Re: your June 19 weather report:
I don't know where The Star gets its weather information, but the locale certainly isn't reflective of all of Simi Valley. In a recent edition, The Star reported that a high temperature for Simi Valley was 95. I have three highly accurate thermometers here at my home, and all registered a high temperature of 101.6.
My home is located near the virtual center of the valley, which I believe to be a good average location for measuring temperature, rainfall, wind speed, phase of the moon, sunrise/sunset, high/low tide, etc.
-- Vince Nowell Sr., Simi Valley
June 2008 Archives
Re: your June 19 weather report:
Re: Edie Brown's June 19 letter, "Religious right is wrong":
Shame on Brown for comparing the religious right to the Taliban because of the religious right's view on homosexuality. The Taliban executed single women for having relations with men out of wedlock. They executed homosexuals. There is no comparison between the values of the religious right and the crimes against humanity that were committed by the Taliban.
This is just another example of the inability of liberals to have a rational conversation and debate without using extreme exaggerations and hateful name-calling when anyone disagrees with them.
A true American would support the rights of all Americans to express their values and to live their lives based on their values. The religious right has the right to live their lives according to their values -- values that, by the way, have served them well for thousands of years. Brown has the right to live her life by her values -- values that have not yet had the chance to withstand the test of time.
Only time will tell as to whether her values will serve anyone well, let alone those 70,500 children she refers to in her letter. If she supports abortion like most liberals, it's a miracle that many of those 70,500 children even made it this far. I am pleased that these children are, by and large, in loving homes, but there is no question that many of them will have to overcome stigmatisms associated with who their parents are.
-- Randy Wheeler, Moorpark
I'm writing to voice my opinion about the June 3 election. It was a sham, and, as a voter in Thousand Oaks, I feel the election process should be stopped permanently. You can't make right decisions, and you get constantly badgered by political phone calls. Between the city of Thousand Oaks and the hospital, they have ruined our election system. And as a voter, I'm asking that this stop.
-- Mary Harris, Thousand Oaks
Re: Michael S. Vorac's June 18 letter, "Male, female logic":
Let's go straight to examine some of the natural laws Vorac has said are revealed to us by thinking.
He wrote: "A human is either a man or a woman." Somebody ought to tell this to the approximately 5,000 couples every year who are faced with the decision to pick their child's sex after birth because their child was born a hermaphrodite, a human with both male and female sex organs. The new psychology on this is to wait several years to determine the child's male or female propensity before sex orientation surgery is performed.
He wrote: "A male is naturally attracted to a female and vice versa." If this were true, we would not have homosexuals. In actuality, it is now understood that humans as well as other species are, on a sliding scale, sexually somewhere between heterosexual and homosexual. Sex for many higher animals is far more than just for procreation. In fact, there are animal species that are both male and female and basically inseminate themselves.
He wrote: "Only a man and women can create another human." All males have been made irrelevant in the process. Sperm is no longer even required in the petri dish.
He wrote: "The primary purpose of marriage is the creation and education of humans." Marriage is completely irrelevant when it comes to creating humans, but it is relevant to creating a stronger bond between individuals for the purpose of raising children and caring for each other.
He has proved my point once again: It is impossible to think clearly when the mind is full of fundamentalist thoughts that crowd out reason.
-- Tom Ion, Moorpark
Re: your June 18 article, "Renovation of Bus Home begins":
As I passed the art monstrosity and saw scaffolding, I thought, "Oh boy, they're going to finally tear it down!" Then I read in the paper that they are going to spend more than $100,000 to paint it.
For $100,000, I could build an igloo 100 feet in diameter with room on the south side for 100 bus passengers to stay out of the rain and the rest a dance hall. Every five years, they could open a hole in the top of the roof and pour $1,000 worth of multicolored paint, which could dribble down the sides with no labor involved. It could be called "The Psychedelic Igloo" or, even better, "The Jim Johnson Psychedelic Igloo." Wow! That would be a monument!
-- James Stanley Johnson Sr., Ventura
Re: your June 18 article, "Renovation of Bus Home begins":
Finally, the Bus Home sculpture at the north end of the Pacific View Mall is getting its much-needed makeover to compensate for improper preparation of its paint from the get-go.
It is my hope that if skeptics don't understand the Bus Home sculpture, they might learn to appreciate it by understanding what it expresses -- or perhaps making up their own sense of interpretation.
As many works of art are not accepted at their inception, but grow to be more accepted over time, the content of Bus Home is even more appropriate today than the day it was constructed. And its message will increase in meaning in the decades to come.
With the escalation of gasoline prices and the push for more use of mass transit, alternate transportation to the automobile is becoming more and more of a necessity.
As a lifelong Venturan and a cutting-edge Baby Boomer, I so appreciate that Ventura finally has a unique identity -- that of "The New Art City."
Anyone who partakes of any of the well-publicized art activities, including regular Art Walks, can see that Ventura has indeed "arrived" as a thriving art community. This identity unites Venturans in enjoyment of its purpose, as well as attracting tourist dollars.
Even if you don't like Bus Home, at least it has the community expressing opinion about art!
-- Marilyn Kellar, Ventura
(The writer is a former art consultant. -- Editor)
Out-of-control spending leading to economic servitude, in my view, is the primary question of this presidential campaign -- to be or not to be free of governmental abuse impacting our hard-earned income.
The land of the free shall become history should unlimited taxation increasingly reduce our fellow Americans to the status of economic servitude.
Tax reform that is simple, fair and revenue-sufficient -- sans grotesque governmental waste -- is far past due. A balanced budget amendment failed by a single vote in the Senate during the so-called Republican Revolution.
How do Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama propose to achieve the discipline of a balanced budget amendment and the elimination of the national debt -- $9 trillion and climbing -- in less than a generation? Would they consider a 4 to 5 percent reduction per year of this grossly irresponsible debt? Our children and grandchildren are the victims of federal mismanagement and, unfortunately, a lack of citizen oversight, as well.
Americans have not spilled their blood to be ruled by the tyranny of excessive taxation and the invasion of privacy -- confiscation of property, garnishing of wages, etc. -- by federal, local or any level of governmental malfeasance. Politicians must stop making promises that exceed constitutional authority and/or impose taxes we cannot afford.
The electorate is eager to know McCain's and Obama's true specific plans regarding tax reform and a balanced budget amendment?
-- Sal Terrusa, Oxnard
The last good Ventura city manager was 30 years ago. The last good chief of police is no longer with us. The things I like about Ventura are the hills, the ocean and the weather. The city has no control over them. The old police motto was to protect and serve. The new police motto is we no longer do that and it will cost you extra.
The best way to travel in and through Ventura is freeway or highway. It's quicker, you get better gas mileage, there are no bikes or people walking and the city doesn't control it.
Another perk is that you can get to the next city quickly and shop Costco, Wal-Mart, electronic stores and a lot of eating places that aren't here.
We should not vote for council people who want to use consulting firms that tell them whom to hire, what to do and what funds they can get by passing new fees.
Last, haven't we dumped enough money in downtown?
-- Marvin Houghton, Ventura
I recently used the envelope-free ATM recently installed in my neighborhood by Bank of America. I had cash and checks to deposit.
From past experience, I knew that any checks must be inserted in the direction indicated by the graphic, otherwise the machine does not recognize it and spits it back out. So I faced the checks in the proper direction. I had also faced the cash in the same direction. Then the cash slot opened and the "cash graphic" showed that the cash must face the opposite direction!
I encourage Bank of America to contemplate that since it now takes longer to make a deposit -- and, in my opinion, is an increased security risk since I am displaying any cash to be deposited -- that the bills and the checks face the same direction. This will eliminate a few precious seconds that it will take to reinsert wrongly faced cash or checks.
-- Michael Grieco, Oxnard
I attended the funeral for Kevin Patrick Pryor, who died after returning from an extended stay fighting fires in Northern California.
In his eulogy, Kevin's brother, Eric, informed the large audience of Kevin's continued service to mankind. Eric informed the audience that the Pryor family had given permission for the medical people to use his brother's organs. We were told there is a 37-year-old male who is now living with Kevin's beating heart. We were told Kevin's liver is being used in two other people's bodies. His retinas are used in eyes, and his two kidneys, lungs, etc., are being used. In all, there are nine individuals alive today, all because of Kevin and his family.
As Kevin was a firefighter sworn to uphold laws of this country and live according to God's will, the citizens of Ventura County should feel blessed to have had one of their own contribute to continued life.
Hopefully there will be others who will think as the Pryor family did in their service to mankind.
-- John Adams, Camarillo
Re: Armando Cardenas' June 23 letter, "Why is Iraq winning?":
I found this letter to be quite ironic. The writer asks, "Why have we not won the war in Iraq yet?" Well, if he'd read the paper, he might have a better understanding and an answer to his question.
It is very difficult for the U.S. military to fight Iraqi insurgents because insurgents use guerilla fighting tactics and because ideologies and philosophies can't be destroyed with the bodies that hold them.
The Revolutionary War was won with the help of guerilla warfare. The Vietnam War was sustained, not won or lost, because communist ideologies were able to spread amongst the people, never ceasing with the number of Vietcong killed. Ideas last long after bodies have stopped living.
The war in Iraq is not a conventional war such as the ones we are used to reading about in history, with the exception of Vietnam.
I found Cardenas' letter to be rather disturbing. His objectification of human life is troubling, especially when justifying the deaths of innocent Iraqis by saying they should know better than to be hanging around the insurgents at times of battle. Justification of murder by proximity doesn't seem to make much sense. It seems that an understanding of life's complexities and situational variance is being overlooked in this case. Assumptions are the cause of global ignorance.
Aside from the overall irrational and arrogant tone of Cardenas' letter, my advice -- with the hope of not appearing arrogant myself -- would be to read the paper more critically. The war in Iraq is not a just war. The attitude he maintains commonly perpetuates injustice. Peace should not be achieved by going to war. It is analogous to fighting fire with fire, or attempting to light up a room by imbuing it with shadows.
-- Erik Bernstein, Ventura
On June 23 at approximately 10 a.m., I was cited for proceeding through an intersection where the traffic signal was inoperative.
The officer who cited me was positioned in a parking lot approximately 25 yards from the intersection. In addition to the citation, I was informed of the hazardous situation that existed.
I proceeded to my doctor's office, which was in the same parking lot as the officer, and informed my doctor of what had just transpired. My doctor informed me that the power had been off since 9 a.m. and that he and his nurse had observed approximately 12 other citations being issued.
The informational officer was working with a partner whom he would inform of violators proceeding his way.
This indicates to me that sufficient manpower was available to direct traffic at the scene of the hazardous situation.
It is a sad commentary that a traffic officer feels it is more important to generate revenue than provide for the public's safety.
I inquired as to the lack of temporary stop signs, to which he replied, "I've informed Cal-trans, I expected they would have been here by now."
In all my years of driving, I have never seen a situation such as I experienced. But then again, in these days of tight budgets, maybe revenue generation is the top priority.
-- Edward Strosser, Moorpark
Re: Ruth Weikel's June 22 commentary, "Binding teachings":
Weikel implies that the Bible verses I quoted ("What the Bible says ... about lobster," June 8) were taken out of context, and I wholeheartedly refute that claim. I specifically listed book and verse for each quote so that readers could look them up for themselves and see that I quoted each passage verbatim and did not take them out of context. I didn't interject my opinions or my interpretations of each quote the way that Weikel did, either.
She is more than entitled to her opinions. She owns them. But because she interprets the Bible differently from the way it is written does not necessarily make her interpretations correct. The fact that everyone has their own interpretations of what the Bible says makes the First Amendment to the Constitution that much more important and protects everyone from everyone else's religious beliefs.
Regardless, for those whot believe in God, I wrote up a simple nine-point list explaining why it is wrong for us to condemn homosexuals:
1. Some people are born homosexual. It is a condition over which they have no control, like skin color or height.
2. According to scripture, God creates us. Therefore, God creates homosexuals.
3. If we regard homosexuals as flawed, then we must assume God created them flawed deliberately.
4. This would make God evil.
5. God cannot be evil.
6. Therefore, homosexuals must not be flawed.
7. If God did not create them flawed, he created them correctly.
8. God would not condemn what he created correctly.
9. Since God created homosexuals correctly and does not, therefore, condemn them, it is wrong for us to then condemn them.
Keep in mind that the Bible was written by man, and man is well renowned for making mistakes.
-- Chris Bower, Ventura
Re: your June 25 article, "Council considers turning off the lights":
So, the city of Ventura is talking about shutting off streetlights because they feel the voters will not approve an increased lighting assessment fee. Unbelievable.
Councilman Carl Morehouse's comments in The Star say it all: "I'm frustrated and angry. If residents don't feel it's important to keep the lights on, then, by golly, let's turn off the lights. I am all in favor of that because I don't like light pollution anyway."
The sheer arrogance of his comments is stunning. Mayor Christy Weir and Councilman Neal Andrews had some equally inane remarks. Apparently, "The City with a Fee" is certainly trying hard to maintain its new image.
It is interesting to me that the City Council is forever complaining about rising crime rates and the need to provide more funding for the Police Department, yet, at the same time, they are talking about shutting off streetlights -- a major crime deterrent -- and closing police storefronts. I guess we only have ourselves to blame. We're the ones who re-elected these clowns back in November.
I think its time to shut off the lights on this City Council. We need a fresh start at City Hall. Let's elect real leaders next time around by voting against all the incumbents.
-- David M. Grover, Ventura
Re: your June 25 article, "Council considers turning off the lights":
It's interesting that the Ventura City Council is so irritated at their citizenry for turning down the streetlight assessment of $10 proposed in 2003 that they would actually turn off the streetlights. If my memory serves me well, I think that assessment was turned down because they tried to sneak through an automatic increase in the tax without future voter approval.
I wonder when they will stop trying to pull the fast ones on us?
Turn off the lights, City Council, and start paying a lot of police overtime, because I guarantee the incidence of crime will increase.
-- Richard A. Pillow, Ventura
Re: your June 22 editorial, "Drilling call pure politics":
It amazes me that troglodytes on The Star staff oppose drilling for oil. Troglodytes are cavemen who exist by hunting and gathering, except that, in The Star's perfect world, hunting would be severely restricted to protect endangered species and by limits on many types of ammunition, except, perhaps, rubber bullets.
California used to bristle with oil wells, and gasoline was 19.9 cents per gallon. Now, we're supposed to use plug-in hybrid autos, never you mind that 71 percent of our electric power is generated with fossil fuels -- coal, oil and natural gas.
Where is the logic? We depend on diesel-powered trucks, planes and trains to bring us things. I don't find the 13 oil rigs between Ventura and Santa Barbara so bad to look at; they are merely blips on the ocean.
We should drill, drill, drill wherever there is oil.
-- Lou Gates, Westlake Village
Re: your June 26 article, "T.O. approves anti-smoking ordinance":
I attended the Thousand Oaks City Council meeting Tuesday and would like to comment on the proposed ordinance that was voted on by the council.
I was profoundly disappointed in council member Dennis Gillette. I have know Gillette for a number of years, going back to his opposition to tying yellow ribbons supporting our troops on Thousand Oaks' trees. His absurd reasoning was, "What if Iraq's supporters wanted to tie Iraqi ribbons on our trees?" What kind of so-called logic was that?
Gillette was the initiator of the proposed tobacco ordinance using that same lack of logic Tuesday. Fortunately, wisdom prevailed in the form of an amendment that was added to the ordinance diluting some of its devastating effects to Thousand Oaks businesses. Those who showed great wisdom were council members Tom Glancy, Andy Fox and Mayor Jacqui Irwin.
On behalf of my many friends who spoke last night in opposition to the ordinance, I offer my thanks to Fox, Glancy and Irwin.
-- Russ Hopkins, Moorpark
Re: Jill Martinez's June 20 commentary, "24th District vote outcome nothing new":
Martinez's criticism of the voters' selection of the two general election candidates in the 24th District is misplaced. Her acknowledgment that the voters preferred other candidates is indeed nothing new. I attended the debate at Cal Lutheran. Except for the whining that U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly was in Washington voting on major legislation affecting our country and district, the candidates offered simplistic solutions to major problems that did not resonant with the electorate.
Martinez's attack on the district voters is also misguided and misinformed. Gallegly works tirelessly behind the lights and headlines with every state and local official to make his district an example of cooperation and progress. Gallegly's district includes two of the outstanding counties in the state measured by every significant index. That is why the voters in the district vote for Gallegly. Gallegly understands his job.
Gallegly is for limiting wasteful government spending but works tirelessly out of the headlines to get the district its fair share of tax dollars for infrastructure, development and repairs. Gallegly understands that he must be responsive to the concerns of his constituents, not newspaper headlines. He understands that the Middle East must be secured from the threat of terrorists. September 11 is seared in his memory, as it is in ours. He understands that our national security requires secure borders.
Gallegly has tirelessly communicated with his district voters and regional employers that they must become more active and accountable in the national debate on enacting humane immigration reforms. Gallegly has lived and worked in the 24th District for more than 40 years and understands its needs.
What frustrates and upsets the losing candidates is that the voters understood that the simplistic solutions they offered during the debate and on their Web sites did not replace the voters' common sense. The voters understood that no matter what a candidate places next to his or her name as a ballot designation, it remains critical that the candidate's views on important issues reflect the voters' major concerns. Martinez's loss was not because of her ballot designation. She lost the last election, and she did not blame that loss on a clever ballot designation.
I am confident that the voters are a lot smarter than the losing candidates think they are. That is why the district voters will re-elect Gallegly.
-- David Laufer, Oxnard
Re: your June 19 article, "Harbor panel backs plan to replace Casa Sirena":
This headline tells the reader that a "harbor panel" OK'd the redesigned hotel plan. That's hardly a surprise, as the OK started way back when the "panel," which, in reality is the Ventura County Harbor Commission, was loaded with members who would promise to follow the harbor director regardless of the inanity of her direction.
The Harbor Commission is possibly the least inquisitive group of people that have ever gathered in the same room. I have seen the harbor director make a complex presentation and not a single commissioner would be interested enough to ask a question. When there was a member who dared to ask questions, the harbor director and her supporters on the Board of Supervisors made certain that he was removed from the commission by destroying his good name and accusing him of verbal battery. The harbor director and a current supervisor, one not representing the harbor, have redefined the asking of questions as "verbal battery." Democracies strive when the public knows the facts; demigods strive when secrecy, obfuscation and misinformation reign.
When this same presentation was given at the May 27 board meeting of the Channel Islands Beach Community Service District, The Star did not think it important enough to send a reporter. Perhaps The Star did not want its readers to hear what the public, those who will be directly affected, had to say. As an attendee at that meeting, I found the preponderance of the public reaction was opposed to the content of the presentation. I can recall only two affirmative comments to an untold number in opposition.
Had the current administrators of the harbor been more concerned with maintaining the overall condition of the assets here at the harbor, we would not need these major teardowns and buildups. This harbor director has never seen a developer's dangling dollar without drooling all over herself.
-- Les Spiegel, Channel Islands Beach
Re: your June 20 article, "Hawaiian group wants monarchy restored":
The Associated Press has been drinking revisionist history Kool-Aid.
The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown by a group of Hawaiian citizens of various ethnic backgrounds, including Hawaiian and Caucasian of American and German descent. The overthrow was because of an attempt by the queen to institute a new constitution of her own writing and design that would severely limit rights. A Navy ship landed Marines to protect the U.S. Embassy and offices and the lives of American citizens and did not take part in the coup. The Marines bivouacked out of sight of the palace in back of the music theater about a block and a half away from the palace.
Every major nation in the world recognized the new government in a very short time.
-- Bob Gould, Kaneohe, Hawaii
Re: your June 20 article, "Gangs are top concern in Oxnard, survey finds":
This article quotes from a report mailed to Oxnard residents concerning a half-cent sales tax raise proposed by the City Council. The flier showed partial reports of the city's "We Hear You" survey.
What is not said in the report mailed to the Oxnard residents is that the city is spending $150,000 to educate the public about the proposed half-cent sales tax hike. The city is sending the top people on their staff -- City Manager Ed Sotelo, Assistant City Manager Karen Burnham, Police Chief John Crombach. Fire Chief Joe Milligan, etc. -- to try and sell this half-cent sales tax hike to the people and have named the campaign, "We Hear You."
Asking the citizens of Oxnard to make a list of their top concerns is an exercise in futility.
First, the $10,000,000 the city would take in from this half-cent sales tax goes into the city's general fund, and the people have no say in how and where this money will be spent.
Second, of the top five funding preferences, fixing the condition of city streets and alleyways was number one with 43 percent of the 1,233 people surveyed. A recent report by the city staff estimated it would take approximately $180 million to repair all the streets and alleyways in Oxnard that are presently in disrepair.
Third, if the city staff is really interested in doing good for the people in Oxnard, they should stop trying to sell a con with the wants of 1,233 people surveyed out of a 185,000 population.
