Most of Oxnard’s neighborhood council chairs voted Wednesday night, April 20, not to support a recall campaign by homeowners in the Oxnard Shores/Dunes area who say their council’s vice chair is a loose cannon, attacking anyone who disagrees with her.
Even after numerous recall supporters made their case against Oxnard Shores/Dunes Neighborhood Council vice chair Diane Delaney, 14 of 15 chairs at the meeting voted to send the City Council a letter voicing their skepticism. The letter does not stop the May 21 recall election from taking place.
“I want to make it clear, we don’t have a problem with a recall. That’s your right, but we have a problem with the way this was done,” said Ed Castillo, referring to a March 21 letter from Oxnard Shores resident Rick Conrad to Re/Max Chief Executive Officer Margaret Kelly. Delaney is a Re/Max real estate agent.
Castillo chairs the Inter-Neighborhood Council Forum, which is made up of Oxnard’s neighborhood councils and generally meets monthly in City Council chambers. Wednesday’s meeting was a special meeting held specifically to address concerns about the motive for the recall effort.
During special meetings, only council chairs are allowed to discuss agenda items, except for comments from the public at the beginning of the meeting.
“I really find it objectionable when you go after someone’s job. That is so far out of line,” said Dan Gonzales, whose comment was echoed by several other chairs during the meeting. Gonzales, who chairs Sierra Linda North’s council, made the motion to send the letter to the council.
“If you don’t like the individual, you have a recall; but in my opinion, when they went after her job, they crossed the line,” said Bert Perello, an Oxnard resident and a member at large of the South Bank neighborhood council.
But Conrad says he simply wanted to know if Delaney violated guidelines of professional conduct with the community as she fought proposed redevelopment of Fisherman’s Wharf. Conrad and Penny Boehm, who are both in favor of redevelopment, say they have been targets of slanderous and misleading e-mails and public attacks by Delaney as she crusades against projects they support.
“People say we’ve tried to get Diane Delaney fired,” said Conrad during the part of the meeting reserved for public comment. “I’m here to tell you that we asked for clarification from Re/Max’s CEO, and received a courtesy meeting, regarding their code of ethics. I think that’s a fair approach.”
Leslie Rose of the Colony Homeowners Association — which Delaney used to be president of — said the complaints she heard about Delaney at the meeting reflected her own experience.
“This is like déjà vu. This is exactly what happened to us at The Colony,” said Rose. “For a long time, Diane Delaney was supposed to be the rep that came back to us and reported, but she never did.
“She always took one little fact and twisted it,” continued Rose, who said she came to the meeting with several others from the HOA to support the recall effort. “We never got anything done until we recalled her.”
But Michelle J. Smith, Blackstock South’s neighborhood council chair, pointedly called the recall campaign a pro-development attempt to bully Delaney into silence.
“I think what happened, . . . a band of people who are pro-development started to show up at meetings,” said Smith. “They have decided they don’t want this one voice on the board, have taken over and have ganged up on her.”
The recall campaign began shortly after a Feb. 5 Oxnard Shores/Dunes Neighborhood Council meeting Delaney organized. She invited county supervisors Steve Bennett and John Zaragosa. Zaragosa represents the Oxnard Shores/Dunes neighborhood.
But Conrad and others say Delaney pointedly neglected to invite business owners with a stake in the development of Fisherman’s Wharf — although she invited others who share her opposition to the proposed changes.
A recall petition began circulating Feb. 7. Castillo says he finds it suspicious that the petition began circulating only two days after the meeting, which was reportedly attended by about 150 people.
But Greg Kinney, the chair of the Oxnard Shores/Dunes neighborhood council — the only one to vote against sending the letter — said Delaney had given his board misinformation on several occasions and repeatedly spoke publicly for the council on matters it hadn’t discussed.
Kinney acknowledged that some of the other 13 residents of the neighborhood who signed the recall petition have an interest in seeing the wharf developed, but said community interest is the board’s primary concern, pointing to a successful effort to get potholes in neighborhood streets filled.
“We didn’t do that by saying things that might not be true, without the approval of the board,” Kinney said on Friday, adding that the recall campaign is being mischaracterized.
“They’re making it sound like something it’s not. The whole thing’s been blown out of proportion,” said Kinney. “I don’t feel (the recall) has to do with the developer necessarily.
I feel it has to do with a very strong group of people who are concerned about Diane Delaney’s behavior on the board; that’s the bottom line.”