Barbra Williamson’s Real Thoughts on Bob Huber

Several weeks ago, I posted a blog entry on a letter to the editor regarding remarks from Councilwoman Barbra Williamson about Bob Huber.  That entry can be found here.

Barbra has always been open with me on everything and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate that.  She offered me this explanation on her real opinion of Bob Huber:

I’ve know Bob for many many many years.  He’s a good guy.  And you can quote me on that. Bob has given a lot to this community and never asked for anything in return.  The reason I am supporting Steve because I believe he is more in touch with what the future holds for our community.  He’s coming from a “hands on” position.  He can hit the ground running.  Bob would need some catching up and in this economy I don’t think we have time to wait.

I appreciate Barbra’s honest position on the topic, but I believe some real campaigning is required in order to win this election.  Bob Huber is a worthy candidate with a lot of support, and I asked Barbra if she agreed.  She replied as follows:

Yes, I believe Bob is a very worthy opponent and will keep Steve on his toes.  In the end, I do believe Steve will be victorious, because of his 12 years of dedication to this community.  He hasn’t left his post….Bob did after four years to further his career, where Steve has made Simi Valley his “career” by the leadership he continues to provide.

Regarding the quote in the Simi Valley Acorn and the subsequent letters to the editor in Bob Huber’s defense, Barbra feels she’s always been open about her positions on both candidates and feels the quote was taken out of context.  She submitted her own letter to the editor as follows.

Ms. Jan Gardner and Mr. Cadwell (letters, Simi Valley Acorn , April 2), please, don’t be perplexed any longer. As much as I respect Carissa Marsh’s reporting, you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.

In reviewing my “prepared” speech at Councilmember Sojka’s announcement in running for mayor, I never used the phrase “relic from the past” when referring to the other candidate(s). I not only relied on my notes but took the time to contact others in attendance who verified I did not use “relic” in any of my comments.

To quote Ms. Gardner, “Barbra said, the mayor shouldn’t be a ‘relic’ and should be between the ages of 45 and 54.”

In fact this is what I really said: “Between 2006 and 2008 the population of Simi Valley was approximately 122,000. Today it’s upwards of 125,000; of that, 98,203 residents are between the ages of 45 and 54 with only 24,683 between the ages of 55 and 85. It is my belief that someone in the age bracket of 45 to 54 is more likely to be in touch with our community than someone whose time has come . . . and gone.”

Like I said at the beginning of my prepared speech, I like Bob Huber. Funny, no one had a complaint about that part of my speech.
Barbra Williamson

And there you have it! Barbra has a clear amount of respect for Bob Huber, but maintains a strong level of support for Steve Sojka, as her recent comments on this blog suggest.

Bob Huber No Relic

Ba-ZING! That’s what you say when someone says something profound with great gusto, right?  Ba-zing?  Well, anyway… Don’t mess with this guy’s candidate! A letter to the editor of the Simi Valley Acorn from Simi Valley resident Steven Cadwell addresses Barbra Williamson’s comments about Bob Huber at Steve Sojka’s mayoral campaign announcement.  Of course, it’s important to note that Barbra didn’t specifically say she was referring to Bob Huber, but you definitely got that idea.

Barbra’s remarks were as follows:

Councilmember Barbra Williamson enumerated Sojka’s accomplishments, saying that his successes are current and ongoing, not “relics from the past”—a jab at Sojka’s challenger, local attorney Bob Huber, who last served on the council in 1984.

Williamson said she believes someone in the “45 to 54 age bracket” will be better in touch with the community’s needs than “someone whose time has come and gone.”

“I like Bob Huber, but I really like Steve Sojka,” she said with a grin, adding that the city needs “a young, up-and-coming man whose roots are firmly planted in the history of our community but also the future.”

Steven Cadwell says, no way!  Here’s his letter to the Simi Valley Acorn:

Barbra Williamson inferred at the mayor kickoff for her dear friend Steve Sojka that Bob Huber is a “relic from the past.” Curious, I went to Bob Huber’s website to verify for myself.

