known is if he receives any money either as a percentage of the deal made OR a direct seperate payment. That is why the question was asked. Since it is fact that Cogentrix made this deal with the trust that Hal is in charge of, then how exactly is is blackening his reputation by speaking out about it here? Facts are Facts...I'm not creating them as I go along. It becomes newsworthy when this man was on the city council for 20 years putting the best interests of the city first and then suddenly when not on the council it APPEARS he puts his own and/or his clients interests first ahead of the community. While in business he has EVERY right to do so...when it comes to an issue like this power plant that will affect the community its a shame that he did.
Frank Ferraro May 15, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I believe your article is very appropriate. Mr. Ryan does have the right to do anything he wants with his property, but he should be called out on this. I hope the few thousand a month that he generates was worth ruining his reputation in Santee. Dianne and Mary must be personal friends of his to be defending this, and to call you out on a decision you made about you childrens schooling is quite disgusting. It just illustrates how embarrassed and shameful they must feel now that Mr. Ryan has mud all over his face. Keep up the good work. There are many of us here on the west end that appreciate what you and the patch are doing.
Dianne May 15, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I don't know either of the Ryan's. I do, however, know a charlatan when I see one...motives mean a lot to me. Here you have a person questioning another's moral compass when their own motivation can easily be drawn into question. This is based not just in the self-serving ways that they use these boards to create vitriol...but also on the way they treat people in the REAL world. Many people on these boards have had dealings with Mr. Spencer in real life. He talks out of both sides of his mouth on here, praising posts that are supportive as "well said" and degrading those who don't with condescension, web stalking, and name calling. Yet he speaks often of "respect" and the healthy exchange of differing views." He is shamelessly self promoting and ego-centric. He has actually made a difference for none of the issues he's stirred the pot on. All hat, no cowboy.
Dianne May 15, 2012 at 08:54 PM
By the way, people who are actually TRULY concerned about this power plant not coming to Santee would be wise to distance yourself from Joe. His "support" is already hurting the effort by creating a cloud of smoke around the real issues. People on the outside looking in don't see a community united...thanks to Mr. Spencer they see a community divided. But, I'm sure if there's a way to get himself on KUSI or to have someone nominate him for an award out of all this, he'll find it.
Mary May 15, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Mr Ferraro, I also have no knowledge of the Ryan family, you, Dianne, or Mr Spencer, but I find your comments to be an example of and characteristic “good ol’ boy’s club” rhetoric. Your belief that I am embarrassed or feel some sort of shame and am quite disgusting seems to be typical of the approach men take when confronted with open-minded women. It is my sincere hope that Mr Ryan DOES NOT believe or feel that your judgment of him is shared by many Santee residents. Mr Spencer’s decision about his child’s schooling is something he brought up and announced to anyone that would listen. When I inquired about the fairness of his choice he went into overdrive. I believe his behavior to be emblematic of someone confronted with facts that their actions defy the normal test of justice.
Frank Ferraro May 15, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Mary, we have a huge corporation trying to put a power plant next to a school and you are personally attacking someone trying to uncover some of the underhanded things that are going on. I don't care one lick if Mr. Spencer is a horrible person. To me, he did research and wrote an article (presumably for free) in order to combat this issue.
Joe Spencer May 16, 2012 at 07:45 AM
Dianne... How do you know what my motives are? You can speculate what they are...but you have no clue what they are. You say "many" people on these boards have had dealings with me in "real life". I sure don't recognize many. Even with the "hidden identities" I think I can count on one hand the number of people that I've "had dealings with". But I guess that qualifies as "many". Perhaps you are one of them who knows. It seems you have a personal dislike of me and have made that very clear on the posts about smoking....the posts about Junior Seau's brain...and now this post. You have this issue about media coverage or recognition I receive and act as though I have some magical power or influence. Newsflash...I could beg KUSI KNSD or any other station for coverage of whatever...and unless THEY find it newsworthy its not getting covered. I could beg people to nominate me for every award known to man...but unless the organization and those involved think I DESERVE the award...I will not get it. So now you are the expert on how people on the outside view the community? You've had hundreds or thousands of people contact you to discuss how Joe Spencer makes the community look divided? Really?
Joe Spencer May 16, 2012 at 07:58 AM
Mary... You seriously played the gender card? "The typical approach men take when confronted with open-minded women"? Perhaps you should go back and review your posts about my daughters schooling....you were fairly hostile in some of them telling me to take my daughter and put her back in the Lakeside School District where she belongs. Now we have a man who spoke up in support of my findings...and you go off topic and accuse him of having a good ol boys club mentality. Why because he disagreed with you? Or because he supported me? Just like you accuse the Santee Patch editor of favoring me. It just seems you have a problem with any person who offers their support to me.
