Why are there calls for Investigations?
The basis of most of the inquiries about possible corruption in this Issue section are based upon a belief that certain state laws require municipalities to function for the best interests of the public at large and not for the benefit of individuals.
Article XI, SEC. 6 of the State Constitution: The Legislature shall have no power to give or to lend, or to authorize the giving or lending, of the credit of the State, or of any county, city and county, city, township or other political corporation or subdivision of the State now existing, or that may be hereafter established, in aid of or to any person, association, or corporation, whether municipal or otherwise, or to pledge the credit thereof, in any manner whatever, for the payment of the liabilities of any individual, association, municipal or other corporation whatever; nor shall it have power to make any gift or authorize the making of any gift, of any public money or thing of value to any individual, municipal or other corporation whatever;
The Brown Act is also an important law requiring that all public business be conducted in public at meetings noticed to the public. Lobbying is allowed by individuals so most of the e-mail, phone and other communications between developers and elected officials probably would be considered lobbying.
The California Public Records Act is also mentioned as a number of people have had difficulty getting copies of material that should be available to the public. A lawsuit was recently filed against the city for not making records available to the public.
Another important document not mentioned by CVBGA is the Chula Vista City Charter, which governs how the city is run. A Union Tribune story stating that the city had spent $411,261 defending employees and former employees in ethics complaints before the Fair Political Practices Commission (footnote #49 in the letter by CVFBG) quotes the Chula Vista city attorney as saying "We have no choice but to hire private attorneys to perform whatever type of legal work is necessary," Moore said. She said the work can't be done in-house "because our office represents the city, not the individual employees or officials." This appears to disagree with a quote from the Chula Vista City Charter, section 503 City Attorney: Powers and Duties :(b) Represent and appear for the City and any city officer or employee, or former City officer or employee, in any or all actions and proceedings in which the City or any such officer or employee in or by reasons of his or her official capacity, is concerned or is a party;
The state provides a general overview of the duties and functions of city government at this website: http://www.guidetogov.org/ca/state/overview/municipal.html
I have been told frequently that five or six families historically have run the city of Chula Vista. These families have held public office and manipulated what has occurred in the city. The incredible growth in population that the city of Chula Vista has experienced in the last ten years has brought us to the point where this system is beginning to be challenged by the large number of new residents in the city. The favored developers who have made a fortune from this growth have been very generous with their campaign contributions, funneling thousands of dollars through organizations such as the Lincoln Club, Pacific Southwest Realtors Association, etc. to candidates who have consistently voted for their projects. People are starting to notice this and becoming concerned.
They are now starting to question these relationships and asking for investigations. Elected officials should, one would think, welcome the investigations in order to establish their innocence and reassure the public.
The Charter Review Commission has been trying for over a year to come up with a revision to the city's term limits law. The mayor and Councilman Rindone who are opposed to any changes have lobbied them vigorously. I attended the December 10 meeting of the Commission and took video. Only four of the 7 members of the commission were present and four members of the public. There were some interesting occurrences, which highlight how controversial this is in Chula Vista, and how hard the people in power will fight to stay in power.
The city lawyer advising the commission started by explaining state law and the two rough drafts he had come up with as a result of the commission's past discussions. One option would not be retroactive and the other would be. The first would allow existing councilpersons to finish existing terms and one more term. They would not be allowed to run again. The second one would be worded the same way except a date would be inserted so that it would apply retroactively to other persons who had already served two consecutive terms. They would not be able to run again for office at some future time. video
The chairperson, Humberto, mentioned how Councilman Jerry Rindone had come to speak to the Commission expressing his concerns about the proposed change. Humberto insisted that there was nothing personal about this desire to change term limits. It is just the right thing to do. He mentioned how many other changes have been brought to the voters. It is time for this change to be placed on the ballot. Current law allows councilpersons to serve two consecutive terms and take off one year and run again. This has allowed Councilman Rindone to serve 16 years. If this change were to pass he could still run again and serve eight more years, but no more. He objects to this and the mayor agrees with him. video
Elizabeth explained her reason for wanting to eliminate the current loophole in the term limits law and even encouraged a retroactive version. She expressed well the fact that we now have a lot more people in Chula Vista and the east side is not being represented adequately. Humberto summarized that perhaps two versions should go to council-one retro active and one not. The council could decide which would go on the ballot. video
Jerry Scott spoke about why he supported term limits- even retroactive ones. Peter Watry brought up Shirley Horton who was mayor 6 years ago and is being termed out of the Assembly. The discussion illustrates the politics in Chula Vista. Humberto again mentions that this is not anything personal. It is either the right thing to do or not.video
The next video is interesting because a member expresses concerns about what goes on in politics in Chula Vista. Ron (Supervisor Cox's aide) expresses his opposition to all term limits. Humberto opines that state terms are too short but the city is different. The most interesting thing is that it took six months to get this meeting, but 10 minutes to 5 (The meeting started at 4PM.) the assistant city attorney mentions that there is another meeting in the room at five, and they have to end soon. It is obvious how intensely the politicians do not want this change. video
In the last video they finally vote on a non-retroactive version to go to the council for consideration, and the question is raised as to whether three votes is enough since there are seven on the Commission. I was told that in the past three votes has been enough, but this time the lawyer says he needs to research it. video