Okay…we'll take Steve

New Chula Vista councilmember's past hints at future

Chula Vista City Council
  • Chula Vista City Council

After two rough-and-tumble meetings, on January 13 the Chula Vista City Council settled on Steve Miesen to fill the seat vacated by Mary Salas. Salas’s council seat became available when she was elected mayor in November.

Steve Miesen

Steve Miesen

Councilmember Pamela Bensoussan ultimately made the successful nomination of Miesen; the vote was unanimous. Miesen will serve two years and cannot seek re-election for two years after his appointment term ends.

Miesen is the division manager of the single-source trash-collection service for the City of Chula Vista, Republic Services (the company was formerly known as Pacific Waste). He is also the president of the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce but has pledged to step down now that he has been sworn in.

There was some concern on the dais about Miesen’s potential conflict of interest as the division manager of Republic. City attorney Glen Googins gave the opinion that should the trash contract need to be re-opened during his term, Miesen would have to recuse himself; however, Googins did not believe Miesen would have to resign.

Councilmember Patricia Aguilar expressed concern about legality and the appearance of conflict of interest.

According to Miesen’s statement of economic interest, his salary is over $100,000 and he owns stock in Republic Services valued between $2,000 and $10,000.

Miesen made campaign donations in the past year to the mayor and all the sitting councilmembers.

But Miesen is also involved in a curious bit of Chula Vista waste-collection history, which includes several well-known Chula Vista folks.

Residents will be stunned to learn that at one time a simple additive, Ethos FR, was poured into the city’s garbage trucks and there was a 15 percent reduction in pollution. This additive was so fantastic that a San Diego magazine writer, Larry Edwards, crowed it was even going to clean up the Yangtze River.

Here’s how Ethos got off the ground locally.

In a November 9, 2001, Star News article titled “Let’s talk trash and dirty air,” Miesen, then facilities manager for Pacific Waste, waxed eloquent about an alternative fuel source “after conducting a two-month pilot program in which the alternative fuel reduced emissions by 46% for the Chula Vista division’s fleet.”

The data was not derived from a third-party’s analysis and it was reported by Miesen.

Miesen continued, “Without getting too technical, let’s just say the new program consists of using B20, a mixture of 20 percent of World Energy’s biodiesel with 80 percent standard diesel, in combination with Ethos FR, a patented formula that works with any fuel to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions caused by internal combustion engines.”

Ethos was all the rage in November 2001. Just two weeks before Miesen’s testimonial, the Union-Tribune sported this headline: “Exotic concoction cuts diesel pollution.”

Here are the last two paragraphs from that article:

“Enrique De Vilmorin, president of 2-year-old Ethos Environmental in San Diego, said the supplement is a synthetic super lubricant that penetrates metal surfaces and allows engines to operate with great efficiency.

“County superintendent Greg Cox, a director of the San Diego Air Pollution Control District, praised the fuel tests [the ones performed by Pacific Waste].” Cox went on to say, “This kind of technology has a tremendous applicability throughout the San Diego region.”

So, who was behind Ethos?

Transparency came in 2007 when Ethos filed an Amended and Restated Registration Rights Agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The agreement brought Essel Enterprise, National Advisors, Inc., and Suncoast Financial into the Ethos Enviornmental company, and — among other individuals named as part of the company — former disgraced port commissioner David Malcolm and former Waste Management consultant Bud Chase.

The company set up shop on Otay Mesa, located in county supervisor Greg Cox’s District 1.

Many notable names in the waste business invested in Ethos, including Steve Miesen. Supervisor Cox also purchased stock. Prior to becoming supervisor, Cox was a consultant for San Diego trash haulers.

The Ethos miracle evaporated in 2011 when Ethos Environmental merged with Regeneca, a company that sells health products and products that help with erectile dysfunction.

On the City of Chula Vista’s official website there is a dual page for the city and Republic Services. The page announces that in 2011, “Republic Services began using collection trucks powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in Chula Vista. CNG is a substitute to traditional fossil fuels. It’s cleaner burning and safer.”

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I might have known there would be a David Malcolm connection.

Business as usual then?

Hey, we all live in a very small pond where you don't need to be a 1% to be a mover and shaker. That goes to say the rest of us need to be extra vigilent of the snake oil salesmen (and women) around us.
If it's too good to believe, it's probably bunk..... BBQ

WOW!!! Have we ever been so supremely duped? It seems to me that when David Malcolm failed to power-play the City Council into appointing "barbie-doll" Shirley Horton, he settled for "Ken" (his old friend and fellow investor, Steve Miesen). This explains why Councilmembers Bensoussan and McCann finally capitulated. What a perfectly awful outcome for Chula Vista.

10news just now reporting that there may be a problem with the appointment

I guess all those contributions to the current council member AND the city attorney paid off for steverino, at least that's what 10news was implying

It seems that Mr. Miesen will be recusing himself quite a bit from council decisions since, according to this article, not only does he work for Republic Services, he owns stock in it too.  Residential or commercial, all developments need their trash hauled. This seems like a big mistake.

