I've seen Camille Harris at more council meetings than all the other new candidates combined. She is always there speaking up for the little guys like us. She brought Measure B to the ballot because she knew that the council members take substantial donations from developers and that the planning commissioners could actually work for developers while on the Planning Commission.
Measure B gives Venturans a choice, because once what's written is rejected by the developer-backed council, it will go straight to the voters for a vote. Venturans will choose, thanks to Camille and the Ventura Citizens' Organization for Responsible Development.
She formed VCORD because the neighborhoods were not being heard by the current City Council and Ventura needed the protection of a view and solar ordinance as other coastal cities have. VCORD has more than 3,000 members now in every neighborhood and has become a strong voice for sane development in Ventura.
Camille started Grandfather Ventura to protect Venturans, especially seniors, from the risk of losing their homes when code enforcement started citing them for old improvements for which there were no permits on file. Ventura is an old city, so most homes are vulnerable to code enforcement citations and the penalties can be steep.
Camille Harris is retired and has no dog in this hunt except to protect Venturans from abusive development and a City Council that would subject seniors to unaffordable fines and fees that could jeopardize their home ownership.
Vote for Camille Harris to protect our property and vote yes on Measure B to preserve Ventura's views!
-- Robert Miller, Ventura
October 2009 Archives
I've seen Camille Harris at more council meetings than all the other new candidates combined. She is always there speaking up for the little guys like us. She brought Measure B to the ballot because she knew that the council members take substantial donations from developers and that the planning commissioners could actually work for developers while on the Planning Commission.
After years of "visioning," Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources and other civic engagement, I think there is agreement that we all love Ventura and want the best for it. Credit the folks who prompted the city to appoint a View Task Force and address many of the concerns raised by the Measure B group. The city attorney, Task Force Chairman Rob Corley and the Ventura Chamber of Commerce all well stated the concerns on Measure B. I sincerely hope the voters will soundly defeat it.
To infill, protect hillsides and agriculture and have population density to help support public transit, we must be willing to give a little. I have told Jim Monahan that his support of Measure B is a deal-breaker for me. I am disappointed that Ed Summers still cannot make up his mind on Measure C, which should be a no-brainer. A city leader should have the courage to be decisive and not bow to political pandering.
I am very unhappy that the Ventura Police Officers Association followed up its shameful telephone "survey" and campaign against Neal Andrews with a recent mailing attacking his character and travel expenses. While I strongly disagree with Neal on some issues, he is one of the hardest working and most prepared council members, with courage to stand up and vote against the 911 fee, address pension reform and retirement benefits (along with Christy Weir and Carl Morehouse) that are not sustainable and earned him the union wrath and outspoken opposition.
I am enthusiastic about Mike Tracy and Ken Cozzens, who have law enforcement backgrounds and, I believe, will not bow to the unions but are well qualified and will do what is best for the citizens of the city.
Thanks to all who are willing to give so much of their time and talents to our beloved city.
-- Mike Merewether, Ventura
As a young candidate for Ventura City Council in l971, Ken Cozzens impressed me with his commitment and enthusiasm to public service and to the growth of the city. I was proud to serve as his campaign manager then, and now, a few years later, I am proud to endorse his candidacy for a seat on the Ventura City Council.
Ken still has that enthusiasm for the community, which is reflected in a distinguished career with the Sheriff's Department, hands-on volunteer service, business experience and a lifelong residency in Ventura.
Ken Cozzens will come to office with no axes to grind, with remarkable listening ability, with a great sense of humor and with total objectivity in a non-partisan office. His votes will reflect the views of all Venturans, especially with his knowledge of city issues and of the diverse neighborhoods that comprise the city.
As an avid fisherman, Ken Cozzens has a special love for the natural beauty of Ventura, along with the realization that Ventura has need of encouraging new environmentally friendly business.
With his talent, his integrity and his openness to a greater future for Ventura, Ken Cozzens will be a moving and unifying force on the Ventura City Council.
-- John T. Keefe, Santa Paula
I have known Mike Tracy for over 20 years while he served as an officer and chief of the Ventura Police Department.
As an officer, Mike was always a supporter of our youth, committed to helping them stay out of trouble instead of leading a life of crime. In this effort he helped start the Police Activities League, a nonprofit advocate for at-risk youth and supported the Boys and Girls Club of Ventura, as well as other nonprofit organizations in Ventura.
During his tenure as chief, I had the opportunity to meet with him on a regular basis to discuss what he could do to help our community. I found him to be open-minded and very concerned about how together we could help make Ventura the best it could be. His commitment to our business community, our environment, our youth and our citizens was a sign of a true leader and compassionate individual, always willing to help where he could. He wishes to continue his service by serving on our council.
When you vote, I strongly recommend your support of Mike as a member of our City Council. He will be open, professional in his approach and possess the common sense we need in city government.
-- Mel Sheeler, Oak View
We support three incumbent City Council members: Brian Brennan, Ed Summers and Jim Monahan.
It's too bad that elections make people say and do things that can be seen as destructive or downright vindictive.
I want to personally thank the three incumbents listed above for their advice, " Ben, stay positive." These three incumbents have had their names run through the mud but have stayed the course. These council members are speaking from experience, not emotion.
Make no mistake: When it comes to cutting spending, they didn't just talk about it, they cut $11 million. Making difficult decisions in difficult times is what leaders do.
When Neal Andrews was critical of pensions, Summers, Monahan and Brennan didn't criticize; they embraced the issue and took it head-on. They put together a task force to study pensions, separating facts from fiction. It was this task force, with Andrews in participation, that discovered that 85 percent of the cities in the state pay far better retirement packages than the City of Ventura offers its employees. While pension reform makes for a great campaign slogan, it is far from being a local issue.
Measure A is a necessary funding source that will go away in four years! Again, these three council members have made another responsible choice. They aren't going to burden the taxpayers for any longer than necessary to help all of us weather this financial storm. They also recognize the need for long-term economic prosperity. All three incumbents are currently and have always been working hard to provide long-term solutions on this issue.
As far as local politics, we all need to take a deep breath, look for solutions and please stay positive as Summers, Monahan and Brennan have.
-- Benny Davis, Ventura
(The writer is president of the Ventura City Firefighters Association. -- Editor)
As I consider publicly supporting a City Council candidate, I do so with a very good understanding of how I believe leadership needs to be improved in our beautiful city. These perspectives, developed over the past 20-plus years, have evolved from several viewpoints, first as president of Kinko's Inc. relocating from Santa Barbara to Ventura and operating a major corporation, and second as the managing partner in commercial real estate development, recently completing a multiyear downtown project.
I have experienced firsthand the frustrations of working with a city government that exists in a culture of "no."
Mike Tracy has characteristics and experience that I think will help improve the relationships and processes.
The first is Mike's preference for a "professional manager" to lead the city versus the more "visionary" type of city manager. Mike has firsthand knowledge of well-executed (or not) management practices in Ventura and understands that good management practices have a lot to do with the public's poor perception of government performance.
Secondly, Mike supports the "citizen as customer" strategy with a desire to see improved levels of service and internal rewards and incentives to support the goals. Mike would support a customer measurement system for city performance that is open and transparent. This would ensure a better business culture for both the citizens and the employees of the city.
Third is intelligence and common sense. I believe Mike will bring an element of common sense and practical decision-making skills to the role that will help him work with others as well as communicate a rationale for decisions.
Please join me in voting for Mike.
-- Dan Frederickson, Ventura
I am writing to express my concern relative to the city's retirement program status. I have been led to believe that in the current program, the payouts over a period of time are unsustainable within the city's budget. Over a period of time, they will bankrupt the city, similar to what happened in Vallejo. Therefore, it would seem that they have to be modified somewhat.
I am not opposed to having excellent retirement plans for Police and Fire. However, to stay on target for the city's funds, the issue has to be addressed. One of the candidates for the council, Mike Tracy, reportedly receives a $186,000-a-year retirement income. If he is elected, with the help of his union, do you think he will be sympathetic with the problem? The same logic applies to the other three councilmen supported by the union -- Ed Summers, Brian Brennan and Jim Monahan. That amounts to four foxes guarding the henhouse.
As a physician, I thought that I had enough in my IRA to retire and did so. However, unfortunately at the age of 78, I have had to go back to work again in order to pay my monthly expenses because of the meltdown. Fortunately I have found work.
I have often wished that I had a retirement program like the city's so that I could retire for good.
Neal Andrews is being targeted by the union as the man to be defeated. He is the only running incumbent who feels that there is a need for city retirement modification. I happen to like Mike Tracy, and his work in the community has been outstanding. But I am not certain, with union pressure, that the retirement problem will be addressed appropriately by him, since he is a beneficiary of his peer group.
So vote for Neal and skip the incumbents!
-- Jack Broms, M.D., Ventura
I'm a Ventura voter and former director of the Los Angeles Area Wage and Salary Survey. This consortium consisted of representatives from the city, county, school district, community college and a local state university. We were tasked with determining average increases for related jobs in the private sector. The results of our survey data were given to each of the city councils, county supervisors and board of education members as aids to their collective bargaining process.
As a result, I'm painfully familiar with what happens when management goes eyeball to eyeball with a public agency union over excessive demands for increased pay and/or benefits. If the management of the agency blinks and gives in to the union's demands, it becomes only a matter of time until draconian measures must be taken to return to financial sanity.
So I have to wonder whether the City of Ventura is headed for trouble by promising more to the police union than we taxpayers are able to handle. Where retirement benefits are concerned, I'm equally amazed that it is possible for a public employee to receive more money in retirement than that employee earned on the job. The standard for most defined benefit plans is typically between 70 percent to 80 percent of the employee's highest salary as appropriate retirement pay.
At some point, the above scenario will play out for the City of Ventura. The police union realizes this and is attacking Neal Andrews' re-election in a desperate attempt to stave off the inevitable.
In conclusion, if a private sector organization has a problem with its union, it can cease operating, move out of state or outsource its work to China. What option does the city or taxpayers of Ventura have?
-- Leo A. Jones, Ventura
Political ads are normal and natural at this time, but the "hit piece" letter that was addressed to us regarding Neal Andrews was over the top.
We have watched the City Council meetings on numerous occasions. Andrews was not only present, but also his views on most issues were reasonable and articulate.
His travel on behalf of the City Council was all pre-approved by a majority of the council, so why the charge of lack of fiscal responsibility? Was the majority of the council being fiscally irresponsible when they asked him to attend those meetings?
The letter was signed by "John Snowling and the 122 officers, corporals and sergeants of the Ventura Police Officers Association." Was that a unanimous vote based on a voice vote or secret ballot? Was their disapproval of Andrews based on the specious charges leveled at him in their letter? Or was it based on his resistance to raising police officers' salaries in these financially difficult times?
We intend to vote for Neal Andrews, and we appreciate his valuable service to the City of Ventura. We feel it was grossly unfair of the Police Officers Association to characterize Andrews' eight years of service in such a negative way.
-- Bruce C. & Sandra S. Davison, Ventura
I have known Mike Tracy for 30 years, first when we began our careers -- Mike as a police officer and I as a deputy probation officer -- and later as friends. In both of these roles, Mike earned my respect and my trust.
Over the years our professional paths crossed frequently. Eventually he became the chief of police for the city of Ventura and I became the chief probation officer for the County of Ventura. During this time we worked on issues from delinquency prevention to gang suppression.
I was always impressed with his dedication to protecting those he served, his openness to new ideas and his ability to solve problems. He worked collaboratively with all of his justice systems partners but also supported the many community-based organizations working to improve the lives of children and the underprivileged. I'm voting for Mike because I trust him to do what he has always done: gather the facts, ask for input from others and make decisions based on what is in the best interest of all those he serves.
Lastly, I find it admiral, but not surprising, that Mike has decided to donate his salary to deserving charities should he be elected. That's the kind of commitment and dedication that's hard to find. Please join me in supporting Mike Tracy for City Council.
-- Cal Remington, Ventura
(The writer was chief probation officer for Ventura County from 1997 to 2007. -- Editor)
Please join us in supporting Mike Tracy for the Ventura City Council.
We know Mike and his wife, Linda, very well. Mike served the City of Ventura as a police officer for 30 years, and led the Police Department with distinction as police chief until his retirement six years ago. He is a man of character, integrity and demonstrated leadership ability. Linda taught for years at Mound School in Ventura, where our children went to school. Together they have "walked the talk" of public service to our community and our children.
Ventura is at a crossroads. We need a man of Mike's maturity and experience to lead on our City Council as we face critical decisions that will affect our quality of life for many years to come. Mike understands the important role that economic development plays in providing the diverse services and amenities that we want and deserve in this community.
Mike has told both of us that his sole motivation for seeking a seat on the City Council is to do what he can to make Ventura the best it can be. We firmly believe that to be true. As a councilmember, Mike will always do what is right for Ventura.
We are vested in Ventura's long-term future success; this is where we work and raise and school our children. We hope they too then can settle in this wonderful place. We believe that with Mike's experience and proven leadership he is uniquely qualified and capable of moving Ventura in the right direction to secure that future.
Please join us and our friends and neighbors in voting for Mike Tracy for City Council on Tuesday.
-- Quinn & Geralyn Fenwick, Ventura
My late father, a longtime resident of Ventura, would automatically vote for anyone male, of Irish descent and Republican (i.e., not McGovern or the Kennedys). And I'm sure he's smiling down from heaven knowing that I am in support of Maureen O'Hara for City Council. However, I'm doing so because I admire her strong, pragmatic approach to the issues this city has on the front burner and because I am thoroughly impressed by the content of her character.
When I moved to Ventura a few years ago, Maureen and her husband, Sean, were among the first to welcome me. No, not over a pint of Guinness, but, as Maureen preferred, a well-balanced Syrah. I learned she was a labor attorney going to bat for workers' rights. As a longtime member of the Writers Guild, that resonated with me. I also was struck by how passionate she was about Ventura and how engaged she was in all that it had to offer. Any criticisms she had about the status quo were always followed by a litany of rational solutions, including re-engineering downtown traffic flow and instigating police foot patrols; creating new sources of revenue; defending property rights; and instigating improvements that can only make our city a "go-to destination."
Maureen is someone who speaks in active voice, not passive voice. She's a grin-a-minute and someone with the intellect and persona to motivate, to cut through any bureaucratic malaise. Passion, pragmatic, knowledgeable, a worthy advocate wrapped in a blend of warmth and humor, that's Maureeno O'Hara. As welcoming as a glass of well-balanced Syrah.
