Friday, May 23, 2008

Shut up, Scott Peters

Voice of San Diego

Goldsmith Scolds Peters

Judge Jan Goldsmith today took Council President Scott Peters to task for calling on the district attorney and the Attorney General's Office to investigate alleged "criminal extortion" by incumbent City Attorney Mike Aguirre.

"I want to put a stop to this. This is wrong, it's wrong if it's against Aguirre, it's wrong if it's against anyone else," Goldsmith said.

Peters called on District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis to investigate the claims against Aguirre, which first surfaced in a report released Tuesday by the Attorney General's Office...

Dumanis has since said she won't conduct an investigation because she has endorsed Goldsmith for city attorney. It's also doubtful that what Aguirre is accused to have done would constitute criminal extortion anyway, as I explained in this post earlier this week.

Goldsmith said that Peters needs to stay out of it. He said the Attorney General's Office has all the evidence it needs to come to its own conclusions about whether to investigate the "extortion."

"They're professionals, if they believe there's probable cause, they can pursue it," he said.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A reminder of odd bedfellows (unions and Republicans) created by the pension crisis

Why did unions in San Diego support Republican Brian Maienschein for the City Council? It was a match made when Republican Mayor Dick Murphy made his pact with city unions that unions would be granted extremely generous pension benefits in return for helping cover up the fact that the pension system was underfunded. Today I saw a reminder of the bizarreness of these strange bedfellows:

Voice of San Diego
by Scott Lewis
You might remember my discussion of the potential awkwardness that would come up when Brian Maienschein funded his city attorney campaign.

To refresh, he's going to use the stash of funds left over from his 2004 campaign for City Council. Today the city clerk posted his latest financial disclosures and sure enough, the transfer is complete. Now, all those donors to his 2004 campaign are listed, essentially, as donors to his city attorney campaign...

One of them listed, for example, is attorney Karen Heumann. She, of course, is now one of the most important people in City Attorney Mike Aguirre's administration.

The second name that really stood out was Tony Krvaric -- the head of the Republican Party of San Diego County. It's fair to say Krvaric is not a supporter of Maienschein's bid for city attorney...

Ironic that Krvaric might have helped pay for that mailer.

The list of people who also are now funding Maienschein's city attorney campaign includes Murray Galinson, who is actually counted as a supporter of Scott Peters.

The list itself is a who's who:

Jerry Butkiewicz, who until recently was the Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council...

Fred Sainz, the mayor's spokesman

Judie Italiano, general manager of the city employees' white collar union

City Councilman Kevin Faulconer

Phil Thalheimer, who's running for City Council District 1

Ronne Froman, the former COO of the city

Joe Craver, the head of the local Red Cross...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Greg Cox fails to address question of tipster in Steve Castaneda case

Bob Castaneda, the brother of Chula Vista Councilman Steve Castaneda, raised important questions about the two prosecutions carried out by the San Diego District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit.

Bonnie Dumanis appointed Peter O'Toole to bring in two political opponents of Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox for questioning. Both of them were charged with lying during these odd investigations. How did these investigations get initiated? Why were two men prosecuted for felony perjury even though the investigations uncovered no crimes?

Why has a complaint about Cheryl Cox and her agents been ignored by the Special Operations department?

I can tell you who was the tipster in that matter. I was!

Supervisor Greg Cox has written a letter that does absolutely nothing to answer the questions that have been raised. Of course Cox protests that he has done nothing wrong. But how will he restore the credibility of the District Attorney's office? He makes no effort to do so.

Here is a comparison of the letters by Bob Castaneda and Greg Cox.

The question remains: was the PIU tipster a friend of Cheryl and Greg Cox?

The answer seems sort of obvious, doesn't it?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

San Diego public entities misuse their human resources--and their financial resources

OCEANSIDE: Judge says city discriminated against former employee
April 29, 2008

OCEANSIDE ---- A Superior Court judge has upbraided the city of Oceanside for wrongfully firing a police department employee with an immune system disorder, saying there was no excuse for her to have been "so badly mistreated."

"This court has not seen such lack of civility and simple common decency in quite a long time," Judge Michael Orfield said last week in a tentative ruling that described the 2006 firing.

"The plaintiff was not being removed for incompetence, for violation of rules or a breach of trust," he said. "She was being removed from a 12-year career because of a perceived medical condition that (without the slightest confirmation) was without the possibility of accommodation."

Orfield concluded that the city discriminated against the employee, Michele Morgans, and should pay damages of $628,000.

Morgans worked as a field evidence technician for the police department.

The judge's ruling came after a 15-day trial at the Vista courthouse...

Morgans, 50, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that the ruling vindicated her.

"There's nothing worse than having an illness or something you can't control," said Morgans. "But to get fired because the city doesn't like it was heartbreaking."

City Attorney John Mullen said Tuesday that the City Council will meet in closed session as early as next week to discuss its options...

In 1999, Morgans was diagnosed with Graves' Disease, a type of autoimmune disorder that causes overactivity of the thyroid gland. In Morgans' case, it involved swelling of the tissues in her eye socket, requiring multiple surgeries.

She filed a worker's compensation claim against the city in 2003, saying that on-the-job stress over the death of Officer Tony Zeppetella aggravated her condition. Zeppetella was fatally shot June 13, 2003, while making a traffic stop. Morgans participated in the officer's autopsy.

The city contested Morgans' worker's compensation claim, but she prevailed in late 2005.

Shortly after that, the city decided Morgans could no longer be a field evidence technician because that job was inherently stressful, Mullen said. When the city offered her other jobs, she declined.

Daniel Carroll, Morgans' attorney, said the positions that the city offered paid less than she was making as an evidence technician...

"The only accommodations she needed were the ability to come in late when she had a headache, and if they had another situation, like an officer-involved shooting, don't send her to the autopsy," he said.

On Jan. 10, 2006, the city placed her on administrative leave and told her to stay away from city facilities. She was eventually fired.

Orfield said the strong tone of his tentative ruling was deliberate.

"It is meant to convey to the powers that be within the city the need to go back to the drawing board and rethink how they should handle similar situations in the future," he said.

The city's police department has a history of expensive litigation. Several years ago, Terry Johnson, Oceanside's mayor at the time, requested a report analyzing legal expenses for the department.

The report showed that from 1992 to 2002, the city spent about $5.87 million on litigation involving the police department...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Why wasn't Bonnie Dumanis' Public Integrity Unit interested in this case?

Voice of San Diego

DA Won't Prosecute Tom Story

So the charges have been formally dismissedagainst former Sunroad executive Tom Story, and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis has released a statement saying she won't be bringing charges either.

A recap: Story was the former city official who was hired by Sunroad Enterprises and then became embroiled in the scandal over a building in Kearny Mesa that violated Federal Aviation Authority guidelines. Story was charged with violating lobbying laws by City Attorney Mike Aguirre.

But Aguirre was thrown off the case because a judge ruled he had violated ethical rules. That has left the prosecution of Story in something of a legal limbo.

Earlier this month, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis released a statement saying that she would at least consider bringing charges against Story. Now, Dumanis states that her office does not have jurisdiction to bring charges against Story.

There is one other way Story could be charged. Earlier this month, apparently on the advice of Dumanis, Mayor Jerry Sanders asked the City Council to consider hiring a special prosecutor to go after Story.

The City Council reached a deadlock, voting 4-4, which meant that no special prosecutor was appointed.

Story, it seems, is free to go about his business.

April 30, 2008