Our New City Council

Tonight, we’ll get to see our new City Council Members sworn in. Regardless of your position throughout the campaigns, this must be exciting for most of us who follow these matters. Well, at least it is for me. Tonight we’ll see how our choices at the polls translate into real life action as the folks we voted in take their seats.

This will be an emotional evening. Mayor Paul Miller is retiring after decades of service to the community. I don’t want to see him go. Two years ago, I produced artwork and posted signs for an underdog candidate for Mayor who ran against him for no other reason than to attempt to break-up what I referred to as the “status quo” and what I perceived to be Mayor Miller’s easy, unchallenged ride back into his seat. Even the candidate who challenged him agreed that Miller was doing it right, agreeing with him on almost every point during the candidate forums. I realized when he was easily re-elected that I had more to learn about Paul Miller before I could comfortably say he wasn’t the choice for Mayor. I will miss Paul Miller.

Michelle Foster will also be stepping down, handing her seat over to newly elected Councilman Mike Judge. Foster’s campaign for re-election was clean and steady. In what has been described as an anti-incumbent atmosphere, this election cycle had to be tough for both Foster and Becerra. But Foster’s passion for the community is such that I predicted she wouldn’t get overly aggressive, attack her opponents or do anything that could be perceived as negative. And she didn’t. One could speculate that she’s stepping down as a result of that, but one can only speculate. The fact is that she is stepping down in the same positive light and with the same stellar reputation with which she joined the Council. Though she won’t be sitting at the dais, her work will almost certainly continue.

Miller and Foster will be saying their good-bye’s this evening at 5:00PM at City Council Chambers. I work out of town, but will be trying my best to get there to see them off. Hopefully some of you can do the same.

City Councilman Mike Judge and Mayor Bob Huber will be sworn in this evening. Both of these new members of the Council have indicated publicly via interviews or through community channels that they intend to put Simi Valley’s best interests first. Both have discussed reuniting the council after what could be described as a heated battle. I believe them and look forward to seeing what they bring to the table and how they serve the community. The swearing in begins tonight at 7:30PM at City Council Chambers.

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!

Live Chat with The Incumbents

On August 12th, I spoke live with the Candidates for Simi Valley City Council who are challenging the incumbents. Next week on Tuesday, August 31st at 7:00pm, I will be chatting LIVE with Candidates and incumbents Michelle Foster and Glen Becerra.

If you listened to our last live streaming chat then you already have a good feel for how the challenging Candidates feel about some of Simi Valley’s most high profile issues. This time, hear from Council Members Foster and Becerra on the same topics and possibly more (as time permits).

City Council Candidate Chat

“The Incumbents”

Tuesday, August 31 @ 7:00pm

All you need to listen-in on this discussion is your web browser, equipped with Flash (which most browsers support already). If you miss any portion of the live broadcast, it will be available here on the website for replay or you can subscribe to the Podcast feed in the Apple iTunes Store for playback on your favorite music player.

Michelle Foster Files First for City Council

By now, we’ve heard who intends to run for Simi Valley City Council because they’ve filed their intent to run with the city and I’ve discussed them here or we’ve read about them in the newspapers. The only one I haven’t spoken about is Glenn Williams, though I’ve had a chance to reach out to him and establish contact and we’ll be speaking in more detail soon. There’s a significant group of people expressing their intent to run this election.

Michelle Foster with fellow Councilmembers Glen Becerra (left) and Steve Sojka (right)

Among the group is Michelle Foster who is currently a member of the City Council. I spoke recently about her campaign kick-off. Michelle Foster, like most of the other candidates for City Council, had her nomination papers issued on July 12th. Her papers were filed with the city on July 16th, making her the first City Council candidate to officially file. Candidates have an opportunity between the time that paperwork is issued to the cut off date when the papers are due to conduct due dilligence. It’s an opportunity to research voter concerns and test the waters on fundraising efforts before officially committing to the task. I see this prompt response as Michelle Foster showing her complete confidence in her campaign and her current position as a City Councilmember.

I encourage you to read more about Michelle Foster and her campaign by going to her website. You can get to her website by clicking here. Or follow her campaign on Facebook. I’ve included a link to her campaign’s Facebook page below.

Check in at VoteSimiValley.com during the next several weeks. I intend to follow-up with Scott Miller and Glenn Williams, two candidates who have expressed intent to run but as of Friday haven’t yet pulled their nomination papers. Also, I hope to have more of an introduction to Glenn Williams, the new-comer and enthusiastic businessman and community volunteer.

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Michelle Foster’s Campaign Website is Live

Michelle Foster, Simi Valley

Michelle Foster, Simi Valley City Councilwoman

Michelle Foster is seeking another four years on the Simi Valley City Council and her campaign has begun with a brand new website at www.reelectmichellefoster.com and a Facebook page. Like Glen Becerra, Michelle Foster is a well-liked and well supported incumbent who, in my novice opinion, stands a strong chance of being reelected.

I’ve been fortunate to have a handful of conversations with many of the City Councilmembers, but I have rarely crossed paths with Michelle Foster.  I both attend and watch City Council meetings online and I believe Foster serves the community well.  I would prefer that Simi Valley opted for special elections to fill vacant Council seats, but I’m glad they appointed her (she was appointed when Mayor Miller’s seat was opened when he was elected Mayor and she has since been reelected by voters).

I’m curious to know others’ thoughts on Michelle Foster and hope to have an opportunity to speak to her before election day.

Find out more about Michelle Foster’s campaign, read the latest news and announcements and find out about campaign events at www.reelectmichellefoster.com.