-- John Whelpley, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 18 editorial, "Monahan, Tracy, Andrews, Cozzens":
I thank The Star for endorsing Mike Tracy for election to the Ventura City Council on Tuesday. Mike has the experience, leadership and common sense to serve the city's citizens with outstanding service on the council. He will bring a new energy and direction in setting city policies and fulfilling its duties.
Mike grew up in Ventura and then worked here as a police officer for 30 years, rising to become chief of police. He has an unequaled dedication and respect for the city and its people.
Mike has served on community charitable and service organizations. He understands the desires of individuals, families and businesses to be in a safe, healthy environment and to enjoy community aesthetics founded on a quality infrastructure and city services that place citizens first among competing priorities. He knows how the city can achieve its goals because he was an executive with the city and knows how to get things done. In his new capacity, he can help set citywide priorities and see their results. He's an excellent organizer and troubleshooter who motivates others to be their best and helps them achieve their objectives.
Mike possesses a unique combination of decency, friendliness, vision, focus, intelligence, energy and respect for the opinions of others, which makes him a natural leader. He wishes to continue his services to Ventura's citizens with the distinction he demonstrated as police chief. He has pledged to donate his council pay to local charities to further benefit the city.
The Star was astute in endorsing Mike Tracy and will see its readers pleased with his continuing service to the city. Public service is truly a way of life for Mike Tracy.
-- Donald Krause, Ventura
Free enterprise! What a great idea! How our country has thrived. If a Walmart with groceries were allowed to compete with a Target with groceries, who would win? The consumer, of course. Everything else on this subject has been said. Vote no on Measure C. God bless America!
-- George Van Essen, Ventura
A yes vote on Measure A will give the city much-needed funds to repair our potholes, pave streets and repair our sidewalks and curbs.
A yes will allow our city to maintain our urban forests and plant much-needed trees, important for the health of all and adding beauty to our city.
A yes will restore the funds that the Parks and Recreation and Community Service departments so desperately need. We cannot allow our children or anyone else to play in parks that are not properly maintained. Cleanliness and safety are priceless at our special gems, our city parks.
A yes will help to reduce pollution on the beaches that we all love and cherish.
A yes will bring back Fire Engine 10. This engine allows the first responders to reach many of our citizens and visitors in a very timely manner. The critical five-minute response time will save lives.
A yes will allow us to keep the Wright Library open for the next four years while a permanent solution is sought regarding this much loved and used facility.
A yes will bring much-needed funding to our public safety organizations, both fire and police. This will allow both organizations to continue to hire top quality personnel as need. The police can reinstate the downtown patrol to provide much-needed safety to all those visiting, eating and shopping downtown.
It is important to note that the spending plan does not provide for increases in employee compensation!
If you shop in our neighboring cities you already pay this small increase.
The state cannot take away, borrow or raid this money from us.
Let's all keep Ventura moving forward in a positive way by voting yes on Measure A on Tuesday!
-- Sharon Troll, Ventura
Don't be fooled. Measure C is aimed at keeping Walmart out of Ventura, and for no other reason. Our freedoms are at stake.
Think this is an exaggeration? The writers of Measure C will probably fight to the death to protect a woman's right to have an abortion in Ventura, but they don't want her to have the right to shop at Walmart after her procedure.
They say, "You can drive to the Oxnard Walmart." I guess they don't care about our air quality or our tax base.
I have stopped making major purchases in the city of Ventura because it has become clear to me that Ventura doesn't care about sales tax revenue. I shopped for a new truck back in 2007. I chose the Ford dealer in Thousand Oaks over the Ventura dealer because I had heard the word: "Ventura doesn't care about sales tax." Measure C is just a reminder of that message.
So know that if you vote for Measure C, our traffic won't change. But your freedom of choice to shop where you choose will be.
-- Douglas Schulze, Ventura
As a liberal Democrat, I am asking all of you like-minded people to set aside the labels and preconceptions and vote for Neal Andrews for Ventura City Council. There comes a time when dogma and ideology must fade away, and we look to those who will lead us the best. Neal embodies many of the qualities that we liberals value, including inclusion, cherishing our diversity and compassion for those who are less fortunate than ourselves. You can not find a more honest man or woman in Ventura politics today. Please join me on Tuesday to help re-elect Neal Andrews for Ventura City Council.
-- Greg Sherman, Ventura
I've been following the Walmart deal and I have come to the conclusion that the city of Ventura has no vision.
When you go to Santa Barbara, you clearly see that they require buildings to meet strict design standards to maintain a "feel" about their city. When you drive through the Thousand Oaks area, you get the same feeling. They want their cities to have a certain atmosphere. It is nice to go there and spend money, or just hang out.
Ventura had the opportunity to create something attractive when the mall was redone, but they went the affordable route (to appease the developer?). We had another chance when the mall lost a major anchor store. They could have made that end of the mall an outdoor shopping promenade like the ones in Thousand Oaks and Santa Barbara. But we get another Target instead.
When driving around the city, there's no congruency in building design or theme. You see every type of building, giving the city a cheapened look. Now they want another Walmart? On a street that's already too crowded? In a city with nowhere to go but downtown, they do this? Where is the vision? Where is the pride?
Yes, tax dollars are nice, but at what cost? Other cities get the big bucks spent there because they are nice places to go. Ventura is convinced that big-box budget stores are the way to go.
We live in the last Southern California beach city that has space left to develop, and we're turning it into a big pile of discount stores and tall condos. I don't get it.
Just develop a vision and tell us what it is. Then make developers toe the mark or find somewhere else to build their junk. The council has the clout it needs as the last beachside city to have any land left. Use it to beautify Ventura.
-- David Eckerson, Ventura
What is the American dream? Is it cheap junk and lots of it? Or is it a decent job that allows people time with their family and participating in their community?
Wal-Mart wants you to believe it's the stuff that makes us happy, and it doesn't matter to us if it gets to us because workers and suppliers are squeezed.
What is fair competition? Is it breaking the law -- labor, environmental, whatever -- with a "catch-me-if-you-can" attitude so you can gain unfair advantage over your competitors? Or is a level playing field of companies who practice respect for the law? Walmart wants you to believe anything done in the name of competitive advantage is just fine, because Americans love a winner. On steroids.
Walmart doesn't respect American values, and we don't need their junk or their shady business practices here in Ventura. Measure C will keep them from getting the gigantic superstore they want on Victoria Avenue. They don't care about how much traffic local people have to deal with, as long as the traffic leads to a Walmart.
-- Bette Goldenring, Ventura
Step back for a second and ask yourself why Measures A, B and C are on the ballot in the first place.
Measure A: Ventura city officials are obviously overly influenced by local public safety group interests who want to keep the gravy train going. This is nothing new. To accomplish goal, city officials propose a half-cent sales tax increase and cleverly promote it as a means to fixing potholes, paving roads, maintaining parks and cleaning up our beaches and rivers. It's classic bait-and-switch. Who in Ventura doesn't want their pothole-ridden roads repaved and our parks, beaches and rivers cleared of junk? Yet according to the City of Ventura Web site, when the increase to public transit is excluded, less than half of the total collected funds will be dedicated to these specific needs. Want your roads paved? Then give us more money to increase ex-Police Chief Mike Tracy's already ludicrously high $186,000-per-year pension for life.
Measure B: If city officials had not railroaded an unnecessarily obtrusive and quite ordinary-designed high-rise medical center extension blocking hillside views, would this measure have even reached the ballot? Probably not. The issue here is lack of trust in elected officials. What's next, a brand new steel and glass downtown high-rise police center? Perhaps a concrete prison on the beach to bring in extra revenue and jobs? Or how about a 10-story monument to firefighters topped with a big bright red fire truck blocking Anacapa Island views?
Measure C: A Walmart megacenter is just what every modern, vibrant, forward-thinking, dynamic town overlooking the Pacific Ocean needs. Has this city reached to such a low level that we have to rely on Walmart to bring low-paying jobs and the rather measly $350,000 to $500,000 in tax revenue to the community? These are the same people who think the plethora of massage parlors and tattoo shops on Main Street are great for downtown business.
-- Cris A. Sabo, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Measure unlikely to stop Wal-Mart":
When the new Target Superstore opened last year, it pretty much replaced the Kmart store and then some. With another Walmart opening on Victoria Avenue, this means yet another huge store filled with cheap general merchandise mostly manufactured in China. Is this really a good thing for Ventura?
Even if Measure C is unlikely to stop Walmart from coming in, it will at least put a small wrench in their giant corporate machinery that seeks to grow, like a cancer, into bigger and bigger stores without any regard for the health of the surrounding communities. Many cities have passed similar ordinances to protect current businesses and to prevent an unwelcome transformation of their towns.
The general plan for Ventura, created four years ago after months of community inmput, called for creating interesting, unique mixed-use districts with shops, restaurants and housing that would create lively, community-oriented neighborhood centers. Measure C will prevent future city councils from allowing a Walmart on Victoria to expand later, as they are doing in Oxnard, into a giant superstore.
I agree with the general plan and will be voting yes on C to preserve this vision for the future of Ventura.
-- Laura Gulovsen, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Measure unlikely to stop Wal-Mart":
In this article, Walmart spokesman Aaron Rios said, "It's unfortunate a group is working to eliminate retail options for hard-working families." Is it possible that he doesn't know there is a Walmart 10 minutes away? Surely he doesn't think there has to be a Walmart within every five or eight miles of each other. Who is really eliminating retail options?
In the same edition of The Star, there was an article about Walmart's price war on books. In order to compete, Target, Barnes and Noble and others are selling anticipated best sellers at a loss. Not every bookstore can survive these tactics over a prolonged period of time against Walmart, whose earnings were $3.44 billion last year. They have the power to kill off many of our retail stores, one category at a time. It is capitalism gone awry.
With Walmart creating an impossible parking situation at the Kmart site, Trader Joe's might eventually have to relocate, and it would be difficult to rent the other vacant stores. So within a couple of years, the city could have a shopping center with empty stores, except for Walmart. What a perfect scenario for our City Council, after already making concessions that encouraged Walmart to develop plans for this site, to allow variances so that the original Walmart grows into superstore on Victoria Avenue.
Since the current model for new Walmarts have been superstores, and that is what they really want, only Measure C can discourage them from going ahead with their plans to start with a smaller store. It is an outside chance, but it can happen. Please vote yes on Measure C.
-- Ruth Schwartz, Ventura
Here's what "is just not right:" the slick mailer's map! The Measure B opponents' fraudulent map claims 19 percent of the population is not represented on the View Resources Board. This is incorrect.
All necessary information for an accurate map is in the initiative's text, the full text of which is on the www.VCORD.org Web site. The map is elegant, with called-out exempted (industrial/manufacturing/hospital) areas and central view overlay subdistricts closing each other.
Measure B authorizes a 23-member View Resources Board to write a View Protection Ordinance. Using a form of simple district representation, defined View Overlay Districts have 18 neighborhood representatives. Each will outreach to neighborhood residents gathering input for the final View Protection Ordinance. (The View Resources Board also includes one representative each from the Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, City Council, Planning Commission and planning staff.)
Measure B defines Ventura's Westside, Central and Eastern View Overlay Districts.
The Westside District includes Ventura Avenue corridor with adjacent neighborhoods from Main Street north to city limits, which contains the area north of exempt Downtown-Core and west of Fir Street.
The Central District includes Victoria west to Fir bounded by north/south city limits. The Central subdistrict representatives are as follows: two from the Harbor/Ventura Keys area; two from Pierpont Beach area; two from Midtown-North, above Poli/Foothill, east of Fir, west of Victoria; three from Midtown-South (below Poli/Foothill, east of Fir, west of Victoria, minus following Midtown-East subdistrict); two from Midtown-East, northeast of Telegraph, west of Victoria, below Poli/Foothill bounded on west by exempt Community Memorial Hospital District and exempt county hospital property.
The Eastern District includes Victoria to eastern city limits bounded by north/south city limits.
These are the correct Measure B View Overlay Districts as defined in the initiative. These district's representatives are not in competition but are working together on a View Protection Ordinance that must then be adopted by the City Council or the voters.
-- Diane Underhill, Ventura
(The writer is a spokesperson for Measure B. -- Editor)
Well, I got another smear pamphlet against Neal Andrews in the mail from the Ventura Police Officers Association. This one again is in regards to Andrews' travel funding. So, does that mean Mike Tracy is planning on funding all his own travel, if elected? I don't think so. Mike may be a nice guy, but he most definitely will not get my vote. Neal, keep on rockin'.
-- Norma Cunningham, Ventura
I would like to add my voice to the growing chorus of support for Mike Tracy in the upcoming election for Ventura City Council.
I have followed Mike's career for many years since we share a background in law enforcement. I was always impressed with the way the Ventura Police Department was run under his captaincy. I believe that his fiscal experience at the head of such a large organization will help him immeasurably on our City Council, and who better knows the problems faced by our community than a lifelong resident and former police chief?
I have grown to know Mike personally over the last several years and have a great respect for his intelligence, integrity and humility. The fact that he has promised to donate his council salary to charity should tell you all you need to know about his motivations in this campaign: to selflessly serve the city of Ventura.
I can think of no one I would trust in that position more than Mike Tracy, and I urge our community to elect him to the Ventura City Council on Tuesday.
-- Kevin D. Farrell, Ventura
Vote yes on Measure A.
No one likes to pay more taxes, but we have all worked to make our city a beautiful place, and we need to maintain the improvements we have made.
These are bad economic times, but I am willing to pay a little more sales tax to keep the potholes filled, the parks and benches clean and to keep Wright Library open. It is only for four years, and it is only one half cent more on a dollar. Tourists will pay part of it, which is fair as they use our streets and parks and beaches. After four years the measure will expire and must be put before the voters if it is to be extended.
I want to keep my beautiful city the way it is, we have a lot to be proud of in Ventura.
-- Mary Ann Owens, Ventura
As a Downtown Ventura property owner, merchant and employer, I am deeply concerned about the recent cuts in the city budget. Measure A is a half-cent tax increase that will appear on the November ballot. I believe this is a modest increase that will help keep the city safe, return our parks to the families from aggressive forces that have invaded our city, and also help with the overall appearance and cleanliness. I feel this tax increase will not be a large burden with positive results.
-- Mark Hartley, Ventura
Ventura Citizens Organized for Responsible Development is playing David to the developers' Goliath. How many of these slick, glossy four-color mailers is Goliath going to send?
Will this display of developer money convince the average Ventura voter that Measure B is not about protecting views? Will it convince voters that VCORD is trying to empower themselves, not voters? I hope not!
