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On June 8, Chula Vista will go to the polls to elect a mayor, two city councilmembers, and for the first time since voters passed a 2008 ballot measure, a city attorney. And while the mayoral race between incumbent Cheryl Cox and councilmember Steve Castaneda has had it's fair share of heated moments, it's the city attorney race that has generated the most political heat.

What started with four attorneys on the ballot has now been skimmed down to two; Chula Vista resident and former assistant city attorney Glen Googins and Lakeside resident Robert Faigin, who serves as chief legal advisor to the San Diego County Sheriff.

On Faigin's website, selecting a tab entitled "Meet My Opponent" brings up a page with a picture of the definition of malpractice on it.

Scrolling down, there are four bullet points. The first, dated 2000, cites Googins advice to enter into an "exclusive negotiating agreement" with William Tuchscher, owner of Tuchscher Development Enterprise. The next bullet point describes a settlement between the city and Tuchscher, where the city paid $850,000 for a contract violation. The third bullet point targets Googins’s resignation from his position as assistant city attorney and details the $175,000 severance that the city paid to "make [Googins] go away." The headline for final bullet point is, "Glen Googins Is Sued for Malpractice."

In an email to this correspondent, Googins returned fire: "My opponent's campaign has been based upon misleading statements and innuendo regarding my record. He clearly wants to focus on such things rather than our respective qualifications."

After touting his 22 years of practicing law in both public and private sectors and citing his work in the communities of Chula Vista and for nonprofits during the past 18 years, Googins responded to some of Faigin's bullet points.

On the issue of his resignation from the position of assistant city attorney, Googins wrote that he resigned due to disagreements "over issues related to administration of the office."

"People can certainly disagree with the City's policy and approach to paying severance to me or others. But it is no basis to disqualify me from being city attorney."

In response to claims that he cost the city $850,000 in 2002, Googins added that the settlement paid to Tuchscher did not result from poor legal representation or advice.

"All we know about [Faigin] are things he says about himself and how he is conducting his campaign," wrote Googins. "Using false statements and innuendo to advocate your position is hardly the stuff of a good city attorney."

During a May 8 phone interview, Faigin addressed the accusations made by his opponent about his campaign. "The misinformation is coming from him. I didn't make any of this up. I didn't personalize it. I didn't edit it. I didn't do anything but post it."

"It's a deflection," added Faigin. "I don't deal in rumor and I don't deal in innuendo, I just released the facts."

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Comments

David Dodd May 10, 2010 @ 7:11 p.m.

Why is a Lakeside attorney running for City Attorney of the City of Chula Vista? Makes about as much sense as me running for Mayor of Lakeside. If I lived in Chula Vista, that would be the first question I asked of Faigin.

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thacerro May 13, 2010 @ 11:37 a.m.

Refried Gringo, If you lived in Chula Vista you would know that one of our biggest problems here is that a small group of families have been running the city for decades and who you know has way too much sway in government. Robert Fagin is the ideal candidate for City Attorney because he does not live here, has never practiced law here and does not know any of the insider families. We worked for an elected City Attorney to ensure an independent City Attorney not beholden to mayor and council for his or her job. Someone who will decide matters only based upon the law. Robert Faigin's opponent has been in private practice in Chula Vista and almost all his clients have been people having business with the city, which is why he is listed as a Municipal Law Attorney. These clients are the very same people who will continue having business with city hall. If he is elected their former attorney will be deciding their legal matters still. This clearly does not look independent and could require hiring outside council to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. He also is recieving financial support from law firms which work for the city, a sitting council member held an event for him, which the mayor's husband among other insiders attended, and he is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Third Ave. Business Association, and numerous other local groups. Is there any issue that the City Attorney will have to give an opinion on that he does not have an existing connection to the players? Quite Possibly Not.

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CuddleFish May 13, 2010 @ 1:03 p.m.

Thanks, thacerro, for your excellent reply, and thanks to Dorian who amazes me by his excellent coverage of so many issues all over San Diego County, unlike another stringer who seems to only care and post about drunks and drinking in a certain little drinker's locale. I find that stringer's, um, stories merely amusing, while your articles are outstanding, well-written, informative, accurate, timely, fairly objective and yet focused into the core issues. Congratulations on your continued good work.

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David Dodd May 13, 2010 @ 1:47 p.m.

thacerro: Understand the issue, I did spend a number if years recently working in Chula Vista. Problem is, that the City Attorney has to work with the City, even those people who are small families, with influences, and so on. All cities are like this, it isn't limited to Chula Vista. I would hate to see Chula Vista have the same issues as did the City of San Diego when Aguirre was the City Attorney there. Googins could be crooked as a mountain road for all I know, but Faigin could overall be worse for the City if, as an outsider, he isn't capable of defending it. The City Attorney's job isn't to break up the cliques within the City goverment, the citizens do that with votes for Mayor and City Council.

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