The Star-News


Political pinup girl

Sat, Jan 21 2012 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos

It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I was hoping for a Pat Aguilar pinup poster for the holidays.

I developed a smidge of a crush on the Chula Vista councilwoman just before the group went on their December hiatus.

But I first took note of her around summer. That’s when she grilled Bill Hall about his findings as the chairman of the city’s executive compensation committee. The group was charged with determining if the city’s top executives were being adequately compensated or if they were paid too much.

For my taste, the presentation  was short on details. Aguilar appeared to feel the same way. During their meeting in council chambers she had questions and  Hall’s answers felt unencumbered by depth and substance. Her exasperation was apparent when she asked if the committee prepared a report and Hall, a former port commissioner, replied they weren’t told to make one.

Well, alright then...

But my Aguilar crush — while nowhere near Bieber fever —bloomed when in  late fall Aguilar turned her sights on the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism and Marketing District.

For a couple of years the city of Chula Vista has been acting as the district’s muscle, collecting a self-imposed 2.5 percent tax on hotels to pay for marketing the city.

The idea is to generate tourists who, in turn, will stay in area hotels and generate revenue.

The Chamber’s CEO, Lisa Cohen, wanted the city to continue the arrangement.

Aguilar, however, wanted more details. She also wanted, of all things, a contract detailing what was expected of both parties and — get this — a report of how exactly the Chamber/Tourism District was spending the money.

Seems reasonable, right? You have a public agency collecting money for a quasi-private organization, you want accountability.

Cohen left that first meeting without Aguilar’s blessing and a directive to come back with answers.
When Cohen returned, Aguilar still wasn’t satisfied and voted against accepting the Chamber’s report. It turns out

Aguilar may have been on to something.

This week the Union-Tribune ran a story claiming that more than 90 percent of that tourism and marketing tax goes to pay for chamber staff costs.

I know Aguilar's a politician and in time my swooning over her will come to a heart breaking end. But for now I’m enjoying the councilwoman’s tough line of questioning and demands for accountability. Power and transparency are kind of a turn on.


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