Huber’s Campaign

In February of this year, Bob Huber announced his candidacy for Mayor with one caveat. According to the article in the Simi Valley Acorn…

What may be surprising is the caveat that comes along with his candidacy. He said he would not run if Paul Miller decides to run for reelection. But Huber hinted that he didn’t think the current mayor would seek a fourth term.

“Many people are under the impression that Mayor Miller is not going to seek reelection,” Huber said. “If he chooses to retire, I will run, and should he run again, I will support his reelection.”

Despite taking a position to support Mayor Miller should he run again, political opportunity eventually struck and Huber’s position flipped. Now he claims the Council consists of failed leadership, “reactive” behavior, and believes Mayor Miller and the Council have been asleep at the wheel. When the Council asks Huber where he’s been during the so-called passive years, he and his supporters take offense. But in Huber’s own words, he’s been a proactive adviser to our leadership for quite some time:

“But with the state taking more redevelopment funds, revenues down and economic pressures on the people of Simi Valley, I realized I could no longer sit on the sidelines and quietly advise city and community leaders. It is time to step up.”

Bob Huber believes our City and its leaders require an overhaul and he believes he’s the man for the job. He doesn’t seem to understand much about the landfill expansion, but he’s quick to publish fear-inducing ads about it. He promises more jobs with E-Verify, though with no audit program, no plan for enforcement and no way to produce measurable positive results. He disregards the fact that our City produces a balanced budget every year despite economic challenges because it doesn’t fit with his campaign message. It seems like he wants us to vote for headlines and sound bites.

I have a real concern for this City and I want the best for it. I believed in Bob Huber several months ago. Though I disagreed with him on the effectiveness of his E-Verify proposal, I believed his heart was in the right place and that he was truly in it for the City. I had many long conversations with his strongest supporters to make sure I made an informed decision on who to vote for. Ultimately, I believe a few of his supporters and some members of his campaign misled me and let me down. Shortly afterward, his campaign launched their aggressive anti-City Hall slams that, when closely examined, are blatantly misleading and sometimes outright false. I now believe Bob Huber is NOT in it for the City but is in it for himself. I cannot support such a candidate in good conscience no matter how much momentum he may have among the people I look up to and respect as community leaders. That’s a fact that I’ll get a lot of flack for admitting.

Under Paul Miller’s leadership as Mayor, I believe our City has a lot to be proud of. I believe we are fiscally stable despite outside economic challenges. We have a community where we can safely and comfortably raise our children. We do NOT have a Mayor who has conducted “secret” backroom deals, or one who refers to our city as “America’s Dump.” I feel that Huber’s message is that a vote for Bob is a vote for sending Paul Miller into retirement as a Mayor who dropped the ball, and that’s a message that I reject without hesitation.

Last Night’s Explosive Council Meeting

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!

August 30 Council Meeting

The upcoming City Council Meeting scheduled for August 30th, Monday, at Simi Valley City Hall will be a long, action packed meeting. Among the topics will be a discussion regarding Council Member Steve Sojka’s proposed Cochran Street modifications in response to the Farmers Insurance departure announced a couple of weeks ago. You can read Steve Sojka’s press release on the topic by clicking here.

Also, it’s been rumored that the new Business Advocate will be officially introduced, along with a further explanation of the individual’s role. The Business Advocate has been both well supported and widely disputed as an first step to improving the current processes and communication channels between the city and the business community. Supposedly we’ll get to learn who the Business Advocate is, where they came from and more about what they’ll be doing.

Lastly, E-Verify will be on the agenda. Bob Huber’s team submitted the following press release, urging his supporters to be there to weigh in on the topic:

Huber Urges Simi Valley Residents to Speak Out on E-Verify, at August 30 City Council Meeting

Back on July 17, 2010, Simi Valley Mayoral candidate Bob Huber publicly called for the City of Simi Valley to implement E-verify, the free state-of-the-art, worker verification program, to protect local jobs, administered by the federal government.  On July 30th Mayor Miller publicly refuted the E-Verify program in saying, “Staff has learned that E-Verify is not fail-safe and, in fact, has been highly unreliable.”   He went on to say, “The error rate is no better than a flip of the coin.”  Further, Miller said, “I would be extremely reluctant to direct taxpayer resources or impose a regulation on employers to use such a system.”