I’ve followed educational issues in Sweetwater for some time. When I read this article, it brought back the questions that were raised about John McCann’s appointment of David Malcolm to the school district’s 7-11 committee. Connections, connections, connections.

I grew up in Chicago and had some low level political connections so everyone always mentions political corruption to me. Let me tell you, with what I have seen with Sweetwater schools, Southwestern College, San Ysidro schools, Chula Vista, etc, all of the south bay politicians could teach Chicago a thing or two about corruption.

I agreed. It seems the names changed, but the corruption game continues. When I worked for the City of Chula Vista and attended a training session in the Spring of 2002, one of the attendees, who was from Philadelphia, said the City seem to be run as if the lemon groves were still here. I guess that is still the corporate culture, but the fruit has rotted and fallen on the ground. Chula Vista has become large populated area run by small minded people seeking monetary and ego inflation at the cost of good governance and civic responsibility.

I mean, oh damn! But seems like the first time for attention to conflict of interest anywhere. Should have seen it sooner. When did Ed get there to catch that wave?

The political scene in the South Bay is fast becoming a candidate for a new reality series called "Revenge of the South Bay Brats" starring Malcolm et al with the et al becoming more powerful. Who investigates the background of the candidates?

cvlancer, the South Bay Brats reminded me of the old UT column, maybe that's what you refer to. This is from a story I wrote called "Big War Chest, No War" :

In 1986, when he was mayor of Chula Vista, the Union-Tribune published a story titled “ ‘Brats’ Push South Bay to Forefront.” The brats were Greg Cox, David Malcolm, Steve Peace, and Brian Bilbray. At the time, Malcolm was a Chula Vista city councilman and California coastal commissioner, Peace was a California assemblyman, and Bilbray was county supervisor for District 1.


Brats, Rats or Bureaucrats: which are more destructive in the South Bay? Compare and contrast the concepts of "Public Good" and "Self-Interest" (do not fall into the 'enlightened self-interest' debate on this one).

Move into your small groups and discuss. Class presentations on Friday, not to exceed 5 minutes per group.

cvlancer, Yesterday John Moot went to court about contested ballots, have you heard the outcome? I haven't yet.

I have not heard or read anything on the lawsuit. John Moot used to be a player in the political area when John Goss was City Manager.

As to your previous comment, I believe that is the source of the "South Bay Brats" nom de corruption (bad french). The Brats will have to die, move away, or be dethroned for there to be more than superficial change. Chula Vista has always suffered from a "clubby" business and political environment. Sweetwater Union High School District and Southwestern were like the royal families of Europe, incestuous in dealings if not deeds, and not to swift with the long term view. The schools and the local government are suffering from this insularity as people without money, connections, or with challenging and different ideas were marginalize or ridiculed.

As I read the line that refers to 'products that help with erectile dysfunction' I couldn't help but think -


anniej, the real problem is that the shadow-dwellers LOVE political dysfunction, because they then get to take advantage of all the: flailing around, ineffectual and juvenile behavior (John McCann), overweening egos (pick your pol), lack of focus on the real problems (again many from which to choose), and the manufacturing of distraction after distraction (Ed Brand). End result: a public so filled with contempt and disgust that some refuse to engage in the political process at all, some keep trying and many just say, "that's politics".

But we need to keep trying, so that the shadow-dwellers, bottom-feeders and con artists don't destroy our neighborhoods, our city, our schools, and the future of all the young people we are endeavoring to bring into a world where right thinking, reason and compassion have pride of place. If we cannot convey ideals to our young people, the downward spiral is inevitable.

So, again, thanks Susan, anniej, BBQ, Visduh, and the entire array of voices calling for right reason, sound fiscal policies, educational opportunities that recognize varying students needs and interests and, in general, a FUNCTIONAL city, a FUNCTIONAL school district and neighborhoods that are good places for kids to grow up and learn to be the kind of citizens this country needs.

Right on!! It is time for a reform movement to provide the structure to clean the sewers of local government as individuals, civic groups, and partisan groups need a way to rally the comatose citizenry for voted these corrupt boobs. I have thought for a long time there should an investigative body at the state level with regional offices staff by non affiliated people to provide a permanent vehicle for the tools of reform.

Two things come to mind for me, 1) Chaos management, keeping things so confused that no one can tell the manager is inept. 2) The thought that any club that has politicians as members, I would not wish to join.

As for number one SUHSD is/was a prime example, confuse/contrive/con were the three Cs of that organization, and the head confusee is now on City Council????

Number 2 really stands out for me that I hate being around all of the egos and big headed politicians. Weather they show up to a volunteer activity I am participating in or a Board Meeting with the artificial separation and superiority of the dias in the meeting rooms.

Where are the opportunities for meaningful dialog with our leaders, true input from the disenfranchised and forward progress without bankrupting the public or lining the pockets of someone or another?


Well, if we're handing out thanks for community participation, let's hand one out to Eastlaker :-)

Ever the optimist, I do believe the last round of elections got more people involved with Sweetwater....

