Oxnard This is no Way to run a Prosperous, Safe and Caring City! We Can and Must do Better!

 

By Armando Vazquez

Since about 2000 until this year, 2020, a total of twenty years, the city of Oxnard has had a top level executive dysfunctional, wasteful, costly and head-spinning management turnover rate. This hair on fire musical chairs approach to local governance, of course, contributes to horrific and untimely fiscal, planning and programmatic waste, malfeasance and mismanagement.

In 20 years the Oxnard Police Department has had 5-7 Police Chiefs (depending if you are counting interim Chiefs). Let us count them, Hurtt, Lopez, Crombach, interim (Whitney, Benites), Williams, (the interim team of Benites, Sonstegard, Whitney), and finally Whitney as the current Police Chief.

In just over 20 years the City Manager’s office has had 5-10 City Managers (depending if we are counting interim City Managers). Let’s count Colston, an interim, Sotelo, interim Burnham; officially Burnham, interim Golden and Whitney (?); Nyhoff, interim Whitney; interim Nava and now Nguyen. The top administrative staff turnover looks more like an ICU or triage unit, representing a here today and inexplicably gone tomorrow mid-level management disaster, creating a major pandemic of brain drain, squandering of precious tax dollars, incompetent and self-serving mid-career professionals making a brief stop in Oxnard to fatten up their resumes before they move on to bigger and better things, or worse yet, getting hired and fired without the public knowing what just happened! Enter the latest exhibits to this desaparecidos crew: where did Jesus Nava, Ruth Osuna, Kimberly Horner, Ingrid Hardy, Chelsea Reynolds, and now Jeff Lambert and Keith Brooks, go? Poof gone!

During this same period there have been 4 or 5 City Council regime changes, with little to no leadership continuity. Oxnard, this is no way to run a prosperous, safe and caring city! We need new hearts, brains and minds on the Oxnard City Council. November 3, 2020 is just around the corner!

After the 2016 election, for the first time in our history, we have in Oxnard a majority of Latina/o city council members. There are three Latinas for the first time in the 120 year history of Oxnard. At the time this electoral shift took place it appeared to be great news, it was long overdue! The will, the power and hard work of the people has been heard through the power of the ballot box.

In 2020 Latinos still represent 70 to 80 % of the population currently totalling approximately 250,000 residents in Oxnard (depending on who is conducting the census) and  four Latina/o city council members we have had little to no power and some might argue that things have gotten much worse at city hall!

I wrote back in 2017, “Those days are over! We Latinos know better than most that power is never ceded voluntarily but must be taken. We voted and seized the local political power. So in the run-up to the transition to the new local government in Oxnard, we the people must organize, mobilize and scrupulously plan so that we can present and be an influential part of a well researched and consensus driven movement of aspirations, expectations and demand immediately to the new city council.  The Latino community can neither afford nor concede a token “honeymoon” period.  We have waited 115 years for this period. The “good old days” are dead and we must bury them with immediate progressive actions” This is 2020 and I don’t think it happened!

Since that time in frequent conversations, convivios comunitarios, and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has altered all “usual and normal” life as we knew it, the Black Lives Matter Movement, The Police Defunding and Reform Movement, the recent community defeat and abolishment of the Oxnard Civil “Gang” Injunction, the tyrannical rise Trump and his goons with the jack boots on our collective necks, our constant interaction and canvasing of our community here are some of the most important issues that resonate with our Oxnard Latino community. Not surprisingly, CORE, the Acuna Arts Collective, Oxnard Multicultural Health Coalition, the One Love & Salseras Poderosas Partners and other community organizations are still currently working with the community with very limited funding and resources on these hot button issues. The city council and the new city manager seem oblivious to our request for equitable community funding sharing and assistance. Here some of our continued finds:

Community Health/Salud Comunitaria: The vast majority of the Latino population of Oxnard is low income and agricultural/factory working and just one job or major health issue(s) away from economic disaster and ruin. America’s medical model is currently a poorly designed obsolete reactive model that makes the medical-industrial complex filthy rich and treats many American patients, especially the poor with indifference, disdain and hostility. The COVID-19 pandemic has ravished the health and economic of already precarious lives of our frontline and blue collar workers. We continue to reach out to some friends remotely and we can report that what we hear is dire and devastating. We have begun working with LULAC to set up remote exercise, nutrition, educational tutoring, and convivios programming that will begin in the Central Coast and hope to expand state-wide.

Oxnard we can be a proactive, knowledgeable, holistic, and a preventative health leader. In Oxnard we can actively and aggressively support, promote, and create (and fine tune as needed) a universal preventive proactive community directed health movement that relies heavily on free healthy living exercise, nutrition, mental health, art/culture, convivios familiars y comunitarios and other culturally and ethnically congruent that are highly effective, universally mobile, and most important economically feasible and accessible to all.  In 2017 before we lost our lease at the Café on A our healthy living program, the One Love/Salerasas Poderoseas were providing approximately 30,000 individual hours (yearly) of healthy lives classes in dance movement, bienestar nutrition and community service convivios that also addresses mental health and other intimate cultural and ethnically congruent issues unique to Latina events to mostly farm and factory working women and their children in Oxnard. This simple healthy living program and mental health convivios for farm and factory working women and their children was available to everyone, and proved to be highly transformative and liberating at no cost to the participant. We have many incredible testimonials from our participant that attest to magical transformation that has taken place in individual woman that participate in this health living program.