Hard-working Ventura citizens labored to give Ventura voters a chance to vote for a Ventura View Protection Ordinance. With all the tall pending projects in the pipeline, if we do not vote for Measure B now, it will be too late. For heaven's sake, Burbank has a view protection ordinance; doesn't our lovely little Mission town deserve one?
-- Barbara Underhill, Ventura
Here is a plan: Keep the library open, fix the streets, put more cops on the streets and reduce fire response time. How, you ask, since this requires money?
First, increase sales tax revenues by using the shopping areas of this city. Doesn't anyone realize how many Venturans shop in Oxnard? Help Walmart open on Victoria Avenue, get the area north of the mall back on the sales tax rolls, fill the old Good Guys store. Ventura is losing money because we are slow to fill these stores. It should not take years.
Second, cut costs. The city cut $11 million, but it has more to do. Pensions are out of control and not affordable. The city is going down the road of General Motors and Vallejo. The state will start paying Ventura back this year's money with interest. The council must use it wisely.
Until the council increases revenues (sales taxes) and cuts costs (pensions), it should not be asking us to pay more. Deal with revenues and pensions, and then we can talk about increasing my taxes by $400 per year for a family of five.
Vote no on Measure A this year. Perhaps it will be needed in the future, but the city has not done enough yet to truly need it!
-- John Brooke, Ventura
I was disappointed but not surprised to find a letter in my mailbox signed by John Snowling, president of the Ventura Police Officers Association, bad-mouthing incumbent Councilman Neal Andrews.
According to the VPOA, Neal is Public Enemy No. 1. Ask yourself why the VPOA is so afraid he will be re-elected. Why is the VPOA so desperate that they must perpetuate the smear campaign that started with a distasteful push poll in September?
All this name-calling is not really about Neal's out-of-state travel. As the only council member to serve on a national policy committee, Neal's travel expenses of approximately $8,000 a year are a pittance. Neal's participation in the National League of Cities has resulted in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in direct benefits to our city, the most recent being a doubling of the Community Development Block Grant funds available for local projects.
We all know that the VPOA's argument against Neal is motivated by their resentment of his vote against their 17 percent pay raise at a time when we were spiraling into a deep recession. Neal has repeatedly asked our police and other public safety personnel to come to the bargaining table to work constructively to modify the system so it could become sustainable. He has not asked any police officer to give up one dime of the benefits they have previously been awarded. He has simply asked them to recognize that it is a system that cannot be continued without significant modification as new employees are added to the police force.
Despite what the VPOA wants you to believe, Neal Andrews is most definitely a conservative taxpayer watchdog, and we need him, more than ever, to guarantee common sense and fiscal integrity to council decisions. Please vote for Neal Andrews on Tuesday.
-- Diane de Mailly, Ventura
The Ventura Police Officers Association says Neal Andrews "is a decent man."
But they also say he misses meetings and wastes taxpayers' money on "field trips."
The fact is that he has not missed more council meetings than other council members in spite of his service on a national policy committee and a regional committee that has served the city in a number of important ways and that has brought recognition to the city and millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to the regional economy. Anyone who regularly watches council meetings would know that.
As far as the "blanket" travel requests, service on the national committee requires an agreement to attend four meetings a year. Before Neal accepted the appointment, he asked the council to approve all four meetings, which they did. Neal thought it was appropriate to know he had their support before he accepted the appointment. As a result of that appointment, of course, he does probably travel out of state more often than other council members. Neal is the only council member who holds an appointment to a national policy committee.
The reasons Ventura did not receive stimulus money to hire more police officers, in spite of Neal's best efforts in Washington, were that Ventura did not have enough local crime to qualify for the funds and that the police declined to apply for a micro-area grant that would have focused on gang activity, despite Neal's urging that they do so, again because they believed they did not have sufficient crime even in any micro-area to meet the criteria.
We know he has served the citizens of Ventura well.
-- Louis & Beverly Cunningham, Ventura
Has anyone given any thought to the following two issues regarding Measure A:
-- The amount of traffic that any large store would generate.
-- The lack of parking that any large store would generate.
As Garfield would say, "Well, duh!"
-- Patricia Morawsky, Ventura
I just received a slick eight-page "No on Measure B" mailer. Developers are flaunting their money!
It's unconscionable to say the grassroots Ventura Citizens Organized for Responsible Development are "empowering themselves at our expense." VCORD is empowering Ventura voters on view protection. This dedicated group, representing all city areas, worked hard to bring this citizen initiative to voters. Their motto: "Let the people decide."
VCORD saw that building codes allowed 45- to 75-foot-tall buildings along our city's commercial corridors, which run adjacent to existing residential neighborhoods. VCORD knew that if tall buildings line these commercial corridors, then public views throughout the city would be blocked.
VCORD appoints 20 of the 23 members of the View Resources Board that will write the View Protection Ordinance because a majority of our City Council opposes this View Protection Ordinance. VCORD needed to make the appointments to ensure a strong View Protection Ordinance for our city.
This slick mailer states that the east side will not get "fair representation." What a red herring! The 23 View Resources Board representatives are not in competition! VRB members work in small groups in their own neighborhoods to designate views important for protection. Repeat: There is no competition between neighborhoods, thus no one can be "unfairly favored ... at the expense of others." Whoever authored the brochure doesn't understand the initiative or is deliberately misleading the public.
The four east-siders on the View Resources Board will address lowering commercial corridor coded building heights to protect our eastside views to mountains, the ocean and hills.
Don't fall for the developers' slick mailers. VCORD's Measure B initiative empowers Ventura voters. Without Measure B we will have no view protection.
Let's keep Ventura's views from being spoiled by overly tall commercial corridor buildings. Vote yes on Measure B.
-- Norene Charnofsky, Ventura
I am 90 years young and have lived in the Avenue area for more than 20 years. Even at my advanced age, I never take a day off helping the poor and homeless people of Ventura. They are citizens who desperately need a voice on our City Council. That is why I strongly urge everyone to vote for Jim Monahan.
I support Monahan because he knows the people on the Avenue and understands their needs. When the City Council decided to make money by enforcing building code violations in older homes, it upset the apple cart for people who live on the Avenue. Many have lived in their homes for years and never even knew they had code violations. Now the city wants them to spend thousands of dollars to bring their homes, many of which are 80 years old, up to code? Most of my neighbors are senior citizens on a fixed income. Who can afford it?
Monahan was the only member of the City Council who didn't vote for this nonsense. And that's not all. He has also helped some senior citizens on the Avenue get their homes in shape with the help of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union No. 52, led by Jerry Martin and his union brother who do the work for free. That's just one reason we need Jim Monahan on the City Council!
-- Les Goldberg, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
I had always been under the impression that the intent of the Conejo Open Space Conservancy Agency was to keep open land from being developed into housing tracts. In this story regarding Fred Rassuli's backyard encroachment onto COSCA-owned land, that seems not to be the case.
After 30 years, one must wonder, "Why now?" Are these trees and shrubs a fire hazard? No. Are they an attractive nuisance? No. Are they blocking what appears to be a nonexistent trail? No. Are they keeping potential public mud from sliding into his home? Yes. Has Rassuli constructed a permanent structure, i.e. buildings? No. Would COSCA pay for mud damage? Probably not! Are there other areas in the county that would love to have that growth in their back yards after the recent fires? Yes!
COSCA Manager Kristin Foord should forget about it!
-- Rick Esler, Newbury Park
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
Imagine my shock upon opening The Star to discover that Fred and Jeanne Rassuli of Thousand Oaks had the nerve to beautify a portion of public land abutting their rear yard. After looking at the before-and-after pictures, there is no doubt that the barren rocky hillside with sparse weeds and scrub oak is far superior to the majestic trees and greenery planted by the Rassulis. Thank God the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency now has the "authority" to correct this travesty that was perpetrated on the residents of the Conejo Valley.
I love these conservationists who want to return land to its "native state." Which native state would you like to return to -- 100 years ago, 500 years, 1,000 years ago, 10,000 years ago, a million years ago? Take your pick, because since the world came into existence, the "native state" has been constantly changing and will continue to do so until the end of the world. A multitude of factors, of which humanity is only one, contribute to the geological evolution of this planet.
Should the Rassulis have planted on public land? Of course not, although I wonder if the COSCA was even in existence 30 years ago. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where a little common sense, which is rarely exercised by our public servants, would have left well enough alone.
Perhaps the people who are so concerned with returning this little plot of land to its native state can pony up the money to destroy what the Rassulis created.
-- Michael R. Morgan, Newbury Park
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
So Conejo Open Space Conservancy Agency Manager Kristin Foord wants Fred and Jeanne Rassuli to return the area that they have improved to its original barren state. What kind of logic is that? Is the agency then going to replant the area?
There is something really, really wrong here. Citizens are not allowed to improve public land? Why is it "public" then? Aren't we the public? Aren't the Rassulis members of the public? This is one of the most absurd things that I have ever heard, and there sure are lots of absurd things going on. This has me really angry. I am offended by the agency's high-handed treatment of this couple.
-- Cornelia Williams, Camarillo
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
This Thousand Oaks couple has been ordered by some local government entity to stop caring for some public land and to remove everything with which they have preserved and protected this land.
This brings to mind the image of an officious government person saying, "We can't take care of this problem (budget, no time, etc.,) but it is our job, and you are forbidden to take care of it."
This attitude is more common than supposed at various levels -- city, county, state and federal. The Conejo Open Space Conservancy Agency is just playing by the rules.
It is not too late for some common sense to be put into play in this instance. And we all know what it is.
-- Ben Lary, Oak View
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
How ridiculous! Why should a beautiful area be reduced to barren waste? Isn't this public land still accessible to all the public? Surely the public using this area would prefer nature's wonders to plain old dirt! Why should all this very pleasing landscaping be eliminated? I think that the Conejo Open Space Conservancy Agency should pay the Rassulis for all their investment and hard work. What has happened to common sense?
-- Geneva Ferguson, Camarillo
Since graduating from the Ventura County Sheriff's Academy with Ken Cozzens in 1974, I have had the pleasure to know and continue to gain respect for him. He is one of the most honest and caring individuals that I have ever known.
Ken is known for his ability to build consensus and to help minimize discord during disputes. He is skilled at separating the people from the problem at hand. He was an outstanding employee of the Sheriff's Department and, since retirement, has distinguished himself as a Ventura-based business owner along with his wife and as a volunteer for senior citizens' causes.
With Ken, what you see is what you get. If he makes a promise or statement, he will stand by it and will give his full effort to ensure a successful outcome. Unlike some politicians, his integrity will never be an issue.
I recommend, without any reservation, that you vote for Ken Cozzens for Ventura City Council.
-- Steve Hendrick, Ventura
I heard a rumor that Measure C will not prevent a Wal-Mart on Victoria Avenue. From all the mailings I have received about Wal-Mart and Measure C, I thought Measure C was to keep Wal-Mart off Victoria. I have done some checking and discovered that the rumor is true, that Wal-Mart does indeed have the Kmart spot, and that Measure C will not stop that.
I also learned that Measure C will prevent us from ever having a Super Target, which I would like to see in Ventura some day. I don't think we need a third Target, but I would like one of the existing Targets to be able to move and become a Super Target should they choose to. I think a Super Target would be good for our local economy, so I have decided to vote no on Measure C.
-- Mark Phillips, Ventura
I am amazed at the disingenuous arguments being voiced by the anti Wal-Mart campaign. Proponents state that Measure C will help prevent traffic on Victoria Avenue. This statement is very misleading. Measure C would only prohibit stores larger than 90,000 square feet "that devote more than 3 percent of sales floor space to non-taxable merchandise (groceries)." Measure C will not prevent a Best Buy or IKEA or any other large retail store from generating traffic. Why are Measure C proponents misleading us?
If Measure C is really not about traffic, then what is it about? Look for the money trail. When you do, you will find that major funding for yes on C is coming from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. These are the good people who work for Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons. Why would these people be against providing choice and competition for residents of Ventura? President Barack Obama, when commenting on our nation's healthcare debate, has insisted that choice and competition are essential components to the future of healthcare. Does choice and competition only apply to healthcare? What about groceries?
Due to our current economic situation, families are struggling more than ever to put food on the table. A yes vote on Measure C will hurt these families.
The other argument being advanced by the yes on C folks it that Measure C will protect small businesses. This argument is downright hypocritical. Many supporters of Measure C work for Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons. Who has put more mom-and-pop grocery stores out of business in the last 50 years than these retail giants?
Supporters of Measure C would like you to believe that this is a David-versus-Goliath scenario. In reality, it is a Goliath (Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons) versus Goliath (Wal-Mart) scenario, and the people who are going to suffer if Measure C passes are the residents of Ventura.
I urge you to vote no on Measure C.
-- Jim Friedman, Ventura
We are close to that magical event where the ancient concept of might-makes-right (i.e., the biggest group, i.e., democracy) will be employed to determine who our local rulers will be and also which group's opinion will be forced on all regarding the use of our money and property.
-- Measure A: It's incredibly insulting to see things like government-provided policing, firefighting, and library referred to as "essential services," as if chaos and societal collapse would ensue with one less motorcycle cop looking for minor infractions; a ridiculously overcompensated firefighter taking a pay cut; an unfavored library closing. If anyone thinks, "There aren't enough cops, firefighters are underpaid and Wright deserves more funding," feel free to make a voluntary donation.
-- Measure B: What kind of a world would it be if structures above 26 feet were banned? A valid question regarding the destruction of another's view exists, but isn't this best left to civil proceedings in a case-by-case manner rather than an arbitrary statute creating another unelected and unaccountable Soviet-style board (the Ventura Citizens' Organization for Responsible Development) to run our local lives?
-- Measure C: A property "owner" is forced to pay the feudal lord (i.e., government) perpetual rent for the privilege of occupying land, yet is barred from productively using it. They still have to pay taxes on it, of course, or the feudal lord will repossess the land and everything on it! Is encouraging vacant lots more conducive to a prosperous and free society than allowing property owners to develop them and letting consumers judge worthiness?
I am overjoyed to see taxes used to produce a ballot for those who refuse to learn English.
-- Shane Solano, Ventura
Perhaps The Star can help us voters with some investigative reporting.
I want to be safe in my city, but I don't want to tax myself unnecessarily. Half of me is planning on voting yes on Measure A to keep me and my family safe, but the other half questions if the current money or this new money is truly needed or would be used wisely.
I hear the city budget has lost $11 million. Is this true? On the other hand, I hear $4 million is money the state is "borrowing" from the city, and the city will receive this money back, with interest, in the next couple of years. The other $7 million will also return within the next couple of years as the economy returns. Is this true? When the economy returns and the city receives back its "borrowed" money, what will the city do with this new tax money from Measure A?
