SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

44 Comments
Reads 7744

By Jayne Marcus

The drama continues with the City of Santa Barbara, its City Councilmembers, and the fight over the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) seat between Cathy Murillo and Jason Dominguez.

As many other edhat readers have written, Dominguez was appointed to the SBCAG seat about a month ago by the City Council. Earlier this month, the same council revoked his seat and placed Murillo in its place, which is a tradition for seated mayors as they are the only elected officials to be part of the very influential and politically charged group. Obviously, this has caused controversy on both sides of the aisle. 

But now, it's being reported that a lawyer is threatening to sue the City over this decision. Attorney John Thyne is firmly asking the city to reconsider its removal of Councilman Dominguez and revert back to the January 9th decision where he was appointed. Thyne has not identified his client, although I'm sure we can all guess who it is.

So, because someone doesn't like the outcome of a legal and binding vote, they're now going to threaten to sue the City? It's akin to not being chosen to play kickball and then tattle-telling for the teacher to take the ball away. Dominguez was out-voted, plain and simple. Was it ethical? Who knows, is anything in politics really ethical? It wasn't illegal, and he has every right to fight the decision, but please do not use a lawyer that will negatively affect our already hurting economy.

We don't need any more of our taxpayer dollars going to fight this petty issue. Get over it Jason Dominguez, and move on. We have a community to rebuild. 


 Do you have an opinion on something local? Share it with us at ed@edhat.com. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat. 

Login to add Comments

44 Comments

Toggle Comments (Show)
pii Feb 14, 2018 08:22 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Following up on MRTRUMPS last post and going out on a tangent. The US Constitution's protection of a citizen's civil rights relates to the level of Federal laws. Due process is mentioned in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. It wasn't until sometime after the 14th Amendment (1868) that the courts decided the Privileges and Immunities Clause and still later the Due Process Clause were the basis for enforcing individual rights against the states. That means the states can't make laws that infringe upon a citizen's rights as defined in the Bill of Rights. I don't think this means the City is so constrained. Especially since we are talking about a member of the City government (ie: itself). The Bill of Rights are to formalize constraints upon Federal power; the states are not bound to all of those constraints. Look up Incorporation Doctrine; SCOTUS has taken its time to declare these limits on state power .

LocalinSB Feb 14, 2018 10:09 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

The author is spreading fake news. Must be a Murillo supported. Council Members Greg Hart, Dan Secord and Gill Garcia all served as the SBCAG reps. 3 of the last 5 "terms" had Councilmembers, which the author failed to disclose. Today, Goleta and Carpinteria have Council Members NOT Mayors serving on SBCAG. - Guess that blows the author out of the water.

Schifter Feb 14, 2018 08:17 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

When asked whether or not the 2nd vote (the "reconsideration") was legal and valid, Assistant City Attorney Sarah Knecht responded, "I haven't had time to think this through." Clearly, we've got the best and brightest working for us at City Hall.

a-1534422220 Feb 14, 2018 07:37 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

As the circus at City Hall continues, let's not forget that newly re-elected Council Member Gregg Hart is busy with his eyes on his next prize as County Supervisor. If he's successful, that will leave his seat vacant, another part of the City unrepresented and the dysfunction and musical chairs will continue. The decisions being made on the dais seem more focused on how they benefit those who sit there, rather than the public they're supposed to serve--not that he's providing stellar constituent service anyway. This latest go-round shows what a mistake the district elections was.

LocalinSB Feb 13, 2018 08:55 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Calling Dominguez a bully is way off base. The reader obviously hasn't seen Murillo in action very often and they certainly haven't kept up with what's going on at Council or the SBCAG. Murillo and Friedman pulled a stunt which is getting the city into a lawsuit. They didn't have a valid Council Resolution when they agendize the meeting. They didn't follow Rosenberg's rules of order. They lost. They couldn't agendize the vote. If Rowse had agendize to vote the vote would have needed for votes which is 2/3 majority. ----- While you might not want to go over this again, this is a critical moment for our City. Here's why: Reconsideration in Parliamentary Procedure means "to take up for consideration a second time, as a motion or a vote, as with the view of reversing or modifying action taken." It is clear that the item scheduled by Murillo and Friedman last week was a reconsideration and nothing more. Period. Full stop. Dominguez was removed and a new vote to appoint a new appointee to SBCAG was conducted. - That IS reconsideration of the January 9th vote! As you know from a post on edhat the action to remove Dominguez and install Murillo as the SBCAG appointee was against the City's own Rules of Order and invalid. Why? The Council Resolution used to Agendize the item had been rescind in 2009. Additionally if it had been properly Agendized it need a 2/3 majority required to pass, instead, it passed with a simple majority. This action must be nullified. Moreover, the Council must order an independent investigation of both Council and City policies to uncover how this decision was allowed to go unchecked. Furthermore, to ensure this never happens again, the investigation must extend into City policies where the City has broken its own rules or where similar decision were allowed to go unchecked. To restore the faith of residents Council must nullify last weeks action and call for an independent investigation into all Council and City policies. Failure to do so will further erode the trust residents have in Council and the City and cause residents to further question the leadership of the Mayor and the entire City Council.

simplynotmyaddress Feb 13, 2018 05:53 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Ummmm. but it's ok in your mind to sue and resist everything a duly elected president does?? You people can't have it both ways only when it suits your own agenda.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 04:06 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

OMG! Can we move on to something else? GEEZA LOUIZA like there is nothing else that needs attention in this town? Isn't council or any other governmental entity ever allowed to change their collective minds? There are plenty of other boards/commissions etc. for Jason to work on.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 04:10 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Giving Jason something to "work on" isn't the problem here. A power hungry, lawless mayor IS the problem. But hey, ignorance must be bliss, right?

