Councilman accused in conflict-of-interest case
Interim official says any violations were inadvertent
By Tanya Sierra, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 12:05 a.m.
CHULA VISTA — An interim Chula Vista city councilman is being accused of violating state conflict-of-interest laws when he served on the planning commission.
Derrick Roach, a private investigator and 79th Assembly District candidate, says Councilman Mitch Thompson bought property in the city’s redevelopment area while he was on the Chula Vista Planning Commission last year and voted on issues that affected parcels he owns.
Thompson is filling in for City Councilman John McCann, a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve who is serving in Iraq. McCann is hoping to return in the summer.
Thompson said any violations that may have occurred were inadvertent. He also said he provided a list of his property holdings to the City Attorney when he was appointed to the Planning Commission and City Council and kept the City Clerk’s office updated when he bought new property.
“Unfortunately I am not an expert in everything in dealing with a conflict of interest,” he said.
Thompson owns seven properties in Chula Vista. Four of them are in the city’s redevelopment area on the west end of town.
It is against the law for public officials to take votes on issues in which they have a financial interest.
Roach alleges Thompson violated the law on at least five occasions when he either voted on matters affecting his property or buying property within the redevelopment area while he was a planning commissioner.
Three votes between May and July 2009 include rezoning commercial property and making changes to a commercial project.
“This is essentially insider trading,” Roach said. “I think he thinks no one is going to call him on it.”
City Attorney Bart Miesfeld said he is looking into the matter.
Roach, who said he was acting on his own as a concerned resident of Chula Vista, later addressed the City Council on Tuesday afternoon about his concerns. Because the issue was not on the agenda, however, council members could not respond.
Roach said he forwarded his complaints to the state Attorney General’s Office, The District Attorney, the city’s Ethics Commission and the Fair Political Practices Commission.
Thompson served on the Planning Commission from March 3 to Sept. 29, 2009.
Tanya Sierra: (619) 293-1705 ; email@example.com