The Shadow Government is Real And you are not invited.

orcem_cartoonBy Marc Garman

Recently, questions have been raised surrounding the activities of the Mare Island Straits Economic Development Committee (MISEDC). Over the past 2 or so years the MISEDC a “non-sanctioned” city council committee headed by Vallejo councilmember and chair Jess Malgapo and including councilmembers Pippin Dew-Costa and Rozanna Verder-Aliga have engaged in activities to explore dredging of the Mare Island Straits and development of the Vallejo Marine Terminal project, including possible location of the Orcem Cement Plant at the site of the former General Mills plant near Lemon Street on the Vallejo waterfront. They have also looked at economic development for Vallejo tied to the straits and maritime commerce.

We know that the activities of the MISEDC were kept secret from the public as well as councilmembers Katy Miessner, Robert McConnell and Bob Sampayan until recently. Only when Orcem US President Steve Bryan referenced councilmembers Dew-Costa, Malgapo and Verder Aliga as being on board with the cement plant project at a recent public meeting did the public or other councilmembers gain any insight as to the existence of this clandestine committee or the extent of activities being conducted.

The possibility of transgressions of the Brown Act, which pertains to open government laws in California also have been gaining a lot of public attention. Glenn Myer an investigator with the Solano County District Attorney’s office has recently begun contacting various parties in possession of or with knowledge of documents connected with the (MISEDC). Whether the DA will find anything actionable, or is merely carrying out due diligence is to be seen. The matter of potential Brown Act violations and their remedies are to be discussed by the city attorney at a meeting scheduled for January 5 in city council chambers. One of the points sure to be raised at this meeting is that the MISEDC was not an officially sanctioned city committee. This in turn raises the question as to why city staff time and resources were used for the activities of the MISEDC, primarily at the direction and discretion of committee chair Jess Malgapo. Email communications from past city Economic Development Director Mark Sawicki expressed concerns over Malgapo’s actions directing staff in connection with MISEDC, a clear violation of the authority of an elected official in our form of city government. Nonetheless, City Manager Dan Keen appears to have done nothing to curtail Malgapo even after concerns were raised. Malgapo even organized a guided tour for the Army Corps of Engineers which appears to not have been officially sanctioned, yet certainly required the use of resources.

Documents also make clear that Mayor Osby Davis was aware of the activities of the MISEDC and clearly failed to make any mention to the public or other councilmembers. His contact with the committee, which he has acknowledged, could be a violation of the Brown Act if it comprises a serial meeting. This seems somewhat unlikely as the mayor usually covers his tracks. What has become clear over the years is that Davis uses committee appointments (his purview) as a carrot and stick technique to control or punish councilmembers as he sees fit and to propel his agenda and consolidate power on the dais. In this case, it seems that Malgapo formed his own ad-hoc committee and while the mayor was fully aware of it, he conveniently failed to see the need to make mention of anything to Miessner, Sampayan or McConnell.  As to whether this was a collaboration between Malgapo, Verder-Aliga and Dew-Costa and Davis to consolidate power and create an exclusive political bloc to favor their agenda is not known. What is clear is that all of the candidates who ran under the Jumpstart banner in the past election (Malgapo, Dew-Costa and Verder-Aliga) and are generally compliant with the Mayor’s agenda were placed on the committee, while independent voices in the form of Miessner, McConnell and Sampayan were kept in the dark and out of the loop by obvious design.

In spite of a recent quasi-tearful semi-apology from councilmember Pippin Dew-Costa, it seems obvious that the secrecy surrounding MISEDC was an intentional effort to grease the wheels and exclude input from the public or any members of council who might have a differing opinion surrounding industrial development of the Vallejo waterfront.  It also unfortunately underscores the ideological divide between Miessner, Sampayan and McConnell and Jumpstart backed candidates Dew-Costa, Malgapo and Verder-Aliga. If you recall from the last election, Jumpstart was the political love child of Napa Solano Labor Coalition Executive Director Jon Riley and gave extensive financial backing to the three candidates on the MISEDC as well as pastor Anthony Summers, who did not gain a seat on council. As to what if any influence Riley had with the clandestine disposition of what was supposed to be a public committee is not known. He is, however known as the puppeteer who holds the union purse strings for Vallejo’s bought and paid for candidates and a man who likes to see return on his investment. The Orcem facility is to be built with union labor and is a project Riley favors.

