A Hollywood script writer couldn’t make this stuff up.
Last Wednesday the Oxnard City Council REFUSED to perform their legal obligation to place three initiatives on the ballot that were signed by over 12,000 Oxnard residents. Oh, and they’re suing Moving Oxnard Forward President Aaron Starr ... again!
(You may recall that our legal battles with the city began in 2016 when they first sued Mr. Starr over Measure M. They lost badly in court, and are currently appealing the decision.)
California Elections Code Section 9215 ultimately gives the council only two options once an initiative has been certified as having obtained a sufficient number of signatures:
- Adopt the initiatives into law within 10 days, or
- Place the initiatives on the ballot for a public vote
Yet, in a special meeting on January 15, the council only voted to put one of the four certified initiatives on the ballot – and announced they will launch three lawsuits over the others.
Oxnard City Attorney Stephen Fischer advised the council in open session that since they had decided to initiate litigation on the other three, they didn’t have to exercise either option required by law.
Of course, there is no such exception in the statute, nor have courts recognized such an exception.
Even if the city sues over the initiatives, they still must at least put them on the ballot.
Public comments by council members ranged from arrogance to delusional to outright denial.
- Elitism was on full display when Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez argued that the people’s right to exercise the power of initiative was a “harassment of this government of Oxnard” and that your rights under the California Constitution will somehow, “totally take away the representative form of government for our city.” Clearly, she doesn’t agree that the people ought to have equal power with the city council.
- Failing to see the contradiction in her own comments, Council Member Gabriella Basua – touting her 17 years of governmental experience – stated that corruption is “everywhere within government,” and yet petition signers, “have no concept of what it takes to run government,” and that only elected officials have the special knowledge required to govern.
- Finally, Mayor Tim Flynn did his own grandstanding, denying Ms. Basua’s assertion that government is full of corruption and instead arguing that this city council has eliminated it completely. Of course, this was right after a parade of people who just happen to want favors from city hall dutifully lined up as public speakers and recited the city’s talking points against the initiatives. Perhaps kissing the ring helps them to accumulate brownie points.
More than 100 years ago, Californians amended the state constitution to reserve to themselves the power to propose laws through the initiative process. California courts have long upheld that the people’s initiative power is EQUAL to the power of the legislative body to create law.
Oxnard City Hall seeks to deny you your hard-fought constitutional rights. The city council may be suing us, but they’re really after you ... we just happen to be in the way.
We don’t seek a fight with City Hall, but they seem intent on fighting us. We do, however, insist that they follow the law. We refuse to be intimidated by bullying behavior. We are researching our legal options to ensure that the initiatives that so many Oxnard voters signed petitions for will appear on the November ballot.
By the way, on January 21, the city council will be discussing our term limits measure, the fifth (and final) measure, which was certified several days ago as also having enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Not surprisingly, that night’s agenda includes a closed session item to discuss whether to sue over the term limits measure, too.
Be sure to bring popcorn. It's going to be interesting.