Re: Randolph Kreck's Sept. 25 letter, "It's called parenting":
Kreck wrote that educating our children is a parental responsibility. I fully agree with him, as far as it goes. While appealing on the surface, it only begs the question. In the first place, do the parents know enough to teach methods of birth control, AIDS/HIV prevention, etc.?
Lots of parents do not know enough to teach all the subjects of sex education that kids need to know. Many parents are simply not comfortable talking with their kids about sex and procrastinate until it is too late, in more than a few cases. Sex ed in schools removes much of the emotional "freight" of such talks.
Sarah Palin and her husband are married and, according to all known witnesses, love their kids and are involved in their children's lives. I don't know what they talked to their kids about, but we know the result. The Palin family is luckier than what many of our kids experience -- kids who have no one to parent them or mentor them.
Parental responsibility for sex education is like making sure kids have decent clothes, an adequate diet, attention and support for their schooling, etc. It doesn't happen in all too many cases. Unless we systematically make sure kids get this information, too many kids will "luck out" if they make it through to adulthood without becoming pregnant or fathering a child or contracting AIDS/HIV. I would love for it to be the responsibility of parents, but sex ed is necessary for kids' welfare. The schools have to pick up because the parents aren't there.
I don't want kids' futures to be determined by "luck." And no child should be conceived simply because the kids involved didn't know any better.
-- The Rev. Christine Miller, Camarillo
September 2008 Archives
Re: Randolph Kreck's Sept. 25 letter, "It's called parenting":
I am the general manager of a small, independent custom concrete company based here in Oxnard. On our last large job -- a redevelopment project in South Oxnard -- we employed a crew of 20. We are bonded and insured and used local labor and vendors. Most of our employees live within the city's limits and have young families and property, as this is a well-known, third-generation family business proudly born out of Oxnard.
Because Councilman Tim Flynn's proposed anti-growth Measure V made the November ballot, two large local jobs we were scheduled to bid in September and October have now been put on hold until after the election. Our crew has been parceled out to jobs -- and, in some cases, other companies -- in Ojai, the city of Ventura, Beverly Hills and even San Diego.
These young men don't have time to play politics with Flynn and his theory of "direct democracy." They had jobs to do and mouths to feed, and now their personal budgets have been strained because of the long commutes and time away from home. It's almost a company joke as to how their drives may now impact local area traffic -- as they head out of town.
So when Flynn calls it a "bald-faced lie" that redevelopment -- or development -- would stop, it is clear to at least 20 young enterprising Oxnard men and their families that Flynn has absolutely no idea what he is talking about, or he himself is promoting an outright lie for his own political cause.
Come Nov. 4, I urge voters in the city of Oxnard to send a clear and resounding signal to Flynn and the proponents of Measure V. Please vote no on Measure V and Flynn.
-- Julie Conrad, Oxnard
(The writer is general manager of Bautista Concrete Inc. of Oxnard. -- Editor)
The Ventura County Fallen Firefighter Memorial on the grounds of the Government Center was dedicated Sept. 27. The dedication was the culmination of a four-year effort to create a permanent tribute to the firefighters who have given their lives in service to the citizens of Ventura County.
On behalf of the Ventura County Fire Chiefs' Association, firefighter labor organizations, Rotary International and the eight fire agencies serving the county -- Ventura County, Oxnard, Ventura City, Federal Fire, Santa Paula, Fillmore, Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service -- I would like to express my deepest gratitude for everyone who helped make the memorial a reality.
Without the support of the public, the communities we serve and our generous sponsors, the memorial would not have been possible. The names of many of these individuals, companies and organizations that gave special support to our efforts are also given recognition at the memorial, but the focus is on the firefighters who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The emotions on display Sept. 27 were moving reminders of the importance this kind of monument holds in the hearts of firefighters and their families. I hope all the citizens of Ventura County will take the time to visit the memorial and pay their respects. We hope we never have to add another name to the list of 39 inscribed there now, and we take comfort in knowing they will not be forgotten and that future generations can honor their service as well.
-- Bob Roper, Ojai
(The writer is chief of the Ventura County Fire Department. -- Editor)
Who says that history doesn't repeat itself? In this case, it's the capture of a merchant vessel with Russian tanks by pirates off the coast of Africa. The United States was involved in battling pirates of the same ilk and area. It was later included in a song, the second verse of the Marine Corps hymn.
-- Ralph J. Coolman, Ventura
Listening to last week's debate, we were struck by how much of John McCain's world view and experiences are conflict-oriented. Does the country need more of this confrontational mindset?
Our hope is that the wisdom of the electorate will give us the more reasoned and calm mentality of Barack Obama.
Which kind of style and substance do we want? Is it someone who barrels his way into problems, or someone who works his way through them?
-- Roberta & Gary Diehl, Ventura
This proposed bailout bill went down to defeat with 94 Democrats voting nay. Had 12 more voted yea, the bill would have passed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi surely had to know she did not have the support of fellow Democrats whose constituents were opposed to its passage. Yet she called for the vote after first blasting President Bush, saying the "mess was all his fault." It was a completely inappropriate statement, but, if her desire to vent her "feelings" was so intense, she could have said that after the votes were counted. Pelosi again demonstrated she is an inadequate speaker of the House and maybe should be sent home to her five children!
Just for the record, it was President Clinton who pressured Congress to drop the requirement of a down payment and proof of income to purchase a home so more could have a home even though they were not financially qualified.
And what about the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives whose greed surpassed the buyers' and walked off with huge "golden parachutes?"
And so the housing market and our economy collapsed.
Enough of this bickering and obstructionist behavior! Congress needs to behave like the adults they should be and pass laws to protect Americans of all classes! Enough of this class warfare!
-- Patricia L. Cain, Camarillo
Taxpayer money should not be used to bail out the major banks. It is risky and irresponsible to use our taxpayer money in this manner.
Instead, I propose that our government representatives and leaders act to void all subprime loan contracts between the banks and the borrowers, and then mandate that the interest rate of these loans fall back to the rate before the interest rate jump.
The aim of this policy would be to stop the continuing foreclosures of homes due to the higher mortgage payment for these homeowners. Those homeowners that have yet to see their rates jump to the higher rate will continue to stay at that rate. This action would decrease the rate of future foreclosures and provide homeowners the relief they so badly need while still making their mortgage payments, and the banks would also see their financial situation become more stable.
The foreclosure of homes must stop.
The government would set in motion the renegotiation of these loans between the banks and the borrowers with the aim being to provide a more fair deal that benefits both parties. The government would set strict guidelines for these loan agreement negotiations. No extra fees will be charged; there would be only a change of terms on the contract.
Without doubt, many lawyers and affected parties would call foul. But as the saying goes, "Unprecedented times calls for unprecedented measures."
This action would not be without precedent. On March 4, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt's administration during the Depression voided all contracts between parties that called for payment in gold.
This plan would negate the $700 billion bailout plan.
-- Jess Villagomez, Oxnard
There has been a lot of information disseminated recently about the use of plastic shopping bags and how stores should not use them any more. In an article published in The Lamp, an ExxonMobil publication, it states the following:
"The case for plastics packaging: Plastics have largely replaced glass, aluminum and paper as packaging material. That's because plastics are lighter -- which reduces transportation costs -- are less costly and are manufactured using less energy. Plastics also generate less air emissions, water pollutants and waste during manufacturing. Plastics provide toughness, excellent sealability and optical qualities, and consume far less material than glass, metal or paper containers.
"According to research by waste management consultants Franklin Associates, paper bags generate four times more greenhouse-gas emissions than plastic, and paper occupies more than nine times as much landfill space as plastics. Taken together, these advantages make plastics packaging a sensible choice for sustainable development."
-- Irma Schneider, Ventura
Re: your Sept. 28 article, "Birth rights":
This article caught my attention because I recently had a Caesarean section with my first child because she was a complete breech. Now anytime I seem to have a conversation regarding the "birth plan" of any future children, the first question asked is if I am going to have a vaginal birth after Caesarean.
VBAC seems to be the buzzword in the motherhood community. To me, it is a buzzword that has more risk attached to it for my comfort level. That also seems to be the case of most healthcare professionals and insurance companies. C-sections cost insurance companies and hospitals more than standard vaginal births, so you would think they would be jumping up and down to promote VBACs if they were arguably low risk.
From my understanding, when a VBAC goes bad, it is bad. In reading this article, I wondered when the last time these VBAC campaign "activist moms" served their obstetrics residency. With odds like a 3.7 percent occurrence of uterine rupture, I am not convinced VBACs should be a mainstream birthing plan. If a group was boarding a plane and the pilot announces there is 4 percent chance of the plane crashing during the flight, would the passengers be so confident about boarding the plane?
I am completely fine with the mantra, "Once a C-section, always a C-section." Even though I will never have a natural vaginal birth, I am still very empowered as a woman and a mother. No matter how you birth a child, the gift of motherhood is still the same, and that is what is empowering.
Let the healthcare professionals and institutions set their boundaries in order to do their job and do it safely.
-- Arin Raeann Flynn, Oxnard
Re: your Sept. 22 article, "Blood drive to be in daughter's memory":
I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who gave blood in honor of my daughter, Sophie. As a mother who has lost a child, my biggest fear is that people will forget that she was here. Not only will Sophie be remembered, but through her memory, she continues to inspire and help people. Thank you for never forgetting and for your donation. Hope to see you all soon.
-- Julianne Block, Ventura
(The second Sophie's Memorial Blood Drive was held Sept. 27 at Madrona Elementary School in Thousand Oaks. Sophie had a congenital heart defect, and the 1-year-old died in 2003. -- Editor)
I recently took my two little girls to Rainbow Bridge Park at Blanche Reynolds Elementary School. Right after we arrived, a man walking with a brisk, purposeful walk headed towards us. Why? To warn us that a human had relieved himself on one of the slides, and his son had unfortunately gone head-first down it. He was outraged, as you would think, and disgusted, as you would think.
I gave him the number for the police non-emergency and told him to call, and even to include that he was a firefighter.
To our surprise, defecating on a slide is not a crime. It is not vandalism. It is not some type of assault. There are so many laws on the books here in Ventura, and defecating on someone else's property, especially where it is known that a person will come into contact, isn't somehow one of them.
I have called the police non-emergency numbers at least 40 times since I have lived here to report disturbances at this park. It is a known "party spot," where teenagers convene in the evenings. Usually, the attitude I get from the dispatchers is that I am bothering them, that there are more important things to worry about. Of course, they say they will send someone out, as this is their job.
After this horrendous incident, I will be calling much more, and I implore my neighbors here in Ventura to do the same. The number is 339-4400, press 5.
-- Thomas S'gro, Ventura
Re: your Sept. 30 article, "Park project surprises Venturans":
As a neighbor of Cemetery Memorial Park, I was pleased to read today that the site will be returned to being a place of peace and refuge, dedicated to people, not a place dedicated to pooping dogs. I would like to see some wandering walkways and benches added.
-- Sandra Sanders, Ventura
Re: Terry Paulson's Sept. 29 essay, "Where the blame belongs":
Paulson has the audacity to blame Barack Obama and the Democrats for the financial crisis. He said that President Bush had called for reform since 2001. With control of Congress, how come he failed to get reforms passed? How is it that there was a surplus when Bush took over and now we have a deficit of $10 trillion?
While John McCain called for reforms of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac three years ago, he has always claimed to be a deregulator. He also hired Rick Davis, a big lobbyist for Fannie Mae, to be his campaign manager. McCain should have learned his lessons about financial scandals and bailouts, having been part of the Keating Five in the savings and loan debacle of the 1980s.
I am for free market capitalism. But capitalism without oversight will just be greed and fraud. When the economy is doing well, businesses and executives say they deserve any amount of money they can make. When the economy falters, they ask for handouts. How is that free market capitalism? They can get away with this because they contribute money to both Democrats and Republicans.
Both parties are not without guilt. But if one of the parties is in the White House and is controlling the Congress most of the time while things degenerate, that party should get most of the blame.
-- Shiu Man Lee, Camarillo
Re: Bill Robinson's Sept. 25 letter, "Alaska's an anomaly":
Robinson writes that he hasn't seen the type of comparison he sets out to make. His premise is that through Alaska's uniqueness among the states, Sarah Palin's job was decidedly easier, and hence less "qualifying" than Republicans would like people to think. His liberal bias invites other comparisons he hasn't seen, such as:
-- Size. In Delaware, Joe Biden's home state, you can drive from the state capital to the most distant part of the state in 90 minutes. The most distant point from the state capital of Alaska is 4,500 miles away, and you're not getting there by car. You don't think it's not more difficult to manage a business over such a great distance?
-- Climate. I've lived in minus-82 degree weather in Fairbanks. Don't tell me that doesn't make a difference when you are running a business. And let's not talk about the effect of months of darkness on the human psyche.
-- Distance. Shipments of goods from the lower 48 encounter significant hurdles on a regular basis. Supplies of the most common goods can be short for long periods of time. That affects not just your business, but the attitudes of your people. And Palin has an 80 percent favorability rating!
-- Availability of workforce. Let's just say experienced, well-educated labor is not always readily available. After all, as Robinson points out, we've got nearly 800,000 people right here in Ventura County!
Further, Robinson says, Alaska has no large cities. Anchorage has a population of 260,000. Delaware's largest city, Wilmington, has 72,000.
Alaska's budget is much larger than Delaware's or those of several other states. I believe it's comparable to Arkansas' and Georgia's, yet, oddly enough, governors from those states were eminently qualified to be president!
What Robinson doesn't recognize is that Palin's experience at running a business in Alaska, with the aforementioned encumbrances, is far more qualification than someone who has never signed anyone's paycheck. He wraps up by asking how well Palin's experience in Alaskan politics prepares her for the challenges of many city and state governments. I answer: "Better than that of a community organizer!"
-- Bud Bockoven, Moorpark
Thousand Oaks has again asked us to conserve water with a threat of future rationing. To a considerable extent, the city has brought this problem on itself. The City Council approved large housing developments in disregard of repeated warnings about the environmental dangers. It is obvious that more houses produce more people, who then require more water.
Now all of us have to pay the consequences of poor decision-making by the majority of the current City Council members.
-- Kirkland Gable, Thousand Oaks
Re: Kathi Smith's Sept. 28 essay, "State budget shorts California students":
Smith's comments on school funding for 2008-09 are somewhat misleading. She states, "The state Legislature decided to cut $3 billion in funding to K-12 public education." I'm afraid this comment misleads the public.
In fact, according to an article in the Sacramento Bee on Sept. 24, the budget provides $58.1 billion in state and local funds for schools, $1.5 billion more than in 2007-08. It provides a 0.6 percent cost-of living increase.
Yes, that's almost $3 billion less than the schools wanted, but it is not a cut in funding. Only in state-paid programs is a budget where you get less than you want a cut.
Our leaders in Sacramento did not turn their backs on our kids. They listened to the taxpayers, who said this is what we can afford -- $56.1 billion -- for education.
By the way, that amounts to about $9,000 per student. That hardly seems to be an "insignificant" amount.
-- Jerre Reimers, Simi Valley
As a resident of Simi Valley for more than 40 years, I have seen many changes in our fine community. We have become a respected, desirable, fiscally sound and safe city. This is because of our strong and conservative leadership. I urge your support and vote for our mayor, Paul Miller, so the city will continue in this positive position.
-- Elaine L. Freeman, Simi Valley
Proposition 8 is a proposed California constitutional amendment that states: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
These 14 words will define traditional marriage in the California Constitution. The words are not hateful, nor are they divisive as the opponents would have you believe. Morality is not prejudice, and defending Judeo-Christian sexual ethic is not "hate." This amendment merely affirms the majority opinion of California state residents that marriage is between a man and a woman (Proposition 22) and maintains thousands of years of tradition. A yes vote on Proposition 8 will protect homosexuals, while a no vote will destroy the religious freedoms that we have in this country.
My fellow Christians: Hold fast to your beliefs. Homosexuality is a sin. We are in a spiritual warfare. It is good against evil. Traditional marriage is good; homosexuality is evil. Previously, many Christians believed that we could peaceably co-exist with the homosexual community, but now, we find our rights and our religious freedoms impinged upon, and we can no longer be silent.
For example, a lesbian sued two Christian fertility doctors who would not artificially inseminate her. The doctors told her their beliefs prevented them from doing so. They gave her a referral. They gave her fertility drugs and instruction on self-insemination. The lesbian sued and won. There are many similar lawsuits around the nation where Christians are losing their First Amendment rights and religious freedoms.
We are re-living the era of Sodom and Gomorrah, where "everyone is doing what is right in his own eyes."
A yes vote on Proposition 8 will continue to protect all Californians, while a no vote will destroy the religious freedoms that we have in this country. I ask you to vote yes on Proposition 8.
-- Urline Tabor, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Sept. 28 article, "McCain and a host of aides forged close ties to casinos":
Do we really want a gambler for our president? I ask this question out of real concern -- concern that the maverick could very well gamble away our country, our rights and our way of life.
He's already gambled. He gambled when he picked Sarah Palin for his running mate on the hunch that American men feel the same way he does about women, that American women, in their rush to have a woman in office, would switch from Hillary Clinton to Sarah.
He gambled last week when he announced he was suspending his campaign and rushed to Washington to look like the white knight in shining armor, receding the country from the grips of disaster. That didn't work out so good either.
All joking aside, all bets aside, all politics aside, I am deeply worried about this man. How many bets has he made with his gambling buddies -- his aides -- that he will win?
No, I, for one, have known gamblers, and believe me, I don't want a gambler in the White House.
-- Jody Avery-Smith, Newbury Park
Re: Christine Rutter's Sept. 25 letter, "McCain deteriorating":
Rutter stated that John McCain seems to be deteriorating mentally. Apparently she has made a medical diagnosis from watching TV sound bites carefully chosen by our supposedly fair and balanced media. Has she not seen Barack Obama struggle with answers when he does not have a speech teleprompter in front of him?
Rutter, who says she is of similar age as McCain, states of herself that the aging mind does "misthink and forget." The aging mind is also enhanced by life's experiences, which a glib tongue cannot replace. I am reminded that Winston Churchill was prime minister of England at 80 years of age.
-- John Torkelsen, Camarillo
Sixty years ago, I vividly remember my European-born grandparents walking to Fairfax High night school in order to learn English. Finally, after several years, they both became naturalized citizens of their adopted country and were able to vote.
Last week, I received my sample ballot with all of the text, again, printed in both English and Spanish. If only American citizens have the right to vote, how is this costly concession justified -- and why only Spanish?
-- Jordan Austin, Port Hueneme
Barack Obama won the debate with John McCain last week, hands down. And that gives me a sprig of hope this morning.
I'm an 82-year-old viewer. I rolled out of bed and was working at my computer, on schedule, at 7 a.m., just like I have been doing since I should have retired in 1988, working my butt off, nine or more hours per day, six or seven days a week, fighting to keep my small record company alive and my wife and I safe in our rented apartment.
The alternative? Food stamps, Medicaid, a nursing home.
After trying and trying, year after year, we can't get a small business loan from a government that is brazenly, blatantly, blissfully giving away $10,000,000,000 a month to Iraq, which has a $79,000,000,000 surplus, as Obama reminded us again during the debate.
How many zeroes after the comma is enough?
Wanna know the last straw? I'm still paying income tax! My last income tax bill was $5,000.
Last night, Obama promised again that 95 percent of us in the middle class will get a tax break. During the campaign, he promised us that seniors won't pay any tax at all.
Our economy is in the tank. If there is a recession, or, God forbid, a depression, which is bound to happen after four more years of Bush economic policies -- Obama reminded McCain that he has voted with Bush more than 90 percent of the time -- I'll lose my small business, and then what?
If you think McCain won the debate, you have another think coming!
-- Larry Russell, Ventura
Change will come when pigs fly.
I am an independent who has been a member of both parties in my lifetime. I have come to the conclusion that the average voter is among the most politically stupid population in the world. Look at the facts. A herd mentality exists in both parties, which has most career politicians salivating at each election. Add the stupidity level of the voting public to the herd mentality and gerrymandering and, voila, the incumbent has it made. Barring death, scandal, retirement or a life-threatening illness, it's a lifetime job, not only for the politician, but for family and close friends. Look at the current leadership in Congress and call me wrong.
People will vote the party ticket no matter what the competency level of the opposition. Most political reformers are weeded out at the primary stage. They are simply starved financially during the primary process by the lobbyists or local fat cats. Since independents like me are barred from voting in the primaries, we get to choose between the same old faces at election time.
How does the problem get fixed? Get rid of the losers at the primary level. Get rid of the herd mentality and improve your political intellect. When that happens, change will come.
