Chula Vista’s Flawed Appointment Process, Different Politicians, Same back rooms deals

Right Vu Right Vu 8 Comments

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Just a few short years ago (4 to be exact) the City of Chula Vista went through an appointment process to fill a seat that was vacated by Patty Davis due to illness. The process was similar to other appointments prior for Port Commissioner, but was deemed flawed by many in Chula Vista, including liberal politicians Pamela Bensoussan and Rudy Ramirez. As a matter of fact, they were both very outspoken in their arguments against that process and against the appointee, Patty Chavez, who was described as “hand picked by Mayor Padilla”. Oddly enough, Bob Castaneda, brother of Chula Vista Councilman (Republican-turned-Democrat) was so enraged by the appointment process used to appoint Chavez as well as Chavez herself, he penned an op ed piece for La Prensa just following her appointment calling out the process as a backroom deal and closed to the public.

So, we now have two sitting Councilmembers in Bensoussan and Ramirez, along with Steve Castaneda, brother of Bob Castaneda, as a Councilmember, in addition to Mayor Cheryl Cox who used the failed process against Padilla in her campaign platform, yet all four of them had no problem using this same “flawed” process as an acceptable means of making a temporary appointment to fill the Councilman John McCann’s seat who was called to active duty as an officer in the Navy Reserves. (This temporary replacement will be stepping down once McCann returns from Iraq next summer.) Why is it that Cox, Bensoussan, Ramirez, and Castaneda have all changed their tune this time around? Could it be that THEY have hand picked their candidate and are now okay with the method because it simply works to their advantage?

The only logical choice for filling this temporary vacancy was to use a method that was used by the City of Sunnyvale just a short while back for the exact same temporary appointment. The only difference in the Sunnyvale situation was that the Councilmembers in Sunnyvale were looking after what was best for its citizens, not what was best for their individual political careers, as the Chula Vista Mayor and Council has done.

That being said though, the decision has been made to use the old Chula Vista standby method, flawed or not, which resulted in 27 applicants for John McCann’s seat. Again, the Mayor and Council had an opportunity to make their choices publicly and give an explanation on what criteria was used to choose the finalists. But, they chose to do it the “Padilla way” and conceal what should have taken place in front of the citizens of Chula Vista, cameras rolling and all. The result – Mitch Thompson (Pro-Tax puppet of liberal Ramirez), Bill Hall (former Port Commissioner & Quintessential Insider), and Kevin O’Neil (Cox’s lapdog and apparent past campaign donor for the entire lot of them).

Who should be considered the best candidate to fill McCann’s shoes in his absence? To the trained eye (and just plain old somewhat intelligent individual) it should be obvious that Mitch Thompson and McCann do not share the same opinion when it comes to raising taxes. Thompson was the spokesman for prop A the $200 million dollar sales tax increase. McCann was the sole Councilmember to stand against Prop A, the increase in Chula Vista’s sales tax rate, and just under 68% of the voters in a mail-in ballot agreed with McCann. Therefore, one could argue that 68% of the voters do not agree with Thompson. Interestingly enough, however, it appears the rumor is that a deal has been struck with Thompson by Bensoussan and labor – in exchange for the appointment to the Council, Thompson will vote to put Padilla in as the new Port Commissioner. So, Bensoussan is one vote for Thompson and, lets face it, Ramirez will do whatever labor wants him to do, so there is vote number two. Would it be any surprise if Cox voted for Thompson too – after all he was Cox’s “voice” for Prop A, and I don’t see any reason for Castaneda to vote against Thompson either, he has to make labor happy right now too, since he is vying for the Mayor’s seat in June against Cox. With or without Cox’s vote, Thompson has a majority.

Next let’s look at Bill Hall, Chula Vista’s former Port Commissioner, who had to resign because of a potential conflict of interest the first time he was Port Commissioner. Hall, too, has been an advocate of Steve Padilla’s for the next Port Commissioner appointment, so labor would be okay with Hall in McCann’s seat. Bensoussan would probably swing over to Hall simply by realizing the pull that Hall has in the political world. The flip flopping Ramirez, again, would do whatever labor told him to do. And, Castaneda would probably have no objections to Hall either. Of course, Cox would still lose her battle to oust Padilla from the Port Commissioner race, but let’s be realistic – Cox doesn’t have any power as Mayor with three solid votes against her.

