OCEANSIDE — City Council gave first approval to an ordinance amendment that will allow council members to nominate or make a motion to remove fellow council members on regional boards or commissions in a 3-2 vote Dec. 5.
Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez strongly opposed the ordinance change that will strip the Mayor of his sole power to initiate nominations and removals and empower City Council to remove Wood from the SANDAG board.
Sanchez said the amendment is sour grapes after Councilman Jerry Kern lost the mayoral race to Wood.
“Mr. Wood has done a phenomenal job for us (on SANDAG) and gotten us millions and millions of dollars,” Sanchez said.
“It’s not honorable, it’s not ethical, and it’s illegal,” she added. “It’s not going to change a darn thing for us except for giving us a bad name.”
Councilman Gary Felien said the motion is necessary to ensure regional appointments reflect the Council majority.
“It’s not personal, it’s business,” Felien said. “They elected all five of us to be in this body.”
At the Nov. 28 Council meeting Felien noted a SANDAG vote that awarded $5 million to a south San Diego County project.
He said Wood failed to secure the funds to widen Interstate 5 at state Route 78.
Wood noted several reasons the I-5 widening project was not funded including that it was not a shovel-ready project.
Wood repeated his plans to secure an attorney or take the matter to the District Attorney if the amendment is passed.
He said he is fighting for future, present and past mayors.
“I’m not fighting it for me,” Wood said. “I’m here to represent the voters of Oceanside.
“I won by a large margin over Councilman Kern. I think it’s all about a race and how we handle things.”
An even split of speakers supported and opposed the amendment.
Speakers who supported the amendment reiterated comments made by Kern, Felien and Feller at the Nov. 28 meeting.
“The appointment process has not taken a good turn for Oceanside,” Saundra Waecker, Oceanside resident, said. “It is not bringing the funding.”
“There are a lot of dollars out there,” Larry Berry, Oceanside resident, said. “We’re not getting our piece of the pie.”
Those who opposed the amendment said they have already collected a few hundred signatures from residents who are against the change.
“It’s punitive and disgraceful,” Susie Coker, Oceanside resident, said.
City Attorney John Mullen said the correct procedures are being followed to change the city code.
Others disagreed and said the change calls for a City Charter amendment.
“To do it so cavalierly is very shortsighted,” Chris Wilson, Oceanside resident, said.
A special meeting was held immediately following the Dec. 5 council meeting to schedule a meeting for Dec. 12, at 2 p.m.
The sole agenda item for the meeting is to hold the final hearing on the ordinance amendment.
Sanchez questioned the council majority’s rush to approve the ordinance change. “It just feels wrong,” Sanchez said.