For city staff: Can you hear us now?
-- Ed Ellis, Oxnard
Re: Jim Elwell-Martinez' June 11 letter, "Flats has a long history":
The mural is wonderful. I don't know about Tortilla Flats just being between certain streets, but as a community, they were remembered for the fullness of their lives, and that included where they went to the market, went dancing, listened to music or worked in the chili factory.
-- Dolores Perez, Ventura
Re: Mike Lavery's June 21 Ask the Chief column, "Fireworks are prohibited in nine Ventura County cities":
Fillmore does not sell illegal fireworks. All fireworks sold at Fillmore's "safe and sane" booths do not go into the air or explode. "Safe and sane" fireworks "emit a shower of sparks" or have whistles.
Most people see illegal fireworks and assume that they came from Fillmore. The ones that go into the air or explode came from out of state.
I am so sick of people blaming Fillmore for the illegal ones. There's a big difference between the two kinds.
-- Mary Ann Godfrey, Fillmore
Re: your June 23 editorial, "Passing up public funds":
It's all about the money. Barack Obama, the Liberal Lion II who is running on "change," is showing us how things stay the same after all. And The Star is cheering him on.
The reality is that a person who can raise hundreds of millions on his own does not want to be bound by spending limits. With those contributions and all the free publicity and cheerleading from the liberal media, he doesn't need public money to buy the White House.
I suppose it is refreshing to see a politician who breaks his promises before the election, but I would have loved to see the editorial if it had been John McCain who rejected public financing.
-- William Coe, Camarillo
Re: Armando Cardenas' June 23 letter, "Why are we being defeated in Iraq?":
First of all, we are not being defeated in Iraq. As in Vietnam, our soldiers are winning the daily firefights.
As for the war, it will once again be lost in Washington, where our fearless leaders sits behind their desks while calculating how much money will be going into their bank accounts -- money that is being made from their investments in American contractors who are working under no-bid contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's in addition to the big bucks that will come from the deal being made between Iraq and western oil companies, which, coincidentally, the Bush administration has announced it will not interfere with. So much for the lie that the war was not being fought for oil.
We might be the most powerful country in the world because of our weapons of mass destruction, but those Third World countries have been fighting a lot longer than we ever have, and they have leaders who know how to fight a war because they have actually fought in one.
We have an obligation to the thousands who have been killed and the thousands more who have been wounded. That obligation is to bring our fighting men and women home and to honor them for a job well done.
-- Tony Vasquez Jr., Fillmore
Re: your June 25 article, "Mortgage aid deal clears key hurdle":
Congress and the Senate are working out a $300 billion bill to stop foreclosures by providing government fixed-rate loans to those people who have poor subprime loans and are losing their homes. These loans would also require the banks to forego some of the debt owed on the home since the home values have dropped. One must ask: What's wrong with doing this?
First, we are talking about providing people government-backed loans who couldn't qualify for a good loan in the first place and are delinquent in their payments. These are people who are going to lose their homes. But what about the people who have similar loans, make their payments and are responsible? They don't qualify.
Secondly, the loan company has to forego some value on the home for the government to issue the loan. This will reduce the amount of debt that has to be repaid and help to make the payment more affordable. But the responsible homeowner down the street who paid his obligation will get nothing of the sort. They will still be paying off the original debt.
Can't people see that it is clearly wrong? How can a bank let a deliquent homeowner off the hook for, say, $200,000 and not do the same for the responsible one?
Third, this program is unlikely to make a dent in the actual housing meltdown. That meltdown is happening because we refused to regulate the way loans were made and because we allowed loans to be bundled and resold as securities.
The real issue is the financial manipulation of the past seven years. Providing an election-year patch like this is similar to putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg.
-- Robert Fields, Ventura
Re: your June 25 article, "Mortgage aid deal clears key hurdle":
This article stated that the $300 billion foreclosure bailout bill will help homeowners if "their mortgage holders were willing to take a substantial loss."
Subprime mortgages might have been originated by banks, but the mortgages were sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who bundled the mortgages together and resold them, through brokers, to mutual funds and to public and private pension funds. These are the mortgage holders who are being asked to take the substantial loss.
There has been very little news from these mutual and pension funds as to the amount of the toxic paper they hold, the amount of insurance they have and the amount of potential loss and its impact upon them. This is a very important issue for the retired people who depend upon their pensions and their retirement investments.
-- Nelson Wallace, Ventura
Federal mandates on ethanol and biodiesel are fast becoming a financial and environmental disaster, requiring millions of acres of farmland to grow both corn and soybeans. The resources required, along with their associated pollution, far outweigh any benefit.
The federal 10 percent ethanol and biodiesel mandate is compounded by a $5 billion subsidy per year -- 50 cents per gallon for ethanol and $1 per gallon for biodiesel. That's in addition to the billions in farm subsidies. As long as Congress and the president continue this madness to please the environmentalists, the pollution, along with spiraling costs, will continue.
Who is the Environmental Protection Agency here to protect, the feds or us? I don't think the EPA even considers the amount of pollution created in farming millions of acres and converting the products into biofuels as a problem. If this isn't an environmental problem, what is?
Using millions of acres in our heartland to convert petroleum-based fuels into biofuels, resulting in little if any gain, along with all of its pollution and costs, seems acceptable to the feds and the environmentalists, but drilling on a few acres of frozen tundra is a no-no. Were the Jimmy Carter solutions to our energy problems back in the '70s this bad? I don't think so.
-- Donald Wells, Ventura
Re: your June 22 article, "6,400-square-foot house opposed":
Pasha Moshiri wants to build a house in Thousand Oaks. His application to build 6,400-square-foot house was rejected by the city.
Moshiri, a native-born Iranian, claims that his application was rejected due to racism. He is consulting with a civil rights attorney. It appears that Moshiri plans to play the ethnic card in an attempt to bypass regulations that other citizens of Thousand Oaks have to follow.
Being an Iranian is no more being of a race than is being a Jew, a Muslim, a Californian, a New Yorker or a Catholic. Moshiri is crying racism as a ploy to attempt to bully the city of Thousand Oaks into giving him want he wants.
Let's hope the city recognizes this and tells Moshiri to take his cries of racism somewhere else.
-- Loki Browne, Moorpark
Re: your June 22 article, "6,400-square-foot house opposed":
City leaders made the right choice to support the general plan preserving this rural neighborhood -- a choice to keep quality in a town that is fast becoming an extension of the San Fernando Valley.
I'm always inspired by letters to the editor. This is the place to find out what the community really thinks. It's one of the only places left to share your thoughts, due to the fact that the majority rule, in our town, only listens to people who support their side of issues.
I want to repeat this catchy thought I read Sunday, "This is another nice mess you've gotten us into." Whether you're addressing President Bush or local leaders, even in nonprofit organizations, when things go bad, the responsibility should go to those who lead us.
The equestrian community is dwindling because the squeeze is on, due to the pace of development, rising costs of food and fuel and the need for venues for the Conejo Recreation and Parks Department to please the masses. Fewer people are able to afford the luxury of a horse that now is becoming a costly recreation.
Equestrians should be working together as a team to promote our quest to survive. We need good leaders to keep us united. Weak, divisive leaders will aid our demise. Leaders abusing their power for their own self interests, turning people against each other, will be our downfall. United we stand, divided we fall.
Our equestrian community needs to keep the objective in sight and spend its energy being an asset to the community. Divisiveness is the worst scenario, the doom of a group and an embarrassment for the agencies that support them.
So, as things get worse, stay out of the fray, base your opinions on facts, be sure you put the blame in the right perspective. Poor leadership leads to very poor results. Look hard at the state of our city and nation. Use common sense as to who you are supporting, get the facts right, become involved with integrity, because you will also become part of the problem if you allow a negative mentality to prevail and your information comes from misrepresentation, rumors, lies and gossip.
-- Marilee Ullmann, Thousand Oaks
A letter writer charged the Democrats with being responsible for the crisis at our gas stations. After all, the Democrats have captured the Congress and allegedly have hampered the oil industry in their drilling. According to the writer, regulations should be removed from the industry, and the industry should be allowed to drill at will, regardless of the effect on the environment.
Recently, a congressman appearing on C-Span pointed out with charts that the oil industry has enjoyed deregulation since President Bush was elected to office. Drilling has increased exponentially in the last eight years, and with the increase in drilling, gas prices have increased accordingly.
Has the writer forgotten the calamity California faced when energy was deregulated after President Bush first entered office?
The chief executive officer of Shell, testifying before a congressional committee, revealed Shell had plenty of oil. Shell was raising the price of oil "to make up for the lean years." Is this the proper time "to make up for the lean years," when our nation is in war?
During World War II, CEOs went to Washington to serve our country for a dollar a year. We had wage and price regulations. Gasoline sold for 30 cents a gallon, but gasoline, like meat and sugar, was rationed. Americans made sacrifices to support our troops. All industry was converted to wartime production.
Exclusive of the 4,000 Americans who have lost their lives in Iraq, and the 11,000 who have returned terribly wounded, the sacrifices being made on the home front are minimal. Raising gasoline prices during a time of war to "make up for the lean years" is indeed an affront to our servicemen.
-- Samuel M. Rosen, Newbury Park
Re: your June 18 editorial, "Historic day in California":
This editorial may be the death knell of California as we know it.
All those who gathered, decked out in all the colors of the rainbow, standing hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, celebrated the end of a natural tradition established by man and god. All those in the splendor were alone. None had or will have any offspring of their own. Thus, they are doomed to celebrate the end of their kind.
Good riddance to them all and all those who support their belief that homosexuality is natural and good. Maybe one day The Star will celebrate the marrying of a man and a woman with a goat or a rock. Who knows? There is not right, and there is no wrong. There is just what one wants.
Congratulations to The Star, which has joined those in the gutter who wallow in the muck.
-- Joe Laraneta, Westlake Village
Re: Tara Kadium's June 20 commentary, "Rules snub grad who joined the Marines":
I read this article about a young man who joined the Marines and was denied being part of graduation ceremonies because he was not able to be at rehearsal the day before. It seems he could not get leave, and the rules state you must be at the rehearsal in order to participate in the graduation ceremonies.
The young man's name is Raymond Peter Paladino. Let me first thank Raymond for his patriotism and his commitment to serving his country.
I personally feel that the principal, James Martin, and the school board should have made an exception and given permission so as to allow Raymond to graduate with his class. I am outraged that those in charge at the Conejo Valley Unified School District would not use this opportunity to honor a young student who is a fine example of their educational system.
The retiring principal could have gone out in a blaze of glory by bucking the system and allowing Raymond to be part of the ceremonies instead of a mere spectator.
I thank Paladino's mother for raising a fine young man, and I thank Kadium for bringing this blatant injustice to our attention.
-- Victor Colello, Simi Valley
Re: Bill O'Reilly's June 21 commentary, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, there's no way Baby Alex will go":
O'Reilly wonders "who on earth" the target audience could be for a MoveOn.org political advertisement. Apparently, he thinks that parents want to see their babies fed into this war machine in Iraq.
We were, in the words of President Bush's former press secretary, Scott McClellan, misled into an unnecessary war. It has cost more than 5,000 children already, counting both the troops and the contractors. The target audience should be very clear: It's the 80 percent of the country who thinks this nation is on the wrong track. They will hand Barack Obama a landslide victory in November.
It's sad that O'Reilly's ramblings are still taken as wisdom by some people. By the way, John McCain and O'Reilly can't have any of my children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren when that happens, either.
-- Sherry Jensen, Thousand Oaks
Re: Terry Paulson's June 23 essay, "Choosing a commander":
Paulson supports John McCain's violent stand on the Iraq war. He says, "Whether (Barack) Obama acknowledges it or not, war is a reality of the human condition and sometimes is the answer."
Paulson cites Nazi occupation of Denmark as an example of a "weak" nation that surrendered. Actually, it was a shining example of non-violent resistance, as it slowed, delayed and sabotaged the occupation and, above all, protected anyone that the Nazis pursued, such as the Jews. Denmark was able to save almost all of its 7,000 Jews and 1,500 Jewish refugees that were spirited into neutral Sweden. There were no Danish Jews in the death camps.
The main problem with war that Paulson says "sometimes is the answer" is that, always, violence breeds more violence to the point where we become willing to use the same methods that our enemy does. In World War II, the Allies were initially opposed to bombing civilians. Then, after the Germans bombed the English town of Coventry for 12 straight hours, retaliation on German and later Japanese civilians started. This culminated in the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo and, of course, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Paulson's one nuclear reference is a contrived scene of three nuclear-armed planes holding hostage the cities of New York, Washington and Los Angeles. He seems unaware that even this would not justify possession of thousands of planet-destroying nuclear warheads by the U.S. and Russia.
Obama's policy, as quoted by Paulson, seems to envision a more "humane" human condition than McCain's endless war, endless military buildup and all their attendant distractions for our real crises -- humanity and global warming.
-- Hugh Rumball-Petre, Simi Valley
Re: your June 22 article, "Man works at turning death into another's life":
Unfortunately, we had the "pleasure" to meet Max Calderon of Legacy One at Northridge Hospital last September, where our 12-year-old son, Travis Hansen, lay dying of a severe brain injury. He was respectful, caring and sensitive to our family's needs in those darkest of hours, yet carried a subtle air of professionalism that made him most trustworthy.
One cannot imagine the pain and agony a family goes through, especially with the death of one so young and innocent, yet there was Max, with his soft-spoken, reassuring voice, helping my husband and his ex-wife face a decision they thought they'd never have to make. Travis' organs were donated to four individuals, and we hope our loss has given them and their families hope for a brighter future.
Max is no vulture. In our book, he's an angel.
-- Steve & Sandy Hansen, Simi Valley
Re: the June 24 commentary and letters, "Political tobacco contribution":
My old aunt had a saying, "You can always smell a rat," and so it was with the tobacco leaves June 17.
Or was it tobacco?
Unfortunately, I must inform everyone that it was simply the election again and the Democratic paparazzi carefully carrying out another organized stunt, artificially contrived, photographed and spread all over the news outlets At least, that would be my old aunt's take on things.
If this is how the Democrats are going to campaign this election year for the 19th State Senate District, we'd better watch out and make sure that reported news is not misinformation. If we can't do that, then I suggest you take a whiff and try the Aunt Grace rat test!
-- Ray Holm, Westlake Village
Re: your June 23 editorial, "Passing up public funds":
When is a lie not a lie?
Answer: When a Star editorial applauds Barack Obama's new campaign finance decision as "a strategic decision." What is next in Obama's commitments that aren't really commitments at all? No longer an ally of Israel, perhaps?
The euphemisms of politicians breaking their word is common but still repugnant. For The Star to view such an act with approval instead of a breach of ethics is so ... so like The Star!
-- Robert W. Dingman, Thousand Oaks
I hear President Bush blame the congressional Democrats for our record high gas prices, and then I hear the Democrats dig in their heels and blame the oil companies, saying they currently have plenty of undeveloped oil leases. About the only thing that they can agree on is that there is no quick fix that will help the consumer now or in the near future.
Well, I blame everyone in Washington for the high prices we are paying that are impacting our economy and our pocketbooks.
I blame the oil companies for manipulating the market and not developing these available leases.
But, most of all, I blame our elected leaders in both parties. They point fingers and shout allegations, acting like spoiled little children who broke a vase -- each kid blaming the other for knocking it off the pedestal when they should both stand up and take responsibility.
The president and members of Congress share the blame equally. They should have seen this coming and enacted legislation to regulate the oil companies to ensure an adequate supply. As much as I despise government regulation -- look at the poor job they've done with our electrical grid -- there needs to be oversight for industries that directly affect our national economy and security.
I might not have the answer, but then again, that's not my job. That is the job of the elected officials we send to Washington, D.C., and they are botching it. It is time they quit playing partisan political games and get down to running the country.
-- Gary Marshall, Santa Paula
Re: your June 22 editorial, "Drilling call pure politics":
While I agree the president's Rose Garden call was political theater, I think he should have made it seven years ago -- or President Clinton eight years before that, or Bush the Elder four years before that, or President Reagan eight years earlier or President Carter in the late 1970s.
Congress, regardless of party in the majority, did no better over the past 30 years. The government has failed to deal coherently with the issues of energy supply and demand. The Star's editorial contributes nothing to the argument.
The Star proudly points to its opposition to offshore drilling dating from the 1969 Santa Barbara spill. Since then, great strides have been made in offshore drilling technology. The North Sea fields have been producing for decades in the face of some of the worst weather conditions on Earth. Hundreds of offshore platforms stood up to Hurricane Katrina and other hurricanes without serious problems. The industry knows how to pump oil offshore with minimal environmental risk. What may have been good public policy in the face of one level of risk decades ago should be rethought today when the risk is much reduced.
What The Star calls "valid reasons that still apply" no longer apply. The world of 2008 is a different world from that of 1969. Don't be stuck in the '60s.
The editorial calls for a comprehensive solution, yet offers nothing but tired, old, politically correct bromides. Why no mention of nuclear energy on the supply side? Why not talk about peak-load pricing and a return to tax incentives for energy-efficient vehicles on the demand side? No, it's much easier for The Star to make a political issue out of it than to really contribute to a sensible public discourse.
-- John M. Halliday, Westlake Village
Re: Barbara Macri-Ortiz's June 25 commentary, "Wrong question being asked about prison healthcare facility":
The focus of Ortiz's commentary is surprisingly out of kilter for Ortiz and others like Rep. Elton Gallegly. Obviously, the economic impact on the county community is of concern, but that should not be the main focus of a correctional facility project. This is a correctional facility, not an economic plan for the welfare of the county community as Ortiz and Gallegly have viewed it.
If the figure of $286,626 to house a single ward is correct, there must be a better way. That money should be invested in reducing the number of wards, not maintaining them and returning them to their communities more skilled in crime than when they were originally incarcerated.
I have suggested a plan that would alter the failed system. A large portion of the corrections budget should be directed toward research and development of a modified Minnesota Multi-Phasic Inventor Test and expert clinicians to interpret it. The modified version should be directed toward testing youngsters 3 to 6 years of age for the purpose of detecting antisocial (criminal) tendencies. The small portion of children detected to have these tendencies would be placed in corrective programs along with their parents if they are found to be contributors.
My research leads me to believe there would be notable decreases in crime within 10 years, and crime would be virtually eliminated in 20 to 40 years.
The impact of this plan will not go over well with the law enforcement industry, whose motto is, "Crime is my bread and butter." However, when considering it costs more than one-quarter of a million dollars to maintain one ward per year, we have everything to gain and only the loss of law enforcement and corrections jobs to lose.
-- Miguel Espinosa Jr., Oxnard
Re: Terry Paulson's June 23 essay. "Choosing a commander":
Paulson supports John McCain because he feels he will win the war.
We are fighting in a country that has two distinct groups that hate each other, the Sunnis and the Shiites. They are being supplied with weapons provided by another enemy of ours, Iran.
When will we know we have won?
The Shiites and the Sunnis will not stop attacking each other. They get their arms from our stronger enemy.
The only way of winning is for McCain to take out Iran as a possible enemy. We do not have sufficient forces on the ground to attack Iran because of the obligations in Afghanistan and Iraq. If we were to defeat Iran, would we make Sunnis and Shiites love each other, or when we get our armed forces out of that region completely and not be thought of as an occupying power?
Paulson seems to think McCain can solve all these problems. There is no possible way we could attack Iran effectively that would prevent the flow of arms to Iraq and keep more of our troops from getting killed and wounded.
Paulson obviously likes McCain, who was basically trained to fight wars at the United States Naval Academy. This so-called war is unlike any war we have ever fought, except, possibly, for Vietnam, and we all know how that war turned out.
We must win this war diplomatically, with most of the western and eastern world supporting our efforts to defeat international terrorism. The rest of the world sees us as bullies who attacked a country for no reason at all.
We must make the rest of the world and the rational Muslims understand we do not think of them as part of the president's so-called "axis of evil."
-- Donald J. Katz, Newbury Park
More than 2,000 years ago, the union between a man and a woman was called a holy matrimony in all the civilized world.
Since the discovery of America, and when the United States became a nation, the holy matrimony between a man and a woman has been called a marriage.
The California Supreme Court has legalized same-sex unions between two men or two women, thus giving each couple all the legal advantages of the regular marriages.
The most important thing is that this union should not be called marriage because it will be offensive to all the married couples.
This union between same-sex couples should be called a partnership or a union, or there should be a contest to find a good appropriate name other than marriage.
-- Armando Cardenas, Camarillo
Re: Colleen Cason's June 22 Cason Point column, "Man works at turning death into another's life":
Cason's column about Max Calderon highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations.
More than half of the 99,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate about 20,000 transplantable organs every year. More than 6,000 of our neighbors suffer and die needlessly every year as a result.
There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage: Give organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.
Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.
Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has 11,437 members, including 1,422 members in California.
-- David J. Undis, Nashville
(The writer is executive director of LifeSharers. -- Editor)
Re: June 22 commentaries by Ruth Weikel, "Binding teachings," and Dan Nelson, "Vote against gay marriage":
One Thanksgiving, a teacher asked a young student if she knew who the Pilgrims were. She said they were a group of people who left their country and came to this land so they could practice their religion freely and force everyone else to practice it too.
The little girl's response came to mind after reading these commentaries opposing same-gender marriage. Their cognitive dissonance manifested by the us-against-them religious tribalism laid bare their insecurity. In their twisted view, civil rights gives them the right to interfere with a person's right to express their natural love for another of the same gender, which they justify with selective passages from the Bible proving they have the moral superiority to dictate who others may love and marry.
Let us not forget that homosexuality naturally occurs in a percentage of the human population and also in other animal species. If that suddenly stopped occurring, along with say, left-handedness, then that would be abnormal.
People in more enlightened countries of the world recognize this and have reasoned that discriminating against their gay and lesbian citizens is not only wrong but makes no sense. Someday we too may get there if we can set aside religious tribalism and exercise our gift of reason given to us by the Goddess Malea, creator of the universe, through the evolutionary process. Reason is our species' only hope, not superstitious beliefs in mythical gods, biblical or otherwise.
-- James B. Rostborne, Fillmore
How sad to learn of the possible destruction of the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo near Central Avenue in order to build a huge medical adult prison. The present institution has such a good reputation for incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted young offenders. Recently, the population increased again as an influx of males joined the present female population. Not to worry, they are separated by a fence.
At one time, VYCF, formerly Ventura School, housed more than 1,000 inmates, including the Fire Camp. As a coed institution, females 14 to 25 years old and males 17 to 25 were offered high school, junior college and job training. Its recidivism rate was lower than in other youth prisons, and there were many success stories.
Numerous volunteers from the community came in to offer their services as groups and individuals to mentor, instruct in jobs and crafts and entertain the youth. The 600-seat auditorium showed musical performances, plays, movies and celebrity guests, including football players Roger Staubach, Rosey Grier, Mike Barber and track star Jim Ryun.
I know because I served there from 1972 to 1994 as chaplain and conducted a large youth church that overflowed the 200-seat chapel. There were waiting lists for Bible studies, fellowship meetings and the very popular Gospel Choir, which was limited to 40. Auditions for the choir were held every quarter. One girl tried five times and finally got in.
Once a year, we had a reunion, during which former wards returned to give testimonies how God helped them succeed out on the streets.
During those years, I interviewed more than 6,000 young people. Much of these events will be chronicled in my book, "Confessions of a Youth Prison Chaplain."
What a team of dedicated people served at Ventura School. Counselors, security officers, teachers, administrators, medical and office staff took pride in their work as they strove to help the youth gain skills and self-confidence.
I partook of the excellent food when I ate on a living unit while working in the evening. Don't worry taxpayers, I always paid for the food with a meal ticket.
The buildings and grounds were kept in good shape. It looked like school campus rather than a prison.
I encourage and compliment all the people who want to save the facility from destruction to change it into a monstrous prison. It may never return to its glory days, but it can continue to serve our community and state as a place to help change young felons into responsible citizens.
-- The Rev. Roy Wilhelm, Ventura
Re: your June 22 article, "Local experts discuss prison":
This article described the prison healthcare facility to be built in Camarillo. However, it left out some important facts that I would like to list below:
-- This will be a maximum security facility on a par with Pelican Bay. It will house class 3 and class 4 prisoners, the most dangerous inmates in the California prison system.
-- This facility will have an electrified fence, gun turrets and be lighted every night by high-intensity lighting.
-- This facility will be bigger than Atascadero State Hospital and probably employ more people. That means at least 1,800 cars added to all the streets and freeway in the area daily, hundreds of delivery trucks supplying the facility weekly, prison and police vehicles transporting prisoners to and from the facility daily, and several hundred people driving into the community to visit their loved ones at the facility weekly.
-- This facility will be about 800 yards from the beginning of residential homes on Beardsley Road.
-- All roads surrounding this proposed facility are one lane in each direction. If you think Rice Avenue is bad now with all the trucks, just wait.
I thank J. Clark Kelso for honoring us with this facility.
-- Mike Hoevel, Camarillo
The building of a 1,500-bed prison hospital in Camarillo borders on insanity.
In March of 1978, 2-year-old Amy Sue Seitz was kidnapped from a Camarillo residence by Theodore Frank, a convicted child molester. He raped, brutally tortured and murdered Amy Sue. He was convicted and sentenced to death by a Ventura County jury and judge. Frank was never executed, but he did receive heart bypass surgery while on death row. He finally died of a heart attack after spending 23 years waiting for his execution.
It's comforting to know the court wants to build a state-of-the-art hospital to take care of these inmates. There is no question this hospital facility will have an overwhelming negative impact on the current medical services for area residents. The thought of these inmates receiving immediate first-class medical care, while at the same time taking medical resources from Leisure Village residents, defies logic. Maybe the receiver, J. Clark Kelso, in his great wisdom, would like to name the new complex the Theodore Frank Memorial Prison Hospital.
-- Dan Boczek, Camarillo
Re: Beverly Kelley's June 23 column, "VCMC expansion a worthy project that's too long overdue":
I generally read Kelley's opinions with a large block of salt nearby, but this latest diatribe is too outrageous to pass without comment.
I do not live on the hillside near Ventura County Medical Center, but down in the flatlands between both hospitals, so I have experience with both the benefits and costs of living adjacent to these resources, which Kelley has not.
I know several of the families who do live up on the hill, and I can assure Kelley that they are not the "affluent NIMBYs" she seems to think she knows so well. These are ordinary people who have chosen to spend their mortgage dollars on homes with ocean and island views that they can enjoy after a hard day's work.
Kelley's assertion that this has anything to do with Measure X is also misdirected; I lived through that contentious period and was likewise disgusted with the behavior of Community Memorial Hospital. However, CMH clearly learned from that experience the importance of maintaining good community relationships, while VCMC has apparently not been so attentive.
Finally, Kelley's assertion that these families want to shut down any and all VCMC expansion plans is just plain wrong, and she is the one who should get her facts straight.
For all our sakes I hope that Kelley never decides to go into politics, because attitudes like hers are what make compromises impossible and lawsuits inevitable. This reader would be pleased to never see her opinions in your paper again.
-- Cathy Schwemm, Ventura
Re: your June 23 editorial, "Passing up public funds":
In its editorial, The Star proved how far it can bend over backwards to rationalize Sen. Barack Obama's single-handed destruction of campaign finance reform.
The editorial says, "Obama makes the right choice," and its justification is, "If Sen. Obama is serious about winning the White House, this was something he had to do."
So, The Star's ethical benchmark is whatever it takes to win? It must now be OK for students to cheat on tests if they are serious about winning. Athletes gulping steroids or businesses dumping hazardous waste wherever they like satisfies The Star's ethical benchmark, as long as it helps them win.
Thanks for a disgusting new low.
-- James Willis, Oxnard
Well, it's a good thing Edison's proposed peaker plant was denied, thanks to the NIMBYs. I'm sure we'll have all the solar power, wind turbines and other pipe dreams up and running by the time summer really hits us with a vengeance.
So enjoy this nice warm weather, courtesy of a vocal few deciding what a less vocal majority needs. Just don't write complaining about how Edison is somehow gouging us, when in fact we are all responsible for this mess.
-- James Foster, Camarillo
The United States still has a lot of oil in the ground. Knowing where it is and how to produce it using environmentally sound practices is a fact within the oil industry. This is also largely known within the regulatory and environmental watchdog agencies.
Unfortunately, the NIMBY effect has a stranglehold on the process to increase production, especially in California. It takes months and months to work through all the roadblocks to get to "the backyard," even when the oil company owns "the backyard."
As the prices of crude oil and gasoline increase, perhaps the road-blockers will appreciate the trade-offs between economic hardship for everyone versus the perceived (or imagined) short-term aesthetic discomfort of a few and streamline the permit process to allow drilling and increased production.
-- Jim Newton, Ventura
We are dependent for much of our oil on a bunch of Arabs who don't like us very much. The only incentive they have to hold down oil prices is the possibility we might take steps to become independent of their oil.
It's no use waiting for the present administration to take effective measures to make us oil independent. Any reduction in demand would affect oil industry profits, and that's something that's not going to happen under the present administration. Proof of this is the Environmental Protection Agency's resistance to California's emission waiver bid.
We need a crash program, and we need it now. At the very least, bring back the 55-mph speed limit and deny SUV and Hummer drivers use of the diamond lane. Owning a gas guzzler should become a negative experience for private owners.
Next, we should all know how much oil money each presidential candidate has accepted. Any politician or public servant who places oil industry interests above our national security should be hanged for treason.
-- Brian White, Ventura
It may be true that the president's call to lift the ban on oil and gas drilling offshore will never prompt the Democrat-controlled Congress to do so, but it may encourage a sufficient number of Americans to join him in an effort that is so clearly beneficial to all of us. Even though every liberal in the state is opposed to drilling, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's past time to end the lunacy. Write your representative in Congress and put pressure where it will do the most good. While you're at it, visit americansolutions.com and join the 1 million other signers of the "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" petition.
The only difference I have with the president on the oil drilling issue is that I wish both he and John McCain had also called for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I doubt that when Alaska was purchased in 1867, President Andrew Johnson thought it a good buy because the United States was in sore need of a place for caribou to breed.
-- Ron Lutey, Camarillo
Americans just don't get it.
It's a supply and demand issue. Since we are totally dependent on the Arab nations to supply us with oil, there is nothing we can do about reducing the price of gas. The Arab nations are in control.
If you're upset about this, just don't buy gas. I don't. I'm retired. I ride my bicycle to Vons and Albertsons a couple of times a week. Then I bike to the post office because I have a post office box. I'm only 78, so this gives me exercise. I buy about a gallon of gas a week.
If working Americans are really concerned, then march on Washington, D.C., and overthrow the government. We are ready for anarchy.
-- William Wolny, Oxnard
I am currently traveling through the United States and have noticed a dramatic change in gas prices in the state of Michigan compared to every other state I've been in. Prices at the pump are still in the mid-$3 range, while the rest of the country is right below $5. I also noticed that the entire 80-mile drive from the airport to our destination was continually hampered by road work delays.
It got me to thinking: Why is Michigan, unlike every other state, getting so many breaks from the oil industry and the federal government? My conclusion: The Republicans see Michigan as a vital swing state that is facing tough economic times and is likely to go Democratic in the upcoming election unless President Bush and the Republicans in Congress prove to the state's residents that they have a concerned and effective government taking care of them in times of need.
I say, if this is really the case, here is proof we are being manipulated by a corrupt oil industry and government in power.
-- Steve Binder, Oxnard
Re: your June 22 editorial, "Drilling call pure politics":
The Star had it backwards. The U.S. is fortunate to have significant oil and natural gas supplies within our borders. Yes, some are offshore, and a lot is in Alaska. The technology to safely recover and utilize these valuable resources has dramatically improved in the past 40 years.
It seems the knee-jerk conventional wisdom that offshore-oil drilling is anathema is the mantra. The politicians The Star mentions can perceive the political gains of mouthing the conventional wisdom. But decisions made in the past should be re-evaluated when times and conditions change. The public and political response to the proposed second liquefied natural gas terminal in Oxnard is another example. The people who crucified it should stand up and be counted when there are power outages, elderly dying of heat-related illnesses, etc.
But the worst "fact" The Star tried to slip past readers was that "everyone knows that opening America's coasts and the ANWR ... would do nothing to change current oil prices."
How did The Star decide this? There is speculation about oil futures. Any future increased production sources lower the value of those futures and would have an immediate response in the daily spot price of oil. A commitment from the U.S. to harvest more oil would do a major psychological blow to speculation, also.
Is current oil price the only action we should think about? Isn't it more important to consider long-term oil-price stability?
I strongly favor development of wind, solar, wave, hydrogen, fuel cells, geothermal and nuclear power. All need to be done safely and economically. The only one that is safe and economic right now is nuclear. The Star made no mention of nuclear. Why? Oh yeah, everyone already knows nuclear power is dangerous and bad.
-- Steve Soule, Ventura
Re: your June 22 editorial, "Drilling call pure politics":
The Star's editorial was disappointing in its lack of analysis and clear thinking.
Had The Star stuck with the initial thrust -- outright opposition to President Bush's call for more drilling -- it would have made a point, albeit a very narrow one that offers no solutions to our energy woes. No doubt, The Star hoped to avoid this limitation. So, halfway through, The Star suddenly takes the president to task for not calling for alternate, renewable energy sources.
Unfortunately, a key pitfall The Star attributes to the call for additional drilling -- a decade or more would transpire before peak production could be reached -- most certainly afflicts the alternative, renewable energy dream, even more so. How many more decades will pass before the technologies are invented and the economic resources are available to implement them in society? Indeed, there is no certainty that renewable energy will provide the Pollyanna (nurturing new, unlimited energy technology) The Star yearns for in 10, 20 or even 50 years.
So, The Star's reminders about the risks of drilling are noted, but The Star comes up short in offering any real, practical solutions to our energy needs in the foreseeable future.
-- Donald Isaak, Thousand Oaks
So let me see if I understand. Republicans are complaining because Barack Obama is not taking the taxpayers' money. It would have been nice if John McCain, with his various flip-flops on this issue, had ended up not taking taxpayer money. With this Republican deficit, every little bit would help. But I guess with the Republican "borrow and spend" philosophy, not taking taxpayer money to spend is just wrong.
McCain/Bush: "Another Republican bridge to nowhere."
-- Patrick Daly, Port Hueneme
Re: Jim Shirley's June 19 letter, "Insult to educators":
Shirley has hit the nail on the head where Bruce Tinsley's political cartoons are concerned. I have yet to see a Tinsley cartoon that isn't sleazy and a slap at anyone or group that doesn't hew to the right-wing drivel that Tinsley espouses. The Star would be a better publication if "Mallard Fillmore" were dropped.
-- Martin Parker, Thousand Oaks
I see that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken a position against any offshore oil exploration and production. I keep wondering whose side he's on.
Gas in California is $4.50 a gallon or more and climbing. He says he's a Republican and a conservative, a man with good judgment. But he acts like an environmental extremist. What gives? Is he part of the problem or part of the solution?
The United States is in the predicament it's in because we've been so foolish for so long about use of our own energy resources. It's time to reverse this nonsense and get a grip on reality. It's hypocritical to cry out against reliance on foreign oil while we refuse to exploit our own.
-- Roy W. Hogue, Newbury Park
You don't put your flag out to honor our troops.
You celebrate two men or two women getting "married."
You can't discipline your kids.
Gas is more than $4.50 a gallon.
You think it is OK for stars to have children without being married.
Your electrical wires, manhole covers and street lamps are being stolen for metal.
Your food is making you sick.
Makes you miss the good old days, doesn't it?
-- Jean Leighton, Simi Valley
Our congressman, Elton Gallegly, feels that it is OK to keep the current president and his series of unlawful and bad decisions in office, meaning if you're not against him, you are with him. He sees no importance in helping the jobless find relief for 13 more weeks, nor does he see the benefit in supporting Amtrak in these times of energy urgency. (How about adding a few more Metrolink stops and getting shuttles to key places for people?)
I noticed he was all over it when he got the earmarks that provided funding, jobs and tax revenue for the Highway 118 project. I would rather see earmarks that are for projects here in our country than supporting private corporations in the Middle East. This tells me he is capable of being there for his constituents.
It's too bad he hasn't done more for us. Our infrastructure is falling apart, and we have plenty of people looking for good jobs who are highly capable of getting our country back to meet the high standards we all grew up with. The Highway 118 project is a good start.
-- Kathleen Cappella, Simi Valley
Re: Bill O'Reilly's June 21 commentary, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, there's no way Baby Alex will go":
O'Reilly cannot attack MoveOn.org on rational grounds because the "Baby Alex" political ad is brilliant. Parents don't want to feed children into Iraq for another hundred years. So he resorts to 'sturm und drang' worthy of Josef Goebbels in asking a silly question: Who is the ad really aimed at? It's aimed at the few Americans who believe that the country is on the right track, who don't yet agree with the late pope that the invasion was "immoral" and who still believe that the colonial war to grab Iraq's oil was a great idea.
Remember: Saddam Hussein would have ramped up oil production to meet increased demand from China and India. But instead, George Bush's war destroyed it as a functioning state. That's why oil and gas are at record prices.
-- Ian Freeman, Thousand Oaks
Re: Terry Paulson's June 23 essay, "Choosing a commander":
Paulson argues that John McCain is the best choice as "the leader America needs to handle the security challenges we will face in the years ahead."
He supports his argument first with a misrepresentation of Barack Obama's position on the military, suggesting that he wants to weaken the military rather than redirect it to combat today's threats and adversaries rather than those of 20 years ago, and second with a justification for military strength as a necessity in combating evil and the reality of war.
Paulson argues that the Iraq war "is a war we must win" to "send a message to our terrorists enemies." No one can dispute that evil exists in the world and that war is sometimes the only answer to stop it. However, he fails to address the question of the justification for invading a sovereign country with no provocation or threat to the United States or to the world in general and with no evidence of being a terrorist threat to America.
So, the real question here is: "When should a country extract itself from a war it never should have entered, one that is not supported by the citizens of America or Iraq, and one that has weakened the military's ability to fight the real battle against Islamic extremism centered in Afghanistan?"
Paulson quotes Obama as saying, "As president, my sole priority for defense spending will be protecting the American people." Isn't this what a president swears to do?
I contend that the most important issue to consider in the coming election is how a president will exercise judgment in the future use of the tremendous power of the American military. We have witnessed how a mistake in that judgment can result in an unnecessary loss of lives, resources and influence in the world. Hopefully, our next president will take a more principled approach in making that judgment and restoring the real power of this great country.
-- Jim White, Thousand Oaks
Re: Terry Paulson's June 23 essay, "Choosing a commander":
There's just one teeny problem with Paulson wanting Americans to elect John McCain as their "commander": Americans don't have a commander-in-chief.
The United States of America is a republic. It is a democracy. In it, we have a civilian president who has the responsibility to exercise civil control over the armed forces. This is enumerated in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution. It's in there because one of the objections to the rule of King George III laid out in the Declaration of Independence is that the king, "affected to render the Military independent of and Superior to the Civil Power."
Apart from those in uniform, then, Americans don't have a commander-in-chief, and they certainly don't elect one. Americans don't have a fuehrer, a czar, a cuadillo, a kaiser or an el commandante. They have a president -- who is not, and is not supposed to be, the holder of a military title.
And while I suspect Paulson wouldn't object to life in a junta, I believe the rest of us prefer that our government be civilian.
-- Russell A. Burgos, Thousand Oaks
Re: your June 21 Business article, "An icon branches out" and the accompanying photo:
The Star featured a picture of the Conejo Valley as it appeared in years past. I suppose that The Star printed the picture backwards to symbolize looking backwards into history.
Before The Oaks mall, before the freeway, before housing developments, the Conejo Valley was just a sleepy valley, but even then the Conejo Creek and Moorpark Boulevard were north of Thousand Oaks Boulevard, not south.
In 1946-47, my brother owned a Myers biplane that he and I flew out of Glendale's Grand Central Air Terminal, long since gone. One of our favorite things to do on a Sunday afternoon was to fly up to this sparsely populated area where we could practice acrobatics over vacant land and then set down at this early airstrip for a rest before heading back to the bustling San Fernando Valley.
For those people who oppose change, I submit that change is inevitable, but when done right, with proper planning and controls, then it results in a very nice place to live such as our own Conejo Valley. I, for one, do not oppose developments such as Home Depot but only urge the city to insist on proper controls, such as street improvements to handle the increased traffic and design controls to allow the building to blend into the site. Why not other improvements, such as electricity-generating solar panels to handle the increased use of energy?
Just some thoughts from an old geezer.
-- Charles Kircher, Thousand Oaks
Re: your June 21 editorial, "New fad: Tap water":
It is fine to preach how tap water saves the environment and dollars; however, the fact that drinking tap water subjects us to large amounts of fluoride in the form of the hazardous waste material, fluorosilicic acid, needs to be addressed.
Fluoride amounts in our water supply have been doubled! Many cannot afford the expensive filters that can filter out the fluorosilicic acid the Metropolitan Water District has rammed down our throats. Nicole Johnson, in her May 13 letter, wrote: "Bottom line: The Met was not mandated to fluoridate and, by law, fluoridation costs were not supposed to be passed on to the ratepayers."
In a press release on June 3, the Lillie Center, a Georgia-based health training firm, discusses the National Kidney Foundation's new position paper, "Kidney Foundation Admits: Kidney Patients Should be Notified of Potential Risk from Fluorides and Fluoridated Drinking Water."
