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At the October 21st Chula Vista City Council meeting, Chula Vista resident Carlos Lopez approached the podium for his three minutes of public comment. Trailing him was his friend and neighbor, Theresa Acerro. In Lopez’s hands was a roll of gray duct tape.

Once at the podium, Lopez tore off a piece of the tape and, while the councilmembers and Mayor Cheryl Cox looked on, applied the tape over his mouth. Acerro read Lopez’s statement for him, directed mostly at the mayor.

“I voted for you upon the recommendation by a friend and someone’s opinion I trusted very much and is a person very close to you and your husband. When I inquired about you, he referred to you as being a good person. I told my family and friends that we were voting for a good person who cares for our community, only to find out that you are a nightmare to the health, safety, and welfare of the children attending Otay Elementary School and the Chula Vista community at large.”

Lopez was referring to the council’s support (with the exception of Councilmember Rudy Ramirez) of an expansion of a power plant in southwestern Chula Vista. Many community members have said the plant violates setback requirements for schools and neighborhoods and jeopardizes the health and safety of residents and children in the immediate area due to pollution and dangerous particulate matter.

Lopez and fellow community members have united in their efforts to stop the expansion of the plant, forming Communities Taking Action. The organization has coordinated an effort to recall the mayor.

“I know you are not ignorant, dumb, unaware, uneducated, uncaring for children’s health, safety, and welfare,” Acerro read. Lopez looked directly into the eyes of Mayor Cox, who stared back from 15 feet away. “But if you are not that, then what are you? The message you are sending is exactly that. This is real anger by a community that is not going to take it anymore. By a community that demands environmental justice for its sons, daughters, and self. If you think you will be allowed to do this without any protest — any effort from us to seek due process, justice, redress of our grievances — you are totally mistaken.”

When the three minutes were up, Lopez and Acerro returned to their seats and Lopez ripped the tape from his mouth.

There was no response from the mayor or councilmembers.

For more on the opposition to the expansion of the MMC Peaker Plant, go to communitiestakingaction.com.

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Comments

thacerro Oct. 25, 2008 @ 8:13 p.m.

On Friday October 24, 2008 the city clerk of Chula Vista-Donna Norris-approved the petition submitted by members of Communities Taking Action. Enough petitions to collect 22,000 signatures were printed at an Office Depot on Saturday, October 25,2008. Now the 20 proponents will start getting signatures.

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a2zresource Oct. 26, 2008 @ 9:53 p.m.

We can't claim to be a functioning democracy unless people make the effort to get involved. There sure seems to be some popular involvement here!

It is unfortunate that it often takes the threat of legal action to get most politicians to look at things without seeing them through some developer's eyes. On the other hand, the peaceful removal of a politician who has reached an obvious level of incompetence seems to reflect on a culture better than hosting a real pitchfork-and-lit-torches revolution.

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thacerro Oct. 26, 2008 @ 4:43 p.m.

These reasons appear on petition TO THE HONORABLE Cheryl Cox:

Pursuant to Section 11020, California Elections Code, the undersigned registered qualified voters of Chula Vista in the State of California, hereby give notice that we are the proponents of a recall petition and that we intend to seek your recall and removal from the office of Mayor, in Chula Vista, California, and to demand election of a successor in that office:

The grounds for the recall are as follows:

Inefficient/Ineffective Leadership: inability or unwillingness to negotiate compromises has resulted in initiatives, antagonism and costly court cases; Bungled termination of the City Manager; Poor staff morale; misinterprets Charter to give excessive power to self; does not follow Mission Statement of council.

Fiscal Irresponsibility: excessive use of consultants; no bid contracts; costly reports without council consensus; misuse of staff time; poor understanding of budget problems: cancellation of fireworks and other community events.

Poor Interface with the Community: improper use of closed door sessions; attempts to limit and stifle public comment; condescending attitude toward fellow council and community members with whom she disagrees; lack of concern for the health and safety of all community members

Environmental Mismanagement: has weakened environmental policies; lack of strong, comprehensive energy policy; refusal to oppose inappropriate placement of MMC peaker power plant.

Violating Conventional Standards of Fair Play: encouraged costly, politically motivated court cases against political opponents; ignores environmental justice policies and laws; willing to allow the placement of a peaker plant in violation of city ordinances and General Plan policy; preferential treatment for political allies and out of town developers

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thacerro Oct. 26, 2008 @ 4:47 p.m.

More elaboration of reasons 1. Easy to see and commented upon by other council members. 2. Used a lot of staff time for ordinance she proposed to fight prop E. Also used a lot o staff time for leadership academies, rehersals (no one could say anything that was not pre-approved), planning, etc. Considering city's financial position, questionable; did not explain to public enough in advance that adopted cuts would eliminate fireworks, which if people had known could possibly have been saved through donations 3. Too many closed door sessions for things the public wanted to have a say in-firing city manager without cause, paying legal bills, peaker plant; insults & or patronizes fellow council members during meetings; villainized an esteemed community member for political advantage; plays politics with comments from the dias; her very first meeting she told us outside that people could no longer donate time. She wanted to eliminate public comment but was shown section in charter until recently she would rudely cut off members of the public but her friends could talk as long as they liked.

  1. The ciy was on track to adopt CCA until she was elected; she emasculated the climate change working groups recommendations and made then voluntary; does not care that peaker plant is within a 1,000 feet of 50 homes.

5.Gloated over and continues to use for political gain, if did not actually encourage her friend the DA to prosecute first Jason and then Castaneda, the treatment of the southwest has deteriorated under her regime, which is a festering long-term EJ issue; absolutely no leadership except behind the scenes and in opposition to the community on peaker issue; a few people sent a few letters about park in San Miguel Ranch and she insisted it be built even though there is no money for maintenance, but over a 1,000 residents have been involved in fighting the peaker plant and she won't even allow a public discussion, but hugs and kisses Josie Calderon during a council recess in front of everyone—so much for impartiality-a deliberate insult to the opponents who were present

4.

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