Today, around mid-morning, I received a phone call from Nancy Vaughn, the elections coordinator for the Ocean Beach Town Council. As you may know, the OBTC is having their annual elections beginning tomorrow (Wednesday Aug 25th) with their Candidates Forum – and up to now, I have been an official candidate.
On the phone Nancy Vaughn told me that I am in fact ineligible to be a candidate for the Board. She even told me that the OB Rag is ineligible to be a member. The Rag had joined the OBTC over three months ago and our dues fees were accepted. My name was on the official list of candidates sent out by the Council two days ago. My Letter of Intent declaring my candidacy had been accepted over a week ago. Yet on the eve of the balloting, I’m told I can’t run for one of the 7 seats that are open.
Here is the reason that Vaughn cited: a person can be a voting member and eligible to be a candidate if they are a resident within 92107, own property in the area, OR own a business in Ocean Beach. Guess what? My business is the OB Rag – a cyber business – a type of business that was not even around when the rules were written up. It definitely is an Ocean Beach business. The name of the village of OB is in our name: OB Rag!
The OB Rag has an Ocean Beach PO box, has an Ocean Beach bank account, and I’m often in Ocean Beach researching and writing -(I reside in Lemon Grove – never a secret). But because there is no “physical” location of my business, I am now ineligible to be a candidate or even a member.
This is a weird display of something that occurred to me forty years ago. Back in 1970 during the days of the original, alternative newspaper the OB Rag, I joined the OB Town Council. I had long hair then and we joked that I was the “first hippie” to be on the OB Town Council. I definitely was the first “long hair” to be on the Board. But the meeting after I was elected to the Board, the Council president – who hated my guts because he was more extreme that Generalissimo Franco of Spain – used a hidden procedural rule to oust me from the board. So, I was the first hippie on the OB Town Council and I was the first hippie to be kicked off the OB Town Council. It is the latter I’m most proud of.
And once again, I am facing a very similar scenario. I am facing apparently a Board president who doesn’t like me or my politics or the OB Rag, and the leadership of the Town Council has moved to kick me off the ballot.
This despite the fact that it has been the OB Rag that has galvanized OB residents to attend and even pack some recent Town Council meetings. This despite the fact that the OB Rag has brought the community to the point of holding forums on the homeless and homelessness. This despite the fact that the OB Rag was instrumental in helping save the OB Library Branch in the Fall of 2008. This despite the fact the the OB Rag led in saving Ocean Beach’s fire rings. We led in graffiti clean-ups … what we’ve done for this community of Ocean Beach is on a long list.
I believe this ruling by the elections coordinator was instigated by the OBTC leadership to prevent me from being on “their board.” This is undemocratic in itself, and it goes against the spirit of fairness, tolerance, and openness in community affairs.
I hate to say this but the Town Council is displaying what some had described as a “bed of cronyism” with many Board members simply appointed by their friends as there really has not been enough interest or candidates in the recent past to fill the seats in a democratic fashion.
I call upon the Town Council to show me and the community what exactly the section of their bylaws is being utilized to remove me from the ballot. I call on my fellow OBceans to join me at the Town Council meeting Wednesday night, Aug. 25th, 7pm, at the Masonic Center, and demand that I be allowed to run as a candidate. With 8 candidates for 7 seats, it could be a close election. Many of the incumbents who are running were originally appointed to their seats.
This maneuver by the Town Council to prevent me from running, goes against everything that this blog has been advocating. We have been encouraging residents to be “good citizens” and get involved in the various community organizations and around important issues.
This shut-out is a slap in the face to community citizens, to democracy, and to grassroots activism. Please help me to respond.