This position paper concludes that individuals with chronic kidney disease should be notified of potential risk from exposure to fluorides, and it acknowledges gaping holes in research concerning kidney impacts from fluorides.
Daniel Stockin, a career public health professional at the Lillie Center, states: "Fluoride must be removed from water used for dialysis, but people with kidney stones, transplants, or other kidney issues ingest it in drinking water, foods, drugs and from other sources without anyone knowing their total fluoride dose. Sounds a little like someone's not telling the whole story of Fluoride-Gate."
Stockin adds, "The kidneys are exposed to significant amounts of toxic fluoride as they try to eliminate it from the body. How many kidney patients could have avoided dialysis -- or perhaps, sadly, even death from chronic kidney disease -- if they had been told the whole story about fluoride toxicity?"
Shouldn't this critical information be news?
-- Ellyn Sutton, Simi Valley
Re: your June 15 article, "Low-level or no ties to terrorism found in probe":
I wonder if any surviving captured World War II German soldiers who were detained in the United States have any recourse against the U.S. since the were not given the chance to be heard before the courts. An example would be a German conscript who was captured on the battlefield but never fired a shot and never intended to and claimed to be a conscientious objector but had no choice but to serve.
Just a thought.
-- Nicholas Yanuzzi, Thousand Oaks
Re: your June 19 article, "Ag chief stays during hunt for replacement":
Applause! A breath of fresh air!
A note of appreciation to Earl McPhail: To remain until a new agricultural commissioner is located speaks volumes about McPhail's integrity and work ethic. While postponing his well-earned retirement, his personal choice to continue is a tremendous asset to our county. This is quiet and quality leadership. I thank him.
-- Richard Riggs, Newbury Park
Considering recent events in her campaign, it's quite amusing that Hannah-Beth Jackson originally supported Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency and has now endorsed Barack Obama. At a recent women's event in Ojai, Jackson was quoted as saying, "It is incumbent upon us, as women, to step forward with pride and determination and the ability to articulate our vision for the future because, when we take a look at what the men have done to this country, particularly this most recent Bozo, and we can't do any worse. But what we can do is a lot better, and we will."
When you add her belief that "the men" are what's wrong with the country to the fact that she has demonized tobacco and smoking as horribly evil, it's ironic that the candidate she just endorsed is a male cigarette smoker. She continues to be blatantly inconsistent, as she has been in her criticisms of Tony Strickland. Jackson's hypocrisy knows no bounds.
-- Max Dotson, Oak Park
Re: your June 8 article, "Tobacco firm funds county GOP":
As a 30-year member and past chairman of the Ventura County Republican Party, I was disappointed to hear that after two decades of Ventura being a Republican county, Democrats now outnumber Republicans in registered voters. That wasn't too surprising though, when statewide registration this year has been 20-to-1 in favor of the Democrats -- 300,000 to 15,000. There has to be a message there if the Republicans are listening.
Just when I thought I couldn't hear worse news, I learned that 88 percent of the funds the Ventura County Republican Party has on hand came from one tobacco company, primarily to support Tony Strickland for the California Senate. Local Republicans should not accept money from the manufacturer of a product that kills upwards of a half million people in the United States every year and hundreds of millions worldwide.
I have six personal reasons why the very idea disgusts me:
-- My dad was a heavy smoker and died of a heart attack at age 53.
The 10 children in our family were born in the 1930s and '40s and grew up in the '40s and '50s. Smoking was considered healthy and glamorous. All 10 of us smoked, as did Johnny Carson, live on "The Tonight Show," and nearly everyone in the movies.
-- My oldest brother has emphysema.
-- My next older sister had throat cancer, followed by lung cancer, and died of a heart attack.
-- A younger brother had emphysema and heart trouble before he died in an accident.
-- My youngest brother died in an apartment fire that was apparently started by a cigarette.
-- Twenty-five years after I quit smoking, I lost a chunk of my tongue to mouth cancer.
The idea that the Ventura County Republican Party and the Stricklands have to beg for money from tobacco companies makes my skin crawl. I would hope they can see what that does to their image, get away from it and get back to raising money the old-fashioned way from local Republicans: by earning it.
The good news for my family is that as far as I know, not one of our children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren smokes. One generation paid a very high price for supporting the tobacco industry, and that was more than enough.
-- Bob Larkin, Westlake Village
Re: your June 8 article, "Tobacco firm funds county GOP":
Now Tony Strickland takes $50,000 from the tobacco industry. But this is just the most recent prostituting that Strickland has done to industrial giants as he bids their quest to cheat abuse and poison the American public.
Strickland is too extreme and too hypocritical to be elected to any office. As example:
Strickland took $29,100 from the pharmaceutical industry and voted against efforts to control runaway drug prices (AB1957, 2004; AB2326, 2004).
Strickland took $204,640 from the insurance industry and voted against requiring insurance policies to cover maternity services, including prenatal care, pregnancy complications, neonatal care and hospital maternity care (SB1555, 2004).
Strickland voted against requiring insurers to provide policyholders with the reasons for the cancellation of their homeowner insurance policies (AB1191, 2003).
Strickland took $42,075 from the banking industry and voted against the Financial Privacy Act to prevent personal financial information from being sold without consent (SB773, 2002).
Strickland voted against protecting consumers from exposure to mercury, toxic heavy metals and arsenic (SB633, 2001; AB455, 2003; SB463, 2001).
Strickland voted against mandatory car seats for children younger than 6 (SB567, 2000).
Strickland voted against prohibiting public schools from using carcinogenic pesticides on school properties (AB 1006, 2003).
Strickland took $46,350 from the automotive industry and car dealers and voted against the Car Buyer's Bill of Rights (AB1839, 2004).
Strickland voted against restricting "predatory" lending practices (AD489, 2001).
Strickland took $26,300 from the utilities and energy companies and voted against capping outrageous electrical bills during the energy crisis (AB 265, 2000).
Strickland voted against landmark legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions (AB1493, 2002).
Strickland took $81,500 from tobacco companies and voted against cracking down on cigarette sales to minors (SB757, 2001).
Now, Strickland has redefined himself as an environmentalist. Strickland is a phony, plain and simple.
-- Marie Mason, Simi Valley
Re: W. Lee Truman's June 15 letter, "Teen's award has flip side":
Truman seems worried that without liquefied natural gas, we will run out of natural gas. Let's do the math for him.
Domestic production of natural gas is 30 trillion cubic feet yearly. In 2007, the U.S. used only about 21 Tcf.
Now, the newly discovered Marcellus shale deposit extends from parts of New York and most of Pennsylvania into parts of Kentucky, Ohio, southern West Virginia and Tennessee, some 600 miles long and 54,000 square miles in all. These huge gas deposits are close to pipelines and are estimated to produce up to 500 trillion cubic feet. Energy companies are scrambling to obtain drilling leases.
Coal bed methane reserves in the U.S. are estimated by the U.S. Geological Survey to be more than 700 Tcf. The Energy Information Administration estimates that there are 253.83 Tcf of "tight natural gas" deposits in the U.S. There are 37 Tcf of proven Alaskan natural gas reserves, and they could go much higher. And experts estimate that anywhere from 5,000 to 49,000 Tcf of natural gas exist in the compressurized zones of the U.S.
Discoveries of 461 Tcf of methane hydrate have been found under the Alaskan permafrost, and the Japanese are now testing viable extraction processes. Research has revealed that methane hydrates may total anywhere from 7,000 Tcf to over 73,000 Tcf! In fact, the USGS estimates that they may contain more organic carbon than all the world's coal, oil and conventional natural gas combined.
Truman should do his homework and just a little math before he rains on the parade of a very nice 13-year-old girl. The only time Truman will run out of gas in his stove is when he forgets to pay his bill.
-- Eugene D. Hubbard, Oxnard
Recently, while in the Rite Aid pharmacy in Port Hueneme on Channel Islands Boulevard near Victoria Avenue, I got into conversation with the manager, asking about the plans and final date for the move. Yes, Rite Aid is moving to a spot behind the Bank of America on Victoria Avenue.
I wondered out loud how anyone would ever manage to get into the Rite Aid or the bank, given that that intersection is already so congested.
I asked the manager if he thought the plan for the 800 apartments and shopping center at Fisherman's Wharf would affect the intersection even more. He looked pretty stunned and said he knew nothing about the plans for Fisherman's Wharf. I had also previously talked to the pharmacist and he, also, knew nothing about the Fisherman's Wharf plan.
The Rite Aid is in Port Hueneme. Fisherman's Wharf, though directly catty-corner on Victoria, is in Oxnard. Both Oxnard and the county are involved with the permitting on the wharf. I have also heard there is a plan afoot to redevelop the blighted shopping center that used to house an Albertson's at Victoria and Hemlock with more housing and more shopping, not to mention the expanded Seabridge shopping and work/live facilities that they are now putting the finishing touches on, also at Victoria and Hemlock.
Is this a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing? Or perhaps the two hands are coordinated but not attached to a brain or even a heart?
This intersection will collapse under the weight of this much development.
Business people think we do not need a traffic initiative, but with this kind of either ignorance or indifference, it is no wonder people have to take matters into their own hands. It is no wonder there is a plan to form a new city in this area and get out from under the sheer hubris that this kind of anti-planning represents.
-- Lauraine Effress, Oxnard
Re: Pamela Cwiklo's June 16 commentary, "Camarillo Unified, a PAC, seeks to divide over unification":
Cwiklo needs a reality check. Just what are the supposed improvements that have been made to Adolfo Camarillo High School over the last 30 years? Notice she lists none.
Oxnard Union High School District has built two brand new high schools for the city of Oxnard. What have they done for the city and students of Camarillo? Nothing but spend our money. They have been promising us a new high school since the 1980s. We're still waiting!
Since when is the truth arrogance? Is it more humble to lie?
As for wasting money, wasn't Cwiklo one of the 11 who signed the appeal in the first place?
This is about one thing and one thing only: OUHSD is terrified that it will lose Camarillo tax dollars, period. It all comes down to greed. Camarillo is big enough for its own high school district and has been for a long time.
I am looking forward to sending my kids to a unified Pleasant Valley High School District, and I know there are a lot of other Camarillo parents who pay their taxes and feel the same way.
-- Marty Farrell, Camarillo
As a mother, grandmother and active community activist, I'm appalled at the lack of Tony Strickland's apparent lack of common sense and good judgment in accepting the contributions of tobacco money for his political campaign.
I've been privileged to serve our community in the city of Ventura as one of the Park and Recreation commissioners for the past 11 years. I'm also very proud: The commission supported my efforts in bringing forward the proposal and passage of a smoking ban in the city's beach and parks. The unfortunate aspect is that the city's budget is impacted, and we don't currently have a revenue stream to support the enactment of policing.
This is 2008, not 1908, and the educated knowledge of the harmful effects of smoking and of secondhand smoke is widely known. To me, the tobacco companies represent big business, but far much more harmful, as smoking directly kills even innocent bystanders.
As a full-time educator, I preach the long-term, oftentimes dangerous and deadly consequences of smoking. To accept money from a source that makes its revenue at the expense of people's lives is unconscionable and unfathomable.
-- Suz Montgomery, Ventura
Re: Bruce Garber's June 17 commentary, "Impeach Bush, Cheney":
Garber's article sounds a clarion call to hold the current administration accountable.
Since Vice President Cheney and President Bush took control of the White House, a lot of people have enjoyed the low-grade entertainment value derived from their missteps and Bush's mangling of the English language. The ticket price for this "entertainment" has been far too high. Thousands of our military have paid the ultimate price. Hurricane Katrina victims have paid dearly. The American public has paid far too much in treasure, loss of worldwide respect as a country and a reduced military capability.
If this were a corporate business in this country, the shareholders or the attorney general would have removed them from office. The lies and obfuscations the American citizens have endured while these two have been "steering" the nation have permitted their abdication from managing the health and maintenance of the country.
Through their neglect and ulterior motives (war in Iraq), they have permitted the war in Afghanistan to languish and for the Taliban to enjoy a renewed vigor. That alone should qualify them for impeachment. As managers of the largest and most powerful business in the world (America), their combined malfeasance has crippled the economic health of that business and endangered the physical health and welfare of its shareholders (American citizens).
The crimes that Cheney and Bush have perpetrated should not go unanswered. These two individuals have done more in their tenure to endanger American interests both here and abroad than any administration before.
Please support House Resolution 799 for the impeachment of Cheney and Bush. Let's remove the smirk from both of their faces. Go to http://www.impeachbush.org.
For the record: I did not vote for Bush in 2000 or 2004.
-- Jim Burket, Port Hueneme
Re: your June 12 article, "As Father's Day nears, support group aids dads who've lost children":
Perhaps you did not know that in the 1970s and 1980s, there was a chapter of Compassionate Friends right here in Oxnard. The lady who opened her home to grieving parents was Dorothy Powers. She lost her only son to a freak accident.
When our son was killed, we were asked to join. We went for about a year. The Star's article mentions the loss of a child during Father's Day. Well, we got a double dose of grief. Michael was killed on New Year's night on Jan. 1, 1981. In June 21, 1981, Father's Day that year would have been his 16th birthday. Hard as we tried to make it a special day, it was impossible. The grief was so overwhelming we spent time crying more than celebrating Father's Day.
On New Year's Eve 1982, the older children would go to celebrate. By 10:30 that night, they were all home crying and missing him. To this day, none go out, they stay at home. They feel that they can't celebrate New Year's without Michael.
Our son was the fourth child and last, and I used to say to him, "My baby," and he'll always be.
-- Art & Nellie Lopez, Oxnard
As noted, the state has shown "a willful failure" to deal with the prison overcrowding and the prisoner healthcare debacle. The Senate and Assembly, including Audra Strickland, have repeatedly failed to deal with this issue.
Due to their repeated negligence they have waived the right to be involved in the decisions of federal receiver J. Clark Kelso and federal Judge Thelton Henderson. Voters should recognize that due to their failure, our elected legislators have no authority is this matter. Meeting with any legislator on this issue is a waste of time.
-- Sherman N. Mullin, Oxnard
I want to thank the County of Ventura Department of Animal Regulation for looking into my concerns about dogs off leash at Silver Strand Beach. The extra effort has reduced the large numbers of dogs off leash at Silver Strand Beach. I also see fewer dog droppings on the beach.
I understand the hours that dogs can be at the beach are from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. All dogs must be on leash and under a handler's control!
-- Jerry Crocker, Oxnard
I am saddened that I have not seen donations for the people in the Midwest. Many of them will be losing their homes, as they did not have flood insurance. Many are small towns in Wisconsin and Iowa that will suffer the most because the Federal Emergency Management Agency is running out of money.
We were quick to rush to the aid of New Orleans, but the poor distribution of funds and supplies caused many people to stop giving. Also, the economy is at a bad place now. But let's not forget the people of the Midwest, the place where corn is grown, people still leave their doors unlocked and everyone knew and helped each other.
Small-town America should not die because of this flood. These people deserve our attention as much as New Orleans did when Katrina hit.
I used to live in a small town in Wisconsin. I don't want to see the culture and the attitudes of these people die out. My family lives and continues to live there. My grandsons live there. Please, someone out there, some organization, please start giving to the Midwest folks. They deserve a chance to rebuild.
-- Julie Smith, Oxnard
Re: your June 17 article, "Veterans set up local chapter for anti-war group":
It was marvelous reading The Star article on the arrival of the new local chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Ventura County, with its many hundreds of thousands of residents, will now not be left in the darkness, as Los Angeles County already has a working chapter of IVAW, and in Santa Barbara County, Iraq War veteran spokespersons stand ready at the helm.
Fortuitously, I was at the Veterans for Peace annual conference in Boston in 2004 when IVAW established itself. The setting was in historic Faneuil Hall, where the framers of our Constitution once spoke.
These law-abiding Iraq war vets are going to bring the Iraq war stories into our homes, something that is so long overdue. Wisdom demands the resurfacing of their stories. Witness how even U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, is preparing himself to back war resister Sgt. Matthis Chiroux.
Veterans for Peace supports IVAW in many ways. From its inception, IVAW has called for: immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq; reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered, and stopping the corporate pillaging of Iraq so that their people can control their own lives and future; and full benefits, adequate healthcare (including mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women.
Please, when you meet IVAW vets. Offer them your material and spiritual assistance. Welcome them home.
-- Michael Cervantes, Oxnard
(The writer, a Vietnam War veteran, is the president of Veterans for Peace, Ventura Chapter 112. -- Editor)
I think it's a pretty sad commentary on the state of the news media in general when more attention is paid to Tiger Woods' knees than to the 35 Articles of Impeachment introduced by Dennis Kucinich, charges so detailed that it took nearly five hours to read it into the Congressional Record.
In fact, I think it's pathetic.
-- Bruce C. Marshall, Santa Paula
Re: Arlette Akkerman's June 19 letter, "Rethink sex education," a response to Anabel Hoang's June 8 commentary, "Students need comprehensive sex education":
Akkerman defended abstinence education, attacked "how-to" sex ed and got in a word or two against abortion.
Before we have another round, could The Star give us some additional statistics and analysis?
The context of this debate is reported increases in teen pregnancies. Michael Males, a student of the sociology of teens and the politics of reporting on them, has pointed out that older U.S. teenagers tend to be a normal U.S. adult population when not doing better than their elders. He also has pointed out that statistics on teenage pregnancies often include married teens, plus pointing out that the fathers are often adults.
So, are we talking bastard rates here? If so, the old word is handy -- if it's not used cruelly -- and we need to know the numbers for American girls and women generally. If out-of-wedlock pregnancies across the age spectrum are going up again, the significant causes probably don't have much to do with what's going on in high school sex-ed classes.
To discuss the issue legitimately, we need to know if socially problematic pregnancies are really increasing, and, if so, are they increasing primarily because various groups of Americans don't know how to use condoms or other means of contraception, or because they can't get contraception, or because they choose not to use contraception -- probably in complex senses of "choose" -- or whatever?
After we get the numbers, we can continue the argument ideologically. Until we get the numbers and some disinterested analysis, we'll be stuck just recycling ideology.
-- Rich Erlich, Port Hueneme
It appears that we will soon import some healthcare ideas from Europe. It hope it works out well. Some other European "solutions" are also available for us to adopt:
-- France supplies most -- maybe 80 percent -- of their electrical power from nuclear energy. We can, too. It would make available to us natural gas and reduce pollution.
-- Norway successfully protects their environment while drilling for offshore oil. So can we, if we get out of our own way.
-- European passenger train systems transport people in affordable comfort and speed. Let's get to it.
These are changes that can and should be started with a "change" administration.
-- Ken Gates, Ventura
Re: your June 14 editorial, "Scouts come up big":
As the mother and grandmother of Eagle-rank Boy Scouts, I was delighted to read your editorial. This is a group of boys led by men who help the boys "on their honor, become men of fine character, physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
Boy Scouts won the right to exclude homosexuals and atheists from their organization by the Supreme Court ruling. It was sickening to read that Boy Scouts were punished financially for having "discriminated" against such. Instead, that should be condemned as simply appealing to those interested in being "politically correct" and not concerned about being morally correct.
The Iowa Boy Scouts showed the value of their training as Scouts. I would hope that Philadelphia will rethink its decision regarding renting to Boy Scouts.
-- Pat Cain, Camarillo
Re: your June 15 editorial, "Water must be conserved":
Having experienced the drought of 1991 here in Simi Valley, I can list many flaws that were part of that water conservation program.
In particular, the people who wasted water by washing their sidewalks, driveways and cars and ignored the call for conservation were given a higher allotment of water than those of us who conserved water until the mandatory rationing was implemented.
The reason for this unfairness was that the wasters' usage history was greater, and therefore their allotment was greater. Thus, we were penalized for conserving, and the wasters only had to cut back to the reasonable amount of consumption they should have been using in the first place.
I propose that this time, the water districts determine the average usage per household member within the district with a smaller amount per child. The total household target would then be the sum of the individual averages for the household, adults plus children usages. Then, implement a program that contains an average usage range, say plus or minus 5 percent of the target usage amount based on their household needs. Then, reward consumers who use an amount below the average range by, say, 10 percent -- that is 15 percent below the target amount -- with a percentage discount on their bill and a higher percentage penalty for those who exceed the household usage target range.
The penalties would offset the discounts. In fact, if implemented properly, the penalties could also offset the additional cost for the scarcer water commodity.
-- George A. Kuhr, Simi Valley
Re: your June 18 article, "Prison healthcare facility OK'd":
Does anyone do the math? The planned prison healthcare facility in Camarillo, scheduled to cost $1 billion to house 1,500 inmates, works out to $666,666 per inmate -- or the cost of a nice home in Camarillo. Yearly employee salaries are estimated to be $80 million to care for the 1,500 inmates. This amounts to about $53,333 worth of services for each inmate.
