Winholtz files police complaint after losing council vote

October 31, 2010

Betty Winholtz

Morro Bay City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Betty Winholtz took the unusual step Friday of filing a formal complaint with the city police chief against three fellow councilmembers following a controversial council vote.

Observers say the incident stems from last Monday’s city council meeting. Winholtz asked her fellow councilmembers to schedule a joint meeting with the Planning Commission on November 15th. The vote was 3 to 2 against scheduling the meeting, with Winholtz and Smukler in the minority.

Opponents Peters, Grantham, and Borchard argued that it was best to wait because three members of the Morro Bay City Council and two planning commissioners were about to be replaced.

At issue is how many times the Morro Bay Planning Commission and the City Council need to meet jointly during the year. Winholtz was pushing for the additional November meeting because she believed it is required by municipal code.

On Friday, Winholtz sent an email to both Morro Bay Police Chief Tim Olivas and City Attorney Rob Schultz.

“This is a formal complaint against certain members of the City Council of Morro Bay for violating the Morro Bay Municipal Code regarding joint meetings between the City Council and Planning Commission. This violation occurred October 22, 2010, during the regular City Council Meeting held at the Veterans Hall. At the close of discussion on agenda item D-4, during which council members and mayor acknowledged knowing the relevant ordinance, a vote was taken to violate the code, and the motion passed. In addition, City Council has caused the city’s Planning Commission to violate their obligation.

“I turn to you as a last resort having not faced so blatant a violation of the municipal code by this body.”

Schultz responded to Winholtz on Friday, arguing that no violation of municipal code had occurred and that the city manager, not the council, was responsible for these issues.

“As I have repeatedly stated to you, if you do not like an ordinance, then change it instead of  trying to interpret it or manipulate it to serve your desired result,” Schultz wrote in a strongly-worded email.

“In this case, if you want a specific requirement that City Council must meet twice a year with the Planning Commission, then it should be inserted into the duties and responsibilities of the City Council.”

Grantham and three current and former council members have publicly asked for Winholtz to resign her place on the city council for allegedly attempting to use the threat of criminal sanctions to force her “desires” on the council majority.

The back-and-forth comes against the high drama of Tuesday’s mayoral election which pits Winholtz against former Morro Bay mayor Bill Yates. Winholtz finished first in the June primary field of four candidates.

Observers describe the Yates-Winholtz race as extremely close.


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92 Comments

  1. SLORider says:

    Goodbye, Betty! The spin from “mbactivist1” and “brook” have not fooled the voters of Morro Bay, although it was a good college try. Thank you to all who got informed.

    (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
    • brook says:

      SLOrider

      A couple of corrections: “truth” is not spin.

      And your gratitude should be for the misled and misinformed.

      Betty’s not the loser. Morro Bay is.

      Good luck!

      (-11) 15 Total Votes - 2 up - 13 down
      • SLORider says:

        I guess the “truth” is a matter of opinion, then. I strongly disagree with Winholtz’ manic stunts–this criminal charges thing was really an inane thing to do three days before an election. Even if she were right (which she isn’t–I completely agree with the city attorney’s position), I just don’t understand who in their right mind would make this an issue right in front of election night. The issue (again, even if she were right) just doesn’t have enough traction to hold water with the citizens. It completely makes sense to delay any meeting for a few weeks to that the new people that will be on the boards will be seated. it doesn’t make sense that this issue (once again, even if Winholtz was correct) shouldn’t have been addressed with diplomacy before making such an extreme move.

        I know you will disagree, which is why I haven’t posted continually here as you have. Fine, we disagree then.

        Can you just explain what was in Betty’s mind that could not have been attempted diplomatically before making public accusations??? Seriously, I thought this was some kind of last minute election stunt, and still can’t figure it out. The claims that it was a stunt on the other side fall flat as Betty created the issue.

        Oh, well, I think Morro Bay won, personally. Take care.

