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Flynn Boycotts Highway 118 Hearing, Alleging Vote Trade on Initiative Report


Still fuming about his colleagues' earlier vote against a report he helped write, Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn boycotted a Tuesday afternoon hearing on two controversial road improvement projects proposed for Las Posas Valley.

Flynn's absence left the board without a quorum and the hearing was postponed until April 27. Supervisor Frank Schillo had gone home sick and Chairwoman Susan Lacey, who was preparing for a meeting in Sacramento, did not attend.

Nearly 100 residents attended, many to protest the road projects suggested for a stretch of California 118. Pat Feiner, a member of the organization Save Our Somis, brought a protest petition with more than 800 signatures to present to the board.

"I took the day off to come here; I lost a day's pay," said an outraged John Barone, 46, of Somis, who works at a market. "These supervisors who took the day off should be docked a day's pay."

But Flynn suggested he was doing the residents a favor. He said Supervisors Judy Mikels and Kathy Long would have outvoted him in favor of the two road projects, which would improve a dangerous curve near an elementary school and widen a congested intersection.

Many area residents fear these projects, which wouldn't break ground until fall 2001, are just the beginning of a larger plan to widen a 16-mile strip of the highway.

Saying that Mikels and Long engaged in back-room politics, Flynn accused them of trading votes.

"Judy Mikels and Kathy Long struck a deal," Flynn said. "They had worked out arrangements for sandbagging me."

That morning, Mikels voted against a report Flynn and Schillo had prepared on implementing the voter-approved SOAR growth control measure. Flynn contended Mikels cast her no vote in exchange for Long's agreeing to move forward with the strongly debated road improvement projects in Mikels' district.

"It was a trade-off for the Highway 118 project, and it wasn't even subtle," Flynn said. "It was a political deal, and I wasn't going to participate in it."

It would be better for residents to wait for a more complete discussion of the issues, he said.

The hearing "would have been a farce," Flynn said. "While the public may be somewhat upset that the whole thing was continued, at least now they have a chance [of] a fair hearing."

Long and Mikels vehemently denied trading votes.

"I am extremely offended by that comment," Mikels said. "I have never--nor will I ever--trade votes. I never talked to Supervisor Long about the [SOAR] report."

Mikels said Flynn most likely made up the accusation as an excuse for his becoming angry during the morning discussion on how to implement the Save Open Space and Agricultural Resources initiative throughout the county.

"It's a self-serving way of justifying what he did," Mikels said.

Long said she, too, was offended.

"I resent him implying that," Long said. "No. 1, Mr. Flynn and I, if he can recall, authored the letter raising concerns about the Highway 118 projects. We were the ones who required that the [road improvement] study be done. We could either accept it or reject it. There was nothing to trade here."

Whatever the reason, the postponement peeved many of the assembled residents.

"My husband and I were skiing in Big Bear, and we came back a day early to attend the meeting. That's how important this is to us," said Elaine Masko, 62, of Somis. "It blew my mind that supervisors didn't show up. It's so inconsiderate."

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