O’Neil, well, there’s really no reason to even go there. He is just a filler so that the Mayor can say she worked to get another option on the table. Ramirez was probably the second on the Council to pull his name – O’Neil apparently does a pretty decent job of raising money for Ramirez during his campaigns. But O’Neil is really a non-issue.

My vote would be to start the process over and get someone more in tune with McCann’s independent straight-forward big picture thinking. The two likely choices currently will result in Steve Padilla as the new Port Commissioner. Padilla was arguably the City’s worst Mayor ever. Padilla’s tenure was rocked by personal scandals and he was the only Mayor in Chula Vista’s almost 100 year history to be defeated for re-election.

Councilmembers Pamela Bensoussan and Rudy Ramirez should be true to their word from four years ago by scrapping the obvious back room deals of the appointment and have a fair and truly open process for the interim appointment of McCann’s seat. Unfortunately, Bensoussan in beholden to the Labor Unions and can’t be interrupted with details of moral consistency. The weak minded Rudy Ramirez is your typical politician and has a history of flip flop on issues more than a fish out of water. If you think Ramirez has been true to his word, then I have a bridge to sell you in Coronado. Hypocrisy seems to be rule at City Hall in Chula Vista.

If you would like to see the comments about the appointment process 4 years ago click on the links below:

http://www.laprensa-sandiego.org/archieve/2006/october06-06/cityhall.htm

http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20051222/news_3e22south111.html

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Comments 8

  1. “…he was the only Mayor in Chula Vista’s almost 100 year history to be defeated for re-election.”

    So we traded the city’s most incompetent mayor in history for the city’s second most incompetent mayor in history? Great.

  2. Might Thor – why pseudonyms? Doesn’t bode well for credibility. And, does anyone in politics not think (know?) ‘Right Vu’ is Ed Herrera – they guy spouting the “Sunnyvale Solution” as if Sunnyvale politicians are somehow organically smarter and more reasonable than folks in Chula Vista? I lived in Los Gatos. Sunnyvale isn’t so great.

    Beyond that – I was one of the 27 applicants for the council appointee position and wasn’t selected. I can’t even get a straight answer from the city clerk who did – or didn’t – give me one vote (obviously, I didn’t get two). Is the process flawed? I suppose. But the three that were nominated are well-qualified to serve. Are they the best? I don’t think so (I’m not a choice [stated with humility]). Are they partisan? Likely, but not unreasonably so. Will we get a good council member out of the deal? The jury is out, but we’ve got a good chance of getting a reasonable appointee which is better than no appointee at all. It just won’t be Ed’s guy or me. Oh, well.

    Everyone’s a critic if they don’t get their guy selected. It’s time to stop the name calling, city bashing and hand wringing. There will be plenty of time to do that in the 2010 election.

  3. Thanks, Paul, there will be a mixture of real bloggers and those with pseudonyms on the site. In many instances, those in political circles may feel “freer” to provide thought and opinion without jeopardizing their jobs and relationships. Their choice. My choice is to be open about my opinion, as I believe credibility is enhanced by being overt. The goal of SDRostra is to have a mix of the two…readers can discount what they want, of course. Also their choice.

    Only thing I will say on CV is that I don’t believe it meets Brown Act openness for the sitting council’s selections/nominees to not be disclosed. Someone may want to challenge that aspect. The votes can be submitted privately, but I believe they must then be disclosed at the public meeting.

  4. I agree with your Brown Act analysis. Seems abusive for the CV City Attorney to keep the sitting council members’ selections a secret. It only serves to raise suspicion of a back room deal. Of course, the individual members can disclose their choices at any time, too.

  5. Ed Herrera wrote me to state that he is not, in fact, Right Vu. I take him at his word. Big whoop.

    Russ Hall? (don’t think I won’t keep guessing – that’s the purpose of a pseudonym, isn’t it? To keep us guessing?)

  6. Paul, how do you know RV isn’t a compilation of people, like Deep Throat was supposed to be, until he fessed up, which means that RV could be more than one, until he fesses up, of course.

  7. The truth is – I have no idea who Right Vu is and it was wrong of me to imply it is any one person.

    Frankly, the information posted by anyone or group anonymously should be considered as gossip. My apologies to both Mr. Herrera and Mr. Hall for making the implication. It was meant as tongue-in-cheek. It read as foot-in-mouth.

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