Oxnard Again Slapped Down by a Judge-and Aaron Starr, Calls Snap Council Meeting for Friday 1 PM

 

 

By George Miller

Oxnard calls emergency special meeting to place Starr voter initiatives on ballot with their modified prejudicial language in possible violation of the law.

Local financial executive and activist Aaron Starr is known as an enfant terrible of local Oxnard politics- hated and feared by statists- especially most local Oxnard officials. Unsuccessful in running for office multiple times with eye-popping budgets, he has done better in passing ballot initiatives and litigating against the city, via his well-funded and volunteer-staffed Moving Oxnard Forward organization.

Their latest campaign was five initiatives to transform city government, which the city has done everything possible to stop, legally, and as it turns out, illegally and immorally as well.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Henry Walsh just ruled yesterday that three of Starr’s initiatives, which the Council, with the connivance of the City Attorney and a bought and paid for consultant, point blank refused to put on the ballot- in direct violation of both statutory and case law- MUST be placed on the ballot. Ruling: 2020_07_15 Final Ruling – Writ on Cross-Petition

You would think that would be enough, but noooooooo, they are very persistently slow learners. Now, they are calling a snap special council meeting on this at 1 pm this Friday that hardly anyone will be able to attend. (Well actually, none of the public can attend in person anyway because of COVID-19 orders, but they can at least write or phone in).

To make it worse, they are pulling another trick- rewriting the ballot language in an apparently prejudicial way that appears to be illegal, based on the law which says, in summary, that you are required to put it as a true and impartial synopsis, not argumentative, or likely to create prejudice, in a neutral question format.

Are they allowed to rewrite language which was already written? If so, are they allowed to rewrite it so prejudicially?

Why don’t you look at it yourself and decide if it is? Then, you might want to weigh in on it at the meeting- on line, anyway.

See AGENDA for July 17, 2020 meeting language and how to voice your opinion.

See original January 15 AGENDA

 

We received this from Alicia Percell of Moving Oxnard Forward

Compare the ballot questions they are proposing for our measures on tomorrow night’s agenda (attached) with the ones they wrote for the January 15 initial consideration of the same measures.
I’ve attached the materials from January 15 showing the ballot questions they previously proposed, which were quite different.  See the following pages in that packet:
p. 140 – meetings ballot question
p. 147 – streets ballot question
p. 163 – treasurer ballot question

Notice for the one which requires fixing the streets to certain pavement condition standards or else Measure O sunsets early, their new ballot language doesn’t even disclose that the ending or extension of the tax is predicated on their street repair performance.  They don’t want to mention any street repair requirements because they know it would be popular.  They completely fail to disclose to the voters that core aspect of our initiative.

-Alicia
Comparisons below:
—————————————————————————————
Keeping the Promise for Oxnard Streets BEFORE on January 15:
Shall an ordinance be adopted to require early termination of the Measure O half cent sales tax if specific pavement standards for city streets and alleys are not met and allow for the extension of the Measure O half cent sales tax for additional five year periods if specific pavement standards are met?
Keeping the Promise for Oxnard Streets AFTER on July 17:
Shall the initiative ordinance to mandate revisions to Measure O (adopted by Oxnard voters in 2008) to either end funding early for City services such as fire, emergency response, street paving/pothole repair, youth recreation, after school and anti-gang prevention programs, parks/open space preservation, senior services, and code compliance, or override the currently-approved expiration date, be adopted?
—————————————————————————————
Fiscal Transparency and Accountability  BEFORE on January 15:
Shall an ordinance be adopted to designate the elected City Treasurer the City’s Director of Finance and give the City Treasurer authority over the City’s Finance Department; selection and oversight of Internal Auditor; establishment, preparation and submittal of monthly financial reports and monthly performance measurements for City Departments; and preparation and submittal of the annual City budget?
Fiscal Transparency and Accountability AFTER on July 17:
Shall the initiative ordinance to increase the powers of the City Treasurer, prohibit the City Council from reducing the powers of the City Treasurer, reduce oversight authority of the City Manager and Director of Finance, mandate the City Treasurer’s assumption of professional responsibilities with authority over the City’s $523,000,000 Budget, $256,000,000 Investment Portfolio, Finance Department, preparation and submittal of the annual municipal budget, and professional financial operations of the City, be adopted?
—————————————————————————————
Open Meetings BEFORE on January 15:
Shall an ordinance be adopted to require meetings of City legislative bodies to use Robert’s Rules of Order, limit meeting start times, alter existing rules for public comment, and utilize prerecorded staff presentations?
Open Meetings AFTER on July 17:
Shall the initiative ordinance mandating all meetings of City legislative bodies to exclusively utilize prerecorded videotaped staff presentations, use Robert’s Rules of Order, purchase guidebooks and training from a professional Parliamentarian on meeting procedures, restrict meeting start times, and alter existing rules for public comment, be adopted?

