Mayor Mike Flick, plagued in recent years by a $1.5-million lawsuit and other legal woes stemming from a defunct real estate investment business he helped run, has filed for bankruptcy.
Flick, Vista's first elected mayor and an unsuccessful candidate for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in the June primary, filed a Chapter 7 petition Tuesday at Federal Bankruptcy Court in San Diego.
Under federal law, Flick faces the prospect of a federal judge ordering the liquidation of his assets to pay off what he owes to several creditors. The petition lists Flick's debts at more than $540,000 and his assets, including his Vista home, at about $250,000.
Flick, who is not seeking reelection as Vista mayor in November, refused Wednesday to discuss the petition and the events that led to his declaration of bankruptcy.
"This is still a pending action," said Flick, 41. "When it's done, then I will probably be available to comment on it."
The mayor's financial troubles are the latest episode in a long-running series of problems that have cast a cloud over his first term as the city's top elected official.
Most of those headaches have sprung from the land-investment business Flick owned. The mayor, along with partner Ralph Baxter of Rolling Hills Estates, started the business in 1973, buying and developing land, offering mortgages on the property and providing consulting services to other developers.
In June, 1985, Flick and Baxter were sued by two dozen limited partners who accused the pair of misusing $600,000 in real estate investments. The group is asking for $1.5 million in investments, unrealized profits and damages, although Flick has maintained in legal papers that most of the money has been repaid.
Another lawsuit filed against the mayor in 1983 charged that Flick's firm had failed to pay rent on its offices, but that legal action was dismissed last year.
On the political front, Flick has been hit by criticism in recent months from council colleagues Lloyd von Haden and Gloria McClellan, who complain that the mayor has taken too many trips at city expense.
Backers of Flick have argued that the trips, many of them to Sacramento, were necessary so the mayor could lobby for the city to be included in several state programs.