The makeup of Chula Vista’s city council continues to be shaky. In November, councilmember John McCann won a seat by receiving two votes more than his contestant, former mayor Steve Padilla. But, the match is not over.
Just before the January 27 city-council meeting, McCann was served with a summons, which could potentially unseat him.
Attorney John Moot filed a suit on behalf of Aurora Clark, a Chula Vista resident, in early January, which seeks to have 15 provisional votes counted by the County Registrar of Voters.
In order for the suit to advance, McCann needed to be summoned to a hearing which will now occur on February 2 at 10:00 in department 64.
According to Moot, there were many attempts to serve McCann: “January 20 @ 12:33 pm-No answer at the door, white Honda mini van parked in driveway; January 20 @ 3:40-same response; January 20 @ 7:48 pm-No answer at the door, lights on, garaged door open, blue car inside, white mini van in driveway; and January 21 @ 7:30 am-No answer, white mini-van in driveway.”
In response to a Reader query Moot wrote:
“We made several attempts to serve him first through his lawyer, then at his home and through the city channels. None were successful so as last resort was we served at the council meetings. As the city attorney [Glen Googins] can tell you, I made every effort to avoid having to serve them at the council meeting.
“I do not know if the voters [uncounted provisional ballots] are Democrats, Republicans or decline to state. I suspect they are a mix of both. Certainly if the McCann attorneys want to expand the ballots to be counted on the same legal basis they have a right to do so. It is possible more votes that should have been counted could emerge and it’s our position all valid votes should be counted regardless of who they voted for or how they are registered.”
McCann told Channel 10 on January 30 that the lawsuit was “frivolous” and that Padilla and Moot are both lobbyists for Inland Industries and stand to gain financially from these activities. Inland owns a large piece of industrial land on the edge of Chula Vista’s bayfront.
Another shift in the council’s litigious winds could unseat Steve Miesen, who was appointed on January 13 to fill the seat vacated by Mary Salas Casillas when she was elected to mayor.
On behalf of Chris Shilling, who is the president of the Chula Vista’s Board of Ethics Commission, San Diegans for Open Government threatened to sue the city for alleged Brown Act violations during the appointment process.
The selection procedure for filling the vacant seat began by four councilmembers submitting names. From those unknown names, a smaller group advanced to a public interview. Shilling’s public record request to see the initial round of names was denied.
Shilling, through the services of attorneys Cory Briggs and Livia Borak, threatened to sue the city if the names were not released. On January 28, the city released the list.
In addition to the list, the attorneys argued that when the councilmembers pre-selected candidates to advance to the interview it was an initial round of votes and it was conducted in secret. They asked for this remedy:
The city council and mayor need to: “1) formally and explicitly withdraw the prior votes made 2) properly agendize an open meeting for the selection of candidates for an interview process 3) provide an opportunity for public comment by members of the public…. 4) provide for the open and public vote by the Council and Mayor for candidates to continue onto the interview process.”
Many have expressed doubts about Miesen’s appointment.
He is the CEO of the sole source company, Republic Services, that provides waste services for Chula Vista. According to the statement of economic interest submitted by Miesen, he owns $10,000–$20,000 of Republic Services Stock Options.
On January 26, the Reader asked city attorney Glen Googins via email:
“As Mr. Miesen is a stockholder in Republic, will he be able to vote on upcoming projects in the east, or, for that matter, any new developments on or near the Bayfront? Would large additions to the company's portfolio increase the value of his stock?”
Googins replied: “We are currently researching that.”
The second question posed by the Reader was:
Should the complexities of Mr. Miesen's situation require him to step down, where would the council appointment clock be? [The council had 45 days to appoint a replacement for Salas Casillas]. Would we [Chula Vista voters] necessarily be looking at an election?
Googins replied: “If for whatever reason Mr. Miesen were to resign, this would create a new vacancy, and City Council would again have 45 days to appoint.”