Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Did Mayor Cox tell Najera to quit as Port Commissioner because he held a fundraiser for someone else?

Update to this story is HERE.

Najera Held Fundraiser for Cox Rival
Voice of San Diego
May 6, 2009

Mike Najera, a port commissioner who was abruptly asked to step down from his position by Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox on Monday, just told me he recently held a fundraiser for Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Castaneda, who is widely expected to challenge Cox when her term expires in 2010...

Steve Cushman, chairman of the port commission, said he's waiting to hear an explanation from Cox as to why she asked Najera to resign. Najera has been a "terrific commissioner" who works hard, never misses meetings and has done a great job, he said. Cushman said he called Cox to ask for an explanation but has not yet spoken to her.

Castaneda said Cox's leadership of the city has been disappointing and said he supports a change in leadership in the county's second-largest city. But he stopped short of saying he would be running against Cox for mayor...


Did Mayor Cox tell Najera to quit Port post?
By Tanya Sierra
San Diego Union-Tribune Staff Writer
May 5, 2009

CHULA VISTA — Chula Vista Port Commissioner Mike Najera said Mayor Cheryl Cox asked him to resign Monday, and he refused.

Cox gave Najera until noon Tuesday to resign or she would go to the media, the port commissioner said.

“I'm not sure of her motivation,” Najera said.

Cox said Tuesday she met with Najera to discuss her concerns but she would not elaborate.

Najera said Cox made her request during an 11 a.m. meeting Monday, which he thought was a catch-up session.

He recalled her saying, “'I just want to cut to the chase and I want you to resign. I want you to step down. I lost confidence in your ability to get the bayfront done,'” Najera said. “She said 'It's been two and a half years and it's not done yet.' I said 'You've been mayor for all this time as well, should you take part in the blame?'”

Chula Vista City Attorney Bart Miesfeld said the City Council can remove a Port District commissioner with a majority vote. It was not an item on Tuesday's City Council agenda.

Najera was first appointed in 2006 to fill the remainder of William Hall's term. He was reappointed for a full four-year term in 2007 and at the time vowed to transform the city's bayfront through development saying, “I want that land to be deep in the first phase of construction by the end of my term in 2011.”

Plans for the bayfront halted in November when for the second and final time Gaylord Entertainment dropped its plan to build a hotel and convention center. The failed deal was the latest in 35 years of attempts to develop the city's waterfront.

Bayfront projects are not in the hands of a sole port commissioner. Seven commissioners represent the five port cities of San Diego, Coronado, National City, Chula Vista and Imperial Beach.

“I think that over the 40-plus years that the port has been in existence, there have been numerous port commissioners who have represented Chula Vista and none of them have been able to accomplish any sort of development either,” Councilman Steve Castaneda said. “So, I'm not sure that we can lay any significant blame on Mr. Najera.”

Councilman Rudy Ramirez said he did not want to criticize Najera, but said he is unhappy with the slow progress on the Chula Vista bayfront.

“I'm dissatisfied overall with the progress that Chula Vista has been able to make with our port,” Ramirez said. “Nothing seems to get done over there and I'm concerned with that.”

One reason Cox could be upset, Najera said, is the proposed land swap between the Port District and Pacifica Companies, a development company interested in building a hotel and condominium development on the bayfront adjacent to where the Gaylord project was slated.

The port's board discussed the deal in closed session Tuesday, Port Commissioner Steve Cushman said.

“We are trying like crazy,” he said...

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