-- Chuck Woomer, Camarillo
Re: Terry Paulson's Sept. 29 essay, "Where the blame belongs":
I have been subscribing to The Star for a few years now, and though I look forward to reading the Opinion page, I have to protest The Star's treatment of Terry Paulson's essays.
Paulson always gets prime space in The Star for his essays that, to me, state his one-sided opinions and his diatribes against liberal Democrats. I have personally written a letter to The Star each and every time I read one of his biased essays and, to this day, have yet to see one published countering his personal opinions.
In his latest essay, he writes, "Free-market capitalism didn't create this crisis. The Democrats' 'progressive' social policies helped stifle free-market checks and limit appropriate regulatory oversight."
That comment in itself is obscene. I hate to break it to Paulson, but the raping of our treasury was caused by the Republicans' insistence of deregulation, enthusiastically supported by greedy corporate executives and their boards of directors since the beginning of the Reagan era. This in itself has led to the economic crisis that we're faced with right now.
As early as a week and a half ago, John McCain was telling the average American taxpayer not to worry. He stated over and over again that the fundamentals of our economy are strong. And now he's a champion for fixing our broken economy with supporters like Paulson?
Like Sarah Palin living next to Russia, which qualifies her as an expert on foreign policy, Paulson must live close to a bank that qualifies him to be an economics expert.
-- Steve Binder, Oxnard
I was stuck in traffic, looking at how run-down Carriage Square has become, and I just kept getting madder and madder. What's it going to take to clean up the messes in this city? I want the simple days back, when this town had way less people. And then it hit me: Most people think that things aren't so bad here, so the way to shake things up is to make things worse! What if I could tie the hands of all those dummies at City Hall so that they could never get an improvement or a new project going?
I'll start an initiative called Measure D that claims to fix traffic.
D for denial: I know that the California Department of Transportation controls many of the intersections in Oxnard, but I'll claim that traffic is worse than it really is, and that all traffic problems are caused by city bureaucratic ineptitude. I'll make new traffic improvement rules for all projects that are impossible to meet so no developer will ever come near Oxnard.
D for decay: With no development and the tax base shrinking, Carriage Square and everywhere else that needs attention will sit and rot.
D for dismal: No developers' traffic fees and a shrinking tax base from frustrated businesses means that the city won't even be able to keep up with potholes and repaving, much less make any improvements.
But how can I get people to vote for something so awful? I'll say that all our problems are the fault of growth and officials' bungling, so we have to take away the bureaucrats' power. Then everything will somehow get better!
I'll call it an anti-traffic initiative. But Measure D doesn't have the right ring to it. I want complete victory over City Hall, so I'll call it Measure V!
-- Roger Banker, Oxnard
The "free market/anti-regulation" folks have really shown us that "trickle down" is something that only occurs when water and gravity meet.
I don't for a moment think that "we, the working class" should bail out, "them, the greedy and rich," so that we can become "us, the poor." There should be no trickle up -- or, in this case, flood upwards -- of our money to bail out the poor banking industry. These are the same guys who have no problem charging upwards of 27 percent interest on consumer credit cards. Miss a payment and the penalties mount up like flies on a dead moose.
Let these overpriced execs act like adults and take the hit. It is not the responsibility of the taxpayers of this country to underwrite their losses at the crap tables. Maybe a little time out -- jail time -- would help some of these guys find focus.
Just say no to begging bankers and Wall Street execs.
-- Frank Boross, Ventura
While the congressional Democrats are trying to do more damage to the national economy in attempting to undue the past damage they have afflicted, it might be time to consider changing the name of our country from the USA to the USSA -- the United Socialist States of America.
-- Dick Schneider, Oak View
Congratulations to Oxnard City Councilman Tim Flynn and the residents who worked so hard to put the traffic initiative on the November ballot! The initiative gives the residents the chance to vote to have the problem of traffic fixed before more development happens. I appreciate their hard work, leadership and standing up for what they believe is right for the residents of Oxnard, standing up for the election motto of "Raising the bar for the City of Oxnard."
For the residents of Oxnard who can't attend the City Council meetings, I suggest they watch Channel 10 at 7 p.m. or reruns at other times.
-- Manuela Rankin, Oxnard
Re: Bernie Lehrer's Sept. 18 letter, "A Palin presidency":
Well, it looks like paranoia is alive and well. Lehrer certainly has the liberal talking points down pat. I would ask him to get his information from more than just the Daily Kos and Air America before he spits out his own hate speech.
It would take more space than this letter allows to go into detail and discuss a different point of view to each of Lehrer's issues. But I would like to respectfully request all voters to stretch out of their comfort zones and try to get a different perspective when deciding whom our next president will be. There are good and bad politicians on both sides. Even though we don't agree on the policy, it doesn't mean the other side is evil, as Lehrer would have you believe. My goodness, I'm surprised that people don't turn to stone under the gaze of Palin the Wicked!
For someone hailing from the party of civility and acceptance, Lehrer is certainly filled with a good deal of abhorrence and vitriol.
-- Michael Colitti, Ventura
Re: Lois Capps' Sept. 18 commentary, "More offshore drilling will only feed our addiction to oil":
After reading Capps commentary, I was immediately reminded of H.L. Mencken's apt description of politicians: "They are fools, phonies and crooks." I feel he was too kind. Capps attacks the Bush policies -- how boring is that? -- and tells us we should not seek oil independence. I guess we'll just let other nations solve the energy crisis while we go to work using wind on a sail on Highway 101.
Oil is what runs industries, autos and, in the largest sense, gross national product. Of course we need to change, but we cannot do it quickly. Our national well-being is fully tied to oil. It will take years to change from an oil-based system to whatever we find for the future. We could have used our skills to fully utilize nuclear power, but the same dummies who now call for the end of oil dependence have prevented the full utilization of nuclear power. We can utilize the world's largest oil shale reserve located in the Rocky Mountains. We could do more with offshore oil, but our Congress prohibits any such solution.
To top off her list of why we should continue to be at the mercy of oil countries, Capps brings up the "horrible" damage done to Santa Barbara in 1969. Santa Barbara has recovered. It is 20 times more valuable than it was in 1969. Real estate is extremely high, and people still visit and wish they could own property there.
New York City's former mayor, Ed Koch, recently suggested all politicians should be replaced because of their abject failure to act in any reasonable way to solve the real issues of our time. Let us begin by getting rid of Capps.
-- Robert A. Lombardi, Ventura
Does anyone remember Adolf Hitler and Pearl Harbor? Hitler was always telling his neighbors he wanted peace while he invaded them. Then, while the peacemakers from Japan were supposedly negotiating peace with the United States, they were bombing Pearl Harbor.
Shouldn't we believe that history has a tendency to repeat itself? Are we to negotiate with radicals and terrorists? Do we believe that they want peace, conciliation or partnership with America, or even with their neighbors?
Let's not be so naive. First, we had Pearl Harbor and then 9/11. Will we learn from history?
-- Karol Ransom, Ventura
Re: Lito de Castro's Sept. 28 letter, "Blame greed":
I would like to say thank you to de Castro for a very insightful letter. Everyone should read it.
-- Helene Golemon, Oxnard
Re: Terry Paulson's Sept. 29 essay, "Where the blame belongs":
I thank Paulson for his essay. Finally, the truth comes out. This is news you won't see in the Los Angeles Times or New York Times because of their staunch support of the Democratic Party. I, too, have personally researched this issue extensively over the last few weeks, and I can attest Paulson has accurately stated the facts.
The root cause is the Democrats' "progressive" (i.e. "entitlement mentality") social policies. It is not lack of oversight or lack of regulations. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act and its controls and regulations proved worthless. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and its staff of 200 proved worthless.
The OFHEO mission statement, taken from its Web site, says: "OFHEO's mission is to promote housing and a strong national housing finance system by ensuring the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation). OFHEO works to ensure the capital adequacy and financial safety and soundness of two housing government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are the nation's largest housing finance institutions."
Beginning in 2004, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became the largest buyers of subprime and alt-A loans. Also, note that the Democratic machine controlled both houses of Congress beginning in 2004. This is not a coincidence.
-- Sean Ragan, Camarillo
Americans can live these days pretty much as they please, out of wedlock or falsely "wed" to a same-sex partner, without much ado. A good many people disapprove of this trend, but such libertine arrangements are not singled out publicly for criticism. That is why I am voting for Proposition 8.
What is to be gained by the gay marriage community by Proposition 8's defeat other than what marriage traditionalists are being asked to give up? It is the sanctity and prestige and the holiness of matrimony that is at stake here, not the gay lifestyle. Let gays live with whomever or whatever they please, and even tell people around them that they are "married," but compelling society by force of law to change the definition of a tradition that dates back to the oldest civilizations on earth, just so they can enjoy the appearance of acceptance -- no!. Marriage is what it is, not what it is not.
In Canada, Christian ministers have been prosecuted for refusing to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. In some countries in Europe, speaking out publicly against the practice can land you in legal hot water for "hate speech." That trend is beginning to raise its ugly head here, too.
Throwing out the genuine, tried and true, before the sham substitute is even given a good shakedown is bad public policy. Once you change the definition of marriage, you can never put it back the way it was.
By our personal failings we often strain the institution of marriage, but it has never failed us. A well-adjusted traditional marriage is not only productive to the state by the bearing of children, but godly and beneficial to the morals of the community. Let's strive to keep it that way. Vote yes on Proposition 8.
-- John Gentry, Ventura
On Sept. 27, there were two women walking down the streets of Anacapa View Homes writing down the street number of each house. When questioned, they said that they had been hired by a Florida company to walk down the street, write down each street number, then fax their sheets to a company in Florida. This company had a contract with the U.S. Department of Health. From the lists faxed in, random houses would be selected to receive a mental health survey. These ladies had documentation authorizing them to do this survey.
Has the U.S. Department of Health never heard of the Internet, where all this information could be received by the click of the mouse?
I think I know who needs mental health help, and it isn't the residents of Port Hueneme!
-- Diane L. Fresh, Port Hueneme
Re: Jack Kocienski's letter, "Driving feminists crazy":
He was right on the mark about Hillary Clinton. God help us if she had been nominated for president. I thank Kocienski for his words of truth.
-- Jeffie Pewitt, Ventura
As I write this, the country is in the worst financial crisis since 1929. Our retirement accounts are at risk, our savings accounts are at risk, and even our jobs are at risk due to lack of commercial credit for payrolls.
In the midst of this financial crisis, we are asked to vote for Measure U, which guarantees that Camarillo residents will have to pass a $100 million bond to build a new high school, even though Oxnard Union High School District has already passed a bond and can build the high school at lower expense in half the time. We will also have to assume $37 million of retirement liability when the Oxnard district is broken up. Can we afford to take on these higher tax burdens when our own economic future is so uncertain?
A high school education lasts four years. We will not have an adequate campus for at least 10 years. Two entire generations of students will be educated in temporary classrooms or middle schools.
The current Pleasant Valley School District board has brought us school closures and teacher revolts while spending approximately $1 million in taxpayer dollars on lawyers, consultants and staff time to get Measure U on the ballot. These same people are running for seats on the new school board. Do you trust their judgment?
We cannot afford the risk of piling a local financial crisis on top of a national one. Please join me in voting no on Measure U.
-- Mike Barrett, Camarillo
Re: Christine Elliott's Sept. 24 letter, "Measure U about future":
Elliot writes that Measure U is not about the sitting trustees of the Pleasant Valley School District. I beg to differ. Three of the five current PVSD trustees are running for the Camarillo Unified School Board. With five seats available and six candidates running, do the math! At least two of them will be on the Camarillo Unified board if Measure U passes.
Given the probability of the same group running a new unified district as has debilitated PVSD, why would any rational citizen vote for them?
These are the same people who have squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars on unification, yet can't provide summer school or bus transportation to its current K-8 students due to "budget cuts."
These are the same people who used their teachers as pawns, telling them school closures were necessary in order to get a pay raise. To this date, PVSD teachers are still underpaid.
These are the same people who closed a high-performing, parent-involved alternative school program at Los Senderos Open School and denied a charter to the Camarillo Academy of Progressive Education because its educational program was supposedly unsound. An API score of 899, third-highest in Camarillo, proved that it wasn't.
These are the same people who then watched helplessly as all that ADA money went to a different district and then legally had to provide CAPE with a facility.
These are the same people who increased the price of school lunches because the district's food services budget was running a deficit and had been for years -- and they didn't even know it!
Poor budgeting, poor management and poor planning. Do you really want more of the same?
Vote no on Measure U.
-- Cami Pinsak, Camarillo
In last week's debate, I saw John McCain as the man who is able to lead our country. His age and wisdom surely brought his knowledge and manners to the forefront, as well as his honesty.
I saw Barack Obama as speaking out of two sides of his mouth, being just outright rude and interrupting when McCain spoke. How could we ever expect someone to lead our nation who is as downright rude as Obama was? Will he be rude and not listen if placed in the presidential office?
Obama is naive as to the situation in Russia and Afganistan, the Jihad and the Taliban. Why would he want to sit down with a leader from Iran who wants to destroy Israel? I would like our young people to seriously analyze Obama's fluffy ideas and his arrogance and rudeness. He rudely interrupted McCain and spoke over him on at least six occasions. This is not the way our country needs to be led.
How could we bring someone into a presidential office when a wife states that this is the first time she is proud to be an American? If she isn't proud of the U.S., then she doesn't need to be part of this nation: Leave!
And lastly, I am a daughter of one of those Pennsylvania people who holds onto religious (moral) values. Putting down another American who holds these values to be dear shows religious intolerance. This is hitting below the belt and talking out of two sides of his mouth.
Obama is rude and arrogant, and his fluffy ideas just don't fly. McCain is one who is truly prepared and qualified for the office of president of the United States.
-- Kathy Lane, Moorpark
Re: your Sept. 7 article, "Homeowners fight to restore view":
We pay a lot of money as California homeowners for our "little piece of paradise." We pay even more money for a "home with a view." I can sympathize with homeowners who want to enjoy their home. I can also sympathize with homeowners who want to keep their home in great condition to maximize any sale in the future, especially in this real estate market.
We need to use the art of compromise and be sensitive of the neighbors around us so we can all enjoy our "little piece of paradise."
I would love to see a follow-up article interviewing the homeowner whose large trees interfere with his neighbors above him. What's his story? Does he not have the money to pay for tree trimming? Is he afraid it would interfere with his privacy? Does he worry that his large trees might cause property damage if they fell in a big storm? Can anything be done in the neighborhood before it needs to go to litigation?
I look forward to reading The Star's next article on this subject.
-- Peggy Fenger, Thousand Oaks
John McCain was the clear winner of last week's debate. He was articulate, specific and willing to actually answer the questions! In contrast, Barack Obama was unwilling or unable to state any specifics about what spending he would cut from all the goodies he's proposed.
McCain shows obviously that he is prepared to do the hard work and to call earmarks and out-of-control spending what they have become: "gateway drugs to corruption."
Even as Obama repeatedly went back to linking McCain to President Bush's policies -- his main position when in doubt -- he was thwarted by the facts and the record, which repeatedly prove McCain's stance of working outside party lines and, most importantly, in defense of the American people.
Obama's posturing is unconvincing, without evidence and childish. "I have a bracelet too?" This sounded as insincere as John Kerry's "reporting for duty."
If America's stance in the world has been diminished, it is because of the reckless and cowardly partisanship Obama and his political cohorts -- including the media -- have displayed in order to gain power and earn support for the most ill-advised policies we've seen in many years.
Obama's rhetoric will not put America on a path that secures our future or tackles the hard choices ahead. Sound judgment, a principled approach and the depth of experience McCain represents is the right choice, right now!
-- Victoria Jones, Simi Valley
What is truth? The age-old philosophical question seems apropos given the financial crisis we are told America faces. To ascertain the truth, it might be wise to ask questions relevant to the issue.
First of all, how do we know the crisis is real and not manufactured? Just because Washington says there is a financial crisis does not make it so.
Why have things become so urgent, especially five weeks before a historic election? If the nation's economic predicament is real, our representatives should have been aware of the potential problems facing the credit and securities markets well in advance.
I see three explanations for governmental failure to anticipate the impending disaster: Incompetence is viral in the Capitol, partisan politics has paralyzed Congress, or it was expedient to raise or create the issue closer to the November election for political posturing.
It requires the willing suspension of disbelief to think that Congress could go on a five-week vacation totally unconscious of the mortgage/credit crisis. Oh, I forgot, the focus was on the drilling/energy crisis. Can these guys walk and chew gum at the same time?
How many can say with certainty, based on their personal experience, that America is close to economic collapse? If this situation is so grim, why has Wall Street activity not reflected earlier speculation pointing to the possibility? If there truly is a crisis, do we want a quick, Band-aid solution made under duress? Do we really want a $700 billion decision made in a knee-jerk fashion?
Some economists have suggested that a moratorium on capital gains taxes would free up credit markets immediately. Is this not worth a try? Such a move would cost nothing now and possibly only impact future tax revenues.
Finally, real or manufactured, will anyone be held accountable for this mess?
-- Jim O'Brien, Simi Valley
We would like to offer public support for candidate Dennis Hatland, who is running for a position on the Conejo Valley Unified School District board.
Dennis is a teacher at Big Springs Elementary School in Simi Valley, which both of our children attended for the last several years. Our daughter was fortunate enough to have Dennis as her teacher last year, and his instruction, guidance, character and dedication to his profession, and to the students he leads, provided amazing results. Although we do not reside in the Conejo Valley area, Dennis does, and his commitment to his local community is commendable. We would like you to know about what kind of person he is, and why we feel he is uniquely qualified to serve on the Conejo Valley school board.
Dennis helped our daughter to develop her self-confidence and consistently demonstrate a deeper appreciation of learning. Remarkably, he did this with every child in the class, regardless of their natural capabilities. Dennis has an intrinsic ability to assess each child individually, and then design an approach that will facilitate a student's academic success. He teaches children to treat others with respect, to face educational challenges with determination, hard work and perseverance.
Dennis' years of experience as a teacher and administrator give him a depth of knowledge of how a public school system should work and what improvements and priorities should be addressed.
We encourage all citizens of Thousand Oaks to vote for this wonderful educator. Dennis Hatland is a tribute to his profession and will most certainly contribute significantly his experience, expertise and integrity to the goals of the CVUSD as a school board member. Please look at his website to get more information: www.dennishatland.com.
-- Chris & Ron Closser, Simi Valley
For years I've tried to get a job as a CEO for many of the giant corporations we are now watching go belly-up. I have no qualifications for these positions. However, in my employment application, I indicated I would take half of the salary and buyout packages of their current or next CEO. I also guaranteed them that I would run their corporations into the ground twice as fast as their current CEO, thus saving them millions, if not billions, of dollars.
Alas, none of them took me up on my generous offer.
-- Stephen P. Hansen, Simi Valley
No matter the problem -- a train wreck in Chatsworth, an economic wreck on Wall Street or a war nobody likes -- there's no shortage of self-appointed experts coming out of the woodwork like a plague of ants to tell us exactly what went wrong, whose fault it was and how to fix it. Funny thing, though, I never see any of them sitting in the Metrolink boardroom trying to figure out how to spend a finite and inadequate amount of money to get a tough job done. I never see their names on any ballot running for public office.
You would think that with their great knowledge and wisdom, they'd be chomping at the bit to show us all how much better they can handle things than the imbeciles they criticize. But no. They never stick their own necks out to make a decision that might go wrong. Why do that when they can sit back, criticize endlessly from the safety of their homes and offices and risk nothing?
Probably not even the people who have to make the hard decisions know for sure what will work. But they still have to make a decision and carry it out. Then they have to stand or fall on whether they were right or not.
I tire of those who don't take the responsibility themselves but think it just fine to throw stones at those who do. I wish they all would just disappear for awhile. They aren't helping anything.
-- Roy W. Hogue, Newbury Park
The price of gas has gone up and gone back down a little bit.
All the media are making headlines about this and the bad shape of the economy. We all know that bad news sells media -- and advertising.
In the Conejo Valley, I have observed the price of regular gas range from $3.53 to $4.29 per gallon in recent weeks. I have surveyed dozens of gas stations in the valley.
My question is: If the economy is so bad, why are there not queues of hundreds of people and cars at the gas stations selling gas at $3.53 per gallon?
Again, the media are making money on spreading "bad news" to sell more space, sell more newspapers or get more viewers on their TV news shows.
Most of the "crisis" is the fault of the media. By screaming, "There are wolves in the woods," even if there is only a poor, ill one -- and only one -- everybody is believing there are hundreds of thousands of them and everyone is scared stiff to go into the woods!