Mesarats Feb 13, 2018 02:36 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

One thing to keep in mind is that our city government is not a Strong Mayor model and the Mayor gets 1 vote and doesn’t have a executive role or power It is also unfortunate that District 3 does not yet have a representative and with Hart abstaining it is hardly a mandate of the people.

mrtrump Feb 13, 2018 02:09 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

To Mas Gaviota @1:20 P.M - The City Attorney, in an e-mail to Thyne, conceded the fact that the Feb 6 vote was indeed a reconsideration of the January 9 vote, but he justified the Feb 6 vote by stating that council rules were only suggestions ( or some such nonsense); Yet the written reason given for the rule change in September of 2015 was that the new rules were being implemented to protect the civil right of due process.

Bird Feb 13, 2018 01:17 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

A reply to Mas Gaviota: Sarah Knecht is not the City Attorney. She's an Assistant City Attorney, whose responsibilities include water, wastewater, airport, waterfront and housing departments. The City Attorney, Ariel Colonne, was absent. She was clearly unprepared and admittedly so. I am not sure that another local news source is an adequate reference. But, indeed, she said that it was not a "reconsideration" but a "new vote", and also said that's what her boss said. ...She surely knew that was hearsay and should be treated as such. jking, sort of!

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 01:11 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

From the op-ed: "So, because someone doesn't like the outcome of a legal and binding vote, they're now going to threaten to sue the City?" Um, actually someone (Murillo and Friedman doing the bidding of the Democratic Central Committee) didn't like the outcome of a legal and binding vote taken January 9th to appoint Dominguez, and broke laws to force Dominguez to be yanked from SBCAG and Murillo installed.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 12:40 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

I'm as irritated as the next guy when lawsuits against the public are threatened, but in this case, it's justified. This appears to be Murillo regularly manipulating things for her own benefit, and she needs to be shut down hard, early in her mayor years. Elected officials are supposed to represent the people's will, not use procedures to impose their will on the public. I'm fed up with the partisanship, and posturing; so are most citizens.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 12:27 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

I voted for Murillo, but I’m highly disappointed in this move. Dominguez is being a CouncilBully, which does not look well on him. It’s clear that Murillo and Dominguez want the SBCAG position because of the power it holds. From what I’m seeing this past month, I would not give either Murillo or Dominguez my mayoral vote in 4 years. Tread lightly you two. This is going to make the District 3 seat very important. It’s important that the next person is not tied to the Murillo, Hard, Friedman or the Dominguez, Sneddon, Rowes vote.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 12:18 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Next thing you know Mayor Murillo is going to have all city employees looking for the duplicate key to the wardroom icebox where the strawberries are kept...."Ahhh, the strawberries...that's where I had them.....geometric logic....duplicate key...." Let's give Cathy some ball-bearings to roll incessantly in her hand while we watch the train wreck in real time.

Bird Feb 13, 2018 12:10 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

That's not a very accurate post. 1) I can't guess who Thyne's client is -- if you're guessing Dominguez, Thyne, a highly reputable lawyer (and law professor) has said that is not who it is. 2) It is not a "tradition" for only mayors to be on the SBCAG. Buellton's, Carpinteria's and Lompoc's mayors are not, and in SB it has been about 50-50. (What's unusual is that a SB councilmember is a Deputy Executive Director -- could that have anything to do with Mayor Murillo wanting the SBCAG seat? ) It is not at all "a petty issue" -- it is surprising that Mayor Murillo, fresh to a new and challenging job, should have the time for another, highly technical position. Dominguez, whatever you may think of him, is a policy wonk has the legal and also governmental training, both in the SB County and in LA, to do a better job in this wonkish position. The vote reconsideration - and the new vote clearly was that, at least by the plain English dictionary definition of the word - was unwise, asking for a legal challenge to right a wrong. And new councilmember Friedman's emphasis on only mayors represent the city as a whole was clearly off base --- he spent years in the county administration where each Supervisor did represent his/her district, primarily. But that's not City government, not what was emphasized should be even by district proponents. Too bad that Councilmember Rowse flipped, creating this situation.

a-1534422220 Feb 14, 2018 10:34 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

"Thyne, a highly reputable lawyer" This John Thyne? https://www.noozhawk.com/article/082809_council_candidate_john_thyne_sentenced_to_curfew_monitoring

Mas Gaviota Feb 13, 2018 12:26 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Look all lawyers are looking for some free advertising. Thyne is no choir boy. Reference his DUI and violation of parole which crushed his political dreams. The City Council has the right to name their representitive to SCAB. They simply decided that they would send an at large elected representative, Mayor Murillo. She also has much more experience as an elected official than Dominguez.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 12:06 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

