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The vote swinger

County registrar of voters Michael Vu's past and present

John McCann and Steve Padilla
  • John McCann and Steve Padilla

No fewer than five media outlets reported on January 2 that attorney John Moot filed a lawsuit challenging the San Diego Registrar of Voters to count 15 provisional ballots from the November election.

In the November race for Chula Vista council seat, John McCann defeated Steve Padilla by two votes. The unopened provisional ballots do not match the addresses of the people who cast the ballots and the suit seeks to have the votes counted and, if warranted, unseat John McCann.

John Moot

John Moot

Michael Vu

Michael Vu

The civil suit was filed on behalf of Chula Vista resident Aurora Clark. The defendants are councilmember McCann and Registrar of Voters Michael Vu.

The January 2 filing was preceded by a week of angling by supporters of Steve Padilla to find a citizen to represent the case. Padilla supporters also circulated concerns about similarities between the November election and a previous election in 2004 presided over by Vu in Ohio.

In 2004, Vu had been executive director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. According to a Cleveland news report, “The election ended with giving President Bush the electoral votes needed to narrowly win the White House over Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kerry.”

Subsequently, “two election board workers were convicted of illegally rigging the 2004 presidential election recount so they could avoid a more thorough review of the votes.”

After the convictions, Vu resigned. He was hired as San Diego County assistant registrar amid accolades and complaints in 2007.

A look back into Chula Vista history would be informative as well. It was not that long ago that attorney John Moot was trying to prevent Steve Padilla from being reelected as mayor.

Just before the election in 2006, when Padilla was in a tough fight with Cheryl Cox for the position of mayor, a taxpayers’ group produced an economic analysis of Chula Vista’s budget as overseen by then-mayor Padilla. The analysis faulted the budget — and by implication Padilla — for overspending.

A U-T article from 2006 gives an account of Moot’s efforts to implicate Padilla for the alleged poorly handled budget. The article demonstrates the way the names stay the same but allegiances change in Chula Vista politics.

“Some findings in the [taxpayers’] report echo a presentation that former City Councilman John Moot, and community activists Russ Hall and Kevin O'Neill, made Oct. 17 during public testimony to the City Council.

“During that presentation Moot displayed large poster board charts showing year-over-year budget comparisons. Hall, Moot and O'Neill are supporting Cox in her bid for mayor.”

In the 2014 election cycle Moot supported Padilla. Moot and Padilla ultimately became business partners and appeared several times last year before the Chula Vista City Council lobbying for their client Inland Industries. Inland Industries, property owned by the Berg family, is located on the fringes of the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan.

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Happy New Year Ms. Luzzaro. Bet you have the better master plan.

Happy New Year Shirley. I value your thoughtful reading and commenting. (And your sense of humor.)

Isn't this curious? Passing strange, I believe Shakespeare might say.

Manipulation of votes...and here I thought it was a part of the procedure that the Registrar of Voters could reconcile absentee ballots if there were minor discrepancies, by contacting the voters involved. I guess when someone prefers one outcome over another, that might not be done.

Voting irregularities, and in favor of the Republican Party? Isn't that interesting, considering they so much like to speak about law and order. I guess if you have enough financial backing, you get to pick and choose the laws you obey.

"Curiouser" and "curiouser".

Politics certainly change relationships. I know it's a costly adventure,but I think the entire South Bay political scene is questionable.Let the people vote. I don't trust any of them! The scary part is that in an election Shirley Horton will have the financial advantage with big money backers. And of course she will be beholden to them. Rumors are rampant about a relationship between Horton and David Malcolm,with him possibly backing her campaign if necessary. With John McCann in her camp who knows what could happen when the vote is taken on Thurs. All rumors I know but then again???

Shirley Horton has long been allied with David Malcolm, going back at least to the early 1990's when he was on the CV City Council and 'groomed' Shirley (who was petrified of speaking in public) for bigger things and higher office.

