If a casual observer were to remark that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis had more than a passing interest in South County, they’d find few people willing to argue the point.
Her office is currently in its second year of a corruption case against most of the Sweetwater Union High School board of trustees. At the same time she is also on the allegedly corrupt trail of current and former officials with Southwestern College and at the beginning of the year the dragnet widened to include the San Ysidro School District superintendent.
And who will forget her office’s failed prosecution of former Chula Vista councilman Steve Castaneda?, the man accused and found not guilty of committing perjury back in 2008.
If Dumanis ever took up fishing, South County would be her barrel.
But you might also call the area south of Highway 54 her farm. The place she turns when she wants to harvest talent.
Consider that she recently hired National City Police Chief Adolfo Gonzales as the man to lead her investigations unit.
Few have anything negative to say about that bushy mustached crime fighter. At least not publicly.
Also, factor in that her second in command, Jesse Rodriguez, is a South County resident and that one of the most visible and active men in her office, Jesse Navarro, once ran for Chula Vista City Council.
And while it may not be notable to most, it’s worth mentioning that Dumanis lured Tanya Sierra away from The Union-Tribune just a few years ago.
Sierra, as those who are following the Sweetwater drama will recall, was the South County reporter who wrote about former superintendent Jesus Gandara’s invitation of contractors to his daughter’s wedding reception. That series of stories was the precursor to the indictments of school board members that brought us to where we are today.
So what’s to be concluded from these points and counterpoints? That there are just as many good eggs as bad hanging out in the South County henhouse? That while Chula Vista and National City might be ripe for picking off crooks (alleged of course) it’s also a breeding ground for honest people who are dedicated, talented and driven to public service?
Or maybe the district attorney simply has a fetish for all things Latino.
It’s an interesting idea to ponder (the prevalence of people with ties to South County in her office, not her personal preferences). Maybe someone who works in downtown San Diego can join the Rodriguez-Navarro-Gonzales carpool.
Something tells me that commute would be anything but boring.