April 25, 2008

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Castaneda family thanks the community for their support

Steve Castaneda found Not Guilty

Our family would like to thank the jurors that found our brother, son, and father, Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Castaneda NOT GUILTY given completely unsubstantiated charges leveled at him by District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.

The outpouring of support that Steve has received from friends and family here in the greater San Diego area has been heartwarming. We have always believed in Steve because we know him and that unshakable bond has been the silver lining in this politically motivated nightmare we have all shared with Steve.

Prior to the trial, Steve called and met with our father concerning a deal that the District Attorney had offered him to drop all of the felony accounts of perjury and reduce the charge(s) to a single minor misdemeanor—nothing more than an infraction in the eyes of the law. Steve asked our father: “Dad, what I should do?” Steve’s father said: “Well, if you take that deal I guess you’ll be fine with the District Attorney, but you won’t be fine with me. Never admit to something you did not do!” Steve turned the offer down with simple words uttered to Prosecutor Patrick O’Toole: “We’ll see you in court.”

That part of this nearly two-year saga that has cost Steve and the taxpayers well over a million dollars seems to be over, but not really. Steven has always alleged that these charges were politically motivated by a former campaign rival Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox and her husband, County Supervisor Gregg Cox. You see, Steve had the temerity to oppose a Cox for the Office of Mayor of Chula Vista. Soon after Steve announced his intent to seek that office, Cox’s long-held political allies, lobbyists and legal special interests began to come out of the campaign woodwork.

Today there is no doubt the Cox’s would vehemently deny that allegation or any assertion that they were connected at all to this public calamity that targeted Castaneda. Yet, this case has cost our family and the taxpayers of both Chula Vista and the County of San Diego dearly; and all of us deserve answers!

However, there need not be an impasse on the relevant unanswered question of complicity by Cheryl and Gregg Cox—there is a simple fix. At least three separate news accounts by the San Diego Union have cited a “tip” of wrongdoing by Castaneda that the District Attorney received that started this entire legal debacle and million-dollar investigation. Will the District Attorney reveal who this tipster is? What is the relationship and credibility that this individual tipster has with the D.A.? Bonnie Dumanis must surely know that people in this country have a right to face their accusers, doesn’t she? Once this individual comes out of the shadows and is identified, we will then see if there is a relationship between this tipster, Cheryl and Gregg Cox and Bonnie Dumanis the District Attorney.

If there is no connection, all of us, including the Castaneda family will sleep better at night. But if there is, well, this political and legal nightmare may have a new destination.

Bob Castaneda

Mayoral Candidate Steve Francis reaches out to the Hispanic community

I’m asking for your vote on June 3rd. I’m running for Mayor because I want to bring change to City Hall that improves the quality of life of every San Diegan. As Chairman of Father Joe’s Villages, I have seen first hand the power of compassionate policies that can change lives and help those in need. I was proud to work alongside our volunteers at Qualcomm Stadium during the October wildfires, establishing relief centers and aiding evacuees. As Mayor, I pledge to set a strong hands-on approach to city governance that will be sensitive to the perspectives and viewpoints of every resident.

We also need to be humanitarian in our approach to public safety. I believe that City Hall should focus its energies on prioritizing improvements to local law enforcement, including fixing police officer staffing and utilizing our resources to curb the high crime rate in targeted neighborhoods. I stand strong against discrimination and racial profiling, which impede the advancement of society. Any changes to public safety policies must be made through a consensus building process with all stakeholders and communities affected.

We have a rich heritage as a nation of immigrants. I’m a believer of the American dream, and I want for that dream to be shared with everyone. As the largest border city in the United States, we all have to work together to make sure that our public safety policies respect the dignity of every individual and work to keep us safe, not divided.

Mayors have to work with other government officials, including those of other nations. My priority will be to build strong working relationships with Tijuana, Baja California, and the nation of Mexico to address important bi-national issues, such as economic growth, the environment and transportation. My administration will be inclusive, and my door will be open to everyone.

Steve Francis
Candidate for
Mayor of San Diego

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