What’s Going on at City Hall?
By Theresa Acerro
Strange things are happening at city hall these days. In the past when we were circulating petitions or had hand-outs about various issues we had to stay outside of the Chambers, but at Tuesday, April 1, 2008’s council meeting the NO on E people had a table with signs, fliers and letters soliciting donations in the foyer right next to the door into the Chambers. When I complained to the officer on duty he said he would check the municipal code. I complained to Councilman Castaneda’s aide, and she discussed it with the City Attorney who said as long as they were not blocking the door or asking for donations it was a public forum, and they had the right to be there. I showed her the letter soliciting donations. She spent some time looking through the ordinances and checking her law library until she found the ordinance that banned this activity within the chamber. By that time they had left but she said she would make sure the policy was posted.
This certainly gave the impression that the city was taking a political position against some of its citizens and officially supporting the opposition. Is this a violation of section 707 in the city charter- “Improper Political Activity?:
Sec. 707. Improper Political Activity.
No elective or appointive officer or employee of the City of
Chula Vista, whether employed in the Classified or Unclassified
(a) Directly or indirectly use, promise, threaten or
attempt to use any official influence in the aid of any partisan
political activity, or to affect the result of any election to
partisan or political office or upon any other corrupt condition
(b) Solicit or coerce from any other officer or employee of
the City of Chula Vista, any political assessment, subscription
Isn’t this item on the Planning Commission Agenda for 4/ 9/08 also a violation of this section?: ACTION ITEMS:
The Mayor Cox administration is determined to not allow the people to participate in government. She cuts people off constantly. Won’t let them finish what they want to say during public comments. Won’t let them donate time to each other. Won’t even allow people to present as a team with each getting 3 minutes. Of course this is only when she does not agree with the speaker.
In fact she does the same to councilmen who want to speak on a topic she is opposed to. I have recorded what happened at the first council budget workshop on March 6, 2008 at this site: http://www.chulavistaissues.org/council.htm. The meeting ended with a continuance of a motion made by Councilman Ramirez to cut the mayor’s budget to a more reasonable size. Instead of this being on the agenda handed out at city hall we received this agenda. This agenda has the motion that the mayor was trying to push forward at the first workshop, but Councilman Ramirez brought forward his own motion to cut the mayor’s budget more, and Councilman Castaneda got it continued. Online was the agenda for a special meeting with the motion councilmen Castaneda and Ramirez wished to make:
Notice is hereby given that the Mayor of the City of Chula Vista has called and will convene a Special Meeting of the City Council on Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers, located at 276 Fourth Avenue, Chula Vista, California, to consider the items on this agenda.
Cheryl Cox, Mayor
SPECIAL MEETING OF THE CHULA VISTA CITY COUNCIL
April 3, 2008 Council Chambers
6:00 P.M. City Hall
276 Fourth Avenue
CALL TO ORDER
ROLL CALL: Councilmembers Castaneda, McCann, Ramirez, Rindone, and Mayor Cox
1. Continuation of discussion of Mayor and Council Fiscal Year 2008/2009 Budget
from March 6, 2008 workshop.
2. COUNCIL COMMENTS
CONSIDERATION OF RECOMMENDATION TO REDUCE THE FISCAL YEAR
2008/2009 MAYOR AND COUNCIL BUDGET
The Mayor’s amended budget is $541,618 after initial reductions, or approximately equal
to all four Council Office budgets combined. This proposal would adjust the Mayor’s
budget to two times that of one Council Office budget.
Councilmember’s recommendation: City Council adopt the following resolution:
RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF CHULA VISTA
TO REDUCE THE FISCAL YEAR 2008/2009 MAYOR AND COUNCIL
ADJOURNMENT to the Regular Meeting of April 8, 2008 at 6:00 p.m. in the Council
At a quarter to midnight when the mayor pushed through the motion to cut all council budgets by 10% and Mr. Rindone made it clear he felt Councilmen Castaneda and Ramirez had not done this, and the City Manager needed to make them do it. There was discussion by Councilmen Castaneda and Ramirez about continuing the discussion from the March meeting. It got quite heated. They wanted 15 minutes to show the 5 slides they had and explain their suggestion. The mayor wanted no part of this discussion. She did offer to freeze the Coastal/Environmental Policy consultant position on her staff.
The Coastal/Environmental Consultant was specifically added to help Mayor Padilla with California Coastal Commission business. No one is on the Coastal Commission from Chula Vista so there is no need for this position. The Constituent Services Manager does the same job as a Senior Council Aide but is paid more than $30,000 more. In this time of budgetary distress this makes no sense. Her chief of Staff makes more than she does and more than the Mayor of San Diego who is also the City Manager of San Diego. This also makes no sense when the city must cut another 15 million dollars to balance its budget. Mayor Cox did not build up this staff. They came with the job. The previous mayor built up the staff, but she campaigned against his fiscal irresponsibility, so it is odd she kept the staff instead of cutting back, isn’t it?
There is also the matter of a car allowance of $12,000, which is not only the highest in the county but also among the 15 largest cities in the state. This is the same allowance as the county supervisors’ get. The Union Tribune has run three stories claiming it is illegal to give these allowances as lump sums. People should be required to track their mileage and then be reimbursed. The IRS allows reimbursement at the rate of 50.5 cents per mile. If this rate is used, $12,000 yearly means the mayor travels 100 miles per workday on city business. This obviously is not true. A simple cut for the city should be all these car allowances. This would save a lot of money. The staff could be on the honor system and told to keep a simple log. In order to be reimbursed the log entry should require the staff person to compute the entire mileage and amount requested. Alternatively log could be used to get a tax deduction for work expense.