I am voting no on Measure B for many reasons, but for brevity's sake, I'll give you three.
First, according to an independent analysis, Measure B will lead to a direct reduction in police and fire services. That is why the sheriff and local firefighters are against it.
Second, the independent analysis also found Measure B will reduce funding for our schools and lead to more school closures. Our schools face dramatic state cutbacks. That is why the teacher's association and the PTA oppose it.
Third, and perhaps most important, if Measure B passes, it will risk the world-class, full-service medical treatment Thousand Oaks residents receive at Los Robles Hospital. The hospital CEO and the doctors committee have said repeatedly that the hospital would have to close the maternity department, the neonatal intensive care unit, the pediatrics department, the oncology unit, the definitive observation unit and the surgery department if Measure B passes. If that happens the nearest healthcare facilities to receive similar treatment would be at least 25 minutes away in Simi Valley, Oxnard or Camarillo.
I could go on and keep listing the reasons, but do I really have to? Measure B is bad for police and firefighters. Measure B is bad for schools. Measure B is bad for the hospital.
Please join me and vote no on Measure B.
-- Mary Claire Slais, Thousand Oaks
May 2008 Archives
I am voting no on Measure B for many reasons, but for brevity's sake, I'll give you three.
Measure B has attracted the same crew of malcontents, misfits and naysayers of the community to be the proponents of this ill-begotten sham. It's become routine in the 35 years that I've lived in Thousand Oaks. I've noticed every issue raised contrary to public satisfaction, civic pride and common sense has attracted the same core group of dissidents as its proponents. If it's a cockamamie, screwball or prejudiced issue, the same crowd led by the same individuals will cloak it in terms of esteem, entitlements or desirability.
If the issue is contrary to the status quo, they want it. Apparently nothing is too good for Thousand Oaks, and that's what they want us to have -- nothing.
Thousand Oaks is not broken. We don't need the Do It Center to fix it. We live in one of the most beautiful, well-governed and managed, best-planned communities in the world. We have clean water and wide, well-lighted streets in well-kept neighborhoods populated by law-abiding, educated and informed residents. We have consistently been shown to be one of the safest cities in the nation. Our schools are Distinguished Schools. Our public safety organizations are highly trained, motivated, ever-vigilant and well led.
We have everything a community needs to be successful. It's no wonder other cities are abandoned by their residents in order to relocate here.
And yet, let someone raise an issue or a vague suggestion of doubt about the suitability of Thousand Oaks and here they go again.
It makes one wonder, "What is their problem?"
Regarding Measure B: "Casablanca," the movie, said it back then, "Round up the usual suspects."
-- Forrest Frields, Thousand Oaks
I can't believe the corporate hubris on display in the "Yes on Measure B" campaign. They have thrown just about everything but the kitchen sink at the voters of Thousand Oaks to make us believe that Measure B is in our best interest.
Their latest trick has Jess Ruf, one of the owners of the Do It Center chain, playing the victim in their latest glossy four-color mailer. Are they serious? Their own Web site proclaims them as the "world's largest hardware store," representing 4,100 stores worldwide. I find it hard to believe they can't handle a little competition.
Personally, I think Measure B is the worst abuse of the initiative process I have ever seen. It amounts to anti-trust legislation and asks voters to sanction it. Since when has something that benefits one corporate special interest at the expense of 127,000 citizens of Thousand Oaks been good for a community? I might buy hammers and nails from the Do It Center, but I don't buy their rhetoric.
But don't take my word for it. Here is what three leading newspapers in the area had to say about Measure B:
The Star said, "Measure B sprang from one business -- the Do It Center."
The Thousand Oaks Acorn, in its recent editorial against Measure B, called it, "a slick marketing strategy to stifle competition by a multimillion-dollar company."
A recent Los Angeles Times editorial stated, "Measure B represents a small but growing species of ballot measure, used by businesses to impede their competitors at the polls rather than the checkout counter."
Even the consultant hired by the Do It Center to run the "Yes on Measure B" campaign, said in a recent article published in the May 24 issue of The Star, "I can't say to you it doesn't have anything to do with competition. Of course, it does."
Please say no to corporate greed. Vote no on Measure B.
-- Gary Heathcote, Thousand Oaks
Jess Ruf, the owner of the Do It Center, says his Measure B is intended to "control traffic" and "protect our way of life."
But the real reason Ruf wants Measure B passed is to impede the installation of a moderately sized Home Depot at the intersection of Highway 101 and Hampshire Road, just blocks from his nearby Do It Center.
The abandoned Kmart site at this location is the worst example of urban blight between the San Fernando Valley and Oxnard. What kind of "way of life" does that represent?
It is hard to believe that a site a couple of hundred feet from the freeway, already zoned for a big-box retailer such as Kmart, would generate a burdensome amount of traffic on surface streets. We didn't have it when Kmart was there, so why should it exist with a Home Depot?
It's really Ruf's "way of life" that is threatened by the potential installation of a superior retailer in his monopolistic backyard.
This measure is no favor to the citizens of the Conejo Valley, who have to waste time and gasoline driving to Newbury Park or Woodland Hills to find a full-service home improvement retailer.
No, it is a thinly veiled effort to prevent superior competition from encroaching on one person's monopoly from Woodland Hills to Newbury Park.
Ruf is abusing the referendum mechanism for his own personal gain. We have an elected City Council and Planning Commission to handle these matters rather than encumbering such entities as Los Robles Hospital with ballot-box uncertainty. How many among us are really qualified to assess traffic issues?
Have faith in our democratically elected government, and vote no on Measure B.
-- Michael W. Murray, Thousand Oaks
Measure B is a potential disaster for this city. I urge every voter to join me in voting no on this measure, not because its passage might cause "less traffic" (it might, but that's truly unknown) and not because it improperly enters a commercial dispute (which it does), but because it is a stealth measure whose hidden consequences would fundamentally change our city's form of government.
Measure B, if passed, would require some large future issues to be presented to voters for decision -- issues that may be far too complex for most voters to be willing to spend the time and effort necessary to make truly informed decisions. We citizens now elect and pay salaries of representatives to take that time and effort to understand the ramifications of such issues.
The predictable result of the passage of Measure B is that future complex issues would be decided on the basis of which side could create the most effective "sound bite."
Vote no on Measure B!
-- Donald E. Power, Thousand Oaks
I Googled "Do It Center." It states in bold print that it is the world's largest hardware store. This outsider is the one who drafted and is spending half a million dollars to pass Measure B in Thousand Oaks.
Then I looked at who is urging a no vote on Measure B. Do It Center and its supporters said only "government bureaucrats" are opposing the measure. But here's what I found: It's taxpayer groups, the Chamber of Commerce, Little League, PTAs, teachers, doctors, nurses, Los Robles Hospital, California Lutheran University, local businesses, private citizens, people and groups who usually never agree on anything. But they came together on this initiative. These people didn't look like "government bureaucrats" to me. They are my neighbors and your neighbors.
So I read this initiative, drafted by a multibillion-dollar corporation, and figured out it was so broad and poorly worded that it would have very harmful, perhaps unintended, consequences for our city. Oh, and then I found out they have done this elsewhere to keep out competition!
Your neighbors have taken the time to learn the truth and discovered the Do It Center is really not your friend. It is a huge outside corporation trying to keep competition out of Thousand Oaks and trying desperately to fool us into supporting their anti-competitive agenda, just as they have done in other cities, with alluring but totally false slogans.
Please vote -- and please vote no on Measure B.
-- Julie Prince, Thousand Oaks
During my four-year tenure on the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission -- 2003 to 2007 -- there were many occasions residents came to a Planning Commission hearing to voice their concerns about quality-of-life issues that would be forever altered by a particular development. Some call them NIMBYs. I call them neighbors.
Those resident concerns were mostly about traffic, safety, noise, glare, air quality, privacy and/or loss of biological resources, such as ancient oak trees or wildlife corridors. Sometimes speakers alerted the Planning Commission to impacts not contained in the staff report prepared for us by the city's experts or paid consultants. I believe the presence of the public at hearings always added an element of scrutiny that might not have occurred had those residents decided to stay home because "you can't change City Hall."
When questioned at Tuesday's City Council hearing, Thousand Oaks city staff said three letters from the California Department of Transportation specifying what the Home Depot environmental impact report should address were not received by anyone at City Hall. Three different letters from a lead agency, spanning the entire last year, gone missing! And it took a member of the public to bring that to their attention? How can that be?
There is no doubt in my mind that Measure B will add a more thorough approach to development in Thousand Oaks. Furthermore, I'm extremely confident that voters residing in our highly educated demographic can handle voting on large, traffic-inducing projects that don't sustain our quality of life.
I have already voted yes on Measure B, and I thank its sponsors for bringing it forward. I encourage you to consider facts, not hype coming from those who either can't bear to lose total control over the development process and/or are in line to gain financially from large-scale growth.
-- Janet Miller Wall, Thousand Oaks
I live in the Dos Vientos area of Newbury Park, having moved from Woodland Hills in the San Fernando Valley, and there is no comparison in the quality of life we have here. As a full-time mom, I drive Lynn Road when I take my children to their activities -- AYSO soccer, Little League, Conejo Youth Basketball League, etc. I also drive Hampshire Road and Westlake Boulevard often, and it's very clear that the high levels of traffic on these roads were never anticipated by Thousand Oaks planners and officials.
We can't stick our heads in the sand and ignore the problems that come with too much traffic. Cars drive way too fast on roads that were never designed to be shortcuts in order to avoid jammed intersections. Our children's safety is threatened. I've seen children, bicyclists and equestrians almost get hit by speeding cars that are avoiding the congested Wendy Drive and Highway 101 interchange.
I've read the campaign literature and the newspapers; I've heard the arguments both for and against Measure B. People I know and respect are in disagreement about it, but to me it comes down to a very simple question: Why shouldn't we be allowed to vote on the largest projects that will jam up traffic? We know the difference between good developments and bad ones. I would rather get to vote on a huge development every couple of years than cope with more traffic everyday.
If you feel the same way, vote yes on Measure B.
-- Dianne Masry, Newbury Park
I am amazed at the opposition to Measure B. According to the opponents, nothing will get built in Thousand Oaks ever again. We will lose millions of dollars that will never appear again. The city taxes will go up and property values will go down. The hospital and emergency room will close, and we will be forever without healthcare in our community.
Nonsense. The only thing Measure B does is to force development to be more sound and prevent Thousand Oaks from looking like Los Angeles. It does not prevent anything from being built -- even Home Depot. It allows the people to have a voice and determine what they want and need in their community.
Before you vote on Measure B, please ask yourself one question: Why did you move to Thousand Oaks? Your answer should be for the quality of life -- clean air, open space, good schools, etc. None of these will up and disappear. Your property values increased because of those things. If we become congested and look like the rest of Los Angeles, we become less desirable and property values will decrease because we are no different.
Please vote yes on Measure B and maintain the small town Thousand Oaks that we all love and cherish.
-- Gary Asarch, Westlake Village
I wrote a letter a few weeks ago reflecting my opposition to Measure B and have been waiting an appropriate period of time before writing another. I planned to express my unhappiness with getting a mailer with an 8-by-10 portrait of Linda Parks supporting Measure B. When Parks ran for City Council, she ran on a ticket named "a clean sweep," and she included a picture of her broom. I liked her broom more than her portrait.
I had planned to refute that traffic in Thousand Oaks is caused by big box stores, as Measure B supporters claim. My disagreement is based on recent trips to Home Depot and Costco, our only big box stores, wherein there were no more than three or four cars ahead of me at the Wendy Drive and Lindero Canyon off ramps. The same claims were made when Circuit City moved in at Lynn Road and Hillcrest and the "not in my backyarders" were picketing at that site.
The only traffic problems we have in Thousand Oaks, other than having a limited number of freeway on- and off ramps, are those caused by folks going through Thousand Oaks from Moorpark, Simi, Agoura and Camarillo. Since Highway 23 has reopened, traffic on Lynn Road, for instance, has dropped dramatically.
I would have ended my letter at this point if I hadn't read one by council member Claudia Bill-de la Peña, who hit a low note that even Parks never quite got to. Bill-de la Peña claims she is the only council member who has never taken a dime from developer interests and that because she is the only one with little children, she would never take a position that would harm their future. I guess that means she thinks that teenage or older children of other council members are less cared for. I did not stop caring for the future of my children when they were no longer little.
-- Don Harris, Thousand Oaks
I escaped the San Fernando Valley's traffic, crime and smog and moved to my home in Westlake Village fairly recently. I moved here for its small-town atmosphere, suburban "back east" feel and natural surroundings. A yes vote on Measure B will protect our community.
It's very telling to me that in my quaint little neighborhood, there is a multitude of "Yes on B" signs. I can't help but notice that all the "stop-sign"-looking signs are on commercial properties. It appears that some large landowners are against the homeowners having the right to vote on commercial developments going into our city. Our community deserves a voice on these major decisions.
We live here because we appreciate a good quality of life. Make your money elsewhere, leave our paradise alone! Vote yes on Measure B to maintain our small-town atmosphere and quality of life.
-- Lesley Adler, Westlake Village
The chickens have come home to roost. Those who run the city of Thousand Oaks have forgotten whom they represent, and voters are going to remind them that it's us, not only business.
A good case in point is the city allowing a business to remove a street and turn it into a parking lot. The street was Silas Avenue, which went out to Borchard Road. But because a new medical building under construction wanted that street for a parking area, the city gave in and took out an existing street. Silas Avenue was an alternate route when Theresa Drive was packed with mothers dropping off or waiting for their children getting out of school, but all the protests, roundtables, letters and phone calls by local area residents did nothing to change the city's mind. Now, that area is a traffic jam every morning and afternoon, and the poor residents who live in the area have nothing but traffic problems because the city would not hear or consider the needs of the residents, but gave in to business.
This is why we need a yes vote on Measure B. Leaders of the city of Thousand Oaks forgot whom they represent, and now the voters are going to remind them.
-- Greg Lee, Newbury Park
My husband and I attended the last City Council meeting before Measure B goes to vote Tuesday. We were disappointed to see so little positive support for the measure. The coalition opposed to Measure B -- primarily funded by Home Depot -- was in full force. The opponents focused on potential tax-revenue loss if all future growth measures were opposed by the community. They also attempted to cast a shadow on the measure based on its creator and main supporter, Do It Center.
Measure B is not about whether Home Depot should go into the Hampshire Road property or whether the Do It Center is attempting to keep out a competitor. Measure B simply puts the choice in the hands of the voters for all large-growth projects in Thousand Oaks.
If the community wants Home Depot, it will have a chance to vote. If the community wants a larger wing at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center, it will have a chance to vote.
We trust our elected officials to make these decisions for us. At the council meeting, we learned of three letters sent from the California Department of Transportation to Richard Burgess in the planning office regarding the Home Depot project. None of these letters was included in the draft environment impact report. In fact, none is in the city's file. The city manager was not able to offer an excuse. He asked for copies of the letters and stated it would be investigated.
Our City Council appears to be very focused on increasing tax revenues -- at any cost. But is it also looking at the bigger picture -- the specific impacts of these large projects on the local residents?
Measure B puts the power and the decision in the hands of the community -- where it belongs.
-- Amy Callister, Westlake Village
Re: Raymond Beaulieu's May 10 letter, "Disregarding loyalties":
Beaulieu is suggesting that we should place personal loyalties above loyalty to the Democratic Party and even loyalty to our country. I suppose he feels that the mass exodus of paid staff and volunteers from Hillary Clinton's campaign to Barack Obama's is pure and simple disloyalty. Would he consider that, possibly, they see the discontent and a lack of leadership within her campaign and have come to think that she lacks the leadership qualities to lead our country? Personally, I strongly feel it takes a lot of guts for these people to speak up.
-- Bob Holtz, Camarillo
Re: your May 20 article, "Oxnard residents oppose conversion":
The idea that seniors living on Social Security can purchase the lots their trailer homes sit on is completely absurd. Most of them are barely able to buy food and pay their rent. Some have to give up some of their medications to have food on the table.
It is in the best interest of the community that we have our senior mobile parks just as they are. Otherwise, we will have more seniors sick and in our hospitals and unable to pay for their medical bills. We will have some of them -- I expect quite a few -- who will be out on the street. We have enough homeless people in the county as it is.
How many of them do you see on the way to your nice paying jobs? How many of them do you see on a street corner, tired, dirty and hungry as you go to your nice restaurant to have your luscious dinner?
I have seen a lot of them who are unable to find a job at minimum wage. I have also seen a few who could not work even if they could find a job to go to. We are in an economic downturn right now and will be seeing more homeless on our streets as time goes by. I only hope I don't see a bunch of elderly people walking with their canes out on the streets looking for a warm place to die!
-- Ed Martin, Ventura
Help the elderly at no cost to you.
You cannot take an elderly person grocery shopping. You cannot clean an elderly person's house. You cannot read to an elderly person losing eyesight. You cannot give the elderly money. You cannot pay an elderly person a visit even though you know some may be housebound and very lonely. You cannot provide the elderly any of these things, and your conscience sometimes bothers you as you may have an elderly mother or relative in another state and you hope someone is watching out for their needs.
Well, guess what? At no cost of money or time, you can do a wonderful service for the elderly in your community.
Vote no on Proposition 98 and yes on Proposition 99.
Mobile home park owners are in the process of getting laws passed that are pricing some of our elderly right out of their homes. Do you want to be a part of making them homeless? Even if you do not understand all that is happening with these two bills, you do understand that you can still make a difference in people's lives, don't you? Not all people who will be adversely affected by these bills will be the elderly, but they are the most vulnerable. They are the ones on fixed incomes.
You are encouraged to read the literature on these propositions, but if you do not have time, it will not take any more of your time to vote in a way that you can help so many in your community. Remember: no on 98 and yes on 99.
-- Marjorie Cook, President, Ventura Country Estates Mobile Home Park, Ventura
OK, I'll scream "Uncle" first to whomever is responsible for this craziness.
My 2004 Ford diesel truck will now sit in my garage because diesel fuel in Fillmore has hit $5.09 a gallon! My wife has been paying more than $4 a gallon for 89 octane in Fillmore for some time now.
I bought this truck just before retirement in the hopes of later buying a fifth-wheel to travel across this country as my co-workers were able to do when they retired. But almost as soon as I retired, the fuel prices began to go out of sight, and the fifth-wheel changed to a Snug Top and now the truck sits gathering dust.
Now obviously I don't need to do the type of discretionary travel that I had planned, but what about those who need that diesel fuel to haul our goods? Of course, their increased costs are passed on to us, and the cycle just continues.
Can anyone hear me out there? "Uncle!"
-- Richard A. Diaz, Fillmore
I have to laugh. The government thinks it is doing you a favor by sending "stimulus checks" of $300 to $1,300 in hopes of jump-starting the economy. It won't happen.
Those who receive these checks will -- should -- use them where they count: rent, food, car payment, gasoline, clothing, etc. In today's economy, $300 or $400 doesn't go very far at all. The amount of $1,300 won't even buy a big-screen TV. Many stores are offering 15 percent incentives for buying at their establishments; don't be fooled - it's a gimmick.
In my case, I'll only get $300, some of which I'll try to save.
-- Gary Traxler, Camarillo
Re: Nicole Johnson's May 13 commentary, "Fluoridated water to cost ratepayers":
I would like to add more information regarding fluoridation and companies that are taking advantage of the public's naivete.
One of the nation's biggest infant bottled-water companies, Nursery Water, is misleading parents with information on its Web site and advertising materials touting the safety and benefits of fluoride in infant bottled water.
On Nov. 9, 2006, the American Dental Association issued an alert advising parents to avoid using water with added fluoride when mixing infant formula. Nursery Water, the nation's leading fluoridated water for babies, still markets its product nationwide at Wal-Mart and other major retailers.
In an extensive review, the Environmental Working Group uncovered how Nursery Water continues to promote use of its distilled water with added fluoride to parents of infants. Copy from the company's Web site and on its packages continues to advise mothers that using added fluoride is appropriate. This information is in direct contradiction to the ADA warning, and it puts babies' health at risk. Companies cannot make claims on their product labels that have not been approved by the government.
In their advertising material, Nursery Water claims that fluoride in water will "strengthen your little one's teeth" and "prevent tooth decay." But in 2006, when approving similar health claims for fluoride in bottled water, the Food and Drug Administration specifically excluded claims for products like Nursery Water, stating "the health claim is not intended for use on bottled water products specifically marketed for use by infants." In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no intentionally added fluoride at all for young infants, stating, "Supplementary fluoride should not be provided during the first six months of life."
For more information, see www.EWG.org.
-- Marcie Pollock, Oak Park
I first met Elton and his wife, Janice, as interested and concerned parents of their four offspring who attended Royal High School, where I was principal for 10 years. I was immediately impressed with their warmth, openness and authentic willingness to support Royal High School's activities and educational endeavors. They were loyal, positive and energetic, and they truly valued the benefits of a good education. Their children are an excellent example of these benefits undergirded by a marvelous home life.
As U.S. representative for the 24th District, Gallegly has maintained and amplified the above qualities and enhanced them with a rare honesty, accessibility to his constituents, energy and intelligence in exercising these powers as our representative. He is a significant member of committees on immigration, intelligence, natural resources, judicial (the first non-lawyer to serve) and foreign affairs.
I don't believe we can truly appreciate Gallegly in this role until he has completed his tenure -- hence this attempt to recognize our very special congressional representative.
