Al Gore's challenge to have America produce 100 percent of its electricity without a single molecule of carbon is actually a ploy for bigger government. The bottom line is that Gore's calling for higher taxes and government subsidies for alternative energy "solutions" will come at a huge cost to consumers.
That's the ultimate goal for global warming alarmists: Make energy much more expensive so Americans use less. Gore's own Alliance for Climate Protection estimated a zero-carbon energy plan would cost as much as $3 trillion. While Gore might believe energy producers should be forced pick up the tab, we know that businesses don't pay taxes, people do, in the form of lost jobs or higher prices.
A vibrant economy that isn't hamstrung by high taxes and regulations is the best way to develop viable alternative energies. Big government bureaucrats shouldn't pick winners and losers in the energy game.
Gore wants the government to dictate our energy policy. According to recent polls, nearly two out of three Americans favor expanding nuclear power, and nearly three out of four favor offshore drilling. Gore firmly opposes both solutions. He thinks the government should decide what is good for Americans, rather than Americans deciding for themselves.
The consequences of government-directed energy policies are well known. Remember gas lines in the 1970s and higher food prices courtesy of subsidized ethanol? We cannot allow these policies to destroy our economy because doing so will destroy the best tool available to us -- the free market.
-- David Spady, Camarillo
July 2008 Archives
Al Gore's challenge to have America produce 100 percent of its electricity without a single molecule of carbon is actually a ploy for bigger government. The bottom line is that Gore's calling for higher taxes and government subsidies for alternative energy "solutions" will come at a huge cost to consumers.
As we near the end of the Bush presidency, what will his legacy be? Well, we all make mistakes, but this one in Iraq is a biggie, and Dad is not pleased.
In today's society, anything goes. If same-sex couples can marry, there is no reason we can't have a black president. Race should have nothing to do with a person's qualifications for the position.
Time will tell very soon.
-- Gary Traxler, Camarillo
Do judges have the power to approve something the people don't want? Is this the land of the free?
The prison hospital proposed for Camarillo seems to have been approved without the people's approval. I, and many others in our city, don't understand how this can happen. We are scared of criminals, whether they are sick or insane. The prison hospital will be less than a mile from us. The beautiful neighborhood we chose will be ruined by high traffic, construction trucks and people we didn't expect to see when we bought our home two years ago.
There have been many reasons put forth for not building such a facility, and I think that each has made an important point. However, the point is that the neighborhood was not informed or given the right to choose. We are the land of the free, right?
We have made many trips to San Francisco and have passed a derelict military base, Camp Roberts. It has freeway on- and off-ramps, and there are many buildings that seem empty and in poor condition. I don't see any homes for miles. It should have all the utilities needed for a hospital. It is close to Monterey, where doctors would love to live. How about Camp Roberts as a site for this hospital?
I don't believe we should have to beg federal receiver J. Clark Kelso to leave us alone, but I am reduced to just that. Please don't build this prison hospital in Camarillo, Mr. Receiver. Do the smart thing and look around. Don't be pressured into the first site you see.
--Karen Crane, Camarillo
Just who does the House of Representatives represent? Certainly not the interests of the American people.
-- John Diehl, Oxnard
In 1990, then-Gov. George Deukmejian of California established an organization called "Citizens for Prison Inmate Labor" and had a legal petition circulated to place the Prison Inmate Labor Initiative on the statewide ballot. The initiative, which became known as Proposition 139, was passed by the California voters in November 1990.
Briefly, the proposition was a program for private companies to build factories and service operations on the grounds of California's state prisons and county jails, using prison manpower as employees.
It is time to revitalize this proposition and put the inmates to work.
Following are some excerpts taken from a letter by Deukmejian to California taxpayers:
"Right now, you and every other taxpayer in California pay to keep convicted criminals in our state prison system. The impact of this program would be substantial savings to California taxpayers. The savings would be realized in room and board reimbursement, restitution payments to victims, payment by the prisoner of state and federal taxes, reduced parole and prisoner family support costs and increased employment skills for the prisoner. And, the reduction of prisoners returning to the correctional system would be the greatest savings to the state. Prisoners would learn job skills that would help them get jobs after they are released, making it less likely for them to return to a life of crime.
"Today, the taxpaying citizens of California are paying double for criminals. We pay by being the victims of their crimes, then we pay billions per year to keep them in prison -- just so they can sit around and do nothing. By allowing this to go on, we're telling criminals that crime does, in fact, pay if they live in California."
-- Irma Schneider, Ventura
I tuned into 1450 AM "The Boomer" every morning. It's a great station -- a fantastic library of the greatest rock and roll, with commentary from Lee Marshall and his crew that was short, funny and informative.
So I tuned in a while back and now it's just another talk show! To be totally honest, they do play some kind of music -- oh, about once an hour or so. This does not warrant being called "The Boomer." I hesitate to make any suggestions!
The station must either change its name and I will tune out for good, or, better yet, bring back my music!
-- Audrey A. Fromknecht, Ventura
Re: your July 27 editorial, "Try boy, 14, in Juvenile Court," and related letters:
Reasoned arguments were made for trying 14-year-old Brandon McInerney in Juvenile Court rather than as an adult. Hopefully, the faith community will add its voice to those who hold that it would be woefully wrong to try Brandon as an adult. I believe District Attorney Greg Totten will listen to reasoned arguments, and we must urge him to do so.
-- Lou Matthews, Ventura
Has anyone other than me noted that Sen. John McCain has chosen the low road to the presidency? Funny, I thought that road had been pot-holed beyond repair by the current administration.
-- Fred Rothenberg, Ojai
Re: Philip Gailey's July 29 commentary, "Obama's Afghan troop surge plan brings risks, too":
Barack Obama likes to portray himself as an agent of "change." I just don't see it. I see a very calculating politician who has taken positions not unlike those who came before him. He says one thing and does another. Look at campaign financing, to name just one. Look at his about-face on Iran, too. His spin is very effective. Anyone who has been taken in by Obama has fallen prey to a very slick and seasoned politician.
-- Dean Basler, Ventura
I have researched Camarillo foreclosures and found that only a very small percent of those being foreclosed upon are actually losing money. Some have made a lot of money by refinancing often. In one case, the borrowers reaped almost a million dollars in profit, and then let the house go into foreclosure when it wasn't worth what they owed.
Many others purchased their house with no money down by getting a first loan and, at the same time, getting a second loan the same day from the same financial institution for the balance. Then, in a year or two, they refinanced the property for more than the original purchase price.
This is prevalent in the foreclosures I have reviewed.
Who is at fault for this mess? It's the borrower, the real estate agents and brokers who were well aware of the borrower's position, the financial institutions and the politicians who didn't implement safeguards like they should have when a similar but less severe situation occurred in the late 1980s.
Who is getting hurt by it? You and me. Yes, you and me. The Democrats want to bail out the very ones who created this mess, the very ones who should be punished for causing it. Who pays? We do. The honest non-foreclosure taxpayer is footing the bill. The perpetrators of this mess have all made lots of money and leave lots of debt for the average citizen.
-- Chuck Wagner, Camarillo
I'd like to use my bad experience as an alert for others to avoid the scam I fell for. I've always assured myself that I was one who could avoid fraud. But this involved an impersonator of a family member.
I was convinced it was my grandson who had called. After small talk, when he asked me to wire him money via Western Union, that is what I did. Without a doubt. Twice.
Only it wasn't my grandson I was talking to.
I was shocked when I found out later.
I'm doing what I can to report it everywhere I can think of in trying to find that con man in Peoria, Ill. In reporting it to The Star, I hope it will warn everyone else not to trust a person on the other end of a phone call.
-- Hazel V. Munger, Newbury Park
Based on past behavior, it is hard to imagine the oil companies would make gasoline any cheaper for Americans even if drilling everywhere they desire were wildly successful.
First off, why would they sell their new oil more cheaply to America when they could sell it on the world market for current prices? To lower world prices, these new fields would have to equal 20 to 30 percent of the total oil pumped by Saudi Arabia, Russia, South America and all other sources. Not even "wildly optimistic" estimates approach this amount.
The same corporations and politicians supported by oil company "campaign contributions" who eliminated the car gas-mileage requirements passed by Congress in earlier years now claim drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and in the 20 percent of offshore fields now off limits will solve high gas prices. They were wrong about the mileage requirements. Why should we think they are wiser now?
The oil saved by cars getting 33 miles per gallon versus the current 23 mpg or less would dwarf what new oil we could realistically expect from currently restricted fields.
-- Tom Thompson, Thousand Oaks
It is way past time for America and the rest of the world to break the fossil-fuel habit. Not only has our consumption of fossil fuels greatly degraded our planet, it is no longer economically feasible as a long-term strategy to meet our energy needs. No amount of extra drilling will be able to keep up with our increasing demand for energy, and every ounce of carbon we pump out of the Earth and into the air only increases the chances our children and grandchildren will inherit a nonlivable planet.
It is folly to think we can drill our way out of high gas prices. I suggest that, instead of giving big oil continuing tax cuts or allowing them to increase drilling or trying to extract oil from shales, we embrace Barack Obama's plan for giving families a $1,000 tax cut -- paid for by taxing big oil's record profits) -- combined with investment in renewable, cleaner energy sources.
-- Morris Wills, Oxnard
Re: U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly's July 27 Pulse page commentary, "'Time to reconsider developing the Outer Continental Shelf'":
The Star could have saved some column space by summarizing Gallegly. Roughly translated, what the congressman said was: "Blah, blah, scary enemies, blah, blah, figures lie, another lie, drill, drill, drill, blah, blah, blah."
Gallegly's voting record does not support the idea that he favors tax credits for alternative energy. In May, Gallegly voted against the Renewable Energy and Jobs Creation Act of 2008 (HR6049). If the congressman claimed to be a deficit hawk, it would be a principled argument, but the congressman has also voted to give away tax dollars to oil companies while they earn record profits. He also supports drilling off the California coast and in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, despite 68 million acres of leases already bottled up by the oil companies. These are lands of proven reserves, where the companies already have the green light to drill for the precious and addictively sweet crude.
In the 10 to 15 years it would take to extract the oil from ANWR or the California coast, we could challenge and energize the nation, like President Kennedy did, and become energy-independent within the same time frame. Oil can still be drilled in presently leased zones, and reserves will still be needed for future generations. The nation needs to change gears and rid itself from its own dependency on oil and diversify the domestic energy market.
I beseech Gallegly to put our money where his mouth is and end the cycle of greed and exploitation of our natural resources.
-- Richard J. Lebeck, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bill O'Reilly's July 26 commentary, "Tax increase would go to support no-good layabouts":
O'Reilly is ranting once again, this time against the supposed evil liberal plot -- should a Democrat gain the White House -- to extract more taxes from himself and his fellow 1 percenters who are the country's top money earners.
He's smarting that his little group paid 40 percent of all federal income tax in 2006. The IRS reports that same group as having made 22 percent of the income that year. The average income tax rate for them was 22.8 percent, the lowest tax rate paid by the top 1 percent since 1988.
O'Reilly is afraid his money is going to be given to no-good layabouts by a Democratic administration. Well, there are always those who will take advantage of others, but the damage done by the no-good, lazy bottom 1 percent can never match the damage done by those in the top 1 percent who defraud and cheat others to the tune of billions of dollars.
I have no pity for O'Reilly's plight or complaint. Would a tax increase keep him and his ilk from affording health insurance? The price of food and lodging alone keeps millions of other Americans from just that. And he's crying against government that might help those in need because a petty few in their ranks will take undo advantage. He should know that the actions of the few who take undo advantage in his own ranks are not petty.
By the way, what was your tax rate in 2006?
-- Fritz Schneider, Santa Paula
Re: Nisha N. Vyas' July 22 letter, "HOAs can't discriminate":
I recently moved into Manzanita Park, which is a gated community in Oxnard. I have a handicapped child. There is no designated handicap parking at all in the park, and there is not a blue curb outside of the park. I put a handicap awareness sign on my back gate that has two parking spaces behind it. I was told I can't do that and that they don't have to designate handicap parking anywhere in the park because they are private and they would have to accommodate everyone else in the park.
I refused to take the awareness sign down. It is a constant struggle for parking there and especially hard when I have my child. I do feel very discriminated against and wish I had a healthy child. I hope the Manzanita association has read Vyas' letter.
-- Suzi Bonilla, Oxnard
Re: the July 30 letters by William F. Klepper, "No thanks to them," and Ronald E. Kelly, "Who is Obama?":
As a liberal Democrat, I will happily respond to Klepper on the surge and Kelly on Obama.
I listened to Sen. John McCain, whose chronology of events belies his experience, who claimed one purpose of the surge was to protect the sheik responsible for the Sunni Sons of Iraq from assassination. Of course, he failed to follow that with admitting its failure to do so. We will note that the surge did not take place in the major hot spots of Sunni insurgents, now transformed by American money into Sons of Iraq, and Shia insurgents in Sadr City, which before, during and after the surge has no American soldiers on patrol.
Did the surge have an influence? Yes.
Does it account for the resulting situation? No.
Do we know the extent of the influence? No.
We do know we need to give the Iraqis credit. Perhaps when they give us a timetable to leave, we will do so.
Kelly's opinions aside, I know that to speak for an hour requires at least 12 times that to write. When you write your own speeches using your own words, as Barack Obama did in his foreign policy speech, you gain a measure of a man that distances him from other wannabe commanders in chief. You cannot take five points, arrange them in ascending hierarchical order, seamlessly transition from one level to the next and articulate them clearly unless you have concurrent grasp of the forest and the trees. To do this with a sense of humor and never losing your cool under intense pressure indicates you're prepared for a job well before day one.
-- Lynn H. Maxson, Simi Valley
Re: Timm Herdt's July 30 essay, "Is this historic or not?":
Proposition 8 is not an attack on civil rights. To say so would demean the cause for which Martin Luther King Jr. and others fought and gave their lives. Nor is it about same-sex couples not being allowed to fulfill their commitment to each other. Neither is it about someone's marriage needing any special protection. This amendment is to partly right a wrong, misguided decision by the state Supreme Court in overturning a vote of the people.
In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 22, known as the Marriage Initiative. That measure emphasized the fact that the strength of any nation -- or state -- is rooted within the walls of its homes. It merely restated a hallmark principle that has governed successful societies for thousands of years. The state Supreme Court gutted the measure in its entirety, overturning a vote of the people. We do have a voice in this matter, and we have a say in the direction we want our society to go.
Herdt is right: This is bigger then the Protect Marriage campaign lets on. Attorney General Jerry Brown was also right, although for the wrong reasons, when he titled Proposition 8, "Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry." He used his office to put the measure at a disadvantage, but at least he cut to the chase.
The traditional family is under assault like it's never been before. That is historic. It merits our support and protection. I urge everyone to vote for Proposition 8 this November, and I hope The Star will throw its support behind it. If passed, history will one day applaud The Star's choice.
-- Joaquin Hernandez III, Thousand Oaks
What really grinds my gears are the same letters from the same individual, month after month, who claims to be an equestrian. The letters are a continual ranting that equestrians should work together to maintain the equestrian lifestyle.
Thanks to the Conejo Recreation and Park District, we have a beautiful facility to which we can bring our dwindling number of horses.
Our equestrian community works very hard in harmony with believers who have joined together to stop those who are trying to eliminate horses, equestrian trails and the parks we enjoy. All of my "united neighbors" do what is right. There are always one, two or three bad apples in a neighborhood who enjoy slamming the city officials for whatever self-absorbed reason. I am happy that most of the Thousand Oaks officials are not swayed by these bad apples and have been able to decipher the lies that they broadcast.
I'm a strong believer in what goes around eventually comes around. I have already seen this begin with these individuals who write ridiculous letters to the editor each month insisting they are the majority. Five or six letters printed in the various publications does not constitute a majority for a city containing 130,000 people. The majority of people who are united in our equestrian area, however, do not turn in their neighbors for having too many horses on their property. I personally know those who were turned in. They have the most impeccably clean, sanitary and spacious areas for their happy horses.
People with glass houses should not throw stones. It's an old adage that these individuals should try to live by, instead of expressing constant misrepresentation, lies and negative innuendoes. Everyone can see through them.
-- Teri Young, Thousand Oaks
I understand that the California Legislature is considering a plan to "borrow" from local government revenues to help balance the budget. Although I understand these budgetary pressures, such a proposal is disastrous and representative of our state's lack of leadership in Sacramento.
First, raiding local revenue is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. This so-called remedy is simply another way for our elected representatives to avoid making the hard decisions we elected them to make, so that they can put off any attempt at real budgetary reform for another year. The California budget problem is ongoing and symptomatic of dysfunction in Sacramento on the part of both major political parties.
Second, raiding local revenue to balance the state budget is directly opposed to the expressed will of the California electorate. California's voters resoundingly agreed that local government should not continue to serve as the source of funding to meet the state's financial obligations when they passed Proposition 1A in 2004 with 84 percent of the vote. Make no mistake. The California voter is smarter than elected officials think, and we will not give them a pass because they are "borrowing," rather than "taking."
Third, raiding local revenue will stall economic recovery. At a time when we need to be reinvesting in our communities and creating more jobs, this proposal will create a ripple effect that will result in lost government contracts and increased unemployment from budgetary cutbacks.
Fourth, and most important, raiding local revenue places the health and safety of California citizens in jeopardy and erodes the public's already very low confidence in our state elected representatives. Local government is most responsible for the programs that directly impact the citizenry -- police and fire protection, parks and recreation and social services, to name just a few. When budget pressure is escalated -- and it is already at a high due to recent declines in property and sales tax revenue -- it is no secret that the most vulnerable members of our population are placed at greater risk as local government agencies are forced to cut back and slash services, especially to the aged and the impoverished.
This is a very serious issue for the citizens the Legislature was elected to represent. The Legislature must not underestimate its importance to the people of California. It must not, in any way, shape or form, support the proposal to raid local government revenue.
-- Mark A. Dispenza, Ventura
Re: Terry Paulson's July 21 essay, "Addicted to government":
Paulson does us all a disservice in mythologizing America's addiction to the welfare state. Does he feel obligated to fill the void left by Phil Gramm, who callously called us a "nation of whiners" and described this economic meltdown as nothing more than a "psychological depression"?
To simply claim that government has grown by 60 percent in the last eight years does not acknowledge that growth as primarily defense spending, not investment in infrastructure, health and education.
Paulson claims that the politicians' attempt to fix the economy in the wake of the "1929 stock market crash" only made it worse. Has Paulson no shame? Will he now fabricate history out of whole cloth to fit his agenda?
The crash of 1929 and the economic depression that followed were a result of Republican laissez-faire governance, an unregulated banking industry and predatory speculative investment. The nation and the economy were saved only through a paradigm shift in federal government and regulation introduced by Franklin Roosevelt. It was federal investment in the infrastructure of America through the WPA that put millions of Americans back to work, and it was Social Security that lifted the aged and infirm out of poverty in the wake of a catastrophic depression.
President Reagan and his Republican successors have aggressively advanced the defunding and dismantling of federal regulations on commerce, the banking and investment industry, health and welfare, private pension funds and the environment. "Small government," simply put, is code-speak for deregulation.
In the end, it is not America's addiction to governmental assistance that has broken the economy. The Reagan Republicans, working hand-in-glove with big oil, big pharmaceuticals, big banking and big agriculture, have given us the savings and loan crash, Enron, a national real estate disaster, $4-plus per gallon of gas, soaring food prices, a stock market free-for-all, a devalued dollar and IndyMac.
If John McCain believes that "cutting taxes on all and raising them on none," shrinking government and letting the marketplace do its magic will solve this economic crisis, in the midst of unprecedented spending, then this roller coaster ride is far from over.
-- Dan Kaljian, Oxnard
I am looking for a birth mother with the maiden name of Reese. She would be 76 years old now. We think her first name is Barbara. She moved to this area in late April 1964 and had a baby boy on July 25, 1964, in Conejo Valley Hospital, Thousand Oaks. She gave him up for adoption at birth.
I know she worked as a bookkeeper and was maybe in the area staying with a relative in 1964. I don't know if she stayed after the birth or if she left town. It states on the adoption records that she was born in North Dakota. She said she had an older brother born around 1927, an older sister born around 1929 and a younger sister born around 1933. Her mother was a teacher, and her father was a farmer.
If anyone knows anything about her, could you let her know her son, Mitch, is looking for her. If you have any information, please call 208-670-3817, or e-mail email@example.com.
-- Cindy Curtis, Burley, Idaho
Has The Star implemented a plan for customers to recycle those useful, but bothersome, plastic sleeves that come every morning with the paper? The only place that I am aware of that recycles #4 type plastic film is the dry cleaner, and I don't think they want newspaper sleeves.
-- Jane Gilbert, Ventura
Re: your July 25 article, "Biodiesel trailer closes days after grand opening":
This article quoted Greg Smith of Ventura County Environmental Health Division as saying, "There is almost about 1 percent regular diesel added in every gallon."
