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.
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.”