What is the message here? If you get sick and can't afford healthcare, why not commit a crime and let the taxpayers care for you?
-- Sheila Magnuson, Thousand Oaks
Re: Michael S. Vorac's June 18 letter, "Male, female logic":
After reading yet another letter stating that same-sex marriage should not be allowed because the main purpose of marriage is to create children, I wonder when these writers are going to propose that we outlaw marriages:
-- Between senior citizens; after all, older women cannot have children. I suppose older men would still be allowed to have trophy wives.
-- For infertile couples, until they can prove they can procreate with the assistance of science.
-- For couples who choose not to have children.
I also wonder when they are going to ban divorce, since the Bible does say that it is a sin, a few verses after those usually interpreted as banning homosexuality. And, after all, children should be raised by a father and mother -- or in some cases, "razed." But I guess as long as there are two, opposite-sex parents in the picture, what they do to their children is their business.
-- Heidi Jarman, Simi Valley
As this NBA season comes to an end, I can't help but think back to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant crying like a little girl. He wanted to be traded because his teammates were far too inferior. Just like former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, right Kobe? Another season over, and it is still Shaq 1, Crybaby 0.
-- John Kidder, Moorpark
Re: Tom Johnston's June 19 commentary, "Measure X was about hospital rivalry, not views":
Johnston, the Ventura County Medical Center employee in favor of VCMC's 90-foot building -- a nine-story height -- has some of his facts skewed and, in some cases, just plain wrong.
The Foothill Neighbors issue is as much an issue of lost property value as views, and it is not related to the Ventura View Initiative. It is simply a financial "taking" by VCMC.
His understanding of the View Initiative is incorrect:
The View Initiative is a city initiative, and, by law, cannot affect hospital districts, county property or school districts.
Areas are exempted only from a temporary moratorium on constructing tall buildings while the view ordinance is being written. Areas are not exempted from the view ordinance itself unless they fall into the categories that are legally exempt anyway. That's not a Ventura Citizens Organization for Responsible Development decision.
Members of the View Resources Board are elected before they are appointed. VCORD's bylaws clearly state that members of the View Resources Board will be nominated and elected by the full membership of VCORD. Members of the View Resources Board need not even be a member of VCORD.
The members of the VRB meet mostly by neighborhood, which is the grassroots, holistic, democratic approach to determining which views are most valued.
In the end, the ordinance goes to the entire electorate for approval, if the City Council does not approve it.
It is entirely democratic and controlled by the electorate, not the elite few who are shoving tall buildings down our throats. Is there something about democracy that scares these people?
-- Camille Harris, Ventura
(The writer is president of the Ventura Citizens Organization for Responsible Development. -- Editor)
I was one of the 50 people outside the Hyatt Westlake on Tuesday to protest tobacco money being given to Tony Strickland.
We had just arrived at what I thought was a peaceful demonstration only to find a very angry man blocking our way. When we attempted to cross the street, he threw himself in front of us, and it escalated into one of our peaceful protesters being thrown down to the ground by somebody we later learned was Audra Strickland's chief of staff, Joel Angeles. The older man was just walking when this happened.
I asked Angeles, "What are you doing? Stop it." Then he started to argue, and I realized there was no rationalizing with him. Our group called the police.
I was afraid to keep walking. I was afraid of being the next victim. I will never forget it. We had a right to be there, and this was really uncalled for.
-- Lisa Kuklenski, Ventura
Recently, letters to The Star have blamed high gasoline prices on President Bush and the GOP. Here are some interesting facts:
In 1995, President Clinton vetoed a measure to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Had he not done this, we would now be getting 1 million barrels per day of oil from ANWR, which, coincidentally, is the amount we now import from Saudi Arabia. ANWR is a little larger than the state of South Carolina, about 19 million acres in size. The area considered for drilling (2,000 acres) is about the size of Boston's Logan Airport. That's about 0.015 percent of the total area.
May 15, on a party line committee vote, the Democrats blocked efforts for domestic oil-shale development and the ability to issue leases for such development. According to a 2005 study put out by the RAND Corp., there is more potential oil available to us from shale deposits in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming than all of the known oil deposits ever discovered in Saudi Arabia.
This month, Democrats blocked an effort to open up offshore drilling restricted to 50 to 200 miles off the coast.
When the Democrats took over Congress in January 2007, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to bring down prices at the pump, which, at the time, were averaging $2.33 per gallon nationwide. With the Democrats in control, prices in California are now approaching $5 per gallon.
The Democrats talk a good game when it comes to reducing prices at the time, but they block every effort to allow the U.S. to drill domestically.
While I don't let the GOP off the hook completely for current high gas prices, let's be honest about which political party has blocked every effort for the U.S. to drill for its own oil.
-- Bob Klepner, Newbury Park
I live adjacent to the Ramona debris basin in Camarillo. We have had increasing problems with graffiti. It began in the county area but has now spread throughout the neighborhood.
Several months ago, a group of adults and juveniles was caught defacing county property. They were prosecuted and fined, but the graffiti was never removed. We have personally painted it out six or seven times in the last 18 months.
Because it is now recurring on a weekly basis, we requested that the county remove it occasionally. We were told that the rulebook states no graffiti will be removed from the watershed district unless it is pornographic or obscene. There was a swastika and "white power" written on some of the walls. A Ventura County worker came out with a can of white spray paint to go over just those areas. This just added another layer of graffiti.
I think the public would be outraged to know that this nonchalant policy exists. Incorporated cities in the area all have diligent removal policies.
-- Barbara Stevens, Camarillo
Why are we being defeated in Iraq?
The United States of America is at this time the most powerful country in the world, and there is no reason whatsoever that a Third World country like Iraq can kill dozens of our soldiers every week.
To turn things around, we should be doing the following: When a rocket or a missile is fired, it leaves a trail. With the technology we have and with all the spy planes we have in the area, at the moment a trail is detected, a missile aimed at the origin of the trail should be fired to evaporate the insurgents.
Better yet, when one of our planes detects people digging a trench to place an explosive aimed at destroying one of our trucks or tanks, a missile should be fired to evaporate these individuals.
Some may say that this type of action kills innocent civilians. My answer is that in a neighborhood large or small, the insurgents, the ones who fire rockets and place bombs and explosives, are known by everybody, and in that case, they should denounce those individuals. Otherwise, they are as guilty as the one pulling the trigger.
When all the insurgents have been eliminated, the United States can bring all the soldiers back home.
We have an obligation to the thousands and thousands of our soldiers who have been killed and the 30,000 that have been wounded -- and I should add that in many cases, the dead are the luckier. Many of our soldiers have lost legs, arms, etc., and it is very hard to go on under those circumstances.
I urge anyone reading this article to spread the word and to let your congressman know about it.
-- Armando Cardenas, Camarillo
Does anyone besides me think it is a major mistake to convert our food, such as corn, into auto fuel?
Engineers, energy consultants, economists and even government advisers have said for years now that there are four basic things that need to be done to help America rid itself of foreign oil:
-- Start recovering all usable oil reserves in our own country and offshore.
-- Eliminate the red tape that prevents the quick building of new refineries and power plants.
-- Go after all feasible alternative energy production, such as nuclear, solar, geothermic, coal and liquefied natural gas.
-- Make auto, boat and home appliance makers use a mandated program to produce true energy-efficient machines, the basic premise of conservation.
Folks, it's time to stop whining and start doing something about our predicament. Think when you vote for any politician who opposes any of those four issues and ask yourself: How long do you want to buy those Rolls Royces for the next generations of oil sheiks?
I think Oliver said to Stan years ago, "This is a fine mess you've gotten us into!"
-- Michael Thames, Ojai
Now that we are getting near the end when a decision is to be made, let us remember to vote for the man that can do the most for our country, not the color of his skin or the color of his hair. This is going to be a critical obligation to all of us.
-- Joyce Dickson, Ventura
As a mother, I feel for the parents and the children who were involved in the tragedy at E.O. Green School in February. I do not agree, however, with schools involving special-interest organizations composed of gays, transsexuals and bisexuals in the tolerance education of schoolchildren based on this tragedy.
There are ways of teaching tolerance that do not include describing in detail how one becomes a person of alternative lifestyle. Kids are easily influenced by what they see and hear. Lawmakers, school administrators and others in society are rushing to embrace gay ideologies with no reservations, teaching them to schoolchildren without regard to parents' convictions, thoughts and beliefs for how we want our kids to think. Of course, we don't want kids persecuting gays for how they are, but teaching them properly belongs to us parents. Schools should only provide suggestions or guidelines. If homosexuality is acquired, I want my children to have a fair shot at being heterosexual, not be indoctrinated from the time they enter the school system.
Since the tragedy happened, Web sites have been provided to learn more about organizations like the Rainbow Alliance and others. Parents, how long before you have the National Men/Boy Love Association knocking on your kids' door or in your computer?
It is not the role of school educators to influence my children in deciding their gender. As a mother, I encourage anger management, end of hatred/violence and gender discrimination trainings to be implemented in our schools. Teach kids that they are accountable for others. Help us to make our children loving and capable of handling adulthood without resolving their differences with a gun, but do it tactfully and with great care, and keep biased ideologies and special-interest organizations out of schoolchildren's minds.
-- Mari Estrella, Oxnard
Re: your June 18 article, "Prison healthcare facility OK'd":
This article states that healthcare in California prisons has to be brought up to "constitutional standards," whatever that means. What message does that send to law-abiding citizens with no healthcare coverage? Aren't they entitled to the same "constitutional standards" for healthcare?
-- William Wolny, Oxnard
Re: your June 18 article, "Renovation of Bus Home begins":
In my opinion, repainting the eyesore at the north end of the Pacific View Mall, also known as the bus terminal, is a waste of time and money.
This eyesore has been a bad joke on the city of Ventura for several years now. It does not even provide shelter from the elements, and it's ugly.
The people of Ventura would be better served if it were torn down and sold for scrap metal, and the money used to help build a new bus terminal -- something that had some class and would provide shelter for people waiting for the bus.
-- Douglas Dole, Ventura
Elected leaders need to brush up on their economics.
There is a wage pool in the business world, just as there is a household income pool.
Most minimum-wage jobs are held by teenagers.
Our elected officials decide they are much smarter than the market and can set a unit wage that must be paid to employees by employers. This is not determined by skill set or experience or the employer.
Our elected leaders raise the minimum wage, and it sounds like the feel-good thing to do. But what they really did was make this the worst year in a very long time for teenagers seeking jobs. Companies only have so many dollars to go around. Higher set wages not determined by skills or experience mean fewer jobs.
It runs on basic math. Divide the wage pool by minimum wage, and this will tell you how many jobs will be afforded. Raise the wage while the wage pool remains the same, and it means fewer jobs for our youth.
Let's keep teens employed. Salary is secondary to the skills they will learn to help them through life.
-- William F. Klepper, Simi Valley
My recent journey to Simi Valley to attend the grand opening of the Air Force One Discovery Center at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library exceeded my expectations. The keynote speaker, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, thanked Nancy Reagan for the invitation to the Discovery Center, and she praised the former first lady for her nationally acclaimed efforts on behalf of substance abuse prevention in American schools.
Spellings lauded President Reagan's 1983 landmark comprehensive assessment of American education, A Nation At Risk, which paved the road to the No Child Left Behind Act. Spellings also issued challenges for strong educational leadership, accountability, recruiting and rewarding excellent teachers, family support of students and a federal formula intended to calculate how many students graduate from high school on time.
Spellings is the first U.S. secretary of education to have visited the United Arab Emirates, where she met with colleagues and students to review education innovations in the Middle East and to inspire international education and exchange.
It was apparent from the excited dialogue of participants touring the Discovery Center that the unique educational concept offers an extraordinary invitation to "engage, excite and educate" local, national and international communities.
The Discovery Center features modules of the presidential Oval Office, the White House Press Room and the Command Decision Center that portrays a communications hub to the awesome U.S. military. There is also a replica of the historic Boeing 707 Air Force One aircraft that carried the president and Mrs. Reagan on important missions that shaped global history.
The presence of the massive, real-life Air Force One presidential carrier that is suspended mid-air in the pavilion further complements the educational enrichment of historical exhibits.
Life itself is a journey. Let education be the destination and experience the human dignity values of American democracy!
-- Joan Marie Patsky, Beaumont
Re: Noel D'Angelo's June 13 letter, "Why should gays marry?":
I am dismayed by D'Angelo's letter regarding gay marriage.
The question before the California Supreme Court was whether the current laws violate parts of the state constitution that protect equality and fundamental rights. The decision was that gay and lesbian people have a constitutional right to marry same-sex partners. D'Angelo disagrees and chooses to call the decision "judicial tyranny." One does not give up heartfelt righteousness easily.
D'Angelo wants "government of the people, by the people, for the people." Remember that "the people," at different times in our past, have been wrong, and it has been the job of the Supreme Court to rectify those errors, popular or not.
D'Angelo's consideration of the complexities of "same-sex marriage" is not present. D'Angelo dismisses financial damage and emotional trauma to thousands of couples, ignores scientific advances in conception and excludes the fact that many heterosexual couples marry who do not want to or cannot have children. D'Angelo disregards all same-sex parents who successfully raise solid American citizens and ignores the frighteningly large number of heterosexual parents who have failed both in marriage and raising children.
There are children, but no unwanted children, born into same-sex partnerships. D'Angelo asks whether a child has the right to a mother and a father. Being born into a family with a father and a mother guarantees nothing. Every child deserves the best parenting available to them. As long as children are seen as parental property and government intervention is seen as an attack on the sacrosanct "family," this may be hard to achieve.
In the larger scheme, D'Angelo's question has been answered: Why should gays be allowed to marry? Because it is their right.
-- Kathy Matthews, Thousand Oaks
Why have Christians stood by and allowed a vocal, radical fringe element of evangelicals to hijack and smear the good name and image of the Christian church in America?
The religious right, America's Taliban, professes to promote family values and has for decades been allowed to make billions of dollars and build megachurches and personal fortunes by preaching homophobia unchallenged by peers in the faith community. In just one year, 2005, the top 10 groups that promote homophobia raised more than $400 million in tax-free dollars. Jesus Christ taught: judge not, love and inclusiveness, not God hates homosexuals. Where are the voices of progressive, welcoming and inclusive mainstream churches that know and cherish their gay and lesbian parishioners?
Now a coalition of these family values organizations is prepared to spend $15 million to $30 million to pass the Limit On Marriage initiative placed on the November ballot without regard to the impact on 90,000 committed and loving gay and lesbian families raising more than 70,500 children in California. These demographics from the 2000 census include 1,382 same-gender families who are your neighbors in Ventura County. If passed, this initiative would, for the first time, write discrimination into the state constitution by stating, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
Instead of these millions of dollars going into the pockets of various media outlets, couldn't it be better spent assisting the thousands of families displaced and financially ruined by massive flooding in the Midwest? Of course, there is no financial upside to helping the needy.
-- Edie Brown, Ventura
What a pleasure to see The Star's coverage of celebrations of legal same-sex marriages in Tuesday's video reports.
The Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford of the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship said it best: No heterosexual couple need be affected in any way by these marriages. I would add: It should be relatively simple to ignore the activities of people it would seem they'd rather not know anyway.
If, by chance, those who sit in judgment, somewhere down the road, happen to get to know good neighbors comprised of a same-sex couple or same-sex parents of a favorite friend or classmate of their own children, just maybe then they will recognize the commonalities that they share as decent, hard-working Americans who love just as they love and who care about their kids every bit as much as any heterosexual couple.
It's a joyous thing to see couples come together in marriage, some who long ago entered into committed relationships but were refused their civil right to marry legally.
I wonder how many people know that copious civil rights are granted to married couples but are denied couples who are granted civil unions. This is not just a matter of semantics, as some would have us believe. This is about denial of civil rights at a time in our history that will be remembered much as we remember the ludicrous and cruel laws that kept Caucasians and people of color from marrying not so very long ago.
I would ask that people please not raise up their children to close the loving hearts with which they were born.
Hate is learned and, as such, it can be unlearned.
We of the human race need each other now more than ever.
-- Marjorie Loring Gauley, Newbury Park
Re: the June 14 "Mallard Fillmore" comic strip:
Bruce Tinsley's comic shows his caricature of a college professor exclaiming, "See how wonderful communism is?!!" in response to a purported news item regarding the Chinese government response to the pain of grieving parents following the recent earthquake.
Tinsley's comic is a cheap and sleazy slap at all of America's educators. I am amazed and outraged by the low editorial standard applied here. Where is Tinsley's evidence of any single educator promoting communism in this connection? Smearing America's best-educated persons with this ancient and tired cliché of universities as hotbeds of communist activity is reprehensible and revolting.
Clearly, Tinsley wants to influence readers to mistrust any and all expert opinion and follow along with the conservative party line of living in the past and promoting fear and distrust of anyone who happens to know more than you do.
By publishing this tripe, The Star insults the professors of the UC system, the CSU Channel Islands and community colleges throughout Ventura County, not to mention any and all people who managed to benefit from their college educations.
I am no fan of censorship and no fan of the Chinese government, but what can I expect from Tinsley tomorrow? Glorification of the Ku Klux Klan? Come on.
-- Jim Shirley, Simi Valley
Re: Bill O'Reilly's June 13 commentary, "Oil and trouble if U.S. doesn't break from oil cartels":
The commentary's headline might be spot on, but O'Reilly's following analysis suffers from "pithy" news accuracy sloppiness. Bottom line: Pithy is not a substitute for fact. I realize this will go nowhere with O'Reilly's "sound bite" constraints, but at least I had to try. Somebody's gotta inform him.
O'Reilly: "Since these companies (five major oil companies) made about $36 billion in profits in the first quarter alone, 'windfall' may be understating it."
Reality: O'Reilly makes it sound like it's just the top corporate people who are "raping" the U.S. consumer. And this is compared/contrasted to what other industry segment that isn't? If you have money in almost any major mutual fund today, which millions of Americans do, you "own" a piece of at least one of those "five major oil companies." O'Reilly is going to have to do better than wild, arm-waving rhetoric, otherwise he falls right in line with the many countries that bash America just for being "big" and "powerful."
O'Reilly: "But let me break this to the Republicans gently: ...Unless you guys can help bring some relief to beleaguered American working people, the Democrats will wipe you out."
Reality: If O'Reilly hadn't noticed, Congress is already controlled by Democrats. The "you guys" swipe is just another typical paintbrush political smear. A more realistic definition of the problem is that Congress is composed primarily of lawyers -- people, who, by training and inclination, are fixated and uncontrollably enamored by repeated confrontation. They can no more work together without daily futile wrangling than a cage of rats can share a single morsel of food equitably among themselves. How did we get into this fix? More worrisome, how do we get out of it?
-- Rod Currie, Ojai
Re: your June 14 article, "Lender gave senators special deals":
On Sens. Christopher Dodd and Kent Conrad's claims they did not think for one moment they were getting preferential treatment by calling Angelo Mozilo for a Countrywide home loan: "Liar, liar, pants on fire!"
-- William Smith, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bill O'Reilly's June 14 commentary, "Oil and trouble if U.S. doesn't break from oil cartels":
America's tragedy is that O'Reilly's pernicious drivel is mistaken for wisdom. Does O'Reilly state that President Bush's energy policy consists of flying to Saudi Arabia, begging them to pump more oil and being told to buzz off? Of course not.
He blames both political parties for the present price of oil. That's strange. I thought Bush was a Republican. Under his administration, the price of oil has quadrupled. He has caused the value of the dollar to plunge and thus the price of oil to surge.
Speaking of a surge, the invasion of Iraq reduced oil supplies. He is trying to wrangle another war with Iran, and analysts believe this has caused oil futures to soar on commodities markets.
You caused $4 a gallon gas if you voted Republican. Stop voting for them!
-- Alexander Freeman, Thousand Oaks
Re: David Ray's June 11 letter, "A new definition":
Giraffes and buffalos? Really!
I would like Ray to read Jan Shulman's letter, "Marriage is private," and David McNamara's letter, "Better argument needed," which were printed next to his. Then, he should read them again -- and again, until the concept finally sinks in and Ray "gets" it.
-- Lynne Herron, Thousand Oaks
While I agree that we should impeach Bush for being an embarrassment to our country, it would probably be too little, too late. He's a lame duck, and it probably wouldn't even bother him. His arrogance shows no bounds.
Sure, let's go for it. What have we got to lose? I'm sure he's laughing all the way to the bank, along with his cronies. The oil companies could charge us $10 a gallon, and what choice do we have? We still have to go to work, period!
I remember Bush saying that America is addicted to oil. Funny, coming from someone who was or is still an oil man from Texas.
America, take a good look at where we are now and where we were before Bush, and tell me, convince me, that we are better off now than we were before Bush.