        (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
    • racket says:

      Yes, I expect to see a strongly worded email to the Police, indicting the 51.87% of the populace that do not see things Betty’s way.

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
      • brook says:

        racket

        Your boys won – why are you so worked up? You’d think you lost a bet or something. Relax.

        (-6) 8 Total Votes - 1 up - 7 down
  2. mbactivist1 says:

    I do agree with Paperboy’s comment, “if the council does not have a second meeting with the Planning Commission by the end of 2010, the planning commission is in trouble.”. However, I do not agree with his comment that, “the code being referenced applies to the commission not the council.”

    There has been an attempt to convince readers that in order to hold the council responsible, there would have to be a statement in a city council “duties and responsibilities” section of the Municipal Code; otherwise, it is not the council’s duty or responsibility to hold two meetings a year with the planning commission.

    In fact, section 2.28.120 is not the only place where a duty or responsibility of the council is embedded in some section of the Municipal Code OTHER than the section specifically directed toward the council.

    Here are some examples:

    3.60.060 – Annual review of assessment. All of the assessments imposed pursuant to this chapter shall be reviewed by the Morro Bay city council annually, based upon the annual report prepared by the advisory board appointed pursuant to this chapter and Sections 36530 and 36533 of the law. After approval of the annual report, the Morro Bay city council shall follow the hearing process as outlined in Section 36534 of the law. At the public hearing the Morro Bay city council shall hear and consider all protests. If written protests are received from hotel businesses in the district paying fifty percent percent or more of the annual assessment, no further proceedings to continue the levy of assessments shall take place. The protests shall be weighted based upon the annual assessment for the prior year by each hotel business.”

    8.08.030 – Disaster council—Membership. The disaster council is created and shall consist of the following:
    A. The city council, who shall determine emergency policy and declare a state of local emergency if deemed necessary;

    13.20.050 – Responsibilities of the city council.
    A. By January 15th of each year, the city council shall adopt a water equivalency program for that calendar year by resolution.
    B. The city council shall also review the operating procedures for administration of the water equivalency program developed by the planning director.

    Were we to accept the seriously-faulty logic that says the council need not abide by code section 2.28.120 because it is not in the specific section directed at the council, we would have to accept the very silly idea that the council need not do any of the things required by the three code sections above.

    The bottom line is simple, and no amount of word games are going to change it. If the Municipal Code says the council is supposed to do something, they have to do it.

    Furthermore, the council is required to uphold the law, and voting to take an action that puts the planning commission in violation of the law is, in itself, a violation.

    AGAIN, I give you the following:

    1.16.010 – Violation deemed misdemeanor/infraction.

    “No person shall violate any provision, or fail to comply with any of the requirements of this code”

    By voting not to have the second joint meeting in 2010, the council violated a provision and failed to comply with a requirement of the code.

    (-6) 16 Total Votes - 5 up - 11 down
  3. Paperboys says:

    As I read it, if the council does not have a second meeting with the Planning Commission by the end of 2010, the planning commission is in trouble.
    But as the city attorney said, the code being referenced applies to the commission not the council. So if anyone were to get in trouble it should be the commissioners, but they DO NOT set this meeting date, the council does, so commissioners have an immediate foolproof defense against any potential charges — ”It’s out of our control, therefore not our fault!”
    As I see this code section, it was intended to prevent planning commissioners from refusing to meet with the city council, not the other way around. Otherwise the section would have also been included in the City Council’s policies and procedures section.
    And even if someone were to be cited for a violation, the ENTIRE council would have to be cited. You can’t single out individual members based on their votes, just like you can’t sue individual council members for actions taken by the whole body.
    No matter if it’s 3-2 or 4-1 the entire council is on the hook for any actions they take. A council member can’t tell a judge ”I didn’t vote for that, so I’m not responsible.” The only place that argument might have a chance is with voters.
    In these cases, you have to sue (or cite) the entire board, so if the code is to be followed, then Betty and Noah Smukler would also have their names on any citations no matter how they voted.
    You can’t separate out individuals for enforcement when the entire council is responsible.
    And frankly, does anyone even remotely believe that the police chief, city manager or the city attorney is going to ticket his or her bosses over something like this? Who do you think is going to prosecute the city council in court? The DA? The Attorney General isn’t likely to intervene over some piddly little muni code violation.
    In the future the council should schedule both joint meetings BEFORE elections to avoid this happening again. Perhaps the next council should pick 2 dates during the year and write those dates into the muni code. Then they would be pre-scheduled and easier to arrange. Might I suggest April Fool’s Day and Halloween.
    If anyone is guilty of anything, the current (entire) council is guilty of not having the foresight to schedule this meeting before the election, after all, the first meeting was in March, they’ve had 7 months to have a second one.

