Trial of former San Benito supe continues with documents showing “mistrust and fear” of Mendiola

Former Planning Director Rob Mendiola, left, and former San

Several new witnesses took the stand in San Benito County
Superior Court Tuesday as part of yet another hearing in the civil
trail of former County Supervisor Richard Scagliotti.
Several new witnesses took the stand in San Benito County Superior Court Tuesday as part of yet another hearing in the civil trail of former County Supervisor Richard Scagliotti.

Scagliotti has been accused of using his position as county supervisor to give favor to certain building projects, which would benefit him as a private developer.

The suit, which was levied in 2003 by the anonymous group “Los Valientes” represented by attorney Mike Pekin, has evolved into a multitude of suits and countersuits over the years.

Tuesday’s hearings lasted all day and will continue each day this week, attorneys said.

Pekin provided several documents to the Free Lance, including a 2005 report by Santa Clara Attorney Martin Dodd, who investigated claims that Scagliotti along with former Planning Director Rob Mendiola were “corrupt.” Mendiola is now director of facilities for the Gilroy Unified School District.

In the report, Dodd writes that he found no evidence of corruption, falsified documents or unlawful business dealings with “other county employees.”

The report does point out, however, that the “speed and ease” with which the Beaver Lumber Company’s application for rezoning in 2000 was approved was “startling” compared to other projects. The report states this was “difficult to explain completely for reasons other than that Supervisor Scagliotti was involved.”

Dodd also points out that many community members he interviewed viewed Mendiola and Scagliotti unfavorably and that “certain building contractors receive expedited treatment from Building Officer Mike Machado in particular.”

“The mistrust and fear of Mendiola in the community are themselves damaging and corrosive,” states the document.

At Tuesday’s hearing, former Planning Commissioner Armando Atencio testified that in 2001 the planning commission received 332 requests for building allocations but that only 199 allocations were available. He said the planning commission organized a “point system” that would award the allocations based on how well they fit certain criteria. This system gave preference to senior housing projects followed by affordable housing projects and lastly “small projects.”

Atencio testified that the planning commission had the ability to award the allocations to several projects or to award all 199 allocations to a single project, based on the “commission’s discretion.”

Frank Guerra, president of Guerra Nut Shelling Company also took the stand. He testified that when his company wanted to buy the land and equipment of the bankrupted Churchill Nut Company he was told the land was “non conforming” and he would have apply to have the land rezoned or apply for a permit to use the land for agricultural production, something he was reluctant to do.

‘It was our opinion that the planning commission was not very hospitable and going through the process was going to be inequitable,” he said in court.

Proceedings will continue throughout the week.

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