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On January 13, the Chula Vista City Council — in the wake of an acrimonious standoff — selected Steve Miesen to fill the council seat vacated by Mary Casillas Salas when she became mayor.

Although Miesen has been active in the South Bay community and appears to be well liked, his appointment continues to be challenged. He is the division manager of a sole-source waste-collection company, Republic Services, for the City of Chula Vista.

In order to avoid a costly special election and possible runoff, council members settled on Miesen, who refers to himself as the “$1.2 million compromise.”

But the hours expended by city attorneys for vetting and defending Miesen continue to add up.

On February 11, city attorney Glen Googins, said that deputy city attorney Simon Silva is still researching potential conflict-of-interest issues and preparing a report regarding possible scenarios in which Miesen would have to recuse himself.

Googins also noted that in some situations it might be necessary for the city to query the Fair Political Practices Commission regarding potential conflicts.

As the Reader reported in early February, Miesen declared he owned
“$10,000–$20,000 of Republic Services Stock Options” on the January 6 disclosure form he submitted prior to being interviewed by the council.

Shortly after Miesen was appointed to the council, he filed a 700 conflict-of-interest form. No Republic Services stock options appeared on this form.

When asked about the discrepancy between the two statements, Googins said, “I believe as a result of our discussions he sold his stock.”

During a February 12 interview with Miesen, he confirmed that he no longer has the stock. When asked if he sold the stock, he described the action as “exercising my stock options.”

Republic Services is a nationwide company and, according to its website, “…is the second largest provider of services in the domestic non-hazardous solid waste industry, as measured by revenue as well as a Fortune 500 company, publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.”

Because the City of Chula Vista engages Republic Services through a public/private partnership, there is a blurring of roles. A 2014 Yelp comment exemplifies this: “outrageous behavior, arbitrary pricing, they do not have to follow any rules because of the monopoly status they have with the city of chula vista.”

Legal challenges to Miesen’s appointment also continue to drive up hours expended by city attorneys. Jill Galvez, one of 44 applicants considered for the two-year vacancy, filed a complaint against Miesen’s appointment with the California attorney general.

In her complaint, she draws an analogy between the potential conflict-of-interest problems inherent in Miesen’s appointment and the time, in 2003, when David Malcolm served as a port commissioner while he also was a consultant for Duke Energy. In her letter to the attorney general, Galvez writes:

“…about a decade ago, a former port commissioner, David Malcolm, also did consulting work for Duke Energy. Malcolm conducted his business in the open, and attorneys for the port district allowed him to serve both roles. Malcolm ended up going to jail for [conflict of interest]."

Malcolm served 120 work furlough days and paid $260,000 restitution for a felony conflict-of interest charge.

“Here in Chula Vista,” continues Galvez’s complaint, “there wasn't another trash hauler that bid on the waste contract with the city. Republic is not only the sole source contractor, but also appears not to have any competition that could aid the citizens in Chula Vista by advocating for fairness and impartiality on our City Council.”

In addition to Galvez’s complaint, Chris Shilling, through the offices of Coast Law Group, LLP, and Briggs Law Corporation, has filed a letter of intent with the City of Chula Vista. Shilling challenged the procedure for nominating council candidates, arguing that a candidate nomination was tantamount to a secret ballot and demanding the violation be cured by repeating the nomination process in public and allowing the public the right to comment on candidates under consideration.

The city council will take up this issue in closed session on February 17. If the city does not respond by the end of the week, Shilling has 15 days to file a suit.

While a full report from the city attorney is pending, business carries on and so does Miesen, who says he works 10- to 12-hour days for Republic Services. To juggle Republic and council responsibilities, Miesen says he intends to step down from several non-profit boards on which he serves.

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AlexClarke Feb. 17, 2015 @ 5:35 a.m.

How many Republic Waste employees qualify for taxpayer welfare (food stamps, HUD housing, etc.)? Another stupid city council decision my the usual incompetents.


Susan Luzzaro Feb. 17, 2015 @ 6:57 a.m.

Actually, Alex, the Republic Service waste collection workers are members of the Teamsters. I imagine the same is true for the Republic Service workers who work in waste collection in San Diego. Theoretically, public/private agreements, or as it is also called--outsourcing--are supposed to bring the consumers a competitive advantage, but I suspect these Teamsters are well paid.


