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Ventura County

Flynn's Proposed 'Peace Summit' Delayed

Politics: Supervisor says he had been seeking a mediator for a meeting with Latino leaders.


He said he wanted to give peace a chance.

But by Friday, a week after Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn called for a "peace summit" to mend his rift with local Latino leaders, the veteran politician had yet to contact the main players to name a time and place.

"I have not received any correspondence, any phone calls, any faxes. I have not received anything from John Flynn," said Irma Lopez, one of several people with whom Flynn publicly announced he would like to meet to settle differences.

Flynn has been feuding with Lopez, the wife of Oxnard Mayor Manuel Lopez, since the two had a confrontation last month as they left a Democratic Party fund-raiser in Oxnard. In a report filed with police, Lopez contends Flynn threatened her, yelling, "You wanna war? I'm going to get you! You don't fool around with me."

Flynn denies making a threat and said Lopez and other Latino leaders are trying to damage his reputation so they can promote a Latino for his 5th District seat.

On Friday, Flynn said formal invitations to the meeting have been delayed because he had been seeking the services of a professional mediator. Although he suggested last week that Latino activist Marcos Vargas or Democratic Party leader Hank Lacayo could act as informal referees, the idea has not panned out, Flynn said.

Vargas has voiced reservations about jumping into the fray. And Lacayo could be perceived by some as too close to him, Flynn said. After talking to advisors, he decided to seek the help of mediators at the nonprofit Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement.

The mediator working with him was supposed to call the primary parties--Lopez, Rio Elementary School District Supt. Yolanda Benitez and Denis O'Leary, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens--to see if they are willing to enter into mediation, Flynn said.

"These mediators are experts in this kind of stuff," Flynn said. "They know how to do it. But it takes the cooperation of everyone."

As of late Friday, O'Leary and Benitez said they had not been contacted by Flynn or anyone else. In the meantime, O'Leary said, his organization is putting the finishing touches on its own meeting proposal.

In a letter that will likely be sent early next week, the league will formally ask Flynn to sit down with its executive members, O'Leary said.

The group wants to talk about recent comments by Flynn, printed in The Times, that Lopez "won't be happy until she sees a sea of brown faces in every political office in west Ventura County."

O'Leary said the league would not let the issue drop without a pledge from Flynn, a 26-year supervisor, that he will no longer publicly berate Oxnard's political leaders.

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