I agree with Barbara Hensley (June 13, "Kucinich did right thing") and Nancy A. Butterfield (June 13, "Time to impeach"). Bush has said to let history decide what kind of president he was. I don't need history to make my own decision. I can clearly see for myself that "the emperor has no clothes."
-- Manny Godinez, Thousand Oaks
Re: Jay Ambrose's June 12 commentary, "GOP's primary failing: Not conservative enough":
Yes, indeed, Republicans are not conservative enough. Take money, for instance. Did you know that President Reagan and the two Bushes are responsible for a whopping 70 percent of the entire national debt ever run up in this entire nation's history?
"National debt" is red ink. It's money borrowed by the federal government to keep the country going. They're IOUs with Uncle Sam's signature on them -- actually, make that the signatures of you, your kids and your grandkids. The tooth fairy isn't going to pay all that money back. All what money? Around $10 trillion. That's two thirds of gross domestic product. Would you lend money to someone whose credit card balance was two thirds of their income? Didn't think so.
Vice President Cheney said, "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." Really? There's a connection between national debt, the dollar and you. The more debt, the weaker the dollar; the weaker the dollar, the costlier the oil; the costlier the oil, the weaker the dollar, etc. Deficits do matter -- if the tooth fairy isn't paying for your gasoline.
Republicans are the Pied Pipers who take us over the cliff and brag about not increasing taxes while they do this. That's no fairy tale.
-- James McIntyre, Newbury Park
Re: Tony Lamb's June 11 letter, "Strickland deserves apology":
Lamb wonders whether The Star would report Tony Strickland "being endorsed by the California Medical Association or his GreenWave alternative energy company receiving the 2008 small-business award from the United Chamber of Commerce for its innovative technology?"
The Star shouldn't report an endorsement that doesn't exist. The California Medical Association doesn't endorse candidates, according to its media spokesman, Ned Wigglesworth. CMA's political action committee did donate to Strickland's campaign, however.
The Star should have covered the award given to GreenWave Energy Solutions, if only to show the chamber chose to give a small-business award to a company that hasn't accomplished anything noteworthy. The award seems to be based more on political considerations than merit.
GreenWave is a project development company, not a technology company, which has filed two preliminary permits with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to test the feasibility of developing wave or hydrokinetic projects off the San Luis Obispo and Mendocino coasts. FERC determined the applications were deficient; it wanted more information on what technology would be used and how funds would be raised. GreenWave has since sent FERC responses to its questions, and all these documents are available on FERC's Web site.
What Strickland's actual contributions to GreenWave's efforts are is not entirely clear. In April, Star reporter Timm Herdt reported Strickland was made a vice president and given a 20 percent share of the company based on his promise to contribute $5,000 and his pledge to help the project with strategic planning. Since he received no income from GreenWave, but did have an income from his New Market Strategies consulting business, it was perfectly reasonable for one to question Strickland labeling himself as an "alternative energy executive" rather than as "businessman" or "consultant."
-- Kenneth Long, Newbury Park
Re: your June 12 article, "Giving your mind a psychic workout":
The Star told about a woman's book and workshop about teaching people to improve their psychic abilities.
I am surprised Debra Katz, the book author and instructor, is not a millionaire. There is a long-standing prize awaiting anyone who can demonstrate, in a reasonable and controlled way, the existence of any paranormal power or event. Over the years, many people have tried to claim James Randi's Paranormal Challenge million-dollar prize. No one has ever come close.
Scientific literacy in our country is alarmingly poor. The majority of people believes in some sort of paranormal activity, be it psychic powers or ghosts, and disbelieve many scientific realities.
The only role of science is to find the truth. Science has no agenda except to advance knowledge. Skepticism is the beginning point for an intelligent, open mind. It can lead you to investigate, without prejudice, the reality of anything you question.
It would be refreshing if The Star article had included at least a little bit of reasonable counterpoint, but it appeared to be little more than an advertisement for the book and workshop.
When something seems too good to be true, be skeptical: Look it up.
Friends will tell you about experiences they had that certainly sound like psychic events. Did they also tell you about all the times they had premonitions that turned out false?
A few are bound to appear real, and that's what we call coincidence. Of course, I often hear people say: "I don't believe in coincidence." OK, it's not a coincidence that you and Aunt Madge were in the same aisle in the same store on the same day; it's the universe trying to tell you something. Which really sounds more likely?
-- Steve Phillips, Newbury Park
Re: Ira Cohen's June 16 letter, "Bible isn't perfect":
Although the Bible does not have any errors, one does not have to believe in its inerrancy in order to say that a true marriage can only exist between a male and a female.
When God created the first man and woman, He created a law called the "law of nature."
A human discovers this law by using his ability to think. What one says about humans in general shows the law of nature.
What does the law of nature teach us?
A human is either male or female.
A male and female are different, yet complementary to each other.
A male is naturally attracted to a female, and a female is naturally attracted to a male.
Only a male and a female can create another human.
The primary purpose of marriage is the creation and education of humans.
Therefore, a true marriage can only exist between a male and female.
-- Michael S. Vorac, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bill O'Reilly's June 14 commentary, "Oil and trouble if U.S. doesn't break from oil cartels":
Why does Bill O'Reilly blame both political parties for the price of oil, yet offer no support for his argument?
There has been a Republican in the White House these last seven years. President Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House during his term of office, only to have President Reagan remove them during his own two terms.
When President Clinton left office, oil was $32 per barrel; currently, under President Bush, oil costs $132, even with a war in Iraq.
Although China consumes more oil, the output from Iraq alone surely could have stabilized the price of oil.
On all accounts, it is the Republican Party that is responsible for the quantum leap in the price of oil.
-- Lisa Sloan Strom, Newbury Park
Re: your June 15 editorial, "Water must be conserved":
I challenge anyone in this state to explain in 25 words or less why there is a water shortage in California when this state sits next to an ocean full of the stuff. You mean it's salt water and we can't use that? So what?
We have the talent and technology within these borders to achieve just about anything we set our minds to. If seawater can be turned to potable water in Saudi Arabia, I'd dare say it can -- and should -- be done here. I would suggest a two-way aqueduct system that can pump it in when we need it or pump it back out to sea when we don't. The first targets could be lakes Mono and Mead. And there is nothing that says that California would have to go it alone. Neighbors Arizona and Nevada are mostly desert. I'm sure that there would be no objection from those quarters.
For a quick, efficient and cost-effective start-up to a very large project, I would suggest that the U.S. Navy Seabees orchestrate the whole thing. Just tell them it can't be done in less than 10 years and for less than $10 billion and then get out of the way.
Let's get started on solutions instead of making excuses.
-- Jim Emanuel, Thousand Oaks
Re: your June 13 editorial, "Standing up for freedom":
Your editorial states that the Bush administration has evaded the protections given prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions.
Terrorists do not wear military uniforms and do not fight under any nation's flag; their sole purpose is to destroy our way of life. Any administration's first duty is to protect its citizens -- you and me. The question is: How can we be protected from those who would use our legal system to destroy that very legal system?
-- Jefferson C. Romney, Westlake Village
An appropriate headline announcing Tim Russert's death would have been, "Intelligent, fair and gentle." We have lost a national treasure!
-- Charlotte Gelfond, Thousand Oaks
Re: your June 12 editorial, "Get ready to hang up cells":
Is The Star for real? Does The Star really think that people will give up their cell phones? Just about every phone today has a speaker option so you can hold the phone on your lap and talk till you are blue in the face, if you do not want to spend the money for a Bluetooth.
As for the teenagers, The Star really must be blind. They are a lot smarter than you think and probably have figured out 10 ways around the law, such as using a device that you can put on your visor to turn it on and say the name of the person you want to call. Then you can talk all you want without anyone being the wiser, including the police.
Or you can hook it up to your radio and do the same thing. The kids will sit back and laugh at all of us who think we have stopped them in their tracks.
How about the adults who ride around putting on makeup, shaving or reading the paper -- or papers. Have you ever seen one of them get pulled over? I don't think so.
Good luck with this new law. At least the smart people will conform, but not the kids of today.
-- Ross Ames, Camarillo
Re: Robert Mock's June 13 letter, "Give prisoners a chance":
I am one of the residents Mock referred to in his letter. Presently, there are a total of 240 wards and 435 staff at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility. The new facility will house 1,500 high-risk inmates. Based alone on the current facility numbers, the support medical, security and administrative staff would certainly be in the region of 2,500. This is certainly not exchanging one facility for another similar facility.
Not addressed is the supply of medical staff. Because of the already significant shortage of medical staff, some of our hospitals are offering sign-on bonuses to entice professionals to join their ranks. This new facility would therefore totally exacerbate and drastically undermine an already-stretched system.
Hospitals are very high users of water and large generators of waste/discharge water. How will the aging Oxnard sewage system and treatment plant support such an additional facility? Also, new water sources would need to be found, as current sources are close to full usage.
Mock wrote that we would be replacing "older versions of inmates with those currently housed in the present facility." The whole initiative to build new prison hospitals is to cater to sick and not older offenders. Certainly some inmates would have serious impairments and chronic diseases requiring high-level medical care, but not all. In addition, a substantial number of mental patients ranging from low- to high-level mental illnesses are intended for this facility. And what if all 1,500 beds are not filled? Does Mock assume that these will stay vacant when our current prison system of healthy inmates is overflowing?
The final matter that Mock did not address is the fate of the current facility. This facility has a good reputation within California's correctional system. It is one of the successful facilities that houses young women. Did Mock know that this will be demolished to make way for a two-story facility five to six times the size of the current facility? Did he know that all the current staff will lose their jobs?
Mock also did not address the impact on local schools, agriculture and other infrastructural considerations. Assemblywoman Audra Strickland deserves high marks for understanding what is involved in this particular project. She does not deserve Mock's criticism cast unfairly under the umbrella of "not in my backyard."
-- Denis Barry, Camarillo
If you listen to the Oxnard City Council, it wants to enhance College Park with a one-half-cent sales tax increase. Nice word, "enhance." This increase will be spent any way the council desires. What that means is the city of Oxnard will be asking the public to finance Big League Dreams at College Park. The price tag is well over $50 million and going up. The payback will be for more than 40 years -- and for what?
BLD is a not for kids. All you have to do is a little research and you will find out BLD is for adults. The council wants this increase to fund BLD and make the corporate owners richer by taking money out of your pocket.
BLD as described by the Arizona Federation of Taxpayers, a state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, this way: "Instead of saving the city money, schemes such as Big League Dreams facility threaten to become drains on taxpayer wallets."
Quoting council member Tim Flynn: "I am not happy about spending priorities, in particular Big League Dreams and College Park."
The Oxnard City Council has made it clear that the Big League Dreams development at Oxnard College Park is at the top of their agenda. So, why not make BLD separate and clearly defined? The Oxnard voters should know exactly where the money is going before voting to develop BLD.
According to the RJM report, paid for by the city, 62 percent of the participants at BLD will be from out of the area, enhancing the lifestyle of people who will not be paying for it! The city of Oxnard must rescind this deal with BLD before they consider any kind of tax increase.
-- Denis Ralph, Oxnard
Re: Gilbert Escamilla's June 11 letter, "U.S. isn't a tyranny":
Escamilla seems to believe that same-sex relations are an anomaly only specific to Homo sapiens and are therefore against Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Scientific studies find that it is very common in the animal kingdom. Sheep do, dolphins do, orangutans do, etc. In fact, there have been documented cases of same-sex flamingos nurturing and raising abandoned chicks. For an article on the study go to: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0722_040722_gayanimal.html
-- Kerrie L. Cortez, Ventura
Re: Dorothy Ferreira's June 3 letter, "Help replace flags":
Thanks so much to all who responded to my letter. The response has been so great that we've have to add another phone number to call. Please call Jerry at 659-2220 and please leave a name with your donation so we can properly thank you.
We have received donations of money to replace worn flags and also flags. Now we can retire some distressed flags that are in sad shape. If you want a flag to have the name of your loved one who served, please attach his/her name, branch of service and where service was rendered, to be inscribed on it. Thank you all so much for all your donations.
-- Dorothy Ferreira,
Member, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary 1679,
Re: Anabel Hoang's June 8 commentary, "Students need comprehensive sex education":
Here we go again! Every time teen pregnancies go up, abstinence programs are blamed, and the call is for more and more sex ed!
Sex-ed programs teach the children how to have sex, as they are introduced to inadequate contraceptives that are then backed up with their "right" to destroy the child while it is developing in the womb.
Each generation that comes up is subject to this kind of program in our society. Why in the world would anyone think that children would abstain from sexual experimentation when they are shown graphic pictures of naked people having intercourse, and are taught everything there is to know about sexual activity? The sex educators pride themselves with being sex experts, but they haven't the slightest clue how to teach them why it is best to use self-control until they are able to care for a child that is conceived through sexual activity. Please take note that they rarely, if ever, give the high failure rates of some contemporary methods of birth control, or the ghastly side effects of the intrauterine device or birth-control pills, including leg amputation.
Perhaps we need to start all over by throwing out all materials that encourage all sexual activity at any time, at any age, as being "perfectly normal" and develop a program that would help the kiddies to have a bit of self-control until they can support a child. It needs to be revealed who it is that supports present-day sex ed and how money comes into the picture -- millions of dollars being made as our children are being exploited in the classroom.
-- Arlette Akkerman, Camarillo
Every Mexican housewife knows that all vegetables, fruits and other foods like seafood must be sterilized before eating them. One product sold in Mexico for sterilizing food is Sin-Bac. There are many others on the market.
How do I know? I lived in Mexico for 20 years. I even have a bottle of Sin-Bac left over, and I sometimes use it here.
-- William F. Steagall Sr., Oxnard
Re: your June 11 article, "Parking meters OK'd for Ventura":
I cannot believe the city of Ventura's latest scheme to raise funds for the city - installing parking meters downtown. I had heard rumors about such a plan being considered by the city a month or two ago, but I just read about it being approved by the City Council. There was no notice to the public that I saw anywhere of this even being contemplated by the city.
Is this yet another quarterback sneak by the city manager, just like the 911 fee and the fire inspection fee? Wasn't the city just recently criticized by the Ventura County Grand Jury for inadequate public noticing in the case of the 911 fee? When are they going to learn?
Aside from the sneaky way the city has gone about getting these parking meters hammered through, I also think it is a poorly conceived and shortsighted idea. This will further discourage people from going downtown, which is already an undesirable place to go at night because of the prevalence of derelicts and panhandlers. What is this City Council thinking? The only one who had the sense to vote no on this proposal was Neal Andrews.
I think we, as citizens, and the ones who pay all the fees and taxes within the city of Ventura, need to take decisive action in the next election. With the exception of Andrews, I will be voting no for all of the other incumbents running for re-election.
-- Jerry Price, Ventura
Re: your June 8 article "Tobacco firm funds county GOP":
As an advocate for children's health issues who sits on numerous county boards, I am concerned about the growing influence of tobacco money in politics.
Several recent UC San Francisco Medical School studies on the tobacco lobby's influence show an alarming trend. The tobacco industry has intensified its efforts to influence California politics with its campaign contributions to candidates for legislative office.
The next senator from the 19th District will be faced with numerous decisions on the use of tobacco settlement money, budget allocations for tobacco control and legislation that will help prevent tobacco sales to minors and restrict smoking in public places.
So it very much concerns me when one candidate in the race has taken contributions directly from tobacco companies. According to the Center for Tobacco Policy, Tony Strickland has solicited almost $85,000 from tobacco interests since 2001. This is in addition to the $50,000 contributed from Philip Morris to the local Republicans on his behalf this year.
Strickland's voting record while in the Assembly shows a pattern of siding with tobacco interests. He voted against crackdowns on businesses that sell cigarettes to minors and against another bill that required face-to-face sales. These were both signed into law.
In contrast, Strickland's opponent, Hannah-Beth Jackson, has never solicited or taken any money directly from tobacco companies. She will fight to protect minors and others from the dangers of tobacco products, and her views will never be compromised.
Tobacco firms don't care about the health of our community. They are only interested in selling their products. We can't let them influence policies that protect our health.
-- Debbie Golden, Ventura
(The writer is trustee on the Ventura Unified School District board. -- Editor)
Re: Jerre Reimers' June 11 letter, "The half-vote solution":
There were no back room deals, there was no change of rules. What the Democratic National Committee Rules Committee did, in an open meeting available to everyone in the country with access to C-SPAN, was to enforce the delegate selection rules as written.
The penalties to the Michigan and Florida Democratic delegations came as a direct result of their violation of the 2008 Delegate Selection Rules for the Democratic National Convention, agreed to by all state Democratic parties in August of 2006.
As it states in plain language, no presidential nominating contests were to be held before the first Tuesday in February or after the first Tuesday in June. There were four states named as exceptions: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Any others would be in violation of the rules. That's why the California Democratic Party waited until February 5 to hold the primary here.
Forty-eight states observed the rules. Two states did not. Again, in plain language, the same rules document agreed to by Florida and Michigan in 2006 states that holding a nominating contest outside of the allowable times would cost a state delegation half of their votes at the 2008 convention.
Both state parties had known for nearly two years what the rules were and what the consequences would be if they violated them. No one should have been surprised that the Rules Committee actually enforced the rules.
-- Tom Mullens, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is the 37th Assembly District representative to the California Democratic Party Executive Board. -- Editor)
Re: your June 8 article, "Tobacco firm funds county GOP":
After reading your front-page article about $50,000 from tobacco firms aiding Tony Strickland's campaign, I just have to wonder: Who would Strickland be representing in Sacramento?
The tobacco industry has traditionally spent huge amounts of money to block healthcare reform. Last year's failed healthcare bills in the state Legislature would have imposed a surcharge on cigarettes.
With the majority of Strickland's funds coming from large corporations -- including oil corporations, alcohol companies, insurance and tobacco industries -- the voters in this district must ask themselves how this will influence his voting.
Is it true he has only received three contributions from people in Moorpark, where he lives? That's all I could find. If the people in his own hometown don't support him, why should the rest of us?
Hannah-Beth Jackson does not solicit or accept money from the tobacco industry. She has received twice as many contributions from individuals within the district as Strickland has, despite the fact that he has raised more money.
Jackson has an exceptional record in the state Assembly of protecting the environment, supporting meaningful healthcare reform and representing the interests of her constituents, not the lobbies.
Thanks to the investigative reporting of The Star, we can see where the money for campaigns is coming from and judge for ourselves which candidates will represent our interests. It is important that we know who is contributing to the campaigns of our candidates.
My vote goes to Jackson, who represents my interests, not the lobbyists'.
-- Sandy Emberland, Thousand Oaks
The swing voters in this campaign -- those who support equal civil rights but are hung up on the word "marriage" -- have an opportunity to do something extraordinary. They can create a win-win-win-lose situation in which they win clear consciences, all citizens win civil rights, public discourse wins some clarity and gay-bashers lose a red herring.
The key is to recognize that we can take the word "marriage" out of state and federal law and replace it with "domestic partnership." Under this clarification of terms, the anti-same-sex marriage amendment loses one of its confusion-based selling points: its protection of the "one" definition of marriage.
Californians already support same-sex domestic partnerships. If it weren't for the fact that a few federal rights are tied up with the word "marriage," we would have already achieved equality for all.
Starting Monday, California makes equal civil rights a reality. Starting Monday, gay-bashers will still have the right to condemn same-sex couples and deny them religious marriages in their churches. Starting Monday, some churches will continue to consecrate same-sex religious marriages as they have been doing for years. Starting Monday, some gay people will become eligible to receive survivor benefits when their partners die. Starting years ago, amendment supporters will complain that this is all a terribly unfair burden for them and that the only remedy for their hurt feelings is to deny civil rights to a minority of upstanding citizens.
In November, the swing voters can end this misdirected battle by voting against the amendment.
-- Chris Habecker, Thousand Oaks
Re: your June 8 article, "Tobacco firm funds county GOP":
Any candidate who seeks campaign money from tobacco, alcohol and gambling interests is unworthy of representing our community and its good families. It doesn't matter if they're Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. If they're being financed by the three vices, they are working to undo all the hard work we as parents have done to make sure that our children grow into healthy, happy adults.
In November, we will be asked to select those candidates for state office who will best represent ours and our children's interests, not the interests of tobacco, alcohol and gambling. Don't make the mistake of selecting a candidate who cares more about doing favors for the three vices than he or she does about your children's future. Find out where the candidates are getting their money, and then say no to the one who's chosen to work for tobacco, alcohol and gambling.
-- Gary Selvaggio, Simi Valley
Re: Jay Ambrose's June 12 commentary, "GOP's primary failing: Not conservative enough":
Mark Twain summed up Ambrose's primary failing: "The problem ain't that people don't know. It's what they know that ain't so."
This letter can rebut only the more outrageous fallacies.
