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SANDAG Showed Severe Lack of Judgement About Measure A: Report

The investigation focused on SANDAG’s incorrect revenue projects of the failed Measure A

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    NBC 7's Artie Ojeda reports on the changes San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) might undergo after investigations revealed the group's false projections for Measure A. (Published Friday, Aug. 4, 2017)

    The results of an independent investigation into SANDAG were presented to the agency’s board amidst calls for the resignation of its executive director.

    The investigation focused on SANDAG’s incorrect revenue projects of the failed Measure A.

    The report said, in part, while there was no intent to mislead the public, SANDAG showed a severe lack of judgment in responding to staff concerns about Measure A's revenue projections. The report was critical of SANDAG's creation of an unsearchable folder to store draft documents.

    During public testimony, comments were critical of the agency.

    "Lying to the public and directing SANDAG's staff to hide or delete public documents while the Measure A scandal was unfolding, shameful," said Gretchen Newsom, political director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569.

    Newsom was listed as the plaintiff in a lawsuit against Measure A.

    "SANDAG executives misled the public--intentional, non-intentional, negligent, criminal...I'm not sure we have the answer to that," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (Dist. 80).

    Gonzalez Fletcher is sponsoring legislation, AB 850, calling for SANDAG reform. She called the presentation a “white wash”.

    "They shot down whistleblowers, who tried to alert them of this. And they created a tool to possibly cover it up," she said.

    There were also calls for the resignation of executive director Garry Gallegos.

    "The fact that Gary Gallegos is still the executive director of SANDAG is a slap in the face to every taxpayer in the city of San Diego," said Mark Lane of National City.

    "I would ask this board to call for Mr. Gallegos to resign immediately," said Carlsbad Councilwoman Cori Schumacher.

    Several board members acknowledged the findings of the report but offered support for Gallegos.

    Gallegos did not speak during the board meeting. He did not make himself available for comment immediately after the meeting.

    "We made mistakes that, it's a reasonable conclusion for people to say, 'Boy, I don't know if I can trust them,'" said Poway Mayor and board member Steve Vaus. "So we need to take whatever steps are necessary to make whatever hard choices are necessary to begin to restore trust, so that we don't make these kinds of mistakes in the future."

    Vaus is part of a SANDAG subcommittee tasked with presenting best-practice recommendations to the board. He said it would be premature to talk about replacing the executive director.

    "I think it's too early to make those kinds of decisions. We need to get into closed session with our executive director, ask the tough questions, allow him to tell his side of the story and then we can make those kinds of decisions," said Vaus.

    "What I sensed is there's some anger in some cases in that there's, but I think across the board, we want to reform these basic procedural things, the internal things that have happened," said County Supervisor and board Chair Ron Roberts.

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