AlexClarke Feb. 17, 2015 @ 12:33 p.m.

Thank you for the update. There are so few private sector union employees any more. I hope that they are paid well at least a living wage for the hard work they do. There is little middle class workers left in San Diego. Consumers should always get the best deal possible but not at the expense of also having to support low wage workers. Thanks again.


eastlaker Feb. 17, 2015 @ 8 a.m.

I guess Chula Vista just likes keeping things in the family. And if you are not in the family, you will not know what is going on.

Those pesky members of the public!! Sticking their noses in where they are not wanted!


Sjtorres Feb. 17, 2015 @ 1:41 p.m.

So gadfly Jill Galvez gets pouty and her buddy Susan Luzzaro writes a story to help her out.


JillGalvez Feb. 17, 2015 @ 9:27 p.m.

SJTorres - your insult is not appreciated. You and your 160+ comments on Reader articles indicate that you are a certified gadfly.

Why don't you take time from your busy schedule of posting insults and online bullying and read the Attorney General's 126 page report on conflicts of interest? Or the FPPC rulings on ethics? Or the Common Law Doctrine against self-dealing?

I wish I had never applied to that vacant council seat because it has turned my legitimate concerns about the Miesen incompatible office and COI complaints into sound bites for those willfully ignorant of the laws of this state and country.

This country would be better for all of us if we educated ourselves more and spewed garbage out of our keyboards less.


Visduh Feb. 18, 2015 @ 8:38 p.m.

Sjtorres keeps up the sniping at Susan's posts without ever expanding on the accusations. Don't let him/her bug you: the comments are meaningless.


oskidoll Feb. 17, 2015 @ 1:52 p.m.

Really Sjtorres....what vendetta do you have against Susan Luzzaro, who again has written an even-handed story about our public servants?

You frequently 'insinuate' such things as you have in your post above. What proof do you have that Jill Galvez is a) a gadfly -- please explain your use of this derogatory term which implies that Galvez is not serious about her complaint in this matter; and that b)she and Luzzaro are 'buddies' and c) how will this story help Jill Galvez?

Please help us all understand how you come up with your somewhat snotty allegations and why we should pay attention to your posts.


joepublic Feb. 17, 2015 @ 5:18 p.m.

Will the council report out after they return from closed session? I'm really curious to see how they react to Mr. Shilling's complaint.

By the way, sjtorres, how is it that Ms Galvez's complaint's are a case of being "pouty" and not Mr. Shilling's? I detect a bit of sexism in your comment.


Susan Luzzaro Feb. 17, 2015 @ 7:51 p.m.

Alex, I agree with you. "There are so few private sector union employees any more. I hope that they are paid well at least a living wage for the hard work they do. "

I think there are separate issues here. The question posed by many is: is there a conflict of interest.

I think that well-paid employment in Chula Vista, or anywhere, is a great boon.


shirleyberan Feb. 18, 2015 @ 3:13 p.m.

Susan - honesty is obvious to those who are required to bring light. The others don't matter.


shirleyberan Feb. 18, 2015 @ 3:17 p.m.

The negatives don't matter, the people who have been harmed matter most. Hopefully corrected.


Visduh Feb. 18, 2015 @ 8:49 p.m.

This Republic stock is interesting. Miesen held stock options in January, now he reports no interest in the corporation. While his options (to purchase the stock) may have been held in January, it is worth noting that he claims no interest now. That change would have required two steps; the first would be to exercise the options and buy the shares, and the second would be to sell them. As a large publicly-traded corporation, that all would be possible. Before this is allowed to drop, Miesen should cough up the paper trail of just how it was that he disposed of his holdings. If he cannot provide that, it means that he either gave up his options, or he still has them. More, not less, disclosure in this matter is necessary.

All of this smacks of the scandals in the three So County school districts that brought down many big shots, sent a few to jail, and removed many from their seats. Is the city of CV now going down that road? With McCann in the picture, can anyone be sure otherwise?


eastlaker Feb. 20, 2015 @ 12:28 p.m.

