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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mbactivist1

The Morro Bay City Council and Planning Commission have had two joint meetings per year for as long as many of us can remember. Could the council majority have a more sinister reason for wanting to cancel this year’s second meeting than just a desire to lighten their workloads?


The three who voted not to have the joint meeting are the three who have consistently fought for the outrageously-overpriced wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) being designed by MWH – a plant that is to be built on a site that lies in a 100-year flood plain, a tsunami zone, and in the middle of a major archaeological site.


The Planning Commission recently reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the project and, essentially trashed it – largely because the report provided no site alternatives, but for a variety of other deficiencies.


It has been reported that taxpayers have thus far paid about $300,000 for the DEIR, which many believe will likely have to be scrapped and completely redone – at huge additional cost to taxpayers. Could the council majority have been trying to prevent having more attention focused on the Planning Commission’s views on the DEIR? Those views would surely have come up at the joint meeting that the majority voted not to have.


All of the Planning Commission comments can be heard on SLO Span, but here are some major points made by just one of the commissioners, Mr. Lucas:


“There are no real alternatives to this plant discussed in here (EIR) on other sites. The only one that is used is a partial relocation of some of the functions into the Chorro Valley. So there is no alternative that looks at another site. We have a site that is acknowledged to be in a flood plain, that in effect is creating an island to build upon, and there is nothing in here about what the emergency management implications are of building an island in a flood zone. It never really addressed the idea that people are populating the beach and treats the beach as an empty space. I was kind of shocked about how little concern there is for the sensitive receptors that are the beach tourists we have here. Now that I’m looking at it very carefully, I’ve got to tell you I think there are lots of issues in this that I think need quite a bit of exploration and authentication. I think the site has far more impact as a site than was imagined when it was designated to be the primary site.”


brook

Heavens forfend! Obstructionism in the City? In Morro Bay, that’s called “Business as Usual”.


You’d think there had been a sale on monkey wrenches at Miners – so many have been

thrown into the works recently, especially with regard to the Waste Water Treatment Plan.


The EIR?

Guess that’s why there’s a popular expression like “throwing money down a sewer”.


BeenThereDoneThat

I think the interpetation here is, what is a municial code/ordinace. In reading, a vast majority are non-criminal (not breaking law but code). Is this really a breaking of law or rules of conduct. I would think being a council issue it would lean more to rules of conduct. Hence if that is the case they (council members) did not conduct themselves to the rules of the office but did not break the law. It looks like that is the case here. Not that the members didn’t do wrong but then it should be passed to higher members within the city with oversight for dispilnary actions. Running to the cops was a wrong move from what I can tell. She may be right but if she is in Government, she to needs to know how and when and where to go in the correct chain of things and not waste the time of local law enforcement, that at the end of the day wouldn’t probably be able to do anything.


mbactivist1

I’m glad you seem to agree that the council did wrong, but puzzled by your suggestion that the issue should “be passed to higher members within the city with oversight for disciplinary actions.” If you look at the city’s org chart, you will see that the Council is at the very top. So, what higher authority was left to Ms. Winholtz? I would say the police department was a good choice.


I direct your attention to the following item in the General Provisions of the Morro Bay Municipal Code, and suggest that when one is discussing offenses described as “misdemeanors” and “infractions”, the police department does indeed seem the appropriate agency to intervene. We don’t know yet whether the action of the three council members was a misdemeanor or infraction, but the police could very possibly provide helpful advice on that. Here is the quote from the Municipal Code


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. Any person violating any of the provisions or failing to comply with any of the mandatory requirements of this code, any ordinance of the city or any code adopted by reference in this code shall be guilty, unless otherwise specified, of a misdemeanor/infraction. Any person convicted of a misdemeanor under the provisions of this code, shall be punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the city or county jail for a period of not exceeding six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each person shall be guilty of a separate offense for each and every day during any portion of which any violation of any provision of this code is committed, continued or permitted by such person and shall be punishable accordingly.


MBCA

Since MBMC 1.04.020 J specifically excludes the City of Morro Bay from the definition of a “Person”, no such action can be filed against the Planning Commission or City Council for violation of the MBMC.


mbactivist1

The code section you refer to says this:


“Person” as used in this code or in any ordinance or code adopted hereby, includes any person, firm, association, organization, partnership, business trust, company or corporation, and any municipal, political or governmental corporation, district, body or agency, other than the city of Morro Bay.


Note that it says, “other than the city of Morro Bay”, indicating the city as an entity. It does NOT say, “any elected official of the city of Morro Bay”. Please note the following quote from the League of Women Voters’ guide to California law, that clearly indicates that a city is an entity; specifically, it is a municipal corporation:


“All 468 California cities are municipal corporations. Their formation is provided for in the state constitution, and they fall into three categories: general law cities (more than four out of five cities in California), charter cities, and one consolidated city and county (San Francisco).”