I hear this new tax will put more police and firefighters on the street, but I also hear over half the police and firefighters make more than $100, 000 per year, including overtime. Is this true? In addition, the city gives city workers 3 at 50, which means us taxpayers are paying retirees about 90 percent of $100, 000 from age 50 until they die at 80 -- for 30 years. Or put another way, the city is really funding four police and fire forces -- two active forces and one retired force. Is this true? How many police could be put on the street with a 2 at 55, which is still a very good retirement?
I hear that these high salaries and retirement benefits are needed, but I read how hundreds, if not thousands, apply for one police or fire position. Is this true?
-- John Brooke, Ventura
I offer the following rationale:
-- Yes on Measure A: It allows Wright Library to remain open and helps preserve essential city services for the four years that the half-percent sales tax is in effect. The council has balanced the city budget by cutting $11 million. The state is keeping money owed to us, so if we want the library open, streets paved and adequate fire and police protection, we must do it ourselves.
-- Yes on Measure B: It allows citywide neighborhood and community representatives to write a view protection policy for Ventura that can be adopted by City Council or put to the voters. Hundreds of cities have such policies; Ventura needs one.
-- YES on Measure C: It will prevent Wal-Mart from expanding into a 24-hour superstore if it opens on the Kmart site on Victoria. If Measure C fails, Wal-Mart can expand to a store three times the size of Ralphs across the street with only four votes from City Council members. It will have 18-wheeler trucks traveling day and night on Victoria Avenue.
As a retired teacher from Ventura Unified School District, I am proud of the leadership that the present Board of Education is providing for our students and will vote to return the three incumbents -- Mary Haffner, Velma Lomax and John Walker -- to office.
As a longtime resident of Ventura, I appreciate our city's history and am pleased with recent improvements in our city. I care about the future of Ventura and believe a yes vote on Measures A, B and C will help to preserve the quality of life we enjoy. Returning Haffner, Lomax and Walker to the school board will continue the excellent education opportunities provided to our Ventura students.
-- Carol Lindberg, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 13 article, "Voters to decide on rent control at mobile home park in Fillmore":
The reference to "rent control" in both the headline and the first paragraph imply that the passage of Measure F would provide a type of rent control for the residents at El Dorado Mobile Estates. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Only the very low income or extremely low income residents would benefit from any form of rent stabilization tied to Consumer Price Index. The other residents in the park, who do not qualify under the very low and extremely low income guidelines, would not be eligible.
A condo conversion, which is the main objective of Measure F, simply negates any possibility of a rent control ordinance from being put into place. The offer to purchase space lots provides no incentive to the vast majority of the residents, as most would be required to carry indebtedness for loans at an age where repayment seems infeasible.
Measure F benefits the park owner, not the seniors at El Dorado. Fillmore voters can offer their support to El Dorado residents by voting no on Measure F.
-- Sandy Pella, Fillmore
(The writer is president of Voice of El Dorado Mobile Homeowner's Association. -- Editor)
Re: your Oct. 13 article, "Voters to decide on rent control at mobile home park in Fillmore":
This is very misleading. The initiative we are voting on talks about "fair rent," not rent control. It was written by the park owner. Of course, the park owner's idea of fair rent is different from the residents' idea of fair rent.
This initiative is primarily about saving the park owner a lot of money converting the park to condos. All lots will go up for sale with the homes on them. It exempts them from costly changes now required by law.
Their "fair rent" only takes effect if and when the condo conversion is approved and a lot is sold. At that point, the state has a rent control that goes into effect for low-, very low- and extremely low-income households. This initiative will attempt to take away rent control from low-income households and only give it to very low- and extremely low-income households. They would reduce the number of spaces qualified for rent control.
This is why the headline is very misleading, and I would expect a retraction from The Star. I know of no residents who are in favor of this initiative, which is appropriately named Measure F.
-- David Roegner, Fillmore
Even if you like Wal-Mart, do you really think it makes sense to have a huge superstore on Victoria Avenue? Wal-Mart's current plan for a "smaller" store -- already twice the size of the Ralphs on Victoria -- leaves two attached stores vacant. That's plenty of space to make the Wal-Mart three times the size of the Ralphs, if Measure C doesn't pass.
As if Victoria traffic isn't bad enough now, imagine the traffic a huge Wal-Mart means. It's not only cars, but big-rig trucks in and out 24 hours a day. According to a representative from Wal-Mart, the store will be open 24 hours. Not even the Oxnard store is open 24 hours. That's another clue that their real intention is a huge superstore.
Wal-Mart has refused to go elsewhere in Ventura and has set its sights on a location that makes no sense to those of us who know Ventura. We need Measure C to keep a Wal-Mart superstore off Victoria.
-- Dana Paulinski, Ventura
Re: Larry Cardozo's Oct. 22 commentary, "Counting the ways to loath or love Walmart":
Cardozo's letter appeared at the right time and place. If you want to experience what he has written, then visit the Rose Avenue Shopping Center, another Walmart-controlled shopping center. If you have time, go see the Walmart warehousing operations on Graves Avenue, where there's 18-wheeler traffic blocking street traffic for long periods of time, 18-wheelers waiting curbside with motors still running and the center lane being used as temporary parking area.
-- Bill Harris, Oxnard
I have known Mike Tracy for more than 25 years and fully support and endorse Mike in his bid for the Ventura City Council. He is the right guy at the right time and has always done the right thing.
We really need Mike to help lead the city as we move ahead. He's dedicated to the city, and he has the experience, leadership and common sense that's needed.
-- Gale Hartman, Ventura
The Ventura Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee is very pleased to announce the endorsements of incumbents Neal Andrews and Jim Monahan and challengers Maureen O'Hara and Mike Tracy for Ventura City Council.
The Ventura Chamber PAC mission is to endorse and support business-oriented candidates who support the free enterprise system, believe in fiscally responsible government and whose views represent the interests of both the public and private sector of the economy.
The PAC trustees are excited about the endorsements and will continue to monitor the actions of all who are elected to City Council. Please support your businesses and continue to shop locally. There are many important issues this election, so be sure to vote on Nov. 3. Good luck to all!
-- Katie Teague, Camarillo
(The writer is a trustee for the Ventura Chamber of Commerce PAC. She owns a business in Ventura. -- Editor)
There are many reasons I support Neal Andrews for re-election to Ventura City Council. One of his least known strengths is the effort he puts in to ensure that others are recognized for their contributions to the City of Ventura. He makes it a point to nominate people from the community for awards to honor their service to our city. He takes the time to learn about their accomplishments and to write sincere recommendations. He consistently writes personal notes to city staff who receive awards for outstanding service for their work on behalf of the city.
Because of Andrews' efforts, Les Goldberg went to Washington, D.C., to receive the Jefferson Award to recognize his untiring efforts on behalf of homeless persons. Bart Bleuel was also selected to go to Washington as a Jefferson recipient as a result of Andrews' nomination. Mike McGuire also received the Jefferson with Andrews' nomination.
Through Andrews' nomination, Moses Mora and M.B. Hanrahan were given the El Concilio award for their Tortilla Flats mural. Dave Rodriguez also was awarded the El Concilio award.
In recent years, Neal has successfully nominated three Red Cross Clara Barton award winners, two Community Volunteer of the Year awards by Rotary, two Poinsettia Award Winners, three Distinguished Citizens by the U.S. Navy, and this year he was responsible for one of the Mayor's Arts awards going to Micheline and Albert Sakharov (posthumously).
Andrews makes these nominations and writes his recommendations without fanfare or seeking recognition for himself. Those of us who have had occasion to read his letters of recommendation know how much thought he gives to his selections, and the fact that so many of his nominations win these awards reflects how well he chooses those he believes deserve honor.
His care and thoughtfulness are some of the reasons I support his re-election. I hope you will too.
-- Debora Schreiber, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 18 editorial, "Monahan, Tracy, Andrews, Cozzens":
I was shocked, then a bit bewildered, when I read The Star Editorial Board's candidate endorsements for Ventura City Council. The Star endorsed the two incumbent conservatives, Jim Monahan and Neal Andrews, and two newcomers -- Mike Tracy and Kenneth Cozzens -- who are also conservatives. To make matters worse, they did not endorse the two incumbents, Brian Brennan and Ed Summers, who are more liberal.
Who does The Star's Editorial Board represent? Certainly not the 40-plus percent of Ventura voters who are Democrats, nor the 20-plus percent who are independents. The board's choice of endorsements is an insult to the majority of Venturans and a blow for balanced city government.
I urge Venturans to ignore the biased endorsements and vote for balance. Vote Brennan and Summers.
-- Gary Tuttle, Santa Paula
(The writer served on the Ventura City Council from 1989 to 1997. -- Editor)
Re: Larry Cardozo's Oct. 22 article, "Counting the ways to loath or love Walmart":
First let me say that I don't particularly like Wal-Mart. I've shopped at the Oxnard store maybe twice, and only then because they had something on sale I wanted to buy. And that is the point: consumers being able to shop where they want to get the best deal.
However, regarding Larry's four points, I have some questions for him and other Wal-Mart haters:
-- Walmart will bring increased traffic of 18-wheelers and thousands of cars. Is that more than came to Kmart and Staples and whatever other stores were there? How did those other stores get their goods delivered? By helicopter?
-- Wal-Mart delivery trucks will bring increased noxious diesel fumes. See my questions to the statement above. I suppose Kmart or any other Wal-Mart-hater-approved businesses' delivery trucks will all be "green" 18-wheelers?
-- A super Walmart will destroy existing businesses. I'm wondering why that would happen, because everyone knows Wal-Mart is "evil," maybe even more than "Big Oil!" No one wants to shop there, right? Or do people want to shop at Walmart? I don't like the Burlington Coat Factory, but I wouldn't vote to take away your right to shop there or their right to be there.
And my favorite:
-- A super Walmart will destroy Ventura's image as a tourist destination. I'm sure there are thousands of people right now on Travelocity totally bummed that they can't come back to their favorite tourist destination, Victoria Avenue, where they used to spend fun times eating at IHOP for breakfast, followed by a fun-filled day of shopping at Kmart! Too bad we couldn't build a Super 8 motel on that site.
-- Brian D. Schwan, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Measure unlikely to stop Wal-Mart":
Measure C is our best chance to stop Wal-Mart from opening in Ventura. Measure C will absolutely stop Wal-Mart from building an outsized superstore. This kind of ordinance has been used in many other cities to keep Wal-Mart out.
Wal-Mart spokesman Aaron Rios says that Wal-Mart wants a small store that would comply with the Victoria Corridor Plan and Measure C, but I don't believe that's true. When Wal-Mart builds smaller stores, it is with the intent to "piecemeal" in a superstore. Just look to Oxnard where a superstore is under construction if you need proof.
If Wal-Mart opens their 98,838-square-foot store on Victoria Avenue, they will expand to fill the entire building. Nobody can be naïve enough to believe that they're building Wal-Mart-style loading docks for four trucks at a time on a space that they're not planning to occupy. There are also those two "empty" stores waiting for Wal-Mart to expand into them.
If Measure C passes, I believe that Wal-Mart will abandon their plans for a store on Victoria Avenue because they only want to build huge superstores like the one they originally proposed for the site. If they decide to build anyway, at least Measure C will permanently prevent Wal-Mart from expanding to a superstore.
Any Wal-Mart on Victoria will bring overwhelming traffic and increased crime, and the bigger the Wal-Mart, the bigger the negative impacts.
Please join me in voting yes on Measure C.
-- Doug Thomas, Ventura
I have been a resident of Ventura County since 1985. We moved from Orange County, which, at that time, was growing by leaps and bounds. We were so pleased to have the good fortune to move into a smaller community that had so much more of community "feel." My husband and I have raised two children in this community; we both started our careers in this community; and we have enjoyed all of the wonderful perks of a small town. Ventura is a charming seaside community that has so much to offer, from restaurants to shopping to walks on the beach.
Should Wal-Mart put a super store on Victoria Avenue, it would change the feel and the energy of this part of the city. We already have plenty of stores to visit that provide everything that a Wal-Mart could also provide. The massive trucks, the noisy loading docks, the population and crime and traffic that would take over Victoria Avenue would be counterproductive to the charm that this city has to offer.
Victoria Avenue is already crowded enough; I actually avoid getting off the freeway at that exit due to the already-existing traffic. A Wal-Mart would make traveling up and down Victoria in a timely manner prohibitive, not to mention the ugly trucks and structures that would be ever-present.
Please vote yes on Measure C to avoid a massive Wal-Mart super store. Let's keep Ventura charming, and let's keep the shoppers visiting already existing businesses.
-- Colette Smiley-Keener, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Measure unlikely to stop Wal-Mart":
I read with interest the article on Wal-Mart's plans for the old Kmart building. While I don't have an opinion on whether Wal-Mart should open a store there, if recent rumors are correct, I do have an opinion on whether a Super Target should be permitted in East Ventura.
With Minnesota being the home of Target, they have more super stores there than anywhere else. What a pleasure they are for shopping and saving! The ones I shopped in were all beautiful, upscale stores.
Since the coalition against a Super Wal-Mart apparently has no problem with a regular-sized Wal-Mart in the old Kmart shopping center, I just couldn't vote for Measure C. If it were to pass, there would never be a Super Target in Ventura. That would be unfortunate for those of us who love shopping at Target.
-- Jack Anderson, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
This is one of the most ridiculous situations I have heard about in years.
This land that is now "open space" was once bare land and very susceptible to soil erosion and is now accessible and stable. It is a carbon sink for the absorption of carbon dioxide gases. The vegetation increases organic soil carbon, soil organic matter and soil microbes, all of which are very beneficial to the land itself and the quality of open space!
Who is going to replant this area after Frank Rassuli is forced to remove the vegetation that is now keeping the soils from eroding from wind and water? Who in their right mind would want to destroy a benefit such as this? Why can't logic and reason enter into the equation here? Have we gone as far as limiting common sense because "regulation and power" is the rule? This is absurd!
There comes a time when all aspects of an issue need full and complete assessment by the regulating agency and stakeholders. It appears that this situation needs some more consideration from the powers that be. Hopefully, what is best from a scientific standpoint and also from a best community practices standpoint will prevail.
-- Robert Cashier, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is a certified professional soil scientist and a registered environmental assessor. -- Editor)
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
So, let me understand: A couple encroaches on public land, makes improvements, maintains it for 30 or so years, and now the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency is requiring them to remove an environment that has provided hikers with not only the beauty of both natural flora and drought- and fire-retardant plants such as oleanders, but also trash receptacles and walkways for their convenience?