This is incorrect. The biodiesel in the trailer, sold as B99, is actually 99.9 percent biodiesel (methyl ester of fatty acids), with 0.1 percent -- one-tenth of the amount stated by Smith -- of added petroleum diesel. There is about one gallon of petroleum diesel in the whole 1,000-gallon trailer.
Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic, is safe to transport and is not considered a hazardous material for storage or transportation. The flashpoint of biodiesel is 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit), much higher then petroleum diesel, 70 C (150 F). Even though the fuel is non-hazardous, the trailer is equipped with Department of Transportation-approved tanks, secondary containment for spills, a spill cleanup kit, and a fire extinguisher.
Furthermore, the trailer is not a business location. The co-op members have already bought the fuel in the trailer, and the taxes have been paid. The trailer is merely a mobile storage tank from which we draw the fuel that we own. No dispensing permit is required because the fuel has already been metered out by the seller.
-- Michael Tiffany, Ventura
At the last Oxnard City Council meeting, Councilman Dean Maulhardt stated clearly that the critics of Big League Dreams at College Park were wrong about the cost to the citizens of Oxnard.
I beg to differ.
I spoke to the question of the timeliness of the payback to the citizens of the taxes that are to be used for the building of the expensive structure for BLD. The payback time for the $40 million is 40 years.
Maulhardt stated the critics were wrong.
It is strange to be ridiculed on this point when Maulhardt went on to say that no one knew how much BLD would cost.
The history of BLD is one of enormous cost overruns and the exclusion of local citizens, especially the children, from the use of Big League Dreams facilities by the citizens of the communities that funded the project.
It is apparent to me the citizens of Oxnard do not know they are the ones who are paying for the development of the facilities that include the stadium, the alcohol-serving restaurant and bar and the parking lots -- all at a cost of more than $40 million.
Maulhardt, without using my name, stated the naysayers were wrong. I will remind Maulhardt I was not wrong about the golf course being subsidized. I was not wrong about the council violating the open government law of California, and I was not wrong about the downtown theater being a money loser.
The last public utterance on BLD was by Tom Holden, mayor of Oxnard, that the bill to the taxpayers could be $75 million. Can we trust Holden's statement? Until Holden was elected mayor, he had denied since 1994 that the golf course was being subsidized. After he was elected, he stated the subsidy to the golf course was $2 million annually. In this single instance, Holden might be telling the truth.
-- Martin D. Jones, Oxnard
Re: Regina Cohen's July 28 letter, "Clinton as a write-in":
Cohen says she is going to write in Hillary Clinton's name on the ballot and states that if all women did the same, Clinton could be elected. This is incorrect.
There is a procedure to go through to be a qualified write-in candidate, and if the name written in is not on the qualified write-in candidate list, the vote will not be counted.
Clinton is not going to run as a write-in. She has asked her supporters to vote for Barack Obama. Do not waste your vote.
-- Nell McCombs, Ventura
I have a simple, albeit self-serving, solution to the need for low-income housing in Santa Paula. The city of Santa Paula and Cabrillo and Limoneira should consider purchasing the Santa Paula West Mobile Home Park. The city would be rid of a nuisance (the owner of the park) who has already caused years of expensive litigation, not to mention hard feelings from those of us having to bear the pass-throughs. Cabrillo and Limoneira could work in concert in addressing the need for low-income housing for workers of our agricultural industry. The cost of the purchase could be split three ways, lessening the expense for all concerned.
There are approximately 25 mobile homes for sale in this park at this time, including mine -- and this is where the self-serving portion of my letter shows itself. I have been attempting to sell mine for more than a year. I have dropped the price twice and am now offering an incentive of six months free space rent with the purchase. The owner requires a new buyer to qualify for purchase by earning the exorbitant amount of five times the amount of space rent plus $100. My basic space rent, at this particular time -- it will soon rise again -- is $737 per month. That means a potential buyer would have to earn, at the very least, $3,785 per month. That doesn't cover the loan for the home.
I just thought I would put this idea out there as an answer for the city and for Cabrillo and Limoneira, who are trying to do the right thing.
At any rate, the park is here. The location is perfect for this use. It's a win-win solution if ever I saw one.
-- Mary Thrasher, Santa Paula
Examining healthcare treatment in the U.S. and applying it to prison healthcare needs some thinking.
Current comments by Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, the governor, and federal receiver J. Clark Kelso lack thought and understanding of healthcare needs of individuals.
Problems of prison healthcare system delivery cannot be solved through duplication and relocation of facilities.
Until policymakers understand the importance of healthcare and disease prevention services, this new facility will be the same.
Research has shown that providing access to disease-prevention services and medical care, along with efforts to improve the social and environmental determinants of health, will be necessary if we are to improve prison population health.
Currently, the state has not been able to manage healthcare for the nonprisoner population, let alone house, treat and provide acceptable medical care for both the young and old prison population.
Until policymakers understand the importance of healthcare coverage and comprehensive disease prevention services, a prison hospital is just that -- hospital prison.
-- Bill Harris, Oxnard
It's time for the Ventura County Fair. I wonder how many of Ventura County's children will be taking their 4-H livestock pets to the fair and selling them at auction so that they can go to the slaughterhouse.
While it's very generous of buyers of 4-H livestock pets to donate most of the meat to churches, food banks and other organizations, the buyers' money would be better spent on less expensive and healthier non-meat sources of protein and larger quantities of other food.
Meat is an expensive luxury when one considers the impact on the environment of raising livestock for consumption.
Maybe a family member, relative or friend will purchase the 4-H pet animal.
Maybe the 4-H child will be served a portion of their pet at the family dinner table.
Are we a nation that eats our pets?
-- Marty Fast, Ojai
I want to congratulate the Prison Action Committee for its excellent work in building a strong grassroots campaign against a planned prison hospital in Camarillo. Its meeting at the Sterling Hills Country Club on July 24, which I had the privilege to attend, was an excellent example of what civic-minded citizens can do when confronted with a major problem that threatens our county.
The federal prison healthcare receiver wants to replace the current juvenile prison in Camarillo with a prison hospital once the remaining 150 girls in that facility are incarcerated in county facilities elsewhere. The prison hospital would be built to provide 1,500 hospital beds and thus be quite a large facility.
Many people may think this is a local Camarillo problem. But it is not. It is a problem for all of Ventura County for many reasons. Three key reasons are:
-- The staffing for such a large hospital would draw away scarce medical staff from other health facilities in the county. Thus, it could decrease the quality of healthcare for all of Ventura County.
-- The hospital would place additional demands on local law enforcement agencies, especially when prison patients would have to be transported to and from other medical facilities in the county for special treatment.
-- The hospital would place an additional burden on the local infrastructure, especially adding further traffic to the frequently congested Highway 101.
There must be other locations in California that are better suited as a potential site for a new prison hospital. I therefore urge all Ventura County residents to support the Prison Action Committee in its commendable efforts to halt this project.
-- Ferial Masry, Newbury Park
(The writer is the Democratic candidate for the 37th Assembly District. -- Editor)
Apparently, there are two ways a juvenile can be sent to adult court.
The first is through a fitness hearing in Juvenile Court, where a Juvenile Court judge makes the choice to keep the kid in the juvenile justice system or send him to adult court.
In the fitness hearing situation, the court makes the choice. The law lays out the criteria that must be considered. Included are things like the minor's prior involvement in the system; whether he is someone who will benefit from juvenile-type rehabilitation and treatment, or whether that has already failed. The judge hears from the Probation Department and the prosecuting attorney and considers any psychological reports that might be relevant.
The second is astoundingly simple. The district attorney has the power to file the case in adult court if the minor has allegedly committed one of the listed offenses, including murder. This eliminates that silly, time-consuming hearing. If the minor has been arrested for one of those serious crimes, then the district attorney can simply decide, on his own, to treat the minor as an adult.
Our district attorney is like, well, the king of Ventura County. He can just reach out with his kingly sword, tap the kid on the head and, just like that, he's an adult. How cool is that?
I like that. Get rid of those professional types in the court system like probation officers, psychologists and, of course, those weak-kneed judges who worry about rehabilitating these little monsters. Let's just have one king who can do it all.
Look how quickly the king acted, deciding within just a few days that this little boy should spend the rest of his life in prison with the grown-ups.
There's no need to consider the background of this kid. The king has decided.
-- David Stephens, Simi Valley
Re: U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly's July 27 article, "Time to reconsider developing the Outer Continental Shelf":
I completely agree with Gallegly's analysis for a comprehensive energy solution. It is time to expand oil production, conserve, expand refining and convert to alternative energies in order to drive down oil prices and reduce dependence upon foreign oil. I have yet to speak with someone who would disagree.
For 30 years I have been an employer in the transportation sales and service business in Ventura County, and over the last year, I have inquired of my 38 employees and numerous customers alike how they have been impacted by oil prices and what they would propose to change it. They all say start drilling right here, right now and work on alternatives. Everyone has made sacrifices, but when vehicles are running on the highway on deferred maintenance tires, I shudder to think about the first rains of the year.
How deep will these sacrifices cut and at what price? Boxer is stuck in a time warp, citing the 1969 Summerland spill and the risk to our coastal economy in opposition to drilling. We have the technology to safely drill, and, by the way, no one can afford the $5 per gallon fuel to commercial fish or recreational fish, boat or sightsee.
Gallegly has it right. We have to act now because we did not act before. We are importing two-thirds of our supplies because we did not act before. We are reliant upon people who dislike us, because we continue to not act. We have the technology to drill safely right here, keeping those dollars and jobs here, and reducing the risks of and dependence on the zealot sheiks, clerics and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
-- Torben Frederiksen, Camarillo
Re: Barbara Boxer's July 27 Pulse page commentary, "Congress must stand firm against this sham proposal and push for real solutions":
I think Boxer's commentary provided some very important information. The fact that oil companies have 68 million acres of onshore and offshore leases under their control, which they have not developed, is a real eye-opener. So even though they have access to sites that could produce an estimated 4.8 million barrels of oil a day, they are using their tremendous profits to buy back their stock instead of producing oil. The buyback helps keep the price of gas artificially accelerated and their profits even higher, and they don't have to spend a nickel.
To see how energy can be produced most effectively, visit www.germany.info. It shows mandatory solar panels and wind turbines constructed in the North Sea, among other energy-producing efforts. All it takes is the collective will.
-- Albert V. Weaver, Newbury Park
Re: the shooting of Larry King at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard:
I have been following this heartbreaking case since the beginning. Both of these children have been victims. My heart goes out to both families.
While I don't condone Brandon McInerney's actions, is it any wonder that he is such an angry young man? His home environment since birth has been a recipe for violence. If anyone should be held culpable, it should be his parents. Where is their punishment in all this?
I believe in stiff punishment for violent offenders. I also voted for Proposition 21 with gang violence in mind. This case is different.
I believe society has created a very troubled young man and has a responsibility to rehabilitate him rather than incarcerate him. What justice will be served by locking him up for the remainder of his life?
Recently, there have been several young women who deliberately and with forethought killed their newborn babies and had no remorse, yet their sentences were a slap on the wrist. Why weren't they held to the same degree of accountability? They weren't, because this case involves a "politically correct" issue. Should Brandon really become a scapegoat for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance's agenda and those looking to win favor in an election year?
With that in mind, I hope this boy is granted leniency. I believe he should be tried in juvenile court rather than adult court.
-- Jan Wiley, Thousand Oaks
Re: your June 28 article, "In unity, Obama and Clinton urge solidarity":
When Sen. Hillary Clinton spoke, Sen. Barack Obama at different times folded his arms, looked at his wristwatch (shades of ex-President Bush) and bit his lip (shades of ex-President Clinton). In spite of all this, the body-language experts on TV, by selecting other parts of the video, concluded their relationship was warm and sincere.
I suppose it is too close to the election to expect objectivity.
-- George Adelman, Newbury Park
Re: your July 29 article, "Bush is expected to leave $482 billion deficit":
In its relentless efforts to discredit the president, the liberal news media disregards a basic tenet of journalism: Report the news and editorialize in the Opinion section, not in the headlines.
Did President Bush leave a record deficit all by himself? Were 535 elected congressional leaders who proposed and passed the budgets completely blameless?
Faced with the choice of candidates for the 2008 election, voters may choose between John McCain, who proposes fiscal conservatism, and Barack Obama, who promises reckless spending. If Obama is elected, a $482 billion deficit will seem like petty cash.
But not to worry, our children and grandchildren will pick up the tab. Or will our Uncle Sam simply declare bankruptcy?
-- Jeffrey L. Wissot, Westlake Village
Re: your July 28 article, "Protesters continue fight at church over immigrant":
We had a movie star in church, Martin Sheen, along with Arturo Rodriguez, the United Farm Workers president, and a radical priest whose name I don't recall.
Among the protesters outside, show biz prevailed as well. One of the earnest fellows sported a Revolutionary War outfit!
Even on our hottest July day, the answer is blowing in the wind, metaphorically speaking.
These guys just don't want to notice that America has evolved, or mutated, depending on your point of view.
The only way these anti-immigration folks will get relief is to secede from the union and start a new country. There is precedent.
There is also precedent of people being left behind and betrayed by the institutions they "think" are on their side.
-- Joe Mack, Newbury Park
Re: Regina Cohen's July 28 letter, "Clinton as a write-in":
As a Democratic woman, I understand Cohen's disappointment over Hillary Clinton's loss, but voting for her as a write-in is a disastrous idea. She can't win because most women would see what that could do. It would only ensure that John McCain (Bush's third term) would be elected by dividing the vote for Barack Obama.
Democrats must come together if we are going to, in any way, restore our values and the values of this country, put the economy back on track by cutting back on unnecessary military spending, and once again establish us in the world as the super country we are.
Bad idea, Cohen. Vote for Barack Obama.
-- Jody Avery-Smith, Newbury Park
Re: your July 27 article, "U.S. now appears to be winning the war in Iraq":
My goodness, did The Star just discover this? Those of us who do not depend on our reliable news from The Associated Press or The Star have known this for many weeks. What took The Star so long?
I'm sure if the news were not good, it would be on the front page. How sad when good news, especially in a time of war, is not considered news. Thank goodness for the Internet and talk radio.
I also noticed the full-page article on Sen. Barack Obama on the next page. I couldn't find anything in the paper about Sen. John McCain. Interesting.
-- Peggy Sadler, Simi Valley
Re: Richard Larsen's July 29 essay, "Will the Net kill reading?":
Twelve years ago, I wrote a letter to The Star emphasizing the importance of reading in which I opined, "Reading inspires thinking, and thinking generates writing."
It is a very good feeling to find Larsen expressing the same kind of concern: "Literacy includes the ability to make sense of what is read and to put it into context." This is precisely what the process of thinking does for an avid reader.
No matter how much we lament the inability of our young generation to write a coherent essay and how much money we spend on teaching composition, the situation is not going to improve if we continue downplaying the importance of reading and "shun books in favor of Web surfing" as the essay's secondary headline put it.
Reading informative and objective writings helps us to gather information, but creative and imaginative writings that are found in narratives and subjective writings help us to think critically and analyze and organize our thoughts to be able to express ourselves in writing. There are some basic skills this civilization has been able to acquire, the importance of which will never diminish. Reading is one of them. Of course, one may ask, reading of what? And the answer is reading of creative and subjective writing -- not that much of informative and objective writing that we can get by surfing the Web.
There is a big difference between surfing the Web and reading news analyses in editorials, columns and opinion sections. Larsen aptly states, "Being Web-savvy may help people navigate the Internet, but literacy is what helps people advance civilization." So, to make a sweeping generalization that reading is not important in this age of electronics supercommunication is not only thoughtless, but also dangerous.
-- Qazi N. Uddin, Ventura
Re: your July 29 article, "Freeman Diversion hinders steelhead":
After $9 million was spent in 2005 by the Casitas Municipal Water District to support two trout a year, now a $60 million expenditure is being forced on another water district to possibly increase the steelhead numbers. What is the cost benefit? Why should the narrow interests of a few be paid for by others?
In less than a month, children in our community will be returning to school. Shortly thereafter, parents will be invited to visit the school and meet the staff and teachers. At each grade level, parents will be told that fundraising, donations and private subsidies will be essential in order to meet the financial needs of providing not only the extracurricular programs of sports, music and clubs, but also for some of the classroom essentials, teachers' supplies and field trip costs. This year, like last year and before, everyone will pull together to meet the financial challenge because their children are important and worth the effort.
If the trout are just as important to California Trout, Friends of the Santa Clara River and Southern California Steelhead Coalition, they should follow the same approach to achieve their goals: private fundraising, candy, bake and magazine sales, car washes and raffles, rather than lawsuits. If they are dedicated and fervent, they will raise the money. If not, the trout will go the way of many a school program and be canceled.
-- Larry Kameen, Simi Valley
Re: the shooting of Larry King at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard:
One can sympathize with the pain Larry's family is feeling, but also the shooter Brandon McInerney's family as well. The district attorney wants to try young Brandon as an adult and put him in prison for the rest of his life. I read the arraignment has been set for August 11.
Brandon's attorney, William Quest, plans to provide more information. Brandon is only 14 years old and has a background involving a dysfunctional childhood.
Compassion toward Larry and Brandon will go a long way. Recent studies show the human brain continues to develop into a person's 20s. Parents should take time to communicate with their children and help with skills to succeed in life. Teenagers at home alone should be kept busy doing chores around the house, not spending hours with the TV and in phone conversations.
-- Amelia Hadfield, Port Hueneme
I just wanted to put the Ventura citizenry on alert that our city leaders and staff have ignored our instructions to opt out of the dreaded 911 tax (fee).
I just received my telephone bills for both my residence and business and have found that they indeed have charged me the 911 tax (fee) even though I was probably among the first 1 or 2 percent of telephone users in the city who opted out of the 911 tax.
I believe that our city leaders and staff had no intention of making sure that this was done properly and actually wanted everyone in the city to be charged, thinking that they would not notice this item on their bills. In fact, the way it reads as "local government fee" on the bills hides its true nature and will be overlooked by those not in the know.
If there was no intention for this to happen, then that just shows that they are all more incompetent than I actually thought they were. After all, they have had more than four months to get this right. So watch out, Venturans!
-- Richard A. Pillow, Ventura
On July 27, more than 100 houses in Camarillo suffered a 14-hour power outage. During this time, the only telephone message Southern California Edison was able to provide was, "We're working on it" and "We don't know when it will be repaired." Neither remark impressed my freezer or refrigerator.
At this point I would like to commend the technicians who were working very hard to correct the problem. I feel these gentlemen are very dedicated, hard-working and well-trained. They are indeed a great asset to SCE and the public they serve.
My quarrel is not with these folks, it is with the management of SCE. The problem was with power cables that had been in the ground for more than 30 years. It would seem to me that the prudent thing would have been to conduct periodic line checks over the years to discover weak points and make the indicated repairs to avoid emergencies. It is much easier and cheaper to schedule a repair than to be surprised in the middle of the night on a weekend that you have a problem. This avoids calling in crews from all over and the horrendous overtime costs. Avoiding these costs would make this affordable, not to mention it would avoid generating the ill will that customers would feel and the attendant economic damage.
In summary, the SCE technicians are truly wonderful. Management is at fault here. Periodic maintenance and trouble-shooting should identify these incipient problems before they become bothersome.
As a public utility, SCE is charged with providing electric power 24 hours a day, period. The Public Utilities Commission understands this basic concept. Why doesn't the management of SCE?
This sure makes me feel good about paying a 30 percent increase in the fall.
-- Kenneth B. Coolidge, Camarillo
Re: Richard Rothschild's July 24 letter, "Hamas reprehensible":
Rothschild has the audacity to call Hamas reprehensible for the terror they have committed. It's true that what they have done is terrible. But Rothschild didn't say a word about the atrocities Israel has committed against the Palestinians. It needs to be told what has caused Hamas to perform such terrible acts against Israel, so the reader knows there are two sides to this story. It's because of the horrendous acts Israel has inflicted and imposed on the Palestinians.
Israel has invaded, bombed, murdered and assassinated the Palestinian people and occupied Palestinian territory for the last 60 years. Israel has stolen and taken over all of Palestine's prime farmland, water and natural resources. At this very moment, Israel is building a 20- to 30-foot-high wall that is encompassing more of Palestine's prime land and water rights.
To achieve this evil act, Israeli bulldozers are tearing down the locals' houses in both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, sometimes with the owners in them, just so more Israelis can settle on Palestine territory.
And let's not forget how Israel has set up roadblocks with checkpoints all over this territory to impose complete control over the entire local population.
Rothschild's letter is like the pot calling the kettle black. If anyone doesn't believe what I'm saying is true, then go to the Internet and enter "The Israeli Palestine Conflict" and "The Israeli Wall." Then click on the headings on the left side of the format.