I am rather curious: David Malcolm's name pops up here and there, but he doesn't ever seem to make public statements. He apparently is involved in civic and community affairs, but the general public does not know his opinions, his ideas or his thoughts for the future.

Why is this?


oskidoll Feb. 20, 2015 @ 3:34 p.m.

eastlaker -- I am assuming that your post ends with a rhetorical question. I agree with your assessment.

It seems to me that David Malcolm prefers to operate in the shadows, using his wealth and connections to further whatever business deals he is orchestrating. His apparent current involvement in civic and community affairs is focused on backing those causes where he can develop ties with those he might later influence within organizations such as South Bay Community Services. While some such organizations provide philanthropic benefit, they also provide 'connections' to those whom David would likely like to influence for his own purposes. They also provide handsome salaries for their top executives and former protegees such as Shirley Horton.

Why would he share his opinions and ideas with the rest of us? He has made it clear (through his messy and self-dealing stint at the Port) that he is primarily interested in outcomes that benefit his own bottom line.

As anniej says, 'just my opinion'.


eastlaker Feb. 21, 2015 @ 6:53 a.m.

oskidoll--I think that it is important for all of us who want to live in a functional, reasonable city with functional, reasonable schools, police department, fire department, etc. that we find out just who is the prime mover around here.

Or there may be more than one "mover". Whatever is going on needs to go on in the light of day, and we need to hear the particulars.

We end up paying for things one way or the other--or both ways, or every way from Sunday. We pay in Mello-Roos fees that are never-ending, although it is quite possible the fund should have capped out years ago when the initial required goal was reached for CFD #1. We pay in inept leadership that never calls these behind-the-scenes types on their influence--because the inept leadership continues to make decisions that are not in the best interests of community members. We pay, pay and pay as funds that should be used only for structural things, or items that will last five years or longer are used for very temporary, breakable things. We pay when our Mello-Roos funds are wrongly given/applied to schools and students not in any CFD.

This needs to stop now.

We need to get a grasp on things, sort things out and use funding sources in a legal and forthright manner. No more sleaze, tricks, schemes and dishonest maneuvers.

We have had more than enough of that. Yes, Ed Brand and Dianne Russo are being called on their misuse of pensions. Let us hope that someone will look into all the other things they managed to do that they shouldn't have done. That complicit board of McCann, Cartmill and Ricasa might just have to 'reconvene' for a few more depositions.

Corruption spreads unless everything is done in the light of day, is reported to the public, and the public watches what is going on.

Personally, I think we here in the communities that make up south San Diego county are rather fed up with self-appointed honchos who think they can rob us blind and leave us with nothing but poor business decisions and the bills that go on for decades.

Yes, thank goodness for Susan Luzzaro, and that small band of community-minded people who started looking into all of these inter-related messes. Let's hope we can hack away at the corruption until those who are corrupt finally realize that they are not welcome here.


anniej Feb. 22, 2015 @ 7:50 a.m.

Jill Galvez - while we have had differing opinions in the past I agree whole heatedly with your statement 'the country would be better off if we educated ourselves more'. Unfortunately it has become like a plague - the masses would prefer to 'let someone else do it' and feel perfectly comfortable with their easy chair quarterbacking. News - to many, if you attempt to engage them in the current event news, they begin bringing you up to date on the Kardashians.


oskidoll Feb. 22, 2015 @ 12:09 p.m.

I quite agree with both eastlaker and annie j. above. We have learned much about the opportunists and how they will take advantage of the public and the public's coffers when not watched closely. We have also learned that sometimes the public servants are also those very same opportunists!

Given what we have observed, I am thinking about Shirley Horton's recent comments during her wandering, nearly stream of consciousness thoughts expressed during her 'interview' for the vacant council seat. At one point in response to 'why do you think you are the best candidate' type question, she mentioned the importance of the upcoming major projects (bay front development and university project), saying, "it is important to have the RIGHT PEOPLE in place" for the projects to succeed and implying that she would be the person to arrange such. Very telling comments indeed!!

We know how important it is to be vigilant and to continue close observation of the workings of our public agencies and how our public money is spent. Thanks to the spirited and dedicated group who uncovered so much perfidy at Sweetwater, to Susan Luzzaro for her investigative reporting, and to the READER for providing this forum.


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