The recommendation for the Chula Vista City Council, District 1, is a tough one for us in that we really don’t like either candidate for the City Council.
Both are career politicians. Both have already served as councilmembers, Padilla going one better and has served as mayor of Chula Vista and McCann has served on the Sweetwater Unified School Board. And both have major issues from their past.
McCann’s service on the city council was un-remarkable. His service as a board member of the school district on the other hand was remarkable for the discord and chaos, too often ending with the police having to come and restore order. There was dissent on the board. There were threats of retaliation and lawsuits. The discontent between McCann and some members of the community was at a level we had never seen before.
Then there was the firing of Jesus Gandara with a very attractive retirement package of more than $400,000 after ethical questions were raised which we thought gave reason enough to fire for cause. Some of these ethical questions involved a money tree at this daughters bridal shower where contractors with the district were invited, and credit card charges for meals despite an $800 a month allowance for this purpose, plus other mis-steps by Gandara. This was followed by the hiring of Ed Brand, orchestrated by McCann, which led the district down a path of outrageous moves and decisions such as placing a private university on campus and the misguided efforts to sell school property. Brand was immediately fired by the interim board after four members of the board were found guilty of receiving gifts.
There is also the anti-Hispanic stance McCann took when he ran for State Assembly, following the Republican lead which called for stricter border controls. So no, McCann is not the person to represent the Hispanic community which is over 50% of the population.
This is not to say we are excited by the Steve Padilla candidacy.
Padilla’s first and only term as mayor of Chula Vista was at times bizarre, highlighted by the hiring of a personal body guard out of fear for his life. There was no clear explanation of where the threat was coming from. The rumors that swirled about had something to do with the Mexican mafia, but as to the actual reason we would never find out.
As mayor, Padilla had personal finance issues and took paycheck advances from the city treasurer 10 times, and twice received double advances. While on the Redevelopment Corporation for the city as mayor, he was paid $12,000 in stipends prior to any official board meetings and requested and received his first stipend check for $3,209 a week in advance of his council colleagues.
Padilla was also a big spender of taxpayers’ money, moving many projects fast forward but depleting the reserve funds from $40 million to $10 million.
He was defeated by Cheryl Cox after one term. Later there was his appointment to the Port Commission that was highlighted by a conflict between Mayor Cox and Padilla. A Padilla highlight on the commission was when he was selected as vice-chairman, only to be fired on the day of his inauguration. All the City Council members would attend the inauguration but later that evening, the City Council voted to fire him. It was an embarrassment to the city.
We are not excited by the choices for this seat but of the two John McCann is the most problematic. His service on the school board was deplorable and his willingness to threaten constituents and engage them in verbal arguments inside and outside of the board room is unacceptable. This attitude would just transfer to the City Council and his reputation would taint everything he would do as an elected councilman.
As a City Councilman, Padilla would not have the authority or control to raid the city coffers for his personal gain. We have to credit Padilla with at least having a vision and the ability to bring folks together and get projects moving forward.
Of the two we Endorse Steve Padilla for District 1, City of Chula Vista.
We updated this editoral on Oct 21, 2014. John McCann did not interview Jesus Gandara as we previously stated, it was Jim Cartmill who went to Texas. Our second correction was that Gandara was not fired after indictment charges, but fired after ethical and business questions were disclosed.