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Warwick and Collins win case against Promote La Jolla

In a ruling dated Feb. 21, Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer ordered that the board of Promote La Jolla “immediately” seat Nancy Warwick and Bob Collins “as members of the Board of Directors of Promote La Jolla, Inc., for January 2008 to December 2009 terms of office.”

Collins and Warwick had petitioned the court on Dec. 10, 2007, claiming that they had rightfully won seats on the Promote La Jolla Board because they were the highest vote getters following candidates Greg Rizzi and Izzy Tihany, who were not eligible to serve on the board.

Judge Meyer found that the Promote La Jolla board violated its own bylaws by nominating two people for election to the board who were not eligible to hold seats on the board. The judge also ruled that the board violated its bylaws by failing to hear the complaints of Warwick and Collins and by purporting to fill vacancies on the board that had not been the result of resignations from the board.

The lawsuit also alleged that Promote La Jolla was opposed to Warwick and Collins holding board positions because of their opposition to paid on-street parking.

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Judge Meyer’s order, however, said that “the pros and cons of the parking issue were not relevant to the Court’s determination.”

The judge said that because Rizzy and Tihany “where not eligible to serve as Directors, they could not properly receive votes.” Warwick and Collins, as the highest eligible vote getters, he said, were the legitimate election winners.

Promote La Jolla had maintained that Rizzy and Tihany resigned their positions once it became clear that they could not serve. The board has the right to fill positions that come open due to resignation. However, Judge Meyer ruled that because the two never were seated on the board, “they could not ‘resign’ positions they never held.”

Steven W. Haskins, attorney for Warwick and Collins, said the decision “completely vindicated” the position of his clients.

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He said that the Promote La Jolla board had sought to deny seats to Warwick and Collins simply because they oppose paid on-street parking.

“Every single other member of the board is strongly in favor of the meters,” he said.

In a phone interview, Haskins called for a third party audit of Promote La Jolla’s finances and operations.

“Something weird is going on over there,” he said. “They’re not running this corporation the way they’re supposed to.”

Haskins complained that requests for financial records from Promote La Jolla have gone unanswered in the past, a practice that he said violates the Brown Act.

“This is a quasi-governmental organization that has a contract with the city of San Diego,” he said.

Deborah Marengo, president of Promote La Jolla, said she would not comment because she considered the case ongoing litigation.

Collins, who has twice been president of the La Jolla Town Council, said he agreed with Haskins’ assessment, “I have observed a number of problems going on over there, such as our own case … We ran for office and we were elected and they wouldn’t seat us.”

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Collins said that while Promote La Jolla is not the primary entity involved in the paid parking effort, “Promote La Jolla is hand and glove with the Parking Board.

Collins said he opposes the paid on-street parking idea because, “It doesn’t provide any more parking. They’re not creating any new parking. A better direction would be to properly utilize the parking that we have now.”