-- Patrick Reel, Camarillo
Re: Albert Gallegos' July 24 letter, "Too many jails":
I, too, feel that it's unfortunate that a 21-year-old guy has to be in jail. I, however, feel that it's more unfortunate for Gallegos' victim, whoever or whatever it may be, than for him.
I, like he, don't care for the thought of overcrowded and unsafe facilities, and I really think that he and his fellow inmates hold the answer to those problems. They shouldn't put themselves back in the position to be incarcerated again, and, just like that, these problems will disappear.
The Ventura County court system does know how to spend those millions of dollars he refers to. I can assure him that those in the court system, like most citizens of Ventura County, would much rather spend them on educational and medical facilities than giving Gallegos and others room and board at correctional facilities.
While Gallegos' idea to shorten sentences may seem like a proper solution to him, it might just sound a little self-serving to the people living outside of correctional facilities. It may shock Gallegos to learn that many people feel that most jail sentences are not long enough. Virtually everyone who read Gallegos' letter saw where he was coming from, and it didn't fool any of us.
Ventura County is a collection of several beautiful cities and towns. Perhaps someday Gallegos might visit each of them with the thought in mind that each already has some opportunities in education for his children and that he himself can help to establish others just by the simple act of staying out of jail.
I hope this assists him in making better choices in the future.
-- Bob Knudsen, Camarillo
Re: Starshine Roshell's July 26 column, "He found the sound can bring the fury":
When I finally stopped laughing, I had to share. Our oldest daughter, now a grandma of two, spoke early and well. When she was about 18 or 19 months old, she was sitting in her "car seat," nothing even close to what we use today. It hooked over the front seat and had a little wheel for "baby" to play. This little chubby girl put both hands on the little wheel and started saying, "Left turn, right turn, s.o.b." She said the entire phrase. Seems she had been listening to her daddy, who was fairly new out of the service and had retained his "potty mouth."
I'm happy to say that it is curable. She is a college graduate with a job in the field of business and finance and education.
-- Phyllis (Grandma Cookie) Dimant, Oxnard
Re: your July 28 article, "Prescription medication teen's drug of choice":
This headline was on Page 1 above the fold. In paragraph five of the story, though, we learn that, well, "Nationwide, more teens are now abusing prescription medications than any drug except marijuana."
And I'll bet $50 that in the U.S. in general and Ventura County in particular, more teens use and abuse alcohol than any other drug.
We have a couple of problems here in the American words "use" and "abuse."
The first shows up in the reference to "Patrick Zarate, who manages alcohol and drug problems." That's like saying someone manages an apple and fruit stand. We mean "alcohol and other drugs," or, if we don't, we should argue upfront that ethyl alcohol imbibed for pleasure or to avoid pain is something other than a drug.
The second problem is more subtle.
People who take drugs now and then for pleasure, in moderation, and in such a way that they are not harmed and don't harm others are "using" drugs. In the United States, though, the legal definition has any use of illegal drugs as drug abuse, and that screws up statistics and reporting.
Teenage alcoholics not doing schoolwork, brawling and urinating on your lawn are drug abusers; some kid popping a Tylenol 3 now and then is far from a role model but just a user and a cause for concern, not for another panic.
-- Richard D. Erlich, Port Hueneme
Recently, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rightfully pointed out that the reign of President Bush has been a total failure. Since John McCain has embraced everything Bush, this indicates he would also be just as big a failure. Now, McCain has discovered that the majority of Americans recognize this. This sudden realization has left him a desperate, snarling politician looking for any kind of good news to tout to anyone who will listen.
In his sad and pathetic case, McCain has chosen the "surge" as his one beacon of hope. Ask him about the failed economy, the destruction to our planet, the price of gas, the price of food or any other disaster brought on by the current resident in the White House and McCain will answer by telling you about the success of the "surge," saying how violence in Iraq has diminished because of it. That is fine and good, but it is what he is not saying that should be so disturbing to Americans.
He never mentions how the military situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated so much that now more American soldiers are dying there than in Iraq. Nor does he mention the fact that many factions in Iraq have called for a stand down in fighting each other. The biggest fact he does not mention is that if there were no "war" in Iraq, there would be no "surge." He never mentions the fact that if it were not for bumbling politicians like him, Bush, and, of course, our own Elton Gallegly, the illegal and immoral Iraq "war" would have never happened.
This is the only fact that America has to keep in mind, despite his desperate rhetoric. If Americans remember this when they vote in November, McCain will not be elected, and the "war" in Iraq will finally end.
-- John Darling, Ventura
Re: Russell A., Burgos' July 24 letter, "We're not Vikings":
I never indicated I wanted to live in 10th century Greenland, as Burgos said. With less subtlety, my point is that environmentalists blame every ill of our modern society -- specifically, global warming -- on the Industrial Revolution, with its smokestacks, autos, factories, etc. They would have us go back to a simpler lifestyle and a far lower standard of living. Although that is not the stated goal, it would be the end result of all the changes they insist must be taken to avoid the destruction of this planet.
Although Greenland was the agrarian society they would emulate, it was warmer in the 10th century than in our 21st, a fact that disputes the industrialized society argument.
If you are going to correct a problem, you must first define it with statistical data, and the figures do no support the current hysteria about man's influence on the Earth's warming.
-- Joyce Goetz, Thousand Oaks
Intelligent analysis of Barack Obama's speech in Berlin can be summed up simply as, "Ich bin ein beginner."
-- John Moran, Thousand Oaks
I have lived in Simi Valley for more than 45 years. After reading the daily nonstop complaining about the proposed state prison medical facility, l have a few comments that l would like to put forth.
When the eastern part of the county had far less population than Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo, we had to watch as all the county buildings were built in Ventura. We had no other alternative but to drive over the grade and into Ventura.
Now a few elitists are complaining that a state facility that will replace one already in place will degrade the Sterling property values of those in Camarillo.
I have to look at it this way: As long as the municipal court system is in Ventura, why not put the prison near the source? After all, most of the court agenda comes from Oxnard and the west county.
This may sound like sour grapes to some, but driving up to Ventura through the years to jury duty, handling property tax matters, zoning -- and for many years, building permits -- the Ventura County Fair, air shows, etc., I feel the folks in my end of the county would like to see this medical center for inmates along with the boost in local revenue to Camarillo become reality.
-- Ralph Burquist, Simi Valley
Re: Bill O'Reilly's July 26 commentary, "Tax increase would go to support no-good layabouts":
O'Reilly need not worry that increased taxes will go to deadbeats. The money will go towards paying down the national debt that George Bush has almost doubled. This will have to be done because the Saudis now insist on it, because they don't want to sell their prime oil for our subprime dollars, because it's a subprime currency, because of the subprime mortgage mess and the subprime war in Iraq started by our subprime president. The subprime mortgage mess was caused by Republican ideology, and the war was based on Republicans' lies. Therefore, I'd like to see Republicans pay twice as much in extra taxes as Democrats.
-- Alexander Freeman, Thousand Oaks
Let me see here: California is in a fiscal hole so deep I can't count high enough to get to the bottom of it. The governor wants to reduce state employees' salaries to minimum wage until the Legislature passes a budget. And, of course, for the umpteenth time, the Legislature has no idea about a budget. But they do have the time to worry about trans fats in restaurant food -- indeed, enough time to ban them.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a certain local city, not to be outdone by the state, is going to ban plastic bags.
Why are we letting the inmates run the asylum? Do we not have problems more serious than these to get solved? I can't take these people seriously anymore. A left-handed chimp could do as well!
-- Roy W. Hogue, Newbury Park
Recently, a bicycle lane was painted on Pederson Road, which has a 45 mph speed limit. The 3-foot-wide lane is next to the curb with a marked 3-foot buffer zone between the bike lane and the traffic lane, which neither the bicyclists nor cars should use. This left an 11-foot-wide traffic lane bordered on the left by a planted center median.
Saturday, I approached a group of some 20 bicycle riders, not one of them using the bike lane. They were all riding in the buffer zone. When I approached the first rider, he moved into the traffic lane to pass one another bicyclists. I was going about 40 mph, but the bicyclist was only going about 20 mph. Since there is a planted center median, my only option was to brake hard to avoid hitting him.
As I cautiously worked my way past the rest, two other riders performed the same maneuver and swerved in front of me without even looking. When the group reached the stop sign at Radcliff Road, not one stopped and most did not even slow down.
Pederson is lined on both sides with pine trees, and the new bike lane is covered by pine needles and pinecones and lifted up in sections by tree roots, making it dangerous to use. The majority of drivers will not know this and will expect the bicyclists to remain in the bike lane or buffer zone and will not expect then to swerve into the traffic lane.
Because of the 45 mph speed limit on Pederson and the condition of the bike lane, if the bicyclists are not both cautious and courteous, we will soon be reading another article about a collision between a bicyclist and automobile, and this time the bicyclist may not survive.
-- Dennis Lane, Thousand Oaks
Re: your July 25 article, "Bottle neck":
We spent $150,000 to restore an apricot shed in Simi Valley. Oh boy! The most interesting things in Strathearn Park are the restored church and the chicken coop. If you catch the right day you can get fresh eggs.
Bottle Village is registered in the National Register of Historic Places and is a California State Historical Landmark. It is local folk art to be cherished and restored with the same respect as the old train station and Strathearn Park.
But let Councilman Glen Becerra, Simi Valley historian Pat Havens and the San Fernando Valley swallow up our city's identity. Look at the Knolls. It is just as eclectic, with house trailers precariously propped on platforms spanning ravines. Safe? I'll take my chances with my family exploring Bottle Village, thank you.
What will be next? Paving over Crash Corrigan's movie backdrops for a park and ride? Sounds like the city has its eye on the property for other purposes, like more empty business units that litter Simi Valley.
I hope no one stubs a toe on the rusty farm implements while waiting in the long lines to view the apricot-pitting shed!
-- William Comiski, Simi Valley
Recently, I took my 14-year-old daughter and some of her friends to Universal Studios for a day of fun. I was shocked to look up and see a racy billboard for the teen show "Gossip Girl" and the letters "OMFG." If you don't know what that means, go ask a teen, but I'm pretty sure you can figure it out.
Today's teens have so much to worry about, so a curse word and a picture of a steamy teen sex scene may not top the list, but surely it is irresponsible, at the least.
I believe in being responsible for teaching and guiding our own children. I do not believe in blaming teachers, media, etc., when something is amiss with a child. But seeing a billboard like that just makes my job as a mother harder. It promotes and entices its intended audience -- in this case, teenage girls -- into thinking sex and cursing is acceptable and even desirable to fit in. In a perfect world, we would have an "it takes a village" mentality, everyone doing their part.
To my surprise, KTLA did return my call within hours and told me that The CW had been in charge of that ad campaign and that they had advised The CW in writing that they wanted the billboards down. They said they would actively follow up on having the billboard ad removed. They also apologized.
So thank you, KTLA, and shame on you, The CW and the people who created that billboard. I guess "OMG" just wasn't good enough!
-- Connie Kline, Simi Valley
Re: Terry Paulson's July 21 commentary, "Addicted to government":
Paulson's commentary calling for less government has an element of truth to it. That unintended (I'm sure) truth is that this country would be far better off if we had much less of the kind of government the Bush administration has brought us in the last seven and a half years.
Slavishly addicted to the President Reagan mantra that "government is not the answer, government is the problem," Bush has deregulated all of the federal agencies built up over the years to protect the public from the excesses of the rapacious elements of our economic system. Everything from underfunding those agencies to the appointment of former executives of the very industries to be regulated to head them up has been done to reduce public protections. The resulting devastation for countless Americans is now only too evident.
As Enron, Countrywide, IndyMac, and numerous other major corporations -- now unrestricted -- pursued unheard-of profits (and their executives pocketed unconscionable earnings), many millions of Americans lost life savings, retirement funds and, indeed, the very roofs over their heads. Even the safeguards for safety of our food supplies have been severely diminished, and environmental protections have certainly not been off-limits for Bush to attack and reduce.
Adam Smith, considered by many to be the father of capitalism, has long been the guru of right-wing politicians. His advocacy for "free markets" has been lauded as the answer to any and all of our economic problems. What these politicians very conveniently ignore, however, is that Smith added a very important caveat to his economic theories. Government must always play a significant role in ensuring that fair and really "free" market competition is in place.
The answer to the question of how much government is best for America is neither "less government" nor "more government." It is simply smart government. Barack Obama, with his call for "change" from the utter futility of the Bush administration, offers real hope.
-- William Merit True II, Port Hueneme
Re: Sherman N. Mullin's July 23 letter, "Strickland to blame":
Mullin responded to Audra Strickland's July 20 commentary, partly blaming the assemblywoman for the current prison healthcare debacle.
It is always prudent to check one's facts prior to making a public statement. In truth, the entire chain of events that led to the establishment of a receivership for prison healthcare in 2005 predates Strickland's first Assembly term. A judge took the draconian action of establishing the receivership in June 2005, following the failure of the state Legislature to adequately fund prison healthcare in 2004. Strickland's first Assembly term did not begin until December 2004. Facts are indeed stubborn things.
Mullin is certainly correct in assigning blame to the state Assembly for not solving the prison healthcare problem, but his criticism of Strickland is unjustified.
-- Darryl R. Andrews, Camarillo
Re: Pedro Nava's July 22 commentary, "We cannot drill our way to lower prices":
Nava sounds like the captain of the Titanic: "Forget the icebergs, this boat is sinkproof." He says we can't drill for oil because it won't help us. He says we should wait for the real thing because all these alternatives, like ethanol, which is more expensive, shoves up the price of foods, and on and on.
Oil prices at this moment are falling drastically, basically because the mere threat of President Bush insisting that we remove the ban to drill offshore and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge means huge supplies of oil will come into the U.S. That will lower the price. Nava must have flunked Economics 101.
Nava's excuse was heard incessantly prior to drilling in the Prudhoe Bay area in Alaska: The pipeline would be detrimental to the caribou, and on and on. The pipeline now provides 17 percent of our oil supply, and the caribou love it.
We don't need "can't do" assemblymen in Sacramento.
-- Vincent S. McDonough, Ventura
Re: your July 24 article, "City not taking sides in funding suit":
This article regarding the Oxnard School District's suit contesting the city of Oxnard and City Manager Ed Sotelo's plan to give developer D.R. Horton $15 million is about the mayor and city council's ignorance about what goes on in the city manger's office.
Sotelo is a "girls gone wild" when it come to our money. This is not the first time he has tried giving large sums of money to developers. He was caught with his hand in the cookie jar writing a $450,000 check to Big League Dreams, the purpose of which was never disclosed.
Unfortunately, neither Mayor Tom Holden nor the council knew about the city manager's intention to contribute this large sum to developer D.R. Horton. What is clear is that neither the mayor nor City Council has a handle on the city manager's freedom with our money, although the protection of the city budget is the council's primary responsibility.
It is significant to note that Sotelo is the main proponent of the new tax. What isn't clear is how he intends to spend it. He hasn't told us.
The City Council needs to start doing its main job and begin stringent oversight of Sotelo's operations. In my opinion, Sotelo should have been fired on many occasions, but he continues to survive under the protection of a City Council with poor leadership and little integrity.
-- Miguel Espinosa Jr., Oxnard
On a beautiful Saturday, I drove by the existing California Youth Authority facility and tried to imagine a massive 1,500-bed prison hospital in this same setting. Based on bed size, it would be bigger than Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, bigger than the Mayo Clinic, much bigger than Johns Hopkins, and equaling the largest hospital in California.
I tried to imagine the impact of 24-hour lights, gun towers and the required high visibility of hospital police on the surrounding community.
I began to realize this prison hospital is about the quality of life for the families of Camarillo, all of whom will live in the shadow of one of the largest hospitals, prison or otherwise, in the entire United States.
Unforeseen and unwanted, the economic trauma on local home values will be truly painful. Will anyone buy an expensive home that comes with a prison skyline? Will schools monitored by prison alarm systems be a draw to families wishing to move to the area? Would anyone relish driving on congested freeways and roads alongside 4,000 prison hospital employees? Housing prices will drop, and the equity counted on to fund college educations and retirements will plummet.
So when anyone tells me this shouldn't be about a "not in my backyard" mentality, I say it's not about my backyard. It's about the future dreams of those families who will live in the backyard of the proposed prison.
-- Alan Alweiss, Camarillo
Re: your July 23 article, "Despite protests, board OKs beach restrooms and tower":
Yet again, The Star misrepresents the issues raised by the residents of the beaches.
The Star says there were "protests from about two dozen beach-area residents who said the structure would obscure their ocean views." The main issues raised by the many beach residents, who know what the impact would be on the public, concerned the destruction of the public view corridor at the popular viewing spot at the end of the breakwater and from the beach.
The epically tragic decision that was made by the Board of Supervisors is a loss for everybody in Ventura County. No longer will there be the unobstructed views of the ocean, beach and mountains that people go there to enjoy every day of the year. Now this ugly, permanent, 35-foot, three-story structure, manned only 70 days of the entire year, this "ivory tower," will be in the way and will mar the view for everyone.
The irony is that the people who were at the meeting, mostly beach residents, suggested alternatives that offered everything the county said the public needed and more without destruction of the public view corridor, the destruction of the environment and without costing any more money. Residents' suggestions of building new restroom and lifeguard facilities a matter of 20 feet from the proposed location were dismissed out of hand.
As has been the case many times in the past, the Board of Supervisors looks as though it is listening but doesn't hear anything. Or does it? We must remember this is politics. It's not about the public good. Once again, the private agendas of these politicians and county executives appear to take precedent over the good of the public and the environment.
-- Graham J. Galliford, Oxnard
Re: your July 21 article, "Hundreds of hopefuls enter their projects at County Fair":
I was one of those hopefuls. I had labored for almost two years on an oil painting of the Lower Falls at Yellowstone National Park.
I looked forward to entering the painting in the Ventura County Fair. I found that they had a limit on the size of amateur entries. I wondered if there was a size limit in the professional division. I called a woman in charge who told me there was not, and the only downside to my entering my painting in the professional division was that I would not be able to enter as an amateur in the future.
I was elated. I was told I could enter my painting July 18 without having submitted my entry form by the July 14 deadline.
July 18, I reported to the fairgrounds and submitted my painting, paid the entry fee and delivered the painting.
I was so excited to have my work on display and told my family and friends to be sure to check it out.
July 21, I was contacted by someone from the fair office and told to come to the fairgrounds July 22 to pick up my painting. I was told it was rejected by someone chosen to judge the entries. When I asked for a reason, I was told there was "no way the judge would be able to explain each individual rejection."
How do I plan to enter future projects/paintings if I don't know the reason for the rejection of this painting?
What was supposed to be a wonderful experience at the Ventura County Fair has turned into a very disappointing and negative experience. This is not what the Ventura County Fair is supposed to be to Ventura County residents.
-- James L. Tucker, Ventura
Re: your July 23 articles, "From pool star to pilot" and "Officer grilled in assault trial":
The first is an excellent article about Anson Harvey, an 18-year-old young man from Thousand Oaks, an Eagle Scout who has chosen to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy. So far, he has led a life of service to others in his community; now he will continue his life in service to his country. What a man!
The second article describes violence between a police officer, Denise Shadinger, and her live-in boyfriend, Robert Perez Jr., a former police officer. She is accusing him of assault. They have both accused each other of infidelity.
It isn't clear to me how these two miscreants became police officers, and I don't understand how unmarried people can commit infidelity, but then I'm way behind understanding a lot of modern societal behavior.
I can only hope that more Harveys of the world continue to set an example for our youth, and that the Shadingers and Perezes of the world find lives that are at least not a blight on the community. We need to pray for all of them.
-- Roger Muir, Ventura
Government control of agriculture and energy production in the United States is the same as government control of agriculture and energy production in communist Cuba. Think before you vote.
-- John J. Ellington, Moorpark
Throughout our country's history, there has been a pattern of widening the circle of inclusion to empower more people. There was a time when only white men could vote or own property. Gradually, women gained these rights, and minorities soon followed. All of these progressions changed our country for the better.
By stark contrast, abortion excludes an entire class of people: the unborn. It excludes them not just from voting or owning property, but from the basic, most fundamental, inalienable right: the right to live. Are the unborn living? An ultrasound provides the unequivocal answer: Yes. Should they, therefore, be protected from abortion? The Declaration of Independence ("and are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights, including the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness") provides an equally unambiguous answer: Yes!
Therefore, can our nation truly claim to be the "land of the free" if an entire class of its people is not free from the threat of death by abortion?
-- Noel D'Angelo, Thousand Oaks
Re: your July 23 articles, "Camarillo luring in rink-rollers" and "Skating center operators seek new site":
The first story discussed an outdoor roller rink in Camarillo, and the other covered the possible construction of an ice skating rink in Camarillo. Why doesn't Thousand Oaks build an Olympic-size skating rink? There is a skating rink in Simi that draws Olympic-level skaters. Maybe they'd like to come to Thousand Oaks instead.