Well, Barbra, there is more to our city than just our city politicians.

By Williamson’s comments, anyone not currently on the City Council is irrelevant. That’s just balderdash and the people of our city know that.

Let us just look at the past three years. Bob Huber has been recognized by three unbiased organizations for his leadership since 2007.

In 2007, the Rotary Club named Huber “Rotarian of the Year.” Also in 2007, the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce named him the “Strathearn Lifetime Achievement Award” winner for his leadership in Simi Valley.

In 2009, the Ventura County Bar Association bestowed upon Huber its highest honor: The Nordman Award, which is given once a year to only one attorney in Ventura County for public service and leadership.

It sure does not sound like Bob Huber is a “relic from the past.” Incidentally, what public service recognition has Steve Sojka received in the past three years? I wish he had a website so I could verify for myself.

Additionally, for the past two years Huber has served as chair of the board of trustees of the Ventura County Community College District, which runs Moorpark College, Oxnard College and Ventura College with a budget over twice the size of our city.

Twice, Huber has been unanimously elected chair by his fellow trustees because of his leadership.

As chair of the college district, Huber, unlike Sojka, has actual hands-on experience running a public agency at the top.

Actual leadership is a must in these scary financial times. Again, it sure does not sound like Bob Huber is a “relic from the past.”

It’s up to the people of our city to pick our next mayor—not the good ol’ boy system.

Excellent letter, all good points.  I think Steven Cadwell should run for office next!

Seriously, I love Barbra Williamson. You don’t always have to agree with her, but she’s definitely not afraid to say what’s on her mind, even if the Simi Valley Acorn is there, feverishly writing down her every word!

Daniel Jenkins Strikes Back!

Daniel Jenkins, former Simi Valley City Councilmember candidate, has plenty to say about Barbra Williamson’s desire to speak out as a citizen on future planning issues. He writes the following to the Simi Valley Acorn.

We have in this great country an amendment which gives us freedom of speech with limits; let me repeat, with limits. As a former and likely future candidate, I know one of the first things all candidates are told is we are limited on what we can say about other candidates.

The five who sit on the council (mayor and four council persons) have more power than any other citizen or official of Simi Valley. The one thing they can do that no other can is make law.

This amplifies their voices far beyond the rest of us. They were elected by the citizens to represent the citizens. They are supposed to listen to us before they decide an issue. But it is their decision and theirs alone which counts.

To hear any elected official say they are being punished because they cannot voice their concerns as a private citizen (I have to be careful of those pesky limits) is silly. One is an elected official 24/ 7, from the moment they are sworn in to when they leave office.

It is sad some just don’t get it.

For being “limited on what you can say about other candidates” I’d say Mr.Jenkin’s message is loud and clear. So, this issue now as well as his position on city guidelines on where to store your trash bins should make for a compelling platform on which to run again in 4 years. Good luck Daniel!

Here’s Barbra Williamson, who in this video seems comfortable saying whatever is on her mind…

Williamson’s Finance Proposal

Although I definitely had a hard time recovering what ultimately became VERY corrupted video files, I did manage to capture what I found to be a fascinating proposal by Barbra Williamson on campaign finance reform.

Barbra has an idea and I think it’s a good one. This is a democracy, after all. Is there any reason you can think of that would make this difficult, or any reason why this proposal should be denied?

Excuse the out of sync audio… It was the best I could do after recovering the files…

Campaign Finance Excitement

Just to be clear, here are my thoughts on the Simi Valley City Council Campaign Finance questions that have come to light recently.  When asked, I’ll usually quickly answer that the best way to bring any questions to a close regarding contributions is to return the money and be done with it.  That’s not happening in the case of Barbra Williamson, where both the Ventura County Star and now the Simi Valley Acorn have reported questions regarding her campaign disclosures.  Returning the money without a ruling on whether or not the contributions are acceptable might suggest a guilty conscience which I’m pretty sure Ms. Williamson does not have.  I know when this first came out, she was pretty adamant that she had done nothing wrong and disclosed quite clearly what she accepted.  In short, she shouldn’t really be expected to return the contributions unless it’s officially confirmed that she can’t.  She’s indicated that she believes they are on the up and up, so the ball is now in the city attorney’s court.