-- Phil A. Stephens, Simi Valley
Just when you think things can get no worse, we read of a plan to balance the state's fiscal woes by borrowing money from future lottery sales.
Governments that are in debt are in trouble. Governments that try to fund themselves on the backs of the simple and desperate (gambling) are also in trouble. How can anyone even consider getting out of debt by going into deeper debt, borrowing from future gambling revenues? I know it is cliché, but this is unbelievable.
Anyone who knows anything about finance will tell you that when you pay your bills with credit cards, you are beyond the point of financial bondage. And only the hopelessly naive could possibly believe that gambling in any form is the ticket to financial freedom.
When a family is in debt, since they cannot automatically generate additional income, the way out is simple: Stop spending. This age-old simple math solution to debt problems is understood by everyone but those in financial bondage and the government.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected as part of the rush to rid the statehouse of former Gov. Gray Davis. I was not a supporter of Davis, but honestly, has changing governors changed anything, except for accelerating our rendezvous with financial collapse?
-- Errol Hale, Moorpark
As per our general plan, Thousand Oaks is a planned community. We are on target with our original total buildout and total population projections. For this, we owe appreciation to many great leaders of our community, such as Grant Brimhall, Francis Prince and Jere Robings, who have recently been publicly attacked directly or by innuendo by Jess Ruf, owner of the Do It Center. I have worked with and respect these great visionaries who have selflessly served our community with great integrity, character and dignity.
The old Kmart has been vacant for several years and is in great need of new vitality. It is now a blight on our community. The traffic from this center has already been part of our community planning and is part of our general plan, whether it is Home Depot or whatever. This property has a legal and approved right to be commercially occupied at its present size. The current Home Depot proposal, at a smaller building size than currently exists there, will vastly upgrade this property and actually reduce previously approved traffic levels at this location.
In my opinion, Measure B is absolutely a bad idea largely financed by Ruf, who feels threatened by the Home Depot competition. He has used tactics like Measure B in other municipalities for the same selfish reasons. It is not about his concern for traffic -- Ruf does not even live in this community -- but about potential threatening competition. I believe Ruf, as the major financial backer of this self-serving measure, would be much better off taking all this money and investing it in upgrading and improving his own traffic-generating business at the Do It Center.
Please join me in voting no on Measure B.
-- Larry Carignan, Thousand Oaks
I am an avid opponent of Measure B and a volunteer of the campaign to oppose it. I have placed "No on Measure B" signs on neighborhood properties with full consent from the property owners. These signs have routinely disappeared, and I have routinely replaced them.
Stealing signs from private property is not only trespassing, it is illegal, and it is denying my right to free political expression. All of the opponents' talk of "citizens' right to vote" rings hollow in the face of their political antics.
This is not an isolated incident. The Campaign to Oppose Measure B has placed 400-plus lawn signs on properties of citizens who have requested them, and many of these signs have also routinely disappeared. The campaign has also placed 20 large signs around the community on private property, seven of which have been stolen in the past few days.
Complaining about sign stealing may sound trivial; however, it denies citizens who oppose Measure B the right to their political free speech and constitutes trespassing.
As a neighbor and fellow citizen, I ask that the sign stealing stop and let democracy run its course.
-- Cathy Schutz, Thousand Oaks
If Measure B becomes law, big money will finally have legal control of our development.
Area "big money" will easily buy the votes necessary to get what they want and not get what they don't want. They know they can rely on the fact that too few bother to vote or take notice of who's doing what.
If we want proper growth, we must get involved in the democratic process. Pay attention to who's doing what and decide if they should be voted in or out. Our elected officials are to spend all their time on studying the pros and cons of proposed developments; most citizens will not do that.
We take charge at the polls by voting in those we'll trust to do their job. If officials fail, in our estimation, we vote them out.
Use your ballot! That's your voice! Vote no on Measure B.
-- Elinor Gustafson, Thousand Oaks
Eleven years ago, when my wife and I were looking for a place to call home, we visited most cities in Ventura County. We decided that the city that had the most to offer us and our future children was Thousand Oaks.
At the time, the city had everything we were looking for to raise a family. Thousand Oaks has great schools, great parks, a great hospital and great shopping. We have not been disappointed in our 11 years here and plan to be here for many years to come.
It's no accident that we found Thousand Oaks such a desirable place to live. I believe that good planning and council decisions have been made over the years that have led to such a great community. Our daughters attend an excellent school, have participated in many Conejo Parks and Recreation programs, and enjoy a wonderful community library.
I cannot support an initiative that would jeopardize funding for any of these institutions. I don't want to be burdened with reviewing and having to vote on proposed projects in Thousand Oaks. We have a city staff and council that has been doing that job very well for many years.
There are very few who would argue that Thousand Oaks is a great place to live. The current review process works, and the result is an ideal place to raise a family. My kids will always come first to my wife and me, and for that reason, we encourage all families to vote no on Measure B.
-- Rudolph Gonzales, Thousand Oaks
This election is the most important in history. We are the leaders of the world that we can destroy or lead to rehab, even though we are only 6 percent of the population.
The Democrats stand for prosperity, peace and protection of the environment:
-- President Clinton made a deficit into a surplus in six years.
-- He obtained peace in Ireland and Kosovo and started it in Israel-Palestine.
-- The Democrats, with the help of Al Gore, are prepared to rescue our natural habitat, the earth. Even candidate John McCain is talking about this emergency, so we are getting wiser.
The seriousness of the crisis goes far beyond nations and families. By the end of this century, we will have destroyed one half of the species of life on this earth. Each one is perilously interconnected with many others, such as the butterflies and the bees and the apes and the humans. This is the real emergency, and it would seem require a superhuman being to solve it.
Your job: Vote. Vote for the candidate that is closest to wise. And work for him/her.
-- Diane Volz, Ventura
A few years ago, I saw Bill Clinton jab his finger in Warren Beatty's face, making what looked like an angry point as they stood in the background of some televised sporting event. You couldn't but want to know what he was saying and why he seemed so angry.
Dee Dee Myers, former White House press secretary, got a healthy dose of Clinton's temper in the Oval Office that was later described as a "force of nature."
And when Barack Obama was quoted as saying that Ronald Reagan had effected more positive change in the United States than either Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton -- that had to stick in Bill's craw.
My biggest fear is that if Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States, Bill Clinton's anger will dominate the news cycle just as if he had a built-in improvised explosive device.
We will get word of a Bill Clinton dustup, a sound dressing-down of some subordinate and on and on. I get Clinton fatigue just thinking about it.
-- Robert Bernstein, Ventura
I am disappointed that Barack Obama feels offended by remarks made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. What happened to the battle cry, "Change?" I thought he was going to "change" the way the U.S. government is run, to change the many wrongs of the past 200-plus years. Even the original U.S. Constitution is not perfect. Besides, it was composed by "Brits" who did not include Native Americans and black slaves in the word "people" of the United States. Ask any of the Supreme Court justices and you will have different interpretations. The notion that all "men" are created "equal" is a lie.
I agree with Wright. I went a step further in my speech of 1942, which was written from the slum dwelling of Kakaako, Honolulu, Hawaii, at the age of 16 pushing 17. My "dream" was for a United States of the World. The United Nations, as it exists now, is flawed to the extent that it is generally very ineffective.
"Change" is desired, but Obama can't be expected to do it.
-- Katsuyoshi Nishimura, Ventura
Well, I am still supporting Hillary Clinton, but President Bush, John McCain and Mike Huckabee cleared up one problem I was having: Would I back Barack Obama if he becomes the nominee or not vote at all?
It is very clear to me now! We must all vote for the Democratic candidate, whoever it is. We must vote! We cannot stay home, and I hope and pray that those with the same concerns I have had have come to the same conclusion. We cannot have a third Bush term!
The GOP really outdid themselves. They made fools of themselves and, unfortunately, the whole United States by their lies (golf anyone?) and idiotic and shameful words. I have no doubt that Bush will go down as the worst president in history. Those who support him and this time in history will be looked on as a disgrace. What an embarrassment!
Again, we must vote for the Democratic candidate, whoever it is. We cannot afford to stay home and let this mess continue!
-- Judith E. McLaughlin, Santa Paula
U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly's record over 20 years in Congress has earned him positions on many important committees: Foreign Affairs subcommittees, ranking member on Europe and the Western Hemisphere, Judiciary subcommittees on refugees, border security and international law, Natural Resources, Select Committee on Intelligence, Terrorism, etc. These appointments indicated his level of competence, experience and the respect that his colleagues have for him.
It would take years for a freshman replacement to reach the level of representation and effectiveness that Gallegly gives us. With the war in Iraq, our immigration problems, Iran and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, the need for field workers in our Ventura orchards and agricultural enterprises, etc., it is obvious that we need experienced representation.
To take the risk of a replacement that may be incompetent and would certainly be inexperienced to represent us during these critical times is, to say the least, imprudent.
-- Warren Faue, Ventura
Sadly, once again the courts have overridden the voters' wishes. I am not a right-wing zealot, nor am I anti-gay. But I can't help but wonder how the youth just coming of voting age -- if they even pay attention -- can't help being cynical about our voting process. I have seen the courts turn the voters' wishes down with nary a thought to how it affects the democratic process.
Why vote when you can take a law or proposition that you don't agree with, find a court or judge who agrees with you and have it overturned? This to me is amazing. Majority rules? Not in our current system.
Maybe the youth of today do have it right. Just bury your head in your iPod, play videos all day, watch MTV all night and let the courts decide our future. Scary.
-- James Foster, Camarillo
Constituent service is the base line for U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly's reputation and is the reason, once again, of my support of him in his 2008 re-election.
I thank him and his office staff for their help with my Social Security Disability retirement due to a head trauma injury way back in 1985. Gallegly's communication abilities have earned him the respect he has both in California and Washington, D.C.; he truly has served the best interests -- with his responsible, common-sense attitude -- for the 24th Congressional District, and he most definitely has my vote in November.
It says something when one moves twice to be in a district knowing I have complete representation.
I thank Elton for knowing the reason for wholesome relationships; it is essential for fulfilling real purposes of life. The time he has given speaks volumes of quality for his family, our community, our district and our country.
-- Toni Webster, Camarillo
Re: your May 21 article, "Gas prices alter behavior":
This article about gas-saving Smart cars -- their shortage and their drivers -- shows how we create many of our own problems.
Driver Norma Emery is quoted as blatantly saying she gets 35 to 39 miles per gallon, but it is because she drives too fast. Why, then, did she keep a normal driver from having a Smart car while she "abuses" it by driving too fast? Her kind of mileage, with careful driving, is available with most small cars being sold today.
I live in Carpinteria. Most of my driving is to Santa Barbara or Ventura and Oxnard. I drive a Honda Fit, a manual transmission, five-passenger vehicle, and I drive carefully so I get 37 to 39 mpg. Careful driving means gentle acceleration, maintaining a constant, safe speed and anticipating traffic ahead to avoid sudden stops and then rapid speed need.
This system of careful driving will save fuel for all car owners.
-- Richard A. Poedtke, Carpinteria
Re: Sean Ragan's May 21 letter, "The GBLT agenda":
As a middle-class mother and housewife, I often read letters to The Star with quite strong statements regarding the wrongs in the world. A favorite seems to be gay bashing, with the majority of bashers believing that gays are evil because they have chosen a path that goes against what their religious beliefs are -- like being gay is a choice, like all human beings don't strive for the same sort of things from life: good health, happiness, acceptance, family.
Among other rather confusing statements, Ragan writes, "It's not the marriage per se, it's the justification and the legitimacy of an immoral lifestyle." Also, "The GBLT agenda wants freedom! Freedom from religion, freedom from God, freedom from God's immutable laws." Well, guess what? So do I!
One of the best parts about being an American is that we have separation of church and state. As a citizen, I have the right to religious freedom, which also means the right to not let another citizens' personal beliefs dictate how I live.
We are all human beings working our way through the maze of life. The gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender "agenda" is for personal rights and protections under the law, just like the rest of us enjoy. Holding your head up and staying true to yourself in the face of never-ending scrutiny and scorn, that's what I call dignity.
-- Carrie Jones, Ventura
Re: Bob Klepner's May 21 letter, "A boost for McCain":
Klepner thanks the California Supreme Court for aiding John McCain's campaign by allowing gays to wed. He speaks of the backlash vote this will produce in McCain's favor as voters rush to the polls to amend California's constitution to ban gay marriage.
While I personally doubt McCain can carry this state in November, that is not the issue. An important principle is at stake here. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution contains this: "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Marriage is, among other things, a legal status. The equal protection clause does not contain the words "except gays." If the U.S. Supreme Court believes in strict constructionism, then the people of California, or any other state, can no more pass a law banning gay marriage than they can one reinstituting slavery. My wife and I, consenting adults, were free to marry each other. Based on the 14th Amendment, why would that not apply to adults who are of the same gender?
I realize a significant segment of the American population, symbolized by people such as Klepner, is never going to be able to accept gay marriage. Certainly, crass politicians such as President Bush will pander to the worst by talking about how this will diminish traditional marriage -- I've yet to meet a person who says this court decision has made him/her decide to divorce.
What is right is right. The U.S. Constitution cannot be ignored just because it makes some people feel uncomfortable.
-- Richard Kolber, Camarillo
I have read with wonder the many letters and comments made in response to the recent ruling by the California Supreme Court. I cannot help but wonder what there is about this that affects anybody but the people actually involved and affected by the ruling -- same sex partners.
I am a heterosexual, married to my husband. I did not and do not expect anyone else to have anything to say about our union. What we do is nobody's business but our own as long as we do not infringe on anyone else's rights -- i.e. steal, assault, murder. We don't even disrespect others' beliefs.
This is not even a matter of tolerance, when you stop to think about it. Ask yourselves: How does this affect me, my family, my life, my friends, anyone and anything that I know about? Gay partners have been given the opportunity to marry. Are they coming into your house? No. Are they taking your place in line in the grocery store? No. Are they taking your jobs away? No. What are they doing that will in any way affect your life?
It seems that the only reason people are so upset about this is that they have lost the ability to have control over someone else -- a control they were never entitled to in the first place.
Let it go, people. Get on with your lives and let these people get on with theirs. If you feel God would disapprove, that would be between them and their god, not you. In fact, you should ask your god for forgiveness for trying to play god where you have no business.
Let us never forget what the horrible consequences are when we select a specific group of people to whom we would deny such rights.
-- Jan Schulman, Oxnard
I have yet to meet a politician who doesn't say that he or she supports our veterans. I know firsthand that U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly actually does. He has supported the unprecedented increase in veterans' healthcare. He has increased benefits for military and veterans' families, support for veteran business owners and start-ups, vocational and college education opportunities and much more.
Anyone can talk the talk. For veterans like me, Gallegly has walked the walk.
I thank the congressman for his support.
-- Kenneth C. Seckman, Simi Valley
Everyone in the education community is opposing Measure B. We, the members of the Conejo Chapter of the California School Employees Association, ask you to vote no on Measure B on June 3 because we believe it will damage our education system.
The Conejo Council PTA, the Conejo Unified School District board and the Unified Association of Conejo Teachers have already voted to oppose Measure B. Taken altogether, you have the parents, the teachers, the school employees and the school board all voting to oppose Measure B. If the students could vote, we are certain they would oppose it too.
Why? Because Measure B hurts our education system. The city will lose nearly $6 million in annual property tax revenue, some of which is returned to our school district. About $3 million in developer impact fees will not be paid to our school district.
Our schools are already under assault because of the $15 billion budget deficit in Sacramento. School districts throughout the state are sending out pink slips to teachers and other employees. Some districts are closing schools.
In this beleaguered climate for schools, we cannot afford Measure B, which threatens our schools even further. I urge you to please vote no on Measure B.
-- Stan McClain, president, CSEA Chapter 620, Thousand Oaks
Those of us living in Newbury Park feel like the ugly stepchildren of Thousand Oaks. We were never asked to vote if we wanted Dos Vientos, a large suburban development that put a great deal of strain on the Wendy Drive and Borchard Road intersections with Highway 101. We were never offered the opportunity to vote on a Home Depot, or PetSmart or Loehmans. Nobody asked us if we wanted a Costco. The Highway 101 and Wendy intersection is a huge mess, and often we wait through four or five signal cycles to get through.
Why is it that residents get to vote on a Home Depot in Thousand Oaks but not on the large developments in the Newbury Park area? Seems to me that something is rotten in the state of our city.
-- Cheryl West, Newbury Park
I would like to applaud The Star for endorsing Measure G, the East Area One project proposed by the Limoneira Co. on the June 3 ballot in Santa Paula. Our city has been mired in economic stagnation for far too long. East Area One presents an opportunity to experience a rebirth of our once great city. The benefits are extensive -- affordable workforce housing for our public servants, teachers, fire and police officers; funding for a new fire station and police substation; housing and services for our seniors and the disabled; new jobs and retail outlets.
More than 40 percent of the land will be preserved for agriculture with ample walking trails and extensive recreational opportunities for our children. Limoneira will provide a community center and an outdoor gazebo where we can enjoy concerts on warm summer evenings.
The Limoneira Co. has been a proud steward of our city for more than 100 years. It operates with a culture of caring and respect for our community. East Area One is another example of the company's professionalism and excellence in service. What's not to like about East Area One? Please join me and vote yes on Measure G on June 3.
-- Fred Robinson, Santa Paula
Re: Murray Rosenbluth's May 14 letter, "Pavley supports labor":
Contrary to recently published claims by Rosenbluth, Lloyd Levine has earned the endorsement of labor organizations throughout California in his State Senate race because he has been a consistent champion for working people. Lloyd earned our support because he shares the values of the women and men in the labor movement.
In the Assembly, he has demonstrated his commitment with a distinguished record. As important as his progressive legislation are his countless acts of solidarity, including meeting with farm workers in the fields, fighting on behalf of nurses in Southern California and leading the charge against a ballot initiative that was aimed directly at school teachers.
Lloyd has been supporting labor for years, and now the California Labor Federation, teachers, nurses, law enforcement officers and I are enthusiastically supporting him.
-- Andres Herrera, City Council member, Oxnard
Many Oxnard residents recently received the colorful brochure concerning life in Oxnard and the real message from the city's leaders: Raise the sales tax.
Having lived here for more than 20 years, I have seen the city raped and pillaged by developers, and now we residents are going to be nickled-and-dimed for what the city has allowed the developers to get away with. We residents will have to pay for infrastructure that the developers have not paid for. This includes new streets and any other impacts the city's rampant development has caused. I personally pay four different school bond taxes that amount to more than $1,200 per year added to my property taxes.
We have seen the redevelopment of areas in the city and the auto mall that brings in plenty of tax revenue, yet we are going to be taxed again.
I would certainly approve of a tax to bring more firefighters and police to our city. We could even join the 21st century like our fire departments south of the Conejo Grade and have our own professional firefighter paramedics.
But no, we the residents are being asked to pay the cost that our City Council refuses to recoup from the developers who seem to be in the back pockets of the council.
-- Bob Launius, Oxnard
Re: Martin Schram's May 17 essay, "Debating a debate idea":
It appears Schram built the premise of his whole essay around a false premise. He claims that it was John McCain who suggested an unprecedented presidential Lincoln-Douglas style debate with Barack Obama. The fact of the matter is it was Hillary Clinton who proposed the idea on April 26 at South Bend, Ind.
-- Andy Bisaccia, Ojai
I think Oxnard has some of the finest parks around.
I use the tennis courts at Via Marina just about daily. However, due to some people who think they can do no wrong, the courts are being used for all kinds of activities at night. When I arrive in the morning, I can find dog feces, broken beer bottles, piles of dirt, etc. The list is endless.
I know the Recreation and Community Services Department is on a limited budget, so I would recommend this: Lock the gates to all the tennis courts after a set time at night. Deputize all the park workers so they can cite 90 percent of the dog owners who allow their dogs to run loose.
The only way we can keep our parks looking good for the whole community is to take responsibility into our hands and work with Rec Services to come up with a positive way of enforcing the codes that are in place.
-- Elizabeth Shipley, Port Hueneme
Re: your May 17 article, "Unopposed candidate pushes himself harder":
I have never delivered or sent to The Star a "handwritten note." My followers here in Oak View and Lake Casitas have never been allowed to put "campaign material in the mail."
My opponent for supervisor of the 1st District has not been seen around here for years. He's done nothing for the "poor" and "disadvantaged ones." This is a preposterous assertion by The Star.
Our campaign is authentic and local. We grew up here. Remember La Conchita. Stop offshore liquefied natural gas. Ride the waves. Keep Lake Casitas open for fishing and boating.
I challenge The Star to produce any letter in its possession dated and signed by me or my family. I do everything through the Internet and e-mail.
-- Jeff Ketelsen, Ojai
Re: Jerry Clark's May 14 letter, "Bad driving gets worse":
I know exactly how this person feels when he is walking or running, but drivers are in a hurry and must drive more cautiously when leaving a private driveway or after stopping at an intersection, especially when turning right.
On October 19 of last year, I was walking across the street at Cypress Place behind Vons in Ventura at an unmarked crosswalk and at a stop sign. There was a stopped car that was waiting for traffic coming from his left to clear so that he could make a right-hand turn. As this driver was possibly in a great deal of hurry -- or on a cell phone -- he turned without looking to his right and hit me, knocking me into the first lane of traffic on Telephone Road. I received two twisted, sprained ankles, bruising to my left arm, chest pain, bruising to my forehead and a very dark and magnificent black eye.