Malcolm's financial resources and backing have always appealed to the likes of McCann (does anyone know exactly WHAT he does for a living besides the USN Reserve to support the Missus and four little MCCanns?) who seems to gravitate to moneyed backers. Let's not forget that the Sweetwater USD property 'deals' have yet to be authorized - approved (called entitlement) by the City of CV, and that Malcolm may have some financial interest in some or all of them. There are lots of tentacles and threads, not to mention dots to connect in this scenario.

If those are "provisional" ballots, they were not absentee ballots, I wouldn't think. They are accepted at the polling place when a voter appears and there is some discrepancy in the records or voter list. Vu should have some legal backing for his refusal to count the ballots, and this piece doesn't get into details of what that might be.

There is no guarantee that counting those ballots would change the outcome, although the total is so close that it might very well do so. Even if Moot gets a judicial order to have the ballots opened and counted, that would not be the end of the matter. The controversy may likely end up being settled in court and taking months to resolve. Great, huh?

Appointing someone to fill the vacant seat is becoming less likely considering how long it will take to determine who won between Padilla and McCann should Moot's challenge prevail. The council has, I believe, 45 days to appoint, and as visduh points out, this lawsuit could drag on for some time. If they decide to appoint before it’s settled, do they risk having their appointment reversed if McCann is ousted? It seems there's a good chance that when they consider their options, the council will choose to go with an election. After reading erupting’s post, you have to wonder if this legal challenge was simply a page out of the Chula Vista Politicians’ “ploy” book.

I think Alex Clarke speaks with tongue in cheek.

The San Diego motto should be "Send me your poor, your corrupt officials" It is not only politicians that seem to keep coming back, it is also those tied to crimes in other states that enjoy a clean slate here. Wasn't Alioto or Gandara also suspected in other states of wrongdoing? How can the office of Mr. Vu in Ohio have two criminal convictions for rigging the 2004 presidential election but is just fine in our club of chummy misfits. I guess, by now, we should be getting used to having egg on our faces.

In re: malfeasance in other states - It was Alioto, the former Southwestern College VP of finance who had an "interesting" financial trail and background in, I believe, Wisconsin. It's easy to check online.

Gandara was from a city in Texas known for corrupt officials. I believe it is also the hometown of Pearl Quinones.

It's sad that people on hiring committees in our local communities do not do a better job of checking out the past of those who do apply for positions in our public agencies. Sounds like VU, as Woodchuck notes, is fine in our 'club of chummy misfits.'

oskidoll, You should write a book about the history of CV politics :-) Though the threads are so interwoven I find it hard to make the important connections in a single article.

Geographically it has always struck me as interesting that the district's property on L Street is just a hop over the freeway to the Inland batch of businesses on Bayfront Blvd.

Yes, Susan, that is an interesting point. Timing is interesting, as well, as a bit of web research shows that Ratner Clothing sold its mfg. business in 1989, just about the same time these other interesting alliances between Malclom, Horton, and others are being formed. Ratners owned the building on L Street that is now part of the SUHS property nightmare.

I do not recall the alleged purpose the SUHSD said the newly acquired Rater property on L St was to be, but think it might have been pitched as either a new District HQ or a new place for the district's fleet of busses and other vehicles to be kept. It would be interesting to look back to see what was envisioned at the time. Don't forget that Greg Sandoval and Jim Cartmill both came on the District Board about that same time. I think that was also during Ed Brand's first tour as superintendent.

Dennis Travers, you have made some really interesting observations.

One of the things I need to get more clarity about is if the touchscreen machines that were, as I understand it, were one to a poll, are the same Diebold ones that we stopped using. I read that the ones that are used produce a hard copy result...but I think there were other problems with the Diebold machines.

Has running for political office become soooo much about the financial backers that regular folk - you know the ones simply interest in 'serving' see the task as an effort in futility?

You see, I am all about the knock on the door - where I, as John Q Public nobody, can ask the candidate the questions I am interested in and want hear those answers face to face. When was the last time you had a candidate knock at your door? For me it was Mr. Ruiz, new Chula School Board Member and Paula Hall SUHSD Board member.

Anniej, yes, I think a person outside of major political parties (and mega churches) have about as much chance of being elected as Ed Brand and the Gandara returning their ill-gotten gains.