Since that time, much debate has ensued with valuable input from the residents of our fine City.  The City has received mountains of emails and phone calls voicing support for this program, in addition to similar letters to the editor and opinions on local blogs. This issue has clearly touched a nerve in Simi Valley and the People are engaged and are sharing their concerns.

On August 6, 2010, Huber said, “The facts do not support City Hall’s assertion on E-Verify!”  and quoted from the official website of The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services,  “Westat estimates that overall E-Verify queries result in an accurate response 96% of the time and an inaccurate response 4.1 % of the time ……..since when is 96% a flip of the coin?”  Huber further said, “This whole dispute is about jobs for our residents and I firmly believe that 96% accuracy is sufficient protection to secure jobs for our deserving people of Simi Valley.”

City Manager, Mike Sedell, has announced that at last, E- Verify is being re-considered by the City Council on August 30 as a part of a new worker verification program. Sedell went on to say the City Council will vote on the proposal on August 30.

Huber responded, “This is a step in the right direction and good news for the hard working people of Simi Valley.   We will continue to closely monitor this issue until it is fully adopted.  Presidents from George Bush, 41st to our current President  Barack Obama  have supported E-Verify.  With over 700,000 private businesses using E-Verify and dozens of California cities using the program as well, it’s obviously a program that the people want.  This is a program that is part of the solution, to help insure citizens and legal residents get the available jobs.  I urge all Simi Valley residents to attend the August 30 City Council Meeting and let your voices be heard.

E-Verify in the Star

The Ventura County Star published an article regarding E-Verify and how it’s become an issue in the race for Mayor. I’ve mentioned in the past that I use E-Verify where I am employed and that I find the service benign and not threatening to our position as an employer, nor do I find it to be a liability.

A report published in January by Westat, a research company hired to evaluate the E-Verify system for the Department of Homeland Security, found the program is unable to detect identity fraud and that about half of the small percentage of unauthorized workers processed by the system were given an inaccurate finding of being authorized to work.

Miller has said that statistic means the E-Verify program is “highly unreliable.”

Citing the same study, Huber accuses Miller of duplicity, saying the research clearly shows E-Verify correctly clears for employment 96 percent of those processed by it.

The unreliability argument should never have happened. I think it’s fair to use the statistics and research to point out the benefits as well as the drawbacks of the program, but calling it unreliable was a bad idea. I think that’s why the city’s move to look into implementing it now comes off as a complete “about-face.” The Mayor’s efforts now look more like a statement of “oops, I was wrong” instead of “let’s take a hard look at this.”

Sojka says City Council members agreed that the E-Verify system might be a good tool but they wanted to wait and be sure they made the right decision. He says Huber is just making politics.

“If it’s such a great program, why hasn’t Mr. Huber applied it to the Ventura County Community College District and why wasn’t he at the City Council meeting in January speaking out about this issue?” Sojka said.

I’ve heard this question posed to me on a couple of occasions and it seems like a fair question. If it’s a groundbreaking program with significant impact on the city, why isn’t it good enough for Bob Huber’s current domain?

But ultimately, the question that I couldn’t answer was what is the expected impact on our city by implementing it? Are we addressing a problem with hiring undocumented workers at City Hall? If the ordinance requires all Simi Valley employers to use it and we’re unable to police the policy, what are we getting and how can we measure those benefits?

Or simply, is there no intended benefit other than it’s a good idea to be as thorough as possible when hiring employees to ensure they are eligible? If that’s the case, then fine. But why all the PR?

One thing’s for sure, we are definitely getting E-Verify headlines now!

Read the whole article here.

Simi Valley Response to E-Verify

City Manager Mike Sedell issued a press release today in response to E-Verify and its new place in the campaigns for Mayor of Simi Valley. In the press release, Mayor Paul Miller stated, “Unfortunately, this has become an issue in the current election, with some alleging that the City Council is not supportive of the program. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I know each and every Council Member is supportive of doing all that we can to eliminate the hiring of  those not authorized to work here in order to maximize work opportunities for our residents.”

UPDATE: Initially when this was published, I incorrectly attributed the quote above to Mike Sedell.

The full press release is available for download by clicking here. I would have copied the entire text, but the document was saved as a compressed image PDF file, so copy and paste isn’t supported (geek speak, just trust me).

What are your thoughts on the City’s response to this growing debate? You’ve read the commentary here and elsewhere. What are your immediate reactions to this news?

