September 24, 2004

CV City Council race heats up

By J.D. Hawk

Chula Vista City Council candidate Steve Castaneda has unleashed some unflattering business information on his opponent Dan Hom, and now things look like they’re going to get ugly.

Among Castaneda’s various revelations: that Hom was sued for nearly $200,000 in May of 2000 for misappropriating business loans; that Hom was sued in October of 2001 for over $100,000 for failing to account for another business loan; and that Hom had a federal tax lien filed against him for failure to pay $26,000 in income taxes.

Hom has interpreted Castaneda’s latest move as nothing less than “negative mudslinging.”

“He’s just playing politics, and it’s obvious. He’s run several times and has a business predicated on his political relationships. He’s a consultant to politicians — just look at his record of teaching the politicians at Otay Water District how to do business,” Hom said.

But since Hom is running for office on the premise of being a successful businessman, Castaneda insist that this is not dirty politics, but a legitimate observation and concern regarding Hom’s business skills. “Based on what exists on the public record, Dan needs to explain to the people of Chula Vista why they should trust him with their finances when it appears that business associates could not,” Castaneda said. “I think this should have a chilling effect on people’s perception of his ability to handle the financial reins of the city...I would categorize this as extremely fair game.”

Hom said that all of his past financial problems were the result of a single business, a golf distribution business, that went bad during an Asian economic crisis. Hom said that his finacial troubles are now over.

Castaneda was unimpressed at Hom’s explanation that this was a result of one business gone bad. “Enron was just one failed business too,” he said.

Hom said that any life-long businessman knows that business is risky and carries no guarantee for success. Hom contends that he has learned more from this single business that failed than from numerous businesses that he’s run that have succeeded.

Ironically, Castaneda admitted that in his past, he’s been late on business-related payments too. But Castaneda believes that there is a major difference in his late payments and Hom’s late payments: “I’ve had my own issues. There have been a couple times where I have been late on payments, and things of that nature. But I’ve always kept my word, and I’ve always kept my obligations...A court of law has never required me to pay my debts, that’s the main difference — and that has happened to Dan at least three times.”

Castaneda went on explaining that Hom had several memberships to exclusive clubs while he owed his associates money. “At the time Dan was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, that didn’t stop him from buying memberships to exclusive clubs and organizations like the University Club, the San Diego Athletic Club — and he drives a Mercedes!” Castaneda said. “It’s that kind of financial mismanagement that the city of Chula Vista cannot afford. You take care of your obligations before you take care of yourself,” he said.

Hom said again, “I take full responsibility for my past. But I am not going to apologize for the successes I’ve had or a vehicle I bought over five years ago. I believe the voters of Chula Vista are sick of negative campaigning in order for a candidate to avoid discussing the serious issues. What the people of Chula Vista really care about is real solutions about traffic, getting old streets repaired and the safety of their neighborhoods. I will put my character up against his [Castaneda’s] any day of the week!”

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