Having said all of that, take a look at the contributions yourself to get a better feel for what everyone is talking about.

Steve Sojka (ending 9/30/08)
Steve Sojka (ending 10/18/08)
Steve Sojka (after 10/19/08)
Steve Sojka (expenditures over $1000 after 10/19/08)

Barbra Williamson (ending 9/30/08)
Barbra Williamson (ending 10/18/08)
Barbra Williamson (after 10/19/08)
Barbra Williamson (expenditures over $1000 after 10/19/08)

Paul Miller (ending 9/30/08)
Paul Miller (ending 10/18/08)
Paul Miller (after 10/19/08)

Check back soon.  I’m compiling a couple of videos, one of which is directly related to this issue.  There are some interesting ideas out there on how best to handle the question of campaign finance reform.

Barbra Williamson’s Campaign Financing

I was surprised this morning to read in the Simi Valley Acorn about the Barbra Williamson Campaign Finance issue.  I assumed the Ventura County Star had a bone to pick which is why the Acorn was leaving the story alone.

“I don’t have any problems with them looking at it; I just don’t like my name being out there being muddied up,” said the council member, who was appointed mayor pro tem at Monday’s City Council meeting. “I don’t think it’s fair that they should do that.”

Read more here…

According to the city’s campaign finance code, contributions may not exceed $1000 from a given business entity or individual.  Having said that, I believe the exception and possible confusion is if multiple businesses owned by the same individual contribute to a candidate.  Evidently, that combined amount cannot exceed $1000.  So, if I want the record to show that both of my businesses contributed to Barbra Williamson’s campaign, I need to make sure that the combined amounts do not exceed $1000.

The contributor in this case is Glen Gerson, who I met at City Council last Monday.  Three of the businesses he owned each contributed $1000, an apparent violation.  My first impression of Glen is that he’s an honest guy.  I suspect he made these contributions without knowledge that it violated campaign finance regulations.  The argument appears to be that Barbra Williamson should have known all long, but accepted the contributions anyway.

“The way I interpret what the code says, I have done absolutely nothing wrong,” Williamson said. “All they need to do is take a look at my campaign statement; everything that I have done is in black and white.”

Despite the fact that the city can potentially find some wrong-doing, I suspect that there will be no punitive action.  This seems pretty minor, at least by comparison to campaign finance issues around the country.

What really gets me is the volume of cash being casually passed around during these campaigns.  Why an incumbent in a local election with either no or few compelling challengers should need to raise $35K or more is beyond me.  For years, I’ve fantasized about putting together a non-profit organization with the intent of raising money to put new computers in schools.  My fund raising efforts, I suspect, would pale in comparison. Regardless of that sad truth, considering how much money is raised and the “indescretion” is a donation amounting to $3000, how important is this really?  Just give the money back and be done with it.

Having looked at the numbers here, I’m not sure this is as big a deal as the newspapers make it seem.

Simi Valley Headlines – December 5, 2008

Simi Valley Police Get a Pay Raise

Simi residents Al and Nan Kay believe that Simi police work hard for their money and the couple has no problem with the community’s cops getting a raise.

“I think it’s great,” Al Kay, 42, said. “They deserve all the money. They do a good job.”

Denise Rusiecki, 62, had mixed feelings though.

“I realize we need them but these are tight times,” said Rusiecki, who has lived in Simi for 35 years. “It’s tough justifying them getting raises when there are people that can’t afford to buy food and are losing their homes. It’s a tough call.”