Stop this. Let's all go back in the woods. There is nothing to fear, and by going there, we will show everyone that those woods are perfectly safe.
Obviously the "crisis" is making many rich people much richer, and they love it. We do not!
-- Claude A. Legrand, Newbury Park
Re: your Sept. 25 article, "Conejo Valley Days is canceled":
No more Conejo Valley Days. That figures. After all, we have a new Nordstroms, and that should keep us happy.
Just think about the family fun shopping to fill the coffers with our tax dollars to buy new furniture for the Civic Arts Plaza. There's not much time to enjoy a parade when there are so many places now to spend your time shopping.
What's that? Because of the economy, you don't have much money to shop? You'd better get a second job. Don't worry about the kids, they'll find something to do. There's a bunch out there that dabble in art along the new freeway walls, maybe they'll join up with them. Be prepared, though, to foot the bill for those new art classes they'll be taking with their buddies, while you're out there trying to scratch out a living.
I hear this is the time we need change -- change in our national government, probably change in our local government. We still have a lot more to lose if things don't take a different direction. I sure don't want to continue the path we're on.
We've got to get a grip and stop fooling ourselves that we are above the fray here in Thousand Oaks. This self patronizing may be good for the ego, but not for our future. How many corporate untouchables have fallen off their pedestals already, bloated with their own wealth and importance, with a disregard for common sense? Let's not be so gullible to trust those in power that are squeezing the life and worth out of us.
Our middle-class citizens are hurting. Everybody seems worried and irritable. The close-knit, family-oriented community seems estranged to civility these days. Everything is about competition and power at any cost.
This is not the ideal way to live a happy health life. I'll gamble on the new blood for our leadership and a different philosophy to correct our direction.
-- Marilee Ullmann, Thousand Oaks
That big whoosh was the U.S. dropping over a cliff after years of national decline at the hands of successively incompetent and untrustworthy elected officials, both Democrat and Republican. Their hallmarks are twisted truth and ethics and a withering disregard and neglect of American citizens and the country's financial and physical infrastructures.
Congress, the Federal Reserve and both candidates for president know that positive regulatory action before 2005 would have prevented much of this mess -- a national mortgage and credit fraud perpetrated by deregulated corporate political contributors to whom Congress gave free rein in 1999 with no oversight.
Now they propose to bail out more corporate contributors by encumbering our tax dollars far into the future, creating another big government agency to manage those bad debts their buds created.
Millions of private-sector workers and retirees have lost their jobs, homes, savings and retirements, with no tax breaks or direct assistance. Denying direct help to Americans is excused by citing "welfare" and saying that we are "greedy." Yet our tax dollars subsidize a behemoth public sector's lucrative employment, retirement and healthcare benefits, which are not available to us. Elected officials voted themselves and their appointees full medical reimbursement. But our stingy healthcare, retirement savings, pensions and Social Security are threatened and mismanaged by the very individuals elected to serve and protect us.
Living between a rock and a hard place with an occasional stimulus check must be that "change" they promised us. Don't expect either hot-air candidate to debate anything substantive. They only want the presidential perks.
-- Sarrah Terry, Moorpark
I found it fascinating to watch Barack Obama's response to the economic crisis. He did not feel it important to go back to Washington. The Democratic leadership of both Congress and the Senate did not feel his help was needed either. Apparently no one felt he could contribute to a solution. A joint "statement" is all he could come up with.
I became convinced Obama is a smooth-talking "empty suit," just as his detractors claim.
-- Lowell Martinson, Ojai
Re: your Sept. 25 article, "Traffic initiative causing worry":
I read this article about how Measure V is worrying folks. Well, we should be worried.
The potential financial impact to our city is devastating. Yet Councilman Tim Flynn refuses to stick with the issue and just resorts to the childlike retort of calling the community's concerns and city's analysis lies.
Lies? What is he talking about? Measure V will shut down redevelopment in our city. Both our now-retired and current acting city attorney have stated that it applies to redevelopment. So are they liars? I think not!
Flynn's pattern of calling others liars is getting to be an old routine. He has accused police and fire of being "bullied" into opposing Measure V - I guess their opposition to this flawed measure is a "lie." What about the Chamber of Commerce, Clergy Council, Federation of Teachers, Building Trades, Ventura County Taxpayers Association, local businesses, the rest of the City Council and the list goes on? All of these folks oppose Measure V. Are they liars? No!
Let's get out of the schoolyard sand box and deal with the facts. Measure V is a horribly flawed measure that will destroy our city financially through the loss of jobs and revenue; erode the safety of our city by taking much-needed funds from police and fire; and do nothing to address the traffic we have today. Those are facts!
I urge everyone in Oxnard to vote no on Measure V.
-- Gary Stiles, Oxnard
Re: Sean O'Hara's Sept. 25 letter, "Taxing patriotism":
I find it astounding that any American would question the patriotism of paying taxes or quibbling about their fair share. Four-thousand patriotic Americans paid more than their fair share with their lives and tens of thousands with limb to defend O'Hara's right to make "payment of confiscatory and coerced tribute to the government." What price freedom, sir?
-- John Mulchay, Camarillo
Re: Timm Herdt's Sept. 21 article, "Politically divided":
Herdt's recent article about our local state Senate race made one thing clear: One candidate wants to raise our taxes, and one thinks we're burdened quite enough.
Tony Strickland's message of eliminating government waste and transforming our economy with renewable energy is exactly what our state needs right now. His record in the state Assembly shows him to be a legislator concerned with protecting taxpayers and slowing the rapid growth of a failing, bureaucratic state government. Our state doesn't need to take more money from hard-working taxpayers. What it needs is more people like Strickland who understand what local families are dealing with and trying to ease the financial burdens we face.
Vote for Strickland and give the spending-addicted Sacramento politicians the intervention they desperately need.
-- Jeri Cowley, Camarillo
Women know the value of multitasking, making a dollar stretch and finding common ground among competing interests. When women are elected, good decisions follow.
Jennifer Matos is an extraordinary candidate. In addition to her academic background as a university professor, she has displayed good common sense as a Santa Paula planning commissioner. Most importantly, she cares about the community, not her ego.
In challenging economic times, Matos has the right idea about basic pocketbook issues that are important to Santa Paulans. She is committed to local jobs for local residents. She believes in a quality range of housing options for Santa Paulans. She plans a proactive, cooperative approach for improvement in our schools by working with local school officials, parents and students, with a track record of leadership that neither of the other male candidates holds.
Balance is definitely needed in our city -- balance on our City Council. Our community and our pocketbooks will benefit when Matos, a woman of integrity, is elected on Nov. 4. Vote for Jennifer Matos for Santa Paula City Council.
-- Laura Espinosa, Santa Paula
(The writer is a former vice mayor for the city of Santa Paula. -- Editor)
After the big corporations have swindled and deluded hopeful homeowners and used financial Ponzi schemes to rake in billions, they want to swindle us more.
We want maximum focus on helping homeowners keep their homes. Our country's financial security should be built from Main Street up, not from Wall Street down.
-- Howard Miller, Ventura
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's draft proposal for the bailout of struggling financial-services firms sought to make him the most powerful unelected official in American history through his proposal to take charge of vast sectors of the U.S. economy -- setting policy, buying and selling assets, determining whether financial institutions thrive or collapse -- with no oversight.
Under Paulson's draft plan, Congress and the courts would have been barred from reviewing or challenging his moves to stabilize financial markets, effectively making him the nation's economic czar.
But in the midst of all this, I am close to losing my home because California refuses to make lenders accountable for their actions. I am stuck paying for a house that is worth less than a quarter of what Countrywide is trying to squeeze out of me. This extortionate America is unconstitutional and a downright embarrassment!
-- Gabriela Avendano-Kremer, Oxnard
Section 8 of the administration's proposed bailout bill -- the one that gives Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson absolute authority to spend all our money with no oversight or possible check from anyone -- is a deal-breaker. Period.
The Bush administration has proven itself a hundred times to create walls of secrecy behind which rampant corruption, fraud and waste of tax dollars runs wild. I would not trust any Bush administration official with 75 cents to go down to the corner and buy a newspaper unless there were strict oversight, legally mandated accountability and public scrutiny of a completely transparent process every step of the way.
The language of Section 8 has Vice President Dick Cheney written all over it. It must be stricken from the bill.
-- Robert Taylor, Ventura
Over the last few months, I have followed the many complaints against the prison hospital. I have lived on the same property for more than 42 years. I love the area, and I recall the time when Camarillo was very closely associated with the "nut house." Sometimes persons asked jokingly or, not knowing better, if my family or I were inmates of that institution.
I went on horseback with my 4-year-old son through the vast fields and orchards surrounding Las Posas Estates. There were very few houses. Now all of the great orchards are gone, replaced by high priced spec homes or custom mansions.
To make it very clear, I am strongly opposed to having a large correctional institution placed near our property, but let's look at the facts:
-- The state of California was accused of not taking "proper care" of sick convicts, and it was declared to be "cruel and unusual" punishment.
-- The federal government sued California while Arnold Schwarzenegger was filming in Hollywood and, in spite of "valiant" efforts, California lost.
-- The court appointed an executor, J. Clark Kelso, who is responsible for correcting California's misdeeds and seeing to it that California shall build numerous "deluxe" jail hospitals. Kelso is not an elected politician and will take whatever he thinks to be the best approach.
-- This is a court order. This is not subject to political discussions, and it makes no difference if we march in protest to Washington, D.C. or if Kathy Long jumps up and down. We are stuck!
So, let's make the best of this problem. We should sit down with Kelso and find proactive ways to make this a bearable situation. It may include, for example, roadwork, traffic signals and the planting of trees. There will be an opportunity to affect the large tax burden imposed on California, and cooperation, liking it or not, will be a better approach!
Think about it. You can't stop "progress!"
-- Horst Funfstuck, Ph.D., Camarillo
The CEOs of banks, fund managers and Wall Street have stolen and conned the people out of more than $700 billion. Now our congressmen and senators want us to pay for their greed with your tax dollars.
Well folks, remember it was our congressmen and senators who have conned and stolen hundreds of billions of your Social Security dollars over the last 20 years or so, so just remember that when it comes time for them to tell you your Social Security needs to be cut because they're running out of money.
But all congressmen and senators will still get their tax-free $40,000 a year to buy coffee, doughnuts and pencils.
It's time to stop this insanity.
-- Lee Armstrong, Ventura
Re: Christine Elliott's Sept. 24 letter, "Measure U about future":
Elliott is right when she says Measure U is about the future.
If Measure U passes, imagine a future for Adolfo Camarillo High School in which 85 percent of its veteran teachers are forced by circumstances to leave rather than lose lifetime medical benefits.
Picture ACHS proceeding through its third-year review by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges with its leadership staff and administration gone -- an administration responsible for a 68-point gain in API scores since 2004.
Imagine beginning teachers taking over ACHS's established and successful Advanced Placement programs.
Consider the possible experience of 800 Camarillo students who may spend their high school years in portables in ACHS parking lots and tennis courts, crammed into the former Los Altos Middle School or in double sessions at ACHS.
Imagine a school board that has arbitrarily closed schools, misled teachers and wasted taxpayer money on Measure U efforts taking over a larger, more complex district -- one in which revenue will be lower than that coming in from Oxnard Union High School District.
Imagine your children losing their favorite teachers and coaches, many of whom have spent decades of their lives at ACHS and taught two generations of Camarillo students.
Imagine higher property taxes and assessments from bond issues to build a new high school in Camarillo. Imagine the cost to Camarillo residents of building this new school alone instead of spreading the cost throughout the Oxnard Plain.
If local control is the main concern, why don't we use the misguided energy and funds being expended on unification to elect more Camarillo residents to the OUHSD board?
Elliott is correct in stating that change can be exciting. I imagine the exciting change of a brand new, state-of-the-art Camarillo High School built next to the new, beautiful Camarillo Library.
Vote no on Measure U.
-- Don Law, Camarillo
Federal prison healthcare receiver J. Clark Kelso wants to build a 1,500-bed adult prison hospital in Camarillo.
What they are not saying is that this prison is for criminally insane, high-security offenders. These types of prisons are usually built in the middle of the desert or in other low-population areas.
Since it is a state prison "hospital," the city has no say in whether it will be built here or not.
As residents of Ventura County, we need to contact our state representatives and stop this project! It makes no sense to build this in Camarillo. If they needed a hospital so much, why did they close the state mental hospital that is now CSU Channel Islands?
The only thing that will stop this massive project is a huge public outcry! Contact your state Assembly persons and senators and urge them to stop this
-- Linda Shishino-Cruz, Moorpark
Federal prison healthcare receiver J. Clark Kelso has at some length addressed issues of appearance, staffing, infrastructure and security for his new hospital. However, he does not address the type of inmates who would be housed there except to say, "inmates with chronic medical and psychological conditions."
He also says the hospital would be near schools, homes and, I assume, parks. He has not told us that no inmate convicted of sex crimes would be placed there. Does his facility fall into the distance restrictions from schools and where children gather if he plans to house sex offenders, a condition I believe to be both chronic and psychological?
I am also less than impressed with his "lethal eFence." I consider nothing short of dead and buried to be the only place a California prisoner would not escape from.
We have lost too many children to predators who were mishandled by the legal system. As a society, we have addressed problems only after our children die. We need to start addressing them before prisoners are given a chance to get to them.
-- Sharyn Robinette, Oxnard
Federal prison healthcare receiver J. Clark Kelso strongly rejects the argument of local citizens that we don't want a prison in our neighborhood. He thinks it is fair to put a prison in the middle of an established neighborhood because, "If not in Ventura, then what community should I turn to?"
How about building the hospitals in communities that already house the prisoners? Then the prisoners could go from prison to hospital on the same grounds. It would be safer for all not to transport these prisoners all over the state. It would also be cost-effective, something Kelso does not seem to consider.
We are supposed to believe him when he says the prison will be safe, that it will be staffed without interfering with our current healthcare system and that the infrastructure will be improved. Why should we believe him? The government and judiciary have a long history of telling us to accept things that will be good for us and then bailing out when their projects don't go well.
Our state is in fiscal crisis because they can't manage the money they have, and now we are being forced to spend billions of dollars on prison healthcare without any reins on spending.
The hard-working taxpayers of this county are being forced to listen to the condescending Kelso lecture us on why we should accept a prison in our neighborhood. Why doesn't Kelso build the prison in his backyard?
I would like to thank Supervisor Kathy Long, Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, Bob Conroy and all of the other hard-working people who are standing up to Kelso. Power to the people!
-- Jil Lehr, Camarillo
The new prison hospital will bring criminals to Oxnard and Ventura. Experience has shown that, when prisoners are relocated, 60 percent of their families move to the new area. Some 80 percent of those families include one or more felons.
Where are these families going to find affordable housing? First, in Oxnard, Ventura and Santa Paula. Second, in Simi and Moorpark.
This makes the Camarillo prison a problem for the entire county of Ventura.
-- Donna Gardner, Ventura
Our current problems -- lack of freedom, crashing economy, unpopular war, ad infinitum -- have been caused by three things: Democrats, Republicans and a would-be dictator, King George Bush.
I stopped voting for more punishment a decade ago. I have voted for a third party every time, so my conscience is clear.
The biggest problem is that the average voter, when casting a vote on Election Day, uses the wrong end to think with. As the old saying goes, if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. So, what we have now is a semi-fascist and semi-monarchist government.
Congress is pretty much defunct, because they have given up all their real oversight responsibilities and have shown cowardice in the face of the enemy, King George.
There are 535 members of Congress. At least 500 of them are cowards. Like chickens, they cackle and lay eggs while Bush destroys the Constitution.
If these sound like bitter words, they are. Bitter they may be, but they are true words. If the truth hurts, tough toenails!
-- John Jay, Oxnard
There is a financial meltdown of Wall Street today. Retirement 401(k)s are vanishing, the housing market has collapsed and CEOs are walking away with millions of dollars.
Just what led to this? Democratic policies -- those of Presidents Carter and Clinton --started the ball rolling. Policies were passed and pressure was put on banks to give risky mortgage loans to people who couldn't afford them -- people with poor credit, few assets and who put little or no money down.
What part did Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play in this crises? They enabled this socialistic plan. As of last June, Fannie and Freddie owned or guaranteed more than $385 billion in high-risk mortgage investments. Once home prices started to fall, everything fell apart.
How could this meltdown have been prevented? In 1995, then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan told Congress it must regulate the practices and size of Fannie and Freddie. A serious reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. John McCain was one of three senators sponsoring it. This bill gave a regulator power to crack down and would have required companies to eliminate investments in risky assets. It didn't become law because Democrats opposed it in a party line vote in the committee. It never reached the Senate.
There were other problems with Fannie and Freddie. Many Democratic senators, including Christopher Dodd, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, protected Fannie and Freddie and received huge donations from them. Obama has received $125,000 in campaign donations. The CEOs of Fannie and Freddie walked away with multimillion-dollar payouts.
Others factors like greed, lack of action by other oversight committees and President Bush's inaction added to the crises. However, the socialistic Democratic policies were the root cause.
America deserves better. I want an investigation. However, that will never happen when Democrats are at fault.
-- Diana Thorn, Carpinteria
Does anyone among the nearly 50 percent of voters who support GOP candidates understand that this economic catastrophe is actually the largest tax increase in the history of the world?
There are only a few ways to pay off the debts run up under the Bush administration:
-- Raise taxes now.
-- Borrow yet more money from foreign countries, to be paid off by taxes on our children.
-- Sell our assets to foreign countries. Sell our coal, oil, timber, parks, freeways, bridges and companies to the people we borrowed from --China, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, etc.
-- Or pay through hidden taxes: higher interest rates, higher oil prices, lower standards of living, depression and crushing inflation.
Where did all that money go? It went to war; foreign and transnational corporations, with profits carefully sent to offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes; foreign oil producers; and billions into the pockets of the investment bankers that we're now thinking about bailing out.
The Republicans have spent the last 30 years turning taxation and regulation into dirty words, claiming that they "cost jobs." They brought us lower but more regressive taxes, massive budget and trade deficits and huge rewards to Wall Street for wild financial speculation with your savings. Now we see the result.
Like it? Want more? Vote for Republicans. Want change? Want recovery? Vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
-- Michael Tiffany, Ventura
We must not let President Bush use fear tactics to manipulate us. There needs to be a hearing and debate -- and plenty of it.
There also needs to be an investigation into what may be criminal activity on the part of the banking industry and other private corporations. These executives should not in any way be rewarded for what must be some of the most reckless management since the Great Depression. Like any of the rest of us who behave irresponsibly, these businessmen must pay for their mistakes with serious consequences that will punish them for the damages that they have caused millions of Americans.
And please, let's erase the word "unchecked" from our vocabulary. "Unregulated" and "unchecked" is what got us into this mess. In the new plan, everyone should be checked, regulated and accountable.
There's no way I want my hard and honestly earned money used to pay off these men who are incompetent, greedy fools at best. If we bail out anyone, it should be the millions of Americans who were ripped off. We should give them back their homes and let them pay back their debt in a manner that is within their grasp. Also, there should be a freeze on any more foreclosures. This would truly be a move to support the general American public and not the rich few who contribute to campaign funds.
-- Barclay Totten, Oxnard
This so-called economic crisis could turn out to be the best thing that has happened since the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Ugly American is a symbol of our country's worst defect. At home, our greatest battles have been social class, wealth and poverty, celebrity and invisibility. The disparity between social classes and wealth classes is our greatest downfall. A distribution of wealth, an ugly term for Republicans, is inevitable if democracy in its truest form will ever survive.
Our current economic problem creates a good time to rectify our ages-old dilemma between rich and poor. Now is when the Federal Reserve can perform its greatest deed by regulating wealth.
We all know the wealthy have most of the best opportunities. Us poor taxpayers wind up paying for the rescue of the wealthy every year when nature invades their tranquility with fires. It is the poor citizens' taxes that pay for rescue and manpower. We never get paid back. Yet when wind caused $30,000 in damage to my home, no one came to my rescue, not even the Internal Revenue Service. I was unable to claim one cent of my repairs. However, my taxes go to salvage the rich guy on the hill.
Money lending should be the responsibility of the Fed, not through privately owned banks, but directly from the U.S. Treasury. All citizens would have the same opportunities as borrowers, and the interest would remain in government coffers to pay all of our services, insurance and education, remaining solvent without the middleman, who is the real culprit.
-- Miguel Espinosa Jr., Oxnard
The mere $700,000,000,000 starter capital for a new federal financial oligarchy is the least of our worries. It puts a stake into the credibility of our nation that has been built up over centuries, and it mocks the separation of powers.