FULL PRESS RELEASE HERE.

Huber on E-Verify

So… anyone have any thoughts on E-Verify?  Evidently so, evidenced by the response to the news that Bob Huber is taking a strong stance on immigration by implementing E-Verify.

E-Verify is a free service offered by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration that allows employers to run a check online to confirm that a prospect employee has the legal right to work in the United States. It conducts a check to confirm the employee’s name, social security number and name match up with federal records. It does not serve as a countermeasure or tool to counteract illegal immigration.

By most accounts E-Verify is quick, accurate and cost-free. There is no charge to sign up for the service as an employer. Most checks take seconds to return results. The accuracy of the reporting has improved dramatically during the life of the program with a margin of error being reported as below 5%. Employers who use E-Verify are required to provide an adequate amount of time for employees to dispute the results in the event of a false positive.

How does it fit in here in Simi Valley, at the city level and among Simi Valley businesses? And what will it cost to get it going? Implementing it at the city level should be relatively straight forward according to the Huber Campaign. Bob Huber elaborates as follows:

As with any new policy that’s adopted by a City, there are some nominal costs associated with staff writing and implementing a policy, and some minimal training. This initial use of staff time is well worth preserving local jobs. The E-Verify service itself is free.

Policy and training is certainly manageable at the city level, but what about enforcing the use of E-Verify among Simi Valley businesses? According to Bob Huber, that’s not quite as simple.

For the City of Simi Valley, the winner of a City contract would demonstrate that they are currently and actively enrolled in E-Verify. For the private sector businesses in the City, E-Verify would be handled much like the existing business tax certificates (licenses). It is the obligation of the business to file for a business tax certificate and to pay the correct amount based upon their sales revenue annually. There would be no E-Verify police as there is no business tax police.

Bob Huber’s complete response to both questions will be posted at the end of this article.

Concern was expressed by Bob Huber as well as those who read the news as to why E-Verify hadn’t already been explored by the city.  According to Councilmember Barbra Williamson, it had. She confirmed the following via email:

Mike, this information is straight from the City Manager’s office in response to my inquiry on the status of E-Verify.

Staff recommended continuing to monitor the E-Verify program for its potential use at a later time should it be warranted or becomes the standard. It was the belief of city staff that the City’s current contract language already requires contractors to employ only persons that are authorized to work in the United States.

Barbra indicated that the matter was not brought to the Simi Valley residents for their input.

UPDATE: Councilmember Glen Becerra posted the full memo regarding E-Verify on his website.

Mike Judge, candidate for Simi Valley City Council, believes the program is beneficial to the city, focusing on the simple functionality of E-Verify. He said:

I can’t see why anyone would be against this, all it does is verify that the Social Security Number that a potential Employee is using is actually their own number and its easy & free.

It seems like a win all the way around it protects people from being exploited and employers have the piece of mind that they have done what they could to follow the law.

As a resident of Simi Valley, should you despise, dislike or be threatened by E-Verify? I can’t see why you would. But should the system be celebrated as the solution to unauthorized hiring? Probably not. Accuracy reports sway greatly depending on the source and E-Verify still cannot weed out 100% of the identity fraud cases. Further, employers who still WANT to hire unauthorized workers WILL, no matter what.

The I9 document has been the standard requirement for employers for many years. The document serves as proof that all required data has been gathered on an employee and that they are authorized to work. It has never been perfect. The E-Verify program adds an extra layer of verification, tapping employers in to federal databases to conduct a check against the data submitted. That is very compelling.

The E-Verify service is web based. Anyone can claim to be an employer, sign an agreement with E-Verify and begin conducting social security number and birth date checks against anyone if armed with enough data. Fraud or misuse of the system is possible by employers or anyone posing as one. These facts are also compelling.

The bottom line is there’s much to say both for and against the program. As Simi Valley voters, we should discussing these two things:

1 – What problem is this solving for Simi Valley?

2 – How will we know it’s solving this problem?

For me personally, I can’t get overly excited about the proposed ordinance one way or another until I have solid answers to those questions.

I can’t see why anyone would be against this, all it does is verify that the Social Security Number that a potential Employee is using is actually their own number and its easy & free.
It seems like a win all the way around it protects people from being exploited and employers have the piece of mind that they have done what they could to follow the law.