Why did COSCA and/or the City of Thousand Oaks wait so long? Oh right, probably no one complained, and the ordinance they violated was only implemented this year.
After viewing the before-and-after photos, I would much rather see the native plants as well as the plants the Rassulis planted and nurtured for 30 years than the rocky, barren landscape depicted in the photo taken 30 years ago.
The Rassulis' actions have also mitigated soil erosion, excess runoff and potentially mass wasting of soil-laden rainwater that would have impacted others, a point the Rassulis correctly note in the article.
The action of COSCA and the City of Thousand Oaks is, however, not unexpected in times when we are all waiting to see how governments of all sizes will take from our labors in order to enforce their will on the people, who, in this case, did not break any city codes until one was put in place recently. In my opinion, this is a case for an astute attorney who would defend the Rassulis pro bono so that their efforts over the last 30 years are not uprooted!
-- Richard W. Hurst, Ph.D., Thousand Oaks
(The writer is a professor emeritus of geological sciences at CSU Los Angeles. -- Editor)
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Bailed-out executives facing big pay cuts":
I agree 110 percent with this. However, I think it needs to go further than these seven companies.
I work for a major company, and they are the perfect example of this Wall Street greed. After Sept. 11, I took a 23 percent pay cut to help the company stay in business. Some of my coworkers took a 50 percent pay cut and still others took a 100 percent pay cut as they were laid off. While we have received some but not all of that payback, management still finds ways to take bonuses every year, even though the corporation still loses money every year.
When questioned about their bonuses, management's pat answer is, "You do not understand executive compensation" or "If you want to make what an executive makes, then become an executive."
We keep hearing why they need to keep paying executives these bonuses in order to keep "good people" from leaving the company and finding a job somewhere else. "Good people:" Aren't these the people who got us here in the first place?
If a company makes money, then I have no problem with the executives making a bonus. However, when a company loses money or takes money from the government, then it is time to say, "Stop." I hate to see the government get involved in this, but this may be the only way to stop the greed.
If you are a shareholder of any company in which managers are taking bonuses and the company is losing money, then vote to remove the board of directors. I know one vote does not mean anything, but at least it is a start. It is time that the voice of the average employee is heard.
-- Craig Kronfeld, Oak Park
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
I read this front-page article regarding the Rassuli vs. Open Space case.
It is hard for me to believe that a law or regulation can be enforced on people who "encroached" on public land years later. It puts into question the benefit, to city citizens, that the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency provides. Although the organization claims to have no connection with Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources, it seems to have the same goal of putting "open space" above what's best for city citizens.
The Rassulis only improved the land and protected their own property from runoff during the rainy season. Where was COSCA 30 years ago when the property had no plant cover at all?
It is a shame that the well-meaning words of "open space" could be construed to be used in this fashion. My only hope is that a lawyer reads this and considers some pro-bono work in favor of the Rassuli family.
-- William "Bill" Hicks, Newbury Park
Re: your Oct. 21 article, "State's future rests on change":
The Star's Republican-lite bias is showing again.
This gathering of Chamber of Commerce types featured not a single notable Democrat or environmentalist and dinged business taxes and regulation. Why am I not surprised?
That the sponsoring Milken Institute might have a problem with regulation, an institute founded by the convicted felon Michael Milken, father of junk bonds, is hardly news. Maybe Bernie Madoff will found a "think" tank if he ever gets out of jail.
The only speaker who spoke truth was Eric McAfee, who recommended government setting standards rather than specific regulation so that innovation might not be stifled. He spoke up for renewable energy.
These people do not advocate in California's best interest, and neither does the Star when it promotes the same flawed "growth is good" premise. This ideology is short-sighted and ultimately suicidal, and it is turning our paradise into an overpopulated nightmare of traffic and pollution.
And people like these worthies at the conference will move to nicer places, which they can afford, once they've trashed ours.
For economic theory that touches on reality instead of accounting illusions read Marilyn Waring: http://aurora.icaap.org/index.php/aurora/article/view/26/37
-- Margaret Morris, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 17 article, "O'Connell closes door on a run for governor":
The Star laudably lamented Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell's being priced out of the governorship by the money primary setting the bar too high for the most qualified candidate.
But will The Star take the next step of supporting the California Fair Elections Initiative next June, the first step in providing public funding for candidates for statewide constitutional office? Not only would public funding open doors for those of O'Connell's qualifications, but by taking fees from our unelected lawmakers, the lobbyists, it will free office-holders from the obsessive money-raising that makes part-timers out of the most conscientious candidates now available.
Why not open doors to the Jack O'Connells and charge lobbyists in order to pay for legislators accountable to the public? How better to quash our constant moans and groans over our state government constantly yielding to fat-cat contributors?
-- Allen Dirrim, Oxnard
Re: your Oct. 17 article, "Ventura County divided on ammunition law":
Let's be clear about the real intent of the new ammunition law. It is nothing more than a backdoor gun-control mechanism. This law is ostensibly aimed at criminals who buy pistol ammunition -- people who are already enjoined from possessing ammunition if they cannot possess a firearm. This law will not discourage criminal activity, will not help the police and will increase ammunition theft. Even the Ventura County Sheriff's Department does not see the value.
The true agenda of the political class in this state is the complete elimination of privately owned firearms. That goal will be achieved by a program of creeping incrementalism. This law is part of that program. There will not be any way to stop politicians from adding more provisions to this law that will cover more types of ammunition and slowly erode the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase any kind of ammunition or components, thus discouraging firearms ownership in the state.
Personal self-defense, recreational or competitive shooting sports or small businesses are not a consideration. Remember that when the prisoner release program is used to save the state budget.
Be careful how you vote.
-- William Coe, Camarillo
I have been paying particular attention to the Ventura City Council elections because I have a longtime friend, Ken Cozzens, involved in that election.
Throughout our friendship, I have known of Ken's desire to be a council member. Ken's father, Ventura Police Capt. Kenneth Cozzens, served the city for many years. Like his father, Ken always had a desire to serve people and followed his father into law enforcement. It was there that Ken developed close working relationships with city leaders in nearly all of the five sheriff's contract cities as well as the agricultural community.
Another side of Ken I have always admired is his commitment to family and friends. Ken daily meets with his mother, Grandma Shirley, at a local donut shop where he visits not only with his mother, but all of the regular donut-shop visitors. Ken and his wife, Trisha, have committed their lives to raising their two children and two grandchildren. They are active in Our Lady of the Assumption Church and together they have built a very successful hair salon, A Secret Place, in downtown Ventura. Ken has a strong desire to make the downtown a safe and visitor-friendly destination.
As for friends, Ken has many and puts forth the same commitment to them by always being ready to help out, whether it is purchasing and donating a used car for a friend in need, regular phones calls to check on how things are going or visiting a friend at the hospital.
I believe all of these qualities and experiences are what is needed for a City Council member. I would like to encourage all the citizens of Ventura to get to know Ken, share what you have learned from meeting him with others and hopefully elect him as your next City Council member.
-- Richard A. Diaz, Fillmore
Re: your Oct. 19 article, "Voters to decide on rent control at mobile home park in Fillmore":
This article is very misleading.
Measure F, to be voted up or down on Nov. 3, is primarily designed to allow the owner of El Dorado Estates, a senior mobile home park in Fillmore, to subdivide the park and sell off space lots for (to date) undisclosed prices, without fulfilling conditions of improvement and/or upgrades as required by the City of Fillmore.
Although Measure F, presented as "The Fair Rent and Home Ownership Initiative" contains a "one-time only" provision for a very limited form of rent control, it applies to only "very low" and "extremely low" income residents. (State rent control applies equally to all residents in a park under "state rent control.")
Measure F leaves the vast majority of senior residents to cope with uncontrolled space rent increases -- if they do not choose or cannot afford to purchase their lots at historically inflated prices -- greatly diminished home values and a hodgepodge community of renters, owners and speculators under the control of the park's present owner until 51 percent of the park is sold.
If the park owner's intention was indeed to offer "rent control," putting the city through the expense of a special election was not necessary. The residents of El Dorado would have welcomed the relief, as many pay some of the highest space rents in any senior park in the county.
We respectfully hope The Star reviews the entire initiative, gleans the truth and prints a correction. In the opinion of most residents of El Dorado Estates, "The Fair Rent and Home Ownership Initiative" is "fair" only to the park's out-of-town owner.
-- Paul Schifanelli, Fillmore
The Oxnard School District claims it can keep class sizes small, retain quality teachers and maintain key programs if Measure E passes. If more money were the answer, all this would already be happening.
Regardless of how many millions of dollars had to be cut from the OSD budget, every opportunity to avoid laying off teachers and increasing class sizes in Oxnard schools existed. OSD received more than $5 million in federal funds to retain teachers and keep class sizes below 24 students at the least, yet OSD chose to use those funds for other purposes while ignoring possible state fines that would be incurred for raising class sizes to up to 30 students.
Currently, OSD is choosing to spend $10,000 to fight and eliminate a key first- through third-grade reading program that, in essence, keeps class sizes small during morning and afternoon reading periods for those teachers who find it beneficial to teach reading in small groups.
OSD is being deceptive in trying to increase its bottom line while asking the rest of us -- homeowners, parents, teachers and students -- to bear the sacrifice. Don't believe me? Ask any OSD teacher.
-- Manuel Hernandez, Oxnard
Re: your Oct. 19 article, "Doctors split on health reform":
This article left out so many facts required to understand the story that at best the article could be considered incomplete and useless, but at worst the omissions may make it an Opinion piece that should never have been on the front page.
We are introduced to Robert Lum, a former president of the Ventura County Medical Association. He opines that the medical community is "evenly split." Does Dr. Lum speak for the Ventura County Medical Association? We don't know, it wasn't mentioned. Who is the Ventura County Medical Association? What percentage of the total doctors in Ventura County do they represent? Are any of the other doctors in the article members? What is the association's official stance? And the comment "evenly split" even made it into the headline. Where did this figure come from? Has it been verified?
The California Medical Association is mentioned. Who are they? What percentage of physicians in this state do they represent?
Dr. Gregg Hartman believes there is currently a "monopoly in the insurance industry." Are you kidding me? Has he ever talked to any of his patients about what they go through during an open enrollment?
Here's a verifiable fact that The Star also decided to leave out. The Obama administration trumpeted the "endorsement" of the American Medical Association for a while, but we don't hear much about that lately. Very slowly, the press quietly began telling the American people that the membership of the AMA is somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of doctors nationally, and even that count has been dropping dramatically since the Obama announcement. In fact, much of the membership is students and interns who like the free access to the technical papers.
I realize The Star has been reduced in physical size, but that is no excuse to cut back on facts.
-- Dean Weissman, Newbury Park
Re: your Oct. 15 article, "Lawsuit over ban on gay marriage upheld":
How nice of Proposition 8's lawyer to admit that the YesOn8 campaign was based on lies. During the campaign, Proposition 8 supporters claimed that same-sex marriage would undermine heterosexual marriage. We all heard the ominous warnings that same-sex marriage was so unspeakably bad that children had to be protected from its mere mention.
However, as The Star reported, Charles Cooper admitted that he didn't know what harm same-sex marriages could cause. This admission isn't surprising; after all, YesOn8's claims have been thoroughly debunked. Cooper then argued that it wasn't relevant to provide any actual evidence of harm. This admission wasn't surprising, either; after all, YesOn8's argument always boiled down to this: We don't need a good reason to discriminate against gays.
Meanwhile, the argument in favor of same-sex marriage remains unchanged and unchallenged: All citizens are entitled to equal human and civil rights, and there is no good reason to discriminate against same-sex couples.
I suspect that some fair-minded, conscientious folks were duped by YesOn8's fear mongering. As those folks see the YesOn8 campaign exposed for the lie that it is, I expect that they will do the right thing and begin supporting the same-sex couples and families of this state and this country.
In the meantime, I look forward to hearing the YesOn8 legal team explain more of YesOn8's fever dreams.
-- Chris Habecker, Thousand Oaks
Seven years' experience working for a California health insurance agent has shown that people are reacting to media propaganda and not facts.
-- Why compare California health insurance to any other state or county, or to any family size, age, medical condition or gender? Compare the health insurance carriers within your local county and to your specific situation.
-- This year the health insurance carriers have been increasing their new client premiums on a quarterly basis. If you have a quote from any date older than Oct. 1, 2009, the rates might be obsolete. California rates for new health insurance do not stay the same from one calendar quarter to another.
-- Age rates change in the magical birthday zero years (40, 50, etc.) and the magical five years (35, 45, etc.). Even though most insurers provide an annual policy, it is really month to month with age change increases. Premium rates might not stay the same for a whole 365 days.
-- Did you receive a renewal increase from 8 percent to 18 percent? Did you have an age change? Add a new family member? Move? Change plans? Process major claims? Did the insurer re-rate your ZIP Code? Monthly premiums will not stay the same from year to year.
-- When the insurers threaten to increase premiums 111 percent in 10 years, it is business as usual. Right now some rates can stay the same, and some increase by 28 percent per year. Believe only the truth. Check the facts.
-- How much will it cost to provide health insurance for everyone? That's the huge unknown. No one can accurately predict future costs.
It took a very long time to work our health insurance system into its current frenzy. A new system is not going to be even near perfect immediately. Trust only the estimates that are presented as a range of ballpark figures and after you have checked the facts for yourself.
How much is it costing in pain, suffering, fear, death and money by not providing healthcare for everyone?
-- MarSan Friedman, Thousand Oaks
President Barack Obama's decision on whether to escalate the Afghanistan war is a complex, no-win situation.
Supporting the Afghan government means propping up a corrupt president whose own brother, Walid, is one of the largest dope dealers in the country.
Our troops there face a hostile population because of the indiscriminate bombing of civilians living amongst the Taliban. Gen. Stanley MacChrystal's edict of winning hearts and minds is too little too late. Our reason for being there was to extract Osama bin Laden. He hasn't been found, so why are we still there after eight years?
Is it possible that we remain in order to secure a planned easement for a strategic oil and gas pipeline from the Central Asian basin through to the Indian subcontinent? Hamid Karzai worked as a consultant to Unocal before his presidential installation in Kabul. His mentor, Zhalmay Khalilzad, also has ties to U.S. oil interests and was special envoy to Afghanistan even during the Bill Clinton years. He later became the first U.S. ambassador to Iraq under Bush. Karzai himself worked for the Taliban government in the 1990s.
Northern Afghanistan has many natural gas deposits as well as copper reserves. Are we there to extract these, or are we there to help the Afghan people? Tens of billions of dollars later tells me it's not about helping the people.
