Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why I've delayed writing about Cheryl Cox's support for Dan Forster

I think I'm suffering from Cheryl Cox fatigue. No matter how many times Cheryl Cox behaves as if the rules don't apply to her, I still get taken by surprise. When will we get a rest?

Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox's "character" campaign caused a young man in the previous Chula Vista mayor's administration to be charged with five felonies for taking two hours off of work without filing a leave slip before he left the office.

And very recently she helped fire city manager David Garcia for perusing the Pamela Anderson webpage during work hours.

I understand that Cheryl Cox is corrupt. I just don't understand why she doesn't try harder to pretend she's not corrupt.

Chula Vista mayor defends her chief of staff
Forster helped other agency on city time
By Tanya Sierra
November 21, 2008

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox's chief of staff is doing consulting work for his previous employer on city time – with the permission of the mayor.

Three councilmen said the practice in unacceptable, but Cox said she supports her chief of staff, Dan Forster, as he helps out the North Slope Borough, the government agency he once worked for in Alaska.

“I can tell you that Dan is a dedicated employee,” Cox said. “An hour or so a month helping out another governmental agency is part of Dan's track record.

“He's always there when I need him.”

Councilmen Steve Castaneda, Rudy Ramirez and John McCann said Forster should not be using city time and city equipment to carry out personal consulting work.

Dan Forster
Position: Chief of staff for Mayor Cheryl Cox
Salary: $123,748 a year. Also receives a $4,800 a year car allowance and a benefits package of about $50,000.
Age: 58
Family: Married, two children
Education: Bachelor's and master's degree in urban planning from University of Washington; master of public administration from Harvard.
Experience: More than 25 years in public administration, land and resources, development projects, planning, and program design and implementation.

...Forster, who earns $124,000 a year at the city, said he felt an obligation to help his former employer find a replacement after he left in 2006. He also said he wanted to finish an oil and gas project he started there.

Forster said he traveled to Alaska on his own time for projects but was in contact with officials on Chula Vista's time via e-mail and phone.

[Blogger's note: So why wasn't City Manager David Garcia allowed to use his own time to look at a computer? He worked plenty of nights, and was authorized to take time off during the day as compensation.]

...Cox hired Forster from his job as deputy director of planning in North Slope Borough, in the Arctic territory of northwest Alaska, because of his land-use background, she said.

Forster received written permission from Cox to do the consulting work for his former employer between Sept. 1, 2007, and Aug. 31, 2008, but the city's Internet and e-mail policy prohibits employees from operating a business through the city's Internet link. Forster is still consulting. He and Cox said he is “weaning” North Slope from its dependence on him...

City e-mails show Forster was leading a recruiting effort for a new deputy director of planning for the North Slope Borough. He also played a significant role in setting up an oil and gas forum in Alaska, which he also attended.

Excerpts from city e-mails show that while he was in his Chula Vista office, Forster:

> Received lengthy letters and reports from a North Slope Borough official for the oil and gas forum via e-mail at 10:41 a.m. Oct. 31, 2007.
> Tried accessing large reports from a document distribution server.
> Worked on recruiting a replacement for his old post, including
offering to drive to Las Vegas to attend a job fair. “Let's hope
we can find someone earlier but in the event we can't this is an
option, and is drivable from San Diego,” he said in an e-mail
he sent at 10:35 a.m. Nov. 13, 2007...

He said he only received pay when asked to travel, which he said amounted to about $10,000 plus expenses. He did not provide documentation. Calls to North Slope Borough officials were not returned yesterday...

Forster said he traveled to Alaska four times since 2007. State law does not require him to disclose the amount he was paid because it was from a government agency...

[Blogger's note: Of course, the public is entitled to the information through a public records request.]

Two years ago, when Cox was running for mayor, she objected to an aide to then-Mayor Steve Padilla doing noncity work on city time. The city worker was photographing Cox and her guests at a fundraiser. The incident led to a county grand jury investigation.

[Blogger's note: The incident led to five felony indictments. Cheryl Cox clearly supported the efforts of District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to play dirty tricks on her behalf. The worker who took two hours off pled guilty to a lesser charge; the justice system was abused for Cheryl Cox's political gain. But that wasn't all. The prosecutor in the case, Patrick O'Toole, also went after another opponent of Cheryl Cox, Steve Castaneda.]

In September, City Manager David Garcia was fired over his personal Internet use at work.

Castaneda said Forster's consulting work was brought to his attention earlier this year by then-City Attorney Ann Moore. She learned about his Alaska work when a citizen activist requested Forster's e-mails.

“She told me she was concerned about the fact that e-mails existed and that there were more than just a few of them,” Castaneda said. “I'd like to find out exactly what the scope of all this is, understand why this is permitted and if it legitimately is permitted, I want to start a process to unpermit it, immediately.”

[This page contains a link to Dan Foster documents.]

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