Journalism won’t die if you donate. Support Voice of San Diego today!
I don’t have as much time as I would like to focus on Chula Vista. Right now there is nothing short of a political cage match being waged for the future of that city.
Don’t believe me? Watch the video of the Sept. 30 City Council meeting here. I’ve watched probably hundreds of city councils listen to public comment and go back and forth. I’ve never seen anything where criminal acts were alleged, integrity impugned, public commenters shouted down and petty bickering like this.
The issue at hand: choosing a new city manager. Obviously, I’ve written a lot about the latest one.
In the meeting, the mayor opened by accusing City Councilman Steve Castaneda of divulging secret information about closed sessions where former City Manager David Garcia’s employment was discussed. She also accused him and two colleagues of already settling on a replacement for Garcia: Jim Sandoval, the city’s former planning director.
Then came public comment. The public has repeatedly raked Castaneda and Cox separately over the coals for various perceived injustices over the past several months. The two have become accustomed to taking it. But when one of the speakers last week started talking about Councilman John McCann, the Assembly-hopeful lost it and shouted him down. Cox ultimately cut off the councilman’s mic but the speaker had given up.
This act of cordiality to a constituent actually earned McCann praise from his colleague, Rudy Ramirez. Ramirez broke off the meeting at one point to complain that the mayor wasn’t doing her job because these badly behaved members of the public were talking about the process of the search for a new city manager and not the attributes that manager should have, which was supposed to be the topic at hand. Oh the horror.
After the meeting, Mayor Cheryl Cox sent me a letter explaining her position on the issue at hand. We posted the whole thing here. It’s only one side of the story and there are many. So if you have your own take, please send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyway, here’s here main point:
Recently, the Chula Vista City Council voted unanimously to select Scott Tulloch as Interim City Manager. I think he is a man of honor and integrity who has a wealth of administrative experience in municipal government and in the Army Corps of Engineers. He’s been the Assistant City Manager and has stepped into the job without missing a beat. He knows the issues, he knows the people, and he has what it takes to run this organization. I’m confident that we’re in good hands.
Three members of the City Council voted recently to rush the hiring of a permanent City Manager. They want to do this in a matter of weeks, just before an election. Of those three, two, John McCann and Steve Castaneda, might not be here after the election. And since Deputy Mayor Jerry Rindone will retire, there could be three new members on the City Council. Forcing this issue isn’t fair to a new Council, the public or employees. This process underway is questionable. We’re moving so fast that there isn’t time to properly advertise the position in professional publications. Why the rush? There is rampant speculation that a choice has already been made by three Councilmembers. Many in the community believe this process is a sham.
Chula Vistans, is this true?