Aaron Starr initiates recall of 4 Oxnard Council members

By George Miller

Aaron Starr of activist group Moving Oxnard Forward vowed to start a recall process of any Oxnard City Council member who voted for the proposed wastewater rate increase of 5.25% per year for 5 years, in addition to the 35% increase already levied and upheld by a stay on the Measure M rate rollback approved by voters in November and initiated by him. He made good on this threat near the end of the 5-16-17 Council meeting when he served the petitions.

One of these petitions for recall was served to each of the Oxnard Council members who voted for the latest wastewater rate increase proposal at the 5-16-18 Oxnard City Council meeting. Photo: Councilman Bert Perello.

All council members except Bryan MacDonald voted for the increase. So, during the last agenda item (Consent Agenda), Starr announced the recall and served the signed petitions to Mayor ProTem Carmen Ramirez, Mayor Tim Flynn, Councilmen Oscar Madrigal and Bert Perello, over Mayor Flynn’s vehement objections that Starr was out of order for being off-topic.

At one point during the rate deliberations, earlier in the evening, Mayor Flynn tried to get Starr to buy in to the increase proposal if an annual capital plan review and complete elimination of the infrastructure fee subsidy to the General Fund were done. Starr demurred  on the grounds that there  was no guarantee that these would be done, that the 35% increase already done was more than adequate and that he had already submitted  a scenario proving this while he participated in the URAP (Utility Rate Advisory Panel) activities. Flynn told me later that he thought he had Starr in a corner and that it had exposed his real position. We agreed that Starr had been successful in negotiating the increases down substantially, obtaining some concessions and exposing many weaknesses in the city’s position, including being in gross violation of its own financial rules on debt coverage and financing of utilities.

The longer story of what happened at the council meeting leading up to the 4-1 vote to approve the increases will be released shortly.

We heard from City Attorney at the meeting that the Measure M trial had been continued from June until November.  Measure M was a voter initiative repealing the March, 2016 wastewater increases. The Ventura County Superior Court judge left the 35% increase already in effect in place, via a stay on the measure’s effectivity. The Council on its own agreed not to put the second annual increase in effect until the issues had been resolved. In the meantime, a new Prop. 218 rate-setting process has been completed, setting the stage for this meeting.

George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard

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William Hicks

Keep in mind that high annual rates, over a short period of time, for any service is an indication that politicians were ignoring an increase in costs over a longer period of time than would be wise. Maybe a clearer message to citizens, at an earlier date, with smaller increments, would have been the wisdom of good governance.

BUT, that’s not always in the hearts of politicians, career or otherwise. Like Moonbeam, they frequently thrive on “emergencies,” both real and perceived.

William Hicks

What is really behind these increases? Is it real, or is it Moonbeamesque in nature?

Steven Nash

Really, CJ? Stating the following is sloppy journalism, “. . . including being in gross violation of its own financial rules”. These are policies, not legally enforceable ordinances. Policies get overturned all the time, just refer to the many “Policies” in the 2030 General Plan that get ignored on a consistent basis.

All I can say about the recall notices, especially regarding Council member Perello is the story of the scorpion and the frog. Google it if you are not familiar with it. Mr. Starr is the scorpion. He has put his stinger in Mr. Perello’s back, after Bert has offered Aaron advice and information and the proverbial “ride across the river” many times in the past. Anyone who supports Mr. Starr will likewise feel his sting.

William Hicks

what’s the use of policies if they’re just ignored?

There’s another aspect of “The Scorpion and the Frog”; it all depends on who the scorpion really is. Is it Starr or the council members noted?