Rather than dictating terms, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson should be stripped of his mantle of credibility and made to beg forgiveness before our elected representatives. While we're at it, why not put former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac folks in Guantanamo? We should create a special place for our own Angelo Mozilo and his ilk.
Remember that pesky detail outlined in Article 8 of the Constitution that it is Congress alone that has the power to "lay and collect taxes" and to "borrow money on the credit of the United States?" Instead of intelligently using this power, the dimwitted hacks in Congress see this as an opportunity for slathering on more lard and giving out more of our money to those who least deserve it.
The chutzpah of Paulson's proposed plan is quite impressive. He demands close to $1 trillion so he can do whatever he -- or, more importantly, his unknown successor, whom we will meet in a few months -- deems appropriate. By including the "related to" language into the text of his proposal, it is clear that the tether to mortgage debt is a thin one. In case we wake up from our stupor and don't like what he dreams up, that will be too bad because his decisions "will not be subject to any court or administrative review." Even Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is blushing over this.
Sure, this may be a ploy to ease his talks with Congress, but isn't it scary he would even make such a proposal and they would be foolish enough to bite?
-- Jim McDermott, Ventura
I have heard all I can take about the ailing Wall Street bigwigs. Instead of giving them $700 billion, why don't we give that money to the people whose homes are being foreclosed on and let them give it to the banks? This way, the banks get their money, and some less fortunate people who were lied to and taken advantage of by unscrupulous bankers get to keep their homes.
Also, do not give a single red cent to the executives who mismanaged these companies and caused this problem in the first place.
-- Gary Sparks, Camarillo
President Bush has told me many things over the past seven years, and I have learned the following: He does not always mean what he says, he does not often understand what he is talking about and he gets his way every time he scares us into believing eminent doom.
We have been here before. Spawned in an environment of panic and half-truths, we find ourselves spending billions in a war in Iraq. In a similar cacophony of fear, we are now being bum-rushed toward a $700 billion bailout to financial corporations.
This solution demonstrates a limited understanding of fallacies in U.S. economics. The problem is debt, and paying for debt with taxes yet generated is nothing but more debt. Sadly, the goal of this fiasco is to encourage businessmen and folks like you and me to regain our "confidence" and get even more debt.
I liken the situation to an individual who pays a mortgage with a credit card, and when that runs out, turns to their children to pay the mortgage and the credit card with credit cards. Meanwhile, the individual who started the whole mess goes out and gets yet another mortgage and credit card. All the while, the banker pretends that the promise of payment on each debt is real money for the bottom line.
Our current devastating accumulation of debt has created an artificially inflated stock market. Because Washington pays too much attention to Wall Street numbers, we as average Americans have had to endure silly phrases such as "liberated employee" and "jobless recovery" to mask the sad fact that the rich are getting richer at our continued misfortune.
-- Li Pearce, Camarillo
Re: your Sept. 23 article, "Bailout inches toward approval":
Few things have ever made me so upset! Republicans balked at the Democrats' proposal that CEOs of bankrupt financial firms forfeit part of the obscene money they made for wrecking our economy. Democrats suggested that mortgage payments be reduced for borrowers who took out loans they knew they couldn't afford. A middle-class couple was going bankrupt with five upside-down rental homes bought with subprime loans. The real culprit of this whole mess: Greed gone wild!
Speaking of greed gone wild, there is a connection between subprime loans and how CEOs and the other top corporate executives are compensated. They are compensated as if they are owners instead of employees of the corporations they lead. At one time, there were plausible reasons to compensate top executives through stock options. They needed extraordinary motivation to take drastic, even brutal action to reform an insulated and bloated corporate America. However, this never justified compensation four to five times their Japanese and European counterparts, much less golden parachutes that rewards poor, even criminal performance. Board members and executives are sleeping in the same bed and feeding at the same trough. CEOs who are chairmen and board members are compensated through stock options.
So, president and presidential candidates, let's be consistent and treat them as owners. All of the financial institutions Congress bails out with my tax dollars are, for practical purposes, bankrupt. Therefore, seize the assets of all owners, top executives and board members if the shoe fits. It took the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to bring down one class of robber barons; it is time for historical legislation to bring down the new. Create a real separation between the board and executive staff!
We all need to be held accountable for our decisions, so no mortgage reductions.
If Congress does these things, then I consent to pay for the bailout. Otherwise, let the consequences fall where they may.
-- John Slagboom, Oxnard
Re: your Sept. 11 article, "$35 billion deal still in holding pattern":
The Pentagon's final coda in the tanker contract debacle should remind the new president of the need to separate the new administration from the scandalous mismanagement of the $100 billion tanker deal.
While American contractor Boeing offered the KC 767 -- which would have saved the taxpayers as much as $50 billion, better served our military with a more versatile and efficient aircraft and met all of the specifications set out by experts in the Analysis Of Alternatives and Request For Proposals -- the Pentagon seemed bent on outsourcing the deal and 44,000 jobs to European-based EADS, which, by nearly all accounts, offered a clunkier, more expensive and less capable craft.
EADS is also no stranger to scandal. Its top-ranking executives are under investigation for insider trading. EADS is also, according to our trade representative and the bipartisan congressional leadership, a handmaiden in the violation of our trade laws, seeking tens of billions in illegal European subsidies aimed at displacing the U.S. aerospace industry.
If the tanker competition were made into a movie starring Pentagon officials, it would be called "The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight, Part 2," a sequel to the 1970s slapstick Mafia comedy. Unfortunately, news reports showed that a real swampland of lobbyists injected themselves into the process like Trojan horses, carefully directing the contract towards EADS.
If national security is going to be a priority for the next administration, reforming this scandalous attempt to outsource our military and industrial capacity to the French would be good place to start.
-- Richard Michalski, Upper Marlboro, Md.
(The writer is the general vice president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, a union that represents 730,000 members across North America. -- Editor)
My husband and I are both over 60. We were able to buy a home in 2006 with 100 percent financing because we thought this would be a good investment. We have a 30-year adjustable mortgage, and we're paying more than $4,300 each month.
We asked for help from Countrywide. Instead, we got a loan modification that resulted in an increased payment. We are now supposed to pay $4,777 on the first mortgage alone and $1,076 on the second. We need help to keep our home!
We're getting older, not younger, and if you help the wealthy stockholders and Wall Street, it will not give immediate relief to us homeowner trying to hang on to our homes! Please help!
Don't let Bush's "bright ideas" hook us into something we know isn't right. The big corporations already have our money. Why give them our tax payments and help them keep their wealth while the rest of us suffer? Help us directly, please!
-- Ramina Nunnelee, Newbury Park
Based on the recent financial problems that have been occurring in our country, I thought that I would research a few words that have been tossed around lately. The following information was taken from the second college edition of the The American Heritage Dictionary.
-- Recession: a decline; a moderate and temporary decline in economic activity.
-- Depression: a period of drastic decline in the national economy characterized by decreasing business activity, falling prices and unemployment.
You hardly have to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out!
-- Dean Erickson, Simi Valley
It's pretty clear who's responsible for this mortgage mess. The Democrats want to blame the Bush administration, but the Democrats caused the problem themselves, starting with idiotic legislation during President Clinton's watch and some pretty stupid decisions by the current Democrat-controlled Congress.
In 1995, under Clinton, Congress passed the Community Development Act, which labeled credit checking of mortgage applicants as "discriminatory." On top of that, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae guaranteed mortgages it purchased from lenders like Countrywide, Washington Mutual and others.
Then in 2003 and 2004, in order to curry congressional support, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac committed to increased financing of "affordable housing" to atone for their recent accounting scandals. Both agencies purchased more than $1 trillion (with a "t") of subprime mortgages between 2004 and 2007. Remember that loan officer and broker commissions were included in the cost of the mortgages.
Barney Frank, the venerable House Democrat from Massachusetts, in 2003 described the "arrangement" as "useful in helping to make housing more affordable," implying to Fannie and Freddie to "concentrate on affordable housing." Both agencies made it "mandatory" for lenders to offer subprime loans. Jim Johnson, first head of Barack Obama's vice presidential search committee and former chairman of Fannie Mae, was the one who announced Fannie's affordable housing program in 1991.
In 2005, Republicans offered a strong reform bill, which all congressional Democrats voted against. Now the Democrats are blaming the financial crisis on "deregulation."
How hypocritical can you get? The same Democrats who today complain about the lack of intervention were the ones who blocked the only legislative effort that could have stopped it. Is this the party you want to run this country?
-- David B. Uman, Thousand Oaks
The neighbors were out again last week, urging us to vote to "protect the traditional definition of marriage." If you want to know their true motive, just ask them two simple questions: "Whose marriage has been diminished, now that California (and Massachusetts, and all of Canada and many European countries) allow same-gender couples to marry?" And, "Whose marriage would be improved if we amend our constitution to take away the right of certain loving couples to marry?"
If they will discuss it honestly, you'll find that in almost every instance, it all boils down to their religious belief on the subject. Now, I don't have anything against religion. I'm quite religious in my own right. But I get really nervous when I'm told we need to amend our constitution to accommodate someone's religious belief.
We don't need to protect the definition of marriage. We need to protect our constitution from the encroachment of the religious views of others.
Please join me in voting no on Proposition 8, so we can ensure that our constitution continues to guarantee equality for all of our citizens.
-- Robert McIntier, Ventura
Re: Gary Markstein's Sept. 22 editorial cartoon:
The Star's Opinion page states that its "columns and cartoons are selected to present a variety of viewpoints." When relating to the Sept. 22 cartoon, the viewpoint is pure sexism. Would any male candidate be subjected to this treatment? Of course not.
Sarah Palin is the emblem of what feminism was supposed to be all about: an unafraid, independent, audacious woman, who soared on her own merits without the aid of a patriarchal jumpstart, high-brow matrimonial tutelage and capital and old-boy liaisons and networking.
Instead this entire sorry episode of personal invective against, and jealousy toward, Sarah Palin is surreal. Sexism should be out of place in The Star.
-- Donald L. Milbury, Ventura
I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the Clinton household. About a year ago, a smug Hillary Clinton saw herself becoming the most powerful woman in the world. She was nonchalant with her campaign, and a guy named Barack Obama came along and took the nomination away from her.
To boot, the bad blood that existed between the Obamas and the Clintons during the campaign boiled over after she had lost and, as a result, he snubbed her for the vice presidential role.
Then, out of nowhere, along comes Sarah Palin. She's everything Hillary Clinton isn't. She's poised, knowledgeable, articulate, always smiling and tenacious in her own way. and she is not an "angry" woman like Hillary and her fellow feminists.
Now Palin has a very good chance of becoming the most powerful woman in the world, and it is driving the feminists crazy. Palin has exposed their true colors.
The various women's groups such as Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women only stand for the advancement of women who are angry, pro-abortion and anti-family. A woman like Palin, who is happy, pro-life and pro-family and who is succeeding in the political realm, just angers them even more.
To me, the difference between an optimistic Palin and a pessimistic Clinton is clear: Palin is content being a first-class woman, while Clinton is still striving to be a second-class man.
-- Jack Kocienski, Port Hueneme
There are several versions of a statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemoller, who was persecuted by the Nazis:
"In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
"Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
"Then they came for the homosexuals, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a homosexual.
"Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
"Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
"And then they came for me."
We have decided to speak up about Proposition 8.
Remember the long struggle for civil rights? Equal protection under law is the foundation of American society. Proposition 8 would take an existing constitutional right from some citizens. No one group should be singled out to be treated differently. That's what America is about: equality, freedom and fairness, for all.
There will be enormous amounts spent to persuade us to vote for this proposition. Most of this money comes from fanatics outside of California. They spread a message of hate appealing to our fears of one another. We believe Californians will reject their message.
Proposition 8 is opposed by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and Barack Obama, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, at least 20 state senators, more than 40 members of our state Assembly, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, California Labor Federation, California NAACP, League of Women Voters of California, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, many religious leaders and most California newspapers.
Many Americans have lost their lives defending our precious constitutional rights. Please join us in voting against this discriminatory proposition.
-- Delton Lee & Margaret Johnson, Santa Paula
So, you're afraid of Sarah Palin?
Let me tell you of my frontier, pioneering grandmother from the Midwest. Grandpa and Grandma Gallatin settled the inhospitable Colorado Desert, as it was called at the beginning of the 20th century. Now it's called the Imperial Valley, where the sun spends the winter and the summer too.
Grandma Pearl stepped onto the desert floor with a shotgun on her hip and a Bible in her hand, five months pregnant with her fifth child, soon to give birth in the hottest time of the year, summer. Their immediate home was a tent house near the section of land Grandpa was clearing and leveling, where he was creating ditches for water flow and then cultivating for crops.
Grandma would rise before sun-up to prepare the day. Her first chore was to clear the rattlesnakes from the fire pit and from around the tent house and the immediate area. She then let the children out to play, while Grandpa was preparing the team of mules for pulling the equipment. There was no air conditioning, no ice, no clean tap water. The drinking water came from the canal that was used for crops; the hot water came from underground geothermal sources.
The temperature was near 120 degrees when she gave birth to my youngest aunt.
On many occasions, Grandpa had to hide the women, girls and horses when the bandits came across the border looking for supplies and camp girls. The Pancho Villa band terrorized the border farms and ranches until the end of the Mexican revolution.
My grandfolks passed on a legacy and heritage that has no room for entitlements or slackers. They taught me "my word is my bond," and that "good honest work and clean living will honor the family."
Sarah Palin is a breath of fresh air in our nation's time of need. Don't be afraid of her or what she can do. Like my grandma, she has the will and strength to change the direction of our government.
If you are part of the solution for our nation, I am sure you will work with her. If you are a part of the problem, then you should fear her.
-- George M. Bolin, Oak View
Re: Christine Elliott's Sept. 24 letter, "Measure U about future":
Apparently Elliott is uneducated as to who is running for a seat on the proposed new unified school district board or she is too embarrassed and unwilling to comment on the facts.
Just in case she is unaware of the fact, three of the existing Pleasant Valley School District board members are running for these proposed new school board seats. These same people will continue to make the same poor choices on a unified school district board as they have for years on Pleasant Valley School District. History does repeat itself!
Make all of our children's education a priority. Vote no on Measure U.
-- Kelly Ogg, Camarillo
I'd like you to meet a young couple in Ventura, Sue and Mike Smith, but they could be Juan and Alicia Ramos or Simon and Lee Chan.
They work here -- Mike for a large oil company and Sue for a health food store. They loved hearing Barack Obama talk about taxing the rich, taxing large corporations and universal healthcare. They felt great when they voted for Barack because he was going to finally bring "change" they could believe in.
Now it's Christmas 2009, and Barack did everything he said he would do. But what's this? Mike didn't get his year-end bonus -- he didn't even get a raise this year -- because Barack finally punished the big oil company he works for.
Sue got laid off because her employer files as a sole proprietor and his taxes went up, so he had to cut back.
To make matters worse, every industry that uses oil raised their prices to stay afloat too, so food, gas and just about everything else got more expensive.
Then the unthinkable happened. Sue thinks she feels a lump in her breast, but with universal healthcare, it will be weeks before she can see a doctor, and with second opinions, it might be months before surgery.
Let's listen in as Mike and Sue wrap the small presents they could afford for their kids.
"Mike, what happened? I thought Obama was going to get back at those big corporations and help us?"
"Well, Sue, I guess corporations don't really pay taxes, we do."
"But Mike, it doesn't feel like change we can believe in."
"No, it feels like the second term of Jimmy Carter".
-- David Rosolek, Ventura
I am becoming increasingly alarmed about the possibility of John McCain becoming our president because of his many lapses of memory and downright gaffes that have been occurring.
Over and over, we see him getting confused about very obvious things, such as where countries are and who their leaders are.
Being of a similar age, I know that even without any dementia issues and no matter how intelligent and active one is, the aging mind does misthink and forget.
I see this happening with McCain at an alarming pace. How can we trust McCain to make thoughtful and wise decisions as the most powerful leader on earth, when he definitely seems to be deteriorating mentally?
-- Christine Rutter, Oxnard
Approximately 10 years ago, I was appointed by the Pleasant Valley School District board to serve on a committee to study the feasibility of unification of the Pleasant Valley School District, a K-8 district, into a K-12 district.
This committee spent countless hours studying the issues that unification would present. After several meetings, it became evident that several members had formed their ideas from the start that the district should unify. The group for unification decided to break away and have their own meetings.
Now, after all these years, there remain many unanswered questions. One unanswered question is: With Adolfo Camarillo High School already crowded, where will we put the overflow of students? At present, more than 750 students attend Rio Mesa High School that will need to be housed in the new district. It appears that those that favor of unification would have them attend high school in a makeshift, converted middle school facility. In a very important time in the lives of our young people, they will be treated as second-class citizens. This may be their one chance for an education. Many do not go on to college.
The Camarillo community joined with the Oxnard Union High School District to pass a bond to cover the cost of building two new high school buildings, one in Oxnard and one in Camarillo. The land purchased for the proposed high school in Camarillo still stands empty. Why did those for unification not spend all the time and effort to pressure the Oxnard Union High School District into building our high school? There would be ample time in the future to unify, and we would have a nice high school for our students.
I have lived in this beautiful community since 1963, and it saddens me to see how this issue of unification has separated it into two factions. All the bickering and fighting only hurts the children that we are trying to protect and educate.
Citizens of Camarillo and Somis: Please inform yourselves of all the true facts of unification, pro and con, and vote in November to get the best we can for our young people.
-- Lois Grooms, Somis
A suggestion to solve the problem of the always-late California budget each year: We can allow the public to vote on a bill to fine the members of the Assembly and Senate $10,000 the first day the budget is overdue, plus $100 a day until the budget is passed. I also made the suggestion to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but received no response.
-- Joanne Gingras, Camarillo
Re: Lois Capps' Sept. 18 commentary, "More offshore drilling will only feed our addiction to oil":
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara is an important agent in the Democratic-controlled, do-nothing Congress led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, which has an approval rating of 9 percent. Capps represents the incredibly gerrymandered District 23 in California, which extends from Malibu through Oxnard and then 200 miles to San Luis Obispo. She's a sixth-term Democrat and sits on the influential Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources committees.
Despite the fact that 70 percent of Americans favor increased domestic drilling, Capps states that she is against opening California's coastline to new drilling. In the past, she has also been against new oil refineries, exploration in arctic Alaska, exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf, clean coal and nuclear energy.
Capps would lead you to believe that by developing alternative energy sources, we will solve our problem. She fails to mention that wind and solar comprise only 1 percent of our energy and require a natural gas backup system, plus an expensive transportation infrastructure. Experts all agree that oil will make up 75 percent to 80 percent of our energy needs for the next 50 years at least. By not allowing companies to drill for energy on U.S. soil, we will continue paying $500 billion a year to countries like Russia, Venezuela, Iran and Saudi Arabia to supply our oil needs, which may not be in our best interests.
Capps also failed to mention that by allowing drilling on California's coastline, the state could conceivably receive significant royalty, rental and lease fees to offset the $15 billion budget deficit we currently have.
Importantly, there was nothing in Capps' write-up about the negative impact that environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, Earth Justice, Center for Biological Diversity or Natural Resources Defense Council have on the drilling process. For example, through lawsuits, they are seeking to block all future leases for the entire national outer continental shelf. Many of these groups are important lobbyists for the Democratic Party.
-- Jeffrey L. Wiese, Oxnard
Re: Bonnie Erbe's Sept. 4 column, "The running mate, teenage pregnancy and the pulpit," and Steve Greenberg's Sept. 4 editorial cartoon:
One of Erbe's concerns is Sarah Palin's "support for abstinence-only education in public schools and how well it seems to have worked within her own family." The cartoon drawn by Greenberg depicts in silhouette the profile of a pregnant girl or young woman with the words, "No sex education • No contraception • Abstinence-teaching only" appearing on the outline of the woman's dress.
Both Erbe's column and Greenberg's cartoon express the same false conclusion: If a person received education on how to avoid something, but that something happens anyway, then the education must not work. Suppose that I receive education on how to avoid burning my hand on the stove and the education consists only of instructing me not to touch the stove. If I then touch the stove and burn my hand, and so find that I've failed to avoid burning my hand on the stove, does that mean that the education doesn't work?
Does it not, rather, mean that I failed to apply that in which I was educated? If I had applied what I was taught and not touched the stove, I would, in fact, have avoided burning my hand on the stove.
In the same way, if the woman depicted in Greenberg's cartoon and her male partner had applied what they were taught in abstinence-only education -- i.e., abstained -- she would have avoided becoming pregnant.
-- John DeKeyzer, Oxnard
I strongly believe that the government should mandate the latest and best technology to help prevent any future passenger train disasters. Someday, something similar will be standard equipment in every automobile. This will happen only after great cost and will be implemented over many years.
