By Gina Harden
SIMI VALLEY – The City Council unanimously approved a $33.85 million dollar loan to design and construct eleven energy-related projects for the City’s Water Quality Control Plant (WQCP). The WQCP is the city’s largest electricity consumer. Ron Fuchiwaki, Public Works Director, presented a report outlining strategies to reduce city utility costs by “upgrading and replacing worn out equipment and components at the WQCP.” The city chose a direct lease from Bank of America over a bond. Bank of America offered a 2.309% fixed rate for 20 years.
Community members also turned out Monday evening to voice their concerns regarding the potential appointment of Councilmember Ruth Luevanos as Mayor Pro Tem. Luevanos has been embroiled in controversy after posting a video urging illegal immigrants to resist ICE officials. The council previously opted against censuring the councilwoman, as Mayor Mashburn instead offered a motion to reaffirm the code of ethics, which Luevanos voted against. In turn, Luevanos filed HR complaints against multiple council members. A recall effort is currently underway.
Luevanos’ supporters outnumbered opponents 2:1; however, Luevanos motion to appoint herself as Mayor Pro Tem failed. Councilwoman Litster nominated Councilman Judge and the motion carried 4-1. Judge last served as Mayor Pro Tem in 2017. Prior to the vote, the Council asked questions of staff and offered their opinion. It has become customary for Luevanos to respond after every comment made on the dais rather than follow formal parliamentary procedure where one would not comment twice until everyone had commented once. The comments on the dais devolved into a tense exchange between Luevanos and the Mayor.
Mashburn, “You’re trying to spin this.”
I move to appoint myself as Mayor Pro Tem.” Luevanos declared.
The Mayor Pro Tem position rotates annually and was previously held by Councilmember Dee Dee Cavanaugh in 2019. The Mayor Pro Tem also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Special Districts and President Pro Tem of the Library Board of Trustees.
Litster questioned the established rotation. Mashburn argued that the rotation is not a rubber stamp and lamented, “It’s a very trying time.” Luevanos asked to consistently apply rules even when it relates to her. Mayor Pro Tem Cavanaugh expressed a desire to create a rule that the Mayor Pro Tem have two years experience on the Council and said she would have difficulty voting for someone who could not affirm the code of conduct. Mashburn said that he was “shocked” when Luevanos voted against reaffirming the code of ethics.