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Out with the old...

Chula Vista's newly sworn in council member, Mary Salas, anxious to repeal ordinance

At a December 4 Chula Vista council meeting, incumbent Pamela Bensoussan and Mary Salas were sworn in. A short time later, during council comments, Salas declared that she was not happy with an ordinance passed in November regarding Legislative Council and stated that she wants to "repeal" it.

Salas was supported by Mayor Cox and Bensoussan and the item was agendized for December 11.

Prior to the November election, campaign signs referred to Salas and Bensoussan as "united." Some have speculated the signs forecasted a new voting block on the council.

The ordinance in question stems from Proposition C passed by the residents in 2012. Aside from setting term limits and compensation for the city attorney, the ballot measure sought "to authorize the City Council to establish the office of Legislative Counsel to advise the City council on it's legislative duties and on conflict of interest issues..." The majority of the voters, 53.44 %, approved the measure.

Chula Vista's November ordinance put in place a legislative counsel. Among other duties, the counsel would advise the Ethics Commission.

In a similar manner, the city of San Diego has an Ethics Commission which does not report to the mayor or the city council and is not advised by the city attorney.

In 2004, San Diego passed proposition E which reads: "Shall the city charter be amended to enable the Ethics Commission to retain its own legal counsel, rather than be represented by the City Attorney whose clients include City Officials who may be investigated by the Ethics Commission?"

During a recent Chula Vista Ethics Commission meeting, long-time civic activist Peter Watry raised concerns about the need for an independent counsel. Watry had requested an investigation into campaign contributions received by a council member. Watry asserted the donations were timed with a council vote on a zoning change that would be advantageous to the donors.

The commission voted not to pursue the allegation. According to Watry, the commission relied on the advice from the city attorney's office presented at the meeting which raises the question of conflict-of-interest.

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At a December 4 Chula Vista council meeting, incumbent Pamela Bensoussan and Mary Salas were sworn in. A short time later, during council comments, Salas declared that she was not happy with an ordinance passed in November regarding Legislative Council and stated that she wants to "repeal" it.

Salas was supported by Mayor Cox and Bensoussan and the item was agendized for December 11.

Prior to the November election, campaign signs referred to Salas and Bensoussan as "united." Some have speculated the signs forecasted a new voting block on the council.

The ordinance in question stems from Proposition C passed by the residents in 2012. Aside from setting term limits and compensation for the city attorney, the ballot measure sought "to authorize the City Council to establish the office of Legislative Counsel to advise the City council on it's legislative duties and on conflict of interest issues..." The majority of the voters, 53.44 %, approved the measure.

Chula Vista's November ordinance put in place a legislative counsel. Among other duties, the counsel would advise the Ethics Commission.

In a similar manner, the city of San Diego has an Ethics Commission which does not report to the mayor or the city council and is not advised by the city attorney.

In 2004, San Diego passed proposition E which reads: "Shall the city charter be amended to enable the Ethics Commission to retain its own legal counsel, rather than be represented by the City Attorney whose clients include City Officials who may be investigated by the Ethics Commission?"

During a recent Chula Vista Ethics Commission meeting, long-time civic activist Peter Watry raised concerns about the need for an independent counsel. Watry had requested an investigation into campaign contributions received by a council member. Watry asserted the donations were timed with a council vote on a zoning change that would be advantageous to the donors.

The commission voted not to pursue the allegation. According to Watry, the commission relied on the advice from the city attorney's office presented at the meeting which raises the question of conflict-of-interest.

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Comments
12

Susan, please go back and listen to her comments again. She did not say repeal. She said she had concerns with some aspects of the Council's implementation of the ordinance that she wants the Council to look at again. There is no doubt that Mary knows that neither she nor the Council can repeal something the voters approved.

Dec. 6, 2012

cvreader, Thanks for your comment. I hate making a mistake so I went back and listened. Salas says;

"i did have a concern though i think one of a pretty serious nature. on november 29 this council took action to regarding the legislative council ordinance and um as I was reading through it I felt there were a number of flaws, I felt there could be some improvement on it so right now at this meeting I'm requesting a reconsideration of that action regarding the legislative council ordinance and um repeal the adopted ordinance and I would like some support for this council to do so."

Dec. 6, 2012

I didn't hear the word repeal, but in the context of her statement, she is clearly referring to the Council action to implement the ordinance. The mention of repeal is in the sentence that she says "that action" whcih refers to the Council's action on Nov 29 mentioned in her first and second line. Again, there is no doubt that she knows that neither she nor the Council can repeal a measure passed by the voters.
It's important that you read or listen for things in context. Not having done so resulted in your writing an article that charges something that appears to be much bigger than it is. Readers who didn't attend or watch the meeting will assume she wants to repeal a voter approved ordinance, which is clearly not what she said.

Dec. 7, 2012

P.S. In fact, she also says she wants to improve it (line 4). So even though she used the word "repeal", it is clear from the context that she wants to improve it and remove the flaws she sees (yet to be heard). But again, the article does not make that clear and leads readers to believe she wants to do away with it.

Dec. 7, 2012

Nice to see a change in the votes.

Dec. 7, 2012

and yes, no mention of "repeal" by Salas according to the transcript.

Dec. 7, 2012

Pancho, you already have the transcript. How did you get transcripts so quickly. I would like one so quickly too.

But I must send you back to the city meeting video. You and cvreader will hear the word repeal in council comments. 1hour 27 minutes.

Perhaps we mince meat or parse comments. See the subtitle of this piece. Repeal the ordinance would be different than repeal the proposition. Salas said, "repeal the adopted ordinance."

Dec. 7, 2012

sorry, Susan, I was going by the quote you posted. Is that not the transcript?

Dec. 9, 2012

Pancho, can you post the excerpt from the transcript? Thank you, Susan

Dec. 7, 2012

Susan, while technically correct, the way the article is written would lead one who doesn't read it carefully to assume that Mary is trying to overturn the measure passed by the voters. The Council has no choice but to implement the measure, but it does have some degree of latitude as to how to implement it. That is what Mary wants to revisit. I didn't hear repeal, but if that's what she said, she is certainly not challenging the ballot measure, but how it is implemented.

Dec. 7, 2012

Pancho:  When you say, "Nice to see a change in the votes", do you mean we can now expect the council to go along with the mayor and her close ally Bensoussan, and that's good? Wouldn't we rather have a council with less predictability, one that would vote on issues based on many factors rather than simply voting in a "united" political coalition like the sign and your comment seem to suggest?

Dec. 8, 2012

For the last two years it has been a "united" 3-2 vote of ridiculousness. I'm looking forward to the change.

Dec. 9, 2012

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