Something that can be done today that will help guard against future catastrophes is mandate by law that two engineers be present, and on duty, in every cab in every locomotive. I believe that every passenger airliner has both a pilot and a copilot, so why not the same in every locomotive? This has to cost far less than the money that will be spent to settle countless lawsuits.
-- Michael Grieco, Oxnard
Hooray! We now have a winner, just when I had decided not to vote in this election -- the reason being that I wanted Mike Huckabee to be chosen on the John McCain ticket. But then McCain went to Alaska and brought back this gutsy, intelligent lady, Sarah Palin. I didn't know anything about her, but so what? We don't know much about Barack Obama. His flowery speeches about himself and family don't tell me a thing about his political accomplishments.
What amazes me -- or, should I say, disgusts me -- about this election and its candidates is that everyone is so concerned about how much experience a candidate has. Look at our congressmen. Some have served for years, and what has their experience done for us? We are in, it seems, a no-win war and our country is headed for a serious depression because of the trillions of dollars we owe to foreign countries, causing our dollar to devalue.
We've made China rich by exporting our jobs to them and buying all her products. We are not a superpower anymore. China will be.
I firmly believe Palin has the guts to stand up to the leaders of these foreign countries, like she did in Alaska.
I've always said I would like to see a strong, outspoken, intelligent woman as our president, and maybe someday it will happen!
I do hope Sarah and McCain will stop the foreign handouts when they get in office!
This "monkey money" that we are printing and giving away will backfire someday. Besides, our people need all the money they can get here in America.
Good luck, and God bless McCain and Sarah.
-- Mildred Cook, Simi Valley
Much has been written about the qualifications of Sarah Palin for vice president, but I haven't seen this kind of comparison:
The state of Alaska is remarkably different than other U.S. states or the major metropolitan areas in the lower 48 states in its recent history, culture and economic base. Alaska became a state in 1959. More than 80 percent of its revenue comes from oil extraction, similar to many Middle Eastern countries. It has a very limited industrial or agricultural base. Its major sources of employment are state and federal government, the military and the oil industry. None of these jobs can be outsourced.
There are no large cities, no urban poor, no struggling middle class. Aside from its Native American population, there is virtually no ethnic, racial or cultural diversity in Alaska.
Alaska has the lowest tax burden of any state. Its State Permanent Fund, funded by oil revenues, will return $3,269 to each citizen in 2008. It has no sales tax. Alaska receives very large federal subsidies.
The price of crude oil increased from $25 a barrel in the mid-1980s to a high of more than $140 a barrel in 2008. During Palin's time as governor, the price of crude oil increased from about $60 a barrel in 2006 to the peak mentioned previously. With the increase came a corresponding increase in state revenues.
It's hard to imagine any governor could have failed to balance the budget or provide tax cuts in such an environment.
The population of Alaska is 670,720, compared with Ventura County's 799,720.
How well does experience in Alaskan politics prepare Sarah for the challenges of many city and state governments in the lower 48 states? This comparison deals only with local and state governments. National and international experience and broader education are not included in this comparison.
-- Bill Robinson, Westlake Village
I wonder how many would-be Barack Obama voters are aware of just how radical his position on abortion really is. As a state senator in Illinois, he voted against a bill that would have protected babies who had been born as a result of a failed abortion. This bill would have prevented such babies from being left to die. A similar bill was passed by Congress, nearly unanimously, with liberal senators such as John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer supporting it.
Furthermore, Obama has stated that one his first priorities as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. Among other things, this bill would essentially reinstate partial-birth abortion, which was outlawed by a bipartison bill passed in Congress five years ago.
In both cases, his position supports not only abortion, but acts that essentially amount to infanticide. When a newborn is allowed to die simply because he or she was supposed to be aborted, is this not infanticide? Can our next president really be someone who holds these views?
I would hope that anyone who is thinking of voting for Obama would first seriously consider his approach to these two bills.
-- Noel D'Angelo, Thousand Oaks
Re: Lisa Padilla's Sept. 20 letter, "Prop. 8 is about rights":
Retaining the use of the word "marriage" to describe the legal union between a man and woman only is not for the purpose of "devaluing" the gay relationship, but rather makes a distinction between the two. They are not the same.
Though most individuals usually desire a legal union for the purposes of love, traditional marriage also provides for the creation, nurturing, rearing and protection of children. This is the essential, fundamental unit of society.
I will "teach my values at home," but I ask that everyone do the same. This is not a subject that is appropriate to teach in the public schools, and doing so would infringe upon my rights as a parent.
I don't understand Padilla's statement, "This is a vote to protect the rights of all individuals." How is calling a gay union "marriage" protecting a "right?" Where is it stated that redefining marriage is a "human right?" What about people's rights that don't agree with Padilla's?
Whatever my reasons are for supporting Proposition 8, Padilla must not assume that I teach intolerance or am judgmental. I, too, have never tried to, or desired to, "ruin a life." Is Padilla being tolerant of me?
As I stated before, gay couples, under the domestic partnership law, have all the same rights, benefits and protections as married spouses. I find it hard to believe that just not calling it marriage would "ruin a life" or make the "attainment of happiness" impossible.
-- Kathy Austen, Thousand Oaks
As a senior in high school, I am finally the "top dog" of the campus and the leader whom everyone follows. But as a senior, I cannot only domineer over those younger than me; I have a responsibility, like all those who are older.
My responsibility is to be an exemplar of a model student and citizen, and with that comes caring for my environment.
All human beings have the responsibility to care for the planet. Unfortunately, I have recently come to the conclusion that even if we say we care for the environment, when our pocketbooks are aching, we throw "we care for the environment" in the backseat.
As a fellow citizen of the road, I know the truth of the exorbitant gas prices. Fortunately, our government felt it was necessary this time around to step in and take charge. Their plan: offshore drilling.
Offshore drilling is a pernicious plan that will not only take seven to 10 years to start getting any oil, according to the Washington Post, and will only last about two and a half years, according to USA Today -- not much for a cure-all remedy -- but offshore drilling will also endanger aquatic wildlife.
This temporary relief should not be our first game plan. We should look to spend our money in ways that can last more than a few years. Giving the money allocated towards offshore drilling to researchers looking for alternative energy sources will improve our national security by providing self-sufficiency for more than just a few years.
Although this somewhat "immediate" relief to our pocketbooks may seem appealing, we must look further than two feet in front of us and look all the way down the road. Our planet needs our help, and oil drilling is definitely not the answer.
-- Catherine Maleki, Westlake Village
Get cell phones out of stores and restaurants. I don't like to go out to restaurants anymore to hear everyone's conversations. I had a driver run into my car while he was on a cell phone. I had more than $3,000 in damage to my car! Ban cell phones now in restaurants and cars. Contact your legislator and demand a complete cell phone ban in cars and restaurants now!
-- George Owens, Simi Valley
Is "bailout" brought to us by the same people who orchestrated "war in Iraq?" Then it must be good. Let's do this quickly before any facts or the truth gets in the way of the Bush administration's $700 billion parting gift to America.
-- Marc Wilde, Ventura
A trillion dollars to bail out hedge funds and junk bond investors does not sit well with most Americans. What is wrong with putting that trillion dollars into jobs for the American people who then can pay taxes and buy houses? After all, it's our money.
Why are we still taking care of the fat cats and not the poor guy who lost his job and his house?
-- Gus Valenzuela, Camarillo
Re: The Rev. Christine Miller's Sept. 9 letter, "Sex-ed matters":
Miller asks, "How and when are kids supposed to learn about 'the birds and bees,' i.e., the biology involved, how to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and, especially, HIV/AIDS" if not taught in public schools? The answer is parental guidance and responsibility.
-- Randolph Kreck, Ventura
Here are two questions all voters must ask and answer before casting their votes: To paraphrase a famous Republican, are you better off now than you were eight years ago before Republicans took over, and is our country better off now than it was eight years ago before the Republicans took over?
It's time to change. Sweep out the Republicans!
-- Lesly Wells, Thousand Oaks
As many of us know, you only get one chance to make a first impression. No person knows this better than Simi Valley City Councilman Steve Sojka.
In 2004, Sojka was committed to beautifying the 118 freeway in Simi Valley, which included its on- and off-ramps. Sojka has worked very closely with the Ventura County Transportation Commission, the California Department of Transportation and local businesses to secure freeway landscaping funds to improve our community's aesthetic value and overall quality of life.
As a longtime Simi Valley resident, I am grateful that Sojka sees the value of beautifying our community. Not only has he been able to help create an improved image for residents, but, equally important, an improved image for visitors, shoppers and prospective businesses wishing to do business in Simi Valley. Sojka is committed to making Simi Valley's first impression count.
Through Sojka's efforts, our community has become further committed to beautifying the freeway system through town. Despite tough budgetary times, Steve is committed to unlocking opportunities to acquire the necessary funds to create lush green landscaping where there used to be empty spaces overgrown with weeds.
In a time when arts education and respect for the aesthetic value of community have been replaced by the talk of lipstick and budget shortages, it's great to see Sojka making beautification and landscaping a local priority.
-- Ginny Hayward, Simi Valley
It is a known fact that about 40 percent of wage-earners pay no taxes. The top 10 percent of wage-earners pay about 40 percent of all income tax collected. How is this fair?
Fairness doesn't enter into it. Last week, vice presidential candidate Joe Biden told us that for wage-earners in the $250,000-a-year and above bracket, a Barack Obama-Biden administration wants them to pay more tax because it's "patriotic." So payment of confiscatory and coerced tribute to the government is a direct measure of one's patriotism? I always knew I was patriotic, and now I have the tax bill to prove it! In fact, I'm in the top 5 to 10 percent of American tax patriots!
By extension, this must mean that those who pay no tax are unpatriotic to the extreme. If those who pay the most taxes are the most patriotic, shouldn't those who are so unpatriotic as to pay no tax have some consequence of their patent lack of patriotism? Perhaps a sliding scale of rights and services linked to one's taxes would be "fair."
This remark by Biden provides a shuddering insight into his utter lack of judgment and intelligence. When any politician speaks of "fairness" of income taxation policy, it is a thinly veiled call for income redistribution. They always want to take from those who produce and give to those who don't. A flat tax would be far more equitable and encouraging to business.
-- Sean O'Hara, Ventura
I miss letters. Not that I ever received too many of them, but I miss my address scrawled out on the envelope. The 23-cent stamp voided with grill marks. The folded looseleaf and lines of blue script. Chatty paragraphs from pen pals or long-distance friends updating me on their lives. I's dotted with stars; T's crossed with squiggly lines looking like a worm moving across a wooden stick on the beach; the vague scents of foreign places; the one-way conversation.
I don't remember the last time I received a letter, and I don't remember the last time I wrote one. It seems like a relic of a bygone century now, a time when we'd condense months of information and thoughts and emotions into a few pages and maybe a picture. A time when my mailbox contained more than wedding invitations, birth announcements, introductory letters from mortgage brokers and credit cards, and that awe-inspiring color now known as "Netflix-Red."
Between cell phones, e-mail, Skype, text messaging, Gchat, Facebook, Twitter, myspace, and, oh yeah, Blogger, it's still not difficult to remain detached from people who were once a large part of my life. We're all within reach now more than ever, but it still takes an effort to remain connected. Remember those hand cramps you'd get from writing a lot? These days our hands are so out of shape I bet I couldn't write a half a page before feeling the fatigue and strain in my left hand.
However, with communication being so immediate, we've lost the chance for our thoughts to stew and develop.
Say goodbye to the poetry of distance -- and with this immediate ability to communicate, it remains an intriguing notion. Look at text messaging. What are these people saying to each other? My guess is they're saying very little but enjoying the means and context of having a conversation with a friend while being anywhere.
-- Scott Powers, Ventura
What's one of the most dangerous weapons of the 21st century? Your cell phone. There is no age limit, no test or license required. Statistics prove that a large percentage of all traffic deaths are caused by careless cell phone users.
How important was that text message that killed 25 people, including the engineer who sent it? What could it possibly have said to justify losing 25 people?
Fines are not the answer. They will not stop the bloodshed. As we all know, there is not enough money in the world to bring back even one of those people who died in that train wreck.
Please, use your cell phones responsibly and prevent more tragedy. The next victim could be you or someone you love. Let's stop the carnage now!
-- Susan Malvick, Thousand Oaks
It hasn't been mentioned as far as I know, but reading between the lines it seems inescapable that the Union Pacific freight train was rolling along with green signal lights. The Uniion Pacific engineer's first knowledge of the opposite-direction Metrolink train -- and action taken -- was when he saw it visually.
What kind of train control system do we have in 2008 that provides green signal lights for a train in imminent danger of a head-on collision with an opposite-direction train on the same track? Is it too much to ask that the signals provide more than dispatch clearance onto a block of track? Has not the inadequate science of train control advanced at all in the last 50 or 100 years? This makes me sick.
-- Terry Wall, Somis
As we read about the lives of those who died in the Metrolink tragedy, we are moved by the realization that these were ordinary yet special people, dearly loved by their families and friends, going about their everyday lives with the expectation that they would return home as usual.
This could have been us, or our loved ones, and we are jolted by the reminder that each day could be our last. We need to be ready for eternity and help others be ready as well.
God wants us to be prepared; he wants us to spend eternity with him, not separated from him. He loves us and has made every provision for us, and he wants us to know, not wonder, where we are going. The Bible says in 1 John 5:11-13, "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
If anyone desires this assurance, God has revealed himself and his plan for us in the Bible. He rewards those who earnestly seek him, so let's seek him today before it's too late!
-- Jane Boyer, Camarillo
Re: your Sept. 21 article, "Talk of rail's future follows deadly crash":
The train control system shown in The Star is very complicated and relies to a great extent on the infallibility of computers controlled by a global positioning system.
The main problem is the failure of a train engineer to stop for a red signal.
The train is already equipped with a "deadman control," which, if activated, removes the power from the traction motors and applies the brakes to bring the train to a screeching halt. A red signal combined with an electric signal that activates the "deadman control" in the engine would be all that's required.
-- Kurt Heck, Somis
It appears that we can't depend on human beings anymore to be responsible, duty-bound and careful in doing their jobs. In the future, we'll have to transfer these qualities to sophisticated machines that will presumably do a better job than we human beings do. Preferably, such a job as mass transportation of human beings to short- or long-distance destinations should be handed to conductorless machines so lives could be saved.
It's no wonder U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly and two other congressmen from California in the wake of Chatsworth disaster have filed legislation that would require railroads to install "positive train control" systems. Why not? When we human beings are becoming more and more irresponsible and cannot control our urge to indulge in text messaging and showing a very negative poor judgment at our job, then machines should take positive control over human's negative behavior.
It would be very prudent for human beings to design a personal means of transportation that would be driveless, accident preventive and pedestrian sensitive. Our universities have already developed smart computer programs to teach our new generations, and we hear that soon computers will replace our physicians and provide accurate diagnoses of our illnesses. In grocery stores' checkout stands, we won't need any human help any more -- this has already started in some places -- and soon in restaurants, dinner plates will arrive on conveyor belts.
Therefore, it appears that every disaster has a silver lining! Our congressmen can immediately think of some positive control system technology instead of advising us to control our behavior and exhibit some positive attitude when we are on duty. No one is realizing that no matter how many new technologies we develop, we shall never be able to come up with a substitute for human beings' sense of duty and responsibility.
-- Qazi N. Uddin, Ventura
This "gift" of millions of taxpayers' dollars must not be given to these banker thieves. They must not be rewarded for being complicit in America's credit crisis, the one that they helped create. Do not allow the taxpayers to bail out more of President Bush's cronies!
-- Katya Volpi, Westlake Village
How can we expect the American public to remember our prisoners of war or those missing in action if the U.S. Postal Service can't remember to fly the POW/MIA flag as required by Public Law 105-85?
-- Phil Schoeffling, Newbury Park
After more than six years of employment at a local church/school, I recently was approached by two leaders and told that I had been doing a great job, but in order to keep all their pastors, they had to abolish my position as facility manager. I was handed a check that included pay for the rest of that day -- one and a half hours later. There was no notice, no severance, no 77 hours of accumulated sick leave, not even pay to the end of the pay period, which was the end of the next day.
My first move was to apply for unemployment insurance. I soon found out that, as a church, they have the option of paying into the system or not.
My next move was to contact the labor union, and I discovered that churches do not fall under their laws.
Upon my hiring and during my tenure, I was never advised of these rules.
So, I am warning church employees to check on their benefits so that they will not be caught unaware, as was I.
-- Clarence L. Brueckner,
Re: George Will's Sept. 19 essay, "Running a house divided":
I thank George for explaining that my problem with Sarah Palin is that, as a liberal, "my enthusiasm for everyday middle-class Americans cannot survive an encounter with one."
Gosh, I thought my problem with her is that she lied about taking earmarks, lied about her support for the "Bridge to Nowhere," is already under an ethics investigation even though she's only been governor for 21 months, believes that living within sight of Russia qualifies her to run the foreign policy of the most powerful country in the world, has a husband who believes he is above the law and needn't comply with a subpoena, and is campaigning by reviving Karl Rove's shrill culture war attacks.
I'm glad George has set me straight.
-- Susan Goodkin, Ventura
If the cause is still in place, the effects continue to be generated.
The cause of the financial meltdown is people not telling the truth and taking responsibility for their behavior. No amount of government bailouts will change that, and the causes will continue to create ever-greater economic problems until they are addressed.
Why would I trust an institution that has acted irresponsibly and refused to admit it and learn from its mistakes? I wouldn't trust an individual who acted that way.
Without trust, business stops.
It's important to restate the purpose of business, as so many need to be reminded of it. The purpose of business is to facilitate the exchange of what people have to offer such that everyone in the trade is better off than when they started out -- period. Giving a stated income loan to a W2 wage earner where the initial mortgage payments don't even cover the interest charged is not a mutually beneficial activity. It's fraud leading to foreclosure, which hurts everyone.
I take responsibility for not being more vocal about this sooner. This letter is a part of correcting that error. Until a whole lot more people take responsibility for their part in this financial mess, it will continue to get worse -- period.
-- Scott Friedman, Camarillo
(The writer is a mortgage broker. -- Editor)
I never would have believed that I would wake up one morning and be living in a socialist country and that socialism is the best plan the Bush administration can come up with to save its friends with all the money.
All of the problems we have today were caused by one thing: greed. If we make these companies weather their own storm, we will be stronger when we recover from the troubles of today. Maybe the people who lost money will be ready to follow the rules for safely investing their money.
After viewing these troubles, I think of how the people are trying to elect a person who placed 894th out of 899 in his class and a PTA mom to run this country. I am beginning to think that if brain matter was worth a million dollars an ounce, the American people are truly bankrupt.
-- John Scholfield, Ojai
Something seems gravely amiss with the current federal bailout plan, which has been described as "the privatizing of profits, the socializing of losses."
With the massive profits made in recent years by corporations, their executives and some Wall Street investors, primarily enriching a very small segment of the population, for all taxpayers to be held responsible for the irresponsible fiscal behaviors of those reaping the profits -- and causing the ultimate losses -- seems wrong in the extreme. There may be no good financial alternative, but where is the accountability for the misguided policies and the excessive greed?
For one presidential candidate to say "the economy is fundamentally strong" and he has "always been a deregulator" one day, and then claim that regulators were "asleep at the wheel" and blame the other candidate for the lack of oversight that his own key staff members instigated 10 years ago by promoting anti-regulatory policies, is the ultimate in duplicity.
The straight talk express has taken a very circuitous route and has become the politically expedient, truth-challenged express.
-- Bill Hessell, Oak View
Because the people we elected are unable to change basic money problems, let us make a real change, perhaps by forming a third party that will spend only money we have available. They would be a swing vote.
-- Perry Paulson, Camarillo
Re: your Sept. 20 article, "Oxnard to offer plan for traffic":
Oxnard Councilman Tim Flynn says the city's traffic plan is "too little, too late." That's from a politician hoisting yet another irresponsible comment in his ambitious run for higher office -- and who has signed off on the city's budget every year since coming to office.
With developer fees providing most of the capital, city planners have worked hard to improve the flow of traffic in this thriving community of 200,000. We now have only three intersections that fall below a Level "C" ranking, and one of those is slated for improvement as the Rice Avenue-Highway101 interchange is about to be addressed.
However, as the proponents of this measure know, the one intersection that will inevitably be triggered by their initiative -- Five Points, near the center of the city -- will result in a $40 million unfunded mandate or simply no progress anywhere in our fair town under the Flynn plan.
