YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

2 Supervisors Rebut Allegations by Flynn : Government: Maggie Kildee and Susan K. Lacey are upset by accusations that they held secret meetings.


Turning up the heat on a simmering feud among Ventura County supervisors, two board members Tuesday blasted Supervisor John K. Flynn for accusing them of violating the public trust by meeting secretly to make deals.

Supervisors Maggie Kildee and Susan K. Lacey both publicly read letters that they had written saying Flynn was spreading false information in an effort to question their integrity and tarnish their reputations.

"Allegations have been made regarding secret meetings, deals and violations of public trust," Kildee said at Tuesday's board meeting. "We believe we have demonstrated by our actions during our years on the board that we have served the electorate with integrity and trust."

Kildee and Lacey said they plan to forward the letters to all media in the area, a tactic Flynn has used recently to criticize his colleagues.

Tuesday's exchange was the second in recent weeks between Flynn and other supervisors.

Two weeks ago, Flynn enraged fellow board members by calling on the grand jury to investigate whether Kildee and Supervisor Vicky Howard violated the state's open meeting law by conferring privately with county staff at Kildee's house before passing the budget last month.

He expounded on the accusation in an open letter to the public that further infuriated his colleagues.

Specifically, Flynn alleged that under the county's subcommittee system, supervisors--led by persuasive top administrators--work out deals outside public scrutiny by holding a series of meetings before issues are debated before the full board.

Each subcommittee has two supervisors, often with overlapping membership and related goals. During a series of subcommittee meetings, administrators can line up a majority vote on every issue, and votes taken at full board meetings merely "rubber-stamp the decisions already agreed upon before the regular meeting."

Flynn said Tuesday that he welcomed the criticism, saying it opened up the issues for public debate.

"I think maybe they were a bit defensive, but I can accept that," Flynn said. "That's good. It's good to air it all out in the public.

"This shows my serious concern has gotten their attention. That's what I wanted. Now we can resolve these issues."

But Kildee, Lacey and Howard said they have done nothing wrong and are annoyed by Flynn's accusations. Supervisor Maria VanderKolk did not attend Tuesday's meeting but signed Kildee's letter as a show of support.

"People are asking me if what John is saying is true," Kildee said. "I just want to say that I act with integrity and I act with honor and I don't do the kinds of things that are being implied.

"It's important for me to stand up and say, 'Wait a minute.' "

Lacey added: "We needed to set the record straight. . . . This doesn't just reflect badly on the five of us, but on this whole county family. It's very unfair because it's just not true."

In his letter to the grand jury, Flynn wrote that he believed that Kildee and Howard, who are both members of the county's budget subcommittee, deliberately violated the state open meeting law by conferring with four other subcommittee members July 10 at Kildee's house in Camarillo.

However, Kildee and Howard said that the meeting was an informal session to review last-minute information from county staff.

The two supervisors maintain that the gathering was not a meeting of the 12-member budget subcommittee, but only six of the members. The gathering occurred three days before the supervisors passed the budget.

So far, the grand jury has not responded to Flynn's request for an inquiry, he said.

In his letter to the public, Flynn called the subcommittee "a very creative way of making decisions--many times out of the public eye."

"This system allows the top county administrators (who also sit on subcommittees) to control two supervisors at a time," Flynn said.

Kildee said board members seek input and advice from county staff.

But she added: "In making a final decision, the buck stops with the Board of Supervisors."

Los Angeles Times Articles