Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 1:05 am | Fair 64º


Ron Fink: Councilman Mosby Embracing Transparency or Just Flagrantly Grandstanding?

During the public comment period following last week’s Lompoc City Council meeting, one of the speakers challenged the council to hold a workshop addressing what the speaker thought were issues of transparency in city government, specifically with actions taken by the council. The council declined the invitation.

According to the Santa Maria Times, “A day after expressing disappointment over what he believed was a lack of transparency and an unwillingness to engage in open discussion by his fellow Lompoc City Council members, Councilman Jim Mosby said Thursday that he was looking forward to engaging with members of the community on the issue.”

This followed a lengthy council discussion of an Enterprise Reimbursement Analysis Report, during which he didn’t get his way on a couple of motions.

Mosby then reserved the Grossman Gallery at the Lompoc Library for a forum on transparency in city government set for April 12.

Isn’t it ironic that Mosby is suddenly fascinated with the concept of transparency in the government decision making process?

It is refreshing that he has a sudden interest because in the past he has been the beneficiary of questionable actions taken on his behalf. There has been a lot of concern about alleged violations of the open meetings laws in Lompoc — so much in fact that the District Attorney was asked to conduct a formal investigation.

One issue that prompted the concern was back in 2014. Former mayor John Linn spoke in favor of a private recreational facility outside the city limits and owned and operated by friend and confidant Mosby during a county Board of Supervisors hearing, and he did so on an appeal of a planning commission decision to deny the project.

What was most concerning was how Linn represented himself. After being introduced as the Mayor of Lompoc and while wearing his official city nameplate, he gave the impression that he represented an official position of the City of Lompoc; in fact, the mayor said “all the council members are here” — when only two others were in the room and then indirectly implied that the City Council had agreed to support the project.

But the Council had never discussed the project publicly, a fact that the City Attorney confirmed in a response to a request from the District Attorney’s office.  

If they had agreed out-of-public-view, it would have been a violation of open meeting laws. Clearly this effort was designed to help Mosby.

There were other questionable decisions made on his behalf concerning the provision of city resources (restroom, road access and drinking water for his private park) at no cost to Mosby without any public discussion.

 When, how, where and who made these decisions is unclear, but one thing is certain: there is no record of a public discussion of the deal.

Now we fast forward to the present. As I discussed last week, a local Motorsports Park project began to take root when Mosby was leading the Lompoc Valley Parks, Recreation & Pool Foundation.  

He assisted them while they negotiated with the city to use 65 acres of city property for the project. Mosby was appointed to the council after Linn’s ousting by voters in November 2014.

Instead of acknowledging his role as a negotiator on behalf of a private non-profit foundation having business before the council, he instead not only participates in discussions of the project but also has never questioned the groups failure to meet many of the conditions that the foundation agreed to do, most notably the cost sharing provisions in a Memorandum of Understanding with the city that he was a signatory to.

Not only is it inappropriate for Mosby to participate in any discussion of this project but it flies in the face of the very type of government transparency that he is now trying to advocate.

Many of us in this community are patiently waiting for the day that the “good old boy network” is laid to rest. 

There have been many questionable actions taken over the last couple of decades in Lompoc. The ones cited above were only the latest in a series of actions taken in a small town at the end of the road.

Maybe this forum will produce some actionable ideas; however, I hope that the participants will question Mosby’s motives and actions during the short period he has been serving his appointment to the City Council.

Is Mosby really interested in an honest look at city government transparency, or is this just political grandstanding?

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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