While the city endeavors to continue sensible funded programs, as described in The Star's article, Flynn's draconian Measure V has already negatively impacted the local economy. Companies are now reconsidering their ability to expand and grow in Oxnard. Workers face additional job loss at a time when our economy is in critical condition. And, because of the inability to predict future funding, projects on the planning board have come to a screeching halt thanks to just the threat of his reckless initiative. This endangers the ability of the city to pay for their package of solutions as Measure V has no funding mechanism if ever implemented.
Folks, we've been managing quite well, and now there are jobs and progress for the area that have all been stifled for the pursuit of one man's political agenda? Compared to similar cities in size and scope, the majority of us feel the city has been doing quite well in attending to community needs, thank you.
I urge voters to maintain the quality of life here in the city of Oxnard -- and send a clear no vote against Measure V and Flynn come Election Day.
-- Rick Conrad, Oxnard
Re: your Sept. 21 article, "Politically divided":
The excellent article on the face off between Hannah-Beth Jackson and Tony Strickland once again highlights the almost purely emotional arguments Jackson consistently uses in place of any substantial understanding of job creation and economics. She refers to "the messes big business have made in their pursuit of nothing other than profit." Since when did making a profit become a bad thing?
Profit allows business to grow because they are able to obtain capital (loans) at lower rates. Growth means they need to hire people like you and me, who then can buy homes and other goods and services, thus contributing to the economy. Profitable corporations, both large and small, also pay millions of dollars in taxes -- taxes that provide the money for social programs.
Jackson also refers to Bush's "tax cuts for the wealthy." This is a patently untrue sound-byte that is repeated over and over because it sounds pithy. In reality, in 2006, the top 10 percent of earners paid 70.8 percent of the federal taxes collected for that year. Prior to the Bush tax cut, the peak in 2000 was 67.3 percent, according to the IRS Statistics of Income Division.
Removing the incentive and motivation to produce a profit and create jobs and invest actually contributes to a lower standard of living for everyone. Policies based on a lack of logic -- unintentional or deliberate -- hurt us all, not just the "evil" businesses or the wealthy.
-- Ken Hurd, Camarillo
There are those who say that the government plan to rescue the economy has been too slow in coming. Others say it has been cobbled together too hastily. I say, let's be fair. Planning has been neither too slow nor too fast -- only half-fast.
-- Marvin Petal, Oxnard
Politics today has become more about personalities than ideas, to the detriment of us all. What is true on the national level is also true closer to home. Response to Measure U, the ballot measure intended to unify Camarillo schools, is often met with, "I don't like the way the school board has handled things, they don't deserve my support."
Well, I, too, have issues with some of the conduct and decisions made by the Pleasant Valley School District Board of Education over the years. But a vote on Measure U is not about the sitting members of the PVSD board. It is not about the past.
Measure U is about the future. It is about local control of local tax dollars. It is about local control of the K-12 education of our children. It is about establishing a cohesive continuum of educational philosophy and practice from preschool through adult education for our community.
Change can be viewed as frightening or exciting. I choose to view this opportunity as exciting. We have the opportunity to build on the outstanding educational program that currently serves our K-8 children. The enthusiasm, the commitment, the dedication, the creativity and the rigor of PVSD teachers and staff will extend to serve the whole community.
Our yes vote in November is a vote for the future. Its impact will extend over years and decades, long after we are gone. It is the right vote for the future, it is the right vote for our children and it is the right vote for our community.
Vote yes on Measure U.
-- Christine Elliott, Camarillo
Even if they save the banks and investment houses, even if they keep people in their homes in spite of arrearages, even if they put them back into their homes after foreclosure, even if they give everyone an incentive package of $5,000, these are only Band-aids. We will be right back in the hole without jobs.
Protectionism isn't really a bad word. So will they put tariffs on American goods that are shipped overseas? We don't produce anything anymore anyway! We need to force the corporations to hire Americans by taxing them and/or giving them tax cuts. Tax all imports.
Let's get back to "buying American."
-- Bernard Lehrer, Ventura
What an asset Steve Sojka has been for the Simi Valley community, not only for his service with the City Council, but in other important endeavors.
Specifically, as a leading member of the Rotary Club of Simi Valley, Steve has been instrumental in reshaping our annual Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza. Today the event is about more than simply watching fireworks; it now offers family entertainment and the raising of a considerable amount of funds for organizations in town.
Steve has worked tirelessly to secure major sponsors for our Fourth of July event the past decade. Because of his efforts, we now have very committed sponsors who make this event their top priority in providing much needed support for our community. This work allowed us to keep the event free to the people of Simi Valley.
Because of Steve's dedication, the event has become one of the premier communitywide events that really showcases all that is great about Simi Valley.
If not for Steve's efforts, especially the past several years, we would not have made any money to give back to the people who need it the most in our community.
Steve Sojka most definitely deserves another term with the City Council.
-- Scott Santino, Simi Valley
The entire Oak Park community can be proud of Oak Park schools. They provide an exceptional education. Oak Park student performance levels are the highest in Ventura County and among the best in the state and nation.
While our students and teachers are performing at a superior level, local school buildings and classrooms are aging. Basic repairs and upgrades are necessary to meet current safety, health and seismic standards.
If approved by voters, Measure R would be the first local school bond in 30 years for basic school and classroom repairs. Measure R will ensure a safer, up-to-date setting for local children to learn -- in a setting that supports the quality of education we expect.
Investments we make in Oak Park schools today will ensure that students obtain a high-quality education in a safe environment. Measure R will benefit our property values and our entire community, whether or not we have children in school.
Measure R will make high-priority, basic repairs to aging schools and classrooms. Projects include replacing failing roofs, replacing outdated fire alarms and security systems, renovating classrooms and science labs, improving seismic safety and making other basic repairs to meet modern health and safety standards. It also provides citizen oversight to ensure all bond funds are spent as promised.
Measure R will also qualify Oak Park schools for state matching funds.
Measure R funds can't be taken by the state or diverted to other areas. Every dime will be used to repair and upgrade Oak Park schools.
We can't depend on state government to take care of Oak Park schools. Measure R provides local funds to repair local schools, with local oversight of all spending.
Please join us and vote yes on Measure R to repair and upgrade Oak Park schools.
-- Mike Paule, Jay Kapitz, Barbara Schwartz, Oak Park
(The writers are co-chairs for Oak Park Citizens for Excellent Schools - Yes on Measure R. -- Editor)
I have known Steve Sojka dating back to our days at Simi Valley High School, and I can vouch for this: Steve has not changed, despite his considerable success.
He was then as he is now a genuine, honest person who truly cares about the hometown that he will tell you has been kind to him and his family. He gives back his time because he feels he needs to give back to his community.
That's the kind of person we need on the Simi Valley City Council, someone serving for the right reason - to serve the community and its residents, to make it a better place for us all - not for glory, power or ego.
I'm voting again for Steve Sojka on Nov. 4 and strongly recommend that many others join me.
-- Michael McIntyre, Simi Valley
Where's my bailout?
Now that former Texas Gov. George W. Bush is eating crow and all but admitting that the deregulatory, union-bashing, "leave it to the private sector" Reagan-era-onward policies were a failed and utterly incompetent business model, how are we, Joe Taxpayer, going to pay for it?
The market for good jobs is tighter than ever, and real wages have been and are declining. Our highly touted "service" economy won't be able to cover the $7,000 tab, which means that we looking at a chasm -- Depression is too mild a term for it -- that we won't be able to climb out of if John McCain's economic policies get selected. We have a sliver of a chance with Barack Obama's policies -- if they don't get tied up in political wrangling -- by investing in ourselves, retooling and rebuilding our country.
By the way, shouldn't those who profited the most by this failed business model going back about 28 years be accountable and have to pay it back?
-- Mike Garai, Thousand Oaks
Re: Bill O'Reilly's Sept. 20 commentary, "An economic Katrina roars through Wall Street":
In criticizing Christopher Cox, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, O'Reilly is as clueless as John McCain.
The Wall Street Journal blasted McCain in an editorial Friday, declaring Cox was blameless and calling McCain ignorant and "unpresidential." McCain said he'd fire Cox if he were president. In fact, Cox may only be removed by impeachment. These blunders aren't funny.
Warren Buffett three years ago said Wall Street's mortgage-backed bonds were "instruments of mass financial destruction." Economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz agreed. But Alan Greenspan and George Bush refused to rein in Wall Street. The problem isn't "the federal government." It's Republican government based on Reaganism.
The next president will not fix the world's financial system if his name is John McCain. He'd crash it, like all those Navy planes he crashed. The conservative Economist magazine stated that, regarding economics, McCain would be "out of his depth in ankle-deep water." Note that McCain's principal economic adviser, Phil Gramm, has taken millions of dollars from Wall Street as a lobbyist. McCain's staff is crawling with lobbyists. The thought of McCain and Gramm in charge of economic policy, cheered on by O'Reilly, is deeply troubling.
-- Ian Freeman, Thousand Oaks
After seeing Barack Obama on "60 Minutes" outlining his nationalized healthcare program and hearing his projection that it would cost the American taxpayers around $150 billion, it occurred to me that we just paid $85 billion for a controlling interest in AIG.
How about if we, as the new CEOs of AIG, start a new program that offers national healthcare to every man, woman and child in America? If we figure that there are approximately 300,000,000 people in America today, and if we charge each person a $5 annual "premium," this would infuse $600 billion into our new asset -- and ultimately the economy -- immediately and would fund a basic program for years to come.
I can't imagine Americans would balk at $5 for a "first-use charge" for this new system. And for people who can't pay it, their $5 could come from fines assessed to the people who manipulated the system that has forced us into the position to take over AIG in the first place.
Of course, these are broad strokes and simple numbers, but if American taxpayers are going to bail out Wall Street, we deserve to get something back for our money.
The beautiful irony here is that President Bush, a staunch enemy to nationalized healthcare, will have opened the door to it through his corporate bailout that was designed to save his self-proclaimed "base" of the "have-mores."
I'm all for letting Barack Obama take the lemons that Bush has given us and turning them into national healthcare lemonade. My only problem with this is that if a national healthcare system was to be a byproduct of one of Bush's greatest blunders -- and we all know how many there are to choose from -- he might actually leave behind a legacy that he can feel proud of as he's serving out his sentence in an international prison.
Ah, the audacity of hope.
-- John Loprieno, Westlake Village
A farmer buys seed and fertilizer to plant a crop of wheat. The price the farmer pays for seed and fertilizer includes the corporate income tax, and also the federal income tax, state income tax and Social Security tax of the employees who work for the seed and fertilizer companies.
When the farmer sells his wheat to a bakery, the price the bakery pays includes those taxes the farmer paid to the fertilizer and seed companies. The farmer's price to the bakery also includes the farmer's corporate taxes and the federal and state taxes for the farmer's employees, as well as the farmer's property tax.
The bakery's price to the grocery store for bread includes of all the taxes already mentioned and the same types of taxes for the bakery's own corporate, employee income taxes and property taxes.
The point is that when you purchase a loaf of bread, you pay all those taxes indirectly. In fact, without exception, all taxes are eventually paid by the consumer.
To be explicit, when Barack Obama and Hannah-Beth Jackson tell you that they will pay for programs by "closing loopholes" or "windfall profit taxes" on corporate income, they are simply increasing your cost of goods and services. When they want to "tax the wealthy" -- normally owners of small businesses like the farmer, the small local baker and the corner small grocer -- the same result applies. This chain of events is similar for all food, clothing, gas and shelter.
Some have calculated that the hidden taxes described above account for 20 percent of the price consumers pay for goods and services. Others put the percentage much higher.
There is no spin, there is no explaining away, these simple truths:
1. "Closing corporate tax loopholes" and "windfall profit taxes" will increase the cost of goods and services those corporations must charge, and you pay for it.
2. The facts presented above hit the poor the hardest. The "champions of the poor" are increasing the costs of living for those they purport to help.
Oh, and when they propose another "program" to help mitigate this fact, it means another tax increase. And remember, as outlined above, those taxes will again increase the costs of goods and services to those who can afford it least.
-- William Burke, Thousand Oaks
My mom was a product of the Depression years and the thinking that went with it. Married in 1931, she and my dad went to a bank that offered free budget planning as one of their first steps to handling money in their marriage. They lost money in bank closings, and my grandfather's sheet metal business was hit hard. She remembered well the lessons learned during those hard and uncertain financial years.
During Mom's last years prior to her death in 1999, when the 1990s financial bubble was beginning to burst, I recall an oft-repeated phrase, "It could happen again." I knew she was referring to the Great Depression.
Once, when putting things away in her refrigerator after a shopping trip, I noticed a metal box on the bottom shelf, and I asked, "What's in there?" She replied "My reserve fund." She said she hadn't counted it for awhile. Well, there was more than $2,000 from money she made crocheting Raggedy Anns and Andys for many friends and those who had heard about her wonderful dolls. The money simply went into the "cold cash" fund.
It's not that she did not trust banks, but if something happened, she had cash to pay her bills and buy her food for awhile.
When my dad died nine years earlier, we spent an entire day going from bank to bank putting my name on her accounts -- certificate of deposit after CD, all well under the FDIC limit at that time so everything was insured. Mom and Dad had learned never to put all their eggs in one basket.
If I could say something to my mom right now, it would be, "Guess what the headlines were this morning? You were right, Mom. It could happen again."
-- Bob Fitch, Thousand Oaks
Re: Cleta Goldberg's Sept. 17 letter, "Wrong target":
Excuse me? Osama bin Laden is a Saudi, and he is hiding out in Afghanistan. How exactly does his attack on the United States relate to President Bush ordering the U.S. to attack Saddam Hussein in Iraq? Wrong target, indeed!
-- Stephanie Tiffany, Ventura
I was born in 1918, so in 2005, when I went to renew my driver's license, I was 87 years old. They gave me the written test and checked my vision, then issued me a license that expires in 2010. I will then be 92, or dead.
It seems to me that this is outrageous. As we get older, we lose various abilities. Considering the inescapable hazards awaiting every driver, I think that old, experienced drivers should be required to demonstrate, by a hands-on test, that the old skills remain intact. After all, those of us still driving become targets for all the others out there.
It will break my heart when they ground me, but if it saves my bones, it will be worth it.
-- Hal Wilder, Camarillo
We do not get involved in sharing our views about politics or religion, but we are concerned about the way our state is heading morally, especially for our children and grandchildren.
We respect the rights of everyone to live as they choose. No one is asking anyone to change their lifestyle. What others do is their business, but when something is going to affect our family and loved ones, it becomes our business.
We are asking families and friends to log on to protectmarriage.com for information on Proposition 8.
In the year 2000, more than 61 percent of the people in California voted for the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman. Recently, four judges overruled it on a 4-3 vote. We do not feel that it is right that a few judges can overrule the will of the people! It is not their role to define American values.
Proposition 8 is the same proposition that passed in 2000. This time, we want it in the California Constitution so it cannot be overruled again.
Proposition 8 will not change anything for the gays or lesbians. They will have all the same legal rights as domestic partners, just as in a marriage between a man and woman. "Domestic partners," "married partners" -- that is the only difference! Proposition 8 is not designed against the homosexuals. It is designed to protect and sanctify marriage between a man and woman. For people who believe in God, there are several scriptures in the Bible that testify of marriage only between a man and woman. For people who do not believe in a religion, the importance of the sanctity of marriage is still the same.
The will of the people should not be overturned by lawyers or judges. Please vote yes on Proposition 8 in November!
-- Gerald Mathews, Fillmore
Re: Cleta Goldberg's Sept. 17 letter, "Wrong target":
I don't understand why Goldberg does not think President Bush is the right target with regard to America's decline. Yes, it was Osama bin Laden who attacked us on Sept. 11, but under whose watch did it occur? Oh, that's right, it was under Bush's watch.
I do not speak for Barack Obama, but I do blame President Bush for America's decline because:
1. The 9/11 attack occurred under Bush's watch. Let us not forget that he was reading "My Pet Goat" to schoolchildren after he was informed that the first plane hit one of the Twin Towers.
2. Illegal wiretapping occurred under Bush's watch.
3. Torture occurred under Bush's watch.
4. A war of choice occurred under Bush's watch, which has so far cost Americans more than $300 billion, not to mention the cost of lives of our children sent to fight this senseless war. Our children's lives are priceless! Did you forget that we went to war with Iraq over the search for weapons of mass destruction that were never found?
5. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was doing a "heck of a job" for Hurricane Katrina victims, per Bush.
6. The decline of the American economy has occurred under Bush's watch -- the mortgage meltdown, the banking industry meltdown, the high price of groceries, the high price of gas, etc.
7. The middle class is slowly disappearing. People are living paycheck to paycheck, people cannot afford the basics. What has happened to this "land of opportunity?"
I could continue with the reasons as to why I blame Bush for America's decline, but you get the picture!
If you are a Republican who plans to continue America's decline by voting with your party, I urge you to reconsider. John Mc Cain stated earlier this week that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," and with Sarah Palin as his running mate, be afraid. Be very afraid!
-- Rosie Garcia, Oxnard
We would like to thank publicly all of the people who came to our aid at the Fourth of July Street Fair in Ventura.
While waiting for my daughter and son-in-law, I fell back in my walker and hit my head on the sidewalk. Two wonderful couples stopped to help, got me ice, water, located my daughter and called 911. They also stayed with us until the paramedics arrived. It is very comforting for my husband and me to know that there are kind and caring people who will stop to help in these situations.
As for the paramedics who responded, as in past experiences, they were efficient, kind and caring. We are so thankful to all of the men and women of the fire department who always respond with great professionalism.
I was taken to Ventura County Medical Center, my first visit and experience with this hospital, and all I can say is bravo! I have nothing but wonderful things to say about every member of the Emergency Room staff, every doctor and the entire nursing staff in the intensive care unit and direct observation unit that tended to my care. Every member of the VCMC team that I came in contact with was efficient, caring, compassionate and knowledgeable. I know that this is a teaching hospital, and they are doing a wonderful job of teaching their staff that patients, above all, are real people who deserve respect and quality, compassionate care. This is truly a hospital of excellence.
After many disappointing experiences at Community Memorial Hospital, my family and I are very comforted to know that Ventura does have a hospital of this caliber.
Thank you, VCMC, for your excellent care.
-- Beverly & Vaughn Hough, Ventura
What a choice this nation now has before it! The choice is now clear -- a choice between extreme pro-death and a choice of extreme pro-life. So before this nation votes, we had better understand what is at stake.
Will we vote pro-death and continue to have the cloud of the culture of death hanging over this nation? Or will we vote for the sanctity of life and receive peace and calm? It is a choice between a freshman and a ripened senior.
Bravo, John McCain, for a brave, bold move. Now history will be made, whether Barack Obama wins or McCain. The choice is clear, America.
-- Roland Delgado, Oxnard
I just received another mailer from Hannah-Beth Jackson in her campaign for state Senate. In it, she again attacks her opponent, Tony Strickland, for every evil imaginable.
From what I've read, Strickland has a record of saving Californians billions of dollars during the energy crisis, fighting to cut waste in government, offering real renewable energy solutions and promoting tax relief for burdened families. It's really too bad that Jackson continues her negative attacks on Strickland while offering no valid solutions to our state's economic crisis. Her cure for our economic ills seems to be increasing the tax burden on our state's already struggling residents.
Why should we reward legislators who have taken so much of our money and spent us into a horrible deficit? It's time we tell the politicians in Sacramento that enough is enough and elect leaders who allow us to keep more of our own hard-earned money and fight the rampant waste in government. Tony Strickland has a record of doing just that.
-- Debby Heron, Ventura
Unbelievable, but completely believable. Those are the only words to describe Gov. Sarah Palin's refusal to comply with subpoenas compelling her, her staff and her husband to testify in the so-called "troopergate" investigation -- an investigation she supported wholeheartedly before she became John McCain's running mate.
Since her arrogant flouting of the law will delay any meaningful action until after the election, only one question seems relevant: "What is Sarah Palin trying to hide?"
-- Tim Vandehey, Ventura
Sen. John McCain gave a speech recently in Iowa that focused primarily on the economy. As I was watching and listening to McCain, I noticed down in the right corner of the CNN screen the activity of the New York Stock Exchange. When the senator began his remarks, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 13 points for the day. When the senator finished, the Dow was down 53 points. It seems to me that this might be an indication of how Wall Street views McCain's plans for the economy.
-- Jack Doman, Newbury Park
Sen. John McCain is desperately trying to find a scapegoat for the financial crisis. He was one of the politicians in favor of deregulating the banks. After succeeding in removing rules that would have prevented the present mess, he is trying to pin the blame on everyone else.
