At the March 29 Oxnard City Council meeting, Moving Oxnard Forward President Aaron Starr had to shame the city for claiming to be in a hurry to resolve their lawsuit against him, while in reality they are engaging in stalling tactics. Below is the text of his statement during the public comments portion of the City Council meeting:
Last Wednesday I expected to receive from the city a title and summary (as required by law) for the initiative I filed on March 8. Instead, I was informed that the city was using taxpayer funds to sue me for daring to exercise my constitutional rights. How is this not a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (or SLAPP)?
Page 1 of the lawsuit states:
“Accordingly, the City brings this declaratory relief action to seek judicial clarification regarding the Initiative’s lawfulness at the earliest possible time. Indeed, because the City must disclose the Initiative in connection with offering bonds – as its mere existence creates risk for potential bond purchasers – the City urgently needs to resolve this action so it may sell bonds at a reasonable price…"
You’re not fooling anyone with this rhetoric pretending to be in a hurry. This suit is without merit. If you were in a hurry, you would be seeking a writ, not a civil case that will drag on for many months.
We all know this is actually a DELAY tactic. Without the title and summary, we can’t start collecting petition signatures, and if you succeed this lawsuit will likely prevent it from being on the ballot this November.
If you’re in such a hurry, why haven’t I even been served? It’s been almost a week. I’m not aware of any attempt to serve me yet. That’s because you’re not in a hurry. I say, “Bring it on!”
If you delay the people in their attempt to bring this to the voters, your lawsuit will likely mean this will not make the November ballot, and this decision will be hanging over your heads for an extra two years until the next election cycle. You are the ones causing the delays.
I know it was uncomfortable for you to have so many citizens show up for the rate hike hearing, but you seem to have forgotten that your decisions impact real people.
Page 7 of the lawsuit alleges the initiative would force the City to set rates too low to meet its various obligations. Nonsense! We are not saying you cannot raise any rates at all, just that an 88% increase is outrageous and unwarranted – that’s $326 per year for a typical family.
I live here, I want a wastewater system that works! I also don’t want a bankrupt city, and this lawsuit just digs you into a deeper hole.
We had a meeting scheduled to discuss utility finances with city staff, but instead the city cancelled it and filed suit.
You’re going to have to learn to manage your money better. The city’s finances are an embarrassment, you cannot even produce financial statements that can be audited, but somehow you know with precision how much bond proceeds you need to get by for the next several decades.
The residents of this city understand the game you’re playing and they’re not going to tolerate it.
This is going to end badly for you.
UPDATE: Mr. Starr was finally served three days after this speech, on Friday, April 1.