Given that the three council members who voted to violate the law are not “municipal corporates” named “City of Morro Bay”, It would appear quite safe to assume that we can consider them “persons” insofar as the definition of “Person” to which you refer.


BeenThereDoneThat

You state…


“So, what higher authority was left to Ms. Winholtz? I would say the police department was a good choice.”


Yes there is. It is you the voting public. Remember checks and balances in Civics in High School. If you the voting public don’t think it gets taken care of or they have violated ethics, recall them.


brook

Been there…


That’s what’s so exceptional about Ms. Winholtz. She will follow the rules, no matter how clumsy the course. She doesn’t do “twist to fit”.


There has been an awakening of sorts in Morro Bay. I don’t think it’s going to

be as easy in the future to run roughshod over the populace.


mbactivist1

Gee, even when the city has a formal complaint procedure in place to compensate for the fact that we do not have a code enforcement officer? Even though that is the procedure that is supposed to be followed when someone believes there has been a code violation?


It so happens that there is a committee headed by the police chief and the city attorney that is the initial contact point for code enforcement issues, and Ms. Winholtz sent her complaint to them.


Ordinarily, someone simply following a city procedure would not be a big deal, but the city attorney for some reason decided to make it one by sending a “press release” to no fewer than nine news agencies. Fascinating, isn’t it?


vergonha

Betty is completely right on this, the law is the law and the majority of the Morro Bay City Council,

need to be more educated on the Morro Bay Municipal Code. This is a violation of the code.

Whether they do anything or not the fact is the Mayor and two members of the city council broke thelaw, and they should be held responsible! How about filing a complaint with the Attorney General?

Just a thought


vergonha

Betty is completely right on this, the law is the law and the majority of the Morro Bay City Council, need

to be more educated on the Morro Bay Municipal Code. This is a violation of the code. Whether they do

anything or not the fact is the Mayor and two members of the city council broke the law, and they should

be held responsible!


SLOChildrenAtPlay

Jeez, is Betty off her medications again?


mbactivist1

The only ones who seem to need “medications” and may be “off” them are Schultz and the council majority.


Municipal Code section 2.28.120. lists the duties and responsibilities of the Planning Commission. Among other things, it says that the Commission shall,

“D. Meet with the city council twice annually to discuss proposed policies, programs, goals and objectives, budgeting, future planning, or any other planning matter requiring joint deliberation. The city clerk shall in January of each year bring forth an agenda item to the city council to schedule the two joint meetings”


How can they possibly not comprehend that voting not to have the second of the two meetings is a violation of the law? This is the Morro Bay Municipal code, people. Does anyone seriously think that complying with city law is not a duty of the council?


brook

Grantham and Borchard don’t even believe it’s necessary to answer emails

from the “gnatz” – why would anyone think they give a whit for laws?

It’s that kind of oafish “selected” official that keeps Morro Bay disfunctional to their delight.


One day maybe the residents will figure out that elections are more serious than a

“Best Hawaiian Shirt” contest.


vergonha

agree!


templetonian

I see and understand; Municipal Code section 2.28.120. lists the duties and responsibilities of the Planning Commission. This para spells out the duties of the Planning commission is there a similar paragraph that requires the City Council to have the meeting. Or was the intent of para 2.28.120 to insure that the planning commission reported to the City Council and did not act as an independent body.

As stated in your argument and supporting documents the Planning commission has fulfilled their duties and have not broken the law. No one has yet shown any evidence that the city council has broken the law.


mbactivist1

Your word games don’t change facts. The code says that the planning commission will “Meet with the city council twice annually”. Period.


Chapter 2.06, which pertains to the mayor and council members, does not have a separate “duties and responsibilities” section, which means we have to search elsewhere in other parts of the code for those duties and responsibilities, and they are found in various sections, INCLUDING the one pertaining to the planning commission.


For example, this one is found in the municipal code section 3.060 on “tourism business improvement district law. It is not a section that talks specifically about the council, and yet it clearly identifies duties and responsibilities of that body:


“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.”


Since there is no specific reference to this in the code section on the City Council, does that mean they don’t have to do this? Of course it doesn’t. there are many similar examples, but the point is that if it is in the code, it is the law, and the council cannot just ignore it.


Bottom line: If it’s in the code, the council must abide by it.