-- Barbara Bucsis, Newbury Park
Last week's Metrolink train crash was tragic, and its effects have been felt countywide. As longtime residents of Ventura County and members of humanity, my family and I have the deepest sympathy for the families who had a loved one either killed or injured in this terrible accident. It seems like everybody in this area has a connection to at least one of the victims, so the sense of mourning is shared by a vast majority in our community, and rightly so. We, as a community, lost many friends and loved ones, and we share in the grief, the anger at the parties at fault, and the prayers for speedy recovery of the injured.
For this reason, I find it offensive that within days of the accident, several large ads have appeared in The Star by law firms offering services for the families of the victims of the Metrolink tragedy, even offering discounted fees versus their competitors. Is it just me, or does this seem pretty sick and very premature? Some of the victims have not yet been laid to rest, and many families are still trying to cope with their loss and make sense of the tragedy, yet there they are, in big bold print, some ads up to a quarter page or more.
In addition, there was an article in The Star about "experts" predicting up to $500 million in potential liability from claims and lawsuits. Isn't it wonderful that in so little time, the paper is plastered with lawyer ads and has managed to discuss the monetary value of the loss of human life?
I realize that the world goes on, and business is business, but the speed with which this has all occurred truly shows a lack of respect for the deceased and their families. Let them deal with their anger and grief. The cold hard money issues will take care of themselves in time.
-- Ron Peters, Thousand Oaks
As if we needed any more evidence that a John McCain-Sarah Palin administration would be a four-year extension of the George Bush-Dick Cheney administration, we need only look at what is transpiring in Alaska with "troopergate."
Apparently, Todd Palin and the Sarah Palin cronies in Alaska are taking a page from the Bush-Cheney playbook and are ignoring the subpoenas of the Alaska Senate and refusing to cooperate with the investigation. The tragic joke here is that Sarah Palin has the unmitigated gall to continue to stand on the stump and preach the virtues of "transparency," "truth in government" and her break from good ol' boys' politics. Add this to the Republican ticket's refusal to answer questions from the press and public and we've got Bush-Cheney all over again!
To be fair, we were treated to the interview of Palin with that pillar of journalistic integrity, Sean Hannity. I mean, it's great that they can shelter Palin from the press and public, but if the worst happens and McCain kicks the bucket, how do they "shelter" her from talking to Iran or Russia? Does anyone care that this is a real possibility?
It is frightening to look at the polls and see this "close race" when the blatant disregard for truth, honesty and transparency that have become the cornerstones of the Bush administration are so staunchly adhered to by the McCain-Palin ticket. Hasn't America, if not the entire world, suffered enough? Will Dick Cheney slink from the bunker he's been hiding in, only to have Sarah and Todd Palin slither into it?
What's more than likely to happen is that a key political-judicial appointment of loyal McBushie will be made in the middle of the night and "troopergate" will evaporate into the atmosphere with our housing values and 401k plans.
It all looks like the same Orwellian nightmare we've been living with Bush. Four more years of McBush will destroy this county beyond repair. I suppose you could put lipstick on a snake if you really tried. The question is: Why would you want to?
-- John Loprieno, Westlake Village
Re: your Aug. 28 article, "Oxnard College forfeits 2007-08 season":
In the article, it was reported that the Oxnard College men's basketball team was put on probation for the 2008-2009 season. The reporter did a good job on the article and reported the information that was given to him by the athletic administration at Oxnard College.
As of Sept. 3, the Oxnard College men's basketball program is no longer on probation. I am not sure why the athletic administration at Oxnard College did not contact The Star to inform them of the change. This is the kind of information that you would think the athletic administration would want the public, as well as the student-athletes at Oxnard College and the community, to know. At this point, the athletic administration of Oxnard College has not notified the men's basketball coach or his players that they are no longer on probation.
In a Sept. 3 e-mail, Aviva Kaman, the conference commissioner of the Western State Conference wrote: "Oxnard College has been taken off probation for this coming year. The college president has asked that I do this while they investigate to see what transpired. Will keep you updated."
The Oxnard College men's basketball program was placed on probation by the Western State Conference after self-reporting some wrongdoings. This self-reporting process was done before an investigation was concluded.
In the Aug. 28 article, Ventura County Community College District Chancellor James Meznek was quoted as saying, "We have not had time to investigate it." Realizing that a mistake in judgment had occurred in the timeliness of the self-reporting process by the Oxnard College athletic administration, President Richard Duran contacted Aviva Kaman to notify her that an investigation needed to be done before penalties could be issued.
Often newspapers do not print stories when there is a reversal in a decision. This time, The Star was not afforded the opportunity to print that there was a change in probation status because the athletic administration of Oxnard College did not notify them. I thought it was important that people know the facts.
-- Jeff Theiler, Newbury Park
(The writer is the former head men's basketball coach at Oxnard College. -- Editor)
If the outcome of this election fails for Democrats because of gender bias, our country will suffer through four more years of "Bush III," a fate much worse than "Bush II."
Sarah Palin has inferred that ordinary people have no place in the administration of governmental policy, yet she aspires to high office herself with so little preparation. By virtue of Palin being mayor of 7,000 in Wasilla, Alaska, a 20-month governor of the state and a woman, John McCain felt these qualifications alone entitled her to a place on the Republican presidential ticket.
Then Palin finally gave an interview and spoke extemporaneously before the national media in an interview by ABC's Charlie Gibson, and without benefit of prepared text. We saw another example of Republican incompetence in her responses, which were rife with confusion and misunderstanding.
How naïve, how sophomoric! How dreadful that such a person would be chosen by a presidential candidate as a running mate.
Should McCain win in November and not survive his term, Palin would become president. How dreadful for our country! Palin has never been a war hero, is not an Annapolis or Harvard graduate, has never written a memoir or introduced legislation in Congress, never been a U.S. senator and never served on a senatorial committee. She would be an advocate for the NRA's obsessive repudiation of gun control, would deny sex education in schools, hasn't a clue how to fix our economy and would appoint more conservative Republican sycophants to the Supreme Court. Her foreign policy experience is truly a "bridge to nowhere."
Palin's "Hello, world!" is disingenuous and rife with political gamesmanship. Republicans are the reason our country is in such peril. To accept their stand on issues, one must conveniently forget what one has seen and not believe anything one has heard the past seven-plus years.
Democratic holdouts, come back to your common sense.
-- Charles Williams, Oxnard
Am I the only one annoyed by the government's bailout of all the failed organizations?
The truth is this has been coming for a long time. When insatiably greedy shareholders elect and vote for unscrupulous management that then engages in questionable business practices, failure is a forgone conclusion. It is a case not of if, but when the business will fail.
The only way to prevent future failures is for the business to fail, management pay the price, and the shareholder lose money. Only then will shareholders care not only about how much money a business makes, but how the business makes money. When this is the case, shareholders will elect and support management that makes sound business decisions, with some modicum of morals or values, that do not risk the shareholder investment.
Shareholders got what they asked for. They wanted management that made more and more profit, and they didn't care how management did it.
Remember the old saying, "If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is."
-- George Shaw, Oxnard
Re: Kathy Austen's Sept. 18 letter, "Who wins with Prop. 8?"
Proposition 8 is not about rewriting a child's textbook. It is about everyone having the same rights and privileges that all of us share. Denying the word "marriage" and calling it a "domestic partnership" devalues the relationship and gives it a second-class meaning.
This is a vote to protect the rights of all individuals, no matter the views on homosexuality or any other type of life choice. This is about human rights, not religion, textbooks and so forth.
Teach your values at home. Teach tolerance of all beings, and forget using judgment to ruin the life of those trying to attain the happiness and right to marry that we all take for granted.
Marriage is a legal term, not a religious term, and should be looked at like that.
-- Lisa Padilla, Moorpark
Re: Lois Capps' Sept. 18 commentary, "More offshore drilling will only feed our addiction to oil":
Capps' commentary on offshore drilling was just another round of liberal nonsense trying to be passed off as logical argument.
I hate to break it to Capps, but wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and most other alternative energy schemes may be fine ideas, but they cannot run automobiles. Until an acceptable alternative fuel is discovered and developed, we are stuck with oil.
Capps' argument that additional domestic drilling would not reduce the price of oil on the world market is a valid point. After all, if we were to ramp up domestic oil production, who's to say OPEC wouldn't just reduce their production to keep world oil prices high?
But even if that were the case and we had to continue to pay high prices for oil, at least we could stop sending hundreds of millions of dollars every year to foreign countries that don't like us very much and do not have our interests at heart, and spend that money on oil discovered, produced, refined and distributed in America, by American companies, staffed by many thousands of American workers who would then spend their earnings in the American economy.
When an alternative fuel becomes available that can economically satisfy our need for energy I'm all for it. Until that time, we must depend on the only option currently available: oil.
To rely on the good graces of unstable, unfriendly, foreign governments to supply the energy that runs our economy instead of becoming more reliant on domestic sources is foolish and shortsighted and, in the long run, could prove to be very dangerous for the future of our country. To do so would be analogous to burying our heads in the sand.
-- Don Brunson, Simi Valley
Why is Proposition 8 even on the ballot?
The official ballot label says it "eliminates the rights of same-sex couples to marry," which is exactly what it would do. Or, if you're on the religious right, it's the "California Marriage Protection Act," to preserve the sanctity of marriage. But again, why is this even on the ballot? Marriage shouldn't be a political issue.
The first time we see marriage become a political issue is when John Calvin, religious reformer, imposed the marriage act of Geneva, which allowed the state to recognize religious marriage.
Nowadays, the religious concept of marriage is so tied up in politics and law, there are only certain ways you can get married, certain people who can perform the marriage, and other legal issues surrounding it.
Married couples also have rights that an unmarried couple technically aren't afforded, such as power of attorney, visitation rights in hospitals, being the legal guardian over a child, tax exemptions and other ties recognized by the states.
We all know how we got to where we are in this marriage fight, but none of this needed to happen. California needs to remove any mention of marriage from its constitution. Schools don't need to teach about marriage, because that is for the families and the church to teach. Churches need to decide on their own what kinds of marriages they will perform, because separation of church and state needs to go both ways. The church shouldn't influence the government, and government shouldn't influence the church.
The state should not perform marriages, but civil unions, and it should recognize all unions.
According to the California secretary of state, more than $9 million is being spent to battle over this proposition. For those worried about family values, teach your own family, and don't try to force your values on someone else. For the state, don't judge equality on anything. "Equality for all men and women:" That needs to be the bottom line.
-- Jeremy Zeller, Moorpark
As I was driving on Duesenberg Drive recently, I was floored to see a "self-storage coming soon" sign on the vacant land near our post office. Go figure: In these times of rising unemployment and dwindling city revenues, city of Thousand Oaks officials see fit to allow development of a self-storage facility that employs a whopping total of two people and that generates not one penny of sales tax for our city or county!
Is this the best use of what little developable land this city has left? Do we really need another storage facility in a city that already has 10?
I urge our city officials to stop and recognize that what limited developable land is left in the city should be utilized to provide local jobs and generate sales tax, not to provide more storage sheds for a society of materialistic packrats. Join me in protesting this development by signing our online petition at www.Stop-Duesenberg-Storage.com
-- Robert Nguyen, Thousand Oaks
It's about time the people of California exercise their voices and votes and recall all of Sacramento. If they can't pass a budget on time, they should not be allowed a paycheck.
As I sit here, my mother also is here, because her hours at work were cut. Why? There's no budget and therefore no money for healthcare workers. It's just one of many industries feeling the brunt of no budget.
We all need to remember this come Election Day. In Sacramento, our elected officials don't seem to mind since they are still collecting their big paychecks. Obviously, Sacramento doesn't seem to care, but I do.
We need a real message sent to them. Either do the job for which they have been hired (elected), or, we the bosses (voters) will find new employees!
-- Lance Endress, Ventura
Re: your Sept. 15 article, "Luck-and-guts victory":
I thought the way TV and newspapers handled the blown call on Sunday Night Football was very weak. As might be expected, ESPN's Tony Kornheiser went off on a tirade about the missed call after several slow-motion replays. The Associated Press story The Star ran was not much more than an emotion-charged lynching of a guy who made a mistake with a split-second judgment. As luck would have it, it was at the most crucial and pivotal part of the game. That is nothing more than lousy luck.
I have had the privilege of being personal friends with two NFL officials. Over the years, I have seen times where they made questionable calls or no calls. That is why they call it a "judgment call."
Ed Hochuli got the ruling absolutely correct, once it was established the immediate call of incomplete was wrong. Not only that, he was man enough to go to San Diego Chargers Coach Norv Turner and admit he blew the call. Give the guy a break.
-- Ed Sandell, Somis
Measure U regarding unification in Camarillo comes to a vote on Nov. 4. As an educator, I would like to point out a few realities about how unification will affect the Oxnard Union High School District schools.
Teachers will leave Adolfo Camarillo High School. When recently polled, 65 percent of the teachers at ACHS said that if unification occurs, they will leave ACHS in order to maintain their employment with OUHSD. The loss of those teachers will be devastating to the programs that are currently offered at ACHS. As those teachers move to other campuses within OUHSD, there will be a significant ripple effect that will dramatically impact those campuses as well. No school or demographic will be spared in this upheaval. How does that serve our students' best academic interests?
Another issue that is referred to by proponents of unification concerns articulation from middle school to high school. The facts are that Pleasant Valley School District has failed to concern itself with its in-house articulation between the elementary and middle schools. This is demonstrated by recent STAR scores showing inferior articulation between those grade levels.
The simple fact is that having a unified district will not do a single thing to provide a better articulation between these two different educational experiences. Teachers are required to work within a structure that is highly dependent on subject matter standards that have been provided by the state. You may review these standards yourself at the Web site http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/
In summary, becoming a unified district will have absolutely no effect on articulation! Measure U is bad for our students!
Please support all of our students on Nov. 4 and vote no on Measure U!
-- Pamela Cwiklo, Camarillo
It has gotten very confusing at times when trying to sift through all the political "stuff" being slung about lately from all sides. In an attempt to attain some clarity, I first asked myself what issues are most important to me, and secondly, who of the candidates would most likely promote these issues.
These are the questions I asked:
1. Who will get our troops out of Iraq more quickly and responsibly?
2. Who will reduce our dependence on oil (foreign or otherwise) and promote the transition more quickly to "green" technologies?
3. Who will move us closer to the goal of universal healthcare? For the past 18 years, I have worked with some of the poorest people in Ventura County and can see an absolute need for this.
4. Who will restructure taxes so that the wealthiest Americans pay a more reasonable share in respect to those with more modest incomes?
5. Who will be more likely to begin to repair the reputation of our country in the eyes of the world after eight years of terrible governmental mismanagement?
Dropping all the other "stuff" and focusing on these, for me, key issues, resulted in a very clear result: Barack Obama.
This process may or may not bring the reader to the same conclusion, but if not, at least it may bring him or her some peace of mind.
-- John Harrison, Ventura
President Sarah Palin's America:
No country for old men; Social Security money gone; costs of healthcare, gas, goods and services going up.
For young women and girls, abortion outlawed even for rape or incest.
For students and teachers, certain books censored, teaching of evolution barred, creationism only, no sex education.
For workers, continued favoring of corporations that have to send their facilities and jobs overseas; tax relief for the richest people with the highest income; retirees, both men and women, trying to live on a fixed income or welfare.
For conservationists, shooting as many of those beasts as you can hit from a plane; global warming is a liberal's lie; start drilling now, even if you won't see any oil for 10 years; giving lip service to other forms of energy.
For believers, if you belong to religion other than Palin's, you are doomed.
For members of the military, we'll keep you fighting for another 100 years if necessary, until we win -- whatever that means.
-- Bernard Lehrer, Ventura
Webster's Dictionary states that a theocracy is "a government of a state (country) by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided."
If you wish our country to become a theocracy, then you should vote for the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket. But if you want to keep this country from being governed by someone who says that the war in Iraq is "a task that is from God" or supports using amendments to the Constitution in order to impose religious beliefs -- as Palin did in her support of the 1998 Alaskan amendment banning marriage equality -- then you must vote for the Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket.
A vote for McCain-Palin jeopardizes the First Amendment of the Constitution, which keeps Congress from creating any "law respecting an establishment of religion." While some may claim that the First Amendment is not that clear in its meaning, Thomas Jefferson, in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, stated that the purpose of the First Amendment was to establish a "wall of separation between Church and State" in order to protect individuals' right of conscience. See the Web site, "History of the Separation of Church and State in America," http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/history_of_the_separation_of_chu.htm for the full text of this letter, as well as other historical writings that give insight to how our founding fathers came about putting together their thoughts on this cornerstone of American life, a cornerstone in danger of being chipped away by a Palin presidency.
-- Clarence Walthall, Port Hueneme
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is one of the least-known days of remembrance on any calendar. As is the custom for the third Friday in September, the president of the United States has designated Sept. 19 as the day of recognition of those still missing.
Observances of National POW/MIA Recognition Day are held across the country on military installations, ships at sea, state capitols, schools and veterans' facilities.
I would like to ask everyone to fly the POW/MIA flag on Friday and to join the Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County Inc. by attending the POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony at the Veterans Memorial site located on the corner of Telephone Road and Victoria Avenue in Ventura. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will include a candlelight vigil, while balloons are released during the reading of the 172 names of those from California still unaccounted for during the Vietnam Conflict. Taps will be sounded at the conclusion of the event.
As a nation, we will fly our country's flag to show our patriotism at, seemingly, a drop of a hat. However, at times like this, many can't seem to be bothered to remember those who never came home and are still unaccounted for. Please take this day to remember those brave souls and their families.
-- Scott McCool, Ventura
Today, "mortgage meltdown," green building, viewshed, affordable housing, density, open space and traffic are all hot topics. Many of these topics conflict, yet all deserve open and honest discussion regarding their long-term consequences. There are great opportunities ahead to create and re-create our communities in ways that encourage "green" technology, serve all income levels and protect our community assets.
We have options available as we move forward. We can do nothing and hope for the best, or we can talk to others who may not share this viewpoint with the goal of finding common ground.
Housing issues are not going away. We have talked about this for as many years as I can remember. What changes are the faces of those affected, the cost of the housing and the related financing, and the politics associated with who lives where and whether they are low-income or rich beyond belief.
To this end, I encourage you to participate in the 7th Annual Ventura County Housing Conference, which is scheduled for Oct. 1. Titled "Facing a New Reality" and based upon today's housing headlines relating to lending failures, local initiatives, bailouts and elections, this discussion and presentation could not come at a more appropriate time. The conference will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Soiland Recreation Center at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. For more information, call 969-5244 or register online at www.vchome.org
-- Douglas Tapking, executive director, Ventura County Area Housing Authority, Newbury Park
The deliberate attacks on Sarah Palin from the New York Times, Washington Post and a multitude of left-wing blogs are a sad statement on the current status and bias of the major media in this country.
However, the more these leftist loonies publish these prevarications, wild exaggerations and outright lies about Palin, the more fair-minded, logical thinking Democrats and independents are pushed toward the Republican ticket.
So to those loud-mouth, big-government, bigger-taxes, abortion-on-demand, anti-capitalism, moral-relativism types, I say. "Thanks. Keep up the good (but dumb) work."
-- Don Brunson, Simi Valley
I am outraged! When we built our home, the city made us change the color of white we painted it. They demanded we have a circular drive and make many other changes to meet their regulations.
Now I find that the city of Thousand Oaks is thinking of allowing T-Mobile to install 12 six-foot panels on the Edison towers near Pathfinder Avenue. They are also looking to install these ugly panels on light posts in other places in North Ranch. There goes the beauty of the neighborhood!
What ever happened to our "planned community?" This could happen to your neighborhood, too. These panels do not belong in a residential area. We need to demand that they put them in commercial settings and not lower our property values.
Please attend the meeting on Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall to let our elected officials know that we do not want T-Mobile in North Ranch. The panels do not conform to our natural landscape; we already have adequate cell coverage in this area; this is detrimental to the character of our neighborhood. T-Mobile needs to install these unsightly panels near Pavilions or at other commercial sites.
Don't ruin our views!
-- Peggy Buckles, Westlake Village
I'd like to address the issue of Proposition 8, which is: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California."
This is the same initiative that was passed by 61 percent of voters in 2000. It is my understanding that because it was not made a part of the California Constitution, but became a "lower" law, it could be overturned by judges, which it was, by a narrow 4-3 margin. How is it right that four judges can overturn the will of more than a million people?
I don't hate gays. I know many. The best man at our wedding was gay. However, we live in a democracy where the majority rules, but somehow that doesn't seem to be the case here.