It has taken more than six months for my ankles to heal, and they still hurt occasionally. The psychological effect has stayed with me more than the physical injuries. It took some time before I would cross a city street. I still jump when a car is too close to me.
I, too, believe that drivers should be more alert, but people who walk into the path of cars or where cars are moving should do so with caution to be sure they do not become a victim of a car-pedestrian accident. Get eye contact before you walk or run in front of any moving car -- at a private driveway, in shopping centers or in any parking lot.
-- Karol Ransom, Ventura
In 2004, the same year President Bush was re-elected, our very own Energy Department released an in-depth report regarding the opening up of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil production. This was not a bunch of "tree-huggers," not a bunch of liberals, not a bunch of "naysayers," but rather the U.S. Energy Department.
They concluded that, at best, it would take nine years just to get the first drop of oil flowing and another 12 years after that before it reached its peak production. Even then, at its peak, it wouldn't lower oil prices by more than 50 cents a barrel and would have absolutely zero effect on the price we pay for gasoline. It also would lessen the amount of oil we have to import by only 4 percent, at best.
How do I feel about it? To be perfectly honest, I'm not going to lose any sleep over the idea of them drilling in Alaska. There is more than enough room up there to allow for it, and any wildlife it would endanger is already too unstable to concern me.
That being said, I do think it would be a tremendous waste of time and money for something that would have no effect on how much you and I pay for gas, or how much this country relies on foreign oil. I would truly hope that instead we could develop technology to reduce our dependence on foreign oil by more than 4 percent in the next 21 years, especially if we focus our attention on the right places, rather than a wildlife refuge in Alaska.
The truth is that drilling in ANWR is nothing more than another way to put some more money into the oil companies' pockets. Exxon Mobil made a pure profit of more than $1,200 a second, every second, during the calendar year 2007. That should suffice.
-- Chris Bower, Ventura
Re: your May 10 article, "Repair of Oxnard streets begins":
The $24 million debt issue by the city of Oxnard for street repairs and committing the gas-tax revenues as the repayment stream should be a very real concern for the citizens of Oxnard. That debt does not come cheap and has a normal payback of more than 30 years. Given that at least half of the $4 million is now obligated to the repayment of the new $24 million debt issue, where does the money for future street maintenance over the next 30 years come from?
Gas-tax money must be segregated out of the general fund and not commingled with general fund operations. Gas-tax funds are very restrictive as to how the money is spent, and a state gas-tax auditor comes in yearly to do an audit that would be over and above the city's annual required financial audit.
According to The Star article, $4 million per year of gas-tax funds can go toward street maintenance or major street repair. The state of California has held back on providing some of the transportation money to local governments. That being said, the really big question is: All of the years when street maintenance was lacking or nonexistent, exactly what projects took place with the $4 million allocation or limitation in previous years?
It would seem Oxnard gave absolutely no priority to street maintenance within the city. Therefore, gas-tax money surely must have been spent on other types of major street projects or repair, so now the streets throughout most of the city are in really sad shape.
We need more accountability in local government and ongoing communication with citizens about long-term community planning and financial/funding strategies about how we get there.
-- Charles P. Peters, Oxnard
Re: Krystina Tapia's May 16 letter, "Gallegly's priorities wrong":
Tapia is misinformed.
U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly's "only defining measures" include the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which is important policy because animal fighting is not only brutal and inhumane, it usually goes hand-in-hand with illegal gambling, drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal immigration and acts of human violence. It's law.
Gallegly's "only defining measures" include the Basic Pilot Program, now known as E-Verify, which allows employers to verify an employee's eligibility to work in the United States with a single phone call or click of the mouse. It's law.
Gallegly's "only defining measures" include federal grants to local prosecutors to help them prosecute cases stemming from "cold hit" DNA cases -- cases where a prisoner's DNA matches evidence in a previously unsolved crime. It's law.
Gallegly's "only defining measures" include nearly a dozen critical national security provisions included in the 9/11 Recommendations Implementation Act. It's law.
Gallegly's "only defining measures" include raising the contribution levels on Individual Retirement Accounts from $2,000 a year to $5,000 a year. It's now law.
There are many other Gallegly defining measures, all of which the majority of us want Gallegly concerning himself with. That's why we continue to vote for him.
-- Angelique Payton, Moorpark
Ever-increasing demand for gasoline exists because of the century-old "Model-T" economic policies that created and maintain a vast market for automakers and fuel. Federal and state governments collected revenues and systematically eliminated trolleys, bus service, passenger trains and any form of local and cross-country mass transportation that might hinder economic dependence on automobiles and the fuel that drives them. Public transportation is so limited or poorly planned that autos are a 24/7 necessity.
Stuck with aging U.S. refineries, the oil industry abandoned exploration and turned to importing and refining expensive foreign crude, reflected in escalating pump prices. Worse, the government diverted our tax dollars and critical food crops to "alternative ethanol fuel" programs that make a few people very rich -- although ethanol cannot be used in millions of existing autos. Rising gas prices exceed $4 a gallon, food prices have followed and price gougers have the advantage. Congress ignores the need for temporary price controls.
Still driving Model-Ts, Rep. Elton Gallegly wants to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Sen. Barbara Boxer wants to reimpose the windfall profits tax on oil companies. Why isn't our tax money used to put Americans to work constructing a national transportation system that operates on alternative fuels? Why is 42 cents of every tax dollar spent on the military and its contracting business? Our tax dollars are being used to morph U.S. military services into a police force for oil-rich countries.
The answer to economic recovery and freedom from oil dependency is a public transportation infrastructure that takes cars off the road. Not one current candidate for president has discussed how he or she would move the U.S. away from auto-oil dependency or articulated a vision for any such idea.
Are they ignoring it, or do they know something we don't?
-- Sarrah Terry, Moorpark
I am a Republican, and I will be voting for John McCain, but please let us stop the criticism of those who dare to criticize the United States of America. We have many faults and are far from perfect in our prejudices. We are overrun with drugs, crimes of every description, Sodom and Gomorrah, social prejudice, falsehood, dishonesty and deceit.
My ancestors have been here since 1620 and have fought in every American war. Just because someone wears a uniform in our military forces does not necessarily make him a faultless warrior and a hero.
I was a commanding officer in the first class of the Women's Marine Corps in 1943, and I saw many backstage maneuvers and cover-ups -- and many acts of heroism.
Some members of the media are gullible, arrogant and deceptive with the truth and will do anything for a headline and destroy anyone in their path of prejudice. Don't use the America flag as a faultless cover for sins and imperfections.
I salute the American flag with the hope and knowledge that we will not use it as a cover-up for sins and blatant faults and pretend that imperfections do not exist. If someone reports a wrongdoing, let's not deny it with vehemence and false patriotism but do everything we can to make it right.
-- Barbara Hudson Powers, Thousand Oaks
Re: Peter Foy's May 18 commentary, "State spending is out of control":
In Foy's first example, he persecutes Christian Kitchin, a health department nurse who made $350,000 in the 2007 calendar year. What Foy failed to mention, as stated in the March 30 San Francisco Chronicle, is that Kitchin regularly worked 16-hour days caring for county jail inmates and made $216,000 in overtime to make himself San Francisco's highest-paid city employee.
Although Foy was quick to point out what he deems as obvious expenditures, there was little discussion of solid solutions. Rather, it was the same political rhetoric we have heard for the past eight years.
I was not surprised that Foy did not mention the main economic exhaust on our country, the haunting and giant umbrella looming over America: the Iraq war. It's unbelievable that a political leader would choose to discuss overspending of our tax dollars and fail to mention funding the war.
The National Priorities Project gives an analysis of federal data on how our tax dollars are spent. It shows the cost of war and the loss of funding for our state. See www.costofwar.com.
Taxpayers in the state of California will pay $17.4 billion for the cost of the Iraq war in the 2007 fiscal year. The same amount could fund one of the following: 250,353 elementary school teachers, 311,404 public safety officers, 7,174,307 people with healthcare, 6,515,788 children with healthcare, 52,176 affordable housing units and 2,619,603 scholarships for university students.
Our government is currently spending $3,919 per second on failed strategies in Iraq. The war is financially slaughtering the American people.
Foy should be a leader and send the simplest message to Washington that would help solve California's budget crisis: Stop the war.
-- Janet Murphy, Moorpark
I had a chance to attend the May 6 Candidates Forum at California Lutheran University. I thank The Star, the California Association of Political Centrists and CLU for hosting such a necessary event.
I think it's very important in today's times to make a careful and informed vote, and the only way to do that is to meet the candidates and listen to their positions on the issues that concern our community.
As a Republican, I was looking forward to hearing from the congressional candidates, Elton Gallegly and Michael Tenenbaum, in particular. Tenenbaum was there, and I found him to be a very intelligent, focused and courageous candidate. It takes a lot of self-confidence to challenge an entrenched incumbent such as Gallegly, and he's sure got the brains to back himself up! He had a lot of great ideas on how to stop the hemorrhaging of government spending by putting an end to pork and earmarks. He was also very articulate on issues of immigration.
What did Gallegly have to say? Well, he couldn't attend, which seems to be in line with his track record. I haven't ever seen Gallegly speak about his ideas publicly at a debate or forum.
But what I found strange was that he was allowed to send a friend, District Attorney Greg Totten, to speak on his behalf. Totten went on for much longer than any of the candidates with a glowing review of Gallegly, stating that Gallegly is "not a show horse." How ridiculous! Isn't it always easier to have someone brag about you on your behalf than to come and stand up for your own ideas and record? It seems like a "show horse" in sheep's clothing to me.
-- Derek S. Ross, Oak Park
Many readers have followed Meadows' ongoing effort to create a charter school, which we have named Meadows Arts and Technology Elementary School, or M.A.T.E.S. It would utilize the existing Meadows school facility and would begin in the 2009-2010 school year.
Some disinformation regarding charter schools seems to be taking root, and it's time that some solid, verifiable information be shared within our neighborhood and community at large.
First, based on a survey taken of Meadows parents before the school was selected for closure, 98 percent of parents intend on taking their child(ren) out of the Conejo Valley Unified School District entirely. I am among that large group.
Should the M.A.T.E.S. charter be approved, that number is reduced to less than 5 percent. Clearly, this will negate any potential fiscal impact to the school district, since a 2006 study conducted by the New York Charter Schools Association demonstrated that district per-pupil spending increased by more than 30 percent since charter schools came into existence.
Second, it is a proven fact that charter schools on average outperform district schools and rank among the top-performing schools. Their results rival the best performing schools that surround them. In Boston, for example, in a recent study, 100 percent of charter graduates intend on going on to college. Clearly, charters are graduating kids with high academic achievements, and the more educated our children are, the more they contribute to society as a whole.
Lastly, we have already raised more than $22,000 from our parents and community members to fund the charter proposal. This alone shows the deep desire of the Meadows family to make this charter school a reality.
If the school board members really do care about the children as they continue to insist they do, I strongly urge them to approve our charter and allow us to keep our children in the CVUSD.
-- Eileen Thorgusen, Thousand Oaks
Re: your May 20 Your News article, "Grounds supervisor offers rattlesnake advice":
This article should educate the public both to the fact that snakes are out and that they can be dangerous to people, as well as to pets off leash. The article should also educate the public to the fact that there is a way to remove the snake and relocate it without killing it.
My understanding is that each time the Ventura County Fire Department is dispatched to remove a rattlesnake from a residence, the snake is killed. If this is true, the department, too, is in need of being educated as much as the public. Obviously, as the article states, there are other means of removing a rattlesnake and relocating it so it is not a threat to people in the area.
No, I am not a snake lover, nor do I belong to PETA, but I see no reason to destroy each rattlesnake we happen upon. Why is it that emergency workers in other states, such as Florida, can deal with alligators, a much bigger threat, and not kill each one they receive an emergency call about?
-- Rick Freeman, Simi Valley
Re: your May 20 article, "Not totally green":
This article failed to report a very important problem with compact fluorescent lightbulbs -- namely, they can be dangerous to your heath! For a summary of just a few of the articles on this subject, go to:
I had never suffered migraines until we switched to CFLs in our home. I tried to figure out why I suddenly was having these horrible debilitating migraine headaches. Apparently, there have been studies in the United Kingdom and Australia that link migraines and epileptic seizures to CFLs. Now that businesses are switching over, it becomes an even greater issue.
I hope The Star will do a follow-up article on the downside of CFLs, including the fact they may be causing more problems -- mercury in landfills and genuine health triggers -- than they are solving.
-- Jan Seidel, Westlake Village
Re: your May 13 article, "Council approves harsher restrictions on fliers":
While I agree with what Simi is doing, I disagree with how it is being done. We should not only be banning the fliers on cars, we should be banning all types of stuff that people put on the stop signs and streetlights. Some of the wooden telephone poles are so riddled with staples and nails from miscellaneous lost pet and yard sale signs that you can't even see the wood.
We should even go as far as to ban political signs on the sides of streets. They are an eyesore. They become even more of an eyesore when they are still there two weeks after the election.
We should ban all types of public media that will not be cleaned up in a prompt manner. If someone wants to fill the streets with fliers, they had better clean it up. I am not going to clean up after their mess!
-- Finn McClure, Simi Valley
Re: Nelson Ward 's May 19 letter, "War isn't Bush's fault":
In his letter, Ward says, "I am so sick of the pathetic lies propagated by anti-war leftists in America. People who spew 'Bush lied, people died' rhetoric refuse to use fact in their claims and don't seem at all interested in the truth."
He recounts a factual account of legislation, resolutions and military action from the Persian Gulf War through October 2002, which he accepts as justification for invading Iraq.
Considering Ward's concern for truth and fact, one must wonder why he chose to totally ignore those infamous weapons of mass destruction that have yet to be found. They were President Bush's stated reason for attacking Iraq. He went before Congress and lied to them and the American people, saying that Iraq had the weapons and that they constituted an immediate threat to the security of the United States. He used false and cherry-picked intelligence to justify his aggression.
Quite simply, Bush lied; people died.
-- John Mondy, Camarillo
Re: Nelson Ward 's May 19 letter, "War isn't Bush's fault":
Ward starts with a few grains of truth and then twists and embellishes them to reach an illogical and irrational conclusion.
It is true we went to war to "liberate" Kuwait, though it's hard to consider reinstating a government where half the citizens have no rights as a liberation. Iraq considered Kuwait theirs and that it was taken from them by European powers. It's sort of like if Alaska were taken from the United States -- wouldn't we think it ours and do what we could to get it back?
It is true Congress passed the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998. What Ward doesn't say is that it specifically prohibited the use of force in effecting regime change in Iraq.
It is true Congress passed Joint Resolution 114 in 2002 that did authorize, as a last resort, use of force to get Iraq to give up weapons of mass destruction. But Congress did so believing false information. President Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were cherry-picking intelligence, rejecting what was not to their liking and overemphasizing that which was.
Does Ward not remember the Nigerian yellow-cake episode? Despite warnings from reliable quarters, Bush used it in his State of the Union address.
Does Ward not remember that United Nations inspectors were in Iraq vainly seeking nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, or that Bush ordered them out so he could launch his war? Does he not understand that no nation has the right, under any circumstances, to invade another sovereign nation?
I guess it comes down to how one defines the word "lie." To me, and to any rational, clear-thinking person, what Bush did was lie. And now 4,000 Americans and 100,000 Iraqis have paid for it.
-- Patrick S. O'Malley, Oxnard
Re: your May 16 article, "Gay marriage ban lifted":
The Rev. Steve Larson of the Evangelical Free Church of Conejo Valley is quoted as stating, "They just want the word.... The reason they want the word is they don't like the fact that other people think that what they do is wrong."
Well, Larson is right in the first instance. We do want "the word." But he is incorrect about why. We want "the word" because the word, "marriage," is codified in the law. Without the word "marriage," we are not guaranteed equal rights under the law because the law doesn't guarantee the same rights for those united in, say, "civil unions," as it does for those united in marriage.
We have now, finally, been granted the right to marry. Marriage is a civil right. It has nothing to do with Larson or his church or his beliefs. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the separation of church and state. That means the religious convictions of one group may not infringe upon the civil rights of another group.
I honor Larson's right to believe what he will and practice his faith in his house of worship and home. But his religious beliefs may not deny me my civil rights. The United States Constitution says so.
-- Antoinette Pineau, Ojai
The idea of planning for the future takes on a whole new meaning after reading "Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization." This first book in the Ojai Valley Green Coalition's "Ojai Reads" program is by Lester R. Brown, whom Time magazine calls "one of the U.S.'s most respected environmentalists." Founder and president of the esteemed Worldwatch Institute, Brown helped pioneer the concept of "sustainable development."
That's a concept that takes on a whole new urgency once you've read this book.
The first section "A Civilization in Trouble," is tough reading, with a lot of troubling data about global trends and possible outcomes. Brown goes beyond the latest headlines on the rapid shrinking of the polar ice caps to give compelling information and analysis on the rising number of failing states, world population trends, species loss, poverty, disease, illiteracy, the loss of forests, global water shortages, deteriorating oil and food security, the idea of "tipping points" and more.
The second half outlines solutions that, although not easy, are feasible. Brown makes a convincing case for a transition to a cleaner, more efficient economy that reflects the true costs of doing "business as usual" and restructures taxes and spending to solve multiple problems at once. The cost? Brown estimates $190 billion a year. Staggering? That is one-sixth of the global military budget.
The good news is that just as last century's mobilization resulted in an unprecedented high standard of living for our country and many others, so a 21st century version could result in health and abundance for the billions.
"Plan B 3.0" is available at the library, Local Hero bookstore, and is free online at http://www.earthpolicy.org. It will be the subject of a panel discussion at the Ojai Library on June 10 at 7 p.m.
-- Caryn Bosson, Ojai
Re: your May 16 Arts & Living photograph, "Enough for now":
I was appalled by the photo The Star ran of strawberries in Georgia. In a time when prices are rising and there is a push to buy locally grown produce, The Star should be supporting and promoting local farms as well. Strawberries are one of the leading crops in California, and it is a shame you did not feature a local farm or at least one in the state, especially just before the Strawberry Festival, which is not only a celebration of the fruit, but its contribution to this state's economy.
People not only want local news, but a paper's support of the community. Shame on The Star!
-- Hannah Baker, Ventura
Re: your May 19 article, " Festivalgoers toss strawberry tarts at one another:"
Shame on the Oxnard Strawberry Festival.
I was appalled to learn that the festival actually promotes two activities that require the destruction of delicious and nutritious food -- namely, the tart toss and the strawberry stomp. Is this the lesson we want to teach our children -- that healthful fruit or other food, a luxury to some, can be destroyed on a whim just for fun and a few laughs? There are many folks in our area who cannot afford to buy a single box of strawberries, even for a special occasion.
Since the purpose of the Strawberry Festival is to support many organizations in the area, those strawberries designated for destruction could have been donated to a charity with hungry clients who needed some fresh fruit. If these two activities are so important to continue at the Strawberry Festival, perhaps they could be conducted with the use of strawberry Jello.
Also, the use of paper containers would have been much more eco-friendly than the Styrofoam containers used by the Strawberry Festival for more than 65,000 people.
Perhaps we will see some changes for the 2009 Strawberry Festival.
-- David Forbes, Oxnard
In the nine years I have been a member of the Rio School District board of trustees, two of which as president, I have witnessed how a divisive board can negatively affect our district's children, employees, administrators and community.
Within the last year and a half, though, our board has changed -- a change the voters asked for. This change has allowed us the opportunity to bring stability to our district, something I had not seen in past years. We now have a strong vision, core values and a unity of purpose. You have united us and made us more effective in providing the best education possible for our children. It's a blessing for our district that we now have a united board.
Our board is working hard to bring about positive change in the district under Superintendent Sherianne Cotterell's leadership. Cotterell's ideas and changes are strong, good and rooted in the best interests of our children. More importantly, they are supported by a focused and united board. As a district, we are transitioning from the old ways to a new direction that will place our children on the path of lifelong success.
During these times of fiscal crisis we must be sure that services to our children come first. We must work together to find additional dollars so that we can compete with other school districts when it comes to recruiting and keeping the best teachers, classified service personnel and administrators.
If we are of one mind and one accord, we can stand strong and overcome the difficult issues facing our district, including the impact of proposed state budget cuts. Let's unite and work as one for our children during this critical time. Let's do it -- not for our sake -- but for the sake of our children.
-- Ron Mosqued, Oxnard
Re: Bill Buchanan's May 16 letter, "Free speech works both ways":
Here is advice for Buchanan and other novice letter-writers: Reread letters you dislike. They could be right. More than 75 percent of Americans think we are on the wrong track.
Not all your letters will get published. Get used to it.
Don't make personal attacks, then whine when repaid in your own coin.
Understand that letter-writing is different that AM talk radio. Spare us all the conspiracy theories.
Don't try to fan trivia, such as imagined "agendas," into serious issues.
Get a balanced outlook. Watch BBC news. Read Britain's Financial Times and The Economist. You cannot dismiss them. They're conservative, and they discuss serious issues.
I now consider this correspondence closed.
-- Raymond Freeman, Thousand Oaks
The Ventura City Council, in its infinite wisdom, has the city charging a fee to use the 911 service. This service, which has been providing emergency services for years, is a lifeline for people in need. We are told this expense is necessary to save money so they can hire more police services. We can either pay a fee per call or a tax (fee) on our phone lines.
