Elected City Attorney Forum 3/8/10


        The Northwest Civic Association held a candidates forum for the first elected City Attorney that Chula Vista will have at the Civic Center library on Monday 3/8/10. Joseph Casas, Robert Faigin and Glen Googins attended.

  Joseph Casas      Robert Faigin      Glen Googins  

                                                            My apologies for spelling Mr. Googins name on some of videos incorrectly.

Officers of the organization read short biographies submitted by each man, and each of them had 2 minutes for opening remarks. Here is a video of what was said by Mr. Casas. Mr. Casas is a private attorney. This is his website. Mr. Casas has represented many businesses and individuals in Chula Vista who have had problems with the city due to redevelopment issues, code enforcement, and problems with business licenses and permits. He also has had the same frustration as many of us in trying to get public records in a timely manner.

These are Mr Faigin’s remarks. (Click here for a resume and biography Mr. Faigin had available at the meeting.) Mr. Faigin is the chief legal council for the SD County Sheriff. He has held this position for nine years. It sounds like a very interesting job requiring quick research and response. Often a deputy is on the scene and calling in to see what he/she can legally do. Mr. Faigin must quickly research the law and give an opinion. He has experience in Reno and LA as a deputy City Attorney and has worked as a Deputy District Attorney, taught classes at law school, written for legal publications, and is a temporary judge. He has a BA in Criminal Justice and an MA in Public Administration, as well as a law degree.

          These are Mr. Goggins’ remarks. Mr. Googins is now a private attorney. This is his website. Mr. Googins worked as a Deputy City Attorney in Chula Vista from 1993 to 2004. This was the period of time when the unfortunate decisions to borrow money to build the Civic Center and Police Station were made. It is also the period of incredible housing growth in Otay Ranch with no regard for sustainability. The city now has a larger budget crisis due to many of these unfortunate decisions. Redevelopment during this period of time continually lost money, made bad decisions and used eminent domain freely. One could easily question the advice coming out of the City Attorney’s office during this time period.

In one instance Mr. Googins was supposed to insure that the city’s interests were protected when council was scared into allowing a small peaker off of Main St. No requirements were written into a Conditional Use Permit, so the company substituted a used more polluting generator for the promised best technology and nothing can be done about it, since no requirements were put in a written agreement.

Mr. Googins now has a private practice in Chula Vista and has represented the developer who wanted to jam the high rise Espanada project down the throats of residents of Chula Vista as well as take redevelopment money for a project that is losing money. He also has represented the developer who bought the Bayscene Mobile Home Park with the intention of closing the park and displacing over a 100 moderate and low-income residents by building a condominium project. He came to the meetings on revising the Mobile Home Park closure law and advocated in his client’s interest.

The first question was asked by the organization. How will you reconcile the statutory requirements for City Attorney and the added need to be responsive to the public? These are the candidates responses.

The second question by a member of the public was: What is your experience in municipal law that will allow you to immediately be able to respond with proper legal advice to the city?

The third question from the public was: What advice will you give the city about Medicinal Marijuana Clinics?

The fourth question: What will be your role as city Attorney in dealing with complaints about inappropriate use of force by Police officers?

The fifth question: How will an elected attorney affect the finances of the department and what is your idea about hiring outside council?

The sixth question: Will the city council have to hire outside council in order to get non-political advice?

The seventh question: Have you ever represented the developer of Espanada? Is it appropriate for former city employees to represent developers?

The eighth question: A question about the city’s relationship with the DA’s office.

The ninth question: A question about representing a mobile home park owner wishing to convert a park to condominium project.The tenth question: A question for Mr. Faigin about whether his job with the Sheriff would cause a conflict of interest.

The eleventh question: The member of the public questioned the advice or lack of advice by the City Attorney’s office that has caused failure of Bayfront projects and conflicts with unions.

The candidates got to ask each other a question.

Mr. Fagin’s question was about facilitating public records requests.

Mr. Casas wanted to know why Mr. Fagin is running for the office if he lives in Lakeside.

Mr. Googins wanted to know what Mr. Casas qualifications and interest in the job were since his law practice is in San Diego. His question for Mr Faigin was what are his qualifications in municipal law? He felt knowing the council members was important. 

Finally each candidate had a chance to give a closing statement.