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.]

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox doesn't want an elected city attorney

San Diego Union Tribune, South edition
By Cheryl Cox, Mayor of Chula Vista
October 25, 2008

Do voters really want one more politician in Chula Vista?

[Blogger's response: The City Attorney already IS political in Chula Vista. The job of the appointed city attorney seems to be to make sure that the voters don't know what's going on behind closed doors, and to insist that conducting business as usual is perfectly legal. The city attorney's current job is to help elected officials do whatever they want to do by coming up with a legal justification and sticking to it, no matter how much it violates the letter or the spirit of the law. We learned how much you like to operate in secrecy, Cheryl, from your shenanigans when you were a board member in Chula Vista Elementary School District. We just don't like it.]

Proposition Q would create more politicians and more politics. Proposition Q is bad for Chula Vista.

Does turning the position of Chula Vista's city attorney into a political one make better government? No.

Does it make what a city attorney does more transparent? No.

Does it make the position more accountable and less corruptible? No.

Chula Vista's city attorney is an appointed professional whose duty is to protect Chula Vista taxpayers by providing legal advice to the mayor, City Council and city staff. While saying that the city attorney should be more responsible to the electorate sounds like a good idea, it unwisely burdens the city attorney with representing a consistently shifting idea of what the “public interest” really is.

[Protect the taxpayers? Is that what you call the Laurie Madigan deal pulled off by the law firm, Stutz Artiano Shinoff & Holtz, that has represented both you and Ms. Madigan? And how about protecting the people? You weren't doing that when you authorized the expansion of a power plant near Otay Elementary, and a big giveaway to Gaylord.]

The city attorney's primary role is to represent and advise the municipal government. This initiative would create a city attorney whose primary role is to get re-elected, regardless of the impact of campaign politics on the best interests of the city and the increased possibility that officials and departments might consider hiring, at taxpayer expense, their own legal counsel to represent them.

[Come on, Cheryl. The appointed city attorney knows very well that his/her job is to get the people in power reelected.]

The City Council, city departments and agencies rely on fair, objective and nonpolitical advice from the city attorney. Proposition Q isn't about good governance. It puts in place a politician with a built-in incentive to grandstand, litigate and use the office for political purposes.

We should not replace a competent professional with a politician. For one thing, politicians have to solicit campaign contributions. Contributions from those with an ax to grind?

[Your appointed city attorney has to grind your axes, Cheryl, and those of the entire city council.]

An elected city attorney has nothing to do with the size of a city's population. It sacrifices competent, professional legal opinion for being good at politics.This would not be an independent voice! It would be linked inextricably to the political influences of special interests and electioneering.

[Heavens! Do you mean that someone might point out to you the negatives of something you want to do? Horrors! Keep your hands tightly clamped to your ears, Cheryl.]

If Chula Vista elects a politician as its city attorney, the city is in trouble.

Has an elected city attorney worked well for San Diego? Ticket guarantees, pension underfunding...

[Pension underfunding??!! Okay. Stop right there, Cheryl. Casey Gwinn, the city attorney who was involved in the pension underfunding scam was sitting solidly in the lap of Mayor Dick Murphy. He was exactly the person that city officials wanted; he sat silent when he should have given negative feedback. He was just your cup of tea. It's city attorneys like Mike Aguirre that give you the shakes, because they really do represent the people.]

...and millions wasted on politically motivated lawsuits? Proposition Q doesn't restrict this type of behavior. It allows an elected city attorney to file lawsuits without prior council approval.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said that he has “never asked Mr. [City Attorney Mike] Aguirre for anything other than good, timely, well-researched legal advice. To this date, I have not been able to get it. Mr. Aguirre continues to wait until the last minute to put out legal advice, and it's frequently in conflict with what he's told us before. . . . I can't get legal advice that is really necessary when you run a $3 billion corporation.”

[Jerry Sanders was playing politics when he said this. But I think that we should give him his own appointed attorney. I think cities should have two city attorneys, one for the public and one for the officials. And I think the public should hear what BOTH the elected and the appointed attorneys have to say about each issue. This would put pressure on officials to make good choices. An appointed attorney thinks his job is to protect officials from accountability.]

Today, Chula Vista's appointed city attorney doesn't have a vote. He's not the sixth member of the council. And he (or she) shouldn't be.

[An elected city attorney wouldn't get a vote either, Cheryl. Why do you misrepresent the facts?]

The piece above was written by Cheryl Cox, mayor of Chula Vista. Maura Larkins wrote the responses.]

Does Chula Vista need TWO city attorneys?

I suggest that cities need two city attorneys--one to give honest, accurate legal advice, and the other to defend officials.

