First in a Series.
National City Councilmember Jerry Cano isn’t up for re-election until 2020. His seat on the city’s governing board should be on the November ballot, regardless.
An elected official who actually cared about doing a good job would have stepped down by now. That’s not going to happen in National City.
Last week we learned Cano’s allegation about Councilwoman Mona Rios engaging in inappropriate conduct turned out to be spurious, according to an independent investigator hired by the city attorney. The councilman ultimately rescinded the complaint after refusing to cooperate with the inquiry.
From editor Carlos Davalos at the Chula Vista Star News:
In other words, instead of withdrawing his complaint the same evening he made it, or in the weeks leading up to council discussions of whether they should launch an investigation that included an exploration of a harassment charge, Cano chose instead to let the accusation fester.
“Councilmember Cano rescinded his allegation as to any improper conduct by Councilmember Rios. In response to that rescission and his request to have the related investigation discontinued, the investigation was terminated,” Curley wrote. He had also stated, “The assertion was made in the course of City Council meeting for unknown reasons.”
Cano as usual is not talking. So we don’t know why he said what he said. But we do know that the code violating, harassment charging, complaint cancelling councilman will be around for at least another two years as he finishes his second term in office.
#MeToo turned out to be #MeLie, a double win for Cano as the accusation served to deflect criticism (Rios was calling for an investigation) for going years without paying fines on building code violations and casting aspersions on his most severe critic, not to mention defaming a women-led movement for justice.
The Star-News reported on March 15 that Cano had five years’ worth of building code violations for non-permitted work at his Mary Lane home.
Despite being sent several Notices of Violation, the councilman was never issued fines or penalties. Instead, the city issued him a Recordation of Notice of Code Violations, a legal document that limits a property owner’s ability to sell, refinance or construct anything until the code violations are corrected.
In the wake of the unsatisfactory resolution of these scandals, there has been talk about mounting a recall campaign. For the moment, anyway, the consensus seems to be that the time and resources required for such an effort would detract from electoral projects already in progress.
The Union-Tribune editorial board has called for Cano’s resignation. Here’s the money quote*:
This is disgraceful. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board rarely calls for anyone’s resignation, but Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, whose district includes National City, is right to say that Cano should quit.
National City’s leaders already have plenty on their plates. Curley cleared Cano of wrongdoing but offered no good reason why he wasn’t fined as others have been, raising questions about favoritism and incompetence. The death of a man after an arrest outside the city’s police station has led to protests disrupting several council meetings. A rent control measure on the November ballot is likely to add to the city’s reputation for infighting. But Cano’s despicable, petty revenge goes far beyond politics as normal and should not be accepted. He has to go.
These most recent actions by Cano are just the latest long-festering divisions fostered by reactionaries on the City Council.
As things stand now, a majority of the five-member council must consent to any item being placed on the agenda. Thus, potentially controversial agenda items proposed by either Councilwomen Mona Rios and Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, are simply passed over.
Some examples of how this works for the status quo in the city:
- The council refused to consider a planning board member’s request for a motion asking the California State Attorney General to investigate Mayor Ron Morrison’s involvement in/or knowledge of deception surrounding a SANDAG ballot measure.
- San Diegans for Open Government and Chris Shilling sued the city of National City along with Mayor Ron Morrison and City Council members Albert Mendivil and Jerry Cano, claiming Brown Act violations. While the city ultimately settled the lawsuit, the maneuvering tells a story about what they really think. From CourtHouseNews:
When the time came for the City Council to vote on whether to adopt the resolution, the Feb. 7 meeting was packed with members of the public commenting about whether the city should designate itself as “welcoming” to all residents, regardless of immigration status.
Councilwoman Alejandra Sotelo-Solis made a motion to adopt the “Welcoming City Resolution” as written in the staff proposal, a move which was seconded by Councilwoman Mona Rios.
According to the lawsuit, however, before the City Council could vote on the resolution Mayor Morrison used “bait and switch” to offer an alternative resolution which removed all references to welcoming everyone to the city regardless of immigration status.
- Despite community opposition, based in large part on National City’s ongoing structural budget deficits, the council voted 3-2 to give themselves a 10% raise in February 2017. This came on top of an 8% raise in 2013 and a 10% raise in 2015.
The intransigence of Cano and the two other members of the City Council should give some context to the protests in recent weeks in the wake of Earl McNeil’s death outside a police station.
McNeil’s family and their supporters have a solid basis for wondering if a coverup is in progress, given the council majority’s lack of transparency and back-room dealings on a host of other issues.
@NATIONALCITYPD Chief checks phone and smirks during public comment as dozens pack the #NationalCity council meeting demanding answers in the death of #EarlMcNeil and the chief’s undivided attention. pic.twitter.com/mX6f2TVOtG
— Jade Hindmon (@JadeHindmon) July 25, 2018
Upcoming Deplorable Profiles: Judge Gary Kreep, El Cajon City Councilman Ben Kalasho, Chula Vista Mayoral Candidate Hector Gastelum, The Lincoln Club of San Diego County. I’ll post them as I finish them. Feel free to email tips.
Now Accepting Nominations: Looking for local politicians deserving wider recognition for all the wrong reasons: DougPorter AT SanDiegoFreePress DOT Org.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
You can now get the Weekly Progressive Calendar delivered to your inbox every Friday. And it’s Free! Subscribe and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
Subscriptions to the Starting Line (Monday-Friday) are available:
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to “The Starting Line” and get an email every time a new article in this series is posted!
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter AT SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.