There is a bright side to this appointment, in that he cannot segue into another term and another and another, as has happened too often in too many instances. No, he has to leave the council when the two years are up. If he wants back on the council, he'd have to run for another seat two years later. As a result, for the uninformed voters, he'll not appear on a ballot, shown as the "incumbent." Now the question comes back to whether a costly election would have been the better way to go. There is always the chance that the vote-counting suit will overturn the election of McCann, but that will not undo this appointment, but would at least get John-boy off the council.


There's so many twists & turns...it's hard to keep up with them all.

Open Government posted this letter yesterday


Very, very interesting indeed. McCann moves from the district board to the city council and chaos follows in his wake. If they make this stick, the city will be in a real bind for sure. How it would then play out is hard to say, but any pretense of the council having acted prudently is gone.

I recall that the 'nomination' process was touted as the same process used in filling vacancies on the city's boards and commissions. This is, to my knowledge, the first time there has been a challenge to reveal the nominations put forward by individual council members.

IF the nominations are revealed, it will be most interesting...especially McCann's. He is reported by the Star News as not willing to say who he nominated. Wonder if he nominated only ONE person to try and skew the process to Shirley Horton?

Correction to the above: According to the Star News, Mc Cann replied to the inquiry that the two candidates for whom he did not vote were Hall and Clark. Wonder why?

Thanks for the link. I just printed out this letter.

Curiouser and curiouser. We truly are in the Chula Vista version of wonderland.

Looks like the folks at Open Government may have a valid position.

Meanwhile, the clock ticks on. I wonder: if the appointment is invalidated, is the seat declared open and the process begins anew, or would it automatically go to an election instead?


or...is city attorney Glen Googins consulting the attorney general about conflict-of-interest as Russ Hall suggested on TV a few nights ago...

or will attorney John Moot be able to serve councilman John McCann so he can go forward with the suit against the Registrar of Voters to count sidelined ballots?

or ... but, about the clock...I'm thinking the intent of the measure was to make sure CV residents had a full council as soon as possible after a seat is vacated...

May the request or the lawsuit will stop the ticking statutory bomb on time limit for the appointment. On the other hand with all contracts to future consultants, future monetary give backs to developers of the bay front, and future legal bills when McCann sues people for alleged offenses, maybe the $600,00 would be chump change for corruption system

I am not sure if this is a soap opera, "As the South Bay Turns" a comedy, "Parks and City Council", Horror, "The Undead Council" or SciFi, "The Outer Limits (of CV politics)".

I said this before about SUHSD, if it was not so important, it would be funny....

As a friend used to say "the things around here used to amaze me, now they only amuse me..."


If McCann were to loose his seat due to the recount I would highly recommend having a County Mental Health ambulance parked outside Councils chambers. As I believe he will come unglued!!!

just my opinion.

Annie just be sure there are no rocks in his pockets.

As an aside, in reviewing that lovely cc tape of McCann, I would have to say that his form resembles more the cricket style than a baseball style, as he incorporated a run-up in his throw.

I am just wondering when the gross mismanagement that was endemic at Sweetwater--and the results of which will take years to straighten up and clear away--could possibly be connected to some of these other players.

Who has been driving the Sweetwater Schemes? The city of Chula Vista is on record as opposing some of the real estate schemes, but Sweetwater went ahead anyway. Why was this not news at the time. Who gets to squelch public information of that sort? Why is it that we still do not know the names of all involved?

eastlaker - many good questions still without answers. Perhaps some of them can be discovered via the PRA results sought by Susan Luzzaro. We shall see how it all untangles and whose names rise to the top of the muck.

Your question 'why was this not news at the time?' is also a good one. I'm not sure that anyone was the designated 'director of squelching' but I am certain the so-called leaders found ways to avoid shining light on what they were up to. And we have seen how reticent one public body is to point fingers at another, let alone take responsibility for intervening.

Perhaps the news outlets didn't think the issues were 'newsworthy'...the largely uninvolved and unsuspecting public had too much trust in the untrustworthy trustees who were wined, dined, and romanced by those who had their hands in the deals and therefore in the public till. With the possible exception of the erratic SDUT 'watchdog' and Susan Luzzaro's articles in the READER, there are no public-oriented news outlets interested or capable of investigative reporting.

Although there were 'rumors' of the Trujillo-era 'deals' that reportedly sent district-owned computers to Mexico, nothing surfaced. That is exactly the kind of environment the swarmy perps like best, where they can wheel and deal undetected, especially when public interest is detached and oversight is lax .

This has been going on for a very looooong time, perhaps since the mid 1980's, but certainly since 1990 when Sandoval and Cartmill joined the board. It is interesting if not coincidental that that is also when David Malcolm was wheeling and dealing at the City and at the Port. McCann is a 'johnny come lately' junior player but still in the game, it seems, just at a different table.

The happy news is that we are now at an improved situation (thanks largely to those who have worked so hard to right the ship) with an all-new board and much more involved public interested in and watching the henhouse. We're not through yet, as there is much left to be revealed, and there are those need to be removed from the scene.

That is what March 15 notices are for and what the FBI should be interested in. (We know the DA has ceased to care and the County Office of Education never did.) As long as there is a forum such as this Reader blog, and those such as Susan who are willing and able to delve into the records, there is hope.

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