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The Chula Vista city council voted October 24 to disestablish the Tourism Marketing District. The action was prompted by a petition of 53% of the city's hoteliers requesting the district be dissolved.

In December 2008 Supervisor Greg Cox gave the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce $25,000 from his discretionary community project funds to start up a Tourism Marketing District. The district was established in July 2009 and was charged with promoting hotel/motel business. Since then the city of Chula Vista has been collecting a 12 1/2% tax from hotel guests. Ten percent going to the city as Transient Occupancy Tax, and the other 2.5 % to the Tourism Marketing District.

Questions about the effectiveness of the Tourism Marketing District were raised earlier in the year by council members Steve Castaneda and Patricia Aguilar. In June 2012, a San Diego County Grand Jury report was released on this subject.

The Grand Jury investigated the relationship of the TMD and the city of Chula Vista regarding possible misuse of funds. Initially, the district was operated by the chamber of commerce.

The report shows that from "its formation in July 2009 through June 30, June 30, 2011, TMD income from the [hotel/motel] assessment was $693,487." During that period, the Tourism Marketing District spent $489,331 for staff expenses and only $69,345 on marketing.

The grand jury report also found that, although a representative from the Hotel Motel Association said Chula Vista's primary tourist markets are Los Angeles, Arizona and Nevada the hotels and motels had been promoted in two local publications--The Star News and My Hometown Chula Vista.

The chamber of commerce made a presentation on October 24 about changes, some already in effect, that would make the Tourism Marketing District stronger. However, council member Castaneda, said "Change has happened, but not fast enough." Castaneda also said it was necessary to take direction from the hoteliers, otherwise the council would be indicating that "When democracy doesn't serve our interests we don't follow it."

Council members Castaneda, Aguilar and Rudy Ramirez voted to disband the market. Mayor Cheryl Cox and council member Pamela Bensoussan voted against the dissolution.

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Comments

joepublic Oct. 24, 2012 @ 5:53 p.m.

So, supervisor Cox used $25,000 of taxpayers' money to promote private enterprise. Is this legal?

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eastlaker Oct. 25, 2012 @ 7:18 a.m.

Kind of makes me wonder how many were on staff for an annual expense of almost half a million dollars for a one year period of time.

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cvres Oct. 25, 2012 @ 7:34 a.m.

I got a letter from the Coxes the other day supporting Pamela Bensoussan paid for by the Chamber of Commerce, how very hand in glove.

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VigilantinCV Oct. 25, 2012 @ 1:10 p.m.

This is just too sweet. We know Greg and Cheryl Cox are in bed together. Now it seems we are learning that the Chamber of Commerce and Pamela Bensoussan are in bed with them. Quid pro quo. Hopefully the gravy train ended with the disestablishment of the TMD Tuesday night. Kudos to Aguilar, Castaneda, and Ramirez.

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ElVikingo Oct. 29, 2012 @ 7:44 p.m.

We know who must be run out of office for trying to push for the continuation of such a corrupt scheme, among the many attacks her policies have had on the quality of life of residents.

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Letter to the Editor Oct. 30, 2012 @ 4:49 p.m.

This decision by the City Council was a good one, and once again, Mayor Cheryl Cox and Pamela Bensoussan sided with malfeasance and corruption. It is unconscionable that an entire industry would be forced to apply a tax on its service to give to another private organization that supposedly promotes their business when in fact 80% of the funds are used to hire staff at the Chamber of Commerce. It is like Pamela Bensoussan doesn't have one inkling of basic economics, regardless of her party affiliation. The hotels would be better off banding together on their own and just pooling money to buy publicity.

I voted for Pamela Bensoussan in 2008 and am a lifelong Democrat. That is a mistake that I am not stupid enough to repeat. Her alliances with Cheryl Cox and the backroom deals with David Malcolm are just the icing on the cake. You have Pam also supporting hairbrained schemes like this Tourism Marketing District and other job-killing ordinances. It is time that the voters of Chula Vista drag this corrupt ass-hat out of City Hall kicking and screaming. Larry Breitfelder Navas is a person with better credentials and experience than Pamela, and his record in public service is 100% spotless. He has been a voice for responsible city government that provides quality services.

Luis Castro Lopez

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