Starr to Seek Contempt of Court Finding Against Oxnard and City Attorney?


April 18, 2016

Must we go back to court?

It has been three days since a judge ordered Oxnard City Attorney Stephen Fischer to “immediately” provide the paperwork we need to start collecting petition signatures to repeal the 87% wastewater rate increase.  He has not done it yet.

That’s another weekend gone without the chance to collect signatures.  The clock ticks, and the May 20 signature-gathering deadline approaches.

Click here to see the letter our attorneys issued this afternoon to the outside attorneys handling this case for the city.  In summary, if we do not receive the mandated paperwork by close-of-business today, we’ll ask a judge to find them in contempt of court.

The letter spells out the reality that the court order was written in a way that means they still have to provide the paperwork now even if they decide during the City Council meeting on Tuesday to appeal.  Appealing the order is not a legally valid excuse for failing to comply with it.

Below is a particularly compelling excerpt from the letter, noting that the City Attorney’s lack of action undermines the entire reason he knows the judge used for the ruling:

“City Attorney Fischer’s statement (above) to the Mayor and Council is accurate in one respect — his summary of the Court’s reasoning for its ruling: “maintaining a level playing field to allow signatures to be gathered while preserving his ability to rule on whether the initiative should be placed on the ballot if it qualifies.” This brings into sharp focus the impact of Respondent Fischer’s continued refusal to issue the title and summary – it inherently creates an uneven playing field against Mr. Starr.

The unjustified delay by Respondents to issue the title and summary is causing Mr. Starr and the voters of the City of Oxnard irreparable injury relevant to their reserved constitutional rights.”

We hope the city will do the right thing, provide the mandated paperwork, and stop the madness of abusively wasting taxpayer money to keep the voters from having a say at the ballot box.

Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn Needs to Direct City Attorney to Obey Judge’s Order

On Friday, April 15, Ventura County Superior Court Judge Rocky Baio ordered the Oxnard City Attorney to “immediately” obey an order to provide Aaron Starr with a required document before we can start collecting initiative petition signatures to repeal the city’s 87% increase in wastewater rates — an additional $326 for a typical family per year.

So far, Oxnard City Attorney Stephen Fischer has refused two opportunities to do what the judge ordered.  Mayor Tim Flynn needs to direct him to follow the law.

The document is called a “title and summary”.  It is very short, fewer than 500 words, and it is just a description for the voters of what a ballot initiative would do.

Mr. Fischer has been legally obligated to provide this document to Moving Oxnard Forward President Aaron Starr since March 8.  Instead of doing what was legally required, the city sued Mr. Starr, and the legal fight was on.

Friday, April 15 was the first hearing before a judge.  One week before that hearing, our attorney sent Mr. Fischer a letter saying that since the document was so long overdue, Mr. Fischer should bring it to the hearing with him.  That way, when the judge ruled in our favor, Mr. Fischer could hand it over immediately.

Mr. Fischer did not even attend the hearing, and he did not have his attorney hand over the document to us at that time.

After the hearing ended at 2:15 p.m., as soon as we got official documentation of the judge’s order, we headed with our attorney to Mr. Fischer’s office.  Shortly after 4:00 p.m. the same day we showed it to Mr. Fischer in person and asked him to provide the ordered document by 5:00 p.m.

He said no.

We pointed to the order which said he is to “immediately” provide it.  Mr. Fischer didn’t say he didn’t have it.  He didn’t say he needs time to write it.  He claimed that he doesn’t have to do it yet.  The judge gave him until noon on Wednesday to prove to the judge that he has already done it, so Mr. Fischer said he doesn’t intend to provide it before then…even though it is almost a month overdue, and the judge said to do it immediately.

Every day matters.  Every day of delay is a violation of the constitutional rights of thousands of Oxnard residents who want to sign the petition to repeal these excessive rate increases.

We have known from the beginning that this entire plot is a stall tactic.  The longer the city can delay, the closer we get to a May 20 deadline for us to finish collecting 1,430 signatures to get the rate increase repeal on the November ballot so the public can vote on it.  We can’t start until Mr. Fischer provides us this document.  If the city stalls long enough, we run out of time.

Presumably, Mr. Fischer is just doing what his bosses, the city council, want him to do.  Based on their public statements, two of the five council members appear ready to tell Mr. Fischer to quit stalling, obey the law and produce the document needed to begin petitioning.

Mayor Tim Flynn needs to take the lead and direct Mr. Fischer to stop the delay game that is wasting taxpayer money to pay expensive out-of-town attorneys.

The community is waiting, Mayor Flynn…



Get Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
1 Comment
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
William "Bill" Hicks
William "Bill" Hicks
4 years ago

We hire people to handle the management of government and then have to take action against them when they don’t do their due diligence. It makes you wonder why we hire them.

Then, again, maybe we should look into more than the superficial when hiring them.