Court battles regarding that report have raged long enough, and it’s not in the city’s interest to continue paying for lawsuits regarding this matter.
While it’s understandable that the city may want to spend money on defending council members from legal actions, city money should never have been spent on legal action that was offensive rather than defensive, as was the case with Smith. In addition, city money should never have been spent on hiring a high-profile public relations manager, as was the case with Councilman Dominic Farinha.
At the same time, more safeguards need to be in place to prevent a skewed grand jury process that contributed to this mess.
The grand jury report strangely singled out individuals who initially voted against the move of the Del Puerto Health Care Center to the Keystone Pacific Business Park. At the same time, jurors said nothing about other city officials, even when they had made some of the same mistakes, such as falling behind in their ethics training. Those who were criticized in the report should have been allowed to have legal representatives with them.
It’s refreshing to see that a new state law should prevent some of those problems in the future, allowing those who are questioned by civil grand jurors to be accompanied by an attorney.
Smith’s announcement this week marks the end of the debacle over the placement of the Del Puerto Health Center, which has haunted City Hall for the past three years. And to that we say, good riddance.
While the health center, which celebrated its grand opening last week, is a beautiful facility, it’s safe to say that none of the parties involved look back on that political wrangling that ensued over its relocation as a good thing.
It would be hoped that Smith, the council and the members of the community can now move on. The city has plenty of challenges to tackle in the near future, and we hope for a productive council atmosphere in the weeks to come.