One would hope that our elected officials would be welcoming to business and revenue in Vallejo, while at the same time refraining from taking advocacy positions for outside corporate interests without transparency or public input. Unfortunately Malgapo, Dew-Costa and Verder Aliga have chosen to pander to outside interests and keep the public and their fellow councilmembers in the dark. Ironic that Vallejo’s union backed candidates are the best friends of outside corporate interests, who could hardly hope for more compliant lobbyists.

Regrettably, a growing atmosphere of trust and cooperation on Vallejo City Council has been pretty much destroyed by Dew-Costa, Malgapo and Verder-Aliga. Post election there was a sharp political dissonance between Riley’s Jumpstart candidates and the independent voices elected to council. Jumpstart ran on a platform of economic development and bridge building. They have irrevocably burned bridges on council along partisan(?) lines and pushed old divisions to the forefront with their cavalier attitudes and deceptive actions. So much for promises. Trust is now dead and buried in city hall. Perhaps the “Jumpstarters” just wanted to be the heroes of new economic development and standard bearers of progress, as they see it. Or perhaps it was a more sinister effort at exclusion and manipulation. Either way The Shadow Government is real in Vallejo and you are not invited.


A great thanks has to go out to Vallejo lawyer Stephen Hallett who has been a dogged public advocate in his pursuit of documents in connection with MISEDC and bringing their activities to light. Hallett recently came into possession of a cache of related documents the City of Vallejo refused to furnish or claimed not to have in connection with his public records act request. Hallett was able to secure these documents at the county level.

Below are the documents regarding the activities of the MISEDC for your review. They include correspondence, emails, reports, power point presentations etc. It also includes numerous examples of Malgapo’s outspoken bias in favor the Orcem Project, an item that has yet to be brought before the council for a vote. It seems at least his mind was made up a long time ago…but you weren’t supposed to know that.


The link takes you to a Google Drive folder. Read all about it and form your own opinion.

'The Shadow Government is Real And you are not invited.' have 6 comments

  1. December 31, 2015 @ 12:03 am wharf rat

    Wow great article ! looks like we are being slagged again .


  2. December 31, 2015 @ 9:28 am RAVI C SHANKAR

    Thank you Marc, for holding yet another troubling mirror to some of our elected officials, who seem to say one thing and do another, practice-not what they preach as true christians. It is only a reflection of their broken integrity and ethics, their pandering to special interests, their letting the people of Vallejo down, but not christianity.

    For those who care for fairness and justice, we have a clear momentum to pursue in 2016 (starting tomorrow): (1) keep asking the shadow council members Davis, Malgapo, Verder-Aliga, Dew-Costa — accountability, documented statements and this new behind the scene participation ….. and VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE IN NOV-2016 (2) keep asking the people’s council members McConnel, Sampayan and Miessner to be firm, and for being more proactive in asking the City manager and the City mayor and STOP NOT till they get justice.

    For now, finally, we have a Brown Act Violation Hearing on Jan-5th. That is good and it is a shame that the shadow council members are putting the people of Vallejo through its expense and time delay to possibly cover up for their acts being questioned by the public.

    Early in 2015, I formally filed a written complaint with the city attorney regarding a PB matter at the PBSC when procedures were not followed and protocols were broken by city staff and only myself and 2 others would even ask questions! They did not seem to recognize that some city staff and some politicians try to get away with words/actions under the radar, just like this matter, thinking people will not see the truth. Many members in my committee resented me, but I did not care about being popular but insisted on being just and requested a hearing.

    Attorney Claudia Quintana did send her deputy to the PBSC meeting and she reviewed the BrownAct for everyone’s benefit, and declared the previous action as NULL & VOID and conducted the decision in question again and corrected it.

    It is truly important for activists and community leaders from all walks of life to be consistent and fair and collaborative in seeking justice. In Vallejo, like the rest of America, if people do not PARTICIPATE, ask for accountability and fairness and transparency (as the city boasts on every media), politicians will always get away with stuff. It is then the people’s fault for letting it happen.

    Stephen Hallett, thank you for your sincere and effective legal work, research and for standing up boldly. May the Goddess of Justice always protect you and inspire you to do the right thing by the people of Vallejo.

    It is up to all of us to keep holding high standards for Vallejo — no one is an exception — not the Mayor or Deputy-Mayor, not the City Manager, not even the City Attorney. Those who simply watch, act like they did not see or hear, let unjust activities take place under their very nose, you won’t always succeed — people are watching you.