-- Rick Esler, Newbury Park
There has been a great deal of publicity within recent months on the volatile price of gasoline and how it has begun to affect people's lives in Ventura County. For a while, it seemed like each day that we drove past a gas station, the price would be moving up. Sometimes the move was small, and other days it would be large.
The oil companies that produce their own oil are obviously making bigger and bigger profits as the price continues to rise above their production cost. Washington has held Senate hearings to determine if the oil companies are at fault in any way for the current high prices. There have been numerous proposals for levying higher taxes on the oil companies.
But during the past two weeks, we have seen a different situation that has not even yet reached the newspapers. The price of oil and gasoline has dropped, and the move has been significant, especially in the area that affects each of us on a daily basis: The wholesale price of gasoline has fallen 60 cents since July 12. The last time I checked the price of gas on my way to work, the posted price was still $4.53 a gallon, the same as it has been for nearly three weeks.
It seems we should be asking ourselves why the price of gas goes up daily as the wholesale price increases, but it lags significantly behind any decrease in the wholesale price. According to the current wholesale spot price of gasoline, we should be paying less than $4.00 for gas.
The big question is: Why aren't we?
If we are going to have to pay quickly for increases in the cost of gas, then we should also see the benefits of cost decreases at the same rate we see cost increases.
-- Steve Sakakini, Newbury Park
Re: Mitch Rheingold's July 21 letter, "Real problem: deficit":
Deficits -- revenue minus higher spending -- are a result of many things, a major one being the lack of increased domestic energy production (revenue), such as oil, nuclear, clean coal, oil shale, natural gas and so forth. Such production has been blocked by the congressional Democrats since the mid-1980s, and the Democrats continue to impede to this day. However, if during this time span we had been allowed to increase domestic energy production, we would have kept significant dollars in the U.S. rather than having them go offshore. This would have kept the dollar strong and ameliorated the deficit.
It must be noted that President Bush in June 2001 proposed a comprehensive package for more domestic energy production as described above, plus revamping the U.S. energy grid and $10 billion in tax breaks to push energy efficiency and alternate energy. No dice, no congressional approval. Subsequently, The New York Times headline of Aug. 20, 2003, stated: "Ambitious Bush plan is undone by energy politics."
The real problem is the Democratic Party's negative mindset regarding fossil fuels and nuclear. I often wondered why our French friends, in the minds of our liberal politicians, could do no wrong regarding nuclear while we had been banned from implementing nuclear for decades.
No one doubts that we must develop alternate energy for the long term, but we definitely need fossil fuel and nuclear during the transition. Just starting the process now will bring oil prices down. Killing the economy while awaiting alternate energy implementation is not viable.
-- Allan Byrne, Agoura Hills
Re: your July 18 editorial, "Coastal safety net cut in half":
Certainly, with the full facts in hand, The Star would never purposely publish editorials promoting pollution or higher gasoline prices. However, those are the unintended consequences of laws prohibiting offshore drilling that The Star advocates in editorials.
The latest worldwide figures reveal that oil tanker ships are responsible for four times as much volume of oil spills as offshore drilling. Furthermore, natural pressures under the sea bed cause 62 times as much oil spillage as offshore drilling. Additionally, geologists tell us that offshore drilling is likely to reduce this pollution by diminishing the pressure on undersea cracks as oil is removed.
This is not 1969. With new drilling technologies, there were zero oil spills even under severe circumstances like Hurricane Katrina, which hit the highest concentration of offshore oil rigs in the United States.
We also know that dependence on foreign oil allows cartels like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to set higher prices.
All of this places The Star in the position of advocating policies that pollute the environment and drive gas prices higher.
How would The Star feel if the environmental wackos' next plan was for all The Star's subscribers to cancel their subscriptions to save the trees? They have stuck it to the rest of us, and The Star's turn could be next. So far, they have only demanded that The Star cut the size of its pages, requiring fewer newsroom reporters.
-- Robert L. Munger, Thousand Oaks
Re: your July 12 article, "Bill would ban PVC packaging":
The article contained several factual errors and much misleading information that may have confused or even needlessly alarmed The Star's readers.
The article totally neglected to mention that PVC packaging has had for many years, and continues to have, full regulatory agency approval for food packaging by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and relevant health and safety agencies throughout the world.
ENVIRON is an independent scientific research organization that has previously studied environmental aspects of PVC waste disposal at the request of the Vinyl Institute and others. Public statements made about PVC are often factually wrong. This is important because, if perceptions are not supported by the facts, then legislation and regulations intended to solve problems can end up doing more harm than good.
Contrary to the statements in the article, dioxins do not leach from PVC. Dioxins are produced mainly by waste incineration. Dioxin levels have declined with improved waste incineration even while PVC production has increased with demand. Phthalates are accepted by FDA in food wrap, but other softeners are more commonly used. Landfills do not contain 32 percent PVC. Many more times PVC than is produced each year would have to be put in landfills for this to true. The claim that 61 percent of PVC packages exceeded the allowed metal content is based entirely on an analytical instrument that is not accurate enough to make this assessment.
Finally, the article's claim that PVC is a contaminant to recycling is also misleading. While not suitable for certain types of recycling, PVC is widely and economically recycled in many other applications. This is true of most materials, as recycling processes have become more sophisticated.
-- Norman T. Ozaki & Robert Scofield, Emeryville
(Norman T. Ozaki is a principal consultant and Robert Scofield is a principal with the ENVIRON International Corp. -- Editor.
Some time ago, I wrote Rep. Elton Gallegly, pleading with him to oppose torture as a form of U.S. policy. He sent me a letter saying he was against torture.
Well, it seems Gallegly either misspoke or, more likely, bought into the Vice President Cheney/President Bush lie that waterboarding and other vile practices are worth it if it saves just one American life.
I agree there is a problem here, but if we Americans stoop to the level of torture, which is against every grain of our moral fiber, for a cheap and most likely untruth, then our loyal and honest men and women in the service of our country are at extreme risk of being given the same treatment. The Geneva Conventions are clear on this. Bush and his lackey, Gallegly, are in total violation of the treaty.
Recently, Gallegly in a hearing again supported torture. Now I must ask the people of Simi Valley: Do you want such a troll to represent you for another two years? Gallegly supports torture, the same thing the extreme thugs of the world do.
-- David LaTourette, Simi Valley
Re: your July 18 article, "Insurers to reinstate 2,000 policies":
I do not have all the facts regarding this case, but I do know about the right of health insurers to rescind a policy if the applicant lied or misstated information on the application.
In my 36 years of selling individual health insurance for both of the insurers mentioned in the article, I have had two clients' policies revoked under the recission clause.
In one case, the applicant tried to tell the insurer that I had told him to omit pertinent information regarding a history of cancer. The policy was revoked -- after they had paid out tens of thousands of dollars in claims -- and I was called on the carpet to explain my involvement. As it turned out, the insured had applied to an insurer and disclosed his cancer history and was declined coverage. Apparently his agent/broker at the time told him to look up an agent in the phone book, apply for coverage with a different insurance company and not disclose his full medical history.
I suspect that Blue Cross and Blue Shield settled these cases to avoid further bad press.
How is it that I never see articles that tell of health insurers paying extremely large claims in a very timely manner? Is it because insurance companies are the "bad guys" and are considered guilty, regardless of the circumstances?
-- Jim Ziegler, Westlake Village
Re: your July 16 article, "Parks forming kinder, gentler patrol":
This is a very interesting idea and program. The article makes it sound as if no one in the parks is polite and helpful. In "my" park at the corner of Temple Avenue and Ponderosa Drive, park staff members are extremely kind and helpful, in addition to being very proficient in their jobs.
My real issue with the article is with the lack of information given. There are 29 parks in the district. How many rangers will there be? Will they be full-time or part-time? At what times will they work? Would it be possible to enlarge upon the information given about this new kind and gentle approach by park staff to the general public?
The article is optimistic but really not very informative.
-- Margaret Shea, Camarillo
Southern California Edison touts itself as a green business. However, the paper size for the bills now is much larger than last year. That means more things in the landfill.
-- Marcia Morocco, Thousand Oaks
Re: Terry Paulson's July 21 essay, "Addicted to government":
I'm sure The Star must believe there's some redeeming value to Paulson's weekly hypocrisy, distortions and boringly predictable Republican right-wing drivel. I wish I could find it.
His July 21 diatribe is, if possible, filled with even more distortion and hypocrisy than usual. He castigates Democrats for "selling a dangerous addiction," i.e., "wasteful spending," and goes on to praise President Reagan for "20 years of prosperity, low inflation and low unemployment."
Truth is, Reagan created the greatest deficit this country had known until then, exceeded only by President Bush's current deficits, and established an economic climate of greed that sowed the seeds for today's economic disaster.
"In November," Paulson wrote, "a vote for the Republican team is not a vote to end compassion. It's a vote for caring enough to assist without creating more dependency."
Someone please try to convince me of how another eight years of Republican economic leadership could be good for us. Please try to show me in what ways I'm economically better off today than I was prior to Bush.
Surely, even Paulson can't believe that John McCain will promote policies necessary to reverse our national greed psychosis and its resulting economic upheaval.
A McCain administration would continue the enormously costly Bush war doctrine without creating the means to pay for it. We haven't been able to afford Bush's misguided war and certainly can't afford a McCain continuation of the policies that brought us there.
If you like what Bush and "the Republican team" have done for and to you, you'll love the Paulson essay. If, like me, you're saddened, angered and embarrassed by eight years of economic and ethical failure, you'll say, "Just say no" to what the Paulsons of the world promote.
-- Richard Landis, Thousand Oaks
Re: Terry Paulson's July 21 essay, "Addicted to government":
Paulson argues that too many Americans are addicted to government spending. I agreed, until I realized he was not talking about Halliburton, Brown & Root, General Electric, Blackwater, wealthy farmers, etc. He was not talking about billionaires who desperately need to pay less income tax. He was talking about those Americans who believe their taxes should enable their government to ensure that the nation's bridges will not collapse and its levees will endure storms and their children will be educated.
Paulson is concerned that our government might help Americans who have or will face foreclosure on their homes, but he does not object to government help to lenders and builders who share responsibility for these foreclosures. He is concerned that under a Barack Obama presidency, we might lose our unique status as the only industrialized nation in the world that does not provide healthcare for all of its citizens.
When Paulson complains about "out-of-control" government spending, we might think that he is referring to the billions of dollars spent on the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan that no one can account for or to the new multibillion-dollar weapons systems that are useless against any enemy we face now or in the foreseeable future. Rather, he is referring to Medicare and Social Security, which are out of control only in the eyes of those who would terminate these programs.
John McCain is right that many of the problems we now face are the responsibility of both major political parties. Paulson is wrong when he suggests that only Republicans can solve them. In this election year, Americans have the opportunity and responsibility to confront all candidates for public office and demand real solutions, not fear-mongering rhetoric.
-- Nick Fotheringham, Thousand Oaks
Re: Terry Paulson's July 21 essay, "Addicted to government":
Paulson states we need a program to slow government spending. He thinks "John McCain's tax cuts for all" is the perfect solution. Paulson neglects to mention the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our national debt is approaching $9.5 trillion, and we are borrowing money from China, Japan, Korea and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries on a rotating basis.
If you cut taxes for all, how do you pay off our national debt or even pay for the war? I have never taken a course in economics, although I am a college graduate. However, I have something Paulson does not have, and it's called common sense. If you have a war in two places, you have to pay for them. Our children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren are going to have to pay for it. Cutting taxes puts us further into debt.
Paulson has either been on another planet for a long time or doesn't realize this country is in trouble. The average annual salary has gone from $56,000 to $52,000 in the Bush administration's tenure. Paulson mentions the years of prosperity, where President Clinton increased taxes and created the greatest prosperity for the average person and the giant corporations. The facts are in the numbers.
The government under the Bush administration grew, but Paulson neglects to mention Clinton made the largest cuts in government of any president in modern times. He neglects to mention that, as one of the Western industrial powers, we have the most expensive healthcare in the world with the smallest return. Our infant mortality rate is almost double any other country in the Western industrialized world. Those who need care are asking for health insurance that does not skim 30 percent off the top.
-- Donald J. Katz, Newbury Park
Re: Terry Paulson's July 21 essay, "Addicted to government":
It has been said that fat cats create jobs. Maybe. However, it is the little guys who do the jobs that make fat cats fat. We are all in this together.
Fat cats come to power through our social (government) rules for doing business. Sometimes it is ingenuity or hard work, and sometimes it is luck or inheritance. Sometimes it comes through talent, and sometimes it is just being born good-looking.
The ideal government is one that helps the little guys receive fair treatment from the fat cats. Fat cats live off the multitudes. They don't need government help.
When medical expenses rise, of course, the fat cats don't need help.
When the cost of homes goes up, it is not the average guy who benefits because he has to live somewhere. If he sells high, he must buy high. Only the fat cat investors and speculators win. When the price of houses rises to a certain level, most people can't afford them, and the prices levels off. That is the normal rule of supply and demand, and that is the way it should work.
But along came an industry of unscrupulous fat cats who said: "I can help you. It's OK to fudge a little here and there, and I will get you into a house."
Then to top it off, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bought into it and made it a vicious circle of money. This is an example of government "hands off." It is easy for a fat cat to say, "They would have never have fooled me."
-- Leo Bowman, Ventura
Re: Pedro Nava's July 22 commentary, "We cannot drill our way to lower prices":
I strongly disagree with Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara.
America is facing an energy crisis. Due to world demands, especially China and India, the supply of oil cannot keep up with the world's needs. President Bush recognizes this.
As usual, the do-nothing, pro-environmental Democrats attack President Bush and want to prevent any efforts to find oil. America must become energy independent for economic and security reasons. In the short term, we must find and drill for oil. In the long term, we need nuclear energy, coal, solar and wind power, news types of cars, etc.
I have listened to experts in the field who say we could find and produce new oil within five years. In the Gulf Coast, where the infrastructure is already there, we could produce oil within two years.
As far as Pedro Nava's view on the environmental impact, I disagree with him. Today, with new technology, we could build much safer oil platforms. During Katrina, no oil was spilled. We could also place the platforms far away from the coast.
There would be benefits from drilling off our coast. It would provide new jobs, generate funds for local area, the cost of gas and oil would go down and it would help America become energy independent.
I think the Democrats, Pedro Nava and even our governor have it wrong.
-- Diana Thorn, Carpinteria
Re: your July 23 article, "Hearing set over trying teen as an adult":
I would think that another person should be included as a co-conspirator in the upcoming trial of Brandon McInerney, and that would be the person who gave, sold or otherwise provided the gun. The Star has made no mention of where the gun came from. Even if McInerney stole the gun, the gun owner has aided and abetted the crime by making the gun available.
The gun owner should have had the gun locked up, unloaded, preferably with a trigger lock, without bullets located in the same place as the gun.
-- William Wolny, Oxnard
Re: your July 17 editorial, "Stepford HOAs go way too far":
After two years of search and research, we chose The Springs as our home for the remainder of our lives. We find it a lovely and loving community with quaint narrow streets that often have deer meandering along them. A major deciding factor in buying our home here was that the homes are well-tended and the streets and driveways uncluttered by vehicles. With mountain views, it seems pastoral.
It is painful to read in The Star how unkind we seem to be in wishing to retain the home and idyllic setting that we originally purchased.
Much misinformation was printed in four recent articles in The Star. It seems the only attempt to balance the article was to call the president who, together with the rest of the board, cannot discuss what happens at an executive meeting in order to protect the homeowner. Only a disgruntled homeowner can talk about it with others.
Those who live in The Springs cannot park vehicles on the streets: Camarillo city code does not allow it because there are no sidewalks and the streets are quite narrow. Parking in the driveways is all right. Homeowner-owned commercial vehicles are not. They must be garaged.
RV storage is available at no cost to homeowners. Trucks larger than standard garages are a problem in that 5.12 of the CC&Rs states: "No ... truck larger than a pickup shall be kept, maintained, placed, constructed, remodeled or repaired on any Lot or street in such manner as will be visible from any other Lot.
Until recently, most folks put their autos in the garage most of the time, and certainly overnight.
New neighbors are most welcome and even needed. Please appreciate what brought you here in the first place and help us keep it as pretty as it is.
-- Marilyn Beman, Camarillo
Re: your July 19 front page:
The Star's choice of what is front-page news boggles the mind. The July 19 front page should not have been about the Dallas Cowboys, but rather about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her vow to block offshore drilling. That is what is important, and it should not have been buried on Page A7. The Star does this kind of reporting much too often.
-- Marie Cannon, Newbury Park
Re: Ann McFeatters' July 19 essay, "Obama's great adventure":
Although one can certainly agree with several of the issues raised by McFeatters' observations, it seems to me that by her very commentary, she too has bought into the hype and hoopla surrounding Barack Obama's excellent adventure.
Her entire column only reinforces that idea that the media, of which she is a part, is consumed with dissecting anything and everything the senator does, whether one agrees with it or not.
It reminds me of all the media excitement that once surrounded the old Muhammad Ali/Joe Frazier fights. It seemed that the event itself was always threatened by the buildup. Depending on your point of view, the contests themselves actually lived up to the frenzy. This type of outcome is what we must hope for once the nominating conventions are concluded.
What I am looking forward to is the meat and potatoes of the contest. I want to see who has selected the more appropriate running mate. I want to watch, listen and learn from the debates, where we can take the full measure of each man sans sound bites. They must meet face to face and discuss their strategies, and the consequences thereof, that will affect all Americans for years to come.
What we are seeing now is simple political posturing -- just trying to feel out the opponent before the actual engagement. By the time either one of them occupies the White House, the political landscape here and abroad undoubtedly will have shifted again. Come the end of August, the real games begin; therefore, what is going on now is really much ado about nothing.
-- Rodney K. Boswell, Thousand Oaks
I don't care for the paper the way it has been slimmed down. Each Monday I looked forward to the Fast Forward section. Now it's gone. Then I liked the Business section, and it's very small now. Now today in the mail I received a notice that I'll be paying more monthly for The Star. I don't care for that, either.
-- Hazel V. Munger, Newbury Park
Re: your July 19 article, "Fireworks problems drop this year":
I read this article in which Simi Valley Police Chief Mike Lewis tried to make it sound as if he was making an impact on the reduction of fireworks in Simi Valley on the Fourth of July. He certainly was not in my neck of the woods because it was unbearable for my family, my pets and my neighbors.
My calls to the Simi Police fireworks hotline were met in an argumentative way. It was evident that the Simi Police did not have any idea how to deal with this flagrant violation of the law. They stated that if a police car were dispatched to a neighborhood, the violators would stop when they drove by. I want Lewis to know that this method is not working for my neighborhood. I was put through to a sergeant to whom I vented, I believe, in vain.
Subsequent to the Fourth of July, I led the police to a house that was firing off fireworks. No citation was issued. Lewis touted the enforcement actions that were taken on the Fourth of July, but I wish he would state the number of citations that were issued, if any.
I want the public to know that if they feel the same as I do, they should go public with their complaint. Do not let these comments from the chief fool you or go on unanswered. I have talked with people in other neighborhoods of Simi, plus a resident firefighter, and they told me they did not experience a reduction in fireworks violations.
All fireworks are unlawful, and the police need a plan to stop this flagrant violation of the law.
-- Sherrill Strothman, Simi Valley
This week's Newsweek cover story, "Young, Gay, and Murdered," about Larry King and Brian McInerney, is a story whose depths should have been plumbed by The Star. The complexity and multiple tragedies of what happened in February needs to be known in our community, particularly now that Brian is about to be arraigned. As abhorrent as what he did was, it is a compounding of that tragedy and likely to be a disastrous prosecutorial decision for the Ventura County district attorney to try Brian as an adult.
-- Michael Gorder, Westlake Village
Re: Rellis Smith's July 15 Your News commentary, "Thrill seekers taken for a ride at Camarillo Fiesta":
Smith accused the city of Camarillo of mistreating its visitors by charging excessive prices for carnival rides at the Camarillo Fiesta. We have responded directly to Smith, but I would like to clear up a point or two about his complaints.
The city of Camarillo has nothing to do with setting the prices for fiesta carnival rides. The Camarillo Fiesta Association, a nonprofit corporation, organizes the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. The carnival prices are the prevailing prices for carnival rides in Southern California.
Recognizing that some parents who would like to treat their children to carnival rides might not be able to afford many at the prevailing prices, we instituted a "50-cents for 18 and under night" on the night prior to the fiesta's official start. More than 6,000 rides were taken at that price this year -- in three and a half hours. Obviously, many people took advantage of the deal, as Smith could have.
More than 14,000 full-price carnival rides were taken this year. Smith's complaint is the only one we have received about the carnival prices.
