As our followers well know, the City of Oxnard has been suing Moving Oxnard Forward President Aaron Starr personally for the past two years to overturn the public vote on Measure M – which rescinded the City Council’s 87% sewer rate increase.
On February 23 the court heard final closing arguments in the case, following trial dates in December and January.
After advertising the final showdown, we thought 20 supporters might show up to provide moral support during these critical closing arguments. Imagine our delight finding 50 people packing that court room. It was a surprise to everyone — the attorneys, Oxnard City Hall … perhaps even Judge Rocky Baio.
Two of the council members being recalled -- because they raised utility rates, even after voters told them "No!" at the ballot box – attended the hearing. At first our supporters packed the side of the courtroom behind Mr. Starr and his attorney, leaving the six supporters of the city looking pretty lonely in the sea of empty chairs on the other side. Quickly, though, our side filled up and our supporters had nowhere left to sit except on the other side.
Judge Baio asked probing questions of both sides to challenge the competing legal theories. The City’s attorney seemed to wander and ramble, while our attorney was logical and methodical.
After the attorneys finished their arguments, Judge Baio said he was not prepared to make a ruling that day, but he did make a comment that perhaps gives us some insight into his thought process. He said that he was uncomfortable that the City had dropped this case in his lap and that this matter might more appropriately be a political decision, rather than a legal one.
Having 50 supporters in the court room sure sent a powerful reminder to Oxnard City Hall that we the people made that political decision when we adopted Measure M with 72% of the vote.
The judge has 90 days to issue his ruling, so we may not know the result of this trial until after the May 1 recall election.
Whatever decision emerges in the coming weeks, we are so very grateful to the people who dropped everything to be there with us and to the many who told us they were praying for us and all of Oxnard.