 

 

Our understanding is that such language belongs in the counter-argument, NOT in the actual initiative language.

Watching the antics of the council, and reporting on it for over seven years now (both in news articles and opinion articles. In case you haven’t noticed, this is an opinion article), I have some questions: the council repeatedly takes questionable actions, most of which are supported by the City Attorney’s office with rhetoric and often, with very expensive litigation,even if obviously illegal, like this one was. Is a City Attorney required to warn the Council and City Manager when he sees a legal problem? Does the council overrule him and if so, what are the City Attorney’s options and legal requirements when this happens? Is this such a case? If so, what did the City Attorney do about it?  Just asking. Someone has to.

By the way, have you also noticed that the new supposedly more transparent agendas are no longer cut and pastable or even searchable (try it yourself)? Gee, thanks, Oxnard. 

 

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.


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

Get Citizensjournal.us Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

6 Responses to Oxnard Again Slapped Down by a Judge-and Aaron Starr, Calls Snap Council Meeting for Friday 1 PM

  1. Douglas Partello July 20, 2020 at 9:59 pm

    Once again our city leaders play fast and loose with the law, and our tax dollars. Changing the language was their illegal attempt to influence the voters in a prejudicial matter, which is illegal. That is crystal clear! What they did to lead up to these measures making the ballot was reprehensible. The judge clearly sided with the law, as is his obligation, and not because there was no time to make a ruling, as Mayor Tim Flynn suggested. He ruled! We need to see Measure E, in its entirety soon. They will most likely drag their feet in getting this to the public, as to avoid scrutiny, and comment. They can run, but they cannot hide from the truth. Vote!

    Reply
  2. Jeff Johnson July 19, 2020 at 8:57 am

    It is ironic that you indicate that hardly anyone would be able to participate in Friday’s special City Council meeting when you, Aliicia Percell (spouse of proponent Aaron Starr), and Phillip Molina were either physically preset at the meeting and provided substantive comments (Molina) or provided substantive verbal comments regarding this matter (you and Percell).

    Other City residents (both for and against the measures) were able to provide verbal comments and several individuals provided written comments.

    Reply
    • Citizen Reporter July 19, 2020 at 12:09 pm

      The public was NOT allowed to attend. They had to email or phone only. Not being there makes a difference. If there had been more notice and if people could have attended, there would have been a lot more people involved and it would have significantly changed the dynamics of the meeting.

      Reply
  3. VCsurfer July 17, 2020 at 10:34 am

    This is outrageous. Once again, Council/staff run roughshod over the interests of the People- and willfully break the law, thinking they can simply wear down legitimate opposition, with OUR money and their unlimited time, bought by us,

    Reply
  4. Eileen Tracy July 17, 2020 at 9:52 am

    They’re making the city look like a “den of thieves”

    Reply
  5. Tom July 16, 2020 at 10:58 pm

    Since 2009 the California Controller has published a document “Government Compensation in California”. Oxnard has submitted the requested information each year from 2009 to 2018. When looking up Oxnard in the 2019 (the latest) database it returns the message “This employer has submitted a non-compliant report to the State Controller’s Office.”

    Oxnard’s report is non-compliant because it was never submitted. Four hundred seventy of the 482 California cities have submitted compliant information.

    Hardly lives up to Oxnard’s claim of “transparency” and “sunshine”.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *