January 16, 2009

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Chula Vista Residents Speak Out

Residents of Chula Vista are accustomed to being disappointed with our current leadership, but fortunately, our democratic process seems to possess within itself a self-cleansing mechanism that kicks-in whenever things get completely out of hand. In November, voters rejected the Mayor’s chosen candidates for City Council and elected two so-called reform candidates.

Mayor Cox’s defense of former City Manager David Garcia viewing “inappropriate” websites and Dan Forster, her Chief of Staff, running a side business out of City Hall, were recent examples from a long history of City Hall being out of touch with the citizens of Chula Vista. She created further division by advocating for more public subsidies (aka “welfare”) for high rise developers, to co-opting our city’s Chamber of  Commerce so they remained silent as a new $105 annual tax on businesses was imposed under the guise of an “inspection” fee (regardless of whether an inspection takes place or not), Chula Vista City Hall has drifted farther and farther away from citizen involvement and public representation since her election in 2006.

Additionally, the Cox-Coalition brought us the so-called “Sneaky Tax” — an expansion of the utility user’s tax that was cynically billed as a tax cut; and, the so-called Phony Tax” — fire inspection fees imposed on small businesses without so much as a public hearing or a healthy business-based opposition.

These two new Council members will be tested this year. Can they lead? Can they restore trust? And, perhaps the most important question: Can they address a difficult budget crisis created by their predecessors in a way that is transparent and which does not repeat the mistakes of the past.

All Chula Vistans wish success for the reformers. But we’ll have to be convinced by their actions, not words. We have been badly disappointed for far to long.

Jerry Scott
Chula Vista

A recent Union Tribune article described the only two of many reasons why Cheryl Cox has failed us: her protection of City Officials David Garcia and Dan Forrester who failed to properly serve the public in 2008.

More seriously, Mayor Cheryl Cox failed us by:

· Costing Chula Vista jobs through her failure to demonstrate the proactive leadership necessary to save the Gaylord redevelopment deal, and by delaying the community’s vision of a vibrant, low-rise, pedestrian friendly redevelopment plan downtown in favor of divisive plans for high rise buildings being promoted by her developer friends like Jim Pieri.

· Maintaining an insider management style that gave hi-rise developers too much access and influence at the expense of citizens and neighborhoods – thereby creating distrust and more division in our community.

· Continuously blocking public access to decision making by rejecting the signatures of citizens who signed ballot measure petitions, and by pulling out the stops to prevent Chula Vistans from being able to elect an independent City Attorney who would be responsible to the public, not just the politicians.

· A long history of disingenuous and deceptive tactics, including using city funds for a “economic study” designed to defeat Proposition E, a failed attempt to place a competing measure on the ballot, seeking to pass a temporary ordinance to fool voters in to voting against Proposition E, proposing tax increases under the guise of tax cuts and instituting a new $105 “fire inspection fee” on all Chula Vista businesses without public review (taxation without representation).

Now the Mayor has declared a “State of Emergency” to make it easier to raise our taxes. With all the failures by, and distrust towards, Mayor Cheryl Cox, how can she expect us to buy in to her State of Emergency and her new taxes?

Ed Lopez
Chula Vista

No wonder nobody has time to sit down and work out the budget. Our new city manager confirmed at the NWCA meeting that he did indeed get $1000 a month for tooling around town in his “old Porsche.” Using the federal reimbursement rate of about 50 cents a mile my 8th grade math tells me that he would have to drive 2000 miles a month to justify that kind of mileage check each month. Stick with me here while I really stretch my calculation skills. Assuming that it would be hard to average much more than 40 miles-per-hour with the Chula Vista roads in the shape they are in I figure he must spend 50 hours a month just cruising the city in his classic car. So if he is spending almost a third of his working hours each month dodging pot holes to earn his car allowance when does he have time to figure out where to get more money from to run the city without taking the easy way out and raising taxes and chopping all the programs to the bone?

Ted Kennedy
Chula Vista

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