The voters of Chula Vista want the city attorney to look out for them, and not just for elected officials. Shamefully, Cheryl Cox and other officials want to keep the status quo, in which the city attorney's job has been to help officials do whatever they want, and get away with it. Alternatively, the attorney tells the council what to do, and acts as a de facto city council without being elected.

Election of city attorney to add to political storm
By Tanya Sierra

November 8, 2008

CHULA VISTA – In June 2010, the political landscape in Chula Vista will change again, this time in the office of the city attorney – which some say will be a powerful position at City Hall.

Voters said clearly on Tuesday that they want to elect their city attorney, the way it is done in San Diego, Los Angeles, Long Beach and other cities.

The elected city attorney, though, will be stepping into a political tempest.

Chula Vista's four council members and the mayor have said they do not believe that politicizing the City Attorney's Office is in the best interest of the city.

Councilman Rudy Ramirez, who debated the issue in community forums several times, said it will be difficult to hold the elected city attorney accountable.

“We are so dependent – as nonattorneys – on that advice for a lot of the decisions we make and the direction that our city goes in,” Ramirez said. “We're at the mercy of that person and that person's advice.”

Community members who lobbied for an elected city attorney say City Hall needs accountability, and that will come with an attorney elected by the people.

No residency requirements will be placed on the position, so an attorney who lives in North County could run for the office.

“Hopefully the person that runs does so because they respect and honor the law and truly represent the people and city of Chula Vista,” Councilman Steve Castaneda said.

As with City Council candidates, those interested in the city attorney position can take out nomination papers with the City Clerk's Office 113 days before the election.

Last month, Chula Vista resident John Moot, an outspoken attorney who is a partner in a San Diego law firm, said he would run for the office. This week, after the proposition passed, he said he would have to wait and see.

“A lot depends on how this economy plays out,” Moot said in an e-mail. “Fortunately, the election is not for two years and there is time to see where both the economy and the City Council is in a year or so.”

Having Moot, a former Chula Vista councilman, in office could further divide the council.

Moot has been an vocal critic of Castaneda and is closely aligned with Mayor Cheryl Cox, even though he is a Democrat and she is a Republican.

In the meantime, officials must decide whether to make interim City Attorney Bart Miesfeld permanent until the election. Miesfeld has been filling in since Ann Moore retired this summer, saying she wanted to be an attorney, not a politician.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Patrick Judd is turned out by new CVESD board member Russell Coronado, but Judd's pal Bertha Lopez wins in SUHSD

Russell Coronado brings a breath of fresh air to Chula Vista Elementary School District



20-year incumbent Patrick Judd failed to keep his board seat in Chula Vista Elementary School District in spite of the efforts of Aurora Murillo-Clark to split the vote.

Clearly, voters had had enough of Mr. Judd, who was recently forced out of his job as superintendent of Mountain Empire Unified School District due to sexual harassment charges.

Precincts Reporting: 100.0%


Spoiler Norberto Salazar, however, was successful in splitting the vote for seat 2. Salazar, who can't seem to open his mouth without praising former San Diego police chief David Bejarano, managed to get his idol elected for the first time. Bejarano got his position on the board through appointment.


Precincts Reporting: 100.0%



Patrick Judd's obedient servant Bertha Lopez, however, will apparently carry his torch to Sweetwater Union High School District. This will give Bertha Lopez' cronies on the CVESD board the opportunity to appoint her replacement, instead of allowing the voters to choose. Obviously, the voters' top choice is ARCHIE MC ALLISTER. The board should either appoint Mr. Mc Allister or hold a new election.

Precincts Reporting: 100.0%
BERTHA J. LOPEZ - 42.99%



Pearl Quinones kept her SUHSD seat, as expected.

Precincts Reporting: 100.0%

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Has the Lincoln Club taken over Chula Vista?

Former CVESD board member Cheryl Cox has brought strife to Chula Vista since she began her race for mayor in 2006

Voice of San Diego
Oct. 31, 2008

...During the past couple of weeks, the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council has spent a total of $31,449 supporting Democratic council candidates Pamela Bensoussan and incumbent Councilman Steve Castaneda, according to campaign finance disclosure statements. The San Diego Democratic Party, meanwhile, has spent more than $10,000 supporting Bensoussan in October, the statements show.

The late spending by organized labor and Democrats is an effort to keep pace with outlays in Chula Vista throughout the campaign season by the Republican Party and the Lincoln Club of San Diego County. The GOP this year has spent $43,072 on behalf of Republicans Scott Vinson and Russ Hall, while the Lincoln Club has plunked down $47,543.

