Oxnard: Failing Municipal Law 101, Dragged Back Into Court

 

Moving Oxnard Forward

 

“When men are pure, laws are useless; when men are corrupt, laws are broken.” – – Benjamin Disraeli

We filed a lawsuit regarding the term limits initiative. We are scheduled to be in court on Thursday….


***Please Share With Oxnard Friends and Family***
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On Tuesday we filed a lawsuit in Ventura County Superior Court against the City of Oxnard. Here’s why.
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Late last year we gathered over 12,000 signatures to qualify a strong term limits initiative for Oxnard’s ballot.
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Because the Oxnard City Council opposed our strong term limits measure, they decided to place their own competing measure (“Measure B”) on the March 2020 ballot that would allow for more terms of office –– and even contained a loophole to allow some to avoid term limits altogether.
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But the City’s plan wasn’t to compete with our measure … it was to covertly supersede our measure with their own.
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You see, back in January of this year the Oxnard City Clerk certified that we gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.
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The City Council did not want the electorate to vote on our measure because they feared voters would adopt it.
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So, they executed a sneaky maneuver: rather than place our measure on the ballot, the City Council adopted it into law –– barely containing their laughter as they voted for it! –– then they promptly adjourned the meeting.
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And why were they cackling with amusement?
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Because the Council knew that voters would unwittingly override our strict term limits with Measure B’s weaker term limits several weeks later –– the already printed ballots told voters they were imposing term limits, not loosening them.
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Voters adopted Measure B with over 80% of the vote. The City Council succeeded in undermining the electorate …
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… or so they thought!
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The City Council actually broke the law –– twice! –– when they executed their stealth attack against voters.
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We wrote back in March about the Council’s first law violation.
Ordinarily, state law allows the City Council to either adopt a citizen’s initiative into law or place that measure on the ballot (see California Elections Code Section 9215).
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But there’s an exception to that rule.
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California Elections Code Section 9217 does not allow the City Council to adopt an ordinance that amends or repeals something that voters had previously decided. In that case, the only legal option available is for the City Council to order that the measure be placed on the ballot.
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And that was the situation with our term limits initiative.
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Back in 1973 the Oxnard electorate voted to separately elect the mayor with a two-year term. Because our term limits measure also extends the mayor’s term from two to four years, it takes a public vote to do that.
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It was against the law for the City Council to enact our initiative as an ordinance …
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… but they did so anyway –– or at least they thought they did!
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Which brings us to the City Council’s second law violation … and this one is particularly embarrassing for the City Council, or at least it ought to be.
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We’re talking about failing Municipal Law 101.
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The City Council was so giddy … having pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes … that they forgot that –– absent an emergency –– a city council is prohibited from adopting an ordinance when it is first introduced.
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California Government Code Section 36934 requires, that to pass an ordinance, a city council must introduce the ordinance at one meeting then adopt it at a regular or adjourned regular meeting at least five days later.
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Our city council couldn’t figure this out! They introduced our initiative as an ordinance that evening in January …
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… but they never arranged to adopt it at a second reading.
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If you watch enough cops shows on television, you quickly learn that law breakers are often not the smartest people around.
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So, where does that leave us?
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Bottom line, the City Council neither adopted our initiative into law, nor ordered that it be placed on the ballot.
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Consequently, we are scheduled with our legal counsel to appear this Thursday at an ex parte hearing in court.
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Expect City Hall to pay attorneys hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars to defend the undefendable, on the off-chance they might keep you from voting –– and which they’ll undoubtedly proclaim to be the noblest of pursuits.
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Of course, for the City’s attorneys this is a sweet deal. They get paid to give the City Council bad advice, then they get paid to defend the resultant bad decisions in court.
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It will likely take a few weeks to sort out, but our expectation is that a judge will review the evidence, apply the law and order the City Council to place our term limits measure on the November ballot.
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Aaron Starr
[email protected]
805-804-9101
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***Please Share With Oxnard Friends and Family***
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Paid for by Starr Coalition for Moving Oxnard Forward, a committee supporting Oxnard measures to fix streets, create financial transparency, improve council meeting accessibility, establish term limits and streamline building permits, 2130 Posada Drive, Oxnard, CA 93030

 


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10 Responses to Oxnard: Failing Municipal Law 101, Dragged Back Into Court

  1. Jeff Johnson June 15, 2020 at 7:59 am

    Actually, I carefully read the article (which Mr. Starr previously sent as an email blast to his supporters) and the several legal documents written by Starr’s attorney. I also carefully read the underlying law cited by Mr. Starr’s attorney (including Elections Code Section 9215). No evidence at this time that any laws were broken by the City — just legal arguments by Starr’s attorney.

