Unfortunately, name-calling is the level of discourse we have come to expect from Oxnard City Hall.
In last week’s issue of the Tri County Sentry, Oxnard City Manager Alex Nguyen called the President of Moving Oxnard Forward a “Fascist” because we use the democratic process to bring increased transparency to local government. By implication, his characterization is also aimed at the 36,549 Oxnard residents who voted for such reform.
Perhaps we should buy the city manager a dictionary.
According to one online dictionary, Fascism is “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”
Mr. Nguyen seems to have his wires crossed, confusing a measure passed by voters to create a more transparent & accessible government with the actions of a ruler wielding dictatorial power.
When Alexander Nguyen proposed more transparency back in 2018 by having city agendas posted twelve days prior to the council meeting – something we publicly supported! – he declared that to be “sunshine.”
But now that the electorate wants the staff presentations to ALSO be available twelve days in advance, Nguyen reversed course and declared that to be “fascism.”
Does Nguyen consider the Brown Act to be fascist, too?
In today’s doublespeak world, Nguyen asserts that Measure M, the “Oxnard Open Meetings Act,” reduces transparency at City Hall.
Just to review, Measure M accomplishes the following:
- Prohibits council meetings during the workday, so that more people can attend.
- Requires that city staff prerecord their presentations and make them publicly available with the agendas – well in advance of the meeting – so that the public is not blindsided.
- Makes it so that the “primary role of staff at meetings is to answer questions posed by the legislative body, not the reenactment of prerecorded presentations.” This keeps staff from filibustering –– delaying public comments until very late into the night –– whenever an unpopular issue comes before the city council, such as a utility rate increase.
- Guarantees that members of the public will be entitled to no less than three minutes to speak on any subject that comes before the city council.
- Requires professional training on Robert’s Rules of Order so that city meetings will be run fairly and smoothly.
(As an aside, the professional training has not happened yet, even though it's been more than three months since this law was adopted by voters.)
Putting forth a double standard is not a good look for the city manager or the city council that employs him.
Alexander Nguyen claims that he supports increased transparency of staff presentations, but City Hall has not taken advantage of easy opportunities to increase their availability, such as by:
- Posting upcoming meeting information, including prerecorded staff presentations, prominently on the City’s home page.
- Posting those same presentations on the City’s Facebook page.
- Airing prerecorded staff presentations on the City’s public access channel before the council meeting. Oddly, today, it appears City Hall only plays those videos after the meeting.
(For example, the combined air time for the five prerecorded presentations for the upcoming February 16 council meeting is under 60 minutes, and it would be a simple matter for City Hall to broadcast staff presentations prior to the meeting.)
To us, those seem like reasonable ways to move forward and faithfully execute the law that we voters adopted.
And it’s certainly a more mature way to approach managing a city, as opposed to verbally abusing the electorate.