The lucky ones choose to "opt out" of the fee/tax and pay a per call fee instead. It's too late now to opt out now.
One has to wonder how much the city will save when someone "opts out" of calling 911 because it will cost them money. How much will the city save when someone dies because someone else wasn't willing to spend the per call fee of 17.88?
If you see an accident, will you call? Are you willing to spend $17.88 to help someone you don't know? Will you look around and say, "I'll skip this one?" One reason to "opt out" of the phone tax (fee) is the expense. It will certainly cause some to think twice or not call at all.
I think the council has this one backwards. Maybe a fee should have been charged for those making repeated, bogus or meaningless calls to 911. That is the real issue to the costs of the 911 services and would be a much better way to offset the expense.
-- Robert Fields, Ventura
Re: Lori Anaya's April 27 letter, "The teacher as waitress" and Stephanie Furino's May 13 letter, "Feeding kids is important":
As I read Anaya's letter, I questioned the accuracy of her assertion that teachers were actually required to take instructional time to feed and then clean up after students. I did some checking and found that it is absolutely true in the district where Lori teaches.
I am saddened and I am outraged that trained educators are forced to spend classroom time on these activities. I know Lori to be a dedicated, well-trained, caring teacher who gives over and above her job requirements to make sure her students achieve.
Furino is offended by Anaya's comments. I am offended that Furino chooses to turn a blind eye to the fact that it is parents' responsibility to feed, clothe and shelter their own children. It is a teacher's responsibility to teach!
What are management and the elected officials thinking when they take away instructional time in this manner?
-- Cynthia S. Carpenter, Port Hueneme
Re: your May 18 article, "Vets in school":
This Star article stated that the GI Bill was coming up for a vote in Congress. It has already been voted on and passed by the House, and our congressman, Elton Gallegly, voted against the new GI Bill.
Gallegly frequently says he supports the troops, but when he can vote to actually give our soldiers support, he votes no. The new GI Bill will do for our Iraq and Afghanistan veterans what the GI Bill did for the veterans of World War II, provide them with the opportunity to get a college education. A grateful nation owes them that. Gallegly owes them that!
-- Linda Goetzinger, Camarillo
(The writer is the mother of a soldier who served two tours in Iraq. -- Editor)
Re: Nelson Ward's May 19 letter, "War isn't Bush's fault":
Ward needs to read Public Law 105-338, signed by President Clinton. It did not authorize military force. It was authorization to support a transition to democracy via humanitarian assistance, broadcasting assistance and financial assistance to opposition groups.
Operation Desert Fox was a four-day bombing campaign against military installations.
As to the resolution to use military force (Public Law 107-243), the justification provided by the Bush administration was weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaida in Iraq, both of which were false. If Ward had watched the "60 Minutes" report that included an interview with George Tenet, Bush's former CIA director, he would know the facts and how Bush intentionally ignored CIA and British Intelligence warnings that the information regarding weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaida was not credible.
Ward needs to broaden his information sources.
-- George Pohoski, Camarillo
Re: your May 17 Pa Ventura item, "To Oxnard":
Pa questioned a proposed ban on alcohol in city parks. The people using the parks don't live at the parks, so Pa is advocating drinking and driving, not to mention other problems, such as mood swings, getting obnoxious, starting fights, etc.
-- Pat Sanchez, Oxnard
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, abandons friendship and loyalty to the Clintons and goes to Barack Obama's aid by switching loyalties. Then former rival John Edwards goes to Obama's aid, perhaps thinking that since he can't win by himself, he can ride a shirttail and get something out of it.
It seems that the Democrats can't be loyal to themselves, so just how can we expect them to be loyal to the American people?
I myself think I will go with Sen. Hillary Clinton because I think she definitely does have a lot more experience than Sen. Obama. However, if she gets abandoned by everyone else, I guess my vote will have to go to Sen. John McCain. At least we know he has experience, even if it does tag along behind President Bush.
By the way, my vote isn't loyal this time.
Goodbye, Capps, and hopefully it's the last hurrah for Edwards too, smile and all. It might be nice to have two senators team up and try to unite the Democratic Party. A Clinton-Obama ticket, or even an Obama-Clinton ticket, may be best for the whole country. I guess only time will tell.
-- Raymond Beaulieu, Oxnard
How does one stop a slow-moving train that leaves behind a trail of unfulfilled dreams? What was the fuel for this train? Simple greed.
It has come to my attention since noticing a few foreclosures in my neighborhood that there was a deeper problem than just buyers unable to keep up their mortgage payments. It was a collaboration of many, all of whom turned a blind eye or a wink at each other to fulfill this scheme.
The scenario that generally played out was both the buyer and seller would inflate the price based on agreement. This would give the purchaser less money to come up with at the time of purchase. The lender would lend against this price, and the appraiser would go along with the inflated price. The deal would happen -- the seller sells the property, the buyer gets a piece of property with basically no money down, the real estate agents get paid and the appraiser gets paid. What would happen instantly at the time of purchase would be a decrease in market price because it was not a true market price.
This should be viewed as what it is: fraud.
I would like to know what elected officials are shining a light on the participants in these schemes. Do we want to see a bailout with our tax dollars?
-- William F. Klepper, Simi Valley
The general population in the United States is aware of the damage done to our country by the Bush administration, hence the 25 percent approval rating and hence the larger-than-ever voter turnout numbers for the Democratic primaries.
The Republican Party has given President Bush and Vice President Cheney everything they have ever asked for -- and without exception! Tax cuts to oil companies making record profits, approval to invade Iraq, spying on American citizens, declaring anyone a terrorist, defiling the Constitution: the administration is failure.
The Republican Party has held the majority and has been in charge and is therefore responsible for the current state of affairs here in the United States. The Bush/Cheney failures have put this country in debt up to our eyeballs, fostered more hatred against Americans worldwide and stood alone against the world of science and the proof of global warming.
The Bush neoconservative ideology is a dismal failure. Who would disagree? OK, OK, Blackwater and Halliburton and Exxon-Mobil -- but who else?
U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, our congressman, the lap dog of the Bush White House, is running for re-election. Gallegly, who has voted in lockstep fashion for Bush policies for seven long years, is a Bushie to the core. What could Gallegly offer to Ventura County except more of the same Republican talking points?
Gallegly, just like Tom Delay, Karl Rove and the rest of the White House ilk, are soon to become irrelevant as the balance of power swings over to the Democrats. What value would he be to his constituents while he sits as the minority in Congress?
Gallegly represents war. He represents corporate outsourcing of American jobs to cheap foreign labor markets. He represents huge tax cuts to the wealthy and no healthcare coverage for millions of American citizens.
Gallegly represents all these things because that's the way he has voted on the floor of Congress.
The 24th Congressional District, just like the United States of America, desperately needs positive change. Re-electing the same tired old congressman who has failed us miserably, and then expecting different results from him, would only prove the full extent of our insanity.
-- Stan Hubbell, Ojai
As one of the proponents of Measure B, the Right to Vote on Traffic Congestion, I would like to make the following observations:
The passage of Measure B will not be the end of our democratic process or our prosperity. If the absurd "worst-case scenario" comes true -- where every project will be subject to a vote, be vetoed by the people and nothing ever built in its place -- then another initiative can reverse it.
However, the defeat of Measure B will be the loss of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It is easy to be satisfied with the way things were done in the past, but Measure B is about the future. If we are to avoid the problems that other cities have now, we must be able to better judge large developments that could cause our roads to fail before they are approved.
Pressure to overdevelop is very strong. Cities are threatened with being sued by developers. Home Depot is suing the city of Los Angeles for $10 million for making them do a proper analysis of their store.
It is well-known that Measure B was written in response to the proposal to allow a second Home Depot in our city. Residents in our neighborhood were exhausted with the city's three different environmental documents that ignored the traffic impacts to Highway 101 and other major streets. We felt we were fighting people who should be protecting us.
Yet Measure B will not stop Home Depot. It will only allow a vote on it and other large projects that can cause enough traffic to choke our streets.
We have faith that the people of Thousand Oaks will vote in their own best interests. The people will never be given another opportunity like this, and it is my sincerest hope that they will not willingly surrender their right to vote. Please vote yes on Measure B.
-- Mojtaba Sedighi, Thousand Oaks
On June 3, for the first time in years, the Democrats have a primary contest in the 37th Assembly District to choose who they want to run against Audra Strickland in November.
I recently had a chance to meet one of the candidates, David Hare, and found him to be very intelligent, knowledgeable on the issues, well-spoken and someone who would bring new ideas and change to Sacramento.
He's a Ventura County native and business owner with deep ties to the community. I'm convinced he has the resources, contacts and ability to wage a tough campaign against Strickland.
David's opponent in the Democratic primary, Ferial Masry, has run against Audra twice already. She lost by 14 percent the first time and 15 percent the second time. It's also a telling fact that Masry lost the endorsement of the California Democratic Party this year for this seat.
I have met Ferial a few times and she is a nice lady, but a vote for her perennial candidacy brings to mind a quote by Benjamin Franklin: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
It's time for change. Vote for David Hare on June 3.
-- Patrick Ebberts, Thousand Oaks
There are times when a special interest coincides with the public interest. Thousand Oaks' Measure B is not such an occasion.
Measure B fails on its merits. It adds an approval level for large developments beyond the Planning Commission and the City Council without providing standards or criteria for approval -- essentially, "If there is a lot of traffic, let the people vote it up or down."
This takes the process from the rule of law and predictable process to the vote of an entire electorate that is at best inexpert, ill-informed and indifferent and, at worst, misguided, vindictive and punitive. It could change an orderly planning process into a series of popularity contests: Nordstrom: "Yes, yes!" Home Depot: "No, no!"
We have commissions and councils to make these decisions on the merits, guided by the general plan, not on who is the popular merchant. There is no possible "traffic" decision that will affect all Thousand Oaks; it is ingenuous to pretend that all voters will give thoughtful consideration to any one proposal.
Measure B fails on its intent. It is offered as a "traffic" initiative, while it actually seems to be only in the interest of the competing business across the freeway while maintaining status quo for residents living near an empty already-big-box Kmart. I have to associate this effort with the previously discredited principle: "Thousand Oaks won't grow if we don't improve the sewage plant."
I urge a no vote on Measure B.
-- Jim Hoagland, Thousand Oaks
Re: Charles Kuenstle's May 16 commentary, "Give citizens right to vote":
It's too bad that a proponent of critical thinking like Kuenstle would use so little of it in his article. With no supporting evidence whatsoever, he dismisses the independent, professional report prepared on Measure B, deplores "these slick rascals" at City Hall and produces his own list of conclusions that show an absence of critical thinking or analysis and can only be considered scare tactics.
Indeed, Kuenstle is the poster boy for why decisions on complex development proposals should not be placed on a ballot. He lacks the skills, experience and motivation to analyze hundreds of pages of documents and expert opinion to make an informed vote on such projects.
As a resident of the Conejo Valley for 20 years, I have been very impressed with the skill, experience and motivation of the city of Thousand Oaks staff, Planning Commission and City Council as they handle the myriad of development proposals that come before them.
As a leader in our church's efforts to build our new home in Thousand Oaks, I have seen firsthand the thoroughness and dedication of our city staff and leadership as they work to ensure our project is well-designed and implemented and adds to the overall quality of our city. It's a lot of work to clear the hurdles raised by the city throughout the development process, but it's worth it because it forces us to have a better project.
Please vote no on Measure B to keep our key development decisions in the hands of professionals with the skills and proven ability in using critical thinking. We have a beautiful, vibrant city that shows the wisdom of the way we have managed such efforts through the years.
-- Bill Robinson, Westlake Village
Re: Richard Landis' May 7 letter, "Redistributing wealth is OK":
After quoting Karl Marx in his article, Landis said, "Similar words and thoughts were expressed in the New Testament, more explicitly Acts 4:23-35."
Acts 4 is a narrative of the early church trying to survive religious persecution. Those who had wealth voluntarily met their fellow believers' needs. This was not Marxist socialism, but capitalist charity.
Neither the Bible nor history supports socialism. When the Pilgrims first settled in Plymouth, Mass., they used socialistic ideas. According to William Bradford's journal, all the able men worked the community fields. The government distributed the proceeds equally to everyone.
The problem with socialism is that people do as little as possible when extra effort goes unrewarded. Despite the helpful Squanto, the Pilgrims suffered miserable starvation and death during their first year. The famine ended when the governor gave each family its own plot of land and let them work or starve on their own. Those who had food chose to give to those in need, and no one lacked.
The solution is capitalism: People perform voluntarily what they would never do when forced.
The Bible does not promote socialism. History repeatedly demonstrates that when all equally share, all equally starve. Acts 4 refutes socialistic teaching.
In the next chapter, Acts 5:1-4, a man, Ananias, gave the apostles money from a field and lied about it. "But Peter said, '...While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?'" In this passage and others, the Bible supports the principle of private property and personal ownership, never wealth redistribution or community ownership.
-- Matthew Hubbard, Simi Valley
Re: Krystina Tapia's May 16 letter, "Gallegly's priorities wrong":
I must respond to Tapia's letter about U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly. I am a supporter of Gallegly for several reasons:
As an animal welfare advocate, Gallegly has been actively involved with new legislation that has helped us in stopping animal fighting, in supporting retired military dogs and in the banning of the sale of large cats for the exotic pet industry.
Gallegly has been very active in the bipartisan task force on immigration reform. Our county and our state need this for national security and for economic reasons. Gallegly has pushed for reimbursement to state and local governments for the costs of providing emergency health care service to illegal immigrants. He has continually supported our military funding, bases and troops.
Gallegly introduced the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which helps in the prosecution of "cold hit" DNA cases. The congressman has also assisted local law enforcement in obtaining needed federal funds for more modern equipment and additional police hiring.
More recently, Gallegly visited America's true and consistent ally in the Middle East, Israel. He affirmed our support of this only democracy in the area, and, in particular, he showed solidarity with the community of Sderot, which has received thousands of missiles from neighboring Gaza Strip. Gallegly called for Egypt to close down the smuggling corridor between Gaza and Egypt. Tunnels built by Hamas and other criminal elements are used to smuggle supplies and arms from inside Egypt. Gallegly has called on other Arab nations to condemn Hamas and its terrorist activities that threaten any chance for peace between the Palestinians and Israel.
Gallegly represents our community in Congress and deserves our continued support.
-- Dr. Leland S. Shapiro, Simi Valley
I participated in the Rio School District Teacher's Walk on a recent Saturday morning. A friend of mine works in the district. It was well-attended, quiet and made a statement to the district about the teachers and their needs.
I just wanted to make note of my favorite part of the day. We had two uniformed Oxnard police officers escorting us on our mile walk, and they did a good job as no one was hurt. But during the rally in the park, the officers, who were wearing shorts, were playing basketball with the neighborhood kids, maybe 10 or so of them.
We see so much press on the mistakes or bad decisions police make. We need to see them doing good things in the community, like playing basketball with the kids. These are the things that will make a huge difference in the lives of those little boys. I'm sorry that was not on the news that evening.
-- Kathy Meyer, Ventura
I will be voting for Elton Gallegly in the June primary election. I appreciate the fact that he is a hardworking conservative legislator who has a genuine concern for the best interests of his constituents.
Over the years, I have sent several letters to share my concerns on various issues, and I have always received a letter of response from Gallegly. He would always comment to the particulars of my letters and would explain what he was actually doing legislatively in response to them.
On the whole, I have been pleased with his work as our congressional representative.
On a more personal level, it became necessary for me to file for Social Security Disability. I contacted Gallegly's office and asked for help. All his staff members have treated me with the utmost courtesy, kindness and respect and have been indeed helpful as I navigate through the Social Security system. I am grateful to all of them, especially Paula and Tina, who have taken the time to contact me on their own to see how I'm doing.
It is amazing to find a politician, let alone his office staff, who actually cares about the people he was elected to serve. I sincerely hope that those of you who may be undecided about whom to vote for in this election will give thoughtful consideration to Elton Gallegly and then vote for him June 3.
-- Linda Dusky, Ventura
I recently discovered a success story when I visited a live radio broadcast at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Learning Center in Simi Valley.
Los Angeles-based radio personality Larry Elder, who entertained a crowd of guests, successfully provided innovative comments on controversial topics.
During his lecture at the Air Force One glassed Pavilion, Elder referred to himself as "an American who happens to be black," and he said his father shaped Elder's philosophy that "hard work wins."
In a style reminiscent of the late President Reagan, whose speeches were replete with anecdotes to get a point across, Elder affectionately spoke of his father, who went through difficult times as a teen. Elder related how his dad served in World War II as a cook and returned to the South to be told that he had to enter public places through the door that said "colored only." Elder said that after his dad moved to Los Angeles in hopes of getting a job, he was repeatedly turned down "because he had no references." Undaunted, Elder said his father sat on an employment agency bench daily until he was finally hired as a janitor who cleaned toilets for 10 years, but he went to school three nights a week to get a GED. "Son," said Elder's dad, "hard work wins. Before you blame other people, look in the mirror."
Elder also addressed current foreign policy concerning Iraq. He focused on a policy of "peace through strength." This premise was accentuated by the powerful presence of the Presidential Air Force One Boeing 707 that is a historical symbol of the Reagan policy of a strong national defense and proactive involvement in global diplomacy.
The efficacy of the Reagan Presidential Learning Center is a success story of its own that inspires national pride!
-- Joan Marie Patsky, Beaumont
The president's favorable rating is around 30 percent. More than 80 percent of the people think the country is heading in the wrong direction. No doubt much of this is due to the very high gasoline prices. Aren't high prices what conservation is all about?
Some have been asking to pressure the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries into producing more oil, which is really amazing since we want energy independence. It is we who are limiting our oil supplies by not exploiting the deposits on the West Coast and the East Coast and in a mosquito-infected tundra called the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
Isn't every barrel produced by us a barrel we don't have to import, or am I missing something? We really prefer depending on Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Saudi Arabia. Of course, the politicians we elect are following our instructions, which is what they are supposed to do. And the current instructions are to fight every attempt to increase production of coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear or hydroelectric energy. Isn't it peculiar that we are opposed to just about every form of economically feasible energy?
Don't think that $4 gasoline is the problem. The world's economies will demand more and more oil, and at the next crisis we will have $8 gasoline and then $16 gasoline. But don't worry. We will soon have automobiles powered by wind and solar energy.
If you want to know who is responsible for this mess, don't look to OPEC or the president or the politicians or the corporations. Just look in a mirror.
-- Diego Cruz, Thousand Oaks
After the 1973-74 Arab oil embargo, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve began stockpiling crude oil.
Congress wants to stop filling the reserve to reduce the price of gasoline by 5 cents to 10 cents. It's too late! The reserve is at 97 percent of capacity.
Two candidates for president want to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline for three months. Estimated savings are pegged at almost 20 cents per gallon. If you are upset with gas prices at $4 per gallon, these two candidates think you will be happy because you will be able to afford gas at $3.80 per gallon for three months.
One of the candidates will take your one-time summer gas tax savings of $50 and force those, if elected, without medical insurance into a mandatory insurance plan. This may materialize when Americans are struggling with a host of higher costs. If you are struggling with gasoline and food prices, how are you going to cope with a mandatory monthly medical premium?
Thirty-four years have gone by since the oil shocks of the 1970s.Both parties have failed to develop a comprehensive energy policy. Separately, Democratic senators plan to introduce legislation to block $1.37 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, an effort to get the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to produce more crude.
Bad idea. If we do not sell arms, American companies lose business, and jobs could be affected. Saudi Arabia does not need any weapons for protection. Do Democrats believe that we, the protector of Middle East oil, will allow a rogue nation to invade or attack Saudi Arabia or any other oil-producing nation in the area? It is "arms for oil." Is that an energy policy?
Our 435 congressmen and 100 senators have failed to act in our interests.
-- Robert Pisapia, Westlake Village
Before it is too late, it is my hope that our community will discover that Measure B is not about whether two businesses are "at odds" with one another or even about our traffic problems.
Measure B is about retaining our rights to vote, plain and simple. A yes vote, if passed, will allow us to vote on whether or not to allow large projects or buildings if they were found to generate or impact traffic. A no vote, if passed, will give citizens no choice in future projects, as stated above, in our lovely city.
Do we really want to forfeit our rights to vote?
There seems to be those who do not want Measure B to pass, and they have compiled a list of the dire things that "could" happen. Take heart! "Could" is not as strong as "would," and we all know that the sky "would" not fall down.
I encourage those who believe how important voting is in our country, to vote yes on Measure B.
-- Irene King, Thousand Oaks
Re: Paul Taylor's May 11 letter, "Enough green":
Taylor is right on! Environmentalists make us dependent on oil in other countries. What say you other American citizens? Must we depend on foreign oil?
-- Elizabeth Bass, Thousand Oaks
A message against Measure B from Gary Wartik, the economic development manager for Thousand Oaks, is being circulated among residents and is dangerously misleading. His description of the traffic initiative makes it seem as if every time someone needs to do some repairs, there will need to be a city vote. It also makes it sound as if the measure is being put on the ballot by a Home Depot competitor and that it is only a "battle among giants."
Nothing could be further from the truth. This measure is on the ballot as a result of signatures collected by residents whose homes and quality of life are being threatened by the city's willingness to allow yet another Home Depot to be built in town.
-- Applies only to really large projects, not "every building to be constructed."
-- Does not automatically stop development, but lets Thousand Oaks residents decide whether the development will be good for the community or detrimental to our quality of life.
