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January 17, 2022

‘It’s just sick what’s going on’

One day after an investigative report surfaced alleging
corruption on the part of Supervisor Richard Scagliotti, the county
official on Wednesday said he

absolutely

believes developers of the East of Fairview project are behind
the scrutiny.
Other involved county officials Wednesday expressed frustration
at the allegations; some leaders also attributed the privately
commissioned investigation to development interests.
One day after an investigative report surfaced alleging corruption on the part of Supervisor Richard Scagliotti, the county official on Wednesday said he “absolutely” believes developers of the East of Fairview project are behind the scrutiny.

Other involved county officials Wednesday expressed frustration at the allegations; some leaders also attributed the privately commissioned investigation to development interests.

“It’s just sick what’s going on,” Scagliotti said. “It’s unfortunate that, again, this is all related to slow and managed growth. It’s related directly to try and discredit Measure G, the growth initiative.”

The Growth Control Initiative, which will appear on the March ballot, was intended to preserve the county’s agricultural land by restricting landowners’ abilities to subdivide their properties. Scagliotti, a supporter of managed growth, was one of four Supervisors to vote in March to approve the initiative as an ordinance. That was before a signature referendum overturned the Board’s decision and placed it on the election ballot.

Mandy Rose, a co-author of the initiative and the county’s waste management director, said the investigation will ultimately help the Growth Control Initiative campaign gather the necessary votes.

“It can only help; it exposes the greed of people who are trying to stop (the Growth Control Initiative),” she said. “They’re not looking at merits. They’re telling lies about people.”

The investigation conducted by Salinas-based Central Coast Investigative Services was commissioned in April by an anonymous group called Los Valientes, which means “the brave ones” in Spanish. The report, which was sent to the District Attorney’s Office six weeks ago, documents six alleged cases of politically exploitive acts by Scagliotti.

When the investigative report’s allegations became public Tuesday, Scagliotti contended, without elaborating, that certain developers spearheaded it to discredit the Board and the Growth Control Initiative.

On Wednesday, he was more specific in saying applicants of the East of Fairview project were involved in funding the investigation. That project is currently off the table for county consideration.

“This just shows you how blatant these people are,” Scagliotti said. “They think they’re invincible.”

Some applicants of the development, however, denied those charges Wednesday. The East of Fairview project – first proposed in 1991 – included 2,477 homes on 692 acres just north of Hillcrest Road, according to a planner with the county who requested anonymity.

Scagliotti said developers are trying to taint images of current Supervisors – to ultimately transform the Board into one that promotes uncontrolled growth. Supervisor Pat Loe said she also believes developers funded the Scagliotti investigation to belittle and defeat the Growth Control Initiative.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake,” she said. “Anything to confuse the issue and discredit the Board, they’ll do it.”

Asked if developers funded the investigation, the lawyer for Los Valientes, Michael Pekin, replied: “Does that mean they’re not citizens? What difference does it make who’s behind the allegations? All that doesn’t matter.”

Pekin went on to say, “It’s not just cheap talk. They’re putting their money where their mouth is.”

Meanwhile, District Attorney John Sarsfield on Wednesday sent a letter to the participating private investigation firm denouncing the allegations.

The two-page letter from Sarsfield addressed the allegations made in the investigative report; none of them warranted a criminal prosecution, according to the letter. Sarsfield, for instance, discussed allegations that Scagliotti and other Supervisors violated the state open meetings law – the Brown Act – through coaction with the authors during the initiative’s drafting.

“In this particular case, the group in question (initiative authors) was legally able to meet with their elected representatives to discuss the items of concern,” Sarsfield stated in the letter. Sarsfield did not return phone calls Wednesday for comment.

When the Los Valientes lawyer learned Wednesday that Sarsfield would not prosecute any of the allegations, Pekin said he was surprised and had previously anticipated Sarsfield would take action.

“He (Scagliotti) is going to have to answer to the public, not me,” Pekin said.

Scagliotti, who has known about the investigation since its inception in April, recently announced he would not run for re-election in March.

“I’m just going to sit back and see where this thing goes,” Scagliotti said. “I don’t have to get out there and defend something that’s untrue.”

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