Oxnard Mayor Flynn Again Busted by DA for Brown Act Violation

By George Miller

The Ventura County District Attorney’s office on July 28, 2020 again issued a warning to Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn for a Brown Act violation.  This time it was because at the December 17, 2019 Council meeting, he permitted City Manager Alex Nguyen to continue on a 9 1/2 minute monologue on a subject which was not even on the  agenda- the imminent financial collapse of the city-owned Performing Arts Center and potential actions. The warning carries no penalties- other than “public shaming.”

Chuck Hughes, Chief Deputy Assistant District Attorney, wrote that “The discussion regarding the PACC’s closure, lasting nine-and-a-half minutes, was not a “brief announcement” within the meaning of the Brown Act. “

The letter: L2 Tim Flynn Mayor _Brown Act Letter

The previous warning: “In a warning letter dated July 25, 2018, we notified you that a discussion lasting more than seven minutes regarding purchase of a financial software system exceeded a “brief announcement” and constituted a violation of the Brown Act.” 

The Brown Act constrains such actions to help prevent meaningful policy discussion which could occur without the knowledge and participation of stakeholders. But multiple people have come to Citizens Journal alleging that such discussion among Council Members takes place outside of Brown Act sanctioned meeting rules. The behavior and coordination of Council member/staff actions sometimes makes it look like that is the case, but we haven’t seen any proof. 

We believe that a complaint on this leading to the investigation and subsequent warning was filed by local financial executive and civic activist Aaron Starr, who is well-known for his strong opposition to some city actions/policies and initiatives of his own, including filing for and gaining voter approval to put five voter initiatives on the ballot. He intends to run for the District 3 City Council seat, currently occupied by first-termer Oscar Madrigal, who pulled ahead in the race when provisional ballots were counted.

Starr unsuccessfully ran for Mayor before and engineered an unsuccessful recall of Mayor Flynn, Mayor Pro-tem Carmen Ramirez, Councilmen Bert Perello and Oscar Madrigal in 2018. 

He successfully pushed through Measure M, to roll back the rates, but has been engaged in multiple rounds of litigation with the city to get it implemented. 

Starr’s suit to eliminate what he says are illegal utility infrastructure fees will see the first response from the city in court on 7-31-20, we hear. He contends that the fees are excessive, illegally levied and are a trick to siphon money out of the utilities to subsidize the always-ailing general fund.

Flynn’s term will run out before year end and he is not running for re-election, as he is battling Mayor Pro-Tem Carmen Ramirez for the District 5 County Supervisor’s position and his Mayoral term is almost up. In a game of musical chairs, the incumbent, John Zaragoza, is termed out and is running for Oxnard Mayor. Zaragoza took his current seat from Tim Flynn’s father John Flynn, in a very contentious campaign. Zaragoza was previously an Oxnard Councilman.

 


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

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9 Responses to Oxnard Mayor Flynn Again Busted by DA for Brown Act Violation

  1. Jeff Johnson July 31, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    The letter is actually directed to the City Council as a whole — not just Mayor Flynn.

    Reply
    • Citizen Reporter July 31, 2020 at 6:29 pm

      Try reading the linked letter, Mr, Johnson. It is specifically addressed to Mayor Flynn, with a copy to the City Attorney and City Manager.

      Reply
      • Jeff Johnson August 2, 2020 at 7:42 am

        I absolutely did read the letter before posting my comment.

        The first sentences clearly states: “The District Attorney’s Office received a complaint that the Oxnard City Council (Council) violated the Ralph M. Brown…”

        This does not focus on the Mayor but the City Council as a whole. This is confirmed by language in the last paragraph of the letter, which states:

        “Because the December 17, 2019, council meeting occurred nearly 18 months after our prior letter, I reiterate that neither the council nor city staff should discuss items not on the agenda except for a brief response, announcement, or report, as indicated in the Brown Act.”

        Reply
  2. nope July 31, 2020 at 10:26 am

    Oxnard is by far the most poorly run city I have ever lived in. If you don’t live in a special district that pays extra taxes the city ignores you. Oxnard appears to have bad and crooked leadership. We elected garbage and it shows. Want a better city? Then vote out the garbage leadership.

    Reply
  3. Ray Blattel July 31, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Mr. Gonzales and Ms.Mitchell are missing the point. The Brown Act was created such that the public would be made aware of subject matter to be discussed at Council meetings. Thus, the public is then aware of the agenda and would be able to participate on subject matters which are of interest to them. To discuss and make decisions on matters not on the agenda violates the public’s right to present their viewpoints. Yes, the OPACC was and still is of great concern for the public and is an important City asset. However, any discussion on these matters should be on the agenda to afford public participation. On a side issue, where was the City’s attorney (and his many taxpayer-paid deputies and assistants) when this happened? Aren’t these individuals supposed to be looking out for these type violations? The City attorney should have stopped the discussion prior to it becoming a violation. Also, the City Manager should also know better.

    Reply
  4. Debbie Mitchell July 31, 2020 at 9:08 am

    I have to agree with Sil, i must admit I was listening to the information and not watching the clock…. but when information has become so complex there should be time allowed to present it.
    Would it have not been a Brown act violation if the presentation was announced to be allotted 10 or 15 minutes?

    Reply
    • Citizen Reporter July 31, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      It’s a Brown Act violation if there is substantive discussion and it was not agendized.

      Reply
    • William Hicks August 1, 2020 at 4:47 am

      Tell that to the individual citizen that is cut off due to their time limitation.

      If it is that important it should have been in written form and part of the agenda.

      Reply
  5. Sil Gonzales July 31, 2020 at 6:58 am

    I believe this subject was of great Community concern for all of us
    and I applaud the Mayor his leadership on this item.

    Truly, whoever complained or reported this as a violation should focus on other issues in our City. Hi

    Reply

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