-- Prevents the City Council from overriding citizens' legitimate concerns to advance special interests.
-- Does not threaten Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center; voters certainly would not block it from adapting to earthquake standards.
-- Was developed in response to the city's determination to allow the building of Home Depot in a location zoned for neighborhood shops, not big-box stores, that would tie up traffic at the Hampshire Boulevard and Highway 101 intersection, create noise and air pollution for the senior center behind the building and for cancer patients at The Wellness Community across the street, create additional traffic on residential streets in the surrounding area and be detrimental to our community, our quality of life, and property values throughout the area.
We, the residents of the area, urge you to vote yes on Measure B. It will protect our rights today and may protect yours tomorrow.
-- Zita Rahbar, Westlake Village
It makes no sense to argue that voters are not informed enough or intelligent enough to vote on very large traffic-inducing developments, but they are informed and intelligent enough to select their representatives to decide for them.
It makes no sense to think that if voters have the ability to say yes or no, then they will always say no, just because they have a choice.
It makes no sense to say on the one hand that all development will stop in Thousand Oaks forever if Measure B is passed, but if it is passed, then it will cause even more traffic congestion because of all the development.
It makes no sense to claim that all tax revenues from large developments will dry up if people have the right to vote, but that the smaller developments that will be encouraged won't generate any tax revenues.
Really, the arguments against Measure B don't make sense. Measure B is a very powerful way for voters to try something new to reduce traffic and its ills and attain sustainable growth. It's a concept that makes sense. I'm voting yes on B.
-- Ali Moghaddas, Westlake Village
Re: your May 15 article, "Economist says initiative backers misuse forecast":
For anyone who is interested, the City Council meeting can still be viewed online by going to the city's Web site, following the TOTV link and clicking March 18.
It looks like Bill Watkins feels bad about his findings and wishes he never said, "Measure B: If you want your home values to go up, that's the way to do it."
Watkins said a lot of things in his report. He also said that the economic analysis that was specifically performed for Measure B used an "input-output" model instead of a "time series" model, which means what you get out of it is based on a certain year and assumes nothing changes over the year. Watkins said that the most current data you could get for that is 2006. Anyone remember the good ol' days of 2006? That was before the housing market collapsed. All the assumptions made in that report assumed that nothing would be developed in the city again and apparently used figures from a very good year to figure the maximum "loss."
But do we hear the authors of that report say, "Hey listen, we said 'worst-case' assumptions. All this stuff isn't really going to happen unless all development stops forever."
Funny that you don't hear a word about that, but we do get to hear Watkins whining about how he wishes he never said home values will go up. Give us all a break.
-- Andrea DeLong, Thousand Oaks
I read the letters to the editor in The Star recently regarding Measure B, but I prefer to examine the facts rather than a writer's innuendos regarding Countrywide leading us to our demise.
Countrywide's employment base was approximately 62,000. Having to lay off 12,000 jobs is unfortunate, but you can also look at the glass being half full and say, "Thank you, Countrywide, for providing 50,000 jobs." I cannot comprehend what Countrywide has to do with Measure B.
After examining the facts and ignoring the rhetoric, I have decided to vote no on Measure B. As a 10-year resident of Thousand Oaks, taxpayer and voter, I have placed my trust in the people we have elected to govern our wonderful city.
I would like to applaud the Conejo Recreation and Park District. I believe that our park system is the best in the country. I am proud to be a resident of this magnificent, well-run city.
My research into the support and opposition arguments regarding Measure B included the blog "Westlake Revelations." It prints the facts without opinion. It provided a synopsis, description and fiscal and other impacts necessary to make an informed decision. In reaching my ultimate decision, I considered the vast listing of community leaders and organizations opposing Measure B.
I am retired and a great-grandmother who loves Thousand Oaks and loves the truth. Please join me in a no vote on Measure B.
Either way, have a great day.
-- Teri Young, Thousand Oaks
I have been reading the letters and commentaries regarding Measure B. I read one that made a reference to Greek democracy as a reason to vote for Measure B. May I suggest that we are not Greece and that we do not have a democracy but a representative republic. Greek democracy was more like mob rule that could be driven by emotion rather than thoughtful analysis of issues.
If we choose this Greek democracy, then we should eliminate the Planning Commission altogether. What use is a Planning Commission if the people's rule overrides their decisions? For me, I will vote against Measure B and take my chances with a Planning Commission. After all, if you don't like the decisions it makes, you can fire its members and replace them with people of your like-mindedness.
-- William Hicks, Newbury Park
I'd like to write a little bit about supporting Measure B. My old friend Ed Masry used to have a saying when things got blown out of proportion in Thousand Oaks: "Let's get to the unvarnished truth."
The unvarnished truth about Measure B is that it helps give a voice to the people. There hasn't been much of that these past few years. It is not uncommon to have the microphone you pay for with your tax dollars cut off at City Council meetings because you are "off topic." In 2005, we did not have the opportunity to vote for a replacement for a council member who had to resign. Instead, someone was appointed. And, roughly two months ago, as we struggle with high gas prices and other expenses, the City Council voted in favor of giving its members a pay raise without the issue being subject to public comment.
I'm tired of not being heard. Passing Measure B will be just the first step toward getting our voice back.
-- Clint Matkovich, Thousand Oaks
Using any rational analysis, Measure B is silly.
Do It Center is a convenience store. I will not go to Home Depot for the potting soil that I bought at Do It Center recently. At Do It Center, I was in and out in 10 minutes. Any trip to a big-box store would take an hour for parking and waiting to save perhaps 25 cents, even if the store was down the street.
The owner of Do It Center does not know how to merchandise his stores.
As for traffic management, the ostensible purpose of Measure B, I lived in Encino and Tarzana for 20 years. Los Angeles city traffic engineers have been incompetent. My residential neighborhoods were not congested. Traffic problems existed on Ventura Boulevard, for me, especially between Tampa and Vanalden avenues.
Thousand Oaks is a corridor city along Highway 101, as are Agoura, Camarillo, Calabasas and the communities of Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino and Sherman Oaks. We can stop traffic congestion by closing all the off-ramps between Woodland Hills and Camarillo, but then The Oaks mall and the auto mall would die, as well as gas stations, fast-food and other convenient services that the residents enjoy.
Probably, Measure B should be called "the castle moat" measure. Exclusivity has a price, and that price will be reflected in resale value, if few people can afford to buy in our bucolic and serene community.
I will vote no on Measure B.
-- Raymond A. Greenberg, Thousand Oaks
We disagree with the 911 calling charge in its entirety because it is a new tax that bypassed a vote by taxpayers. Passage would have required a two-thirds vote of approval.
If an out-of-state individual or an individual driving through the area calls 911, is this a no-charge call? If not, how does the city collect? Do the phone companies transfer the $1.49 to the city of Ventura, or do they retain a percentage? We believe the logistics of this plan are complicated and expensive.
911 is a great 20th and 21st century technical advancement, and it should be available to anyone in the United States, including tourists, street people and illegal individuals. This is not just a life-saving service, but also a national security service. We feel this is a nationwide government responsibility, and the phone companies and the Ventura communications center should negotiate the added operating cost with the federal and/or state governments.
-- Richard & Elaine Keller, Ventura
The governor has proposed a 10 percent reduction in Medi-Cal payments to hospitals and physicians. Isn't this the same as a tax directed at a specific group? Maybe he should levy a reduction in salary for the legislators that got us into this fiscal mess.
-- Thomas E. Carson, Camarillo
Re: your May 4 article, "VC men, women settle for 2-3 finish in California Community College swimming and diving championships":
As a swimmer who represents the Ventura College swim team, as well as the entire community, I am grateful for the coverage of the community college swimming competitions in The Star.
Swimming does not get the recognition it deserves. As a person who has competed in many other sports, including karate, tennis, gymnastics and soccer, I can say that swimming is not as easy as it looks. To be a swimmer involves not only dedication, but rigorous workouts every day. The fact that The Star is interested in swimming competitions throughout the community of Ventura is truly what makes this recognition possible.
I would especially like to recognize the efforts of Joe Curley in covering the Ventura College swimming events throughout my swimming experience at VC. I look forward to continued coverage of local swimming events.
-- Katherine Fung Correa, Ventura
It is time for Hillary Clinton to throw in the towel. She is trailing in popular votes, superdelegates and states won. She is only hurting the Democratic Party by continuing to go through this when she has almost no chance of winning the nomination. The Democrats should be focusing on an election with the Republicans and preparing for it instead of fighting amongst themselves. Besides, Hillary was already president before.
-- Chris Franz, Port Hueneme
Re: your May 5 letters about marijuana:
When my daughter was 32 years old, she was diagnosed with Korsakoff's Syndrome, a global, irreversible brain damage caused by the loss of thiamine. In our society, Korsakoff's is seen almost exclusively in alcoholics. Oh, how I wish my daughter had been smoking marijuana instead of drinking beer.
-- Doris Vernon, Camarillo
Much has been said about whether voters should be allowed to vote on important decisions. There are some, especially those against Measure B, who think voters should just elect people to make decisions and then stay out of it. These critics say, "If you don't like your elected officials, vote them out of office!"
That's a fine sentiment and, for most decisions, works well enough. We do need people willing to be involved in public decisions -- city services, public libraries, sewers, traffic lights and, yes, development.
However, decisions on whether we develop open space, overbuild near residential areas and add more traffic and congestion than city streets can handle are important decisions that affect our quality of life.
For special interests, getting their favorite candidates elected is the key to keeping easy cash flowing. If they get them elected and get the votes they want, their profits will be secured. These special interests have supported their favorite council members for the entire history of our city. They have consistently argued it would be devastating to include voters in major land-use decisions.
In every case, they've been wrong. On the most important of decisions that keep our quality of life high, we've consistently included the voters. When developers want to turn open space into housing, we ask voters to approve it. When developers want to build more houses than the general plan allows, we ask voters to approve it.
And now, with Measure B, when developers want build something so big it will grind traffic in our city to a halt, we will just ask voters to approve it.
Special interests want Measure B killed. People who care about our great city want Measure B approved. Vote to keep our city the great city it is. Vote yes on Measure B.
-- Mic Farris, Newbury Park
(The writer is a former chairman of the Thousand Oaks Planning Commission. -- Editor)
This is a letter about Measure B, but not a recommendation as to how to vote either way. This is meant as an objective set of conclusions that might be drawn by a distant observer on Mars, one who has no stake in the outcome and no inside information, after extracting the key elements in the campaign mailers and dozens of letters in The Star. This is a guide for those not familiar with the issues.
Measure B would amend the general plan and municipal code of Thousand Oaks to give the people the right to vote on any project that would result in unacceptable traffic congestion in our city.
Opponents of Measure B have not denied that the exercise of such a vote could limit traffic increases.
An independent consultant's report commissioned by the Thousand Oaks City Council states that there could be, potentially, $1 billion lost in jobs and spending and $3 million a year cut from the city's budget.
The opponents of Measure B are primarily concerned with the lack of the $3 million a year. This lack will drastically affect our schools, police department and other city operations.
If Measure B passes, there will be no substantial revenue from alternative businesses in the areas being voted upon or other profitable uses of the land. The voters will defeat every attempt at city growth.
If Measure B is defeated, the City Council can approve any applications for large businesses without interference by the voters. The council could choose not to, but, in fact, will be obliged to approve all such applications in order to secure the $3 million that was promised in the campaign mailers.
To the observer on Mars: The above are not my opinions; read the campaign literature and follow the logic.
-- William Vietinghoff, Thousand Oaks
Re: Dave Rodriguez's May 11 letter, "Bad traffic initiative":
Rodriguez is speaking for the League of United Latin American Citizens members who live and work in Oxnard when he voices concern about an Oxnard city measure? The Oxnard traffic initiative reflects the feelings of many residents who feel that the majority of their elected city officials have not been responsive to their wishes.
Rodriguez makes numerous misstatements about this initiative. He says it would place a financial burden on Oxnard taxpayers. This is not true. The burden would be on the developers to fix the worst intersections before building new residential developments greater than five units or commercial developments exceeding 10,000 square feet. Only if the developers fail to fix these intersections would a measure be put before the voters (paid for by developers) to decide whether those developments should be built anyway. How is that a burden on the taxpayers?
The developers have made huge profits, yet they have not been made accountable for the traffic congestion resulting from their developments. The reduced fees developers paid for traffic mitigation during the real-estate recession of the early 1990s were never increased during the boom of the early 2000s.
Rodriguez is correct that, if Oxnard city officials had been paying attention, we might not be finding ourselves in this mess. The Oxnard traffic initiative is definitely not about "affordable housing" or lack thereof. Right now, the median home price in Oxnard is $365,000, so I am not even sure what affordable housing means anymore.
Who is more qualified to judge traffic congestion in Oxnard than the residents who are forced to be in it daily? As an Oxnard resident, I am insulted by Rodriguez's assertion that Oxnard citizens lack the expertise or judgment to have a say about traffic in their city.
-- Marika Arthur, Oxnard
Re: your May 11 article, "Courting ethnic diversity on bench":
This article describing the need for the appointment of minority judges in Ventura inexplicably failed to mention that a superbly qualified candidate, Roberto Orellana, is on the June 3 ballot for judge. What was The Star thinking in not mentioning him? He not only fulfills the desire for a minority on the bench, but, more importantly, he will bring along superb educational qualifications. He is an honor graduate from both Thomas Aquinas College and Notre Dame Law School. Orellana also has the support of the Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs' Association. What more could you ask for?
-- William G. Short, Esq., Ojai
Re: Arleigh Kidd's April 28 letter, "Personal agenda comes first":
Kidd made reference to Vista Real Charter School, as though granting a charter to this school was a mistake. On behalf of the staff at Vista Real, I would like to update Kidd and the community on this first county-chartered school.
The mission of Vista Real is to engage students who are no longer a part of a traditional high school setting. The majority of the students at Vista Real are behind in credits. Our enrollment has steadily increased since opening, with a current enrollment of more than 700 students in two locations. Demographically, our school is comprised of 72 percent Hispanic, 23 percent white, with 47 percent qualifying as socio-economically disadvantaged.
We offer a rigorous curriculum that is California standards based. We received full Western Association of Schools and Colleges' accreditation during our second year. Our school has a highly qualified credentialed staff who meets the No Child Left Behind guidelines in one or more core subject areas.
In the 2007 school year, our API score increased from 444 to 561; a 117-point growth from our first year in operation. Twenty-one students have completed the state requirements for graduation, most of whom would not have finished high school.
From these statistics, I would hope that Kidd would agree that Vista Real is doing an excellent job serving at-risk students who were not succeeding in a traditional high school setting. We would welcome anyone to come and see how this alternative educational program is making a difference in students' lives.
The staff at Vista Real would like to thank the Ventura County Board of Education for the courage and foresight to charter this alternative high school that is positively impacting the education of students in Ventura County.
-- Nancy Spencer, Oxnard
(The writer is the principal of Vista Real Charter High School in Oxnard. -- Editor)
Re: Dave Rodriguez's May 11 letter, "Bad traffic initiative":
First, I must say Rodriguez is one of the finest types of individuals one can hope to meet. He is a sports touring motorcycle rider, as I am, and on that basis he qualifies as a fine fellow.
But he doesn't understand the way Oxnard does business.
The process Rodriguez endorses doesn't exist in Oxnard. Indeed, there are educated planners in Oxnard, but they are employees at will. To not support a project desired by three members of the City Council of Oxnard would mean termination. Through whatever convoluted logic that might be necessary to qualify an otherwise bad project, that logic will prevail.
The planning commission? In name only. Oxnard has a land-use commission, and any project the commission votes down is automatically appealed to the council. The majority of the council has wanted development at virtually any expense to the quality of life for the citizens of Oxnard.
The members of the council include at least three who enjoy financial enhancement and power by seeking virtually unrestricted development.
Rodriguez lives in Camarillo, along with many business owners and members of the Chamber of Commerce in Oxnard. Some members use their business address as their place of residence so they may vote in the elections to ensure there is unrestricted growth in Oxnard -- the kind of growth the citizens of Camarillo would never tolerate.
The Oxnard Traffic Initiative is needed, along with councilman districts and an elected city attorney.
-- Martin Jones, Oxnard
Re: your May 11 article, "Courting ethnic diversity on bench":
I chaired the Ventura County Bar Association's Judicial Nominees Evaluation Committee for its first five years, and I continue to serve on the committee. From that perspective, I offer these clarifications concerning The Star's article about the important goal of a more diversified legal system.
The role of the Bar Association's local JNE Committee is to investigate and rate nominees for the governor, based on names the governor submits. Membership in the local committee has always been diverse. In addition to the two Latinos now serving on the committee, past membership has included a third Latino lawyer, an African American lawyer, and an Asian lawyer, each of whom eventually left the committee for health or personal reasons. Until this year, our requests for volunteers to serve on the committee, published to all members of the County Bar Association, were ignored.
Our committee has no say in either who the nominees are in the first place, or who gets appointed after we rate the candidates -- the local Bar committee is distinct from the governor's "eight local judicial advisory committees" The Star article mentions. We have rated all these candidates, many of whom we found to be "exceptionally well-qualified" or "qualified." Yet of the 22 individuals we have rated over the years, only three have been appointed to the bench, even though there are now four openings.
The diversity of the bench must be measured against the number of Latino, African American and Asian lawyers who have been in practice for the requisite 10 years. The number of lawyers and law students in those categories has increased recently, but it comes nowhere close to the percentage of the general population. To have a quality bench, we must have a quality bar. In addition to talking about the need for judicial diversity, we must continue taking steps to increase diversity in law schools and continue providing our courts the resources they need, so that applying for judicial appointment is an attractive option for the best lawyers.
-- Wendy Lascher, Ventura
I am writing regarding a very newsworthy event that The Star left out of the newspaper: the recent march through El Rio by the teachers and parents to show how they felt about the El Rio school board's most recent financial decisions. Their apparent unwillingness to discuss them with anyone has caused the parents, teachers and union officials to call everyone to action.
There were literally hundreds and hundreds of people marching! Is this not local news? When local children's education is at stake, does it not impact the entire community? Please print the news. Otherwise, it could appear the newspaper is on the side of the district officials. Literally, there were so many marchers, I am in shock it was not in our local newspaper.
-- Connie Brown, Ventura
We hear about the high cost of gasoline and the various causes. However, we have not heard a word about California being one of the biggest problems, if not the biggest.
The federal government collects 18 cents per gallon of gasoline in tax, while the state of California chooses to charge sales tax of about 32 cents per gallon.
When gasoline was $1 per gallon, the sales tax was not a real problem. However, now that gasoline has climbed to the $4 range, it is a real problem. The people who are being hit the hardest are those who find it necessary to commute long distances to work.
-- Carter Gage, Oxnard
I have lived in Ventura since 1989 and have been supporting myself as a photographer full-time since 2001. I photographed the Ventura Pier on December 13, 1995, as 20-foot waves were tearing it down, and this photograph hangs on the wall at Eric Ericsson's restaurant. Several galleries have been selling the photograph for years, usually tracking me down when they get requests from their customers wanting to purchase it.
This year, I decided to go public and submitted an application to have a booth in the Fourth of July Ventura Street Fair. I believe, from looking at their denial letter, that it was turned down because I didn't submit a photo of my booth, just a copy of the photo that I wished to sell. They highlighted the word "workshop" on the denial letter. I didn't want to invest any money in a booth until I knew that I could participate.
I understand that they have criteria, but wouldn't they want an artist who is unique to this city, not one who has a booth and does the same thing, city after city? I have donated the photo to "Pier in to the Future" fundraisers as well as to Casa Pacifica and to Surfrider events and was told that they were "thrilled to have it." I also raised funds for these organizations.
I just feel that if Ventura wants to get behind local artists, they may have to look outside criteria and at the artist and product before they get too much of the same thing.
-- Veronica Slavin, Ventura
Re: May 8 letters by Diana Thorn, "Who is Barack Obama?" and Earline Randall, "Capps wrong to back Obama":
Thorn is right on. I read Barack Obama's book twice and decided he is as he said in his book: probably selfish and has an ego. This may not be an exact quote, but it is correct in its implication.
Obama speaks platitudes but rarely has concrete resolutions for our problems. He has gotten worse as the campaign has gone along. His wife told him not to run; he lucked out on both the state and U.S. Senate seats. He is just an inexperienced, well-meaning person who needs more time to learn the job -- but not on his presidency time.
I have met with U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on several occasions, and I wrote her an e-mail expressing my being upset about her decision to support Obama. I mentioned to her that her son-in-law, who is on Obama's campaign, influenced her -- I am sure against her judgment. She owed the Clintons a return for their support of her.
-- Sheldon L. Schein, Oxnard
Re: your May 11 articles, "Global riots spur debate on farming" and "Classroom competition among kids downplayed":
I can't believe The Star buried the food riots article on Page A18 -- and in an agricultural county to boot!
"At least 34 countries have had protests in recent months," the article states, but somehow The Star thinks an article about third-graders is headline news.
How are Ventura County citizens supposed to understand what is happening with their grocery bills and the plight of our own local farmers when The Star buries a story like this? Our own small- and mid-sized farmers are being squeezed out of business here, just as they are around the world.
The much-touted free-trade agreements have driven farmers off their land, and food costs have increased rather than decreased as promised.
The United Nations has several recommendations, calling this a "window of opportunity for governments to relaunch the small-farming sector and traditional farming." What's needed is a "radical rethink of how the world gets its food."