If Proposition 8 is defeated, gay couples will gain no more rights than they have now. Under California law, "domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections and benefits" as married spouses. (Family Code 297.5)
What will happen, however, is that textbooks will be altered to embrace the new definition of marriage, and it will be mandatory for teachers to instruct children from kindergarten and up that there is no difference between same-sex marriage and traditional marriage. I think it's extremely inappropriate to have a minority faction imposing their highly controversial value judgments upon children in the public school system. As a parent, I feel this is an issue that should be addressed with our children, according to our beliefs and values, in our own individual homes.
If this proposition is defeated, there will be other legal and personal ramifications as a result. Please take the time to read about Proposition 8 thoroughly before making your voting decision.
Gay couples are already enjoying all the benefits of marriage. Please, let's just not call it "marriage."
A yes vote on Proposition 8 will not take away any of those rights or benefits, but will restore the definition of marriage that California voters already previously approved.
-- Kathy Austen, Thousand Oaks
Just another reminder of what a great city we live in.
I walk my dog through our neighborhood at the east end of Simi on a daily basis. While on those walks, I noticed a house becoming more and more neglected -- yard not mowed, trash everywhere, fence about to fall down -- but cars were always in the driveway.
The first week of August, things changed dramatically. The cars were gone, and trash was piled in the driveway. At the end of that week, as I saw no activity there, the stench increasing and the fallen fence revealing a half-filled swimming pool, I became alarmed and sent an e-mail to City Manager Mike Sedell, asking him if there was someone in the city who could address this issue.
The very next morning, he had answered the e-mail and directed the matter to Code Enforcement and promised to follow up. By that evening, a representative from Code Enforcement was at the home and was calling me with an update. More phone calls and e-mails came to keep me informed of the progress. The pool was immediately abated to stop the health hazards from stagnant water, the fence was secured and the property posted. The home was apparently in foreclosure and abandoned.
Because of the quick action by the city, the owner of record (lender) took action to clean this property by the very next week. I'd like to see that happen to any city in the San Fernando Valley!
With more and more abandoned homes due to foreclosures, it's important to know whom in our city to call -- Code Enforcement!
To all those who participated in this effort -- Kevin in Code Enforcement, Nancy Cole in Code Enforcement, Jan Orsini in Compliance, the Ventura County Environmental Health Department, the Simi Valley Police Department, and anyone else who participated -- thank you so very much!
-- Judy McLaughlin, Simi Valley
The major root cause of the tragic Chatsworth train wreck is the antiquated single-line railroad track that is being used in a high-density suburban environment, with the frequently running short-range commuter Metrolink trains. This is comparable to closing one of the directions of Highway 101, with a turnout siding with traffic lights, and hoping that no one ever runs a red light.
I do not know where else in the modern western world such a penny-pinching system is used. Everywhere else, two side-by-side tracks are used, one for each direction. This one-line track scenario might have been rational in the 19th century, in crossing the American prairie, but is completely irresponsible for use with high-density commuter applications.
-- Martin Jansen, Agoura Hills
Why would anyone vote for Jacqui Irwin and Tom Glancy for Thousand Oaks City Council? Last year, the residents of Dos Vientos, equestrians, hikers and hundreds of others had to spend countless hours and thousands of dollars to hold Irwin to her 2004 campaign promise to protect Rancho Potrero as open space. She was so indigent over our successful efforts she had the nerve to call us all hysterical.
And does anyone remember that immediately after she got elected in 2004, she followed master puppeteer Andy Fox and led a failed effort to reverse the council's previous two promises to keep Two Winds Ranch equestrian center in its current location? Relocation would have opened up that property to more development. It was another waste of everyone's time and energy.
While Tom Glancy may indeed be an incumbent, he was never elected. He was appointed by Fox, Irwin and Dennis Gillette because they did not want to leave it up to the voters to fill our beloved Ed Masry's vacant council seat after he passed away. Glancy is a bona fide member of the Thousand Oaks good-ol'-boys club who never saw a development project he didn't like.
Glancy and Irwin should be shown the exit door for their support of everything Fox. That includes out-of-control spending, infill overdevelopment, grossly overpaid city upper management, abuse of residents and overall sneakiness and deceit.
We need fresh faces who will challenge development projects to ensure they are best for our community, not just lining the pockets of the developers. We want elected leaders who do not talk out of both sides of their mouth.
Politicians should be role models who inspire others to get involved and exercise their rights. Do we have that now? I don't think so.
-- John Fonti, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Sept. 16 article, "No end to financial meltdown":
In this article, The Star reported that bailouts were at an end and the "government finally shut its wallet."
That's weird. Apparently, The Star spoke too soon. No sooner had John McCain flip-flopped on the question of bailouts -- probably because he realized that if the banks went bust, he'd lose his "base" -- than the Bush administration bailed out American International Group to the tune of $85 billion in taxpayer dollars. As collateral on that jumbo loan, the United States of America has acquired a 79.9 percent ownership stake in AIG.
Now I'm confused. For decades, Republicans have been telling us that it's not government's job to hand out welfare checks to those who are too irresponsible to manage their money. Yet here we go, handing out checks to Republican campaign donors who were too irresponsible to manage their money. Weird.
And on any given day in The Star's op-ed and letters sections, we are treated to a smorgasbord of hackneyed invocations of the default Republican mantra, "Liberals are socialists."
One of the defining characteristics of socialism is state ownership of the means of production. In a post-industrial economy like the United States, the financial sector is a means of production -- it contributes to gross domestic product in the same way that heavy industry did five decades ago. It is because of the valuable contribution to GDP that the financial services sector makes that we are so often told by Republicans that we must cut billionaires' taxes -- to "encourage" them to "innovate" and "create jobs," precisely the things the old Rust Belt industries used to do.
But now the U.S. owns those means of production. And government ownership of the means of production is socialism. So that must mean that the Bush administration and the McCain campaign believe in socialism.
Weird, because, you know, they always blame the other guy for that.
But then again, what's the point of "principled conservatism" when your buddies can't make the note on their sixth or seventh vacation home?
-- Russell Burgos, Thousand Oaks
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bailouts, Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch sold in a distress sale, AIG asking the Feds for $40 billion, the stock market having its worst day since Sept. 11, foreclosure filings in double digits, 605,000 jobs lost in the first eight months of 2008, and the budget deficit increasing to $486 billion, up from $212 billion a year earlier.
Amidst all this chaos in the financial, housing, insurance and job markets, John McCain insists, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong."
You have to wonder if experience really matters with judgment like this. So much for the straight talk express.
-- Alan Alweiss, Camarillo
Remember real estate in 2006? Here's what everyone was saying:
"I couldn't buy my house again at today's prices."
"Did you see what the house across the street just sold for?"
"That house sold? It was falling down!"
"Who are the people who can afford these house prices?"
Everybody, and I do mean everybody, knew something was crazy. Banks originated mortgages with nothing down, no fees, no closing costs, and sold them to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And AIG insured these mortgages, held by people who had absolutely nothing to lose by walking away from the house. If everybody knew something was crazy, then the officers of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG certainly had to know too.
It's hard to blame the real estate agents, appraisers, loan brokers and banks, since they were trying to put families into homes. It's kind of hard to blame the buyers -- anyone who has tried to understand even a good mortgage contract knows it can be complicated, and not everyone is good at math.
On the other hand, it's easy and proper to blame Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG. They, more than anyone, should have recognized and stopped the insanity. But they didn't. A lot of damage has been done, and now the taxpayers foot the bill.
The craziest part of all this? It seems the worst that can happen to the officers of these three organizations is that they'll lose some bonuses. In my opinion, what they did was criminal, literally criminal, as in go to jail, go directly to jail.
-- Nelson Wallace, Ventura
Re: George R. Jackson's Sept. 17 letter, "Search your soul":
Only the foolish would believe any household or business would get away with cooking its books by not counting the most difficult and largest liabilities. The unfunded Medicare and Social Security burden is in the tens of trillions and is currently "off budget." California's latest budget gymnastics are no different.
It's exactly why the financial markets are in such trouble. Individuals learned by the Fed's example and just had to have it with no possibility of paying unless the stars became perfectly aligned. Rightfully blame it on the banking industry, but the Fed is doing exactly the same, signing up to more spending and pushing the inevitable to future generations.
Shame on them and each of us who continues to lobby for our pet projects.
The next time I hear of someone receiving accolades for putting in "30 years of public service" I'm going to throw up. Government employees and politicians are no more important than the taxpayers that support their salaries and over-the-top benefits. Until we begin to shame them for their poor performance, we'll continue to attract those wanting a cushy career.
-- John White, Oxnard
Re: Colleen Cason's Sept. 14 Cason Point, "Commuters will return, but business as usual can't":
The need for railroad safety reform is now, as stated in Cason's column. I don't know a darn thing about trains, but unfortunately, it takes tragedy to reform failed systems.
With that said, it seems to me that the following obvious things or something like them must be put in place before riding the rails is safe:
-- Why is the side track switching (passing) area in Chatsworth or anywhere on a curved part of the track with no visibility in either direction down the track? How hard is it to figure out that these shared side track areas for waiting/passing must be on straight parts of the track with visibility in either direction of at least a couple of thousand feet or more? At least that way, perhaps one of the conductors would have a clue and could maybe radio someone or take evasive action. I realize there may have been nothing anyone could do, but in an age of cell phones and digital technology and old-fashioned radios, maybe railroad safety could apply some of it.
-- Speaking of radios, it seems to me that communication between passing trains on shared tracks should be mandatory before the pass. At least have a five-minute rule that each passing train sharing the same track must make contact and confirm the upcoming pass for safety. If contact is not made, then at least one of the trains should pull off, automatically sensing disaster in the works. An upcoming pass on a shared track with no contact from each train simply can't happen again.
-- Just as lanes on the freeway have warning bumps that signal you are going into the other lane, auto sensors must be placed on the track that signal an upcoming passing side track is coming. These could make a noise, trigger a sensor and send a warning reminder that a passing track is approaching. Again, if either train yields, disaster could be averted.
I know nothing about trains, but this tragedy, perhaps caused by human error, is filled with catastrophic system flaws that must change now.
-- Howard Freedman, Camarillo
Am I the only reader who noticed the lack of attention The Star paid to the infamous terrorist attacks in its Sept. 11 issue? While the Star does make note of the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, the day that Islamic terrorists brought the fight to the U.S. and murdered almost 3,000 people goes ignored. Instead, they choose this day to ramble about the records of the vice president and the Ventura 911 charge.
The Star and their staff may have forgotten what Sept. 11 means. The Star and their staff may want all of us to forget what Sept. 11 means.
I can assure the Star that I will never forget.
I will also not forget that Sept. 11 is a day The Star considers to be a day much like any other.
-- George Shaw, Oxnard
As I watch the ads go by, one way and another, I'm forced to ask myself, "Do we really know what sorts of consequences will come from altering the traditional definition of marriage?"
If we allow the gay lobby to define the gay marriage moral issue as a civil rights issue, those fundamental social changes that came with other civil rights will inevitably follow. Will those of us with differing opinions on marriage now be discriminated against? Are we so naïve as to think that once something is deemed a "civil right" that it will have a lesser effect on society than any other civil right?
My sister recently stood up as a private citizen in support of traditional marriage and was immediately targeted by activists in the gay community. Her business was inundated with requests to perform her photography services at gay weddings in direct opposition to her beliefs, with the threat of discrimination lawsuits if she refused. This new "civil right" protection trumps her right to religion and free speech in the law.
Personally, I don't see Proposition 8 taking anything away from civil unions or partner laws. I see Proposition 8 as separate from the gay issue. It's more about legal protection for those of us who would rather have private matters be private and who wish to preserve our own free speech and freedom of religion rights. To see the issue as just an issue of "love" ignores the legal behemoth that attends it.
-- Angela Rockwood, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Sept. 14 article "Chamber to host candidate forum":
It is imperative that we citizens of Thousand Oaks inform ourselves by watching these types of political forums which showcase this year's candidates for the Thousand Oaks City Council.
We desperately need to change the face of our City Council by supporting alternative candidates, like Al Adam, to ensure the two incumbents running for re-election, Jacqui Irwin and Tom Glancy, are not rewarded with another term in office.
The only current Thousand Oaks City Council member who consistently votes and acts in the best interest of we citizens and our city is Claudia Bill-de la Peña. But sadly, she is often the council's lone voice of reason. Therefore, we must do some political housecleaning by removing Irwin and Glancy in this election. And at the point in time when their terms expire, Dennis Gillette and Andy Fox should be removed as well.
It is time to start electing to our City Council leaders who consistently vote in favor of slow growth and who vote against the wasteful spending championed time and again by Fox, Gillette, Irwin and Glancy -- such as the $109,000 annual expenditure of our tax monies spent to maintain their day labor site.
I look forward to getting to know the platforms of all the City Council candidates, and then casting my vote on Nov. 4 to elect two qualified fresh faces to join Bill-de la Peña in working in the best interests of we citizens and our city!
-- Dawn Williams, Thousand Oaks
Re: Terry Paulson's Sept. 15 essay, "GOP pit bulls with lipstick":
In his Sept. 15 propaganda piece, Paulson repeats the GOP mantra "pit bull with lipstick" in an effort to distract voters from the issues: soaring unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, record national debt, climate change, perpetual occupation of Iraq, failing infrastructure and low esteem for government.
Paulson cites Sarah Palin's executive experience, as if that can be measured in years. The CEOs of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch each have many more years of executive experience than Palin, but that did not save the companies they managed. There's no comment from the GOP on any experience Palin may have managing organizations that have faced any of the crises that the U.S. government will face during the next four-plus years, let alone any similar experience by the real presidential candidate.
Paulson would have us believe that Palin is running for mom of the year rather than potential president of the United States. Palin has voiced no ideas for solutions to the serious problems facing America and Americans, except to continue to pursue the policies that created those problems in the first place.
-- Nick Fotheringham, Thousand Oaks
I have known Paul Miller for more than15 years and have found him to be a thoughtful, well-organized person. He has a special gift: clarity of thought and the ability to synthesize and make sense out of complex information.
In these times of financial instability at all levels of government and the general economy, I feel comforted with a fiscally responsible person in charge of Simi Valley's finances. Fiscal leadership has been a hallmark of Miller's tenure as mayor of Simi Valley.
I hope you will join me in voting for Miller for mayor on Nov. 4.
-- Ken Anderson, Simi Valley
For the past four years, Paul Miller has been a very dedicated and effective Simi Valley mayor, and I do not see any reason why anyone would think he or she could do a better job.
Even though some people may say that an honest politician is an oxymoron, I can tell you from experience that Miller truly is an honest politician. In 2006, when he announced after his first term as mayor that he was running again, I told him that I would support him with a contribution to the campaign. His response was that he was running unopposed and therefore did not have the expense of running a campaign, and would I please donate to someone who needed money to run a campaign. I had never heard of anyone running for any office turning down a donation.
I urge everyone going to the polls on Nov. 4 to vote for Paul Miller for mayor of Simi Valley -- and yes, here we do have an honest politician.
-- Marion Erbe, Simi Valley
Golly, I can't decide which of Mike Huckabee's quotes touches me the most -- "God doesn't want me to take my brush and paint over his masterpiece," in reference to altering the Mona Lisa (while assuring the Calvary Chapel people that he didn't come to oppose or confront gay people), or "The purpose of marriage is not for you to be happy," (say what?) "the purpose of marriage is so God can teach us how to love, like he loves us."
Well, there y'go. Between sages like him and Grandpa John McCain's perky ankle-biter, looks like we're in for quite an interesting ride -- and heck, she can see Russia from her front stoop, right? That must count for something.
Put those two together for some collaboration, and they'll keep Saturday Night Live supplied with material for the foreseeable future.
Oh, and the Stricklands sure get my vote. Uh huh. Yesirree.
-- Lynne Herron, Thousand Oaks
There is a concerted effort by the powers that be to focus blame for this horrible accident upon the Metrolink engineer in the eyes of the public. We are led to believe this accident happened because the Metrolink engineer ignored a red signal light, as if he were a bus driver.
Approaching trains on the same track have passed each other for centuries by one train switching onto a siding, permitting the other to pass. In this case, as I understand, the switch is activated remotely from a control center. Neither train has any control over the switch operation.
Was the Metrolink train switched onto the siding right before the collision or not? If he was, he would not have merely had to ignore a red signal light before proceeding. He and the conductor would have had to ignore the fact that no freight train had passed by on the main track before they proceeded.
Buried or ignored is the most relevant issue: The switch that would have shunted the Metrolink train onto the siding was open, meaning that both trains were still on the main track, on a collision course, with the freight train hidden from view in a tunnel around a curve. Had the Metrolink engineer seen a freight train barreling toward him at 40 mph, his options would have been to reverse the train or evacuate it --choices not made lightly, I would think.
Without knowing for a fact that a collision was imminent, what should he have done? Should he have contacted the control center to ask if the signal light was malfunctioning? What methods of contact are available to him? What is the quickest way to find out if a collision is imminent, as opposed to a signal malfunction? Cell phone, perhaps?
-- Frederick Weniger, Simi Valley
I would like to propose a new proposition or amendment to our state's constitution. It is this: On July 1 of every year, if the budget is not passed and signed, every state elected official and all of the staff that they hire (not government workers) not be paid -- no health coverage, pension, car expenses, meals, nothing. This stoppage would not be retroactive.
Also, every state elected official would be fined $100, $200 or more each day the budget goes past the July 1 deadline.
Watch the budget be passed on or before the deadline. Of course, we know this will never happen, but it would stop all of this political stumping real quickly.
-- John O. Muchisky, Fillmore
It is a pity that even a handful of citizens do not understand the necessity to sue to obtain justice through the courts. When one's rights are denied, what other course of action is open?
Councilman Tim Flynn was denied the right to voice his reasons for running for office in Oxnard in his ballot statement, so he filed a lawsuit and he prevailed in court. The judge ruled Flynn was denied his right to clarify why he was running for the office of mayor.
If the rule of law were faithfully adhered to in the city of Oxnard, such lawsuits would not be necessary.
I had to sue the city in the name of all the people in Oxnard to shine the light of day on the City Council for negotiating sweetheart deals behind closed doors. I prevailed in court. The judge agreed the city had broken the law.
If the City Council were to follow the open government law of California, such lawsuits would not be necessary.
It is time for change.
-- Martin D. Jones, Oxnard
The failure of the California Legislature to pass the budget is putting great hardships on those who have contracts with the state and have fulfilled their obligations, only to be told there is no money to pay until the budget passes.
I believe that the people should demand a law that states that no member of the Legislature, or their staffs, be entitled to any pay, per diem, loans, etc., after July 1 of each year if the budget has not been approved. Currently, the legislators are able to bill the state $173 per day tax-free for their "work" past the deadline.
Government should be held to the same rules as the private sector. Perform to the job description and deadline, get paid. Perform below standard without meeting deadlines, pay docked or not paid at all.
-- Sue Smith, Ventura
The $100,000 ding to the taxpayers to have the city's View Task Force facilitated by the Ventura council's own biased town architect has nothing to do with the VCORD View Initiative on the November 2009 ballot.
Ventura Citizens for Responsible Development qualified the referenced view initiative without any taxpayer dollars through the hard work of volunteers and the contributions of private citizens. As Councilmen Neal Andrews and Jim Monahan have pointed out, this redundant City View Task Force is ill-conceived in the first place.
The pattern of disrespect for the electorate's intelligence is as follows:
1. The City Council is allowing more than 2,500 units in buildings over 30 feet to proceed towards approvals, and these buildings will not be subject to any view ordinance.
2. The City Council has seated its own view task force now with a ridiculously heavy weighting of members favoring high-rise development.
3. Adding injury to insult this past Monday night, Councilmen Carl Morehouse and Ed Summers moved to force the City View Task Force to incur a $100,000 charge to the taxpayers to hire their own biased town architect to lead the group.
4. Mayor Christy Weir and Deputy Mayor Bill Fulton proposed an amendment to give the task force the option of proceeding in their work without spending the $100,000.
5. Morehouse opposed the amendment and likened the task force, without the $100,000 consultant, to a "herd of sheep" let loose without direction. Summers agreed. This disdain for the intelligence and capability of the public is what earns this council the reputation of being the most arrogant in memory.
Fulton proposed the amendment to give the task force the option of proceeding without the expenditure of $100,000. The amendment passed with Weir and Monahan's help. It was pointed out at the meeting by Camille Harris, VCORD president, that the city had a highly skilled department that could do the digital modeling necessary for the task force and the $100,000 expenditure was unnecessary.
At the same meeting, the City Council went back on its commitment for a livable wage for the golf course employees, saying the city couldn't afford it. People come before redundant committees formed to serve the interests of high-rise development.
-- Alene LaDelle Brown, Ventura