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An account provided by former commissioner Padilla conforms with Malcolm’s description of his role in driving the negotiations. The city of Chula Vista hired an outside attorney — John Lormon of Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP — to help with bayfront talks. Not all councilmembers were informed of this step. Lormon first drew up a terms-of-agreement sheet that included the decommissioning of the plant, rent arrangements between the port and Dynegy, and site remediation. This was the agreement that Padilla submitted to the port on October 18. (The agreement became moot when the state agency decided to decommission the plant.)

Then, according to Padilla, David Malcolm and Councilmember Bensoussan called a meeting at the South Bay Fish and Grill on October 27. At that meeting, Malcolm and Bensoussan presented Padilla with a new document, a draft letter of intent, which had been prepared by Lormon. The letter effectively said that Dynegy was going to assign the decommissioning obligations and remediation to the city of Chula Vista and that the port acknowledged and agreed to the assignment.

Padilla said he was stunned. He said, “To my knowledge, even at this time, only two councilmembers knew of this agreement.” He asked Malcolm and Bensoussan, “You want the city of Chula Vista to assume the risks and obligations of cleaning up the power plant site?” Padilla said they wanted him to present the draft letter of intent at the next port meeting.

An October email from Malcolm to Padilla also shows Malcolm’s hand in shaping the agreements. Among the email recipients was Malcolm’s cousin Dan, who had been chosen to replace the retiring port commissioner from Imperial Beach in January 2011. The email contains attachments, and Malcolm’s instruction reads: “[Steve] Peace can open and so can Dan Malcolm.… There are only a few changes in the redline. Spelling of Dynergy and #7 as added. Except as set forth in the definitive agreements, the rights and obligations of the parties under existing agreements shall remain in full force and effect including, without limitation, the Environmental Remediation Agreement, the Facility Services Agreement and the Easement and Covenant Agreement. Only other changes are spelling and grammar errors.”

Another email, written last October, again illustrates Malcolm’s role in the negotiations. In the email, he seems to be attempting to persuade members of his team that the power plant site won’t need much cleanup. “Their [Dynegy’s] desire is to pay an agreed upon fee up front and be released. They will share their 16 bids on the demolition of the plant with us. You must remember, [San Diego Gas and Electric] remains liable for certain ground contamination (if any). I will tell you the number of soils tests we did BEFORE the purchase of the plant were extensive. The Port didn’t want to get in line of title of a possible toxic situation and maybe more important Duke didn’t want to take on a possible expensive mitigation project. Both the Port’s and Duke’s environment people ‘poked’ holes through the property and found nothing. If we assemble the right team to review the bids, review the soils reports this could be a BIG gain for the So Bay and specifically CV.”

The email is at odds with his statements in the February 7 interview, at which time he said, “San Diego Gas and Electric has to clean up everything from the 50’s all the way up through 1999, which was the vast majority of time when they had bad things like PCBs and transformers, all those things that leaked. Those things haven’t existed since Dynegy became involved.”

He proceeded to elaborate how excess cleanup money might be spent. “Chula Vista could decide to use some of the leftover money to restore some wetlands down there in the South Bay Wildlife Refuge and use some money to help the Nature Interpretive Center.”

In early February, I interviewed former commissioner Padilla. He commented on the difficult position he had been put in trying to serve the Chula Vista City Council and the port. Padilla said that negotiations between the city and Dynegy ultimately needed port approval. “We [the port]…said we’ll get you any information you need, but you need to know that at the end of the day, Chula Vista will have to provide evidence of how they can financially do this [clean up the site] and how they’re going to perform. And that’s standard to any tenant — to any lessee — in the port, and Dynegy is no different.”

The way the negotiations were set up, Padilla said, was like “taking a chance on starting World War III. Frankly, it seemed like some people wanted to create this conflict between the city and the port when there didn’t need to be one. And it really centered around these same people, and I think, frankly, some of this was by design. They were looking for a fight with the port instead of working with the port to advance the bayfront.”

When asked point-blank if Chula Vista should secede from the port, Malcolm said, “I’ve always thought that Chula Vista ought to control its own future. The port was formed in 1963 because the San Diego Harbor District was bankrupt, and National City had the most money in their harbor district, followed by Chula Vista. So the port district was put together to save San Diego Harbor District. Now, if you ask each of the city councils if they ought to be controlling and planning their own waterfront, I think they would tell you yes. The only one who would be opposed to that would be Imperial Beach because they’re heavily subsidized by the port.”

Padilla responded to the idea of breaking up the port by saying, “If these people think that without a financial partner like the port that the Chula Vista bayfront can go forward, if they think the city of Chula Vista can manage the wetlands and tidelands, deal with all the state regulatory agencies, that the port tidelands and bay tidelands are all going to be managed piecemeal, if these people think that’s good policy for the environment, that it’s going to be welcomed with open arms by the environmental community statewide, I think they’re smoking pot.”

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ElProfeLoco March 16, 2011 @ 1:37 p.m.

I happen to know a bit about the SB Power Plant on the CV bayfront (I was on the Chula Vista City environmental commission (RCC) and Bayfront Citizens Advisory Committee, plus a degree in environmental engineering and another in mechanical engineering specializing in power generation).