    Let’s show up at the Jan-5th meeting in large numbers and seek justice. THEN THROW THE POLITICIANS WHO VIOLATED THE BROWN ACT OUT OF OFFICE IN NOVEMBER. Shame on them.


  3. December 31, 2015 @ 1:15 pm carol

    reading these emails is better than a mystery thriller full of clues. we follow the trail straight to the culprits. they can’t make this stuff up. hollywood will be all over this as soon as they hear. vallejo is macondo. maybe we can get tourists bused in for the council meetings on tuesdays. we could sell them little cement-factory key chains, and show them georgia street. independence park should also be on the tour.


  4. December 31, 2015 @ 5:02 pm Publicus

    Some of those participating in this round of the shadow government have been around for years and years pulling the same stunts. They continue to get away with it so they are no longer even very careful about their secrecy. There was major fraud in the transfer of Mare Island, there has been ongoing illegal filling of State Lands and then seizure of those same lands which are held in trust for the people of California to give to private developers. They gave away our Ferry system. It goes on and on. The really big players don’t care whether we vote in a new City Council. They will just buy another one. When you see the names of Mike Thompson, Mel Orphilla, Tony Intintoli, any Curtola, and Hannigan you can be sure Vallejo is being sold cheap. Malgapo was probably hoping if he did the cabal’s bidding and showed his loyalty, he would be Jumped into the gang and be anointed mayor next round. The public safety unions play their part by keeping the cabal in power in exchange for guaranteed fat contracts. It is a mayor mess. We, citizens, unfortunately play a key role. We continue to vote Democratic because we believe in social values but our Democratic leaders owe their allegiance to the public unions that keep them in office and therefore must fund those fat salaries any way they can including selling the City of Vallejo into slavery.


  5. December 31, 2015 @ 5:36 pm curious

    while I agree with some of what you say, I would add: why does bill dodd have a representative on the committee? anyone remember tom bartee and the Charles hotel deal? and of course the building trades have been at the table all along. why? but I am more curious about your assertion that the citizens only vote for democrats. who else runs? what well qualified candidate has been shunned because of party affliation?


  6. January 3, 2016 @ 4:26 pm Port Parrot

    Kathleen Diohep
    From:Jess Malgapo
    Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 1:28 PM;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; Andrea Ouse; Kathleen Diohep; Erin
    Subject: MISEDC Meeting Tentatively Scheduled for September 16th is CANCELLED plus Admin
    Dear MISEDC Committee Members:
    1. Please read the entire email. Thank you very much.
    2. Our meeting tentatively scheduled for September 16, 2015 is cancelled due to a light agenda.
    3. Our NEXT MEETING will be on October 21, 2015. We meet on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, every other month.
    4. We will be DARK in December of 2015. I will publish a 2016 schedule after I consult with Ms. Andrea Ouse and Kathleen Diohep.
    5. I do wish to share with you a summary reminder of what we have done thus far in our efforts to obtain dredging funds and the most recent developments.
    As you know we have taken the following steps:
    a. Pursue dredging funds via the traditional US Army Corps of Engineers Acquisition Process – which started with the Section 216 study… Status: USACE has for action.
    b. Tiger Grant Application – which will be led by the City Economic Development Team (Andrea, Kathleen, Mark) has the support of Mr. Dan Keen. Status: To be submitted early 2016. Deadline is May 2016.
    and we are adding another angle in our search for funding (see below).
    c. Include the dredging of Mare Island Straits” on the list of Solano County “FEDERAL PROJECTS. Following my meetings with MTC Commissioner and Supervisor Jim Spering and Mr. Daryl Halls, Executive Director of the Solano Transportation Authority and Dan Keen (separate meeting)… the City has submitted a revised list of city priority FEDERAL Projects to STA. The STA list now includes dredging of Mare Island Straits as a top priority for Vallejo / Solano County. In addition, Dan Keen is working on a letter to STA asking that the STA Washington DC lobbyist begin to actively lobby for dredging funds.
    6. You will recall that we have two goals; one is to search for dredging funds but our second goal is to explore how Mare Island Straits could be transformed into an economic driver for the City of Vallejo and Solano County.

    In this regard, let us congratulate our committee members, “Vallejo Marine Terminal / ORCEM” as they reached a key milestone with their project. Their EIR was released very recently on September 3, 2015. This document took many months to complete. The 45 day public comment period is now underway. Here’s the link to the EIR. Let us all wish them all the best and a successful public review.


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