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Ron Fink: Politics Leave Me Scratching My Head in Lompoc

Many recent local politically motivated occurrences in Lompoc have left me scratching my head.

At a recent Mexican Independence Day celebration, the City Council triad (Jim Mosby, Dirk Starbuck and Victor Vega) were present shaking hands and making political speeches, which is what politicians do in election years.

But, when Jenelle Osborne, a councilwoman and candidate for mayor, was talking to people in the crowd, she was asked by the event organizer to stop “bothering them.”

This was a public event in a city park and no admission was charged, so you would think anyone could attend. But, apparently Osborne’s presence must have irked the triad and, as bullies do, they persuaded the event organizer to have her stop; apparently the presence of the three didn’t bother anyone.

This same bullying tactic has occurred in past elections. In a widely reported incident, John Linn tried to “convince” a council candidate to drop out, so his “preferred” candidate would have a better chance a few years ago.

In the last election, one potential candidate was ready to file his papers and seek a council seat but dropped out after another candidate “talked to him for over an hour” convincing him he posed a threat to the “plan.”
 
In Lompoc politics, the Republican Central Committee has endorsed Jim Mosby for mayor; this was after both Lompoc delegates to the committee objected based on what they know about Mosby and the way he represents himself in the community.

Normally endorsements are made after the candidate appears, however the RCC made an exception this time in Mosby’s favor, ignoring the two delegates.

Could it be that because one of his family members works for a state level Republican representative or was it because he allows the committee to use one of his vacant commercial office spaces as their headquarters and they are just paying him back?

Either way, they ignored representatives who were elected by Republicans in Lompoc to make their choice.

Then there is a question about the veracity of some factually challenged Mosby statements during a recent candidate forum.

The first was that the last budget netted “$2 million in raises for public safety officers in the city.”

On page 43 of the approved 2017-19 budget, it shows a $373k decrease in “Personnel Compensation” from the 2015-17 budget for the public safety component; another flawed analysis by someone who claims to “devote the time necessary to understand the difficult issues facing local government today.”

The other involved his claim that his opponent Jenelle Osborne had somehow misled the council when she applied for an appointed position to fill an empty council seat. His false claim that “she was a paid member of the campaign staff of current Mayor Bob Lingl” was misleading.

Lingl says she was paid to develop a campaign website, which is akin to providing a service such as the printing of brochures.

He claimed that he “put everything on the table when I was appointed” to a council vacancy which requires examination.

Neither he nor Councilman Victor Vega revealed that Vega was a tenant in one of Mosby’s commercial properties and thus shared a financial interest. This could be construed as a conflict of interest on the part of Vega and outright deception for Mosby.

Then there is Vega; he is being endorsed by a city workers union. One of his relatives is a city worker who is a member of this union; could it be that family ties and not an objective evaluation of the candidate’s agenda’s and/or accomplishments led to this endorsement?

Lastly, there was a recent shift in how to determine when members of a decision-making body need to recuse themselves because of a potential conflict of interest when discussing and voting on a matter. Previously, it was up to the member to decide whether they should stay or recuse themselves.

At a recent planning commission hearing, several members had to step down because they either owned property in the zone being discussed or had a business interest within 500 feet. This is reasonable since folks in these positions need to be aware of the ethical consequences of any potential conflicts.

But, this hasn’t been the case with past discussions involving the City Council.

During the cannabis discussions, council members remained on the dais, participated in the discussion and voted on matters concerning where cannabis could be sold even though they had a business interest or owned property in the areas under consideration.

As I watched the constant shuffle of planning commissioners as several questions were debated, I had to scratch my head and wonder why this same level of scrutiny isn’t applied to the City Council.

Politics isn’t a spectator sport; get involved and become informed about what’s going on.

— 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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