    We will see if the Ventura Court Superior Court judge agrees with Mr. Starr or the City.

    Reply
  2. Jeff Johnson June 12, 2020 at 9:46 am

    It is more than a little ironic that you fault the City Council for following Elections Code Section 9215 and adopting Aaron Starr’s term limit ordinance after Starr presented enough signatures on his petitions to the City.

    In his email blast to his supporters dated January 18, 2020, Starr stated:

    “California Elections Code Section 9215 ultimately gives the council only two options [regarding initiatives that qualify for the ballot]:

    Adopt the initiatives into law within 10 days, or
    Place the initiatives on the ballot for a public vote”.

    The City Council selected one of the two options that Mr. Starr indicated are legally required. So this is now pulling a fast one on voters? It sure doesn’t look that way to me.

    Reply
    • Citizen Reporter June 12, 2020 at 10:36 am

      Then you must be one of the voters who are asleep. Let me spell it out for you.

      Starr created a tough term limits voter initiative and garnered more than the required signatures to put it on the ballot.

      The council was alarmed and created their own competing, watered down term limits initiative, which required no signatures except their own (votes) to put on the ballot.

      Then they cynically passed the Starr initiative into law, even though they were opposed to it and had their own competing initiative.

      Why? Because they knew that the vast majority of the voters weren’t paying attention, had no clue about any of this, would see the council initiative on the ballot and think oh, goody, we need term limits and check that box on their ballots, never knowing that this would then supersede the new, tougher law just passed. How cynical and calculating of them.

      They got away with something that is not actually illegal, but is immoral and deceptive.

      BUT, Starr’s team found that they were likely breaking multiple laws in the process in the way that they did it. Maybe if you actually read the article and the attachments, you might fathom that.

      Reply
      • Alejandro Pedro June 15, 2020 at 8:28 am

        Wow, this is definitely Starr replying. Can’t you tell with all his whining in this reply? This is a one-sided biased website that’s full of BS.

        Reply
        • Citizen Reporter June 15, 2020 at 9:07 am

          Yet we publish your BS too. In any case it is a press release, we didn’t write it.

          Reply
  3. James Bauer June 12, 2020 at 9:30 am

    The performance of the Oxnard City Council over the years is a good reason for someone such as Aaron Starr to step in and challenge what is happening. I emailed my council representative, voicing my concerns, and have heard from him, nor from any of the other council members who were copied on my email.
    I appreciate Mr. Starr’s efforts, even though they are costing the city money. Perhaps there will be less money to spend on a $34million homeless shelter/navigation center.

    Reply
  4. Alejandro Pedro June 11, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I’m so tired of my City being sent to court by Starr and having my tax dollars be spent on attorneys! Please Starr, pretty PLEASE, go away. You are like a spoiled child, when you don’t get your way you whine and complain to the courts!

    Reply
    • Citizen Reporter June 11, 2020 at 3:41 pm

      Maybe then you should ask your city to start following the law and stop attempting to trick voters. If you understand what actually happened here, you would know that they pulled a fast one on voters not paying attention.

      Reply
      • Alejandro Pedro June 15, 2020 at 8:26 am

        Oh, please. Do you really think I don’t educate myself on my own city’s politics? All I read when Starr is involved is that the City is being sent to court for something the big baby is mad about. Everything he proposes is garbage. I hope he realizes one day that the residents have had enough of his BS.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Starr replying to this.

        I don’t see the same treatment to Ventura’s and Camarillo’s City Manager and Council.

        Let me be clear – I prefer what the City proposed over Starr’s proposal! That is why I voted for it!

        The City Council approved your measure, yet you still are sending the City to court. Please stop wasting our valuable resources on litigation. We don’t have very much as it is.

        Reply
    • Eileen Tracy June 12, 2020 at 10:52 am

      It seems like Tim Flynn is the “spoiled child” here. Thank goodness for Aaron and Alica!!

      Reply

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