Joe Spencer May 16, 2012 at 08:02 AM
Frank: Thanks for the support. I'll be the first to admit I can rub some the wrong way...but thats because I stick to my guns on things and don't give up. I don't play the politically correct game either. I want to make a difference and the only way to do that is to not be afraid to take a stand. Yes the article was done for free...I am a frequent contributor to this site.
Joe Spencer May 16, 2012 at 08:12 AM
As a note to Mary and Dianne in particular....take note of the statistics of this blog: The following have made posts on this very blog in SUPPORT of me directly or at least my findings: Earlene Larry James Santee Homeowner Rudy Lorrie John Tracy Frank The only ones to disagree and attack me for it are my usual fan club of Dianne and Mary. And of course Doug who usually disagrees with most of my postings as well but at least he doesnt make it personal. But yet it's just those three who have chimed in against it. So Mary you questioned me about my supporters last night...but maybe it should be me who asks where the folks are who agree with you.
Mary May 16, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Mr Ferraro - If you look at other missives I have written and this subject on the Patch you will see that I too am against the proposal of the Quail Brush peaker plant. My suggestions have been to go after the science and methodology used to back up the companies position for need and placement of the proposed plant. I too am a homeowner in Santee and worry about the pollution Santee residents will have to endure especially during the summer months. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that the plant would probably run non-stop during summer months due to the air-conditioning needs. Did the air standard tests that are cited in documents and studies actually define the Santee area air quality in the summer months? It needs to be determined if what they will emit, would push our air quality to unhealthy levels. I think we all know the answer. My position has always been to fight a wrong with facts, not insinuations and supposition. Our sitting councilman responded to Mr. Spencer’s answering his preposterous allegations of possible wrong-doing by both he and the remaining Santee City Council members. Mr Spencer came back with the response that our councilman was too defensive so there must be more to the story. I’m sorry, but I refuse to standby and watch Mr Spencer tear down Santee’s elected officials without putting up a fight. The entire city council voted against the Quail Brush proposal which is what I believe was the correct position to take.
Mary May 16, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Mr Spencer - You can call it the gender card if you want, it was simply my opinion after working in the business world for many years that is dominated by men. When men are aggressive in the business world it is considered an attribute, but let a woman be assertive or aggressive and she is believed by men to be untactful and vicious. It’s OK because women understand that it will take a couple more generations for equality to be a reality, but we have patience. Just every once in a while women need to remind everyone that the problem still exists. You bring up the issue of your daughter’s schooling and say “I” want her “BACK in the Lakeside School District where she belongs.” First off, IF I remember everything you posted on the subject, you have indicated that you have lived in Lakeside for over 12 years, your daughter is 9 years old and has always attended Santee schools. So there is no BACK. Secondly, it is and has been your choice for whatever reason to live in Lakeside for her entire life. Most children attend school in the district where their family lives and pays property taxes either through homeownership or rent. They are able to move around to schools within their own district without any financial impact to that district. You made the choice of where she should go to school by choosing Lakeside as your choice of living arrangements. These too are the FACTS.
Mary May 16, 2012 at 01:47 PM
There are many who have stated on other Patch articles that they find it useless to argue with you, someone even citing Thomas Paine’s articulation “To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
Dianne May 16, 2012 at 02:55 PM
So Joe, what was your motivation for writing this letter to the editor?
Dianne May 16, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Why don't you include Councilman Ryan in your "statistics". His response is pretty important don't you think?
Frank Ferraro May 16, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Diane and Mary - Can we get on topic? We understand you don't trust Joe. The question he posed is, "Why did a man who served the community for 20 years turn his back on the people of Santee for a payday from Cogentrix?". I'd rather talk facts, or dispute the facts. We're all on the same side.