Our youth and family: Family strengthening and support services, quality education, social justice and mental ( art and cultural programs expanded) and physical (youth jobs, community improvement projects, healthy living programs, job training “educational ,energy and environmental apprenticeship programs for all ages) prosperity on a level playing field is all the Latino community expects and demands; nothing more, nothing less.

To that end we will continue to lobby our majority Latino city council members to look beyond the unimaginative and heavy handed policing community safety strategies currently deployed in Oxnard that disproportionately profile, victimize and criminalize our Latino youth. We have defeated the OCGI, and now we must demand reparation and demand that the approximately 70 million dollars that is traditional allocated to the police and the fire departments for obsolete “community safety” and be shared so that some of the millions of dollars are share with community based organization that he have been doing redemptive, restorative and social justice work and helping transform troubled and down on their luck youth and adults.  

We will lobby the city council and work for the immediate realignment of the approximately 70 million 2020-2021 “community safety budget” so that it redirects one (1) million dollar line item for social justice, restorative justices and other culturally and ethnically congruent community based programs that help remediate, enhance and restore all of our youth to maximize their innate core to be productive community members.

Community Safety: Our Latino community is incredibly law abiding, respectful of authority, adaptive and resilient; we have had to be, as we are predominately immigrants, blue collar, low income, politically (up to now) impotent and acutely underrepresented. Historically we have learned to protect and “police” ourselves within our families and our communities. Many of us Chicano/Latinos fear law enforcement, the police, immigration authorities,(such as the OPD, the Ventura County Sheriffs, la migra, (ICE), and Homeland Security), the courts, the lawyers, the laws, all seemed so often to be working in perfect conspiracy to harasses and subjugates us to servitude and second class citizenry.

With the November 3, 2020 election right around the corner we will work to elect progressive Latino city council members. We will work with our officials to change the prevailing perception and realties in our Latino Oxnard communities that “la jura y la migra” are out to get us. We will attempt to work with the OPD and our many community partners to develop and implement 21st century community preventative restorative community safety programs, intervention and protocols that address underlying aberrant and delinquent behavior, especially among our youth, newly released pintos, immigrants and the recovery community.

We will lobby and work hard with our newly elected, 2020, city council to assure that there are sufficient funds to augment and support local community based programs and organization that have a history of success in helping mitigate youth on youth delinquency and domestic violence, restorative justice, city wide enhancement projects through, apprenticeship and job training programs, employment opportunities,  community service, educational remediation, civic involvement, as well as other culturally and ethnically congruent programs in a new bold holistic proactive community driven safety and prosperity movements that involves and empowers every resident of Oxnard.

We have a lot of work to do Oxnard, with a smile on our face and love in our heart let’s get started!


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

 


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


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17 Responses to Oxnard This is no Way to run a Prosperous, Safe and Caring City! We Can and Must do Better!

  1. Anthoney September 7, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    ok

    Reply
  2. Michael Boskovich August 25, 2020 at 11:22 am

    This is a disgusting article. Oxnard is a mess and it is not the polices fault.

    Reply
  3. Bob L August 24, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Living at the Beach we pay the lions share of property taxes and 9 school bonds !
    We get nothing ! Yet finance the city .

    The city has a crime, drug , gang problem , this author wants to defund the police ?
    Who you going to call ??
    No answer from this clown at all .
    The founding principles of the BLM movement is Marxist anti family !
    Living in Oxnard for 34 years everyone seems pro family !
    We residents got suckered with Measure O
    Now they want to fleece us again .
    I don’t care what color or where your from serving on the council !
    Flynn, Carmen Ramirez have been doing a horrible job for decades and these two want to be county supervisors !
    Their horrible leaders and allowed the city to be financially ruined .
    As to the sales tax ?
    Once again

    NO

    Reply
  4. John Storz August 24, 2020 at 9:18 am

    lol… “tyrannical goons”… someone is so bluepilled that they fail to recognize that the only heavy handedness, goofing, and incompetence in this state comes from the left. From the governor on down to this very city there’s nothing but progressive leftist politician,activists, and self important op/ed writers with leftist agendas.
    Yeah… what we need is some more of THAT.

    Reply
  5. Mike Smith August 24, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Oxnard is a failing, unsafe, uncaring city BECAUSE of leftists like Armando Vazquez — and the racist, Trotskyite LULAC organization that can’t find anyone besides Vazquez to opine here on the Marxist Mob’s behalf.

