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Ventura County

Flynn Issues Apology Over Comments

July 18, 2002|JENIFER RAGLAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Under fire from a Latino civil rights group, Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn issued an apology Wednesday for comments he made during a well-publicized flap with the wife of Oxnard's mayor.

The League of United Latin American Citizens on Tuesday asked the U.S. Department of Justice to mediate a dispute between Flynn and Irma Lopez that in recent weeks has escalated to include other influential members of Oxnard's political community.

The dispute stems from Flynn yelling "I'm gonna get you!" to Lopez as she left a Democratic picnic in June.

In subsequent news accounts, Flynn accused Lopez and other Latino leaders of attempting to oust him from office and replacing him with a Latino politician, saying Lopez "won't be happy until she sees a sea of brown faces in every political office in west Ventura County."

At a news conference Wednesday, Flynn said he was sorry he made Lopez believe he was threatening her. Flynn said he was only trying to defend himself against perceived attacks on his reputation. He also apologized for the "brown faces" comment that has inflamed some in the local Latino community.

"I used these words to support the idea that everyone regardless of race, color ethnicity or religion should have the opportunity to win an elective office," he said. "I probably could have used a different set of words to express the idea."

Lopez was out of town and unavailable for comment.

Flynn earlier proposed a "peace summit" with Latino leaders in Oxnard, but said that idea didn't appear to have much support. He issued the apology in an effort to resolve the matter faster, he said.

Denis O'Leary of the Latino league's local chapter, said while he appreciated Flynn's apology, he believes a mediation session with the Justice Department is still necessary. Attempts to reach Justice officials were unsuccessful.

"Supervisor Flynn has done a great job for the Latino community," O'Leary said. "Unfortunately, his relationships with many community leaders have not been appropriate."

Flynn, at the news conference, said he would prefer a summit organized by the Ventura Center for Dispute Settlement. He also said he does not know whether he would participate in a meeting organized by the Latino league.

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