Winholtz files police complaint after losing council vote
October 31, 2010
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.