While we would be most pleased if we had no complaints about anything at the fiesta, we know this is not a realistic goal. It is our aim to provide family fun for one and all. We hope we do so for nearly all each year. If we don't, please don't blame the city. It provides us terrific support in several areas, but if anyone has a problem at the fiesta, it is our committee to whom you should address your concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. Co-Chairman Mike Morgan and I do our best to resolve every complaint, no matter how large or small.
-- Todd Terres, Camarillo
(The writer is co-chairman of the Camarillo Fiesta Association. -- Editor)
Re: Joyce B. Goetz's July 20 letter, "Earth's biorhythms":
Goetz tries a nifty bit of rhetorical prestidigitation in her anti-global warming letter. She suggests -- as many of the more subtle global-warming deniers do -- that the environment has a "biorhythm," and all we're seeing now is a minor up-tick in the Earth's mean temperature. It is, she says, "egotistical" for us to worry about these things.
As "proof," she points out that Vikings in Greenland raised grain in the 10th century.
Like Sherlock Holmes' dog that didn't bark, Goetz deftly overlooks the fact that life in the 21st century is somewhat more complicated than life in the 10th.
Civil society, global economics and global governance demand that problems be addressed by political leaders.
Just think of the war on terror. As President Bush himself pointed out in his February 2008 interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, terrorists and other extremists need recruits. They find recruits among hungry people. So it is, the president said, in America's national security interest to ensure that people in other countries don't go hungry.
One of the reasons people in, for example, Muslim Southeast Asia and Muslim Africa are going hungry is that climate change has produced substantial and negative effects on their agriculture, altering the growing cycles on which they depend for food.
If Goetz is content to live like a 10th century Viking -- subsistence agriculture with a 17 percent infant mortality rate, a 20 percent childhood mortality rate and a life expectancy for those few who survived that lasted into the mid-40s -- then more power to her.
Those of us who enjoy the quality of life we have in our modern system, on the other hand, would do well to pay attention to what happens to the planet that sustains that system.
-- Russell A. Burgos, Thousand Oaks
Tearing down the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo and building a $1 billion, high-risk 1,500-bed-plus state prison facility alongside the ongoing construction of the California Conservation Corps camp raises a few very important questions.
Can local water treatment and sewage plants handle the additional needs of the two new facilities?
Currently, the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility's potable water is pumped in from the local municipal water treatment plant, and the sewage is pumped to a wastewater distribution plant in Oxnard. A recently published article state that the sewage line is more than 50 years old, and Oxnard has said it will no long assume responsibility for the line.
Will the sewage at the new facilities be piped into Oxnard or Camarillo? Will Camarillo have to install a new pipeline to accommodate the prison? Will Camarillo's sewage facility be adequate to handle the effluent? What will this cost the taxpayers (homeowners) of Camarillo? Will homebuilders and buyers be able to afford the increased fees because of an overburdened sewage plant? Will this facility further reduce the ability to construct new housing?
These questions may be answered when the environmental impact review and the California Environmental Quality Act reports have been completed. Where are these reports? The California receivership is looking at building a billion-dollar facility with the state taxpayers' money and hasn't completed its homework.
So, looking at the big picture, if the local water treatment and wastewater distribution plants can't handle the additional needs of the two new facilities and future growth, what happens when the plants need expansion? Will California Receiver J. Clark Kelso pay for this with California's taxpayers' money, or will this burden be placed on Ventura County residents?
My question to the California receivership: Just who is going to foot the bill?
-- Brian Owens, Camarillo
In response to edicts from judges, prison officials want to turn our local youth authority prison into a 1,500-bed hospital for adult prisoners. The campus is occupied by young girls. This Ventura Youth Correctional Facility used to be known as the Ventura School for girls. It is the state facility for girls, teenage and younger.
By what right do state officials remove these girls in order to satisfy new needs? We are told they will be sent "elsewhere." Where is elsewhere? Has the state established another facility for girls? Or do they plan to force them onto the counties that have neither the facilities nor treatment programs to meet their needs? Is this legal?
Judges have mandated the girls to the California Youth Authority. Can prison officials change that at whim, or must they go back to court? These questions need to be answered and to be presented to the public.
More and more, it is beginning to appear that an adult prison hospital on this campus is a very bad idea.
-- Jane Boardman, Camarillo
The impact of the 1,500-bed medical prison will have negative long-term consequences for all residents of Camarillo, not just those living in the west end.
Camarillo State Hospital left a stigma on this community for decades that has been replaced by the exceptional CSU Channel Islands. Our city has prospered with such a positive addition, drawing new businesses and residents to our community.
What effect do you think "Camarillo: Prison Town" will have on every resident of our city? If you live in Mission Oaks or Santa Rosa Valley and think you're exempt, think again. Every resident will be impacted by the ludicrous placement of such a facility in a densely populated area, extremely close to schools, housing and commercial centers. Your property values will plummet even further, and the additional strain on our medical system will affect the level of care you and your family will be able to receive.
If approved, this project will tarnish our city and county for decades to come.
Get involved before it too late. Let your voice be heard. Attend community meetings and learn the facts of this project. Write letters to Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and J. Clark Kelso, receiver of California Prison Health Care Receivership Corporation.
Remember, every resident of Camarillo will be affected if this facility is approved in our community.
-- Dianne Glick, Camarillo
Re: Richard Larsen's July 1 essay, "Ending the oil addiction":
Larsen is trapped in the ideology that oil is an inherently evil thing that we must be rid of. The fact is the world economy runs on oil. Human civilization as we enjoy it, with its convenience and advancements, would not be possible without oil.
Larsen states that drilling domestically is "trying to solve the wrong problem." He doesn't understand, though, just how difficult alternative fuels are to realize.
Developing alternative fuel technologies to make them universally available and affordable -- hence, displacing oil-based engines -- is decades in the future. Hydrogen fuel cell engines and electric motors are not as powerful as fossil fuel engines, so vast improvements in those technologies are needed to make them viable universal alternatives. The infrastructure for distributing alternative fuels would need to be built nationwide.
Every gas station, seaport and airport would need to be outfitted to supply cars, trucks, trains, ships and aircraft. Producing existing alternative fuels in a quantity able to sustain the economy is yet another giant hurdle taking decades to surmount.
The sensible course now is to drill and allay the current problem of high fuel prices. It seems that for Larsen, the only injustice is a powerful, self-sufficient America.
-- Chandler Thomas, Ojai
I am writing to The Star about public defenders not giving proper legal advice to poor inmates who are at the mercy of a legal system that only cares about sending another body to prison, no matter how petty the crime is.
Most people who are going to court are alcoholics and druggies who have violated their probation or parole. Don't let them get arrested for another crime like drinking in public or possessing a controlled substance.
The first thing the public defender wants to do is work out a deal to send the poor inmate away for five years or more instead of sending him to a program. It's a vicious cycle that needs to stop.
Overcrowding of the prison system is occurring, costing taxpayers millions for an overcrowded prison system that does not work. Petty criminals are being sent to prisons for crimes not deserving of the punishment because the public defender's office is afraid to upset the district attorney's office and, therefore, will not fight for the petty, poor criminals.
We need to put a stop to this practice if we are to combat overcrowding, which costs California so much in taxes.
-- Howard Lundy, inmate, Ventura County Jail, Ventura
I see that John McCain wants to keep our boys over in Iraq. Is not more than 4,000 boys killed enough for him? It is enough for me.
Barack Obama does not want to take the money from the Democratic Party. He can give it to Hillary Clinton: She needs it.
It is time to stop playing the skin game and start paying the brains game. If every woman wrote in Hillary's name on the ballot, we could get her elected. That's what I am going to do.
-- Regina Cohen, Camarillo
Re: Martin Schram's July 18 essay, "The VA's mystery caller":
As an ex-Marine and Vietnam combat veteran, I want to commend Schram for his insightful indictment of the Veterans Affairs help-desk issue.
His essay encourages me to read his new book.
Being a firsthand witness to the bureaucratic ravelings of the VA system, I can attest that the slow, long ribbon of red tape that a vet must travel to get help is getting longer and slower -- and redder. And, yes, it all starts in Washington, D.C. It's always a challenge to determine who's in bed with whom in our nation's capital, and the mind boggles to think of all the agencies and politicians that must be coddled just to get one lousy piece of legislation tabled.
I strongly believe that the combination of red tape, poor funding and weak management stifles the ability of the service reps to serve properly. The collective attitude and work ethic at these help desks is constantly compromised. And, sadly, the veteran suffers.
While the fat cats in D.C. stay busy scratching each other's backs, veterans, especially these young ones now returning, are busy trying to scratch out a simple existence of survival with little or no help. If there were a non-deferment draft that required children of political privilege to serve, you can bet the ranch that help for veterans would improve immensely.
Our military leaders are experts in preparing our young troops for deployment and battle. Please take a moment to imagine that same expertise being implemented to prepare them for survival upon their return.
-- Joe Paquin, Fillmore
It was discouraging to see that the issue to ban homosexual marriage by amending the state constitution made it to the forthcoming ballot.
I think it's pathetic that we have to finance an election to decide whether to change the constitution so we can deprive a significant number of citizens of rights that all others enjoy, simply to please a plethora of people who choose to run their lives (and everyone else's) according to a 2,000-year-old book that was written by a gaggle of people who lived in an era when everyone believed the earth was flat and extended only between the Orient and Gibraltar.
If this unrealistic belief system is so important to us today, why don't we also repudiate everything else that we like to refer to as "progress," what human society has learned and developed and implemented on this planet during the last 2,000 years?
-- Brook Evans, Camarillo
Re: your July 19 article, "Team with more drama than 'Dallas' is coming to Oxnard":
Nice job by the editors at The Star and the administrators of the city of Oxnard. Three-quarters of the front page, above and below the fold, are used to further the menacing virtues of a bunch of thugs and degenerate athletes coming to town for, of all things, "training."
Pacman Jones is the epitome of an unruly and detestable adult in basic society. Terrell Owens is about as self-centered a single man in a team sport can possibly be. Tank Johnson is a gun-wielding thug. What great role models these guys are! And what a great role model the city of Oxnard is!
How sad is it that the very city in which these thugs practice is the very same city that is being sued for giving school district, taxpayer money back to the developer so as to stop the building of an elementary school in the newly developed harbor area?
The Star and the city of Oxnard have their priorities backwards, plain and simple.
-- Tisha Korbett, Oxnard
Re: your July 17 editorial, "Stepford HOAs go way too far" and your June 26 article, "Possible ban on pickups meets with opposition":
The proposal by The Springs Homeowners Association in Camarillo to ban the parking of pickup trucks is not news.
As background information, I would point out that most streets in The Springs are so narrow as to present both driving and pedestrian hazards. Many driveways are too short to allow vehicle parking without protruding onto these streets and furthering these hazards. In its infinite wisdom and at the insistence of a minority with special interests, a previous Board of Directors ruled it allowable to park crossways in short driveways, causing unsightly and dangerous conditions which trucks would further complicate.
While I have no involvement in the newly proposed rule, I can certainly appreciate its purpose. I am a 23-year resident of The Springs and often disagree with the board's proposed rules changes, while understanding that I agreed to the rules and regulations and the covenants, codes and restrictions when I purchased here. I try to reserve my complaints for truly significant issues.
The Star's reporting has promoted the plight of one individual who is not likely to be the target of the proposal as implied. This individual has arguably the largest driveway in The Springs in addition to a two-car enclosed garage. His medium-sized pickup could be parked in one half of the garage with one other vehicle and still provide parking for as many as five more vehicles in the driveway. Understanding these facts, the proposal is in no way discriminatory.
Homeowners associations have every right to propose rule changes in the best interest of the majority of homeowners. The shallow reporting in this case is contrary to these interests and reflects unfavorably upon the images, lives and property values of all the homeowners.
-- Wendell Harden, Camarillo
What is the big concern about oil-well drilling? In the late 1920s we had oil wells drilled all over California -- Signal Hill in Los Angeles, offshore drilling from San Diego to the Oregon border. A number of those wells are still usable, just capped off -- the Naval Reserve, fields in the Bakersfield area, oil sand areas in the western states and Canada. But a small group of talking heads says we are not allowed to continue using these resources.
In the 1940s we started to develop nuclear power to alleviate the dependence on oil. Again, this small group yelled that it would turn us all into monsters -- or worse!
We have developed solar cell resources, but this same group complained that the units do not look good. It's the same with wind power. To the south of us are several areas with windmills turning out power. But again, this small group complains they make noise and they don't look pretty.
Because this group continues to complain but can offer no solution, the majority of the people continue to endure. Perhaps if everyone would return to horse and buggy, this group could sweep the roads daily for their rose gardens.
Better yet, instead of blaming the president for all of their problems, the people would demand that Congress develop some intestinal fortitude, stop pointing fingers and yakking, then do the jobs they were elected to do!
-- Don Davidson, Port Hueneme
Re: your July 16 article, "Proposal may hike water, sewage rates in Ventura":
This proposal is for a 14 percent increase in water and sewage rates to pay for rising operating costs and upgrades and to cover the replacement of aging pipes.
There have been several major proposals presented to six out of the seven current Ventura City Council members, of which two are significant: the commercial/apartment project at the Ventura Harbor and the hotel project across from the Ventura County Fairgrounds.
Had these projects come to fruition years ago instead of ruminating in the hallowed halls of our fair city, perhaps -- no, assuredly -- we would have had extra revenue from a transient occupancy tax, developer fees and general increase in revenue that could have been banked for the replacement of the aging pipes because most assuredly they did not age overnight.
Ventura was fortunate enough to have Kinko's corporate headquarters in our own backyard, but no more. What business has our fair city brought in to replace this loss of income and loss of jobs? Kmart has closed and cost the city those jobs. How long will this location remain empty?
And while it is easy for people to protest and petition against a Wal-Mart or any business that is the "disflavor of the month," it is difficult for those thrown out of work.
"Time for change" or same-old, same-old: a proposed public safety increase, a 911 fee and now a 14 percent water and sewage increase. What's next?
-- Irene V. Henry, Ventura
Re: Audra Strickland's July 20 commentary, "Prison facility doesn't belong in Camarillo":
Assemblywoman Strickland's pathetic sea of solicitous words is a feeble attempt to cover up repeated past failures to deal with the problem of severe prison overcrowding and inadequate medical facilities.
She and every other member of the Assembly and Senate are the cause of this problem. She and her colleagues long ago waived their ability to have any decision-making authority relative to the proposed facility in Camarillo. Everyone in Ventura County should realize that her meaningless words are those of a member of a California Assembly that repeatedly failed to do its duty.
-- Sherman N. Mullin, Oxnard
Re: Scott Hadly's reporting from Iraq:
Hadly's accounts of his time with our local Seabees in Iraq have been most informative and well-written. I have lived in Ventura County for more than 30 years and have not really understood what the Seabees do. From now on, I will pay closer attention to their mission in our armed services. Thank you for giving such a fine reporter an opportunity to not only show the Seabees' "stuff," but also his skills as a professional, local journalist.
-- Julie Rischar, Oak View
Re: Deroy Murdock's July 19 commentary, "Reagan returns to radio, none too soon":
Ronald Reagan proclaimed government blocks progress. His solution was tax cuts for the rich and deregulation of American business. Wealth would be created and trickle down. So what happened?
Economic growth was 3.4 percent per year during the Reagan years. He produced the illusion of prosperity as he took this country from the world's greatest creditor to its greatest debtor. He rang up more than twice as much red ink in eight years as his 39 successors combined did in the preceding 190 years. Now, President Bush has surpassed him. Of all the debt run up in this country's history, 70 percent was under Reagan and the two Bushes.
President Clinton raised taxes. Deficits became surpluses; red ink fell. The dollar was strong and oil was cheap. Clinton's growth rate was 3.6 percent and brought prosperity to all. He left office with a record surplus. Sadly, we've returned to record red ink under the hapless Bush.
The deregulation of Wall Street was a disaster. It led straight to the subprime mortgage meltdown. Subprime mortgage-backed bonds were called "instruments of mass financial destruction" by the most successful man in the world, Warren Buffet. He was ignored, of course.
Alan Greenspan was a Reaganite who believed deficits and cheap money didn't matter. But in June, the Saudis told Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson they'd stop taking dollars for oil unless we hauled in the money supply and did something about our deadbeat levels of debt. America survives by printing IOUs. They're called bonds and look impressive. Sadly, the Saudis aren't fooled any more.
Reagan put in place disastrous long-term policies that have truly weakened this great country. I won't be tuning into Reagan's talks. They're fairy tales for kids.
-- Richard Kolber, Camarillo
Re: your July 18 article, "Contractors are employing a diverse staff":
This article about U.S. contractors hiring Ugandan guards to protect our servicemen and facilities in Iraq really scares me. The contractors are paying these men $700 a month, which they claim is 10 times what they could earn in their native Uganda. My concern is that I would think these people could easily be bribed by any enemy agent to allow them passage into our military bases. Ten-thousand dollars to them would be a fortune.
Another question is: What is our military being charged for these cheap labor guards? According to an article, "Secure America," by "Amanda" in 2006, Blackwater salaries are $1,000 a day, or $365,000 a year. Another article by Bill Sizemore in the Virginia Pilot in 2006 quotes Blackwater salaries as being $120,000 a year. Whichever number you want to accept, it is far greater than the approximate $10,000 a year paid to the Ugandan guards.
Is our government being billed at the American rate or the Ugandan rate?
How secure are our facilities and our troops that are protected by outsourced guards?
-- Gordon Twa, Camarillo
I would like to commend Supervisor Linda Parks in her effort to replant some of the turf on the grounds of the Ventura County Government with a more drought-tolerant landscape. A more sustainable environment would not only save some of our precious natural resources, but serve as a tool for the education of homeowners who are concerned about the future of those resources.
We are presently paying for years of natural capital degradation, and, without intervention, our situation will only get worse.
Perhaps Supervisor Peter Foy was not informed of the true cost of turf for landscape purposes. At this time, the water situation may not be a problem at the Government Center, but did Foy consider the fossil fuel that goes into maintaining such a landscape for aesthetic reasons? Not only does turf require copious amounts of water, but its costs also extend to the maintenance and fertilization that such a setting requires.
Let's save turf and the resources that it requires for our playfields and parks. In the meantime, when the government asks us to conserve, let's make sure that they are presenting an example that they would like us to follow.
-- Dani Brusius, Oak Park
Re: your July 17 editorial, "Stepford HOAs go way too far":
The Star's editorial staff makes several important observations regarding overbroad homeowner association rules and their impact on families with children. It's important to add that the actions taken by these HOA boards are likely unlawful.
Fair housing and civil rights laws prohibit discrimination against families with children, including the use of broad rules that unfairly target minors. A rule doesn't have to say "applies to children only" in order to violate the law. If a reasonable person clearly understands that the rules are targeting children's activities, they are also unlawful. A community that has space for children's play, but applies a broad rule like, "no recreational activity allowed in common areas," is clearly not open to children. And, of course, if these supposedly neutral rules are applied to families with children and not to adult-only households, the unequal application of the rules is in and of itself discriminatory.
HOA boards also cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, ancestry or source of income. With respect to disabilities, HOA boards must grant reasonable accommodation requests.
Residents of condo communities should be aware that HOA boards can't force them to sign their civil rights away.
-- Nisha N. Vyas, deputy director of litigation, Housing Rights Center, Los Angeles
With our nation's energy woes reaching an unprecedented climax, California needs to step forward and become part of the solution, not part of the problem.
No state consumes more oil or more electricity than California, in both absolute terms and on a per capita basis. Our governor, by his own admission, owns five Hummers, yet opposes offshore oil drilling. Hello? Why does anyone need one Hummer, let alone five?
Even the Department of Defense itself is rethinking the wisdom of the Hummer. On what basis do mere civilians feel the need to putter over to the local shopping mall in an urban assault vehicle equipped with mounting points for gun turrets? Are we completely insane?
Back to the point, our sorta-Republican governor and our decidedly Democrat state Legislature oppose offshore oil drilling, coal-powered plants and nuclear power, yet we continue to lead the nation in gluttonous lifestyle and conspicuous consumption. What do we expect, the Floridians to come to our rescue?
Even more to the point, given the nature of this crisis, when does the national interest trump the parochial interest? When do we put aside our "state's rights" in deference to our national responsibilities? At this time, to not do so is simply un-American.
As always, California has "led" the nation in this energy crisis, so to speak. It wasn't that long ago that a monumental electricity debacle led to the ouster of then-Gov. Gray Davis and the meteoric rise (in politics) of our current governor. Given the circumstances of his assumption of power, one would think he'd be more "sensitive" to the severity of our nation's current situation than any of his 49 counterparts. Yet again, I'm proven wrong.
You may note that I've never mentioned our governor by name; that's because I still can't spell "Schwarzenegger."
-- Edward J.A. Pope, Oak Park
Please watch your politicians closely in the coming months.