Our Joseph Wilson and French and German intelligence agencies exposed President Bush's lies about Iraq. In the Downing Street memos, we saw how Bush administration lies shocked Britain's MI6 intelligence in 2002. Note that Tony Blair left Britain's parliament in shame as his reward. Bush's lies were confirmed by a string of White House defectors, the latest being Scott McClellan. They were officially described as intentional lies by the recent Senate Intelligence Report.
It is quite false to state that the middle classes have benefited most from Bush's tax cuts. Every study has convincingly proven otherwise. Looking at numbers in gross is misleading.
George Bush pushed through the last restructure of Medicare as a reward to his drug company donors.
Public service is rock bottom on Republicans' to-do list. Making your buddies richer is Job One. Fed up yet?
-- Ian Freeman, Thousand Oaks
An initiative that would require a 48-hour waiting period and parental notification before minors could procure abortions will be on the November ballot - again. Whether you're a rabid, dyed-in-the-wool pro-abortionist or you simply believe that it's a woman's right to kill her baby, this is the no-brainer of the century.
Why in the world would you think it's a good thing for your 13-year-old child to enter a medical facility to have a serious medical procedure without your knowledge or consent?
This is not a matter of pro-life versus pro-choice. It's a matter of common sense versus abject stupidity. It's about caring for your child versus voluntary ignorance.
The arguments against this range from "I don't want to put that kind of pressure on my child or she'll do something drastic" to the completely outlandish, "It is a slippery slope that will lead to a total ban on abortion." How about being involved in your child's life? How about not abdicating your parental position to a radical agenda run amok?
Would you let a dentist pull your child's tooth without your knowledge? How about an appendectomy? Children can't even take an aspirin in school, but they can be counseled about terminating a human life. In some school districts something as benign as lip balm is outlawed, but keeping parents in the dark about invasive surgery on that same child is OK.
Many would consider it unthinkable to miss their child's ball game or school play. How much more insane would it be to choose to be ignorant about the very health and safety of that same child? Don't ever let a stranger touch your child for any reason without your consent. That is Parenting 101.
-- Tony Lemos, Simi Valley
Re: Jenny McGuire's June 11 letter, "End oil company greed":
McGuire should do a little research. She and so many others have no clue about business financial performance. She claims that "gasoline companies reported their highest profits of all time." Her research would yield that profit dollars were high, yet profit rates were average.
Take a look at the following profit rates and think about the accusations of oil company greed and gouging: Google 24.9 percent, Microsoft 28.3 percent, Apple 15.1 percent, Pepsi 14.1 percent, Anheuser-Busch 12.5 percent, Disney 12 percent, McDonald's 11.2 percent, Exxon Mobil 10.9 percent, Yum (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) 9.1 percent, Chevron 8.6 percent.
Wake up, people, and do just a little bit of research before you call on the politicians to do something about oil company greed.
-- Cy Bruno, Moorpark
Re: your June 8 article, "Tobacco firm funds county GOP":
Hannah-Beth Jackson should be ashamed of herself. She has the nerve to protest Tony Strickland's acceptance of campaign contributions from Altria when her own party and campaign have accepted donations from this same company?
This is hypocrisy at its finest, but it doesn't surprise me in the least, coming from Jackson. She has a record of similar doublespeak when she served in the Assembly.
I thought I had escaped Jackson when I moved from Santa Barbara to Ventura. But, apparently, she's hot on my tail and trying hard again to get elected to represent me as a state legislator.
Let's vote for someone with a solid record of achievement and genuine concern for the same people in Ventura County that he represented so honorably before in the state Assembly. Vote Strickland.
-- Mike Fonza, Ventura
Re: Rowland Nethaway's June 10 commentary, "Rising fuel costs put U.S. airlines on descent path":
Nethaway wrote his nostalgic lament about the quality of service rendered by the beleaguered airline industry. As a GI on furlough in 1951, I also took my first flight. I boarded a Douglas DC-6B at Tocumen Airfield in Panama about 9 a.m., landed in Miami and sprinted to my connecting flight to New York's LaGuardia Field on a Lockheed "Connie, " landing there a mere 18 hours after my departure from Tocumen. By today's standard, it wasn't exactly your average fun flight, but that's the way things were.
Aside from my return to Panama a month later, my next flight was on a Boeing 747 almost 20 years to the day later. Since then I've had the privilege of flying commercially an average of about half a dozen times a year. I have experienced the inconveniences of modern-day air travel. I seldom vent at the industry itself, recognizing that the spate of Cuban and other hijackings over the years, culminating in the 9/11 tragedy, triggered the majority of the huge costs of airline safety. Putting up with the "frisking, personal belongings X-rayed and pawed over" is far preferable to hearing someone scream, "Allah Akhbar," as the plane dives earthward. This is the way things are. Deal with it.
Hearing the petulant whining of today's travelers speaks volumes about our descent from the America of the Great Depression and more so the horrific years of World War II endured by the "Greatest Generation."
Which brings me to Joe and Joni Swindle's June 10 letter, "Front-page story missing." They are spot-on in their critique of The Star -- and the rest of us -- for giving the 64th anniversary of "The Normandy Invasion" such short shrift.
-- Ed Burnham, Ventura
There have been numerous letters opposed to the state Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage, generally with a similar theme and justification: The Bible is the inerrant word of God and prohibits all homosexual relationships.
There are two serious problems with that point of view. First, if there is one thing empirically provable in theology, it is that the King James Bible text that most Americans, and certainly most right-wing evangelical Christians, hold sacred is most certainly not the inerrant exact word of God as spoken.
Look inside the cover. It is officially titled the "authorized King James version." In short, it is a politically edited and revised translation of earlier, equally poorly translated versions sponsored by King Jimmy the Second to justify autocratic rule and inhuman excesses.
Next, there can be no doubt that what Christians, whether or not they are right-wing evangelicals, call the Old Testament and what Jews call Torah contains prohibitions against male homosexuality. How do the proponents of biblical certitude and the concept of godly perfection explain that lesbianism is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament? Oversight? God forgot? So much for perfection theory.
Is it more likely that the ancient storytellers, authors and editors who wrote down oral traditions that became the Bible simply recorded their cultural testosterone-driven biases without ever giving lesbianism a second thought? Lesbians, at least, are not prohibited from marrying each other, even by the text that the vitriolic hold most dear.
I do not mean to imply there is no value in the Bible. It has certainly proved its worth. But to use it as a justification to hurt, disrespect and discriminate against those who are different is a perversion and evil far worse than homosexuality or same-gender marriage.
-- Ira Cohen, Thousand Oaks
Monday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio introduced 35 articles of impeachment against President Bush. Everyone should support that impeachment, and Kucinich is to be commended for standing up for the laws of this country and against the law-breaking Bush regime.
The articles of impeachment include creating an intentionally fraudulent propaganda campaign to deceive the American public into approving the war against Iraq. They also include kidnapping, torture and murder; denial of counsel; denial of trials; "outing" a CIA agent for political advantage; illegally snooping through our personal records; and, of course, massive theft of our money by Bush's friends.
This international war crime they call the war in Iraq has cost the people of Ventura County alone $1.9 billion, money that we could have used in our own community. Instead, it has been squandered for the oil corporations that controlled the Bush White House, who wanted to send in the U.S. military to help them steal Iraq's oil.
Now, the monopoly oil companies are rich with oil projected to be $6 a gallon within a month, and the citizens of this country are the big losers.
Impeach. Have hearings, televised, and let's get the truth out. They've stolen our money and devastated our country. I think the least we deserve is to have the truth come out.
-- Nancy A. Butterfield, Camarillo
Re: your June 11 article, "Parking meters OK'd for Ventura":
Parking meters are coming back to downtown, and the questions now, according to the article, is when and how to spend the money. Didn't I read somewhere in the past few weeks about budget problems and cutting of services and positions? I guess they really weren't needed, or we wouldn't be looking for new places to spend the newfound money.
Bringing back parking meters is not a good idea. The downtown is thriving and there are new stores opening. I remember when it was like a ghost town downtown. People like to be able to drive, park and go about their business, have dinner, go to a movie, maybe do some shopping. Having to worry about checking the meter and filling it when it runs out doesn't make it easy. It's easier to drive someplace where you can park free and in a big lot, come out of the theater and go to dinner. Meters will drive people to the malls and large cinemas in shopping centers.
It seems the City Council has discovered fees -- fees for telephones, fees for parking. I suspect they will come up with even more fees. A few months ago someone even joked about a "flushing fee." With gas at $4 a gallon, and meters expected to be $1 an hour, I can use the meter money for four hours to drive someplace easier and out of town.
The vote was 6-1, with the only person who understands the voters being Neal Andrews. We need six new council people when the next elections come up. The present ones, sans one, are out of touch with the people.
-- Robert W. Coshland, Ventura
These are hard times for everyone. I fully understand that the city of Ventura is short of funds, but the new idea to line Main Street with parking meters isn't the answer.
I recall when downtown wasn't the happening place it is now. Back in the 1970s, you could fire a cannon down Main Street without hurting a soul. It took years and treasure to bring downtown back, and I fear that the installation of parking meters that charge a buck an hour will put the nails in the coffin of Ventura's downtown. Who will want to pay an extra two dollars to see a movie at the downtown theater? If it runs late, you can bet the meter police will have a ticket on your car window. In these hard times, why would the city inhibit downtown business by imposing what is, in truth, a parking tax?
This "quick fix" will be a permanent fixture once the meters are put up. The people need to let the city's elected officials know this isn't the way to raise money on the backs of rich and poor alike. The only ones that will gain from the meters are the stores in the mall.
-- Richard Senate, Oak View
In less than a week, gay marriage will become legal in California, not because the people voted for it, but because four California Supreme Court justices forced it upon the state and its citizens.
This is the antithesis of democracy. It is judicial tyranny at its worst. This ruling flies directly in the face of the principle of "government of the people, by the people, for the people." Fortunately, the people will have the final say this November when they vote on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
In the larger scheme, the question remains: Why should gays be allowed to marry? The fundamental purpose of marriage is for man and woman to be united in love and to conceive and raise children within the context of a family. How can this occur with two people of the same gender, since conceiving a child is biologically impossible? Finally, from the children's point of view, don't they have a right to a mother and a father? Shouldn't this aspect play a central role in this debate?
-- Noel D'Angelo, Thousand Oaks
With gasoline prices of $4.50 and climbing without so much as a blush, I'm sure that quite a few people are wondering if there are usable mass-transit options available locally.
Unfortunately, Ventura County's transit services are expensive, arbitrarily planned and extremely limited, with ill-timed and inconsistent intercity bus connections, and entire days and blocks of the day with no bus service at all on crucial routes. Transit companies and their policies vary from town to town.
Coordinating bus schedules to plan a trip from Point A to Point B anywhere in Ventura County requires a bevy of maps, patience and super-smarts. It's not at all unusual to expect a one-way trip between destinations in two neighboring towns to take two hours. With better service and a central switchboard to assist with planning, now could be the time to make mass transit truly viable. If global warming won't make this happen, maybe high gas prices will.
We need double the services and half the price! It is time to comprehensively scan Ventura County's transit scene and whip together something that commuters and citizens can actually use.
-- Adrienne Prince, Camarillo
I would like to inform readers of a horrendous bill making its way through the California Legislature that will affect anyone who obtains a prescription at a pharmacy in California.
SB1096, sponsored by state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, would allow drugstores to "share" your personal, private prescription medication history with bulk mailing companies for a fee without your authorization and send copies to the Food and Drug Administration.
I believe that one's medication history is personal, private information between that person, the doctor and the pharmacist. The California Legislature has no business allowing the personal medication information of millions of Californians to be sold to questionable companies like Adheris Inc. so they can send you "informational mailings."
Adheris Inc. is a company that was formerly known as Elensys Care Services. Elensys Care was sent personal medical information from several pharmacies in 1998 without patient consent. Adheris is listed as a source of SB1096.
I find it reprehensible that Calderon would want to allow this company access to our personal medical information. This "legislation" has already passed through the California state Senate and is currently making its way through the state Assembly. Sen. Tom McClintock has had the foresight to vote against this bill.
I urge everyone to visit the California Legislature Web site. See this bill for yourself and contact your local state Senate and state Assembly representatives and ask them to vote no on SB1096. Your personal medication history is just that, your personal business, and it is not to be sold to the highest bidder.
-- Ursula Johnson, Camarillo
Re: Rick Bell's June 10 letter, "Killing snakes":
Let me thank Ventura County Fire Capt. Bell for proving my point by providing lame excuses as to why we cannot do things differently when it comes to 911 snake calls.
There is an ongoing alternative to this problem. For example, the Simi Valley Parks Department is currently capturing and relocating rattlesnakes. Since Bell is so concerned about litigation, I would love to see statistics on how many relocated snakes actually returned to bite little children. I bet it's none. In fact, rattlesnake bites are rare, and nearly all are nonfatal.
I am astonished by Bell's ludicrous remark about rattlesnakes not being on the endangered list. Is he suggesting we just keep killing creatures until they become endangered, then suddenly "care" it is endangered and spend thousands of dollars to pass more laws to protect them after we waste thousands of dollars to obliterate them? The bald eagle was just removed from the endangered list. Does that make it plentiful and expendable?
I am shocked he would agree it makes sense to send out a fire engine and three men numerous times a day, which is the common procedure, just to kill one snake. I hope, for the taxpayer's sake, his time could be used more productively, especially since most of the calls are dealing with harmless snakes.
California is in a fiscal crisis. Simi Valley is getting ready to lay off city workers. It is time we start questioning absurd expenditures before we become another casualty of overspending like so many counties around us. We can start by taking a look at all unnecessary services we now have come to expect from our emergency service personnel. Who knows? This might save money and help free up firefighters for their real purpose.
-- Rick Freeman, Simi Valley
Can't be this letter to the editor will be read by thousands, it won't get printed.
Can't be the subject matter is less than profound, the editor will discard it.
Can't be the peoples of the sub-Sahara will cease starving, because the world powers spend more on "meeting supplies" than they spend on supplying food.
Can't be the world's extremist can ever love one another, their love is only for themselves.
Can't be the Jews and Arabs will ever negotiate, they are both right.
Can't be our nation will ever run out of finite energy supplies, we have the sun, wind and water forever.
Can't be Barack Obama is neither black nor white, but just a person.
On and on and on.
Our world has a massive number of possibilities. Who says we can't? We do, but we can.
-- Dave Dobrowski Sr., Westlake Village
Re: Bruce Tinsley's June 6 "Mallard Fillmore":
Tinsley pokes fun at Barack Obama for planning to solve the fuel crisis by "repealing the law of supply and demand." The fun would be more appropriately poked at John McCain or Hillary Clinton. Those are the two senators who have suggested that removing the gas tax this summer will somehow lower the price of gasoline.
Obama, along with every economist in America, has pointed out that removing that tax simply shifts the tax amount from government treasuries to oil company coffers. That's the way the economic law of supply and demand operates. With a fixed supply of any product, the price rises until it is equal to the demand at that price level.
The only way to decrease the price of anything is to increase the supply of it. However, suspending the tax on gasoline does nothing to increase the amount of gas that refineries are able to produce.
-- Rick Scott, Ventura
Re: your June 1 article, "Tortilla Flats mural under Highway 101 dedicated; hundreds attend Ventura party":
I'll bet there has not been that number of people amassed at that historical location on Figueroa Street since Gen. José Castro headed a sizable number of troops that had been dispatched from the Presidio Santa Barbara by Gov. Juan Bautista Alvarado at Monterey. They were sent to engage an opposing army commanded by Capt. Juan Castaneda, who was sent up from Los Angeles by Carlos Carrillo, an official sent by the Mexican government to California to unseat Alvarado.
The artillery Castro brought down from the presidio started a two-day siege against Castaneda, who, with his outfit, took refuge behind the fortified walls and bell tower of old mission San Buenaventura. The walls and bell tower were peppered with shot that was still visible years later, and that was March 27, 1838.
My thanks go out to these people who put this mural together on the history of the "Flats," thus keeping it alive. However, sometimes history can be distorted by the many stories that are contributed to projects such as this.
Keep in mind that the Tortilla Flats that was referred to by the old river rats was west of the Southern Pacific spur that went to Ojai and by all accounts did not include the streets of Front, Walnut, Vine, Spruce (Ventura Avenue) or Garden. There are still a few left who are in their late 80s and early 90s who can attest to that fact.
-- Jim Elwell-Martinez, Oak View
Re: your June 9 article, "Teen earns awards for work opposing LNG terminal":
Congratulations are certainly in order to 13-year-old Shannon McComb for her award for contributing her efforts to the blocking of the liquefied natural gas terminal. "Not in my backyard (or along my coast)" is not something new, but if she follows through, she will see to it that her gas hot water heater and furnace are turned off -- that is, unless she has a plan for where gas wells can be drilled or where an LNG terminal can be built. Otherwise, all of our gas will be turned off for all of us.
-- W. Lee Truman, Camarillo
Re: your June 7 article, "Top deputy loses post; reason is not stated":
Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks is taking advantage of the personnel confidentiality policy.
The public pays for all law enforcement support. Personnel, equipment and support are our business. When a major step such as the demotion of a veteran deputy occurs, we, the people who foot the bill, have a right to know why.
There is no logical or legitimate reason, outside of embarrassment, for withholding personnel information from the bill payers, the public. The policy of secrecy is passe and irrelevent in this day of openness and transparency. Brooks owes it to the public to inform them when major personnel or administrative decisions are made. How else can the public fairly scrutinize the performance within the department?
I believe the sheriff and police chiefs, such as Oxnard's John Crombach, should be held to a high standard of accountability. Crombach should have to explain why he put Officer Martin Polo on paid vacation for an accusation that would have found an ordinary citizen in jail facing a $500,000 bond.
Our laws do not allow for double-standard law enforcement. However, the policy of confidentiality serves to withhold information the public is entitled to. Too many sins can be concealed, and crimes can remain undisclosed by giving special treatment to those individuals who enforce laws against the rest of us, but are themselves immune to prosecution.
-- Miguel Espinosa Jr., Oxnard
Re: your June 5 article, "Governor declares drought in state":
Gas rationing in the 1970s seemed to concern our representatives at the time, but little has been done since to implement a long-term solution to our dependence on limited and environmentally damaging fossil fuels.
This lack of accountability by our leaders on strategic issues has contributed to a "global warming" crisis and a renewed interest in protecting our oil interests in the Middle East -- at any cost. Climate change and war are hardly sustainable solutions.
During this same period, multiple "drought" years in California resulted in our state representatives calling for mandatory water rationing. I can still remember flushing our toilet with buckets of water captured from our washing machine. However, in the subsequent 30 years, housing development within the most arid areas of California has been permitted as though there is no relationship to the number of homes built and the need for new water resources.
Ultimately, just as with gas crises, our citizens will be left dealing with the consequences of the inaction of our representatives, who are now calling for a voluntary 20 percent reduction in water use.
Will there be renewed calls to refrain from washing clothes or using air conditioners during peak load hours this summer, though there is still no long-term strategic priority assigned by our legislators to help make photovoltaic systems that could help offset peak load demand affordable for a majority of homeowners?
I support aggressive, sustained conservation efforts to reduce the demand for our limited energy and water resources. However, why must we continually be responding to crises instead of vision? When will our leaders have the will and courage to truly plan for a sustainable economy that is linked to renewable supplies of key resources?
-- David Lantrip, Ventura
Re: your June 8 article, "Group rallies opposition to proposed prison site":
"Not in my backyard" seems to always be the mantra for otherwise compassionate and reasonable citizens whenever a necessary but uncomfortable change is introduced into their neighborhood.
Some residents of both Sterling Hills and Spanish Hills seem intent on stopping the construction of a hospital/prison on the state-owned property currently occupied by a Youth Authority Correctional Facility. The fact that a state institution was there long before they purchased their homes seems to matter not.
I wonder how many of them are aware that a similar facility has been in operation within walking distance of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for more than 40 years. I'm sure a search of newspaper morgues would uncover lots of speculation from concerned citizens of that era as well. Yet the only escapee of note, to my recollection, was Timothy Leary. Bunked in the same building with him at the time were some of the first inmates to be trusted to fight forest fires in California.
Realistically, the proposed "residents" are merely older versions of those already housed on Wright Road. And typically, older "cons" tend to have fewer visitors than juveniles do, so how does that relate to environmental concerns such as sewage disposal, water supply, traffic and pollution?
Since it's my backyard too, I guess what I'm trying to say is: Put the available land to use and deal with any legitimate concerns in a responsible manner. I could only cringe at the quote from Assemblywoman Audra Strickland's representative, Jennifer Rossi, who stated that Strickland is "100 percent opposed to the idea" and opposes giving prisoners "state-of-the-art healthcare."
What can I say? I guess it's her backyard too.
-- Robert Mock, Camarillo
I was appalled to learn that the city of Ventura is now charging all of its residents a monthly fee for each of their telephone lines for the privilege of calling 911 to report a medical or police emergency.