Read more here…

School District Employees Lose Their Jobs

Simi Valley Unified School District, which has already shed $187,577 from this year’s budget, notified 16 classified employees this week they will be fired.

The 16 employees—including 11 custodians, four clerical workers and one information technology staff member—were given 45-day notices that their jobs have been terminated.

And more cuts may be on the way soon.

This is awful. While this opinion may not be well received, I think it’s hard to justify pay increases for (already well-paid) police officers while school employees get terminated.

Read more here…

City Council says ‘Wait a minute’ to Simi Couple’s farm animals

Miller explained that the Bridle Path HOA has covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that prohibit homeowners from keeping certain animals and that just because the planning commission approved a conditional-use permit does not make it OK.

“The CUP doesn’t trump the CC&Rs,” he said.

Williamson, who serves as treasurer for her own HOA, agreed.

If I can possibly get away with it, I will never again live in a community that is governed by an HOA. Then again, I wouldn’t have 8 cows and 2 pigs living in my backyard either.

Read more here…

Barbra Williamson Campaign Finances Challenged by The Star

Glen Gerson donated $3,000 under the names of three separate corporations, including The Vineyards, in this year’s council race. He said he gave money to Williamson after she asked him for support in her bid for a fifth term.

“When a local politician comes up and says ‘Donate to my campaign,’ I’m going to do it,” Gerson said. “We make donations to have people leave us alone.”

I’m fascinated that the Simi Valley Acorn doesn’t touch this story. It makes me wonder if they think it’s a wild goose chase.

Read more here…

If you have some SImi Valley government news that you’d like to share with my or publish for my readers, please contact me.

Incumbents Take It

With numbers leaving little doubt, the incumbents in the major Simi Valley elections score a victory, but not without first proving that some candidates made a very worthy first shot and what will no doubt become a political future for some.

Simi Valley Mayor

Paul Miller is our mayor again, with 78.66% of the vote.  Bruce Witkin comes second with 13.29%, with Ed Lang bringing in just over 7%.

Simi Valley City Council

Barbra Williamson and Steve Sojka get to keep their jobs as City Councilmembers, earning 29.02% and 35.77% of the votes respectively.  Mike Judge pulled in impressive numbers with 17.21%.  Something tells me we’ll be seeing more of him…

Simi Valley School Board

Debbie Sandland earned 22.92%, Janice DiFatta took 18.21% and Rob Collins took 23.95% of the vote for Simi Valley Board of Education, making the incuments the victors in this election as well.  Ray Cruz came close with over 15%, rounding out the totals with over 10% to Eric Smith and just over 8% to Brad Jashinsky.  I firmly believed both would make good candidates, but I don’t think enough people got a chance to see or hear more of them.

Congratulations to all!

Barbra Williamson Fires Back

Barbra Williamson isn’t keeping quiet about the Ventura County Star article questioning her campaign financing. On her website, she says

The Ventura County Star has erroneously insinuated in its article of November 1, 2008 that certain campaign contributions to City Councilmember Barbra Williamson may have been in violation of campaign financing regulations of the City. This article is without factual support.

Read the full press release here.

Says Barbra on Brian Dennert’s Blog:

You are going to believe whatever you want, so my telling you that I am not under the “thumb” of anyone will fall on deaf ears. Glen Gersen is a personal friend. I have known David Saperstein since he purchase the ranch and have been a guest of his there many times. I have met Mike Oborn once in my life,I take that back, I’ve met him twice. So believe what you want…I am still me and will ALWAYS VOTE MY CONSCIENCE which is what I believe the residents of Simi valley want. They don’t care if I am a Republican, Democrat or Irish…they want someone who will fight for them and standup to the Waste Managements of the world.

and

As I stated my press release, my campaign is totally transparant (sic) and above board. We beleive (sic) we have complied with the law and are not in violation. If you don’t like the fact that I have received donations from Mr. Saperstein or Mr. Gersen, don’t vote for me…its really that simple.

Vote Barbra!