Advisory Panel Meetings Targeted : Oak Park: A bid by Supervisor VanderKolk to reduce the area forum's monthly schedule draws fire from its members.


Supervisor Maria VanderKolk has proposed that meetings of the Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council be slashed from once a month to a minimum of once a year, a move that one council member said would effectively "sack the MAC."

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal next Tuesday.

Dismayed council members said they are trying to organize a special meeting this week to discuss the proposal. They said the council, although advisory, serves a valuable function as a forum for Oak Park, a community of about 14,000 residents in eastern Ventura County.

But the supervisor said the council is often redundant and takes up much of her staff's time on citizens' concerns that her office is already working on. VanderKolk also cited the amount of staff time spent working on council matters.

"It's become a lot of busywork," VanderKolk said. She referred to such issues as Oak Park's attempts to get its own ZIP code from the U.S. Postal Service and the debate over Ventura County Cablevision's placement of cable boxes on easements in front of homes.

The council has discussed both at length, even though they are beyond the purview of county supervisors.

Under the proposed resolution, VanderKolk would call council meetings as needed.

"This is not saying they will only meet once a year," she said. "This is saying they would not meet once a month."

She said the cost of sending a representative to monthly meetings, along with other county officials and a recording secretary, "has become expensive and time-consuming."

Meanwhile, VanderKolk said she is always available to Oak Park residents who need assistance. She said one of her aides spends more than half-time on Oak Park issues.

Council Chairman Kent Behringer said VanderKolk is attempting to squelch a voice of dissent that has often been at odds with her decisions.

"The history of the (municipal advisory council) in this community is that the only way we could get fair representation was to be a thorn in the side of the supervisor," Behringer said. "Probably she's tired of us."

VanderKolk, who said she does not have a close relationship with the council, said her proposal is not based on retribution.

The latest disagreement involves the proposed Oak Park library. Last month, VanderKolk postponed a proposal to begin planning to build the library because of the county's budget problems. But the council urged her to proceed.

VanderKolk rarely attends council meetings, and relations between council members and Lenore Kirby, her administrative assistant for Oak Park, are often strained.

In June, for example, council member Barbara Bronson Gray asked Kirby to apologize after a bitter exchange between Kirby and council member Ron Stark. Stark was complaining that the city of Fillmore received more federal transit funds than Oak Park.

"That's because they're quieter," Kirby retorted.

Stark said he does not apologize for the council's stance.

Gray, whom VanderKolk appointed to the five-member council this year, said the council is cost-effective and inexpensive. Council members receive no payment, and most costs are paid for out of a community service district funded solely by Oak Park property taxes.

Former Supervisor Madge Schaefer said she also had problems with the council. But she said she was surprised that VanderKolk would stir up controversy in Oak Park by trying to limit the council.

In 1990, VanderKolk defeated Schaefer in the Democratic primary by 102 votes. The winning margins came from Oak Park, whose six precincts voted for VanderKolk by 2-1 margins.

"I would think she'd be willing to do anything for those fine folks," Schaefer said.

For the Record Los Angeles Times Thursday July 8, 1993 Ventura West Edition Metro Part B Page 4 Column 1 Metro Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction Wrong information--An article Wednesday incorrectly characterized the 1990 election for Ventura County supervisor between Maria VanderKolk and Madge Schaefer. The election was nonpartisan.
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