Your question, “was the intent of para 2.28.120 to insure that the planning commission reported to the City Council and did not act as an independent body?” makes no sense whatsoever in the context of the issue at hand. The Council voted to do something in violation of the code. They voted not to meet with the planning commission when the law says the two bodies must meet. Period.


brook

It’s a beautiful day to be out “at play” – not doing work arounds on the parental controls on the puter. :-)


And Mom said: “Don’t eat all the Halloween candy today!”


brook

Question for the Yates fans here: Where does Yates plan to live should he win this

election?


racket

Better question is where the rest of us should plan to live if we allow Betty to trainwreck the economy.


brook

The economy in Morro Bay is where it is as a combined result of the Bush years and the past practices of Mayors like Yates and assorted crony Council members.


The local economy cannot be overturned by changing the signage on the Embarcadero, pumping more dollars into the Chamber or the Promotions

Committee -and continuing to pay 6 figure salaries to non-resident city

employees. Meanwhile most public jobs in Morro Bay are low-paying and often

seasonal. In all his incarnations, Bill Yates has failed to address reality.


Betty Winholtz and Jack Smith are realists – and are the best candidates to

guide the city through the tough times -which are not going away tomorrow, no matter who wins.


brook

The silence is stunning. taxpayer? racket? danika? SLOrider?


Surely it’s no secret Yates has had his house on the market for some time.Makes me wonder what his plans are. Thought perhaps one of you might know and like to share.


racket

Sorry, Brook, I thought your prior question was rhetorical.


Perhaps Yates is going to live in a MB rental house, as Betty does. What diff does it make?


brook

racket-


Selling a house that in theory should be paid for -or nearly paid for- in this economy just doesn’t seem a sound financial choice to me and raises questions in my mind.


Kevin Rice

A grown mayor that can barely afford rent raises questions in my mind.


vergonha

interesting question.

there is always atascadero, the “mudhole”.


taxpayer

Another waste of staff time and taxpayer money by Councilwoman Winholtz. It’s time for a change.


brook

Unlike the cronies, Betty Winholtz consistently considers the cost to taxpayers on every issue – and the only positive change for Morro Bay will come if she’s elected

as Mayor. Yates, Johnson and Leage are not concerned with whose money they’ll

be spending. Under Yates, Brannigans was bought for something like 2.5 million and recently sold for about a million less. The Bridge Too Low’s another example

of Yates economy – a 6 million dollar tribute to a chauvinist ego.


You need to watch your tax dollars more carefully, my friend.


vergonha

I agree! Yes it is time for a good change and that will be Mayor Betty WINholtz!


brook

I would have to guess that the current attitude among the MorroBobs is that the ‘law’ is for gnatz.


This is just another reason to vote for Betty Winholtz.


mbactivist1

It sure is a reason to vote for Betty. She’d like the Council to follow City law. rather than do whatever they want because they think they are above it.


As I said in my reply to Slo rider, below, the Council blatantly violated the law. Municipal Code section 2.28.120. lists the duties and responsibilities of the Planning Commission. Among other things, it says that the Commission shall,

“D. Meet with the city council twice annually to discuss proposed policies, programs, goals and objectives, budgeting, future planning, or any other planning matter requiring joint deliberation. The city clerk shall in January of each year bring forth an agenda item to the city council to schedule the two joint meetings”


If you vote not to have the second meeting, you violate the law, and that’s just what the council majority did. Let’s vote in Betty, Jack, and D’Onna and have ourselves a council that will actually respect our laws rather than ignoring them for their personal convenience.


danika

Wasting the taxpayers money seems to be the end result for ALL politics these days. This is beyond ridiculous. “If you don’t play the game my way, I’m gonna tell on you…” Is she 12???? GROW UP!


racket

Final nail in her political coffin.


Kevin Rice

Betty wants to be seen as a nice person, but she is not. Making baseless criminal accusations against fellow council members elected by the People!!?? What utter lack of diplomacy! This amounts to Intimidation of elected representatives to steam roll them into submission so Betty can be the mean-spirited Queen of Morro Bay.


Betty Winholtz is touted as thoughtful and well-spoken, yet she clearly has no understanding of the municipal code and is off a cliff with her ill logic and threats.


This is the difference between reasonable and unreasonable. Betty’s manipulative behavior disqualifies her from holding office!


mbactivist1

Slorider, your comments are based on ignorance of Morro Bay law. Winholtz’ accusation is NOT baseless. It is right on target. The City Council flagrantly violated its own City law. Before you make more inappropriate comments, go read Morro Bay Municipal Code section 2.28.120. It lists the duties and responsibilities of the Planning Commission. Among other things, it says that the Commission shall,

“D. Meet with the city council twice annually to discuss proposed policies, programs, goals and objectives, budgeting, future planning, or any other planning matter requiring joint deliberation. The city clerk shall in January of each year bring forth an agenda item to the city council to schedule the two joint meetings”


The Council and the Planning Commission have had only one meeting this year. If they do not have another, they are in violation of the Morro Bay Municipal Code. They have just voted not to meet again this year. Therefore, they have violated the law. That is not OK.


