Say No On Ron Fink to Planning Commission – By Martin Bender

Lompoc City Hall

Say No On Ron Fink For Lompoc Planning Commission

At tonight’s 4/4/2023 city council meeting, Ms. Cordova is appointing Lompoc resident Ron Fink to the city’s Planning Commission. I ask that those who care about the honesty and integrity of our city government of Lompoc is to show up tonight and make a statement opposing the appointment of Mr. Fink and here’s why.

For those who have been following my story, I presented the city council with over 30 alleged violations of a contract between an organization called Visit Lompoc LLC (doing business as Explore Lompoc) and the City of Lompoc, as well as alleged violations of state law by council member Gilda Cordova. The contract itself is for 10 years and is valued at approximately $9.1 million dollars. Using publicly available sources, I discovered over 30 alleged violations of the contract that were either never caught by Lompoc city staff, the city attorney, or the city council…or they were simply ignored. Part of the underlying issue is the fact that Gilda Cordova sits as both the President of Visit Lompoc LLC and she sits on the city council of Lompoc.

Mr. Fink and Ms. Cordova are friends, at least politically, after all she’s appointing him to the Planning Commission. For his part Mr. Fink attempted to defend Ms. Cordova by trying to smear my character in an article he wrote on Noozhawk on March 21, 2023, where he boldly claimed that Ms. Cordova was falsely accused of wrongdoing, inferring that she was in fact innocent of any wrongdoing. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Mr. Fink begins by saying that it’s his duty to hold me accountable. He seems to question my background in the fact that I have a law degree and have worked in both private practice and for the Santa Barbara Superior Court, all are true statements. Mr. Fink states that I am “seriously abusing [my] First Amendment rights by falsely accusing Councilwoman Gilda Cordova of wrongdoing…” The problem with Mr. Fink’s claim is that it’s based on nothing more than fiction, smoke and mirrors as it were.

Mr. Fink claims that Ms. Cordova provided “ample evidence” to support her denial and yet to date, Ms. Cordova has presented no physical evidence other than stating that we have her word that the property she purchased in May 2022 is simply an investment property. My initial claims that she resided outside the city limits were predicated on three items:

  1. A filing with the California Secretary of State in which Ms. Cordova listed the Lewis Drive address as her address as an agent to her corporation, which she later changed the address on the filing AFTER I pointed out that the address in question had no business license and didn’t have someone available during regular business hours as required.
  2. Santa Barbara County tax records showed the Lewis Drive address receiving a tax credit that is only available if the home is being used as a primary residence.
  3. Statements from neighbors on Lewis Drive who stated that Ms. Cordova was regularly at the home, and they believed she resided there.

For her part, Ms. Cordova did get clarification from the county regarding #2, that the tax credit that was showing up on the address was pertaining to the previous owners of the address and would be updated to reflect that Ms. Cordova was not receiving the tax credit. But that hardly equates to “ample evidence” and it certainly doesn’t prove she doesn’t live there. Maybe she does, maybe she doesn’t…but raising questions regarding potential violations of local city ordinances and state law by local politicians is hardly an abuse of the First Amendment and many would point out that we have a civic duty to question those who hold office.

For my part, I cannot prove or disprove whether Ms. Cordova lives at the Lewis Drive property, but I was raised that if it walked like a duck, and looked like a duck, then it was probably a duck. Interestingly enough, just this week Ms. Cordova released her annual Form 900 statement detailing her financial interests, including those in real property. Ms. Cordova listed the home on Lewis Drive as her investment property. The home has a value of roughly $900,000 to $1,000,000 and yet Ms. Cordova states that she received $0 in rent from the property and that there were no tenants there for the entirety of May 2022 through December 2022.

Maybe I’m a cynic but I do find it hard to believe that the councilwoman bought a home worth nearly $1,000,000 and has had it sitting vacant for over half a year…or possibly is letting someone live there free of charge but that would seem to defy her comment that it was an investment property. To each their own though, as I stated before, I can’t prove or disprove the allegation of where she lives and contrary to the city attorney’s assertion that I could videotape the property to see who comes and goes from it at night, I’m not going to go to that length to do so.

In any event, there’s been no evidence one way or another to clear the council woman’s name, and there’s currently a complaint filed with the California FPPC regarding many of the allegations above and it will be up to the FPPC to investigate the validity of my allegations. For his part Mr. Fink opines that I must be getting paid for my work because in his words, “it’s doubtful he is exerting this much effort for free.”

I am not being paid.

I have made statement after statement asserting that I am not being paid and yet Ms. Cordova and her friends continue to entertain theories that there must be some secret conspiracy effort behind my work to ensure we have a city council that’s working to better the city of Lompoc and not line their own pockets.

Mr. Fink closes his article by stating that Ms. Cordova has “strong ethical standards” and that I must be a misogynist or that I’m sexist or racist for raising allegations against her. Lompoc cannot and should not have an individual in any public office or commission who resorts to labeling people as misogynistic, racist, or sexist simply because they raised legitimate allegations against a politician that have no basis in misogyny, racism, or sexism.

Lompoc deserves better than having someone like Mr. Fink on the Planning Commission who has shown such a lack of character, a lack of ethics, and a complete lack of judgment.