    (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
    • brook says:

      If I understand correctly, the dates of the meetings for the coming year are to be determined and presented by the City Manager in January. If that is so, both the Council and the Commission were well aware of the meeting that should take place.

      I believe the Mayor and her talking birds were way out of line on this and I believe it was
      deliberately planned so as to avoid revealing any more negative findings on the significantly deficient EIR. At a cost of $300,000 that’s some serious damage. You can see why they wouldn’t want to talk about it.

      (-5) 13 Total Votes - 4 up - 9 down
  4. Akumal says:

    To respond to brook and vergonha – as far as Mr. Yates’ living arrangements (not that it is any of your business that his house is or is not for sale!), a person is not eligible to hold office as Mayor or Council Member unless he or she is a resident and registered voter of the City. Unbelievable how petty and ill-informed people can be especially during election season – I can’t wait for it to be over!!!

    (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
    • brook says:

      As a resident and voter in the city, I certainly am entitled to know if Mr. Yates is planning to live in the town he wants to run. His house is listed for all to see – provided they know to look. Mr. Yates has always been very circumspect about the details of his life – unless they are bragging points. I find it troubling.

      You see, I’m an informed voter.

      (-5) 13 Total Votes - 4 up - 9 down
      • Akumal says:

        If you are such an informed voter, you would understand what I said, “any one who runs for office (Mayor or Council) has to be a resident of the City at the time of pulling papers for nomination AND at the time of holding office. It does not matter what type of homeowner obviously, some own homes – some don’t! I find it troubling that there are such critical people in this City – CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!!!

        (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
        • brook says:

          Akumal

          I am not deaf. No need to SHOUT!

          I care not what sort of housing Mr. Yates plans on having. He could rent a room for all I care – or pitch a tent somewhere -as long as it’s in town.

          As for “being critical’ – if you don’t think it’s important to know what a candidate for any office is all about, exactly what’s your definition of “informed”?

          The lack of critical thinking brought us 8 years of George Bush -a dry drunk that so many guys “thought” they wanted to have a beer with. I don’t suppose you thought that was a contradiction at all. Hopefully you’re enjoying the consequences more than I am.

          (-6) 8 Total Votes - 1 up - 7 down
          • Akumal says:

            brook –
            I can guarantee Mr. Yates does and will live in our beautiful City of Morro Bay.
            On another note, there is being informed, which is good, and then there is being critical which sometimes can be perceived as “sour grapes”. We all have to live with consequences of the past, but I find it best to move forward and try to make the best of the sad economic situation that this country has been left with mostly due to Mr. Bush. It appears your glass is half empty and you might want to fill it up and take a deep breath and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.

            (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
            • brook says:

              Akumal

              I can assure you there’s no bitters in my cup. As a realist, I’m well aware of beauty when I see it and I have no hesitation at all in appreciating it, especially the beauty in truth.

              Chicanery? Not so much.

              (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  5. rye says:

    VOTE MAYOR BETTY WINHOLTZ!!!

    (-7) 27 Total Votes - 10 up - 17 down

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