Excuse me, but isn't the 911 service something our tax dollars already pay for? If not, I would like to ask our city fathers how they are spending the thousands of dollars we, as citizens, are paying on an annual basis for city services, such as the 911 call center. Oh, and by the way, if you choose not to pay the monthly fee, you can get away with a $17.88 per-call fee. What a deal!
My husband and I had an interesting exchange the other day. We were sitting at the table having dinner and heard a siren screaming somewhere off in the distance. My husband looked over at me and commented, "Well, there goes another $17.88 into the city's coffers." If only it wasn't so sad, it would actually be funny.
-- Andrea Ross, Ventura
Re: Rowland Nethaway's June 10 commentary, "Rising fuel cost put airlines on descent path":
Although Nethaway's article is about the airlines, he mentions passenger trains of the 1950s. Since that era, our U.S. passenger trains have become government-owned and operated, and yet the privately owned airlines receive far more government subsidies than the passenger rail ever has.
Air and automobile travel are private industries (airlines, automakers and petroleum companies) that we subsidize through our tax dollars by building and maintaining airports, roads and fighting wars to subsidize the profits of these industries.
Don't mourn air travel's demise. Pray that the U.S. government wakes up and starts putting its money where it belongs: in our country's own public passenger rail infrastructure, something on a large scale that we haven't seen in this country in a few generations.
-- Lisa Vazquez, Ventura
Re: Beverly Kelley's June 9 commentary, "Duct tape is good for everything but ducts":
I appreciated and learned from Kelley's article about duct tape, but she may have precipitated an international incident by leaving out Red Green of Possum Lake, Canada. He is the master of repairing and recycling with duct tape. Besides that, with the name "Green," he certainly exemplifies environmentally correct con-duct (one of his pro-ducts was a hybrid car).
As an example of his de-duct-ive reasoning, he once tried to duct-tape the borders of Ontario and Quebec together to counter separatism up north. Perhaps, to be pro-duct-ive in causing improved relations with Canada, writer Kelley could tape California and Canada together (or they might shut off our aqua-ducts).
But if she chooses to duct the issue, she could turn to the motto of Possum Lodge (Red Green is president): If all else fails, play dead.
I do have to admit that Red Green is all show and no substance, only a character in a TV series from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. And even CBC didn't stick with it, ending the series two years ago.
Well, I believe I've reached re-duct-io ad absurdum -- beyond saving even by duct tape.
-- Richard Londgren, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is the author of "Poor Richard's TIPS from the Great Depression," which advises patching overalls with duct tape. -- Editor)
Re: your June 9 editorial, "What took so long?"
This editorial concerned the firing of the top civilian and military leaders of the Air Force command. Great, but why was the initial reporting of such an event confined to The Star's back pages? It certainly should have been front-page news!
-- Jerry Nehring, Thousand Oaks
(The writer adds that he is a disabled Air Force veteran who served during the Cold War, from 1951 to 1955. -- Editor)
Re: your June 8 article, "Tobacco firm funds county GOP" and letters to the editor in subsequent editions:
The front-page article on tobacco's contributions to the GOP did not shock me, but reaction from Tony Strickland supporters did. Their letters demonstrate a willful blindness about the way corporate funding has twisted local politics.
The article is a description of Republican Party relationships with companies that have a specific interest in potential legislation affecting California voters that is far from the public interest. The writers try to muddy the perception that Strickland is in the pocket of a big corporation by digging up dirt on elected officials who've contributed to Hannah-Beth Jackson.
The equivalence doesn't work because Strickland and the Republican Party actively solicited contributions from a company with an extremely harmful product, one that is responsible for astronomical amounts in healthcare costs to the public.
Jackson does not solicit or accept contributions from tobacco companies. Some elected officials who may have accepted tobacco money contribute to her, but this certainly has no way to influence her behavior as a legislator. Jackson will never back down from a fight when her constituents are at risk. Philip Morris knows it, oil companies know it, Strickland knows it, and they'll pay whatever it costs to keep her from office.
The Star provides an important public service by letting the voters know about a distinct attempt to co-opt a local legislative race. This is courageous, useful journalism, and no amount of badgering should prevent The Star from meeting a higher standard than most of what passes for information in the mainstream media.
Of course the letter writers attack The Star and the journalist, because their political tradition is to attack the messenger when they don't have a leg to stand on. Haven't we had enough?
-- Penny Strowger, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is secretary of the Ventura County Democratic Central Committee but is expressing her own views, not those of the committee. -- Editor)
Re: your June 8 article, "Tobacco firm funds county GOP":
The Star is to be congratulated for this article. An informed electorate must know where the candidates get their money. Of course, the firm also gave to the Democrats, a fact The Star did not emphasize.
Unfortunately, too many politicians are more interested in getting elected or re-elected than doing what's right. Campaigns are expensive. Political action committees have money and want access to the politicians. Contrary to the statement by Ventura County Republican Central Committee Chairman Mike Osborn, they are not necessarily interested in good government.
I understand the need to raise money for one's campaign. However, the people should know where it comes from and what influence it has had or may have with regard to legislation.
I urge The Star to periodically publish campaign contributions.
-- David Shepard, Camarillo
I would just like to know how the people of Thousand Oaks got stuck with Time Warner Cable. I have their television and Internet service and do not understand why they can't keep their system up. This morning, for the second time in a week, the system was down. Calling them is a total waste of time, as they keep you on hold forever knowing that you will eventually give up and hang up.
Doesn't the City Council have the authority to cancel the agreement and bring in a company -- any company -- that can provide decent service to the people of Thousand Oaks? It is just very frustrating that we have to receive inferior service from an obviously inferior company.
I just cannot wait until Verizon FiOS service is available in my area. I will be the first to sign up.
-- Howard Oxman,
The question is where's your faith, and a good start is here: At what age did you stop pretending there is a God and start believing he is real?
-- David Crow Cope, Newbury Park
For those of you who do not have your noses in the news and are not news junkies, or who may not even know or even care what is going on in this world, go ahead and sit at the gas pump and wonder: Will we continue blood for oil?
Monday, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, R-Ohio, put into the Congressional Record 35 impeachable offenses of President Bush and his administration. This was on C-Span, and our lousy news services and the press have not reported it, thus keeping the public ignorant and unable to respond.
It is often said that we deserve the government we get because we do not stand up and support those we believe in.
Kucinich read for 3 hours and 20 minutes this indictment, uninterrupted, in a most elegant manner. He stated clearly, with documentable evidence, each impeachable offense of this administration.
I called Kucinich's office and thanked him for his unswerving service to the people. He is a man of principle, and he and many others are trying to bring to light the truth about this war and have justice prevail.
-- Barbara Hensley, Camarillo
"The long, national nightmare for America is over," said President Ford nearly 34 years ago. It's true today. With Hillary Clinton's concession speech Saturday, we can begin to get serious about the decision we must make this fall, about the path this great country of ours will take for the next 30 to 40 years or so.
As an independent voter and grandfather of five boys, I have to wonder what kind of country they will grow up in. We owe it to the next generation to do the absolute best we can to ensure the integrity our forefathers brought forth on this nation.
It's been said most great countries last only around 200 years, which we have already passed. How will this noble experiment end? Some of us will not be around to find out. Our descendents will either thank us or condemn us for the decision we'll make.
It is so much more important than simply chanting bumper-sticker slogans and sound bites -- "Change we can believe in" or "We must reach across the aisles." We must look deeper for the reasons this country has survived and flourished.
Some quotes we might want to remember come November: "The poor have been voting for Democrats for the last 50 years...and they are still poor," Charles Barkley; and "I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction," from "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama.
While I am no longer a Republican, I see John McCain's correct stance on the war on terror and Iraq, and the probability that he will appoint at least two, and maybe even three, Supreme Court justices in the style of Samuel Alito and John Roberts.
I hope and pray most thinking Americans feel the same.
-- Burt Smith, Camarillo
John Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District, states, "We're running out of water, period." The conservation proposals include three-minute showers, turning off the water while brushing teeth and placing bricks in the toilet tank. That ought to save a few gallons per person per day. But the politicians won't be happy until our lawns are brown and our cars are always dirty. I already conserve water. My grass is part of the ecosystem. It absorbs carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen.
I propose that we immediately stop all development -- no new houses, no new buildings! What could be more straightforward than that? A suspension of development would save hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day. I think people will get a little testy when they are punished for using too much water, while they watch a new-home development of mini-mansions going in down the street.
Politicians: You can do the right thing now or deal with your constituents later. It's your choice.
-- Jerre Reimers, Simi Valley
Re: U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly's June 6 letter, "Gallegly thanks constituents":
Gallegly states, "Should you have any questions or concerns about any federal issue, please don't hesitate to contact my office."
Well, I have done this at least five times over the years. Only one time did I get any kind of a reply, and in the letter I received, the response had nothing to do with the information I had asked for.
-- Ed Schlossman, Thousand Oaks
Re: Chris Bower's June 4 letter, "ANWR a waste of time":
Bower stated that developing Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil would be a waste of time, take too long to develop and just add to the coffers of U.S. oil companies like Exxon Mobil.
Let's see, 1 million barrels of oil a day times, conservatively, $120 a barrel equals $120 million a day going to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and other countries that may decide not to sell to us anyway if we continue to avoid drilling to meet our own needs.
President Clinton first vetoed drilling in ANWR in 1995. Had he not, we'd be receiving our first oil from there today.
A good Boy Scout looks into the future and plans ahead for his needs, and whatever percentage ANWR provides in the future, it's that much less than we need to import from our enemies.
As Greenpeace co-founder and now former member Patrick Moore states, greenhouse gas-free nuclear power is the only energy source that will eventually provide us energy independence. Solar is 10 times more costly, wind five times more, gas three times more at current prices, with biomass, geothermal and tidal distant competitors.
Moore says were it not for the obstinacy of environmentalists, we'd be independent today with nuclear power. Modern reactors have 80 percent fewer parts than 1970s vintage reactors, rely on passive safety features and have more standardization for training and operational procedures. There are 439 reactors in 31 countries with hundreds on the drawing boards, but only a very few are proposed for here. Moore says recycling nuclear waste will preclude the need for a national waste depository.
All we need is to educate the public on the enormous advantages of nuclear power, while, at the same time, minimizing our dependence on foreign suppliers.
-- Tom Reilly, Thousand Oaks
To those who say we should not judge the idea of a man marrying a man, or a woman marrying a woman, let's examine the situation this way: If God had created two Adams and put them on one side of the earth and created two Eves and put them on the other side of the earth, nobody would be here. Therefore God's creation of earth would have been a failure, because there would be no one to populate the earth!
Also, for all you educated people out there, I would expect you to remember God gave us all a conscience and free will. All he asked was for us to follow the commandments. So, let your conscience be your guide.
-- Russell E. Spencer Sr., Simi Valley
Re: Gerald Christian Nordskog's June 8 letter, "Unchangeable creator":
From his first sentence, it is clear that Nordskog accepts the Bible as the final word and is "appalled" when people don't accept that word. We don't all share Nordskog's beliefs, and it is very offensive to many people when he makes the assumption that everyone believes as he does. In this country, the Constitution is the "final word," and even that can be changed.
It's time to accept the reality that homosexuality is not a choice, and it has always been one part of the human condition. I talked with my gay cousin about this, and he said that he had really "tried" to be straight and hadn't wanted to be gay, but he didn't have any choice in the matter. Should we make him a second-class citizen because he's "different" than most of us? Many gays are very religious and are certain that their God wants them to love and be loved in the way that works for them. Some will say this implies that "anything goes," but of course that's a nonsensical argument.
We all need to learn to live and let live. Your life and marriage will not be diminished by others sharing the rights you take for granted. Live your life the way you feel you should, and try to be less judgmental of others.
I can't help but notice that all the letters I see opposing same-sex marriage base their arguments on religion. It would be interesting to hear some non-religious objections. Anyone?
-- Steve Phillips, Newbury Park
Re: Elaine L. Freeman's June 6 letter, "America's oil dependency":
That makes two of us who think we should drill for oil in Alaska. I wonder how many other Americans also think as we do? Maybe The Star could conduct a poll on this issue.
-- Elizabeth Bass, Thousand Oaks
It seems at least once a week I read a story in the newspaper about retailers struggling with the economic downturn. Having recently received my federal economic stimulus check, I went to three different major retail stores in the Conejo Valley in an effort to do my patriotic duty and spend some money.
At two of the stores I went to, I was looking for an item that appeared in their weekly ad. In the first store, an employee told me they were out of it. End of story.
In the next store, an employee tried to convince me the item I was looking for didn't exist. When I showed him a picture of it in the ad, he passed me off to another employee who, in turn, passed me off to yet another employee who told me that, if they had it, it would be in the men's department.
At the third store, I found an item on display that would need to be retrieved from the stockroom. I was told that they were very short-handed and it would be "a while" before someone could help me.
So much for my attempt to stimulate the economy.
I have a few simple suggestions. Starting with upper management, train employees to understand there is nothing more important than the customer. Help the person who took the time to come into the store to buy something. Don't advertise what you don't have. Take a good look at your store. Merchandise that's fallen on the floor is unlikely to sell. If floors, fixtures, drinking fountains, and restrooms are dirty, customers aren't going to linger.
Times are tough and people are spending more carefully. That is all the more reason for retailers to work a little harder to make every customer a satisfied customer.
-- Wendy Worman, Newbury Park
During the May 13 Thousand Oaks City Council meeting, a $673,288 Community Development Block Grant spending plan was approved. While portions of these funds were allotted to worthy causes, not so worthy is the $94,180 allotted toward the day laborer site off Hampshire Road. Add $15,000 more for rental of portable toilets plus janitorial expenses at this site, and $109,180 of our tax money being misspent to maintain the day laborer site for this next fiscal year.
I commend Councilwoman Claudia Bill-de la Peña for being the lone dissenting vote. I also commend her inquiry as to whether the city has any programs that help senior citizens on a fixed income with loans to improve their home, citing a call she received from an elderly disabled widow on a fixed income who is being forced to make improvements to her home through code compliance. City staff's response was that it does not use CDBG funding for a program like this.
Of particular offense was City Manager Scott Mitnick's reply: "If we do something new, go down the path of a new program, it would be at the expense of an existing program. Somebody else would lose out."
Apparently, Mitnick and City Council members Andy Fox, Dennis Gillette, Jacqui Irwin and Tom Glancy feel using federal dollars to fund an employment site for illegal aliens is more important than funding an assistance program for elderly low-income citizens.
Then again, these are the same four council members who recently voted themselves a 10 percent raise, which will take effect in December, who voted to spend approximately $20,000 to fund a survey for tax hikes and who voted to discontinue school crossing-guard service at five locations.
It is time Thousand Oaks citizens demand accountability by our City Council for its corrosive actions and continual fiscal irresponsibility.
-- Dawn Williams, Thousand Oaks
Re: your June 9 article: "Capps helps to form caucus for gay, lesbian issues":
Rep. Lois Capps is using the murder of Larry King at E.O. Green School as a springboard for her vice chairmanship of the Congressional Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Equality Caucus. That is wrong.
King is dead not because he was a poor sexually confused boy, misunderstood and hated by his peers. He is dead because he did not understand that stop means stop and no means no.
King was the aggressor, continually badgering classmate Brandon McInerey. People handle stress in different ways. Perhaps, if either one of the boys had been more mature, or if the teachers at Green had bothered to see what was really happening, we could have avoided this whole tragedy.
This is not a gay issue. It is a harassment issue. Capps needs check the facts and leave grandstanding to the Republicans.
She needs to address the circumstances that put King in harm's way - King's continual needling and bullying of McInerey, and the lack of adequate support for McInerey.
She goes on to imply that "young people," grade- and middle-schoolers, should embrace their sexual identity. Capps is wrong. These are children and need guidance from their family. In the absence of that, they mimic what they see on TV and in movies.
Capps needs to be part of the solution. She should start a caucus on bullying. She needs to head a full inquiry at Green. She needs to find the cause and issue a corrective action.
But then, that's not trendy. It's already OK for two bullies to get married. And it will continually be acceptable to let the harassment at E.O. Green continue like it has for 35-plus years.
-- Tim Robbins, Thousand Oaks
What with the zooming price of gas, I would like the city of Thousand Oaks to do something about the red lights that last about two minutes! Often, there is only one car at the intersection waiting, while gas is being wasted, before the light turns green. Can't something be done to curb this problem?
-- Shirley Bell, Thousand Oaks
As we all know, the gasoline crisis is affecting our whole society. It is not just transportation that is becoming unaffordable, but even basic necessities, such as food.
Not too long ago, the gasoline companies reported their highest profits of all time. The CEOs of the gasoline companies are paid outrageous salaries. Isn't this exactly what the electrical companies did to Californians? Didn't the courts find their business practices to be illegal? Didn't the courts stop them from gouging the public and make them pay restitution to their victims?
We Americans need to stand up to the greed of the gasoline companies! We need to write our congressmen and every newspaper in the country asking our government representatives to start an investigation into the gasoline companies' practices. We must tell them it is time to put an end to their greed controlling our country!
-- Jenny McGuire, Thousand Oaks
In the United States and most of the rest of the world, all marriages are civil. When Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier in Monaco, a country that has a state religion, Catholic, they were married first by the state, then in a church ceremony the next day.
In fact, no religious minister can legally marry two people without the permission of the state -- a marriage license. The state can refuse to issue such a document if certain conditions are not met, such as a fee, a waiting period, a blood test and even a residency requirement.
One must realize that all marriages are first civil, and if one chooses to have such union blessed by his church, that is his choice. Atheists get married every day in their city halls, and not a person in the world tries to pass laws to keep nonreligious folks from getting hitched.
The bottom line here is that marriage is only legal when it is approved by the state first. The people who have their religious beliefs against same-sex marriage must be respected, as long as they keep their religion out of the civil side of the issue.
They, in turn, should respect the rights of folks who think otherwise. After all, the U.S. is a great country because we respect the importance of the wall between church and state.
There was a great commentary (Chris Bower's "What the Bible says ... about lobster," June 8) about the Bible and this issue. To me and a lot of other folks, divorce is far more sinful -- read your Bible -- and far more of a sin against the teachings of Jesus and the Bible and the welfare of children.
Perhaps we should outlaw divorce first, then look at this issue.
-- David LaTourette, Simi Valley
I note with great interest that The Star editorially opposed Proposition 98 because of its effect on rent control. I, too, am concerned for the poor and try to help them in substantial ways. However, I fail to understand why it is an obligation, imposed by law and supported by The Star, that thousands of mom-and-pop and small corporate landlords be the only ones required to subsidize the poor.
I ask The Star to be consistent, fair and logical in its thinking and drop its subscription rates by 40 percent for the poor. There are thousands of small businesses struggling. They could benefit from The Star dropping its exorbitant advertising rates by 40 percent. The Star can lead by example. The Star is owned by a very large corporation. I am sure these family businesses could benefit by it helping them.
I also ask that The Star crusade and use the power of the press to get laws put on the books that require the above.
I also ask that The Star crusade for laws against its advertisers, especially the food chains and oil companies. They should be required to give a 40 percent discount to the poor. In the process, we could even set up another bureaucracy and create jobs for "the enforcers" of these new laws. Perhaps in a few years, the discount could be increased to 50 or 60 percent. It might even wipe out poverty.
Obviously, solving poverty is a serious social issue that has no simple solutions. However, anytime society and government attempts to solve a problem by creating other inequities, society creates many other social problems. Why build and own low-cost housing and why keep it up? It is easy to pass off problems onto someone else's back. What are we doing to help?
-- Alan Satterlee, Agoura
Did I read that 44 percent of California legislators have taken tobacco money? I happen to know that many of these legislators are Democrats who have both been supported by and have supported Hannah-Beth Jackson. Has she ever denied the funding or returned any funding from legislators who took money from tobacco companies?
It's really too bad that Timm Herdt and The Star write these stories to get an anti-GOP headline in the paper, only to bury the fact that both parties and almost half of California legislators have accepted these kinds of donations. Their intention is so transparent.
The Star's readers need to keep in mind that this election is vitally important to the state, and Democrats are going to pull out all the stops to get their two-thirds majority. It must be nice to have an entire county's newspaper helping you do your dirty work.
-- Debbie Guthrie, Ventura
I wonder if The Star, in the midst of its obvious campaign against Tony Strickland, will feature stories about him being endorsed by the California Medical Association or his GreenWave alternative energy company receiving the 2008 small business award from the United Chamber of Commerce for its innovative technology?
In fact, the last article about Strickland by Timm Herdt called into question the legitimacy of his ballot designation as "alternative energy executive." I'm assuming that the United Chamber of Commerce, which represents 21,000 businesses, doesn't make it a habit of giving awards to sham companies with no real value.
Perhaps an apology is in order.
-- Tony Lamb, Ventura