A more urgent need for this mission is to eventually stabilize Pakistan. Should the Talibs control that country, they would have 100 nukes, and war with India, Israel or the U.S. is not impossible.
-- Richard Reiss, Westlake Village
Re: Ed Jones' Oct. 14 commentary, "Today's Republican Party is the party of no":
Jones' title was long enough, but it should have been longer, i.e. "...party of no more abuse of taxpayers by free spending politicians."
Ed cited Republican opposition to President Barack Obama's stimulus plan, but only 16 percent of that money has been spent, so it is unlikely that it has had any meaningful effect on the economy, and may actually hurt us in the long run. It's more likely that Bush's bank stabilization effort did the trick. Japan in the 1990s tried a decade of yearly stimulus programs and only stabilized their economy when they finally admitted bank failures.
Jones talked about the opposition to Sonia Sotomayer's Supreme Court appointment, but he failed to mention identical Democratic opposition to former President George Bush's two appointments.
Jones talked about opposition to healthcare, where tort reform is likely the only way to stabilize costs, but the Democrats are beholden to the lawyer groups who benefit greatly from outrageous court settlements, so the only element of fiscal reality is off the table. Everything else on the table will just increase costs for those who pay taxes or insurance premiums.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bragged three years ago that the first 100 hours of a Democratic Congress would reshape the nation. Well, that was over 26,000 hours ago, and the nation is now seriously in need of adult supervision.
I consider myself a conservative independent, and for the first time in my life, I contributed to the Republican Party as the only hope for the nation, although they are badly in need of a leader like Ronald Reagan.
Jones usually produces higher quality articles, but this time he seemed to select a poor title and then tried unsuccessfully to fill in the blanks. I expect better of him.
-- Tom Reilly, Thousand Oaks
Re: Jay Kapitz' Oct. 20 commentary, "Single-payer plan is best":
I disagree with President Barack Obama and Kapitz that a single-payer healthcare plan is best for America.
Let's say your family home has termites in the garage. You have a choice: Eliminate the termites in the garage or destroy the house and rebuild it.
There are holes in our healthcare system (the best in the world) and we can fix them. The single-payer plan destroys the whole system to rebuild it in a socialist model.
The current Baucus bill has 1,500 pages and is predicated on taking a half-trillion dollars from Medicare. We are told that this will come from fraud currently in Medicare. Why not fix that first rather than destroying the whole system? If there is that much waste in Medicare, can you imagine the fraud and waste in nationalized healthcare?
This is gigantic income redistribution. What happened to self-reliance as an American value? I believe the larger the state, the smaller the citizen. Everything the state does for me and mine that I should be doing diminishes me as an individual.
I think this is more about the left's hatred of insurance companies than an ideal of universal healthcare.
Currently, 83 percent of Americans have coverage. The Baucus bill will raise that to 94 percent at a tremendous cost our children will have to pay.
We are at a crossroads in our nation's history. We can either embrace the values that made America great or reject them. Which way shall we go?
-- Mike Kohl, Simi Valley
I'd like to send a brief message to Washington, D.C.: Stay out of my life!
For my entire life, I've had the freedom and responsibility to choose for myself and family the type of insurance I thought I needed, from a company of my choice. I certainly do not need the federal government to order me to buy insurance they think I need or tell me from whom I must purchase it.
The healthcare situation has been called a "crisis," which, of course, allows the Senate and Congress to rush a bill that no one will have time to read or digest. The number of uninsured in this country has been estimated to be 30 million up to 45 million. That equates to about 10 percent of the population, meaning that 90 percent of the public is insured. During the recent Senate hearings, a senator observed that with the bill under deliberation, 94 percent of the public would be insured. So in order to increase health coverage by 4 percent, they are willing to totally dismantle our present system of healthcare. This is more about government intrusion and control of our lives than it is about health delivery.
This is just like the cap-and-trade bill that was rushed through Congress -- without giving anyone a chance to read it -- which will allow the federal government to come into your home before you can sell it and tell you if you must change your windows, appliances or air conditioning system. You would think this would be in violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."
It is all about government taking control of every aspect of our lives.
-- Jere Robings, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Oct. 20 article, "Man suspected of shooting, killing dog":
Throw the book at this guy! The district attorney needs to make a statement with this case on two levels.
First off, if the individual accused here reacts this violently to an altercation among pets, just imagine how his temper might react to other situations. It is a matter of public safety to show that such violent behavior will not ever be tolerated.
On another level, this situation displays the attitude of many dog owners. The story reports that the suspect's dog "wandered onto a neighboring property," which tells that this dog owner, like so many others, was not keeping his dog detained in any way. They feel justified in letting their dog run free in public without any concern of their dog breaking something, biting someone or getting into a fight with another dog.
As a lifelong resident of Ventura County, I've seen more than many of these cases. In every instance, I've heard it insisted that their dog "is the nicest dog in the world and would never hurt a soul." Once a situation does arise, it comes down to the claim that it was either the other person's fault, the other dog's fault or "I just don't know what came over him/her."
This particular case of "Dogs Gone Wild" is a prime example of both a dog and its owner that need to reminded of the boundaries of society.
-- Rick Tanaka, Simi Valley
Re: your Oct. 16 article, "Fee likely on power bills in Ventura":
The Star's front-page article is somewhat misleading. From what I read, it would appear that the City of Ventura found a way to gather the revenue from a company that does business within the city limits -- revenue that is badly needed to fill budget gaps. Southern California Edison negotiated a 2 percent surcharge with the city.
The city has used good judgment in negotiating a fixed term agreement that allows them to renegotiate. The article states that 370 of the 400 cities SCE services do not have this option. The cities that do renegotiate do it successfully to benefit their cities and apparently without any legal problems. Why is a Manhattan Beach law firm so interested in Ventura and not what Santa Barbara and other cities negotiate? Is it because The Star contacted them?
The Star's article implies that the City of Ventura was behind the rate increase. It was SCE's decision to collect the fees from their customers, not the City of Ventura. It is up to the Public Utilities Commission to approve or disapprove the rate increase, not the City of Ventura. So focus on SCE and the PUC if the rate increase is approved.
The Star also presents Neal Andrews as a spokesperson for the City Council. I'll bet he was the only one who returned The Star's calls. That is why he is the only council person quoted. Why isn't that reported?
So, once again, Neal shows his integrity, leadership and common sense by returning The Star's call, answering The Star's questions, and taking responsibility for his actions.
-- Michael J. Molloy, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 16 editorial, "Yes on Oxnard's Measure E":
It is most unfortunate, but not unexpected, that The Star would support Measure E, the Oxnard School District Education Parcel Tax Measure of 2009.
This measure, if passed, will levy a $99 tax per non-exempt parcel for four straight years, simply to avoid a few layoffs of qualified teachers. It also alleges to provide educational services -- such as computer and technology services -- which, in reality, will probably never be provided.
The bigger picture, however, and the reason this measure should not be passed, is twofold.
First, if you are a property owner in the City of Oxnard, you need only review your current property tax statement. There are three ongoing and current elementary school board taxes that will probably never go away, along with an Oxnard High School bond tax, which will last for many years forward. And, of course, we will pay until the end of time for the Ventura County Community College board tax.
These are all "extra" taxes. If you are a renter, you are also paying these taxes through your rent.
Secondly, there is a "trap" in this measure for senior citizens. Seniors are told that they can get an exemption to this tax, if it is passed. However, seniors must apply every year for the exemption, and failure to do so will result in payment. This is a bit of trickery, much like mail-in rebates, which are largely ignored by consumers.
When the board crafted this measure, they knew that less than 5 percent of the seniors would read the measure carefully enough to request such an exemption and therefore end up paying it.
I strongly urge a no vote for Measure E.
-- Arthur Preston, Oxnard
Last year we went through the 911 fee mess. Most people were upset with the City Council's arrogant attempt to push through a tax as a fee on a fundamental health-and-safety-related service that all communities provide for their citizens. Many people vowed to not vote for the incumbents who voted for the tax increase in disguise. Of the current incumbents -- Brian Brennan, Ed Summers, Jim Monahan and Neal Andrews -- only Andrews deserves to be re-elected and was the only one to vote against the ill-fated 911 tax.
Now we find out, as the City Council tries to encourage an increase of a half percent for the sales tax in Measure A, the City Council has quietly and maybe somewhat secretly made an agreement with Southern California Edison to have them tack a 1 percent fee on all Ventura city residents' electric bills to raise another nearly $1 million a year. This stealth tax is again being disguised as a fee, circumventing the need for citizen voting approval.
The City Council has again shown its contempt for the voters and does not really understand what it means to have to live within its means. In the middle of the worst recession in years, the same council members who voted for the 911 tax also voted to increase the pensions of the city firefighters to unsustainable levels. Again, Andrews voted against it and is being defamed by local union associations to try to keep him off the council.
Keeping the current incumbents insures that more taxes disguised as fees will be implemented any way they can. Cutting costs and living within a budget appears not to be a capability this council knows how to do.
Andrews deserves to be re-elected. The others, no.
-- Robert W. Coshland, Ventura
The candidacy of retired Police Chief Mike Tracy for Ventura City Council is the easiest endorsement by those who consider themselves objective in reviewing the talents and background of potential candidates. Who better to know the boroughs of a city's social and ethnic areas than a cop? Or the hierarchy of city management than a low-level rookie who rose to the top echelon.
And how about motive? Now that is tough, unless you really like the place. After all, it is a rather thankless job, and you get a lot of complaints. Again, do you think a former cop has any experience handling "complaints?"
I recently asked Tracy to attend two tough group sessions, and I believe he impressed both with how earnestly he listens and decisively he answers.
Finally, this is a new one on me: Mike is going to donate his salary as a council person, if elected, to charity. I am thinking this guy was an Eagle Scout before he became a peace officer.
Vote for Mike Tracy for Ventura City Council.
-- Jeff & Virginia Weber, Ventura
If you're feeling a little lost on whom to vote for, and you haven't been able to attend any of the candidate forums, go to capstv.org for information and interviews with each of the candidates.
Community Access Partners (CAPs) hosts City of Ventura-based TV stations 6 and 15. The staff at CAPs has been diligent in covering all the forums leading up to the November election for City Council and Ventura Unified School District board, so many of these may be seen on Channel 6. But CAPs makes it easy for you by providing great information right on their Web site.
Remember to vote on Nov. 3.
-- Ed Wehan, Ventura
(The writer is a member of the board of directors of CAPs TV. -- Editor)
I have been a business owner in Ventura for 28 years and a resident for 25 years. My business is tourist-oriented, and the political signs significantly detract from the beauty of our city.
During election season it is an eyesore to see our city inundated with political campaign signs. Although I recognize that candidates need to get their message out to the electorate, the signs don't state their views. It's not about a race to see who has the most signs posted. Instead, I would hope that it is about the issues and what the candidate intends to do if elected.
One candidate has been an exception. I understand that for every election since 1998, Brian Brennan has proven that yard signs are unnecessary. Since his first election, Brian has pledged to "not add to the visual blight of our city. You will not see any campaign signs put up by my campaign."
I hope you will join me and vote for a candidate who stands by his principles and cares deeply for our quality of life.
-- Jim Hall II, Ventura
(The writer is president of the Jim Hall Kart Racing School. -- Editor)
Don't be fooled by the city's loss of $11 million and its claim that it needs more money. The money is there if used wisely.
First, the $11 million will return soon to the city once the economy returns and the state pays back its forced loan, with interest.
Second, this shortfall will force the city to rethink this spending. For example, a few years ago pensions were good at 2 percent at age 55. This is what I get as a teacher, and it is a good and fair pension -- a good balance of fair pension and cost to taxpayers. The city increased pensions from 2 percent to 3 percent (a 50 percent increase in cost) and lowered the retirement age from 55 to 50 (a 16.7 percent increase in cost). I have done the math and the city would have more than $11 million extra and not need Measure A if they would return to the time-tested and fair (for both employee and employer) 2 percent at 55. Most people would be more than happy with a 2 percent at 55.
City leaders, you are giving our money away so you can have the same fat retirement! Stop it! Mike Tracy gets $186,000 per year for life and our current police and fire chiefs will get over $200,000 per year for life starting in December. Wow! It's no wonder the chiefs are only there for six years.
City leaders, don't you see that you are paying $20 million per year in pensions? Measure A will not be enough in five years and you will be asking for more. Stop it!
-- Jane Bruce, Ventura
The founders of our country incorporated into the Constitution designed checks and balances between the Congress, executive branch and the judicial branch. Each entity had the ability to check and balance the powers of the other.
Here in the City of Ventura, we do not have such a process. We have a city council, but we do not have an executive branch. We have a mayor in title, but who has no more voting authority than any one member of the City Council, a mayor without any means to check or balance decisions by the council. The citizens have no mayoral position to vote into office. And the council has no mayor to vote to override at times of disagreement.
The council is the one deciding elected body that makes all city financial and operational decisions. There is no executive branch to counter those decisions.
The problem that can exist with this system is if the council is not diverse in its political and fiduciary views, it might not be self-balancing. That is what exists in Ventura today. The council has too many 7-0, 6-1 or 5-2 votes on business decisions for the city.
The city is in debt. We have an unfunded $400 million city employee pension debt, for just one, and that's enough. If the city were a business, the best plan would be to declare bankruptcy, as did the City of Vallejo, to resolve its financial problems.
What can we do? Wait until we have the opportunity to have an elected mayor, and for now, vote to change the composition of the council to reflect a better check and balance.
-- John Whitman, Ventura
We are fortunate to be the parents of a student in Ventura Unified School District. Our district offers a range of programs that give educational choices to parents and children.
Our son is in the first cohort of two-way-immersion students that started at Montalvo Elementary School in the fall of 2000. He completed three additional years of this fabulous program at Anacapa Middle School and now is a freshman at Ventura High School, where he is taking advanced courses such as Honors English and Spanish 4 (Native Speakers). We are thrilled with the wonderful school experiences he has had over the years in excellent schools.
It is clear that Ventura schools are strong and continuing to improve. Such educational progress is not possible without outstanding leadership from our school board, a board that works well together and creates a positive climate for schools in our community.
Candidate Monique Dollonne, who failed two years ago to win a seat on the school board, presents a stark contrast to current school board members in both substance and style. As parents, we saw the unfortunate results of Dollonne's divisive and confrontational style at our child's elementary school. Her approach of confronting and intimidating parents, teachersand staff will not bring the kind of positive and collaborative leadership that our schools need and that our children deserve. We need board members who work well with parents, teachers and staff members and together serve the best interests of all children.