So, to be sure I have the story straight: Murillo fought for and got the whole district election thing when she wanted to be a district representative. Then, once she was elected as district representative, she left the position to become mayor. Now that she's mayor, she doesn't want a district representative representing the City on SBCAG, and wants only "at-large" representation on the SBCAG? Boy, this mayor of yours must REALLY enjoy having her cake and eating it too.....

mrtrump Feb 13, 2018 11:15 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

In September, 2015, the Santa Barbara City council voted to change to rules on how council votes are reconsidered. Those new rules were put in place for the purpose of protecting the public and city council member's right to due process (a civil right under the U.S Constitution). On February 6, the City Council violated the civil rights of the people and City Council members by ignoring the rules intended to protect said rights. Also, the City Attorney has conceded the facts that the Feb 6 vote was indeed a reconsideration, not a new vote.

Mas Gaviota Feb 13, 2018 01:20 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

You do know that Ms. Knecht works for Mr. Colonne, right? When she said that it was a new vote she was giving the legal opinion of the City Attorney's office. Thanks for picking that nit. The CIty Council meetings are televised . You should tune in sometime.

Mas Gaviota Feb 13, 2018 02:25 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

You do know that Ms. Knecht works for Mr.Calonne , right? When she said that it was a new vote she was giving the legal opinion of the City Attorney's office. Thanks for picking that nit. The CIty Council meetings are televised . You should tune in sometime. Your boy Thyne lost in his one bid for election, now he is trying to make himself relevant.

Bird Feb 13, 2018 01:11 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Sarah Knecht is not the City Attorney. She's an Assistant City Attorney, whose responsibilities include water, wastewater, airport, waterfront and housing departments. The City Attorney, Ariel Colonne, was absent. She was clearly unprepared and admittedly so. I am not sure that another local news source is an adequate reference. But, indeed, she said that it was not a "reconsideration" but a "new vote", and also said that's what her boss said. ...She surely knew that was hearsay and should be treated as such. jking, sort of!

Mas Gaviota Feb 13, 2018 11:37 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Uhh no. The City Attorney considers this a new vote. Here is a quote from another lacal news site: "Dominguez said he is not Thyne’s client. At last week’s council meeting, he repeatedly told assistant City Attorney Sarah Knecht that reconsiderations of votes should not be allowed for at least 180 days after the original vote. Knecht said that the vote was not a reconsideration, but a new vote."

Mas Gaviota Feb 13, 2018 10:44 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

The city council decided that it would be best to have an at large, rather than a district, elected official, the mayor, as the SBCAG representitive.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 10:40 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

It seems like it didn't have much to do with Dominguez at all, more with Murillo wanting the seat AFTER the vote to give it to Dominguez happened. So, she invoked some re-voting rules (there are very specific legal rules when revoting on anything government related, as there should be), however they were rules that had been replaced in 2015. I guess no one noticed and the vote happened, Murillo "got" the seat. However, the new rules, which replaced the old ones in 2015, made her actions very wrong. She should know better. I would not consider myself an anti-Murillo person, but what she did in this situation isn't right and is very concerning.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 09:45 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

I do believe it's time to start thinking seriously of a recall election regarding Murillo. We cannot afford the luxury of her abject ignorance and disregard for her position as mayor. Enough is enough.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 08:55 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

There shouldn't have been a need to even think about a recall election. Murillo did not win a majority of the votes, not even close. This city council should change the "rules" and require future elections for mayor that do not result in a 50% + decision to have a run-off. They're spending money for a new election for Murillo's seat, but not a mayoral run-off. What's the matter with these people?

CivilEngineer Feb 13, 2018 09:37 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

The previous posts on this said the revote was done in violation of the adopted rules of order for the City Council. If they violated their own rules, then the vote should be rescinded. If the past year has taught us anything, it is that the rule of law will (might?) save us. We can't just ignore the rules because we liked the outcome.

Mesarats Feb 13, 2018 12:15 PM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

“So, because someone doesn't like the outcome of a legal and binding vote....” they reject regular order and put the city at risk for lawsuits. At best it is slimy, at worst illegal. The question that is of greater importance is, who is the person who has the experience,knowledge and qualifications to work with multiple agencies and representatives from local,state and federal levels and best represent the interests of the people of Santa Barbara? (Even the majority who didn’t vote)

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 10:49 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Anon: no one re-wrote rules through the official channels, that's the problem. Rules were made up, or rather, rescinded rules were used under false pretenses. If Murillo would like to rewrite the re-voting rules, that is good and well. But until then, we follow the existing rules. Period.

a-1534422220 Feb 13, 2018 10:10 AM
SBCAG Appointment Leads to Lawsuit Threats

Funny that when conservatives re-write the rules or ignore them for their benefit it's called power politics. When liberals do it they call it criminal. I reckon our fair city has to mirror what is happening in Washington DC to please the 35% of the population that likes a criminal in charge with an army of lawyers to obstruct and obfuscate. LAWYERS FOR ALL.

Please Login or Register to comment on this.