The words "the surge has been very successful" will not escape the lips of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
What is every politician's dream is a credit situation on the horizon. The troops will be coming home not because of any timetable deal, but because we went through the pain and hardship of injecting more troops. I remember quite clearly that both Pelosi and Reid were against this surge and even went so far as to call it a failure before the final troops even arrived.
Now that the surge has succeeded, both Reid and Pelosi are jumping on the bandwagon to make it look like each is the one responsible for bringing the troops home and for ending the Iraq war. Under their previous guidelines, this would not have been the case. We would have withdrawn the troops early. The Iraq government would not have become strong enough to become self-supportive, and it would have been a total nightmare and a failure.
We can debate if we should have ever gone, but once there, success was important. Let's give the kudos to the politicians who endured the political beatings of getting the job done right once we were there -- not Reid or Pelosi. Their guidance was truly flawed in a very difficult situation.
-- William F. Klepper, Simi Valley
Re: your July 20 article, "Lenders profit richly off consumers' debt":
This was a fascinating look at what is probably the biggest problem underlying the American economy. Using consumer debt as "a perpetual earning asset" for lenders has essentially put the American public in a lifetime financial straightjacket.
The 2005 bankruptcy reform bill, promoted by President Bush and correctly noted in your story as a bill that "benefited credit card companies and hurt their customers," passed the Republican-controlled Senate by a vote of 74-25.
Sen. Hillary Clinton did not vote. John McCain voted for the bill, and Barack Obama voted against it. As Bill O'Reilly might say, who's looking out for you?
-- John R. Kordosh, Simi Valley
Re: Bill O'Reilly's July 19 commentary, "Disrespect of Tony Snow damages AP's objectivity":
With all due respect, the late White House press secretary Tony Snow could be painful to watch. The Associated Press obituary glossed over this, saying he was sometimes "short on facts." O'Reilly solemnly pontificates that this is "opinion, not fact." I roared laughing. O'Reilly wouldn't know a fact if one jumped up and bit him.
O'Reilly pushes conservative propaganda relentlessly and passes it off as news and analysis. Keith Olbermann routinely derides this windbag's hypocrisy on "Countdown." People should watch it. But this will stop the laughter -- conservatives don't even understand the meaning of "hypocrisy." This is the human weakness most despised by Christ, yet O'Reilly has it down to an art. Go figure.
-- Ian Freeman, Thousand Oaks
Re: Carolyn Reidy's July 20 letter, "Mandate too much":
Reidy's argument against the implementation of algebra as a requisite for moving on to high school is not only ignorant, but one has to wonder whether she has any real regard for her grandson at all.
Rather than tear down a mandate that is designed to push young people to a level that is competitive among their peers, Reidy should perhaps think of the future of her grandson. High school teachers rarely show compassion for students who "close their mind(s) to (algebra) in rebellion," so how could she possibly assume anyone else in higher education or the job market would take pity on a boy who refuses to take on a challenge or desire to better his position in life?
As a senior at UCLA, I am perfectly aware of the amount of competition that exists within the higher education system. I am also aware that my chances of transitioning into a high-paying job right out of college dwindle with each new capable applicant who excels in his or her college education. This is 2008, not 1958. Even if Reidy's grandson loved algebra and did well in all his high school classes, he would still have a difficult time getting into his first choice college.
I can only hope that it is just Reidy's obvious dislike of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that has clouded her judgment with regard to the future of her own grandson, rather than a misguided belief. If anything, Schwarzenegger's mandate reflects a general concern for the students growing up in a time that is so bogged down by competition, not a cheap trick to get his name into the limelight.
Three cheers for taking a step in the right direction with regard to education reform.
-- Liz Waskul, Moorpark
Re: your July 16 article, "Plan to replant lawn at county site wilts":
It appears that doing everything to conserve water is good for regular people, but not for the same people who are telling us to conserve.
Director of county General Services Paul Grossgold's rationale is typical of the arrogant, condescending attitude that those in government have toward the people who pay their salary.
The fact of the matter is that government has no money except for that which it takes from taxpayers. It is taxpayers who pay for the arborist. It is taxpayers who paid for the well. It is taxpayers who pay for the operation of the well. Grossgold makes it sound like the General Services Agency or the board of supervisors is paying for something when they are not. It is the taxpayers who are paying for everything.
Voters should wake up and start demanding accountability by those who are working for us.
-- Bruce Jackson, Ventura
Re: your July 17 article, "68,000 pot plants found in Los Padres forest":
With the condition California's economy is in, it seems ridiculous for our county sheriff to conduct pot raids with 40-plus officers, trucks, helicopters, etc., wasting our money and resources. I can't see burning $306 million in marijuana plants when we have legal dispensaries of cannibis in this state that could dispose of it and return the money to the state. Or is the reality that the pot is worth nothing, and therefore they are fighting a useless battle? I'll give you a hint. If you want to save money and destroy the pot, all the authorities would have to do is aerial pollination. Once the flower is pollinated, it has no value.
-- Kenneth Gonzalez, Ventura
Israel has released several Hamas terrorists in exchange for the return of the bodies of two dead Israeli soldiers. One of the released terrorists murdered an Israeli father in front of his 4-year-old daughter and then bludgeoned her skull, murdering her.
I have two perplexing questions. What kind of people celebrate this kind of monster as a hero? How do you make peace with this kind of people? I suspect the answer will not come until the vast majority of mullahs and ayatollahs stand up and say this is wrong. Unfortunately, all I hear is the quiet sobbing of the victims.
-- Richard Rothschild, M.D., Oxnard
Re: your June 26 article, "Court bans death penalty for child rape":
As a lover of children, the concept that a child rapist does not deserve the death penalty is ludicrous.
If one of them raped any of my grandchildren, great-grandchildren or children of friends or relatives, I would have no problem killing the rapist. If I received the death penalty or life in prison, I would do it with honor, knowing that I prevented more children from being sexually assaulted.
-- Sophie H. Fox, Ventura
Re: Rellis Smith's July 15 Your News commentary, "Thrill seekers taken for a ride at Camarillo Fiesta":
I am sure Smith has noticed that the cost of fuel has risen in recent months. I am sure it has hit his pocketbook, as it has hit everyone's.
First off, Smith needs to take into consideration that the rides are delivered to the site by a semitruck with a flatbed. It obviously costs money to bring the ride from wherever it has been before, with operators usually charging a fee to deliver the ride, along with a fuel surcharge.
With that said, the rides are operated with gas/diesel generators. Smith has to take into consideration that it will cost the operators/owners of these rides double what it did last year to operate them. It would be great if they were free, but someone has to pay for the fuel. I would imagine that in order to keep costs down per ride, that is why you only get a short "thrill."
I know it costs me $100 to fill my GMC Yukon. My husband's truck costs $150. With that in mind, think about how much it costs the owner/operator to fill the tank of the generator, in addition to wear and tear on the machine. It all trickles down.
If you think the cost of the Camarillo Fiesta was high, wait until the Ventura County Fair comes to town. I'm sure the cost of rides there will be just as high.
-- Denise Gamboa, Camarillo
Re: your July 17 editorial, "Stepford HOAs go way too far":
The Star seems a little one-sided on the issue. Some of the rules may be a bit overkill, but I can't help thinking there must be a reason these apparently drastic actions have been imposed. All these units are usually built close together, so people living there must be especially cognizant of how their actions affect the neighbors. It has been more than 40 years since I lived in close quarters such as this, but, as I recall, noise was the biggest issue.
Does the motorcyclist mentioned have a poorly muffled bike? It could echo quite loudly among the buildings. He should consider either getting a better muffler or, as requested, walk his bike to the street before starting it.
Are the children playing outside supervised? Are they playing in dangerous areas such as the driveways and parking areas? Are they leaving toys in the driveways and parking areas? Did they trash the former play area? Are they yelling and screaming below their neighbors' windows? If the answer is yes to these questions, then perhaps more parental supervision is in order. The parents should take them to the park for an hour or two each day and make sure they learn to clean up after themselves.
Are the trucks in question so large they take up extra space and are possibly sticking out into the common areas? I can't imagine a handicapped person using a truck because they are so high off the ground that climbing in and out is quite difficult. Perhaps a smaller truck would benefit both his neighbors and himself.
I would say the majority of the tenants are probably adversely affected by the actions listed above. Their rights need to be respected as well.
-- Consuelo Yznaga Davis, Camarillo
Re: Bob Fitch's July 16 letter, "$20 isn't enough":
One must agree with Fitch. A law is a law, especially one involving the safety of everyone who takes to the overcrowded and already unsafe roads on a daily basis.
Notwithstanding the mere pittance of the fine he refers to for using a handheld cell phone while driving, Fitch failed to point out the amount of time an officer must spend in order to collect the $20 fee.
During the first two weeks of this "fundraising campaign," officers reported writing 2,525 citations for this offense. This equates to $50,500. No wonder our state's in trouble. Well, I guess we can always rely on the lottery. After all, as Fitch mentioned, "It's all about playing the odds."
-- Sandy Unsworth, Simi Valley
I read The Star every day with my morning coffee, and it continues to amaze me. The Star will never the shed the label of a small-town feature gazette until it shakes up the staff that is responsible for the front-page news.
The world and our community is changing all around us with high gas prices, the war in Iraq and a presidential campaign, and The Star puts a feature story on the front page about two school boys from Cameroon. It is no wonder that people turn to other forms of media for their news other than the printed tabloids.
Why doesn't The Star give its reading public something to look forward to besides the mindless features that continue to grace the front page? The price of gas took a big drop the other day, and I didn't see it anywhere in The Star.
The Star needs to assess the criteria used by its staff to classify new stories from the dribble it keeps feeding us every day. The Star may just sell a few more newspapers and maybe acquire some more advertisers.
-- Sergio Orona, Simi Valley
Let's have low-water-use demonstration gardens at the Ventura County Government Center. All of us could get ideas from the gardens on how to conserve water in our own gardens and communities.
On June 4, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger officially declared a state drought in California and urged water conservation. Because of this, I am asking County Supervisor Peter Foy to reconsider and support Supervisor Linda Parks' motion to replace some of the grass at the Government Center with drought-resistant plantings. That way, less irrigation would be needed. Even if the county is using well water, that is still a resource to be conserved, and grass uses a tremendous amount of water.
-- Janna Orkney, Oak Park
(The writer is the vice chair of the Triunfo Sanitation District. - Editor)
No one doubts that California's K-12 public education, for the most part, is producing functional illiterates. Its mission statement must be updated. This means giving students the tools and awareness to understand the complexities and pitfalls of what I call basic life issues -- percentages, compound interest, loan amortization (home mortgages), contracts, types of life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, types of IRAs, etc.
I realize a major thrust, and an important one, is to prepare students for college or universities. However, many enter vocational or other alternate educational venues, and most of them -- including some who are college-bound -- are not well prepared for life issues. The current housing crisis highlights the fact that many are ill-equipped.
I am not talking about a glossing-over, but a separate class for seniors over one or two semesters dedicated to this. It should provide sufficient detail, not for one to become an expert, but for one to gain basic knowledge. This so they can intelligently discuss options with someone who is trying to sell a "product" or for one to plan for retirement.
Even for those who aren't analytically inclined, it would provide sufficient knowledge for them to avoid pitfalls by being able to ask appropriate questions. This would make for smarter, more aware citizens who can be less dependent on "experts" and government.
Many of you may be thinking students can get this information at home; perhaps, perhaps not. Remember, many children come from broken homes where such discussion probably wouldn't occur. Also, many parents are kids themselves, and they don't have the knowledge.
In closing, California K-12 public education must re-evaluate its mission statement and provide our K-12 graduates with a life-issues class. Most importantly, for students to comprehend, they must know the basic 3Rs: reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic.
-- Allan Byrne, Agoura Hills
(The writer is a retired mechanical design engineer for the space and communications group of Hughes Aircraft. -- Editor)
Re: the July 16 letters by Don Brunson, "An affront to McCain," and Jeffrey Finn, "Fourth of July insult":
Sen. John McCain lost a plane worth more than $100 million. Anyone riding around in a "Straight Talk Express" is a hypocrite for not giving straight talk about it when asked a fair question. What's he hiding? He won't release his full military records. Are they a disgrace like George W. Bush's?
Fair questions are not slime attacks, and Republicans need to learn the difference. In a July 4 letter, "GOP hypocrisy on Clark," Kara Altshuler wrote, "The Republicans sure didn't have problems attacking John Kerry's Purple Hearts received for meritorious service in the Vietnam War." They slimed him. McCain was depicted as being mentally unbalanced after being in prison. That was slime. Responsible citizens object to the politics of this great country being dragged through the sewers by flag-waving Republicans.
As for the slime attack on me, note that I've indeed worn military uniforms and fired army weapons and flown Air Force planes. But the issue isn't my character; it's McCain's. Even Republicans have questioned it. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said, "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper, and he worries me."
A man who thinks it's fine to stay in Iraq for "another hundred years," thinks it's funny to sing, "Bomb, bomb, bomb; bomb, bomb Iran" and jokes about sending cigarettes to kill Iranians must be seriously questioned. He's a Dr. Strangelove. I'm sorry, but he's nuts.
-- Raymond Freeman, Thousand Oaks
Re: Linda Nelson's July 16 commentary, "Keep other folks' trash out of Simi":
I thank Nelson for a very intelligent response to the garbage dilemma. Let's hope some wise eyes in high places read it. Maybe we need to get a petition going.
-- Carolyn Ackmann, Simi Valley
Re: your July 8 "Bizarro" comic:
I'm not one for censorship. Having said that, I would nonetheless like to criticize The Star's decision to publish the Bizarro comic on July 8. The reference to "free-range slaves" is not only not funny, it is insulting. I think The Star should print a retraction.
-- Bing Smith, Ventura
I would like to congratulate the taggers who have taken it upon themselves to help prevent a catastrophe on Highway 101 at California Street in Ventura.
By this, I mean that since the Southern Pacific/Union Pacific/Amtrak railroad consortium has failed, for decades, to provide needed preventive maintenance on the railroad bridge that crosses the 101 with anti-corrosion paint, the taggers have chosen to put themselves at risk, while preventing destructive corrosion, in order that unsuspecting motorists may travel under that heavyweight span with the impunity of not having it collapse upon them.
While I don't know if these young people have used the best paint supplies, I trust that some paint is better than no paint.
A heartfelt thank you must go out to the taggers for helping our collective community. I hope the railroad will also reward these motivated young people for their "safety spirit."
The question is: Am I being sarcastic?
-- Steven Schlah, Ventura
Let's settle this "same-sex marriage" once and for all.
First, let me say that I'm not gay, not now, never have been, never will be. But, Discover magazine quoted some time ago that more than 100 different species of animals practice "gay play." I presume that means they didn't follow through. That being so, it's for sure that God is not exactly concerned about it, so why should anyone else be?
If the Bible says it's not OK, then that makes the Bible somewhat wrong. What is not OK is for gay people to flaunt and brag about what they're doing. Straight people don't brag about it, and neither should gays. It's their business, not everyone else's.
-- Jim Gray, Ventura
Re: Raymond Freeman 's July 4 letter, " McCain must tell of downing":
Freeman is right to question John McCain's character and his track record.
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., was asked if he'd ever witnessed McCain's notorious temper problem. He said, "I don't know anybody in the Senate who hasn't. Everybody has their McCain story."
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who has known McCain for 20 years, said, "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper, and he worries me."
McCain said to Sen. Pete Dominici, R-N.M., "Only an [expletive] would put a budget together like this!" Dominici said, "I decided I didn't want this guy anywhere near a trigger." He presumably included the nuclear trigger.
McCain finished 894th out of a class of 899 at the Naval Academy, where his yearbook noted that he was a "party man." He dumped his injured wife for an Anheuser-Busch heiress, participated in the Keating scandal, punched congressional members in the face (yes, you read that right), passed legislation favoring lobbyists, broke from the campaign finance reform law he himself wrote, renounced every centrist stance in his career to pander to conservatives, embraced homophobic preachers to court evangelicals and embraced the very same Bush who slimed him.
Yes, if you ignore all of these facts, you have yourself a genuine American hero. Yes, sir.
-- Greg Scott, Camarillo
People don't come to Ventura County's beaches and harbors to enjoy man-made structures. The Channel Islands Harbor District management never spends a day at Oxnard's Silver Strand Beach, so its natural beauty is not their concern. Buildings, the bigger the better, is their goal.
On July 22, the Board of Supervisors will be asked to approve $1 million for a three-story edifice at the Channel Islands Harbor entrance. The harbor director's zeal for new construction repudiates the blessing of nature cherished by all who love the sea.
Spoiling the California coastline in a time of economic distress can only be motivated by individual lust for power. Can we rule out the possibility that there are financial rewards inherent in untimely construction? Probably not. Will the supervisors actually tour the site of the proposed three-story building? Will they bring their families and a picnic lunch and actually look at the ocean? Or will they sit behind their microphones and let beach-loving citizens be of little concern in their deliberation?
-- Jane Haines, Oxnard
Re: Cheryl Rollings' July 15 commentary, "Bill clarified billing for birth control":
Rollings, as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood for three counties, can hardly be expected to present a "clarified" account of her organization's true goings-on. Like most CEOs, it is advantageous to direct your attention away from what it is costing you, the taxpayer, from what you are allegedly saving -- namely that whopping $6 per cycle of pills at Planned Parenthood as opposed to private physicians.
However, you, the taxpayer, still pay -- and pay big time! Planned Parenthood walks away with more than $270 million every year of your money as the largest provider of abortions in the country. So when Rollings says, "Planned Parenthood takes its responsibility as a public-funded provider seriously" -- and tax-exempt nonprofit? -- you'd better believe it!
To distract you with the confusing and contradictory practices of billing is typically Planned Parenthood. For an organization that peddles its wares at your expense in public classrooms, has been guilty of protecting statutory rapists and whose so-called medical procedures are pretty much unregulated, untaxed and unreported, it has been successful in duping the public not only out of funds, but in causing irreparable harm to women and their unborn children.
If you think this is a "win-win policy for everyone involved," guess again.
-- Dorothy Hage, Newbury Park
Re: your July 14 article, "Cancer forces Tasmanian devils to breed earlier":
This article quotes zoologist Menna Jones as saying, "We could be seeing evolution occurring before our eyes."
There is no information in the article suggesting that early reproduction occurred in a single individual and then spread through their offspring, which would be micro-evolution. This is more likely a case, similar to the finches on Easter Island, where the observed changes (beaks in the case of the Easter Island finches) were genetic variations favored by particular environments (multiyear climatic oscillations for the finches) and were not an example of evolution.
The Tasmanian devil species population may already have the genetic material to breed at younger ages, and the current environment, the cancer, is favoring genetic material producing earlier breeding.
Much more data is needed to use this as an example of evolution.
-- Rodney Sinclair, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bob Fitch's July 16 letter, "$20 isn't enough":
I agree with Fitch that the fines should be much higher for drivers caught illegally talking on their cell phones. As for suspending their licenses, that would be worthless.
On Sept. 14, 2007, my 12½-year-old son was struck and killed as he rode his bike to school. It was discovered that the driver had been driving on a suspended license since May 2007. He was cited and sent on his way. This irresponsible "citizen" then decided that day to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and finally take care of matters. ("Oh-oh, I just hit a kid on a bike. I'd better take care of this pesky suspended license.")
Did I mention he was cited the week before for -- you guessed it -- driving on a suspended license? When he appeared in court, the case was dismissed and there was no fine.
If we are going to have these laws, they should have some teeth and be enforced!
-- Stephen P. Hansen, Simi Valley
Re: your July 17 editorial, "Stepford HOAs go way too far":
While I am not a resident of the Stonegate Villas, I am a resident of a nearby neighborhood, and I drive past the Stonegate Villas pretty much daily. The homeowners association board of those condominiums must be completely out of their minds with power.
That complex is right on Los Angeles Avenue, Simi Valley's busiest east-west boulevard. To require that children play elsewhere other than the common areas that are within the complex's walls is like telling the kids that they have to play in the street. If a young child's ball rolls out onto Los Angeles Avenue, he may or may not chase it. Either way, it would be a traffic hazard.
That child's parents bought their home in that community, which at one time had a children's play area, to provide that child with a safe environment in which to grow. For the HOA to take steps to eliminate that environment may be legal, but it is draconian and vile.
And on the subject of Robert Espinoza's motorcycle, it is a licensed, California vehicle. He should refuse the demand that he walk it to the edge of the complex, until the HOA commits to doing the same with their cars.
Sometimes, power-hungry idiots just go too far.
-- Burton Weinstein, Simi Valley
Re: your July 12 article, "Stonegate Villas owners say new rules unneighborly":
The purpose of homeowners associations is to preserve the value of people's property and to provide a safe place to live by installing rules and regulations. There will always be some disagreement as to the necessity and enforcement of the rules by some residents.
I have been on both sides, as a former board member and current resident of an HOA-controlled development, and a major reason for governing rules is to attempt to reduce liability issues that might arise.