The money comes in the form of independent expenditures and so-called "member communications," missives sent only to members of a certain organization. These avenues allow parties, groups and individuals to collect money far beyond the city's individual contribution limits and pour them into campaigns for or against local candidates or initiatives, as long as certain rules are followed.

This cash-infusion, which is a significant step up from previous years, represents an attempt by both labor and business to influence the direction of San Diego County's second largest city as it struggles through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history.

Long considered the economic and political center of the South Bay, Chula Vista's coffers ballooned during the past decade as explosive growth in its eastern suburbs came to symbolize the real estate boom.

The city has gained even greater prominence countywide since 2006 when Tennessee-based Gaylord Entertainment unveiled a proposal to build a massive hotel and convention center on the city's bay front. More recently, Chula Vista has ascended to front-runner status as a possible site for a new Chargers stadium.

It has also become the epicenter of the real estate meltdown, with several zip codes that rank among the highest in foreclosure rates in the county. Tumbling with the city's real estate values have been its sales tax revenues. As a result, the city will have to cut $6.3 million out of this year's $143-million budget, and as much as $19 million out of its fiscal 2010 budget.

A year ago, former City Manager David Garcia said the city was facing insolvency due in large part to its profligate spending during the housing boom. Garcia, who was ousted earlier this year, was the second city manager to lose his job within two years.

The GOP and its backers want a business-friendly atmosphere for Gaylord and other bay-front developers. The Democrats and organized labor want the jobs created by new development to be union jobs.

"You cannot understate the importance of the city of Chula Vista and its prosperity to the overall health of the county," said T.J. Zane, the executive director of the Lincoln Club.

Evan McLaughlin, the Labor Council's political director said the prosperity Zane is speaking of is one sided, adding that business interests can no longer be allowed to rule the roost in Chula Vista.

"Under the old way of doing things, the bay front would be done with no one looking out for the quality of the jobs -- only the interests of the developer," McLaughlin said. "Environmentalists have become very active in Chula Vista, as well as the labor community."

Perhaps partly because of all this campaign money and pressure, Chula Vista City Hall has become a snake pit in recent years. Meetings of the five-member City Council, which is made up of two Democratic and two Republican councilmen, and Republican Mayor Cheryl Cox -- often devolve into open and angry warfare over the city's direction.

Zane said the Lincoln Club first began to step up its spending in Chula Vista during Cox's successful 2006 mayoral run against incumbent Steve Padilla.

Long-time Chula Vista community activists and political watchers Peter and Susan Watry said they've felt they city's political climate change for the worse since that election. And they say they are appalled by the spending this year.

"We couldn't believe how much money the Lincoln Club was pouring in last spring," Peter Watry said. "Now the labor people are responding."

Susan Watry, who supported Cox in 2006, but now calls the mayor "divisive," said Tuesday's election is a battle for the "very soul of Chula Vista."

John McCann, hit man? Nasty attacks on Marty Block are in the media, not face-to-face

California Progress Report
78th District
by David Glanzer

Marty Block, the Democratic candidate hoping to win the seat being vacated by termed out Republican Shirley Horton... has a long educational resume and continues to be a tireless advocate for youth. He is currently President of the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees, a former professor, dean and director at San Diego State University and a former President of the San Diego County Board of Education. His wife, as well, is an education advocate and is a teacher with the San Diego Unified School District.

...Conspicuously absent from each community gathering, however, was Block’s Republican opponent John McCann. The statement read each time by the moderator for whatever group was holding the assembly was similar: “He hasn’t replied, but we hope he’ll show up.” And at nearly every event, Marty Block was left sitting opposite an empty chair, the only visage of McCann was a cardboard name placard placed in his stead.
...So upset was one group who was cited in a McCann hit piece, the Eastlake-Bonita Democratic Club, that their president Vivian Sherrill wrote letters to the editors of several local newspapers. In those letters she said, in part:

“Republican candidate John McCann is deliberately distorting the truth… he is using the Eastlake-Bonita Democratic Club to do it… he incorrectly quotes Marty Block … and I know this because I am President of the Club, and chaired the event.”

She continues:

“…incidentally, Mr. McCann did not even attend the event…McCann, it seems, is more interested in slinging mud than in getting his facts straight… Mr. McCann should be ashamed of himself.”

If that were all, it would be enough.

But the McCann camp even went so far as to claim that Marty Block was weak on crime. Another perplexing accusation, as Marty Block is endorsed by the San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA), The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of San Diego County, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Peace Officers Research Association and others. Is the McCann camp saying that San Diego Law Enforcement is weak on crime?

This so angered the SDPOA that they issued a stinging condemnation of McCann and went so far as to contribute to a television spot that is currently airing on San Diego network stations...