Leaders at the Port of San Diego will vote whether to censure their vice chair based on allegations that she refused to disclose financial information and mistreated a Port employee.
Port commissioners will vote Tuesday at a special meeting to censure Vice Chair Commissioner Sandy Naranjo, an environmental justice advocate appointed to the board by the city of National City in 2020. The action would effectively remove Naranjo from her position of leadership as vice chair.
An official censure is an action politically-appointed boards can take to show disapproval and distance themselves from the behaviors of members. The Port board hired Sonia Carvalho of Best Best & Krieger, an outside attorney, to investigate allegations over Naranjo’s behavior.
She’s accused of refusing to quickly turn financial disclosure information over to the Port in a timely manner, which allegedly delayed the Port’s ability to take action on some contracts, according to a report. Carvalho declined to provide further comment saying the report speaks for itself.
The report alleges that Naranjo “retaliated” against a district employee whose job it was to collect that financial information.
“Commissioner Naranjo’s actions appeared to further her own self-interests at the district’s expense in violation of her fiduciary duties as commissioner,” the resolution states.
Naranjo told Voice of San Diego Monday that she hired attorney Cory Briggs to speak on her behalf. We will update this story with his response.
The Port is also wrangling with other trouble after its CEO Joe Stuyvesant was abruptly placed on administrative leave, as Axios San Diego reported. Naranjo recused herself from the board’s closed discussion on the matter after being advised that she may have been a witness to some of the events being discussed.
Naranjo had worked as a labor organizer with the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council and the United Food and Commercial Workers – where she was one of the first women to allege gender discrimination against the group’s former leader, Mickey Kasparian, eventually leading to his removal.
Naranjo is the first Port Commission appointee with a long resume in environmental justice work with groups like Mothers Out Front and the Environmental Health Coalition or EHC. The EHC has long battled with the Port over its key role in regulating maritime industries that produce air pollution in portside communities like Barrio Logan and National City.
Laura Wilkinson, a community and environmental activist from Coronado, called the censure vote an attempt to pull her off the commission.
“She’s a young woman of color, an environmental justice advocate and there’s a reason National City appointed her to the Port. Because they haven’t had a voice and they are brunt of the environmental injustices the Port has consistently caused,” Wilkinson said.