On Nov. 3, please vote to keep our schools moving in the right direction by re-electing Mary Haffner, Velma Lomax and John Walker to the Ventura Unified School District board.
-- Dan & Joanne Wakelee, Ventura
A vote to re-elect Mary Haffner, Velma Lomax and John Walker to the Ventura Unified School District board is a vote for advocacy, commitment, expertise, knowledge, values and understanding.
They advocate for all employees of the district and students both inside and outside the VUSD boundaries.
They are committed to being informed of all local, state and federally mandated policies and procedures.
They have the expertise to handle each issue with years of service.
They have knowledge of policies and procedures of VUSD.
Their values are honesty and integrity.
They understand the concerns and needs of all employees and students inside and outside the VUSD boundaries.
As a retired employee of VUSD, a retired member of the California Teachers Association and the National Educational Association and an advocate for all children in California, I know when I vote for Walker, Haffner and Lomax on Nov. 3 that my vote will be in the best interest of everyone in the VUSD boundaries.
-- Carol A. Wenzel, Oak View
The Ventura City Council elections are coming. Whom to choose? There are so many candidates running, all hoping to improve Ventura.
At present, there is no representation of ZIP Code area 93004 on the City Council. There are three candidates who live in 93004. They are Ken Cozzens, Wendy Halderman and Phil Mechanick.
Every Ventura voter, not just 93004 residents, might want to have some 93004 representation on the council. This ZIP Code area is where the newer housing developments are going in. I should think that the city would want representatives living near the new housing developments to see the progress and problems concerning them. (Think traffic, dust, noise, etc.)
There is a sort of arrogance I sense in the incumbents, as though they are the only ones who know what is best for Ventura. If they venture east of Kimball Road only rarely, they can't see the problems in 93004. This area needs representation.
If you didn't like what went on the last two years with the Ventura City Council, don't re-elect them. Choose someone with a fresh vision for Ventura. Just remember to vote!
-- Laurel Hewson, Ventura
Like every other person on this planet, I've found it hard to ignore all that's being said -- and all that's not being done -- about the issue of healthcare.
While politicians left and right are participating in their shouting matches in every possible forum, I've got only one question for every single person involved in this debate, from Washington to my City Hall: When confronted with what to do about healthcare, why aren't we asking the only people qualified to speak on such issues -- those in the medical field?
-- Justine Graves, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 16 article, "New Target to replace old store":
What another brilliant idea our Oxnard city fathers have come up with: Move the only discount store remaining in Oxnard to a point farthest away from where the majority of citizens live. Now they will have to drive farther or ride the bus in order to shop at Target.
Now the big question: Will there be bus service to the hoity-toity RiverPark development, or will that tarnish the new and improved image that Oxnard is trying so very hard to make of itself?
Is Oxnard becoming Santa Barbara in training? The offramp at Oxnard Boulevard from Highway 101 north is already being widened before the shopping center at RiverPark opens. What's it going to be like when the center does open and with the only Target store in town? It seems to me that there are going to be a lot more vehicles emitting pollutants for longer periods of time as they wait in traffic to inch their way into the shopping center parking lot. It will be the same number of vehicles on the road, but being driven longer to reach shopping. Remind me again how this will reduce greenhouse gases?
Let the Target store at Esplanade remain open so the majority can shop closer to where they live, and open another Target in RiverPark if you absolutely have to. Or better yet, leave the current Target store at Esplanade and develop a new Target store at the old K-Mart site on Channel Islands Boulevard to serve city residents on the south side of town. After all, Ventura has two Target stores relatively close to each other, both are doing well and both are accessible by bus.
-- Sharon Schumann, Oxnard
Issues change. Character doesn't. That's why we support Neal Andrews for Ventura City Council.
If you want common-sense decision-making and fiscal responsibility in government, please join us in re-electing Neal Andrews.
-- Jay & Marsha Anderson, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 14 article, "Desire to help kids brings long climb to top of Half Dome":
Kudos to Mohammed Hasan for hiking to the top of Half Dome to raise money for student scholarships.
I have an additional suggestion: Take those same kids up Half Dome with him next time.
I have been hiking Half Dome every year for a long time and have made some 15 or 20 trips up the rock. Over the years I have taken many others to the top, including several teenage nephews who struggle to keep up with me. I'm 55, and my personal best time was accomplished last year: three hours and 15 minutes to cover the 7.5 miles.
The hike is invariably a life-changing experience and an opportunity to teach the true meaning of wilderness.
Kids lead such sedentary lives these days. Getting them outdoors for a challenge like Half Dome is as helpful as the scholarship money itself.
-- John Yewell, Pacific Grove
(The writer is a native of Ventura. -- Editor)
I was glad to see that the city of Ventura has found another service that citizens cannot do without: electricity. Now we can surcharge Southern California Edison and grasp tax dollars that way.
I wonder if this is how they will be able to hire for the advertised position of parks manager at a salary of up to $111,000 per year. This will involve bimbling around the city looking at the trees and shrubs. I have a degree in mechanical engineering and 35 years in that business. Although I would be disqualified from this vaunted occupation based on experience, I will be happy to do this job for $75,000 and will learn it in three days max. I will also then be available to advise on the safe destruction of the million-dollar bus stop that we wasted money on in the past and stop the rot. Please note that there are still some figures up for the council elections who signed off on that debacle. That alone should have them run out of town on a pole.
-- Simon Risley, Ventura
There is one Ventura City Council candidate who has always stood up for what he believes in regardless of the political climate or what is best to get himself re-elected. That candidate is Brian Brennan.
We all know that Brian cares deeply about the environment and protecting our hillsides and open space. But what most don't know is how much Brian has been instrumental in guiding our city towards greater sustainability and making Ventura a serious contender for attracting "green" businesses and industry, which translates into well-paying jobs for Venturans.
Brian Brennan is one of the most hard-working council members we have ever had. He sees opportunity where others see problems. He understands more than any other candidate how city government must work in tandem with economic prosperity and environmental responsibility. He knows how to connect the dots.
We need experience on the City Council during this time of economic challenges. We need to re-elect Brian Brennan for Ventura City Council.
-- Debra L. Tygell, Ventura
I had the opportunity to attend two League of Women Voters forums regarding the upcoming elections. One was a forum for those running for Ventura City Council, and the other was for Measures A, B and C.
At no time did any of our current City Council members mention the fact that a new deal was made with Southern California Edison to increase our rates by 1 percent, adding more money to the city's coffers. The mayor, Christy Weir, did not mention this fact either when she was sitting in favor of the Measure A tax increase at one of these forums.
I commend The Star for running the article regarding the Edison deal to inform voters of yet another back door tax that our current City Council is looking to impose on the citizens. The current council members and their mayor cannot even be firm with exactly how Measure A dollars will be spent. The money is going into the general fund for them to spend as they see fit! It's obvious their deceit continues.
I'm hopeful the citizens of Ventura have had enough and will rid our fine city of the current business-as-usual candidates. I'm also hopeful that the rest of the incumbents will soon find an end to their deceitful role in city politics when they are up for re-election.
-- Michael Machuzak, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 18 editorial, "Monahan, Tracy, Andrews, Cozzens":
The Star backed four gentlemen -- Jim Monahan, Mike Tracy, Neal Andrews and Kenneth Cozzens -- for Ventura City Council.
For myself, it is obvious that with four women running for council positions, it would seem The Star could possibly have found one they considered a viable choice.
I do agree on one thing: "The Editorial Board feels it is time for a change in the council makeup to break the council out of its group-think grip." It certainly is time for change. As City Manager Rick Cole alluded to in one of his blogs, it's time for new blood.
The present council members have done less than a stalwart job of running our city. They were forced to cut $11 million from the budget and 42 jobs. If they hadn't, by gambling with tax money, lost upwards of $15 million recently, they wouldn't have had to cut anything from the budget and could have retained 42 jobs.
With the 911 fiasco this council tried to perpetrate on the citizens of Ventura -- the one they had to cancel and then make refunds -- the city only refunded a small portion of the money that was taken and retained more than $1 million to do with as they pleased.
Now they are doing the same shenanigans with an increase in the franchise charge to the electric company that services Ventura. They say the 1 percent increase isn't their fault, that the electric company did it. All they did was to raise the charges to the electric company, which is passing the increase on to the public by increasing the amount we pay for electricity.
I would like to see all incumbents be voted out of office. They have been riding this gravy train too long.
-- Rellis Smith, Ventura
My husband and I have lived in the El Dorado Mobile Home Park for nearly 14 years. When we bought our home, we honestly thought that we would live there as long as our health permitted. In the past years, I have seen numerous residents sell and move into Orange Blossom or a comparable facility, as well as others who have opted to stay in their homes and receive home healthcare for their needs. I have seriously considered the latter when the time comes.
You can imagine the shock when we started hearing of condo conversion. At my age, 75, I cannot visualize buying my space lot. We have not been told of the cost, but we already know how much the value of our home has dropped. Homes in our park have been on the market for months, and in some cases, even years. Based upon the value of the homes and the fact that many of us are on fixed incomes, I am not sure we could obtain a loan for the land.
Even if there are two receiving Social Security checks, should either the husband or the wife pass away, that figure would be reduced to one Social Security check. That situation may also affect pensions and other investments, especially 401(k)s.
Please help El Dorado seniors by voting no on Measure F.
-- Marion Schuck, Fillmore
Know what really causes the water, energy, food, housing and job shortages in California? Population!
Why don't the politicians do something about that? That one fix could be the ultimate of going green! Instead of giving tax credits for the number of kids a family has, how about increasing their taxes for each child they have beyond two. Two kids or less per family would reduce the population over time, and there would still be Pony baseball, YMCAs, Toys R Us, etc.
It's clear to me that if China can do it, any nation can. If California wants to truly lead the country with green legislation, the time for smaller families is now.
Forget about using less toilet paper. One less kid will make a real difference.
-- Michael Thames, Ojai
A lifetime of actions and achievement are a more accurate predictor of how a person will perform in elected office than any pre-election promises.
I have known Mike Tracy for over 30 years, and as a chief deputy district attorney had an opportunity to watch his career develop in the Police Department. Not only did he serve the citizens of Ventura well in every assignment he undertook, he made a real effort to listen to and understand the concerns of everyone affected.
As chief of police, his focus was not only on making Ventura safer, but also a better place to live.
We are fortunate his family has encouraged him to again answer the call to public service by seeking a seat on the City Council. Please join me in voting for Mike Tracy.
-- Ronald Janes, Ventura
In my opinion, single payer healthcare is the best alternative to fix our clearly broken healthcare system.
While many citizens support single payer healthcare, they are also aware that President Barack Obama is working hard to reform our healthcare system at the national level.
Single payer healthcare is a plan that eliminates the insurance companies and uses the administrative cost savings to insure the uninsured. It has been called Medicare for all. Single payer healthcare for Californians is currently working its way through the California Legislature in the form of Senate Bill 810, sponsored by State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco. One way to learn more about single payer healthcare is to visit the Health Care For All website at www.healthcareforall.org.
Obama's national healthcare plan is evolving as we go to press. The president is first asking Congress to present legislation within the parameters that he presented during the campaign and more recently in his speech to Congress. His goal is a plan that provides and mandates coverage for most Americans; contains a choice between existing insurance plans and a public plan; and is financed by deficit neutral cost saving measures. Obama believes there is no political viability for a single payer healthcare plan at the national level.
There is concern among some single payer healthcare supporters that a watered-down national program may be so ineffective that even if passed, the result will hurt the chance for success of single payer healthcare in California. Both plans face uphill battles, primarily due to the healthcare insurance industry's willingness and ability to spend vast sums in order to maintain the status quo.
I suggest that citizens do their own homework to better understand single payer healthcare as well as the various bills now being debated in Congress.
-- Jay Kapitz, Oak Park
The recent Great California Shake Out drew attention to the need to prepare for catastrophic events that may affect Californians. However, one important aspect of this preparation was bypassed.
An earthquake is one of several major events that threaten the levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (other threats include sea level rise and floods), and thus the water supply that nearly all Southern Californians and some Northern Californians depend on. These levees have endured decades of neglect by California legislatures that seemed powerless to act in the best interest of Californians.
These deteriorating earthen levees provide no more security to our water supply than New Orleans' levees provided during Katrina. The risk to you is greater than that of an earthquake alone, since collapse of the levees would impact many more Californians for a much longer period of time.
If this collapse results in saltwater intrusion into the delta, restoring our water supply may take decades.
If you have not stored enough water to last your family for several years or unless you own a second house in another state, you should ensure that your state representatives take immediate action to protect your water supply. There won't be enough affordable bottled water from those springs in the San Bernardino Mountains.
-- Nick Fotheringham, Thousand Oaks
It's been often said that if our American soldiers had put their M-16 rifles on single shot during the Vietnam War, we would have easily won.
Using single shot means our soldiers would have actually hit a target rather than spraying the jungle side with thousands of shots that hit nothing.
As I watch Afghanistan coverage, I see our soldiers using nothing but automatic fire.
To use an old '60s refrain, "When will we ever learn?"
-- Bob Munson, Newbury Park
Re: Ruben Navarrette's Oct. 18 commentary, "A bigger Afghan footprint":
I thank Navarrette for framing the situation in Afghanistan perfectly.
If you pick a man as sharp as Gen. Stanley McChrystal to be your theater commander, then you have some obligation to support him. McChrystal has actually made progress, even gaining the trust of the local leaders where he must operate. And that's a vital thing because they're then more likely to help or at least not hinder his mission.
He quickly learned that his people would be seen as more trustworthy if they wore beards (when in Rome ...). So in violation of military regulations he authorized beards.
Such small things make a big difference. The president would do well to follow the advice of his handpicked commander. He made one wise decision, and he should follow it with another. And soon!
-- Roy W. Hogue, Newbury Park
Re: Patrick Musone's Oct. 15 commentary, "Rush to judgment?":
Musone's commentary fails in its attempt to exonerate the Department of Fish and Game from deliberate and unnecessary violation on one its primary responsibilities: the protection and preservation of wildlife.
The only credible answer as to why they euthanized the black bear in Ojai recently is that they didn't want to take the time to relocate a bear to a suitable habitat. Saying that hunting season presented too many risks to hunters and the bear alike offers no reasonable excuse.
If some hunter shoots and kills the tagged bear -- the tag intended to identify the bear as having been recently tranquilized -- I would cheer his getting sick from the "drug-tainted" meat, and surely Fish and Game would incur no liability for such a hunter's incredible and inexcusable irresponsibility. I'd go so far as to guess that such sickness might be used to help identify the hunter for game law violations.