But most important is the cast of characters mentioned, many of whom I know personally and all of whom I know about: - Bensoussan: ignorant and uninformed on these matters; a lap dog for Mayor Cox - Padilla: bright, but overly ambitious and two-faced and untrustworthy - Cox: also ignorant on these matters and a complete fool for involving David Malcolm (already convicted once for selling out the Port re this power plant) - David Malcolm: a convicted felon, graft tainted politico, completely self centered and not to be trusted on anything - but has the gift of gab (like Padilla) and can chase a buck as long as it ends up in his own pocket - Ramirez: usually asleep at the switch as a CV Councilman; nice guy but not all that bright - Sandoval, CV City Mgr.: a loyal "soldier" which means he'd do most anything Mayor Cox wanted

So out of almost everyone mentioned, this is a Ship of Fools and ego driven people out for their own interests and not necessarily the interests of the public and their constituency. The contract(s) with Dynergy passed muster with Port, and later City of CV, staff and attorneys and apparently none were bright enough to include usual contract provisions for liability and responsibility (for cleanup) - especially in the event of bankruptcy. Our tax dollars at work. What a mess.


cvres March 16, 2011 @ 5:58 p.m.

I read here that David Malcolm thinks leftover money could go to the Wildlife Refuge. I read somewhere else that the leftover money might have gone to infrastructure. But doesn't some of that money (apparently $32 mil) come from the ratepayers? If there is any leftover it should be returned to us.


VigilantinCV March 16, 2011 @ 6:44 p.m.

I never voted for David Malcolm nor Laura Hunter. I regret I ever voted for Cheryl Cox and Pamela Bensoussan. Yet because they somehow know what is best they acted as though the end justifies the means. NEVER! Our young men and women are dying in distant lands in the name of our democracy, our freedom. How dare they betray the public trust by cloaking what they are up to in secrecy!


ElProfeLoco March 17, 2011 @ 6:18 a.m.

Sorry, I inadvertently left out Laura Hunter of the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), and she deserves much recognition.

Ms. Hunter was very active and proactive in the last failed attempt to develop the Chula Vista bayfront. In fact, EHC with fellow travelers from the SD Labor Council (Jerry Butkiewicz, et al) can claim full credit for sabotaging a desirable deal with Gaylord to develop the CV bayfront by demanding a sweetheart labor deal.

Additionally, Ms. Hunter got a bogus over-paid CV City position for her protegee Alison Rolfe (ex-Audobon Society tout) with then CV Mayor Padilla, reputedly in exchange for Padilla's support of some the EHC agenda (often different from the citizen agenda) on the CV bayfront. Ms. Rolfe went on to peddle her services, at inflated prices, to Pacifica Corp. the wannabee developer of the CV bayfront.

Further, part of that quid pro quo, scratch-my-back, back room deal was the subsequent appointment of Padilla to the Calif. Coastal Commission (brokered by EHC) after his Mayoral term expired.

Despite their usual under the table shenanigans, occasionally (not often enough!) EHC does some public good. In the case of the South Bay Power Plant, they DID play a part in removing the eyesore power lines from the SB Power Plant. EHC also has some credible research and reports on the SB Power Plant. Too bad EHC can't desist from maneuvering in the shadows and political chicanery long enough to focus on positive environmental resources.


joepublic March 17, 2011 @ 9:29 a.m.

In the last paragraph, David Malcom says: " …what I don’t want is the Chula Vista City Council deciding it, and I don’t want the port commissioners deciding it. I want these world-class brains to get together and tell us what they think, and you know what — something’s gonna resonate out of it.” How can anyone, especially in these times, put forth such oligarchal type thinking. The members of the Chula Vista City Council that went along with this unacceptable model of government should be called down for their undemocratic behavior. Hopefully the public hearing on this matter, called for March 22, will be the beginning of the end of this elitist (and illegal?) way of doing the public's business.


Susan Luzzaro March 17, 2011 @ 6:31 p.m.


You make some very good points. Regarding Gaylord being sabotaged by Laura Hunter & unions-- if I recall correctly the sticking point was hiring local workers--it wasn't that they had to be union. But you sound like someone who was very close to the situation. At any rate, my guess is there were other people not in favor of Gaylord. Mr. Malcolm said in the February interview that he never cared for Gaylord, that they were not world class.


ElProfeLoco March 18, 2011 @ 5:58 a.m.

The (minor) correction re the unions, EHC and Gaylord is correct. It was the union and EHC folks that demanded the local labor clause, and this WAS a primary reason Gaylord pulled out of the CV bayfront deal - so the net result WAS that EHC/unions killed the deal. EHC and the unions are not located in CV and have miniscule (hardly any) voter representation in CV.

Why anyone cares what David Malcolm thinks about CV or Port matters is beyond me. He is a convicted corrupt official who keeps meddling and offering opinions when he should be hiding in shame elsewhere instead of slinking around and offering press interviews. Mayor Cox should be recalled for involving this criminal in matters in the same place where his thievery took place some years ago. No shame (nor common sense) is apparent in either of these people.


laplayaheritage March 18, 2011 @ 7:08 a.m.


The above linked letter from Pat Flannery's Blog of San Diego documents Gaylord position in regard to the Labor, Building and Construction Councils that they are discontinuing their project because they could not find "a mutually beneficial way to fund the infrastructure."



Arrowstarlet April 30, 2011 @ 4:55 p.m.

I grew up in Orange County. In fact, my father was one of the top landscape architects that developed all of Orange County. I got married eight years ago and moved here, into my husband's childhood home. I can't believe how this city is ran! I can't believe how slow it takes to develop anything here! If this bay front project was in the Orange County, it would have been developed by now! One reason why it hasn‘t - - we have a bunch of greedy politicians and citizens running the show. And nothing is getting done! Gaylord, a first class hospitality company, left because they realized they are dealing with a second rate city! If we want our bay front developed, we need new leadership that will get the job done. It’s sad! Chula Vista has so many possibilities and could be a first rate city. But, at this rate, I don’t see it happening! It is frustrating to watch!


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