But somehow, that's buried on Page A18.
Guess The Star doesn't think that's as important as third-graders coloring pictures as a group.
-- Dulanie Ellis-La Barre, Ojai
I am happy to see the ubiquitous Elton Gallegly signs stuck in every tree well and vacant lot in every part of the 24th Congressional District. I am so happy to see them because it is important to remind people Gallegly is an integral part of the Republican Party that has done so much harm to America.
I want people to see his signs and equate them with the failed economy. I want people to see his signs and equate them with the failed "wars" he, Sen. John McCain and President Bush started. I want people to see his signs and equate them with the failed energy policy he, McCain and Vice President Cheney so fervently love. In short, I want his signs to remind people that his failure to do anything right is the reason our country is in such dire straits.
The winds of change are blowing over America. People have had it with politicians like Gallegly. They will go to the polls in November to vote in a new president who does not mirror everything that is wrong with the Gallegly crowd. After Barack Obama is sworn into office to start the daunting job of pulling the country out of the quagmire Gallegly and his party have gotten us into, he will need the help of caring, capable people in Congress.
In the 24th District, we can do a lot to help Obama by sending Jill Martinez to Washington. She will fight for all the people, not just a certain chosen few.
The 24th District is now a blue district for the first time in many years. People on both sides of the aisle are fed up with the status quo. When someone tells you we cannot oust Gallegly, just stand up and say, "Yes we can."
-- John Darling, Ventura
The uniform agenda of present-day Republicans, Democrats, centrists, neocons and corporatists can be explained by their benefactors. The only political actors who are allowed to participate are purchased by one financial cartel. With rare exceptions, congressional representatives serve the interests of unethical monopolists who control global finance, real estate, Big Pharma and insurance. Describing political actors by meaningless party names only serves to deceive the public into believing politically diverse representation exists. There is only one political party in Washington: the Wall Street Party.
Political actors who exhibit social conscience -- the late Martin Luther King Jr., the late Robert Kennedy, Dennis Kucinich and the late Paul Wellstone -- who genuinely care about public well-being and economic sovereignty, are strategically precluded from public debate, marginalized, denounced and ridiculed by corporate media or, if all else fails, assassinated. No one who reveres the principles of the U.S. Constitution is allowed to function at the center of power, which is totally controlled by the Wall Street financial cartel.
Dec. 23, 1913, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act, despite massive public opposition. This act of treason gave an international cartel of private banking families a monopoly on the U.S. monetary system. Within 10 years of usurping control of credit and currency creation, these international banksters orchestrated the Great Depression. What the public has been taught to perceive as "the business cycle" is the manipulation of our economy by this private banking cartel. Through arbitrary expansion and contraction of fictitious credit and fiat currency, they cause endless destructive cycles of inflation, recession, currency devaluation and global economic chaos.
Will John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama abolish the Federal Reserve and restore monetary control to the American People? Not likely. All three are equally financed by the Wall Street Party.
-- Nikki Alexander, Ventura
It is no secret the Sacramento budget woes are hitting public education with the force of an out-of-control train. As the parent of a Pleasant Valley School District student, I am sorry to find my child in this situation, but I trust the district will persevere and do what is best for students. Unfortunately, a situation has come to my attention where the district is doing the exact opposite.
My child attends Las Colinas Middle School, where three teaching jobs have been lost in addition to two experienced teachers being forced to move against their will. Why? Will there be fewer students in Las Colinas next year? It doesn't appear so. The superintendent has announced the district will not keep teachers at schools or hire new ones until he "sees the whites of their (students') eyes." How long will that take? August? September? What are the extra students supposed to do after school starts? Wait in overcrowded classes until the district decides to do the right thing?
Once again, my child is paying for the stubbornness of adults.
The two teachers in question have been at the school for more than six years each. Besides the excellent education they provide, they personally give my child the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities such as basketball and California Junior Scholarship Federation. I also know each teacher serves on leadership committees within the school that help make Las Colinas a better place for my child.
Between them, they serve approximately 250 students. Is the population of Las Colinas going to drop by that amount? I don't think so.
Parents, get involved. Demand to see the numbers. Are these cuts really necessary, or will there simply be two new teachers filling spots vacated by experienced, involved teachers forced to move against their will?
-- Jean Pericone, Camarillo
Re: Patrick Musone's May 11 letter, "Smell the crude!":
This letter regarding the disposition of Alaska oil shouldn't be taken at face value. I suggest that anyone interested in the subject go the snopes.com Web site for a detailed explanation of what's really happening.
Snopes.com is a Web site dedicated to verifying the accuracy of the plethora of urban legends, poorly disguised personal pitches and various other questionable situations or conditions that keep cropping up in our e-mail.
-- Brook Evans, Camarillo
Re: Dave Rodriguez' May 11 letter, "Bad traffic initiative":
Now if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black!
What the citizens of Oxnard are finally trying to say is that enough is enough on overdevelopment and the drop in their quality of life. And they're on the right track.
Why is Oxnard being put down for the same type of initiatives that Santa Paula takes on and seems to be winning on serious development issues that affect their city? What else can the citizenry do to stop the mass overbuilding and urban sprawl that is taking over their fair city? They're tired of it, and they're sending a message to the City Council that it's time to start listening to their wishes.
How many times have we all heard the various city planners say over and over, "Traffic impacts will be mitigated by X," or "Traffic will be mitigated by Y and the developers will pay for Z" and nothing happens? We all know that the traffic just gets worse and worse and worse, along with our quality of life in this county. And all Rodriguez and the League of United Latin American Citizens can do is cry foul because of how it will somehow affect the affordable housing situation?
Wake up and smell the coffee, Mr. Rodriguez: You're part of the problem. To say that the initiative would do nothing except bog down developments with red tape and regulation is simply hypocritical and disingenuous. Rodriguez knows as well as the rest of us that the day after the initiative passes, LULAC will take the measure to court as being somehow unconstitutional.
Take that to the bank. It's best to walk, though. The traffic is horrendous.
-- Korbin Turchot, Ventura
Re: your May 9 article, "Trespassers problem at Halaco site, officials say":
I'm trying to understand this Halaco Superfund site article. The Halaco site is fenced off because a government agency has determined that it is dangerous to human beings because of radiation and heavy metal contamination. However, remediation has been halted indefinitely because another government agency has determined that the fenced-off, contaminated site is home to nesting swallows. Therefore, in order to protect the swallows, the fenced-off contaminated side cannot be disturbed.
The end is near.
-- Sidney Tinberg, Ventura
Re: Monalisa Hasson's May 9 commentary, "Working to succeed in Rio School District":
I agree wholeheartedly with her statement that everyone who chooses to work with children in the school system does so because they are passionate about student success. She goes on and states, "This passion extends well beyond the paycheck."
She misses the whole point that teachers do need money to live on -- money for purchasing a home, buying food for their family, having a car to go to work (school) and buying gas, not to mention the amount of money teachers spend on school supplies.
Why should teachers have to work second and third jobs just to survive? Hasson makes out like $41,000 is a lot of money. Has she ever considered the cost to get the college degree, the advance work to get a credential and to maintain professional growth?
How much money does she get as assistant superintendent of human resources? It has to be at least three to four times that of a teacher. If district administrators made the same salary as teachers, they would be asking for big-time raises, including healthcare benefits and a car allowance.
If she and the Board of Education are so interested in improving teacher morale and test scores in the Rio School District, she wouldn't settle for what the teachers are asking for, but would add another 5 percent or 10 percent. This would go a long way to improving teacher morale and also improving the test scores that she is so concerned about.
The Rio School District Board of Education and Rio's administration should be embarrassed with a 3.3 percent salary offer for their teaching staff.
-- John Weiss, Ventura
Re: your May 9 articles, "Developer preserving expanse of Tejon land" and "Governor challenges automakers to meet state emission rules":
Yes, just what I like about our government! On one page of The Star is an article about building new houses that will create a 50-mile traffic jam on Interstate 5, and on the next is one about our wonderful governor talking about reducing supposed greenhouse gas from automobile emissions.
Yes, we need more housing. But what we need is houses built close to where people work so as to reduce commuting or eliminate it -- or at least build housing where its practical for people to use public transit to commute.
-- James Verkuil, Ojai
Re: May 8 letters by Diana Thorn, "Who is Barack Obama?"; Marvin Petal, "Turning Wright into a wrong"; and Earline Randall, "Capps wrong to back Obama":
If these three letter-writers would take the time to read Barack Obama's two books, especially the second one, "The Audacity of Hope," they would not need to ask, "Who is Barack Obama?" Instead, they listen to the sound bites of the press and the Republican Party, who are trying to discredit him at any price. Shame on you all!
-- Eunice Koch, Ventura
It is hard to understand why there is a Measure B. We have elected leaders in Thousand Oaks whom we pay to make decisions like this. They should conduct studies, choose the best option possible and then go ahead with the optimum decision. There are opportunities for us to write to them and/or speak at council meetings. Having a special measure like this is not only very costly, but it is hard to believe that we, as voters, will understand this issue any better than elected officials.
If elected officials make bad decisions, then we vote them out of office. Relying on the voters to understand all the complications of issues like this is hard and very costly to achieve.
To me, a more important question is whether we want the areas of our city to have lots of large abandoned shopping centers like the old Kmart building and the even larger old Home Depot sitting just off Highway 101 near Ventu Park Road. I believe strongly that the Kmart area should be renovated and turned into an attractive area. For me, I would prefer some type of store like a Kmart or Target. We have plenty of good hardware options in this area like the Do It Centers, JC Plumbing, OSH Hardware and the Home Depot in Newbury Park. Even if you don't like them, the Lowe's in Simi Valley is not far away either.
I feel very strongly that we need to develop and improve the area where Kmart was and even the one where Home Depot used to be that has been sitting idle for many years.
This is a great area to live in and raise a family. Let's do everything possible we can to keep it that way.
-- Arthur Kierstead, Thousand Oaks
On a recent Sunday afternoon, proponents of Measure B were going door to door in my Lang Ranch area neighborhood. I listened to the points and then asked some follow-up questions regarding the potential impacts of this initiative and who its principal supporters are. At first, he was surprised at my questions. After unsuccessfully trying to answer them, he told me he really didn't know much about this measure. He lived in Hollywood and this was "just a job" he was hired to do by the pro-Measure B campaign.
His point was loud and clear. Measure B is not about open space or traffic -- it is about business. Measure B's principal supporter, the Do It Center, doesn't want additional competition from Home Depot in its backyard. Instead of responding to such competition by improving its stores, reducing its prices or doing any of the other things American businesses do in order to remain competitive, the Do It Center decided it was economically advantageous to promote legislation that would prevent such competition, without regard to the detrimental effects Measure B will have on the very same community that has supported the Do It Center for so many years.
I am in favor of open space, traffic mitigation and maintaining and preserving the quality of life I have enjoyed so my children can continue to enjoy this wonderful city. I resent the Do It Center's self-serving attempts to "legislate by sledgehammer" to protect its territory and preserve its profits, its audacity to do so without regard to the detrimental effects of its action, and its nerve in sending this gentleman from Hollywood, who doesn't really "know much about this," to my house to convince me it is doing it for the good of my family, my neighbors and my community.
-- Andy Begun, Thousand Oaks
When I first moved to Westlake Village in 1980, the Welcome Wagon stopped by and left a bunch of promotion items for local businesses, including Lumber City.
As a new homeowner here, it was an essential support outlet for most needs.
A short time later, as I ventured out into the community, I discovered a small hardware store on Thousand Oaks Boulevard near a small plumbing supply business. Both were well stocked and run by knowledgeable people. Further down the boulevard, there was a wonderful lumberyard near the Yukon Belle, where one could buy a few boards and get a cold beer on a Saturday afternoon. They were great places and part of the small-town atmosphere that was Thousand Oaks.
In the late 1970s, Lumber City -- then the "big box" store -- moved in, drawing customers from those small local businesses. It probably came in heralded by the city as a new contributor to the local sales tax base and a sign of retail progress. I'm sure the owners of those local stores were not quite as enthusiastic. Within a few years, the hardware store and the lumber yard closed, unable to compete with the much larger, well-capitalized big box.
And now the reprise. A new "bigger box" has indicated a desire to move in. The older but still well-capitalized Do It Center (nee Lumber City,) has decided the traffic generated by it will negatively affect the city. Its concern over traffic more likely is that the traffic will move from the Do It Center over to the new bigger box.
Thirty years later and Home Depot is threatening the business that did the very same thing to those small businesses and forced them to close.
So what is the real reason? Traffic? No. Competition? Yes.
-- William Bang, Thousand Oaks
I don't know if high schools still have civics classes where students debate controversial questions, but if they do, I have a subject for them of great importance: Buying a foreign car is an unpatriotic act!
If students delve deeply into this subject, they will discover that patriotism is much more than putting a "Support our troops" ribbon on the back of your Lexus or Infiniti, or more than a "Proud to be an American" license plate bracket on your BMW or Mercedes, or more than putting two American flags in the back window of your Tundra or Sportage.
They would also learn that our monthly balance of payments is about $60 billion. Every month we send that much money to foreign countries. If kept in America, that would give 60 million Americans $1,000 a month, far surpassing the $600 one-time rebate check coming from the government.
-- Clifford Edward Paugh, Simi Valley
This is outrageous! Why are U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly and his followers so disrespectful of the democratic process? Two of my friends in Fillmore are supporters of Michael Tenenbaum, Gallegly's opponent in this year's Republican congressional race, and put "Tenenbaum for Congress" signs up on their front lawns last week. Within days, both signs had disappeared!
Are Gallegly supporters so scared that they are resorting to trespassing and theft to keep his throne for another two years?
I understand that all's fair in love and war, but this kind of dishonesty and criminal activity is why I think it's time for Gallegly and his court to go!
-- Inez Tapia, Moorpark
Re: Terry Paulson's May 11 essay, "McCain's wild card: trust":
Paulson's paean to John McCain -- touting the candidate as one who will no doubt do what he says -- left me to wonder which John McCain he was writing about.
Is this the straight-talking, ethical McCain of today, or the McCain who was involved in the Keating Five scandal? Was Paulson referring to the McCain who received much notice when he announced that he would not sign the "torture bill," or was he referring to the McCain who caved in and signed on for torture a few days later.
I trust McCain. I trust him to say or do whatever he needs to say or do, depending on which way he gauges the wind to be blowing at a particular time.
-- Stephen Irshay, Thousand Oaks.
Re: Mike Dunn's May 8 letter, "How to help public schools":
Conejo Valley Unified School District trustee Dunn's latest attempt at damage control again shows his propensity for the either-or, black-or-white way of thinking that has marred his school board tenure.
He stated he "voted to oppose a resolution critical of the governor" and then went on to suggest the "resolution offered no solutions, just criticism." He never indicated specific issues he had with the resolution, which was about proposed budget cuts. Rather, his mind only perceived that the resolution was critical of the governor.
During an election several years ago, Dunn accused the other four board members of being critical of "the Republican governor." As it turned out, California voters overwhelmingly defeated all of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposals. To Dunn, if you support a position that is contrary to the governor, then you are considered critical of the governor rather than merely critical of his position.
But the most disturbing aspect of Dunn's letter was his statement regarding promotion of "traditional family values compatible with our community standards and our faith." Using an evangelical platform, Dunn would like to see Bible Belt-style textbooks introduced into our schools -- he previously tried and failed at that -- and the introduction of so-called "intelligent design" being taught as fact in science classes. These sorts of measures will water down the curriculum in our schools and could cause district high school graduates to be denied entrance into UC-system schools.
Dunn and his cohorts are biding their time until the November election, when they can try again to elect another slate of evangelicals to the school board. This would be to the detriment of the students. Hopefully, voters in November will be aware of his motives and vote for more appropriate candidates.
-- Dave Dolnick, Thousand Oaks
Re: Marta Jorgensen's May 2 commentary, "ANWR not the answer":
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other places are the answer to our oil shortage!
The state of Alaska consists of 572,000 square miles, as well as 3.5 million acres of state parks. That's a lot of space for bugs, birds, moose and bears.
A drilling spot would use only about two acres. Then a pipeline would be laid, covered and soon everything would grow and the animals would come back, having only been disturbed for a short time.
We have 100 billion barrels of oil. Why would you not want to use it instead of sending your hard-earned dollars to our enemies who are out to kill us and destroy America?
For many years, and especially now, America is within a hair of losing imported oil. Almost everything in America runs on oil and its derivatives: gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and thousands of chemicals found in everything from plastics to household items.
We must have our own oil sources in America and cannot allow a few environmentalists to stop oil drilling, production and building new refineries. A drastic shortage will affect everyone, not only in the pocketbook, but in getting basic food and services delivered. Cargo ships can dock, cargo planes can land, farms can grow our food, but from these points, everything moves to each of us by truck.
Forget the naysayers. It won't take long to tap our oil reserves. Americans have a long history of doing the impossible when we put our mind to it. At the beginning of World War II we had nothing, but in months, Detroit turned from producing cars to tanks, trucks, big guns and aircraft. Four-engine bombers were coming off the assembly line one every hour and liberty ships (cargo ships) every few hours at our ports.
We have better technology to locate oil and drill today. Regardless of new alternate fuels, hundreds of millions of vehicles will still need to use gasoline and diesel for decades.
Ask your candidates and/or elected officials if they will vote for oil drilling immediately. If not, vote them out of office.
-- Gareth W. Neumann, Camarillo
I'm tired of people who want everyone else to change their lifestyle to preserve some noble expanse of wilderness or even the planet. If all the people that don't want to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge disconnected their houses from the electric grid, stopped using plastics and fertilizer, stopped buying anything made in a factory since factories use electricity and stopped driving their cars, we wouldn't need the oil from ANWR.
What these people do contradicts what they say. What they really want is for everyone else to change their lifestyle but keep their status quo.
The good news is that these people are not having babies, so pretty soon there won't be any left and we can all get on with our lives.
-- Chuck Goranson, Ventura
Re: your May 1 Associated Press article, "Mom arrested after 32 years on the lam" and John M. Crisp's May 1 commentary, "Who are these 12 million illegals living in the U.S.":
Both stories were about felons, but they were told very differently. The women in both stories lived free, as felons. Both broke the law.
Crisp paints a picture of a "gold-standard" citizen, living in this country, passing herself off as legal, using a Social Security number from someone else, with the numerous difficulties of that kind of life. She has not tried to live by our laws and should be returned to her country of birth, along with her mother and father who are also in this country illegally.
The other woman, according to the Associated Press, is also a felon who escaped from prison and made a new life for herself. She, too, passed herself off as a good citizen. She also had many difficulties to face. She is not being painted as "good" and has been arrested and sent back to stand charges for her escape.
It seems if you are here as an illegal, the laws don't apply to you. But if you are a citizen, then you must obey the laws,
What is wrong with this picture? We must ensure that the laws apply to all, and when illegals are discovered, they should be returned, immediately, to their own countries with no exceptions! If we did this for just one year, what a difference we would see.
-- Glenda Morris, Oxnard
Re: Lori Anaya's April 27 letter, "The teacher as waitress":
Anaya is either a longtime teacher and very burnt out or a very new and idealistic teacher who has yet to figure out that not only teachers, but administrators, classified support staff and parents need to wear many, many hats nowadays.
None of us has enough time to accomplish all we need to or want to, but it is up to all of us to support each other in the attempt.
I have worked for my school district for more than 16 years in many and varied capacities, but always within our food services department, and I can confidently correct Anaya's assumptions regarding our food services employees. Most of us do, in fact, have our high school diplomas, and, in fact, quite a lot of us are college-educated. The main attraction to our field of work is not how little education we can get by with, but the working hours that enable us, as parents, to be off when our children are out of school, and because we enjoy being with the kids.
That 20 minutes a day Anaya resents spending on a "non-academic task" is as important to those kids as anything in their school day. I am sure in most classrooms, at least that much time is spent daily on disciplinary tasks. Who is to judge which task is "most important?"
Even cereal and milk can be a learning tool: "Students, how many ounces of milk are in each of your milk cartons? How much do 10 boxes of cereal weigh in ounces?"
I am very offended by Anaya's comments. I suggest that if she does not feel she is being respected for what she does, or feels imposed upon by tasks that are "beneath her," she would be wise to improve her attitude or get out of her "highly qualified" profession, as our educational system needs "do-ers," not "complainers."
-- Stephanie Furino, Ventura
Re: Timm Herdt's April 25 article, "Incumbency asserting itself in 23rd Senate District race":
I support Fran Pavley for the 23rd Senate District. Here are a few facts:
According to the California Labor Federation, Fran had a 98 percent labor voting record. She has successfully passed 10 times as many labor-sponsored bills than her opponent -- 10 for Fran, one for Lloyd Levine of Van Nuys.
Both Fran and her husband have been dedicated, respected local public middle school teachers for many years. Fran has always been a friend of labor and working Californians. She not only has the support of the California Nurses Association, Operating Engineers Local 12, chapters of the American Teachers Association, local and state firefighter and law enforcement organizations, but she is the only candidate supported by the Sierra Club and California League of Conservation Voters.
I have endorsed Fran. Ventura County elected officials Maricela Morales, Jon Sharkey, Tom Holden and four members of the Board of Supervisors -- Linda Parks, John Flynn, Steve Bennett and Kathy Long -- have also endorsed her.
Fran is the best candidate to represent Ventura County in Sacramento. Her stellar support of labor and working people, as well as her other accomplishments in the California Assembly, deserves everyone's support.