Joe Spencer May 16, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Thank You Dianne for asking. Seriously mean that not being smart. Look...as you know some folks against my smoking ban in the parks urged me to fight a "real" battle in regards to the power plant. I decided that I should in fact show people that I am willing to fight for projects aside from the smoking issue. So I jumped in. I attended the Mission Trails meeting where I discovered the fact that Cogentrix was a sponsor for the Mission Trails Day event this weekend. I wrote a letter to the editor on that. I then learned that The San Diego River Park also received money from Cogentrix. As I read documents about Quail Brush I put together the fact that Hal Ryan was part of a deal to allow Cogentrix to use land he has control of for this Quail Brush project. At the very least...I say that it is horrible that a man that served the community so long....that the community trusted enough to vote him in 5 times....would turn against that community and help support this power plant. It was worth bringing that out just as I brought out Mission Trails Park for taking money from Cogentrix. It was worth asking Hal Ryan to offer up how much the trust received for this deal and what percentage of that he received....or IF he received a seperate payoff from Cogentrix. It was worth asking if his BROTHER who is a council member knew about this deal or if the other council members did. It was as simple as that.
Dianne May 16, 2012 at 09:10 PM
But I still don't understand your motive. Was it to help stop the plant? Was it to uncover a scandal? To put pressure on Hal Ryan not to do business with Cogentrix? To create a stir? What was the objective in one "simple" sentence?
Earlene May 16, 2012 at 09:21 PM
You make some very valid points.
Joe Spencer May 16, 2012 at 09:32 PM
For getting involved: My motive was to help stop the power plant. People asked for me to put my efforts towards that instead of the smoking ban and I agreed to do so. When I wrote the letter to the editor about the Quail Brush project manager being a hired gun of Cogentrix...and that her company has been a lobbyist for Cogentrix for several years....it was to get information out to the public about the face of Cogentrix. When I wrote the letter to the editor about Mission Trails receiving money from Cogentrix....it was to expose Mission Trails to the public...that the place everyone wants to protect...was sleeping with the enemy. When I wrote the letter to the editor about the trust that Hal Ryan oversees making a deal with Cogentrix it was to again bring that to light to the community and seek further answers.
Earlene May 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Facts we should remember: This power plant is proposed on San Diego City land; the possibility exists that its use will/will not affect Santee and the residents therein. If Council decides to fight Cogentrix on construction, even though a contract has supposedly been awarded, I'm confused as to why Santee isn't questioning the Conditional Use Permit issued by the City of San Diego, as required for construction of certain facilities which might be hazardous or harmful for the community. (Perhaps they have, but I find no mention of it on this blog.) Since I am unable to attend City Council meetings, does anyone know what major subjects might have been discussed prior to Council voting against it? Frankly, I heard nothing about this plant until PATCH began a blog regarding the protesters displaying their placards, signs and displeasure on TV. I also own a home in Santee and will openly state I am against this power plant and might add everyone I've spoken to about it is also AGAINST it.
Dianne May 17, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Following your logic sequence then, you believe that shedding light on Hal Ryan's possible support of Cogentrix based on his business dealings with them will help convince the San Diego City Council, the planning commission, and the CEC that building this plant on Santee's borders should not happen? I'm still struggling with the connection? This is part of your effort to help stop the plant?
Frank Ferraro May 17, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Earlene, does it matter to you if other Santee residents do business with Cogentrix?
Mary May 22, 2012 at 05:16 PM
In order to build the Quail Brush plant, the city of San Diego Planning Commission must re-zone the power plant site from open space to industrial and Cogentrix must get approval from the California Energy Commission. The Planning Commission will meet again around the end of June 2012 to decide whether to initiate an amendment to the East Elliot Community Planning Area, where the plant would be built. Send a letter of opposition to the San Diego Planning Commission telling them not to amend the East Elliot Community Planning Area and what your concerns are. MAKE THE VOICES OF SANTEE HEARD LOUD AND CLEAR. Stick to the facts of added emmissions in our valley, and the methodology used in Congentrix’s reports, i.e., where and what time of year the air quality samples were taken. According to their Websidt all project information for the commissioners needs to be submitted to the recording secretary in one of the following ways: 1. Mail: 1222 First Ave, 4th floor, San Diego, CA 92101 2. Email: planningcommission@sandiego.gov 3. Fax: (619) 321-3200 4. You may also contact the recording secretary at (619) 321-3208.
Frank Ferraro May 22, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Very well said James.
Earlene May 22, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Lorrie, its ALWAYS about M O N E Y; and with them the end justifies the means.
Earlene May 22, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Frank, I learned a long time ago none of us have any power or control over what another individual says, does or thinks.
Earlene May 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Thanks, Mary, this is exactly what all of us who are not in favor of this power plant should do to express our concerns as well as our displeasure. ...."United we stand....divided we fall."
Chris September 20, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I guess we'll know if Ryan's dirty if he suddenly votes in favor.


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