Politicians sometimes change their opinions on issues, known as a “flip.” One council member is the council champ at flipping, looking like a gymnast doing a choreographed routine on the floor mats.
Victor Vega changed his vote on the failed motorsports project several times during the multi-month debate on its fate. Neither proponents nor opponents of the project could predict what he would do next. This qualifies him as the champion flipper of 2017.
But it was council flops that defined the year.
Council members debated the budget for five long months before finally adopting it. Jim Mosby led this prolonged search for savings, frequently misrepresented information he thought was critical, he belittled the staff and falsely claimed the city manager may have illegally diverted funds.
At the end of the debate Mosby finally extracted a savings of $347,589, or minus 0.13 percent for the two-year budget cycle. To put it in perspective, that’s less than $1 a day per city employee, which could have been saved by reusing paperclips.
The whole budget exercise was a colossal flop, considering the staff time and money spent.
The Motorsports Park project planned for the Lompoc Airport was another miscue. The project never really had a chance of success because early in the process the Federal Aviation Administration made it clear that since it wasn’t aviation-related it wasn’t suited for placing on an airport. This position wasn’t unique. When Santa Maria proposed a golf course on the airport they were also denied.
This major obstacle didn’t deter council members Mosby, Starbuck or Vega, as they continued to support the proponents. These folks were supposed to be in policy-making positions and they were elected because people thought they had good judgment. Why they continued supporting a project with no future is a question you’ll have to ask them.
Finally, there was the multi-month debate as to whether commercial cannabis operations including growing, manufacturing and distributing the drug should be allowed in Lompoc. The debate was contentious as proponents ridiculed anyone who brought legitimate concerns to the attention of council members.
Council member Jenelle Osborne led the council discussion and had significant input into the crafting of an ordinance to allow these operations in Lompoc. At one point she scoffed at input from a local church when they requested that the youth activities at their church qualify them for the same exclusion zone as a youth center.
She rejected the church’s request because they “came too late” to the debate.
The final product was an ordinance supporting everything the cannabis industry wanted — unrestricted sales in Lompoc. Citizens were shocked. Some formed a committee to circulate a petition requesting a referendum on the issue.
Sensing the referendum effort might be successful, Mosby asked that the ordinance he had just voted in favor of two weeks earlier be revised to only allow medicinal cannabis operations.
This was probably the worst flop by a City Council that I can remember. Never has a referendum vote been requested in the political history of Lompoc by the public on a decision made by the council, because quite frankly, it hasn’t been necessary. Perhaps it was because four rogue council members were dismissive of the citizens they serve.
With three major flops to its credit, this establishes the current council majority as the worst group of politicians we have elected to serve us in many years.
Hopefully, they have learned from their experience, but considering their history it’s doubtful.