Oxnard Mayor Flynn’s Power Grab

We need your urgent help to stop a terrible power grab about to take place this Tuesday night!
The Oxnard City Council will be meeting this Tuesday at 5:00 pm — an hour earlier than usual, just to make it less convenient — to adopt an ordinance that would dramatically reduce public participation, and discourage many qualified people from serving on the council.
Agenda item B-2 is titled “City Council Committee Structure”.  Sounds boring, but it would be a significant power shift.
Mayor Flynn often speaks about giving committees power … a lot of power … which would make council decisions less accessible to “we the people.”
Currently the full city council meets on nearly every Tuesday evening, when many members of the public can attend and make public comments if they wish.
The proposed change would create powerful committees (with 3 members) that would instead meet during most people’s regular workdays, and the full council would only meet in the evenings twice a month.
Anything approved by even two members of such a committee would come before the full council on what they call an “Information/Consent Agenda”.  This category is usually reserved for things that are presumed to have no serious opposition, and the council usually just rubber stamps their approval without any staff presentation, and without much (if any) discussion.
Think of these implications:
  • Many members of the public work during the day and could not attend to comment at the committee meetings.
  • This would make it a challenge for any person with a typical daytime job to serve on the city council.
  • Daytime committee meetings would be scheduled in consecutive 1-½ hour blocks, with much of the time consumed by staff reports and limited time for public input. If you take time off work to attend a meeting and time runs out before you can speak, you’re out of luck.
  • A majority of the full city council may not ever hear the presentation or discussion of the item, which occurred only at the committee meeting.  They’d be voting based on blind trust in as few as two of their fellow council members without doing the due diligence themselves.
  • If an Information/Consent Agenda has 10 items on it, a member of the public only gets up to 3 minutes to comment about all 10 subjects combined.  For items not on such a bulk agenda, a member of the public gets up to 3 minutes to comment about EACH subject. And if the Mayor thinks there are too many speakers, he can reduce each speaker’s time to one minute.
The timing of such a drastic change is particularly concerning.
In just two weeks, the voters will choose council representatives in a new district system which will expand the council from 5 seats to 7 seats.  Why would such a significant restructuring be made immediately before at least two (and maybe more) new colleagues join the council?  Why deprive the new council members from participating in the decision on how council business will be conducted?
Almost certainly, the new council members from South Oxnard will be people with regular day-jobs who would be greatly impacted by such a change.  These were not the job expectations advertised when the candidates filed to run and agreed to serve.
If this proposal is adopted, future council members would be less informed, would engage in less public debate of serious issues, and the public right to participate in decisions made by our government would be significantly reduced.
I believe we must ensure that Oxnard’s government is open, transparent, and works with the people to allow public input on all issues or projects that come before the City Council.
If you agree with me, please reply “YES”.
And if you will join us at the council meeting at Oxnard City Hall (305 West Third Street, Oxnard) this Tuesday evening at 5:00 pm to let Mayor Flynn know you oppose this scheme, please reply “ABSOLUTELY, YES!”
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Aaron Starr
P.S. I’m obviously peeved by this scheme. In my first draft of this email, rather than “ABSOLUTELY,” I wrote a four-letter word beginning with “H” and ending in “L”, but my wife told me to mind my language if I’m going to represent you. She’s right, of course.
However, if you choose a different word in response, who am I to stop you?
Paid for by Aaron Starr for Oxnard Mayor, 2130 Posada Drive, Oxnard, CA 93030 
 
Starr for Oxnard · United States 
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