-- Murray Rosenbluth, Port Hueneme City Council member
Re: Randy Hudson's April 23 letter, "Hoping for justice":
Hudson, whose sister, Cindy Conolly, was run over on the beach by Oxnard police officers, says he is looking for justice, but he wants revenge. The accident on the beach was just that -- a tragic accident. The officers had not set out that day to run over somebody. They had even requested smaller beach vehicles and special training.
We're involved with the Neighborhood Watch in Oxnard Shores and have worked with the Oxnard Police Department for many years. Frank Brisslinger is a top-notch officer, the very best. Martin Polo is the beat coordinator for Beat 21, which includes Oxnard Shores. He is one of the most responsive police officers we have ever had here. When anyone has a problem, he would hand out his card and say, "Call me personally," and he would be there.
For all the alleged charges that continue to be presented in the newspaper, remember: Under our judicial system, we are innocent until proven guilty. The accusatory letters that continue to be printed do an injustice to these officers, their families, their friends and our community. Let the system do its job. The investigation has gone on for a very long time, and the chief has assured us that it has been very thorough.
The many people I have talked with in Oxnard Shores do not believe any of the allegations, and when these officers are cleared by the District Attorney's Office, we will proudly welcome them back.
-- Ron & Phyllis Villarreal, Kathleen S. Roos and John Keener, Oxnard
I wrote a letter about this topic awhile back, and unfortunately, the situation is worse.
Just this morning, while running, I was almost hit by a motorist exiting a parking lot. He was driving at a high rate of speed, and luckily I got out of the way. He gave me a puzzled look when I yelled at him. Maybe it was because I didn't want to be his new hood ornament.
In the last year, it has become ridiculous how badly people are driving. You get the feeling that they really don't care, and they just want you out of their way. I've made several calls to the local police department, but that hasn't helped. People are driving in excess of 20 miles per hour over posted speed limits, running red lights and stop signs, making illegal U-turns and not yielding to people in crosswalks.
I witnessed one lady trying to cross at the intersection of Telephone Road and Cachuma Avenue. The car in the left lane stopped, but a semi carrying produce just barreled on through.
If the local police department is not going to help, then we have to do it ourselves. So put down the cell phone, put away the makeup and shaver -- and slow down!
-- Jerry Clark, Ventura
Re: Sandy & Bill Foeller's May 1 letter, "Bring music back to radio":
I feel that we do have too many AM talk shows and not enough AM radio stations that should play nothing but music.
I think that AM 1590 KVTA should let KKZZ be KKZZ and KVTA be KVTA and let KKZZ play music. Let KVTA broadcast the Lakers and the Kings, and let AM 1400 have its own frequency station so it can play that good old music from the '50s, '60s and '70s, as well as their own programming --sports and no talk radio. Broadcast the Angels, Clippers and Ducks, including CNN radio news on the hour every hour.
And, yes, I do miss the music of a lot of groups and performers such as Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond and others. I hope that we get music back on the AM 1400 frequency again so we can all hear the music on KKZZ once again.
-- John Bravo, Santa Paula
Much media attention and, I am sure, much serious consideration on the district attorney's part have been given to the case of the shooting of 15-year-old Larry King by 14-year- old Brandon Mclnerney. I feel a strong need to remind the district attorney of the human aspects of the case, based on common sense and not politics.
Larry was a teenager who had sexual identity problems. It is my impression that Brandon was also the victim of sexual harassment, or at least perceived sexual harassment, by the attention he received from Larry. We, as a society of mature adults, have not been able to come to satisfactory conclusions about the nature of homosexuality and how we should respond to it. Teenagers from sad backgrounds, meaning both these boys, are even less equipped to handle the problem. Larry's "gay" behavior was condoned in an attempt to help him. There was no such concern given to the effect of his behavior on other students.
Holding a 14-year-old boy responsible for handling this kind of a situation as an adult is an outgrowth of just the confusion we adults feel ourselves. Less than a month earlier, Brandon would have been a 13-year-old and automatically dealt with by the juvenile system.
I hope the district attorney will not be bullied into turning this into a double tragedy. Larry cannot be restored to life. Brandon still has a chance to build a productive life if his case is handled through the juvenile system. This is where he belongs. The power to determine that Brandon be tried as an adult is an outgrowth of our attempts to contain gang behavior. Brandon is not a gang member and, further, has no history of criminal behavior. He, too, is a victim.
Both boys were let down by their families. We, as the society in which their backgrounds were set, should not compound the tragedy by sacrificing Brandon to assuage our own feelings of guilt. He is not an adult. He was besieged 13-year-old. Please try him as a juvenile.
-- Charleen Z. Behrschmidt, Camarillo
It's difficult to dig one's way through the technical details of Santa Paula's sewer plant, but I'll offer some observations.
Anyone who has ever built a major project or made an important investment has discovered that what first appears to be a bargain can cost far more in the long run. That is the case here.
City staff and consultants agree that both the PERC and Veolia developers are qualified, so that is not the issue. If one is to compare the two proposals fairly, the same requirements need to apply to both.
The PERC proposal, while seeming more expensive, accommodates all the city's needs at a guaranteed price, is far more definite regarding financing and provides future expansion necessary for East Area One and Adams Canyon developments. PERC fits onto the city's existing site, even allowing space for additional city facilities. It is less likely to produce unpleasant odors and is far more physically attractive.
The Veolia proposal has uncertain financing costs, includes no provision for expansion and does not fit the city's existing site, thus requiring purchase of approximately another five acres at our cost.
It's complex, but when you add it up and compare the two, PERC offers significantly better quality, far more certainty, more value and seems likely to cost somewhat less when all factors are considered.
Council members Gabino Aguirre and John Procter have long been aware of the state deadline to update our sewage facility. They had ample opportunities to approve a plant years ago. Their action then would have saved ratepayers many millions of dollars, but they failed to act. It seems only reasonable to now ask that they support the decision of the majority and help get this needed plant on line for the people of Santa Paula.
Meeting requirements of the state will be far more costly now, but the current council majority of Bob Gonzales, Ray Luna and Robert Fernandez deserve our thanks for their careful study and prompt action on this matter.
-- Delton Lee Johnson, Santa Paula
I am so sick of the pathetic lies propagated by anti-war leftists in America. People who spew "Bush lied, people died" rhetoric refuse to use fact in their claims and don't seem at all interested in the truth.
Let us examine the facts and timeline of the reason the United States is in Iraq.
On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq, led by brutal dictator Saddam Hussein, invaded Kuwait. A coalition of countries was established to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi forces, which was achieved on Feb. 28, 1991, and the conflict ended at that time by a cease-fire agreement.
In August of 1992, no-fly zones were established by remaining coalition forces to enforce the cease-fire agreement, citing U.N. Resolution 688. This enforcement was called Operation Provide Comfort, which ended on Dec. 31, 1996, to be replaced by Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch, which began the next day.
In 1998, Congress passed the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998. It passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 330-36, received unanimous support in the Senate and was signed by President Clinton on Oct. 31, 1998. This act, Public Law 105-338, declared that "it should be the policy of the United States to seek to remove the Saddam Hussein regime from power in Iraq and to replace it with a democratic government."
In December of 1998, President Clinton ordered the U.S. military to conduct a four-day attack on Iraq called Operation Desert Fox for Iraq's "refusal to comply with U.N. sanctions, the 1991 cease-fire agreement and Iraq's consistent attempt to obtain and promote use of weapons of mass destruction."
In October 2002, Congress passed Joint Resolution 114 (Public Law 107-243): Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. This resolution passed by Congress contained the exact same evidence used in the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998. George Tenet was CIA director under both Presidents Clinton and Bush and declared evidence to support the invasion of Iraq a "slam dunk."
Those who falsely claim that President Bush lied should try using facts for a change.
-- Nelson Ward, Port Hueneme
Re: your May 11 article, "Classroom competition among kids downplayed":
One: This is not new. This kind of collectivist approach to education (life) is also known as Marxism, or, simply, communism.
Two: This fails to prepare students for real life. Competition is one of the most important incentives to foster creativity and industry -- read: productivity, not just big business.
Three: This stunts achievers, holding them back to the level of the least productive person in the group. Ask anyone who has had to do these kinds of projects in college. Group projects are a millstone around the necks of the students who aim to excel, and they encourage the slackers to let the "smart kids" do all the work.
Four: "Experts" who purport this approach haven't been honest in reporting the data. A close friend who owns a master's degree in education tells me that many studies over a long period of time show this to be an ineffective method, especially for younger students.
Five: The scariest part about this kind of thinking is not that some in academia want to advance it. It's that is to be expected in the anti-competition world of those in teachers unions who oppose merit raises. What is truly scary is that most people will read about this giant step backward in education and think, "How neeeat!"
-- Errol Hale, Moorpark
Re: your May 11 article, "Classroom competition among kids downplayed":
How about moving the quality of The Star up a notch? I propose The Star do so by eliminating Steve Frank as a responder to any issue other than partisan politics.
The Star presents us with the research of an educational expert, Carrie Rothstein-Fisch, who spent five years researching a pedagogical issue. Then The Star goes to a political hack, Steve Frank, who serves us up his usual ideological claptrap as a response. Readers deserve better than that.
Could you not find an experienced educator to respond? Or do Star reporters just go out and round up the usual suspects?
-- Irene Garcia de Rodriguez & Jorge Garcia, Simi Valley
The U.S. won the Cold War by outspending the communists. But it appears we are likely to be beaten at our own game.
Our support for the mujahedeen made it almost inevitable that the Soviets would invade. In the words of Zbigniew Brezinski, national security adviser in the Carter administration: "We can hand the Russians their 'Vietnam.'" We did.
Flash forward to 2004, when, in a rare video appearance, the arrogant Osama bin Laden outlines his strategy and we ignore it. Bin Laden states that, for 10 years, they bled the Soviet Union dry of resources to the point of bankruptcy. In the end, the Soviets withdrew because they became insolvent and the Evil Empire fell.
Al-Qaida is using the same tactic to defeat the United States. Bin Laden said in 2004 the cost to al-Qaida to bring down the World Trade Center towers was approximately $500,000. The cost to the U.S. was roughly $5 billion. So one al-Qaida dollar defeated 1 million U.S. dollars.
Flash to the present. What are we paying at the gas pump? Our petroleum is being allocated to a military that cannot possibly defeat an enemy that cannot be clearly identified.
How many miles per gallon does an Apache helicopter get? Add to that armored personnel carriers and F-16s, etc.
When you pay $4 a gallon or more for gasoline, know that the U.S. has fallen into the same trap we set for Soviet Union.
Al-Qaida is fully aware of what they are doing. We seem to be playing along. What is at stake in the war on terror is no less than the American way of life. We need to defend our freedom and our economy and reassess the tactics we use and the tactics of the enemy.
-- Tim Robbins, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bill O'Reilly's May 10 commentary, "The race question and the presidential election":
Beware of "all hell breaking loose on the race front" when Barack Obama is nominated, says our expert on race relations.
On Sept. 19, 2007, Bill O'Reilly expressed surprise that the black patrons at a Harlem restaurant were respectable and well-behaved. He gave an apology later.
He's wrong again. Recent polls show that Obama's problems will be inexperience and "liberal" views, not race. His strength on Iraq and the economy will outweigh these perceptions.
John McCain admits he's weak on economics, and he even proves it. He'd keep us in Iraq forever, squandering your children's dollars by the trillion.
-- Irene Freeman, Thousand Oaks
To the opponents of Measure B: Why are you so afraid of allowing citizens' voices to be heard? Perhaps you would prefer to live in a different type of country. Dictatorship, anyone?
-- M. Katja Fried, Westlake Village
Re: your May 11 Measure B commentaries:
Only two of these four commentaries utilized common sense in their analysis: Claudia Bill-de la Peña's, which said the people should have a say in large projects, and Thomas Gregory's, which said that obviously traffic will degrade with larger projects and that the opponents use a flawed "worst-case scenario" and Chicken Little tactics.
The other two espoused the typical views of the government (let us do what we want) and business interests (don't tread on our ability to influence politicians to allow us to build, build, build). Let a homeowner who has lived in Thousand Oaks for 25 years enter the fray, someone who has seen population, traffic and crime increase during that time span.
Like others who move to this beautiful and, at one time, bucolic area, we want to live somewhere different, away from the asphalt sprawl of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, where population, traffic and crime have consumed the daily quality of life. Measure B merely allows those of us who are affected by "progress" on a day-to-day basis to register our views before large projects that have deleterious affects on traffic go into effect.
Five years ago, I was required to gain approval for a project from the city Planning Department. While there, I casually asked the planner, "By the way, isn't Thousand Oaks planned for a population of 120,000?" "Yes," he said. I said, "I just noted that the freeway sign on Highway 101 states that the population of Thousand Oaks is now 121,300." He smiled brightly and said, "That's just a plan."
I, for one, would like to have something to say about that plan, particularly large commercial projects that create substantially adverse traffic issues. The democratic-minded officials in ancient Greece would likely approve of my quest.
-- John M. Werlich, Westlake Village
Re: your May 10 editorial cartoon:
What an egregiously offensive cartoon. Even those severely afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) must find this offensive.
We have aid ships already positioned off the coast of Myanmar. It's the junta leaders who are rejecting the aid.
Shame on The Star for publishing this offensive and inaccurate editorial cartoon. This is the first time in my 25 years living here that I am disgusted to be a subscriber. You owe the president an in-paper apology for publishing it. You owe your readers an apology for not having the good judgment to reject its publication in the first place.
-- Curtis A. Davis, Newbury Park
I wonder if abortion would be as widely accepted and defended today if people were aware of what it entails. Quite simply, a living, developing but unborn child is either dismembered piece by piece or burned to death by a saline solution.
Were any of these methods used for executions, the public outcry would be so great that their use would promptly cease. Yet many people in this country hardly bat an eye as these go on by the thousands each day! Worse, politicians allow and defend these barbaric acts, and even fight to insure that taxpayer money is directed toward organizations like Planned Parenthood that perform these abortions.
If anyone doubts what abortion really is about, they should look at an ultrasound of a pregnant woman and see the living baby within her womb. Then they should look at a picture of an aborted child. Finally, they should ask the question: How could anyone ever support abortion and call themselves "pro-choice?"
-- Noel D'Angelo, Thousand Oaks
Before moving to Thousand Oaks, our family lived in Alhambra. My office was 11 miles from my home, which should have been a 15-minute drive. It took me an hour to and from work by any route, freeway or surface streets.
When Alhambra was planned as a city, it wasn't congested either. But time, population growth, economics and politics all played into creating the unplanned mess we all call Los Angeles. Is this the game plan in store for Thousand Oaks?
I have observed growing, chronic areas of congestion in different areas of Thousand Oaks. El Monte Drive has become a thoroughfare in order to avoid traffic on Erbes Road. The bad intersection at La Granada Drive and Janss Road becomes even more dangerous at rush hour times, and the one at Lynn Road and Hillcrest Drive is a nightmare.
The off-ramp from Highway 101 onto Westlake Boulevard is bad, as is the one for Hampshire Road, which will obviously worsen if Home Depot goes in. Heavier traffic tends to move much more erratically in these areas as people try to negotiate lights and on-ramps. I have witnessed vehicles completely blow the stop at Janss and El Monte, generally from the side headed west toward the 23 freeway.
Measure B is an elegant solution to a growing traffic problem. It allows the citizens of this community to provide input on the development and growth of our town, to give us a tool to help protect the beauty and quality of life that drew us all to the area in the first place.
Measure B is not about competition, city revenue, hospital closures or any of the other threatening red herrings that keep being tossed about by its opponents. Measure B is about traffic. It provides a means for local inhabitants to help keep Thousand Oaks a livable city.
-- Martha Jackson, Thousand Oaks
Re: your April 20 article, "Urgent need: Schools, lacking funds for nursing programs, reject eligible applicants":
My daughter, Rachel Weller, was one of the CSUCI students featured in this article. She was one of the 276 out of 313 applicants who was denied admission into the fall program. She was not denied because she was not qualified; it's because there is simply no more room.
Our elected officials and our communities need to place a priority on funding this nursing program so that it can expand to serve our needs. As stated in this article, Ventura County is experiencing a dire shortage of nurses. Our county just lost 276 potential new nurses due to lack of funding, and now 276 students are being asked to change their majors. This is just wrong!
With the budget cuts looming for all education, this is just one more example of how poorly our state is handling our money. The fact is, our population is aging and the need for nurses will only increase. We cannot afford to ignore these issues, as the very possible reality of needing nursing care and not having it available is a certainty unless we can provide these nursing programs.
My daughter wants to be a part of the supply for this demand. Our county and state cannot afford to cripple this program. Part of the solution for our nursing shortage is being offered right in our own backyard. It simply needs the money to do so.
-- Michele Weller, Moorpark
My family and I just moved from Los Angeles to Westlake Village. After reading the arguments on both sides of Measure B, I would vote entirely in favor of it.
The Conejo Valley may "lose" revenue in the short run by not putting up a mall on every corner, but it will gain exponentially in the long run with greater property values and an incomparable quality of life.
As more and more people head north, literally fleeing Los Angeles, Westlake and Thousand Oaks can only flourish.
One thing I don't see in any of the arguments about Measure B is to me the most obvious question: Do we need another Home Depot? Are homeowners having trouble getting tools and plywood? Is there a nail shortage?
The answer seems obvious to me: Home Depot just wants to get its hands on as much Conejo Valley cash as possible. I say vote yes, Thousand Oaks!
-- John Romano, Westlake Village
"I'm staying in this race until there is a nominee, and obviously I'm going to work as hard as I can to become that nominee," Hillary Rodham Clinton said in the bruising aftermath of the last primary round.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that former senator and 1972 presidential nominee George McGovern announced that he has switched his endorsement from Clinton to Barack Obama and believes that Clinton should drop out of the race because it is "mathematically impossible" for her to win the nomination.
It sounds to me an awful lot like the death throes of Mike Huckabee's now-extinct campaign. The Republicans rallied their support behind their nominee, John McCain, and the Democrats and Independents now need to do the same for their nominee, Obama.
-- Cristian Arrieta, Newbury Park
Are people dating innocently and being jailed for the wrong use of restraining orders?
Are innocent young children being taken away from good parents with the wrong use of restraining orders?
Are restraining orders being used to set people up and throw them in jail?
Stop ordering restraining orders on behalf of people with bad intentions and no solid evidence, and allowing them the power to use a restraining order as a legal harassment order to throw anyone in jail.
-- Robert C. Wiley II, Simi Valley
I haven't seen any letters with my point of view on Measure B, so I guess I have to weigh in.
The root cause of all citizens' initiatives is a basic distrust of the elected governing representatives. Even the briefest look at the Legislature will show why the state ballot leads the way with citizen initiatives. The same can be said of the Thousand Oaks City Council.
It is no secret that this group has always been pro-growth. It is also no secret it is willing to ignore the will of the people when it wants something. As the most obvious example, I cite the construction of the Civic Arts Plaza, done against the twice-expressed will of the people.
Measure B is an answer to this problem. It will help some situations and hurt others. The major problem is that it will remove all responsibility from the elected members of this governing body, at a time when that is already in short supply. These elected members were given their mandate to govern in the people's name by the people. This is what is called representative government, set by both the U.S. and California Constitution. The change to "direct democracy" in some ways cancels out some of the benefits of our representative democracy, as described above. Make no mistake, there will be times it will help, but the help will come at a price. Advisory votes do not come cheap, and you can count on a segment of the beauracracy learning how to use this new law for their enrichment.
The proper answer to elected officials who reign in their own name is, of course, to toss them out and put in someone who will govern in the people's name. Recall initiatives, though becoming more popular, are not necessary. There is an election ("non-re-election") every two years. And just as "one rotten apple spoils the barrel," so must all of them be returned to civilian life. And this is to be done by:
Plan A: Every incumbent out!
How about plan B? You already have plan B, with or without Measure B.
-- Bob Meier, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bob Jackson's May 9 letter, "Is war support political?"
Jackson asks, "Would you be so blindly, unconditionally, loyally and patriotically supporting the war in Iraq, as (Bill) O'Reilly does, were it being waged by a Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry or any other Democrat?"
My answer: Yes!
Jackson: Would you be so blindly, unpatriotically against the war in Iraq were it being waged by a Democrat?
Again quoting Mr. Jackson: "I thought not."
Questions like these cut both ways. It is particularly irritating to have the person posing the question assert that he knows the answer, isn't it?
-- Dan Siefert, Thousand Oaks
Re: your May 6 article, "Aftermath of foreclosures":
Derelict homes due to foreclosures here in Oxnard? Code Compliance has its hands full.
Yes, these homes need attention, but some of the neighborhoods in Oxnard are deplorable on a regular basis. Trash, weeds, outdoor storage, loose dogs running around, graffiti, cars parked on lawns directly in front of homes, paint chipping from walls, broken-out windows, loitering, public drunkenness, overcrowding -- it's absolutely appalling that such standards are so commonplace and accepted here in our community.
There is no pride for our city when we allow one another to live like pigs. Open your eyes and ears and take care of your yard and home, and when your neighbors lower living standards in your neighborhood, talk to your neighbors or call Code Compliance, the Graffiti Action Program, City Council or your local county supervisor. We pay the salaries for city and county employees to utilize their services and skills. Don't become lazy and complacent. Cleanliness, order, peaceful living -- these are issues that need to be addressed on a large scale for the welfare of all here in our otherwise beautiful city.