In looking at all the pictures of the children playing at Stonegate, they are all in "traffic areas" -- the area between the garages and also the parking area. From a liability standpoint, I just cringed. There were open garages, and some of the toys were left up against the closed garage doors. This is a tragic accident just waiting to happen. Cars and children do not make for a good combination.
As a board member, I would always think of the following: If you are going to modify the rule to modify a behavior, what might be the consequence? If you take away options, you end up not preventing the problem but potentially causing a larger issue. The children should be prevented from playing in traffic areas but be given a safe place to play. There appears to be a gated, grassy area that has been designated. Perhaps if they looked at the issue from a safety standpoint, and if the board ensured a safe area for the children, a compromise could be worked out. I hope it does before a tragedy occurs.
-- Linda Gorell, Ventura
Re: your July 12 article, "Stonegate Villas owners say new rules unneighborly":
The board of directors has a responsibility to it constituency. They are charged with the stewardship of everyone's interest. That includes maintenance, safety, home market values and quality of life. These radical rules passed by the board are indicative of a board that is not in control but is seeking to gain control through iron-handed measures. It also tells me that this association has a large turnover rate in homeowners.
The turnover rate in a complex is important to the long-term residents who have had their quality of life threatened by newcomers who do not know or do not care to follow the covenants, conditions and restrictions.
The reality of condo living comes down to one very basic principle: courtesy.
Major components of courtesy are communication, understanding and compromise. In today's arrogant world, we forget that we all have feelings and that we have things that are important to us.
Condo living is affordable but restricted, and homeowners need to acknowledge that.
The board, by enacting such extreme measures, is setting itself up for failure with unenforceable laws. The homeowners are guilty of not considering the consequences of their actions and not thinking of their neighbors' quality of life.
There are too many people living in too small a space, and that is a formula for conflict and confrontation. But with some social responsibility and some communication -- but, above all, courtesy from both sides -- everyone's quality of life will get better. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
I have lived in a condo association in Thousand Oaks. I have disagreed with the board as a homeowner. I have served on the board for three years as both president and vice president. Anyone who has served on a board knows it is a hard, time-consuming and thankless job.
I would like to encourage all homeowners in Stonegate to listen to each other and pledge to come to a compromise. It's difficult but not impossible.
-- Tim Robbins, Thousand Oaks
I certainly understand the public's concern with the present economic conditions. I am beginning to be appalled at the media's reporting of news. Most of the coverage is about speculation on the health of our banks and other institutions.
We see ratings that supposedly show the probability of a bank's failure. In one report, a score above 100 is supposed to show high probability of failure. IndyMac Bank's score was 50 -- well below the threshold. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. states it thought IndyMac could not meet its responsibilities. We also thought there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Did the speculative comments from a New York senator cause the run on IndyMac?
Runs on the banks will be assured if the public continues to act on speculation instead of facts.
-- Sue Smith, Ventura
I question why the city of Oxnard's agenda might be to raise the sales tax in the city. It is my understanding from past listening and reading that Oxnard has very good reserves, and one can see there has been growth in both residential and business within the city. Thus, Oxnard has experienced increase in sales and property tax.
The city wants more tax revenue to build a park, similar to Ventura's -- would that be true? Oxnard's property, located where the Oxnard High School once was, is under consideration for demolishing some or all buildings, including the swimming pool. There seems to be some question regarding the pool as to whether it could be renovated, even though all of the required equipment is not on board in the pool area.
It would seem council is concerned about the property being some sort of eyesore, as the old St. John's Hospital property was for years. I have not heard anything about the eyesore that stands where Vons vacated, as well as the theater, nor any concern from members of the council regarding the old swap meet property in the south end of Oxnard, nor any reason why the property owner is not removing the burned-out building or redeveloping the property.
Then Oxnard has the RiverPark development, which certainly is not selling because of the current economic situation. I would think a factor is also the fear of being flooded, as has happened over the years along the Santa Clara River, maybe like in 1969. Then, of course, there's the fussing and financial situation between the downtown theater and one to be developed in RiverPark.
Is it possible the city of Oxnard needs to explore and act on developing long-term financial strategies that would certainly benefit residents and the city?
-- Charles Peters, Oxnard
As we gear up for the most interesting election in memory, Americans continue to miss the point. The most important election is happening today, and your ballot is in your pocket. With every dollar, you vote for the people and the economy you believe in.
There is nothing inherently wrong with supporting people from other lands, but the amount of support becomes critical. Electronics, clothing, automobiles -- we, as a people, have "voted" to eliminate manufacturing of American products and the jobs that go with it.
The unprecedented greed of stockholders keeps sending more and more jobs overseas with resulting loss of quality. Poison in food and medicine, lead in toys, even phone operators you can't understand exist because American consumers not only allow it, but cause it with our greed.
Examples are everywhere. I watched the cars leaving a local military base and was amazed to see the large number of people who would risk their lives to defend our country but vote with their dollars to defeat it. Even our own governmental agencies are using your tax dollars to put you out of work. What sense does that make?
What can you do? Think before you vote. Whenever possible, buy products produced locally or in your state -- but at least in your country. Buy from privately owned establishments. If you must buy from corporate outlets, look for products produced at home and try to avoid items from companies famous for outsourcing.
We have no one to blame but ourselves. Quite simply, don't complain about the economy if you are voting to destroy it. The solution is in your pocket.
-- Don Sinclair, Port Hueneme
Re: Tom Teepen's July 16 commentary, "Do Republicans excel at lingual isolationism? Oui":
It is truly amazing how the Republicans promote stupidity as a virtue.
I encountered a retired Navy captain recently who bragged about speaking seven languages and spoke in several of them to prove his point, but he went on to denigrate Sen. Barack Obama for having the nerve to even suggest our children should learn another language. He blathered on about how this is America and English is our language, that it is all that should be spoken and people who come here should speak only English, blah blah blah.
You would have thought Obama was suggesting that children should not be allowed to even speak English. I asked him if he felt learning all those languages challenged his brain to expand since you have to think in that language to be able to speak it -- Spanish, for instance, flips words around backward compared to English -- and did he feel as though he had an advantage intellectually to be able to think in different languages.
He couldn't or wouldn't answer the question and would only say that Obama will give our country away and that he is 70 percent Muslim. I didn't know a person could be just a percentage of a religion, but I have yet been able to engage one of these types in a conversation that doesn't always turn into an attack, either on myself or someone they assume I am aligned with simply because I have an opinion or, even worse, ask a question.
My hope is that, some day soon, our country will be united again, and all the fighting will cease and we'll agree that saving our country's heart and soul is more important than proving each other wrong.
-- Carolyn Crandall, Camarillo
Re: Linda Nelson's July 16 commentary, "Keep other folks' trash out of Simi":
The Star printed a letter about the expansion of the Simi Valley Landfill. In this letter, Nelson expresses herself well. However, as the general manager of the Ventura Regional Sanitation District, owner and operator of the Toland Road landfill, I want to correct a couple of inaccuracies.
First and foremost, the Toland Road landfill does not accept either refuse or biosolids from Los Angeles. Our permit stipulates that we may only accept waste generated within Ventura County and an extremely small volume of refuse generated by the city of Carpinteria.
Toland Road landfill accepts all refuse from the Gold Coast Recycling Center and the Santa Clara Valley. The Del Norte Recycling & Transfer Station processes approximately 1,200 tons per day of refuse, of which 200 tons per day are sent to the Toland Road landfill.
I thank The Star for the opportunity to clarify the facts noted above. If the public has any questions, I can be reached at 658-4600.
-- Mark Lawler, general manager, Ventura Regional Sanitation District, Moorpark
The city of Oxnard should consider building a section of road that would connect both ends of Lockwood Street to better gain access to the businesses in the Oxnard Factory Outlet Center area.
Currently, Lockwood Street is broken into two parts. One section of road runs alongside Best Buy and The Home Buffet in the Rose Shopping Center, while the other section runs alongside the Outback Steakhouse and Sit 'N Sleep in the Oxnard Factory Outlet Center.
It is harder to attract new customers to the Factory Outlet Center area as they must find their way around via East Gonzales Road to enter. This new section of road would be across an empty parcel of land; thus, it would make good sense to build across it while the land is vacant.
This addition would make it possible for people to turn onto Lockwood Street from Rose Avenue to directly enter into the Oxnard Outlet Center.
Besides having its water tower landmark, the Factory Outlet Center is in a good location for businesses as it is situated next to Highway 101 near the Rose Shopping Center, and across the freeway from Costco and Fry's Electronics, but it lacks convenient access. It would make good business sense for the city to plan and construct this small section of road to allow better access to this center and to revitalize this area.
-- Jess Villagomez, Oxnard
Re: Vince Nowell's July 9 letter, "6 degrees of separation":
Nowell's thermometers showed his Simi Valley high to be 101 degrees on June 19, while The Star reported it to be 95.
Weather prediction numbers are even more fun.
On July 9, I went to www.weather.com, typed in "Thousand Oaks, CA" and "10-day." The highs predicted were, basically, 10 straight days of 76. When I typed in "Westlake Village, CA," the numbers came back as 10 straight days of 89! The Star's "AccuWeather Forecast" showed that for July 9, Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village were to be the same: high of 87, low of 64 -- sort of an "average" maybe, but at least both places had the same numbers. I did not try TV's Weather Channel, as I was afraid there might be yet a third or fourth set of numbers.
Maybe the weather has become an "art" more than a "science," or do you simply go with the numbers that you want to hear?
-- Robert E. Mackey, Thousand Oaks
With everyone on the global warming bandwagon, I think it's time for a little reality check with a large dash of cold water.
Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is the basis for all plant life, which also nourishes animal life. Far from destroying the world, there is evidence that it is enriching it.
Satellite data analyzed by scientists over the last two decades has shown over a 6 percent increase in the earth's vegetation. Tests exposing various plants to excess carbon dioxide have resulted in more growth of bigger, stronger plants.
And the earth's warming is not a problem, despite all the hype. Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, noted that global mean temperatures have risen only about 1 degree Fahrenheit over the past century. Beginning in 1919, it rose over next 20 years, then declined over next 30, rising again and then remaining flat after 1998.
There is volcano activity deep under the polar bears, but nobody mentions this pertinent fact.
Unfortunately, that is not the only fact shoved to one side by the media and environmentalists. The Vikings settled Greenland in 986 A.D., and the settlers raised cattle, hay and grain for 300 years. No cars there. The earth has gone through numerous cooling and warming stages, and we are now in the declining years of the last Little Ice Age.
As egotistical humans, we seem unable to accept the biorhythm of this planet.
-- Joyce B. Goetz, Thousand Oaks
I've voted Republican ever since President Eisenhower. I've voted against President Kennedy and for President Nixon more times than I'd like to admit. I supported President Reagan and the first President Bush. But I've concluded that my party has forfeited its privilege to lead.
Look at what they have done to our economy. What part of conservative economic policy includes this huge deficit? And what on earth are we doing in a five-year-plus war? Does any halfway intelligent person really believe we should still be there fighting for a bunch of people who don't even want us there? And how can the Republicans justify all the bloated spending?
Sorry, I've had enough. The Republican Party had absolute control over the government for at least six years of the Bush II administration. All they did was spend money like we had it. And we didn't.
We must teach Republican leaders that they work for us, and that if they don't act in our best interests, we will fire them. And fire them we must.
Sorry, but this old white guy is going to vote for Barack Obama and every other Democrat listed on the ballot. Enough.
-- David Stephens, Simi Valley
Re: your July 11 editorial, "Hard-to-solve math problem":
The Star's editorial is right on target. More time will now be spent teaching rote algorithms and tricks to pass this exam without instruction in applying algebra as a problem-solving tool. More teacher time and money now will be taken from programs and students in order to provide remediation for those who do not pass the exam. No wonder so many people say they never use algebra if its capabilities as a problem-solving tool are never taught.
A June 20 article, "State may be losing luster in tech world," comes as no surprise to many of us in the mathematics field. Since the implementation of state exams that only test minimal standards at the lowest rote and procedural level, instruction in math has been geared to that level. There is an absence of instruction in the use of technology since it is not on the California tests. Teaching with technology as a tool for problem-solving requires a higher level of teaching expertise and methods, as well as more critical and higher-level thinking test questions that also require reading and understanding in the context of the subject matter.
SAT, ACT and other states mentioned in the article all require the use of technology on their exams. There are isolated pockets in California that still do teach with technology. However, more and more are simply teaching "tricks," shortcuts and procedures, all so the school can have high standardized testing and reporting scores.
It is a crime not to tap into the tech-savvy student to make mathematics interesting and relevant to today's world. As long as California doesn't allow technology to be used in testing and to continue to promote algebra for all students, technology and applied mathematics will not be taught in the classroom.
-- Carmella Ettaro, West Hills
(The writer is the math chair at Westlake High School. -- Editor)
Re: Mark Ortega's July 10 letter, "Global warming defined":
Ortega holds a very naive view of the global warming crisis.
Global warming is not a political term, as he asserts. It is one used by scientists to describe a modern phenomenon. Is Ortega really gullible enough to believe that it is just some strange coincidence that there has been a steady and steep increase in the world's temperature starting approximately at the time of the Industrial Revolution, the point when humans began to release large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere? If this were really just caused by variations in the sun, you would expect the change to occur slowly, over several hundred years. This is not the case, as the temperature has dramatically increased just over the last 40 years, almost certainly because of the dramatic increase in the use of oil and other carbon dioxide-releasing substances.
Much of the argument against global warming is coming from scientists who are backed by oil and energy companies, so I think it is pretty obvious what their priorities are.
Ortega also decries the "lower standard of living for industrialized nations." Oh no, we would not want that! I know I would struggle to live a good life if I had to cut back on purchasing a Hummer or had to change some standard light bulbs in my house to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Even if global warming turns out to not be as bad as we originally thought, at least we are helping the environment and cutting down on pollution, and why is that so bad?
-- Trevor Elkins, Simi Valley
Yes, oil is a depleting finite resource, but the real reason for most of the price spike in oil stems from the reckless fiscal mess the Bush administration has shamelessly put us into.
When Bush entered office, we had a $6 trillion deficit. Now, it is $10 trillion deficit. Folks, there is a consequence to almost doubling our national debt in just seven years. That consequence is called inflation!
The mushrooming deficit has caused the dollar to collapse. Oil is based in dollars, which makes our oil and all commodities very attractive to foreign investors because their currencies are worth a lot more than our dollar, which entices them to buy oil and other commodities cheaper with their stronger currencies.
The bottom line is that Bush thinks drilling for offshore oil will bring down the price of oil. The president needs to get real and get his fiscal house in order, which will help strengthen the dollar and do much more to bring down the price of oil.
Bush's shameless handling of our economy has forced him to not only put our economy in peril, but our oceans and beaches as well.
Using the president's logic, we'd better plant more corn and soybeans, dig for more copper and gold and create more dairy farms, since all these commodities have spiked to new all-time highs.
And now that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and IndyMac Bank are going to need bailout money, our deficit will grow higher and likely lead to an even lower dollar and higher inflation.
Sometimes I think the Bush presidency is a nightmare, but sadly, it is not!
-- Mitch Rheingold, Thousand Oaks
Re: Pamela J. Pecarich's July 13 letter, "Alarmed at budget cuts":
In this letter by Pecarich, the immediate past president of the League of Women Voters of Ventura County, there were two partial quotes that caught my attention. They were: "generate increased revenues" and "willing to look at 'sacred cows.'"
She was making positive recommendations and should be applauded for her suggestions.
To expand on those suggestions: In total context, the benefit of a single budget item may not be worth the cost in relation to other items. I can accept the concept that each and every budgetary item, when examined in isolation by itself, is a "good thing." Sometimes, however, it is impossible to purchase all those "good things," and a choice between two "good things" sometimes is required, no matter how painful. Such is the dilemma facing the state budgetary deciders, and ultimately, we taxpayers.
Here is an augmentation of her recommendations.
The League of Women Voters of Ventura County, and indeed every civic-minded organization, could make tremendously positive budgetary recommendations by first adopting a "study" goal of no increase in budgetary expenditures, and, second, taking a very close look at state boards and commissions. Perhaps some have outlived their original purpose, or are "sacred cows" or are too costly for the benefit derived when examined in context of the entire state budget. Results of such studies, when reported very publicly, could have salutary political benefits leading to an actual budget adoption.
Let us abolish those "(almost) good things" which we can no longer afford in total context.
We taxpayers will applaud your efforts!
-- Donald E. Power, Thousand Oaks
A number of years ago, I heard a talk by an instructor at Moorpark College about extending fuel mileage. He said that during World War II, in order for the B-17s to fly into Germany and back, they sprayed a percentage of water into the fuel system, which gave them better mileage. He indicated he had been experimenting with this technology in his own cars, and it worked. If this is true, why are we not pursuing it? He said that the automakers and oil companies were not interested in this at the time he spoke. This might make an interesting subject to pursue.
-- Jack Brewer, Simi Valley
Re: your July 20 article, "Star introduces changes to the paper today":
My husband and I are greatly disappointed about the changes. The article stated that the paper was just reshuffling the contents. This is not so! The Star has chosen to eliminate many of the former features we enjoyed reading.
The Business section is much smaller now, with fewer articles and business news than it had before the change. The former "Fast Forward" (formerly the D Section) has all but vanished. Please return the video game article that was always on the back page of that section, and return the other featured articles that help with computer problems, etc., that were in that section. Thankfully, The Star did retain Bill Husted's "Techno Buddy" articles.
Why has The Star eliminated the morning and afternoon TV selections? Please reinstate them, also.
We have lived in Thousand Oaks for 40 years and saw the News Chronicle absorbed by The Star. In our opinion, over the years The Star has gone downhill. It seems that coverage of many local happenings has been ignored. The Star's face should be red.
-- Julie Anderson, Thousand Oaks
Re: Charles Cohn's July 13 commentary, "Bicycles and nature can and should co-exist":
Cohn shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the Wilderness Act and misleads readers on Assembly Bill 2923.
AB2923 does not keep mountain bikes out of state parks, nor does it designate wilderness in state parks. The bill simply calls for a public process for state agencies to identify whether or not our state parks, wildlife areas and other state lands contain wild places that are suitable for wilderness protection.
While Cohn debates the philosophical merits of wilderness protection and is annoyed that he can't ride his bike anywhere and everywhere, California's most treasured state parks remain threatened by ill-conceived development proposals. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is currently threatened by a proposal that would build a series of industrial power lines through the heart of the park.
Meanwhile, San Onofre State Beach remains under threat from a toll road proposal that would degrade the surf, beach and key watersheds in the state park.
Wilderness designation permanently protects our most treasured public lands and prevents ill-conceived development proposals from degrading California's unique biodiversity and outdoor recreation opportunities.
AB2923 will allow all stakeholders, including mountain bikers, to provide input on which portions of California's spectacular state-owned public lands are suitable for wilderness protection. While some lands are clearly not appropriate for wilderness protection, many of California's state parks contain unspoiled wilderness that is worth protecting.
-- Brent Schoradt, deputy policy director, California Wilderness Coalition, Oakland
After reading about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, I was surprised to see the Republicans were giving Bush trouble about opening the doors for the government to lend both of the companies money to keep them from going bankrupt. I guess it is too much to ask that our elected officials know enough about our money system to know that if the government is forced to take over these two companies, it will add $5.2 trillion to our national debt.
If this happens, the predictions of our past controller general, David Walker, will take place well before the five years that was predicted. The United States will be bankrupt. Mr. Walker said that would mean no Medicare, no Social Security and no pay for the military.
Our president is reminding all of us to not worry, our bank accounts are insured for $100,000. The only trouble with that is the amount of money the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has on deposit to cover our accounts is only $1.22 for every $100 dollars on deposit.
It appears that all of our elected officials should take a course in Economics 101.
-- John Scholfield, Ojai
Re: Bill Vaughn's July 10 letter, "Fooled by environmentalists":
Vaughn's letter certainly did one thing: It separated those of us who love a good laugh in the morning from those who never laugh at all.
-- Charlotte Craven, Camarillo
It has come to my attention that The New Yorker magazine has released its latest issue with a cover of the "satirical" likenesses of Sen. Barack Obama and his wife. (Please view as seen on the magazine's Web site at: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine).
I am sick and saddened by this unwarranted attack and display of complete disrespect. What is this country coming to?
No matter what candidate I choose to support, I certainly do not "get the joke." Are they planning to share such a wealth of so-called "satire" upon the Republican candidate in the next issue?
My intuition tells me no.
God help us. God help this country.
-- Debi Thompson, Newbury Park
It is increasingly clear that Barack Obama will say and do anything to be president. Therefore, his prompt and dramatic reversal on eight liberal positions he held in the primaries is not surprising.
What is hard to believe is his total denial that he has changed stances! He stated in Georgia recently, "Those who see me moving to the center haven't been listening."
