Join me tonight at 7:00pm for a LIVE BROADCAST with Council Members Glen Becerra and Michelle Foster @ VoteSimiValley.com
What a night. I’m still not sure what I saw. I’ll try my best to recap the evening here.
To cut right to the chase, the City did implement E-Verify as a pilot program to start, intending to run E-Verify checks on City employs with the purpose of evaluating the service for the course of one year. After a period of one year, they will make a judgment on how to expand the program.
Public remarks on E-Verify were strongly in favor of implementing the program. Most people who spoke positively about the program were greeted with applause when they were through speaking. Candidate Bob Huber took the opportunity to recap the city’s response to the E-Verify issue, first mentioning Mayor Miller’s letter calling E-Verify a “flip of the coin,” next referencing his paid ad in the Acorn responding to the letter, and finally pointing out what appeared to be the City’s about face on the topic and its arrival on the Council agenda. Huber masterfully avoided criticism regarding the Ventura County College District’s lack of E-Verify implementation, saying if the College District were to implement it, he would be all for it, but that’s not the issue here. No one pressed the issue.
Steve Sojka led the charge in challenging E-Verify during council discussions. He questioned whether or not the proposed ordinance would be truly free if a system for audit would be implemented to ensure it’s proper usage. Sojka and other’s continued to press hard to determine whether or not liability issues existed in the event of false positives, and the systems accuracy was challenged. Council Member Michelle Foster seemed truly concerned that an implementation of E-Verify without further consideration might indicate the Council is caving to political pressure. Ultimately, however, the program was approved for implementation in a limited fashion as indicated in the first paragraph.
UPDATE: Foster was supportive of implementing E-Verify for City Hall, but was concerned about implementing it for city Contracts. Her preference was to vote on its implementation for City Hall separately from its implementation for city contracts.
Public remarks were particularly explosive. One gentleman opted to point out that the City has an illegal immigrant problem, referencing “illegals” that loiter behind the Wells Fargo bank branch on L.A. Avenue. When Council Member Becerra asked the man how he knew they were illegal aliens, the man mentioned they stood around, didn’t speak English and rode their bikes, among other things. Becerra made a suggestion that the man might be racial profiling, resulting in dramatic shouting and the man’s loud refusal to “answer racist questions.” This clearly indicated the emotions behind illegal immigration and certainly the controversial positions some have on the topic.
Particularly noteworthy were the public remarks from former Mayoral Candidate Eric David Halub. I’m sure I’ll take a considerable amount of criticism for saying this, but the gentleman made little sense. He seemed to be annoyed, but his inability to connect the dots in his presentations left me wondering if he felt the Council Members were overpaid or were untouchable gods. At one point, he referred to our President as President Obama Hussein. Cute. I found myself glad that my wife and kids weren’t there, and I took comfort in the fact that I was sitting close to the Chief of Police. I might start bringing pepper spray to the Council meetings.
Additional public remarks varied, some even questioning the pay and benefits of sitting Council Members. Sojka took the opportunity to respond on that topic during Council comments, indicating the Council has always been transparent. Members of the audience questioned this openly among one another. While I’ve known about Council salary and benefits since the Simi Valley POA published the details in a paid ad in the Acorn, most have only recently taken notice after the City posted the details on the City website weeks ago.
The fireworks drowned out the excitement behind the Military Banner program which was approved. The Council also discussed the Waste Management landfill expansion, hearing commentary from the public, including Louis Pandolfi, the most outspoken member of the community against the landfill. The Council agreed to start communicating with the County Board of Supervisors to represent Simi Valley’s interests on the topic.
A weak recap considering the night was full of excitement. I’ll have more later this week, including video.
Don’t forget to join me tonight for my live streaming chat with Council Members Michelle Foster and Glen Becerra! We go live at VoteSimiValley.com at 7:00pm!