On January 26, in the aftermath of the largest protest at City Hall in recent memory, the City Council voted to increase wastewater (sewer) rates by more than 87%.
On March 8 I filed with the Oxnard City Clerk a notice of intention to circulate an initiative to repeal that increase.
On March 23 we expected the City Attorney to deliver what is known as a "title and summary" so that we can begin gathering signatures to place our initiative on the November ballot.
Instead, the City of Oxnard sued me -- really, all of us -- intentionally employing a type of lawsuit that may not be settled for years, all for the purpose of denying you the opportunity to vote on this important issue.
Imagine a lawsuit to stop someone from exercising a First Amendment right to petition. You wouldn't expect this in America, but it is actually happening right here in Oxnard.
Imagine the City of Oxnard with its deep pockets targeting you and threatening to financially ruin you unless you back down.
Would you be intimidated? ... Would you hide? ... Would you give up?
Would you want people to remember you as someone who surrendered to the City's bullying strong-arm tactic?
Would you want to look at yourself in the mirror knowing that if you did nothing the typical household in Oxnard will pay an additional $326 per year for their sewer service?
And could you really face your neighbors and your family knowing that because you chose not to stand up and challenge this injustice, that the City would soon come back to also raise rates on water and solid waste (garbage collection)?
You and I both know the answers to these questions. You and I both know that there is only one way to deal with a bully.
So, with a burly process server at my side, we stunned City Hall by serving them with a counter-suit during the televised April 5 city council meeting.
Our lawsuit demands that the City Attorney be ordered to follow the law and issue us the document we need to begin gathering signatures, so that you can vote on whether to overturn the City Council's 87% rate increase.
On April 7, Rocky Baio, the judge assigned to our case agreed to an expedited hearing, and scheduled it for this Friday, April 15 at 1:30 pm.
The hearing is expected to take up to one hour and will be at Courtroom 20 of the Ventura County Superior Court, Hall of Justice, located at 800 South Victoria Avenue in Ventura.
I will be there to bear witness to our attorney engaged in battle with the city's attorney. If we prevail, the judge will order the City Attorney to comply with the law. If we don't, you, I and thousands of poor, hard-working families will be paying higher utility rates without an opportunity to vote on them.
My only request of you is that you be there with me.
Your presence sends a message to the judge that you care ... and that this is more than just one person pursuing justice.
Let's fill his chambers with people who believe as you and I do -- that our city government should follow the law and be held accountable.
Please let me know that you will be there this Friday, April 15 at 1:30 pm.
Stand with me!
Aaron Starr, President