The Morro Bay Municipal Code sets forth the city’s laws, which are supposed to be obeyed by all. That INCLUDES mayors, council members, and city attorneys. They are not above the law, and cannot simply decide not to obey a law because someone does not feel like attending another meeting during the busy holiday season.


What is it about the word “law” that you, some council members, and the city attorney don’t understand? Betty is a nice person, but the “we can do anything we want, including violating city laws” attitude displayed by some of our public officials is UNACCEPTABLE. If Betty had not filed the complaint, residents would have.


Betty is what we call an honest politician, and a leader who walks the talk. How refreshing. She is the kind of leader we so desperately need. She has the gumption to do what is right and to take on some powerful forces in order to ensure that our city is run in an ethical and honest manner.


Frankly, I wish she would go further and report city attorney’s “interpretation” of the municipal code to the State Bar Association. If she doesn’t, I think others will.


knowtheFACTS

Let me get this straight. MBACTIVIST1 states, “They have just voted not to meet again this year. Therefore, they have violated the law. That is not OK.”


Using this same logic, I vote that we take MBACTIVIST1, hang him/her by their ankles and throw rocks at them for making such a uneducated statement. Last time I checked the law had to be broken for it to be a crime, the council still has 2 months to have this “OH SO IMPORTANT” meeting. Oh and by the way if y’all didn’t know tomorrow is ELECTION DAY. I can not wait until the results to see how many POLICE bashing, Parkinson haters are on here crying about “OH GREAT ANOTHER HEDGES” I have a feeling you are all going to be poor loser, but to be far if Joe wins I believe he will do a good job, but not as well Ian would. Peace VOTE IAN


brook

Looks like you missed the facts after all. The vote has been taken to violate

the municipal code already. Had there been no such vote, there would be

no story. Duh!


mbactivist1

know the facts doesn’t seem to know much. The council majority voted not to meet this year. READ the story! Here is a not-too-subtle clue regarding what the vote was about:


“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.”


When you vote to wait to have the joint meeting until the three new members are in office and ready to attend that joint meeting, guess what you have voted to wait for. Yes, that’s right, 2011.


Ahem. That’s NOT this year. Therefore, they voted not to meet again in 2010, and therefore, they voted to violate the law.


Cindy

knowstheFACTS doesn’t seem to be concerned with FACTS or TRUTH. Same goes for most Ian supporters. It’s all about getting their buddy elected. Anybody who has studied these candidates would know who the better educated, most capable and honest candidate is. Yates and Parkinson are both all about ego and how many people like them. It takes more than that to serve with integrity.


knowtheFACTS

Actually, it doesn’t effect me either way, so no I’m not that concerned. I think anyone is better then Hedges at this point. I live in the county and have dealt with many of the north county deputies, due to landlord tenant disputes, and thefts from my vehicles. All but one Deputy treated me with respect and were highly knowledgeable on the issues that I brought to their attention. The BALDING COCKY one treated me like a child, and would not give me the time of day.


I thinks whatever candidate wins he will be able to correct these few ISSUES the Department has, but it starts with the PATROL Deputies as well as the Correctional Officers. Patrol Deputies are the individuals the public deals with 80% of the time, I am sure both candidates are aware of the BAD APPLES and plan on dealing with them once in office. SLOSO employee’s are tired of all the bad “PRESS” and want change just as much as the public but, If they don’t have the confidence in their Sheriff MORAL will continue to stay in the shitter. As far as I understand Ian has made the effort to speak with SLOSO Staff and hear what their concerns are, and does it with an open mind. Once Ian gets Elected SLOSO MORAL will rises tremendously except for those select few that want Joe to win.


Cindy

There are far more than a select few that want to see Cortez heading up the SLOSD. In fact I believe that many have changed their opinion about Ian as more has come to light regarding his past and his lack of ethics not to mention education. Nothing will change if Ian is elected and there are very serious problems with the SLOSD. It isn’t just about a select few bad apples.


vergonha

Betty WINholtz has integrity!


FOR MAYOR OF MORRO BAY VOTE BETTY WINHOLTZ!!!


Kevin Rice

“Integrity” is making criminal accusations of elected leaders?? Seriously? LOL!


vergonha

Well it shows you don’t know the

Municipal Code, most likely you did not even read it.

Get educated, and get real! LOL!


mbactivist1

It sure is. Standing by and saying nothing when public officials blatantly and deliberately refuse to obey the law is unacceptable.


Thank goodness we have people like Betty who, unlike some others, has real integrity.


vergonha

exactly you’re right!


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