Sometimes among these neglected neighborhoods, you will occasionally see what I call "the lotus flowers." These are the homes that are maintained despite their deplorable surroundings. Tenants do the very best they can with what they have. It saddens me most when I see members of our community do their best to take care of their homes when around them, homes and neighborhoods remain squalid.
-- Veranica Piszczek, Oxnard
Re: your May 8 article, "2 opponents say Flynn has been on board too long":
The article states that John "Zaragoza also called himself a 'team player,'" which I guess he thought he was when he was on the Oxnard City Council. He just went along with everything the mayor said. We need people who can think for themselves, not a bobblehead.
-- Ann Ryan, Port Hueneme
I turned in my "opt out" form for Ventura's monthly 911 fee. I had a few questions.
You get one free call, and after that you pay. However, under the "Good Samaritan rule" -- Isn't that biblical and therefore can't be called that because of separation of church and state? -- you don't get charged if you're calling for someone else's emergency.
So, let's see if I've got this right. I'm driving to work and see an accident, and an unfortunate soul is bleeding to death. I call 911 and they say, "Thank you very much. No charge." But if I'm the one who gets in an accident and am bleeding to death, I'd better have my credit card handy. "Thank you very much for calling. That will be $17.88 please!"
Is it just me, or does it seem like we pay taxes for everything so we can have "services," but then they never have any money, so we get charged "fees" for the services we pay taxes for. Our city and state government are getting as out of touch and arrogant as the feds in Washington.
-- Brian D. Schwan, Ventura
I am extremely concerned about the patriotism of the American people and our politicians who have jumped on the B. Hussein Obama bandwagon.
The people who are willing to overlook his association with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright evidently have never heard the old "birds of a feather" adage.
Is anyone concerned about what changes Obama has in store for us? So far, I have heard higher taxes and socialized medicine, which can mean it would take people up to a year to have surgery. As far as the war, it will probably be the same, as we cannot pull out of Iraq and leave those people sitting ducks for Iran. Remember Nancy Pelosi and "Scary Harry" Reid's diatribe on how they were going to stop the war? There were a bunch of nuts who fell for that.
Then we have Michelle Obama. The woman has a chip on her shoulder. I find her extremely arrogant and racist and someone I would not care to have in the White House.
At least Sen. John McCain can be objective to all races. And his wife's contributions have been nothing but positive and generous.
The American people need to stop listening to movie stars and political ads with agendas of their own and start researching what actually is going on and what is good for America. If they don't, they might just one of these days wake up and find themselves dressed in a burqua.
-- Judith Patton, Moorpark
Re: Diana Thorn's May 8 letter, "Who is Barack Obama?":
Sen. Barack Obama addressed the issue of his relationship with his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in his March 18 Philadelphia speech and again with finality April 29.
Sen. John McCain continues to get a "pass" in the mainstream media about his spiritual advisers and religious supporters. McCain solicited and proudly accepted endorsements from several extremely controversial religious leaders. Video clips of their statements are available on YouTube. These include the Rev. John Hagee's statement, "New Orleans deserved Katrina because they were going to have a gay pride parade." Hagee has made defamatory statements about Islam, called the Catholic Church "the great whore" and denigrated women.
During a March 4 Republican primary rally in Ohio, the Rev. Rod Parsley by his side, McCain called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide." Unfortunately, Parsley has written of Islam, "The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed."
In 2000, McCain called the Revs. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance," based on their vitriolic views such as Falwell's blaming the 9/11 attacks on "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the ACLU," etc. In 2006, McCain evidently decided that wasn't such a despicable statement after all and delivered a graduation speech at Falwell's Liberty University.
To paraphrase Thorn: It is clear McCain has associated with angry, dangerous and questionable people. Does McCain have the judgment, honesty, character, dependability and open-mindedness to be our next president? I don't think so.
Thorn might want to delve a little deeper into Obama's legislative record and the esteem he has earned from fellow congressional representatives and other respected leaders.
Again, I echo Thorn's statement: It is imperative Americans get to know the candidates -- all the candidates.
-- Joy Putinta, Camarillo
Re: Rodney K. Boswell's May 7 letter, "Can't blame the Democrats":
Boswell questions why President Bush blames the Democrats for our current economic woes. He intimates that it was due to the Republicans' "flexing our muscles abroad" in 2001, not when the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006.
In reality, it began during the late 1980s. The Democrats in Congress have continually blocked, to this day, domestic fossil fuel and nuclear power development, whether they controlled Congress or not. Both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama voted against such domestic energy development.
More recently, Democrats touted global warming caused by carbon dioxide emission -- an issue in doubt -- as the reason not to develop domestic fossil fuels. Unfortunately, adequate supplies of renewable energy are not available to support the economy as required.
We need fossil-fuel and nuclear-power development now. Our country runs on energy, lots of it. Our economic woes are caused by having to buy foreign oil rather than developing our own. Corn ethanol is an environmental loser. It adds carbon dioxide and diverts corn from food -- think high food costs and shortages.
The Democrats are greatly responsible for high energy (gas) and food costs. Their inaction continues to have a major negative impact on our economy.
-- Allan Byrne, Agoura Hills
Now that Sen. Barack Obama's attackers have spilled all their venom they can think of by bringing up old issues that he has already dealt with, what are they going to do when the real political contest begins? Sen. John McCain has yet to answer to the American electorate for any of his religious pandering and lobbyist associations, let alone his strong position on supporting the war and the so-called surge. Let the games begin.
-- Steve Binder, Oxnard
If you haven't heard about the theft of manhole covers not far from here, perhaps we all want to think about it now before we wake up and start finding not only those missing, but whatever's next, perhaps our lampposts and street signs. Is our city the next to be stripped in the middle of the night?
With thieves going after the wiring in construction equipment, how long can it be before we run out of our houses one morning on the way to work and find the rims and tires missing off our cars? Our society won't last long if we can't even turn our backs without the very fabric of our lives being absconded with in the night and sold for scrap.
So who are these people who don't apparently even give a darn about our world and our society? I asked myself this, and my mind immediately wandered to when we recently cleaned out our garage and an overloaded truck appeared out of nowhere with occupants who spoke no English except for the word "metal."
It was all we could do to keep them from carting off our lawn mower. "Sorry, we need that." As the truck clunked precariously off, two things occurred to me:
-- These guys aren't going to pay any taxes on that stuff.
-- Do either of them live behind the false wall in my neighbor's garage?
If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that anything can happen if you let it.
-- Anthony Harper, Simi Valley
Re: Mike Dunn's May 8 letter, "How to help public schools":
As a dispassionate observer, I wish to comment on the inherent illogical and strident tenor of Dunn's views.
What Dunn labels as "propaganda" is, in essence, an attempt to demonize those views that contradict his own. Therefore, any serious attempts to apply objectivity to his cause are obliterated.
His partial statement, "if the schools promoted traditional family values compatible with our community standards and our faith," ironically sounds like the very same type of propagandizing he charges his opponents with. Apparently, logic and irony are two things that prove elusive for Dunn.
Furthermore, his comments beg several questions: Whose traditions? Whose family values? What community standards? Whose faith? His purposeful ambiguity on these issues reveals his own deceptive attempts to impose his subjective beliefs onto the local public schools.
Dunn obviously has an agenda, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with public education. Rather, he has attempted to foist a combined corporatist-religious agenda upon perceived heretics who reject his inquisitional methods. His cryptic comments on religion and declaration that "Sacramento must make it easier for business to make a profit" allude to this fact. Whether or not he succeeds depends on the level of power afforded to him by his allies and weak opponents.
With the persistence of infighting and acrimonious speech, will the students end up being sacrificed for the school board members' personal ambitions? This would certainly provide a convenient vehicle for the dismantling of our public education system.
Perhaps Dunn would care to apprise the students, parents and voters on what constitutes his real agenda. Clarification, not obfuscation -- enlightenment, not indoctrination -- would lead to more productive ends.
-- Hampton White, Newbury Park
Re: Lois D. Glab's May 2 commentary, "Facing up to gas crisis":
Does Glab actually think there's any real "citizen-friendly" correlation whatsoever between drilling on, under and off the shore of U.S. land, including Alaska, and enhancing our country's oil reserves and domestic supply of crude?
That oil goes overseas to the highest bidder. It always has, always will. In itself it seems despicable, if not criminal, to be selling off a country's most valuable natural resource to foreign markets without any government regulation or "U.S.-first" minimum quotas. How can "big oil" own all the underground oil in the first place?
Shouldn't such a vital and limited resource like that be, in some manner, regulated and kept here -- at least the lion's share -- for domestic consumption? That this goes on with the tacit approval of U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly and the rest of higher-echelon government representatives just highlights the relationship between campaign-friendly oil companies and their talking heads in the Congress.
Sure the people in Alaska don't complain because they've all been bought off with a hefty yearly stipend for each and every resident. But what boggles the mind even more is that most citizens still haven't connected the dots.
Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge certainly will impact the environment -- flora and fauna -- in ways that no one can foresee. That's bad enough, in itself. But to rape the environment just so that oil companies can post even more obscene profits with no benefit or relief whatsoever to our own country's crude-oil nightmare is just ridiculous, and it's reason enough to repudiate the fairy tale of the "open marketplace" and other outdated Republican "capitalistic" tripe.
And while we're airing out this "dead rat" of a dilemma, don't forget that it's the oil companies themselves, in concert with the government's self-serving laissez-faire stance -- not the environmentalists -- who refuse to build new refineries and upgrade the output of existing facilities. They certainly have enough money now to do it more easily than ever before, but why would they? Wake up, Americans, and smell the crude!
-- Patrick Musone,
Is ice-block riding at Arroyo Verde Park no longer allowed?
I have been taking my children, relatives, friends and students to this park for more than 24 years to ride ice blocks down the grassy hills. Current pictures are on my digital camera of students of mine laughing, standing and sitting on ice blocks, completely enjoying the ice-block riding experience. For my three nieces who come to stay with my family every summer, this is an annual event.
My son and his friends, all young adults, were approached by police officers -- yes, actual policemen, not park rangers -- early in the afternoon recently and were told they could not ice-block ride at the park. Would this have happened to me, if I were there, as I was two months ago, with a group of former students as well as a friend with her four young children? There are no signs posted stating that ice-block riding is prohibited at the park.
Here were a small group of young adults doing something active, having some good clean fun, not causing trouble in the community, and they are made to feel as if they had committed a crime.
I have seen baseball teams, Boy Scout troops, families and church groups ice-block riding down those hills at the park. The two ruts made by the ice are narrow and away from the main park foot traffic.
Arroyo Verde Park is known for this fun sport. Please enlighten me as to how this is an illegal criminal activity at a public park.
-- Patty Peinado, Ventura
(The writer is a teacher in the Ventura Unified School District. -- Editor)
The Santa Paula Union High School District invites the community to discuss impending education budget cuts.
Termination of bus service for high school students and other cuts will be addressed with the community. The district is considering substantial cuts for its 2008-09 fiscal year budget.
The meeting will give the community, especially the parents who have students bused to the high school, the opportunity to dialogue with school officials. Parents can offer suggestions, opinions, and other concerns. A Spanish translator will be provided.
The meeting will be held Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the Santa Paula High School cafeteria, 404 N. 6th Street, Santa Paula. If you have any questions, contact Karen Ruiz, executive assistant to the superintendent, at 805-525-0988, ext. 21.
-- Karen Ruiz, executive assistant to the superintendent and board of trustees,
Santa Paula Union High School District, Santa Paula
Measure B is a perfect example of a policy with disastrous consequences.
The misleading information by the proponents is somewhat staggering. It is not about traffic. A report by an independent consultant said Measure B will increase congestion, not reduce it.
It is not about open space. The consultant said it will dry up the funds used by the city and park district to purchase open space.
It is not about increasing the quality of life here. It will cut funding for schools, parks, police and fire services and hurt the expansion of Los Robles Hospital, which is why they have made a huge contribution to the campaign to defeat Measure B.
Look at who is opposed to this measure: every public agency, Los Robles Hospital, California Lutheran University, taxpayers associations, Sheriff Bob Brooks, Little Leagues, PTAs and more. Ask yourself why and search out the facts at www.dontdoitto.com.
The drafting of this measure was so poorly done that there are consequences that were never intended. Tell the Do It Center their attorney drafted an astonishingly bad measure and they are not looking out for our city, only for themselves. If they love this city as we do, they will stop trying to deceive us for their own gain.
-- Frances Prince, Thousand Oaks
Recently I've been thinking about what environmentalists have achieved over recent years and what a disaster it has been for the U.S.
Look at the drive to get away from paper grocery bags, which brought us the blight of plastic bags everywhere.
Then there's the gasoline additive MTBE, which found its way into the ground water supply, thank you very much!
Now we are unable to break free from foreign oil partly because U.S. companies can't drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, off the California coast or the Gulf of Mexico, unlike the Chinese who are busy drilling for oil in the gulf. The push for ethanol as a cleaner alternative is playing a part in the world food crisis.
Nothing but problems have been caused by the environmental fixes, and we are supposed to listen to their advice on global warming? No thanks. They've done enough harm.
-- Paul Taylor, Simi Valley
I was pleasantly surprised by Michael Tenenbaum when I met him at a Ralph's recently. He is well-spoken, friendly and seems genuinely concerned with the issues that are facing us today. It was refreshing to hear him speak so passionately about issues concerning alternative energy, education reform, and the current state of businesses in Ventura County.
I will be following his campaign in the 24th District, and I urge others to take a look at him so we can transition away from Elton Gallegly. Elton's only defining measures in Congress covered cock fighting, irritable bowel syndrome funding, and attempting to have square dancing become the national dance of the U.S. I don't know about you, but those aren't issues that I want my congressional representatives concerning themselves with.
-- Krystina Tapia, Moorpark
Re: your May 5 article, "Technology's march of obsolescence":
Cranking windows by hand in our 1998 Mercury Tracer may be out of style, but it intrigues our young granddaughters. They enjoy this rare hands-on option in their electronic life. Of course, they had to be trained to "handle" this retro leverage.
My wife and I appreciate those window cranks because we can close a window even after shutting off the engine -- unlike the "late penalty" in our other car with its electric winder.
Of course, as the author of the book "Poor Richard's TIPS from the Great Depression" (see reference in "Literary Notes" of your May 4 Books section), I've also cranked a phone, wound a watch, choked a car, threaded film, mowed with a reel mower, milked cows by hand and participated in an array of other obsolescence. And I've even had to use a crank to start car engines.
Now, by owning a car with crank windows, are we contrarian -- or just cranky about change?
-- Richard Londgren, Thousand Oaks
Re: Sally Hibbitts' May 7 letter, "Dunn does it again":
I wish to respond to the propaganda written by Hibbitts.
First, the fastest way to reopen Meadows and University schools is to retire trustees Dolores Didio and Dorothy Beaubien, then elect trustees who will listen to the parents and reverse the closure vote.
Second, I voted to oppose a resolution critical of the governor. The resolution offered no solutions, just criticism. Critics are a dime a dozen.
To increase funding for the public schools, we need to increase state revenues. Here is how to accomplish this mission:
-- Sacramento must make it easier for business to make a profit.
-- Reduce the $10 billion spent annually by the state providing goods and services to illegal immigrants.
-- Stop passing bonds. The interest expense is rising faster than the percentage increase in spending on public education.
-- Encourage parents to return to the public schools. Parents would do that if they felt like they were being listened to, and if the schools promoted traditional family values compatible with our community standards and our faith.
Trustees Didio and Beaubein should honorably retire. The board has forgotten who pays the taxes that make the public schools possible. The tail must stop wagging the dog.
-- Michael A. "Mike" Dunn, Newbury Park
(The writer is a trustee with the Conejo Valley Unified School District. -- Editor)
More than 3,000 years ago, the Bible had writings that it says came from God. It said, and I paraphrase: You say the land (Israel) will be delivered into the hand of Babylon (Iraq). I say I drove them (the Israelites) out in my anger, but I will call them back to this place. Just as I brought calamity on them, I will bring them peace. The land is desolate without man or beast. Men will buy it with money and the captives will return. (Jeremiah 32; 36-44)
They came back and re-established the land in 1948. How are things in Babylon?
The next promise to Israel is that they will dwell in peace and safety. If this is true, and I (and the Bible) say it is, then you can be certain that the Muslims will be defeated -- and defeated so thoroughly that Israel will dwell in peace. They cannot do so as long as the children of Ishmael (the Muslims and Arabs) continue to lob bombs at them at the rate of one or two a day.
So I (and the Bible) say you can be sure that whether we help them or not, the Muslim terrorists will be no more, and I think very soon.
The other thing the Bible says is that He will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse them. Which do you want to be? And what will you say after the enemies of Israel are no more and they begin to live in peace and safety?
-- Frank Bland, Simi Valley
I recently had a chance to meet one of our congressional hopefuls, Michael Tenenbaum. We had a great talk about the rising gas prices and what I consider the failing educational system. After speaking with him, I would definitely feel better about these issues if he were my congressman. I feel like he will take charge and make a difference while serving as our elected representative.
-- Nicholas Amoroso, Simi Valley
Re: your May 6 editorial, "Pride in Moorpark":
I would like to add my voice to The Star's editorial congratulating Larry Jones and the Moorpark Academic Decathlon team on their national championship. Based on my son's membership on the county championship team of several years ago, I know of no more caring teacher who inspires harder-working teams than Larry Jones.
-- David Kropp, Moorpark
Re: Robert D. Erlich's May 1 letter, "The age of reason":
Brandon McInerney shot Lawrence King in the head point-blank. The state of California has determined that the age a suspect must be in order to be tried for murder as an adult is 14. Brandon was 14 when he shot Lawrence.
Prison and judicial reform is a topic worth discussing, but we should not detract from the fact that a young person is dead. As Lawrence King is a human being, his humanity not compromised by his sexuality, we are doing a disservice to ourselves when we do not explore the implications that this killing carries and instead argue over sentencing. This seems a lot like the downplay applied to other criminal cases of marginalized groups.
-- Rebecca T. Knebel, Ventura
"Future litigation will not be productive and will only pull away valuable resources from our districts that are under siege from the governor's proposed budget cuts. Let's agree to put the money into the classrooms and not into the attorneys' pockets, once this decision is made."
So said Pleasant Valley School District trustee Sandra Berg shortly before she didn't get the result she wanted from the State Board of Education's ruling on unification. She has since joined several other "concerned Camarillo citizens" in a lawsuit against the state's decision. So much for keeping one's word, and so much for leadership by example.
Someone please help me understand how someone so duplicitous remains on the Pleasant Valley school board year after year.
Do we need to be reminded of the school-closure fiasco Berg helped orchestrate? Do we need to be reminded that once again our school teachers have been duped by this board and once again will see their already insulting wages eroded, with no raise on the horizon? And what will this board do? They'll likely blame the governor's budget cuts as the reason they can't pay teachers what they're worth, just as they've tried to blame Oxnard -- and now the state board -- for this unification disaster they themselves have created.
While this may come as news to Berg and other PVSD board members, true leadership is about taking responsibility for one's actions and leading by example. This entire board has lost my confidence and my trust. I urge you to join me in voting to replace each one of them in November.
-- Dave Stephenson, Camarillo
Re: John M. Crisp's May 1 commentary, "Who are these 12 million illegals living in the U.S.?"
Crisp brings up the ugliest (tied for "most ignored" with employers) issue of illegal migration: Americanized and American-born children of illegal aliens.
I would probably also like Crisp's "model illegal" if I met her. I recently talked to a nice, intelligent Mexican-born woman who attended Ventura College, speaks English well and is probably also illegal -- I didn't ask, and, liking her, I don't want to know -- having come to America as an adolescent. To her, this is Mexico, not America.
The fact that several decades of illegal labor underbidding the U.S. labor market is why illegal labor is poorly paid in industries they have come to dominate does not compute to her. She prefers the term "institutionalized racism" to explain the condition. The irony of unemployed Mexican citizen members of the UFW picketing an Oxnard strawberry field full of Mexican citizen strawberry pickers escapes her.
The Spanish language media is a contributor to that sort of attitude. It seems obsessed with immigration and race, with daily allegation of persecution and oppression. The tone seems purposefully intended to foment racial enmity and reinforce racial separateness on the part of Hispanics against the "Anglosajon" boogieman. I believe if Spanish language newspaper content was accurately reprinted in English format, the "white backlash" that Janet Murguia of the National Council of La Raza babbles endlessly about would actually occur.
So, what to do with Americanized children of illegal migrants who are told every day that the white man is out to get them? How do we take race out of legal and economic issues that are so endlessly racialized? Why aren't Latino advocates denounced as racists as well as white nationalists, since they differ only by working opposite corners of the same street?
I would like to see John Crisp write an essay answering those questions.
-- Allan McNew, Fillmore
Re: your April 30 article, "Bush hits Congress for falling economy":
Only one word can describe this: chutzpah, to the highest degree.
-- Lydia Kaplan, Oxnard
As I seem to recall, it was only a few weeks ago that Sen. Barack Obama said of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, "I could no more disown him than I can my white grandmother." So when can we expect him to disown his white grandmother?
And it seems like only yesterday that Obama made the astute, if belated, observation that Wright was "not the same person I met 20 years ago." But I'm making the wild guess that he looks just like the same person Obama knew a few days ago.
-- Marvin Petal, Oxnard