JoePublic -- this business about the McCann-Padilla election, and Moot's lawsuit, etc., does NOT involve the appointment process going on this week. The McCann-Padilla contest was for Council Seat #1. The vacancy is Mary Salas' old Council seat, #3, I believe, that was vacated because she was elected Mayor.

The Council meeting to appoint someone to Seat #3 (?) is schedule for next Thursday, 4 pm, and will be televised on Channel 24.

Thanks to Star News Reporter Robert Moreno this news: 44 candidates for the CV city council seat vacated by Mary Salas have been whittled down to 8 to be interviewed Thursday: Mark Liuag, city planning commissioner, Lisa Moctezuma former city planning commissioner, Thomas Miesen, chamber of commerce, Shirley Horton former mayor and former assembly member, Jason Paguio failed candidate for council in 2014 , Thomas Glover who was recently promoted to chief compliance officer in Sweetwater Union High school, brother to Tim Glover interim superintendent and Bill Hall, former port commissioner.

The same Tom Glover McCann referenced in his SUHSD departure speech; the Glover brother he wanted to name as Gandara's replacement? Tom would bring to the city council what he has brought to the Chief Compliance position, nothing. Ed gave him his new position for the same reason he gave many others theirs because they played the SUHSD game and kept their mouths shut. McCann wants Shirley or Tom; either would align themselves with McCann which will result in the plague of SUHSD bestowed upon the city.

It would be informative (and a nod to transparency) if the City Clerk's Office would post the Statements of Economic Interests for the finalist candidates on the City's web page. They are public documents and the public should be able to see and know the details of each of their economic interests and sources of income.

If you watched the City Council meeting tonight (Jan. 6) you heard something that probably knocked you out of your chair. Councilman John McCann was thanking all the people who have contacted him to wish him well, etc., and he apologized that he had not been able to to answer their phone messages or emails -- "I DO HAVE A DAY-JOB."

I shouted into the TV, WHERE? WHERE? WHERE? -- but he could not hear me. Does anybody know what his "day-job" is??

Wasn't he recently claiming that he was an adjunct professor at some unnamed college or school? That doesn't sound like a full-time "day job", but who knows? He's also probably well-suited to work in a 7-11 or Circle K store behind the cash register.

I don't think that claim has been verified--I haven't heard anyone who can identify any institution of higher learning that has employed McCann. I would love to hear the news if anyone can share it!

ViginantinCV....I have been seeking the answer to that question for some while. Just WHAT does John McCann DO to support the Missus and the four little McCanns? The USNR is a limited commitment, isn't it? One weekend a month?

Perhaps we would learn that info from his Statement of Economic Interests, and I think it would be appropriate for the Chula Vista City Clerk to post it online, in the interest of full disclosure.

oskidoll, the 700 forms should absolutely be posted, as should the 700 forms of the mayor and other council members. The Statement of Economic Interest for each would also provide answers about employment.

His forms when he was a SUHSD Board member indicated he owns several rental properties.

Perhaps he is writing his memoirs from his 'fightin' days In Iraq - reliving those days when the locals would ask him if he knew Brad Pitt or Angelina. Goodness knows we had to listen to his self promotion about his service for 4 L O N G years. I never knew passing out paper cups equated to heroism. As my Vietnam Vet daddy use to say 'enough to make a maggot gag!

*. JOHN MCCANN IS THE ONLY MILITARY SERVICE PERSON I HAVE EVER KNOWN TO BRAG ON HIMSELF FOR HIS SERVICE. Oh, if only daddy were alive, I would have loved to take him to a Board meeting and listen while he set the little man straight. You know, NOONE says it better than an old salt!!!!!!

Wasn't it great when the retired commander gave McCann a thorough dressing down at the Sweetwater board meeting that was held Hilltop a couple of years ago. Classic, well-put and well-deserved!

VigilantinCV - the question I would have been yelling is who, who, who (who are ''''all'''' of those well wishes?) from what I am hearing Chula residents are still reeling from McCann's win - lots of people kicking themselves in the booty for not voting.

At the next meeting McCann will probably say he was riding in the same helicopter as Brian Williams when it was hit by RPG/small arms fire. LOL

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