How stupid does Obama think the voter is?
-- Rosemary Dallman, Thousand Oaks
Re: Ruth Deel's July 10 letter, "Hypocrisy of family values":
I wonder if Deel has ever heard of the following people: Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, Gary Hart, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton -- and the list goes on!
Are they all excused because they did not introduce an amendment to the Constitution pertaining to marriage? Were David Vitters or Larry Craig involved in the death of a young woman, or were they involved in the cover-up of a partner's activities? Did they stand before the nation and lie through their teeth, as did Clinton?
Infidelity or inappropriate sexual conduct is never excusable and much more offensive when committed by people we trusted and put into power to guide this country.
Before Deel starts calling people names, I would suggest she think about all the above names and the party to which they belong. This kind of behavior is not exclusive to either party. It is never acceptable. It is never funny, and name-calling is always childish.
-- Marie Cannon, Newbury Park
Re: your July 10 article, "A 'bittersweet' encounter":
Lori Thomas will treasure forever her meeting with her son's organ recipients in Pittsburgh at the National Transplant Games.
Five years ago, I met my donor family after having received a liver from their beloved son, who was 37 at the time of his death. Because the donation process is anonymous, it took nearly six years after my transplant to finally make the connection. I was able to hug his beautiful mother, his brother and his then 16-year-old son. As I walked through Central Park with the young man, a 6-foot-2-inch, high-school football player from Texas, he asked, "Do you reckon my daddy is walking alongside us?"
Through both of our tears I was able to say, "Yes, he is with us now and every day, and he is prayed for every day."
All this happened because a family chose life for others to assuage their grief and loss over a death too soon.
I commend Lori's dedication to contacting her son's recipients. Bittersweet, yes, but joyful and healing -- a completion of the circle begun when a generous mother thought of others in her time of sorrow.
Lori, we are so proud of you and your son.
To become a registered donor go on-line at the DMV Web site, http://www.donatelifecalifornia.org/.
-- Jackie Colleran, Thousand Oaks
(The writer underwent a liver transplant in 1996 at UCLA and is with the Ventura West Valley Transplant Recipients International Organization. -- Editor)
I attended the Fillmore City Council meeting July 8. I was appalled and embarrassed that a few of our council members and staff would demonstrate such unprofessional body language to the public.
The note passing between council members and staff is not acceptable, and even if unintended, it gave the impression they were making fun of the brave citizens who came up to voice their opinion. The rolling of the eyes and shaking of the head is again giving the wrong impression to the public.
I am so grateful that our citizens want to take a stand and speak their minds to the council, staff and public. I remember when I was a planning commissioner, the city attorney took all of us new commissioners aside and gave us the code of ethics and instilled into us that body language should be minimized. I have spoken in front of the city staff and City Council several times and noticed this same demeanor.
But sitting at that meeting as a citizen in the audience, I truly feel our City Council has lost focus on what citizenry means. The City Council needs to stop governing by intimidation for the well-being of Fillmore.
-- Trinka Reynolds, Fillmore
Re: your July 11 article, "Prison facility plans go forward":
As a relatively new resident of Camarillo, I need to voice my opinion.
In the late 1970s, I and my family moved to Highland in San Bernardino County. Our new neighborhood was directly across the street from what was then Patton State Hospital, which housed developmentally disabled residents.
For approximately one year, I was employed there and witnessed the phase-out of the disabled and the beginning of what became a housing complex of mentally disabled sex offenders. The neighborhood was kept in the dark as to the type of person housed at the facility until a rash of breakouts in the 1980s.
Security officers tackled one offender in our backyard. Other neighbors had similar happenings. One woman was raped by a man who, after conviction, was housed at the facility. We were finally told about the type of prisoner we had as neighbors and were reassured the facility was doing its best to control the inmates.
The state agreed to put up barbed wire and hire more personnel, but there were escapes.
After a number of years, the state cut back on personnel, but the barbed wire remained, as did guard towers. It was such an appropriate landscape for a residential area with families. Several schools that were previously built were located around the facility, and the children could actually see and talk to inmates as they walked to school.
This type of facility is definitely not for residential areas. I fear, once again, the "game of politics" will be played by our elected officials but, in the end, the facility will be added to the community. I only hope citizens and public officials can see beyond politics and protect the citizens by not letting this facility come to Camarillo.
-- Paula Forsythe, Camarillo
Re: your July 13 Pulse page, "School life," and Jeffrey Lyon's commentary, "19-year-old writes in defense of Earth":
Reading the Pulse page on education and its importance and then, on the next page, a student's essay on global warming was a real laugh!
If this is what we get for 12 years of education from our school system, then we are in real trouble. This student has a brain full of mush and has no idea as to what is causing global warming except what Al Gore has been telling him with his wonderful documentary, "A Convenient Lie," that, for some reason, is all liberals like to believe in.
The one thing we all agree on is the need to protect this planet and conserve our resources for future generations, including oil, gas and coal.
But all the liberals want to do is assign blame and tax us into oblivion and ruin our economy. That is their main objective.
We are too rich a country and need to be put in our place, and so far, the liberals haven't figured it out yet. But this ploy is the best one yet!
-- Robert Moeller, Oxnard
Re: Tres Meek's July 10 letter, "Missing the point on Seabees":
I agree with Meek's comments and thank him for his prior service and commitment for his country.
I think the Seabee series is a great idea. I also agree The Star is doing the Seabees a disservice.
I have the pleasure of knowing many Seabees, and throughout my years, I have found them to be exceptional men and women of all ages. The stories of the embedded reporter and photographer don't go far enough to tell the Seabee story I have come to learn and love.
I suggest Star readers attend Seabee Days, where the military opens its base one time a year in June for the citizens of Ventura County to learn about their own Seabees and head down to the new Seabee Museum once it is completed.
When you talk to a Seabee, ask him/her what job they have learned in their rate, where they come from, what countries they have been to and what humanitarian projects they have completed. You will find that these men and women are exceptional, responsible patriots.
I have watched young men and women come into the military as young people only to leave when their term is up mature and ready to lead their generation into the future due to the life lessons they have learned through the Navy.
Iraq has changed dramatically from where it was only a year or two ago with the help of the Seabees. If the country were safer and our troops were free from harm's way, our men and women stand ready to go to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq and help develop a democracy in an area of the world where much unrest exists. The Seabees live by the motto, "Can do," and in my experience, they definitely "Can" and "Do."
-- Michael Bond Smith, Ventura
My husband and I arrived at the Government Center to find a very long line waiting for the bus to the Ventura 4th of July Street Fair. The line grew longer, with some people giving up and deciding to drive. Still no bus! We waited 45 minutes before one arrived.
The bus driver informed us it would be another 45 minutes for the next bus since there was only one large bus and a very small bus running, and she couldn't take all of us. We rode the bus last year and felt it was a good idea, yet we didn't wait 45 minutes! What happened this year? If you expect people to ride the bus, you need at least two large buses to accommodate the crowd and not wait 45 minutes. Someone wasn't thinking!
The trip back wasn't much better, with people standing in the aisle, which was dangerous to say the least! I didn't blame the bus drivers, but someone goofed! I hope they fix this for the next adventure, the Ventura County Fair, or give it up!
-- Sue Pench, Ventura
Re: your July 11 editorial, "Hard-to-solve math problem":
It was with utter amazement and great disappointment that I read about the California decision to force all eighth-grade students to pass an algebra test. It was also disturbing to learn that the governor was applauding the state Board of Education's ill-advised decision.
The most troubling part was in knowing what the research says about brain growth periodization, as revealed in the famous studies of Dr. Herman Epstein. In a 1970s presentation on his findings, he reported that the human brain has both rapid growth periods and plateau periods where no growth seems to take place. He also argued that the plateau stages were not optimal times for the introduction of new higher-level thought processes, particularly algebra, which eighth-grade students fail more than any other subject. Historically, algebra has been most often offered in grades 10 though 12. That occurs during the age 14-17 growth spurt stage, when it's OK to teach abstract reasoning concepts.
It is always tempting to "reform" education by demanding more homework, more testing, longer school days, preschool reading and all the rest. Much of these ploys have been championed by politicians who are certainly not experts in child growth and development or the appropriate curricular topics for different growth stages. It's time to start resisting the pressures from uninformed sources and rely on the wisdom of the good teachers who make our state's public schools operate so effectively. Enough, already.
-- Dr. Bruce Mitchell, Oxnard
(The writer is a professor of education emeritus. -- Editor)
Where does Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger get off deciding what our children must learn? I thought the teachers and parents were to make the judgment call. As it is, the amount of homework the middle school pupil must prepare makes one wonder whatever happened to the teachers being able to accomplish all of the necessary material with homework assigned for upcoming tests only.
It seems to me "No Child Left Behind" isn't working, with so many students dropping out. My grandson is not Latino, black or poor, but he has no particular interest in algebra, and, therefore, as a teenager, he has closed his mind to it in rebellion. He is currently taking a course in summer school for five weeks. Does this give him a vacation? I think not.
Algebra was an elective subject for high school students when I went to school, and we never had a problem with enough scientists, engineers, etc. Enough already.
I can only guess that Schwarzenegger has too much time on his hands with not enough business to take care of that would make a headline to be read all over the U.S. so he can keep his name alive in the hopes that one day he could run for president. This is one senior citizen who doesn't want to be around if it should ever happen that we do not have an American native to fill the office of president. If I am still around, one bet you may count on is I shall not vote. I am becoming more and more disillusioned with our politics and wonder why I should even continue to vote when in fact it doesn't count.
-- Carolyn Reidy, Ventura
Is history about to repeat itself? During the 1930s, the world stood idly by while Germany prepared to unleash one of the longest and costliest episodes in history. Adolf Hitler's scapegoat: the Jews.
We are now in 2008 and sitting by while Iran cements its position of major world threat and contributor to every al-Qaida and Taliban activity. The firing of eight test nuclear rockets is proof positive that the time for action and sanctions is now! Once again, Israel is at the forefront of their military ambitions. Leaders of the region have a responsibility to stop this runaway train.
-- Gary Traxler, Camarillo
Re: your July 5 article, "Plan to kill feral cats has animal rights groups crying foul":
This article mentioned that the cats are twice the size of the kit foxes. I understand the foxes are small, but I have trouble imagining such large cats.
Am I the only one who noticed this? Just think about tracking down those big cats.
-- Dorothy Newirk, Santa Paula
National Geographic magazine once touted Perth, Australia, and Camarillo as the two most perfect climates in the world. The hard-working citizens and retirees of California deserve this small piece of paradise, hence my opposition to it being shared by hardened criminals in the proposed prison hospital.
I have a severely autistic son and, through no fault of his, he is brain-impaired. I was once selected to a jury for a case of a man pleading "temporary insanity" for a murder he had committed. I asked to speak to the judge privately and told him that I personally believe this is a last-ditch appeal for criminals who realize they will be found guilty and will therefore receive a lighter sentence with this plea. I told him I could not be nonjudgmental in the case. He excused me.
The ill effects upon our beautiful community are boundless -- overuse of infrastructure; shortages of water needed for our agriculture; proximity to homes and schools; causing doctors and nurses to leave our hospitals and private practice for the prison hospital; friends of these prisoners coming to our city.
Kudos to Assemblywoman Audra Strickland for leading the community in an effort to stop this abomination.
-- Lois D. Glab, Camarillo
Re: Jeffrey Lyon's July 13 commentary, "19-year-old writes in defense of the Earth":
When I was Lyon's age, scientists were talking about declining temperatures and the coming ice age. It never happened. So take courage, the world is not going to end.
I appreciate that he is concerned for future generations. That's good, but what he owes those future generations is a careful search for what is true, right and good. In today's world where many competing ideas -- some true, some false -- demand attention, it's a real challenge.
Lyon says it is time to stop talking and do something to stop global warming. Some say the debate is over and it's time for action. Not so fast. Since when is acting without carefully thinking about it a good idea? There are a lot of people who are now paying the consequences for their actions because they did not stop to think before acting, and some of them are in jail.
Some believe global warming is a result of greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels; others of us believe those ideas are a bunch of nonsense. In fact, a search of the Internet for the term "Global Warming Nonsense" yields a lot of Web sites with the opposing point of view. Some will go in-depth into the scientific information and show why global warming is a natural climate cycle and why Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" is nothing more than propaganda.
Lyon owes it to himself and to future generations to carefully consider both sides of this controversial issue and to apply critical thinking skills and a knowledge of the sciences to determine a prudent course of action.
-- Anthony van Leeuwen, Ventura
Re: Jeffrey Lyon's July 13 commentary, "19-year-old writes in defense of the Earth":
Lyon's commentary raises several points.
I hope that as a student, he is being taught how to think, rather than what to think.
When he approaches a subject, he may wish to view it from several angles. For example, he may wish to visit the Web site, "Ponder the Maunder," by a 19-year-old colleague of his from Maine. Her investigations and discovery may be of interest.
If he is of a scientific mind, he may wish to consider sources of knowledge other than politicians or the Environmental Protection Agency. He does write, "Anyone can research ...."
Does he know that more than 31,000 scientists have signed a petition indicating their "disagreement" with the belief system of human-caused global warming?
Does he know that the global temperature has been in decline since 1998, while the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to climb?
Does he know that the climate system of the planet is complex, non-linear and chaotic? The models used to discuss climate change are not, nor can they be.
More importantly, does he realize that he and his generation are far better off today? His is a healthier, safer, smarter, wealthier generation that lives in a cleaner environment than any before. The opportunities that he will discover during his long life will be a direct result of his ability to think on his own, to act on his own and to create health, wealth and knowledge -- all on his own, without the dictates of someone else telling him how to act, what to think and how much to spend.
He has a great future of opportunity ahead of him. He should stop his whining.
-- John Graves, Ventura
Re: your July 11 article, "Prison facility plans go forward":
It's interesting that federal receiver J. Clark Kelso blames Assemblywoman Audra Strickland for the resistance of residents in Ventura County to the proposed construction of a 1,500-bed high-security prison hospital -- and not the fact that it's within 1,000 yards of residential neighborhoods with lots of kids. Or the fact that there are two nearby schools, inadequate sewer and water, and no road infrastructure to support it. Or the fact that it will negatively impact healthcare for the residents of Ventura County.
Residents first learned of the plan on May 26 when an article appeared in The Star. Strickland is responding to the concerns of several thousand citizens --who, by the way, will be forced to pay for the facility as well. Perhaps the other legislators were "a little more respectful" because the other sites are more appropriate.
The California Youth Authority had no plans to close the present facility on Wright Road, as Kelso claims, borne out by the fact that they are now scrambling to try and figure out what to do with the young women currently housed there. The current facility is the only facility in the state housing young women.
Local hospital executives are not in favor of the facility, as Kelso claims, as they know that the "1,200 jobs" created will mostly come from existing healthcare facilities in the county, and there is already a severe shortage of qualified personnel.
This is simply a bad idea proposed by a desperate federal employee who feels he has a difficult job. There are far better sites for this facility.
-- Fred Lenway, Camarillo
After the July 8 City Council meeting, the citizens of Fillmore will get the chance to voice our opinion on the city's plans for North Fillmore. After two referendum petition drives and two initiative petition drives, we are now able to have on the November ballot a measure that will limit the dense development that the city has planned for that area.
Again, we have no issue with low-income, high-income housing or any income housing. Our only issue is to have North Fillmore developed in a manner consistent with the rest of Fillmore and one that does not contribute to overcrowding and increased traffic and does have the necessary parks and open spaces.
A City Council member apparently is worried that the city will somehow be open to litigation. It's a mystery to me that citizens exercising their voting rights regarding the makeup of their city could cause litigation. We understand that the city has a state requirement to plan for low-income housing. So, go ahead and plan for this type of housing, but do it in a way that does not cause a deterioration of Fillmore.
-- Clay Westling, Fillmore
Re: Bob Herbert's July 11 commentary, "Obama lurches toward November with abandon":
Changing or modifying one's position does not a poor leader make. Staying the course -- despite incalculable loss and ungrateful beneficiaries eager to show us the door -- does.
Sen. Barack Obama says he has always been fluid on Iraq. He assures us he will somehow end this war and bring the troops home, but only after he consults with ground commanders whose reports will no doubt shape his decision. How wise of him.
Frankly, I have no problem with that, although many others do.
The vicissitudes of political life touch every leader. I believe the mark of a great mind is the ability to change it when the winds of circumstance shift, or when one has made a mistake. Firmness of purpose becomes a virtue only when it applies to noble goals. We all know what happens when a leader refuses to change his position due to misplaced arrogance or intellectual deficit. We are all living that nightmare.
However, the senator, who may have been safely straddling both sides of every controversial issue in order to titillate the moderates, needs to placate his pouting homegrown flock, those original Obama groupies who catapulted him to this uber status. He owes them that. Another rousing speech might do the trick, as it usually does in prickly times.
For now, it is King Whitney Jr.'s words that come alive: "Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful, it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful, it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident, it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better."
-- Maya Teague, Camarillo
There is no question that our state Legislature and governor have been totally remiss in solving the inadequacies of the state prison healthcare system. Because of their inaction, a class-action lawsuit was successfully filed, and a federal judge ruled that the system be placed in the hands of a receiver, namely J. Clark Kelso.
This is a very dire consequence resulting from the lack of state legislative action and is going to be extremely costly to the taxpayers.
Under this decision, Kelso has been given unprecedented power to build seven new stand-alone prisons at an estimated cost of $7 billion. He and he alone can mandate that the state of California spend this money.
In making his decision, the judge cited that the California prison healthcare system was not up to "constitutional standards" and this is why he took the action he did.
My question then becomes: What part of the Constitution applies to define those standards? Are we getting into a broader interpretation of the "equal protection clause" of the 14th amendment? Does Kelso also have the power to interpret the Constitution and set his own standards? Inasmuch as these prisons will be dealing with mental health as well as physical health problems, must they contain "constitutionally standard" libraries, gymnasiums, cafeterias, etc.?
Taking this further, if an enterprising law firm decided to file a class-action lawsuit on behalf of those uninsured or underinsured lawful citizens of California, and the suit was successful, does it follow that a federal judge could rule, with all the subsequent consequences, that those citizens not having adequate healthcare coverage must have that coverage brought up to "constitutional standards?"
-- Lou Spasiano, Camarillo
As of July 1, California's law regarding the use of cell phones in cars changed. No longer can a driver use a hand-held unit without fear of citation and a fine. Long overdue in my opinion.
But the fine of $20 for the first offense is a joke, notably for SUV, Hummer and "upscale" car owners. What is $20 for the first offense to them or $50 for subsequent offenses?
There is sufficient evidence that the use of cell phones while driving has contributed to death and serious injury on California roads, hence this new law. A fine is supposed to be a deterrent to future action. How about a 30-day suspension of a driver's license for the first offense and six months for subsequent violations? That will get people's attention and reduce congestion on our roads.
Some drivers will thumb their noses at this new law and keep talking, playing the odds that there are not enough police on the streets and freeways to hand out citations. These are the same people who park in the 10-minute zone at the library, in the fire lanes and handicapped spaces, in loading zones, etc. -- playing the odds, usually in their favor, that they won't get caught.
We are all frustrated by "it's all about me" jerks. You see them everywhere, not just in cars talking on their cell phones. I challenge readers to watch for hand-held cell phone drivers. You won't be disappointed. Oh, and notice the type of vehicles they are driving!
-- Bob Fitch, Thousand Oaks
Re: Raymond Freeman's July 4 letter, "McCain must tell of downing":
I usually enjoy Freeman's letters. The loopy left is nothing if not entertaining. However, his diatribe questioning whether John McCain did enough to avoid being shot down over North Vietnam is as offensive as it is absurd. Freeman even implies that McCain was stupid for being shot down by an enemy missile.
In the future, if Freeman chooses to write about the senator's positions on issues or pertinent political objectives, I will respect those opinions, even though I will most certainly disagree. However, for Freeman to challenge the military record of man who was shot down in combat and then spent 5½ years as a prisoner of war, even refusing early release without his comrades being included, is as insulting as it is ignorant.
Freeman's letter was an absurd affront to an American military hero. Whether or not you agree with his political stance isn't the point.
-- Don Brunson, Simi Valley
Re: Raymond Freeman's July 4 letter, McCain must tell of downing":
I find it appalling that The Star would print Freeman's ridiculous letter, let alone on Independence Day. He clearly hates America and all it stands for, yet he has sunk to a new low with his most recent drivel regarding a true American hero, John McCain. Cowards like Freeman, who my guess is never came close to wearing a military uniform, should not be given a forum for their hatred.
-- Jeffrey Finn, Simi Valley
I will be truly shocked and saddened if we elect a president who is against restrictions on "partial-birth abortion."
This is Sen. Barack Obama's position: In the Illinois Senate, he voted against legislation protecting a child who was born alive, despite an abortion.
-- Rosemary Dellman, Thousand Oaks