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    By Armando Vazquez       

    Alexander Nguyen, Oxnard City Manager

    Recently and at warp speed Oxnard has turned the old political/mafia axiom on its head. In Chiques our enemies are pathetically transparent as self-serving ego maniacs, thus very predictable and rather easy to keep close and monitored; it is our fair weather political “friends” that we are now witnessing that are treacherous, disingenuous and manipulative schizophrenic and must be keep very close so we can force them into accountability or vote them out of office.  Four current elected Chicano/Latino city council members, representing a majority on the council.  Are they boldly and honestly representing the constituency that voted them into power?

    In listening and witnessing the many heartfelt and pain filled comments made by residents and Oxnard city employees, I am left with one overriding nauseating impressions of an orchestrated conspiracy of betrayal and lies being played out by the self-serving council on the backs of mostly Latino and vulnerable interest group (employees, non-profits and programs) in our community. The mastermind of the conspiracy is the new city manager, who clearly has been given absolute power and authority to remake the city of Oxnard in his oblique “hipster” image.

    I have dealt directly and personally with the city manager and in dealing with me and my business partner Dr. Debbie DeVries he has impressed me as guy that is at once bored with “the little people”, double talks and has little to no tolerance for “small ideas” that do not coincide with his grand carpetbagging visions.

    Here is what I mean, early in 2019 our Acuna Art Collective, a partnership of artists, educators, union folks, crafts persons, students, residents, activists and social services providers re-submitted (for the 10th time) a professional proposal of FREE and best practices services, classes, activities and community enhancement projects that we would provide to the residents of Oxnard in exchange for the temporary use of the Children’s Gull Wings Museum or the old Social Security Buildings. We felt that this was the culmination of over two years of community based collaboration, hard work and negotiations with the previous 4/5 previous city mangers to make use of abandoned city buildings.

    Dr. DeVries and I met with the new city manager in November, 2108. We presented our proposal and ideas, he immediately dismissed our proposal as “too small” and indicated to us that he had rejected all other existing proposals that had been previously solicited by the past city mangers office and submitted by a wide variety of local special interest groups. It was abundantly clear that he had his own vision and he would import all of his “development concepts, plans and team” without the input of the community. Like a couple of cockroaches we were summarily smashed. Oddly in that same meeting Nguyen assured us that he “wanted to help relocate us (the Acuna Art Collective)” somewhere downtown in an abandoned building. A rough draft of a formal partnership contract has collected dust in the city mangers office for over six (6) months. This is now the end of June, 2019 and the “negotiations” has come to a standstill and the city manager is not returning any of the calls that we have made to his offices for the past 5 month. “Small people or organization” do not get the benefit of a return call from the new city mangers. Throughout 2019 I have heard this complaint constantly from various community activist, leaders and residents.

    During this same 2019 period we contacted various city council members and presented our situation of constant stonewalling on our proposal from the new city manager. The city council members that we contacted for assistance indicated that they would get back to us, none of them have had the decency to follow through on our proposal. Were these disingenuous and tone deaf city council members told to butt out by the new omnipotent city manager? If so, why?

    The Acuna Arts Collective (Café 0n A) has provided acclaimed best practices art, education, and community enhancement programs and services to youth and residents of Oxnard for  three (3) decades and not one of the city council member advocated for our proposal. Why not?

    During the destructive budget deficit negotiation period the Acuna Art Collective has committed to provide over $150,000.00 in-kind services and programs to the most at-risk and needy youth and their family in our community. The city manager and the city council has completely ignored our proposal. Why?

    In the past two weeks I spoke to stunned city staff from the PAC who indicated to me that they had received dismissal notices without the benefit of a courtesy call or a visit from the city manager. The entire city has now been witness to the incredible pain and suffering of the most venerable and least “protected” employees who are being summarily dismissed on executive whim. Make no mistake about the employee cuts are subjective cold blooded whims. Perversely the city manager and the city council know that the soon to be sacked employees are not the budgetary problem.  The main culprit of this years (last year and next year) deficit mess are the huge pension plan cost that the city must pay. The huge percentage of these yearly city pension cost disproportionately benefit the cops, the firemen and high ranking city administrators. By flexing their considerable politically muscle the cops, the fireman, and the city’s top management administrators have sacrificed only token scraps in the 2019-2020 year of slash and burn budget.

    Since 2010 the city of Oxnard has had more than 34 changes in the top city administration. The management musical chair fiasco in Oxnard has been directly and indirectly responsible for the loss of millions of dollars in contracts, proposals and businesses that were never created, developed, negotiated and planned. All lost to stupidity and political expediency.  The generational brain drain and the historical professional/technical intellectual memory loss in dollars and professional expertise is incalculable. No one is to blames for this top level administrative management madhouse chaos except the pathetic and inept city council members, all of them for being complicit, stupid or both.

    Their current two-faced political pandering will cost the most venerable and lest politically connected employees to lose their job. The will talk shamelessly now about “biting the bullet, and not kicking the can down the road” and making the “tough” decisions. The residents of Oxnard are not stupid and we can see through their disingenuous movidas. The city council brought in their high priced carpetbagging fixer, and we might rightly call him “the enemy”. So we must keep him close. But the true danger is in our current city council “our friends” who constantly demonstrated shameless disregard for community loyalty, professional accountability, fiduciary stewardship, truth and a lack of both political courage and common sense. It is these city council “friends” that we must keep very close, hold them completely accountable, and then if they don’t come around vote them out of office.


    Armando Vazquez, M.Ed.  is Executive Director of  Acuna Art Gallery/Café on A, Executive Director for The KEYS Leadership Academy and Chairman of the Oxnard Multicultural Mental Health/coalition

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