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Ventura County

Flynn Seeks to End Feud

Politics: The supervisor urges a 'peace summit' to settle a dispute with Oxnard leaders.

July 04, 2002|CATHERINE SAILLANT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn on Wednesday called for a "peace summit" to help settle a public feud between himself and several influential members of Oxnard's political community.

Flynn said he decided to ask for the meeting after supporters called to express concern about a series of newspaper articles on grievances between the veteran supervisor and his critics.

Irma Lopez, the wife of Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez, said Flynn yelled "I'm gonna get you!" as she left a recent Democratic picnic. Irma Lopez filed a report on the alleged threat with the Oxnard Police Department, which is expected to refer the matter to the district attorney's office for review next week.

Flynn has denied the allegation, saying he is the target of a smear campaign by a cadre of Latino leaders who would like to see him ousted from office. A Latino civil rights group entered the fray Tuesday, accusing Flynn of making inflammatory comments about Oxnard's Latino officials.

"It's gotten ugly enough," Flynn said Wednesday. "I want to see it stop."

The proposed summit got a mixed reaction from some of the people Flynn wants included in the peace effort. Denis O'Leary, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, also proposed a meeting in a letter to Flynn. O'Leary called the meeting proposal a "beautiful" idea.

"We are interested in dialogue, smoothing things over and letting him continue to do his business," O'Leary said.

Lopez, however, said she doubted the sincerity of the effort. She said Flynn has attacked her in the media for nearly a week, and said blame for the feud falls squarely in his lap.

"A peace summit?" Lopez said. "No one has declared war on him. It was a one-sided attack on his part."

Last week Flynn told The Times that Lopez "won't be happy until she sees a sea of brown faces in every political office in west Ventura County." He also told the Ventura County Star newspaper that Lopez wanted Latino politicians "regardless of their capabilities."

Flynn said his invitations to the private meeting will be sent Friday. The summit would most likely be held next week at a church in Nyeland Acres or another "neutral" site, he said.

Among those Flynn plans to invite are Lopez, O'Leary, Yolanda Benitez, superintendent of Rio Elementary School District; Oxnard Councilman John Zaragoza, and community college district trustee Art Hernandez.

All have been critical of Flynn's behavior, saying he has publicly berated several city officials with whom he has differences. Flynn said he would like Hank Lacayo and Marcos Vargas to mediate the sessions.

Lacayo, former chairman of the county's Democratic Party, and Vargas, a well-known Latino activist, are both respected in the community and would lend credibility to the process, Flynn said.

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