    Reply
  6. Al Pondigas August 23, 2020 at 10:18 pm

    This area is a money tree to OLDER POLITICIANS. They lose, retire or step down and then they still want to run for office. Or they stay in the same seat for 20 plus year because they can not win a higher office seat. The weather is great but this area lacks true leadership. Too many sell serving politicians.

    Reply
  7. Bill Winter August 23, 2020 at 7:18 pm

    I believe it was 1993 when the City of Oxnard had a real opportunity to change and transform its style of government which Mr. Vasquez credits to a host of power-hungry or domineering City Managers who have left the City lain to waste.

    In 1993, Oxnard had assembled an intentional citizen-based Committee in order to examine and recommend if Oxnard was to change from a General Law City to a Charter City. With a Charter City, provisions can be make at the framing of the City’s Charter as to whether the City will be governed by a Strong Mayor or a Weak Mayor – or stronger or otherwise City Council or allow it to be run by a strong City Manager who would have more gravity than the City’s Council itself.

    Councilman Thomas Holden nominated me to serve on the citizen group which also had onboard, Martin David Jones. The citizen-based committee was making progress toward bringing Oxnard into Charter cityhood until the mysterious inclusion of several Attorneys joining the Committee and once on the panel, nothing came of the Charter.

    Had we, in our past, had the same tempered organized zeal as Mr. Vasquez is pleading with us to have – a Charter may have been revisited or perhaps it shall again someday.

    Armando Vasquez struck some interesting civic nerves in his summary of what factually is and has been “Oxnard”.

    What matters most is not what we haven’t done, but what we are planning on doing in a little over two months from now. We have a Supervisor seat sought by two seasoned Oxnard Council folks and the current Supervisor who will pass his County offices over to the victor in the race for his seat so he may attain the Mayor’s center seat.

    So what is the future that you want for Oxnard? Is it attainable simply by voting?
    Or is it that you need to be a tad-bit more active in the things your City thinks or does.

    Bill Winter
    Oxnard, Calif.

    * A major footnote to Councilmember Bert Perello who forwarded Mr. Vasquez’s commentary.

    Reply
  8. VCsurfer August 23, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    If the Latino majority really thinks like Vaszquez, this town is doomed, but I don’t think they are as stupid or Marxist as he is.

    Reply
  9. Vincent August 23, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    It’s not just Latinos that facing tough times and incompetent city officials in Oxnard there’s the Blacks Asians and the lower class whites also the homeless. No matter the situation everyone should keep in mind that we are all in this together.

    Reply
  10. Chris August 23, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    No shit

    Reply
  11. O.G. August 23, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Sabes que Señor Vazquez. You fail to mention that people need to be responsible for their actions. “We need this, we need that”. Work for it. Just like others. Keep blaming others when you need to look at others. The “goons”. Did ex president Obama improve your situation when he was in power for eight years?

    Reply
  12. Michael A. August 23, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    California needs ‘cost controls’ on municipal employees.

    Reply
  13. Ray Blattel August 23, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    By the way, your commentary claims that the Latino community comprises 70-80% of Oxnard’s population and a vast majority are low income. Yet, the city leaders wants to increase the sales tax rate. Recent concessions made to the city’s unions have placed the city on the path of certain financial ruin – these concessions will cost the taxpayer anywhere from nearly $30M over a 3-year period. This bleak situation is exacerbated by this pandemic. However, even without the pandemic, the city would be broke in 5 years or less. The city leaders know this as they said they’d be asking for the increase in sales taxes even without the pandemic. The city knows there’s trouble ahead. Even two of our current council members have decided to seek greener pastures rather than run for council.
    What the city needs to do is to bring in industry/better paying jobs for the community. However, apparently the city has no idea how to way of accomplish this. They rely on increased housing to bring in much needed money. However, a vast majority of the citizens of Oxnard can’t afford to live here anyway? So, who’s to populate all this housing.

    Reply
  14. Ray Blattel August 23, 2020 at 11:50 am

    Well, you currently have 4 latino/latina city council members and nothing has improved since they were elected. Either the city staff is so smart and competent and with consequence, all programs/agenda items presented to the council are so brilliant, that even the most incompetent council member cannot find fault. Or, on the other hand, the city council are so incompetent that they don’t understand most of the items presented by city staff. Either way, often times I wonder why we have a city council and pay them – everything shoved in their faces by city staff are approved. May as well have a rubber stamp – at least that would be free to the taxpayer.
    I would wager in 10 years that this city will not have improved and will look the same – if not worse. This is a stagnant city. Our leadership cannot see past their noses.

    Reply
  15. Sharon Selinski August 23, 2020 at 10:45 am

    BRAVO! Beautifully written. Keep on keepin’ on.

    Reply
  16. Jason Ross August 23, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Oh-da-lay Holmes! Lol. Let the prisoners run the jail.

    Reply
  17. Sam August 23, 2020 at 8:04 am

    When did Oxnard become prosperous, safe, or caring?

    Reply

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