The Ventura County Superior Court issued a statement of intended decision on June 22, 2021, that invalidates Aaron Starr’s Measures M and N. In the intended decision, the Honorable Judge Henry Walsh rules against Mr. Starr and his use of ballot initiatives to change administrative processes and legislative decision-making within the City of Oxnard.
“I think this court ruling is eye-opening for our community,” said City Manager Alex Nguyen. “Perhaps more people now realize Mr. Starr funds ballot initiatives which fool voters into supporting his personal agendas that actually harm the greater public good.”
The Court ruled that Measure M, the ballot measure that dictated changes to how legislative bodies must run their meetings, is invalid because the electorate cannot modify the Brown Act by initiative. The Brown Act addresses matters of statewide concern and is beyond the power of the voters to change. According to the intended decision, Mr. Starr’s ballot initiative created an “impermissible administrative interference with the workings of the Council and the Court finds that it is invalid for that reason.”
Measure N was also deemed invalid as the Court ruled that the method that Mr. Starr used to fund street repairs was illegal. According to the Court, “an initiative cannot…direct how a general tax is to be spent once it is enacted.” By doing so, Measure N “invades this forbidden area of administration intruding as it does on the City Council’s power to set a budget. For this reason, the Court finds that it is invalid.”
In a tentative ruling published last week in a similar case, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found that Los Angeles County’s voter initiative, Measure J, was unconstitutional and that taking the spending decision out of the hands of the Board of Supervisors and putting it into the hands of the voters violated a provision of state law that requires the Board of Supervisors to make budgeting decisions. Mr. Starr’s attorney, Fredric Woocher, commented to the media on that case, which concerned voter control of spending priorities as did Measure N. “I’m pleased with the court’s intended decision,” said City Attorney Stephen Fischer. “It is unfortunate, however, that the City has been forced to expend so much time and resources on these matters over the past year-and-a-half that could have been used to address issues of concern to our residents, rather than Mr. Starr’s obsession with Robert’s Rules of Order and ending Measure O funding for programs that benefit the community.”