Musone seems further to support Fish and Game's irresponsibility by implying that, since it's hunting season, no safe, usable bear habitat can be found for bear relocation. None may exist close enough for Fish and Game's liking, but short of not-too-distant national parks, other closed areas exist.
Having, in another life, at another time, worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, I can attest to game management people largely being conscientious, reasonable protectors of our wildlife. In this instance, however, expedience trumped responsibility: They simply didn't want, for whatever reasons, to take the time to relocate the bear, so they killed it. Shame on them!
-- Richard A. Landis, Thousand Oaks
President Barack Obama appears ready to slide deeper into the Afghan quagmire. Even if we secured the country from the Afghan Taliban, there are plenty of Taliban in Pakistan and elsewhere to continue their barbaric struggle to crawl back into the primordial soup.
We now have al-Qaida operating in numerous Arab, African and Asian countries. Are we going to invade them as well? We can use Special Forces and the CIA in tactical ways around the world to combat al-Qaida. There is no point or value in invading any country in the fight against terrorism. We only breed more terrorists and resentment.
The Taliban have tens of millions of young men ready and willing to die. Except for our crusading religious zealots and the military/Homeland Security industrial complex, no one benefits from this war. Our generals cannot be trusted now any more now than they could be during Vietnam. They will suck us into a prolonged war because that is what their whole existence is about, warfare!
We lost Vietnam because we did not understand the enemy's culture. These people have a very different outlook on life than us. They celebrate when their children die fighting us. They actually believe they are going to heaven straight away. They don't just hope all that religious propaganda is true.
We can combat al-Qaida around the world without invading countries and trying to install democracies. These people do not care about democracies; they care about getting their warlord to the top of the heap. Do you really think they believe in freedom and civil rights?
You have a greater chance of getting hit by lighting than by a terrorist -- even with a president and his security team asleep at the switch!
-- Tom Ion, Moorpark
Re: Dale McFeatters' Oct. 17 commentary, "Fox News pounds Obama, White House pounds back":
McFeatters wonders why the White House would feud with Fox News when such conflicts typically have not benefited an administration. Why would the Obama administration, perhaps the most media-savvy administration in history, risk attacking the press? Why are they desperate to silence those who ask valid questions?
For example, consider the much maligned Glenn Beck. He does not smear the White House but rather airs video clips of White House staffers and advisers supporting radical Marxist revolution -- in their own words.
As a recent example, after White House staffer Anita Dunn attacked Fox News as unreliable, Beck aired a video of Dunn extolling the virtues of Mao Zedong. In her own words, she praises a dictator who murdered tens of millions of people and claims Mao is one of history's two most important philosophers to whom she turns for guidance.
It is troubling to see a White House representative bashing Fox News and praising Mao. But this is not an isolated case. Beck plays videos of numerous Obama advisers extolling the virtues of Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro and other Marxist and Communist leaders and then asks a simple question: Is this the government we want?
It is our duty to protect a free press that provides the transparency President Barack Obama promised. It is our duty to become informed regarding the people hired to advise the president on policy.
Fox News is not "pounding the White House." They are posing a valid question: Why has our president selected so many advisers who openly admire and promote Marxism and Communism?
I would love to hear the president's answer to their question.
-- Greg Stone, Westlake Village
Recently, when entering and leaving a grocery store in Newbury Park, I was confronted by two women from some organization wanting me to listen to their story. On the front of their literature table was a large poster of President Barack Obama on which had been drawn a Hitler-like mustache.
I'm all for free speech, whether from Republican, Democrat or any other political group protesting the status quo -- even if protesting Obama's policies or position. However, to compare any president of the United States to Adolf Hilter is unacceptable, and this kind of altered photo should be considered disgraceful and totally unacceptable.
Ironically, one of the women promoting this agenda was black. If Hitler were in charge, she would have already been killed, along with millions of other blacks, Jews, gypsies, disabled people and other minorities. Plus, freedom of speech was non-existent under Hitler's rule.
Protest anything you want in our country. But again, to publicly equate any president of the United States to Adolf Hitler is simply unacceptable.
-- Karen Morton, Newbury Park
Let me get this straight. Southern California Edison cuts a deal with the City of Ventura that increases electrical rates for residents by 2 percent, but half of this rate increase gets kicked back to the city?
Because this is an Edison fee, residents have no voice on the matter. So Edison takes the heat for the rate increase, and the city shares in the profit. Our city leadership says this is a good deal.
Note to the City Council: That sales tax initiative you put on the ballot? As far as I'm concerned, you can kiss that puppy goodbye!
-- Kenneth Kipp, Ventura
I received Medicare when I turned 65. I was a lucky one because I was able to keep that coverage when I retired. There are too many people who no longer can get employer-paid or Medicare insurance. I cannot turn away from these people who have the same needs as myself.
Too many people say they want to keep their insurance and it's too bad about others. We are willing to spend millions killing people across the ocean but not one dollar to care for our neighbors. Such Christian compassion!
I have recently received word from one of my doctors that he may have to cut out Medicare patients as well as Blue Cross patients because they do not reimburse him enough to keep the patient care level he wants to give. The cost goes up, but we deprive the doctors of enough payment to keep patient care at an acceptable level.
Something needs to be done. There is no free lunch and no free medical. We all have to pay. The question is: How much?
-- Barbara Excell, Moorpark
There's no doubt in my mind that a universal healthcare package will be passed and the president will sign it.
Now comes the basic question: How does the government plan to implement this registration process? It appears that "illegals" will not be included in this package. How do native-born and naturalized citizens register for this plan?
Also, since Congress feels that only citizens of the United States are entitled to this, how do they plan to keep noncitizens from obtaining this healthcare?
I worked 40 years as an insurance fraud investigator. I was born in Los Angeles County, and I have a valid registered birth certificate, a valid California drivers license and a Social Security card, all issued by a governmental agency.
Just over 20 years ago, I began seeing fake California drivers licenses, green cards and Social Security cards. Anyone with $100 to $150 could obtain these cards, along with a birth certificate for another $50.
As to California birth certificates, for anyone who is born in a hospital with a doctor, a California birth certificate is issued and recorded within that county and also recorded in Sacramento. If a baby is born at home or other places, it is up to the mother to complete the form and submit for recording. Believe it or not, as the years passed, there were more and more fraudulent certificates appearing without these recordings.
Guess what? They are genuine fakes! Now we can see how easy it is for anyone with a small amount of money to be able to register themselves and family with the federal government for this health plan.
-- Chuck Blankenship, Newbury Park
Re: your Oct. 16 article, "Landfill proposal prompts concerns":
In response to the proposed expansion of the Simi Valley Landfill, I think there is an additional problem that should be taken into consideration. Yes, space must be provided for trash, but the problem I am concerned about is the amount of trash that is already being left along our freeway as careless haulers -- both commercial and private -- make their way to the landfill. Triple that with the expansion of the landfill and Simi Valley residents and the environment will suffer.
-- Rosemary McAnany, Simi Valley
Re: Ed Jones' Oct. 14 commentary, "Today's Republican Party is the party of no":
Jones correctly observes that many Republicans have rejected progressivism. He points out that early Republicans were very concerned with individual freedoms, having abolished slavery and enacted child labor laws.
Republicans remain true to their belief in liberty. Progressivism today, however, is more about ceding our rights to bigger and more powerful government. Today's progressives wish to correct real and perceived injustices through the redistribution of wealth, rather than affording individuals the freedom to succeed or fail on their own merits. They would rather create a nanny state than truly protect the citizens by defending our borders and doing whatever it takes to prevent another 9/11.
Jones blasts Republicans for rejecting the Democratic healthcare proposals. However, he misses the point that all of those plans would result in a government takeover of our healthcare. This is unacceptable to most Republicans and is most assuredly not authorized by our Constitution. It is extensively documented that socialized medicine results in rationing, long waits and substandard care.
Yes, our healthcare system needs improvement. But Democrats take the position that if Republicans don't embrace their reforms, then they must embrace the status quo, and that's simply, as the president likes to say, a "false choice." Republicans have made many positive suggestions -- including opening up competition across state lines, tort reform, health savings accounts and more -- but the Democrats have summarily dismissed all of these initiatives.
Republicans are being true to their principles. Big government is not the answer. Socialism has failed everywhere it's been tried. To compromise on these basic principles is to betray the very foundation that our country was built upon.
-- Allen Simen, Moorpark
I was recently rushed to the emergency room of Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura. Although scary at the time, it turned out to be a blessing thanks to the excellent care given by the staff. In particular I would like to thank: Dr. Lee, Dr. Kamrava, Clay, Rich Kenny, Janet Stevens, Glenn and Dorothy Venegas and many others. Thanks to them I am on the road to recovery.
-- Rita McAuliffe, Ventura
I am 86 and live in El Dorado Mobile Home Park. I hope everyone will vote no on Measure F.
My rent has increased four times since I moved here. It is nearly three times the amount other parks charge. Due to high rents the homes are selling for less than 50 percent of their value.
The owners have been invited to meetings four times to answer questions and listen to us. They have never attended. They and their attorneys have continued a barrage of intimidation of unprecedented scope.
Residents my age who are living on Social Security and small retirement payments could very well lose their homes if Measure F passes. Please vote no on Measure F.
-- Mary Scott, Fillmore
Re: your Oct. 15 editorial, "An unselfish act":
If more people were as generous as David Sumner's family, we wouldn't have more than 6,000 Americans dying every year waiting for organ transplants. Most of these deaths are needless. Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year.
There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die.
Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.
Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers, a nonprofit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. There is no age limit, parents can enroll their minor children and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition.
LifeSharers has more than 13,000 members, including 1,550 members in California.
-- David J. Undis, Nashville
(The writer is director of Lifesharers. -- Editor)
Re: Timm Herdt's Oct. 7 essay, "Measure that could stir the political pot":
In 2008, there were 847,863 marijuana arrests in the U.S., almost 90 percent for simple possession. At a time when state and local governments are laying off police, firefighters and teachers, this country continues to spend shrinking public resources criminalizing Americans who prefer marijuana to martinis. The end result of this ongoing culture war is not necessarily lower rates of use.
The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available. An admitted former pot smoker, President Barack Obama has thus far maintained the status quo rather than pursue change.
Would Barack Obama be in White House right now if he had been convicted of a marijuana offense in his youth?
Taxing and regulating marijuana would render the $40 billion drug war obsolete and protect children from truly dangerous drugs. As long as marijuana distribution is controlled by organized crime, consumers of the most popular illicit drug will come into contact with sellers of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This "gateway" is a direct result of marijuana prohibition.
-- Robert Sharpe, Arlington, Va.
(The writer is policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy in Washington, D.C. -- Editor)
Re: your Oct. 12 editorial, "The prospects on healthcare brighten":
This editorial, which included the magical Congressional Budget Office claim that Sen. Max Baucus' bill would reduce the deficit, also included the Wall Street Journal quote, "Lobbyists on both sides of the issue have shifted their focus to what the bill will look like rather than questioning whether a measure can succeed."
In the interest of full disclosure, here is what the Journal also said on Oct. 9:
"The political and media classes are proving they'll believe anything, as they are now pronouncing that this never-before-seen miracle (CBO's claim that the healthcare bill will reduce the deficit) is a "green light" for ObamaCare. ... The irony is that the CBO's guesstimate exposes the fraudulence and fiscal sleight-of-hand underlying this whole exercise."
"Meanwhile, the bill piles on new taxes, albeit on healthcare businesses so the costs are hidden from customers. ... There's the $4 billion in penalty payments on those who don't buy insurance because all of ObamaCare's other new taxes and mandates have made it more expensive."
"This freak of political nature will pass amid fanfare and self-congratulation that their new entitlement will reduce deficits. ... P.T. Barnum had nothing on this crowd."
-- Pete Hockenmaier, Ventura
Politics is a wedge that divides people, be it about economics, education, security and even religion. We became Republicans, Democrats, Independents and the "Fed-Ups." Lately it appears the last two groups are increasing in number.
President Barack Obama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last February, just weeks after he was sworn in as president. After eight months of deliberation, the Nobel committee conferred it to him. Surely, supporters heralded the prestigious honor, some were bewildered and others declared it was political and the recipient was undeserving. Some were even blunt, claiming the award was an advanced recognition for deeds that are still to be accomplished and visions to be realized.
As reported by the Associated Press, the committee that rarely defends its decision boldly confirmed the selection was both merited and unanimous. Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee chairman, stated, "He got the prize for what he has done." He pointed out the president's efforts to heal the divide between the west and the Muslim World and scale down a George Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe. "All these things have contributed to -- I wouldn't say a safer world -- but a world with less tension," Jagland said.
Quite interesting, however, Jagland also said, "Alfred Nobel wrote that the prize should go to the person who has contributed most to the development of peace in the previous year. Who has done more for that than Barack Obama?"
Not unless Jagland was wrong or there was an unpublished overriding provision that the committee followed, or it's simply a misprint, the 2009 award was based on prior years' accomplishments. Clearly, however, what Jagland stated as the basis of the committee's peace award to the president is not in accordance with Alfred Nobel's desire because the qualifying deeds were during the current year.
-- Rodolfo N. Velasco, Santa Paula
Re: your Oct. 13 editorial, "Weapons failure a cause for concern":
It's surprising that an anti-gun paper such as The Star seems expert in gun design.
First, the M4 is a mission-specific weapon, the M16 the standard-issue weapon. The M4 is an M16 derivative, with the majority of parts interchangeable, the M4 being shorter. This is very useful in the close combat quarters our troops are encountering in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When any type of firearm is fired, a great amount of heat is generated. Intense heat in prolonged full automatic firing is produced. It will heat the barrel to red hot and droop like a noodle.
When a firearm is overheated due to prolonged rapid firing, as the next round is chambered, the heat alone can cause the round to fire, or "cook off." It may fire several rounds without any trigger input. It usually stops due to some failure or safety feature of the cyclic mechanism of the firearm.
In the M16/M4, this can happen after only 50 to 75 rounds of continuous fire. These failures are in no part fault of the weapon, only poor fire control. Heavy machine guns such as the .50 caliber M2 are supplied to gun crews with several barrels that are changed when the one in use gets too hot, about two minutes of continuous use.
Our troops by far have the best light arms available. Until someone develops a round that produces no heat, these failures will always be a factor in automatic weapons. Any automatic weapon, provided enough ammunition, can be fired to failure and destruction.
A small group of soldiers overrun by a larger force can encounter this type of problem. Adherence to proper training, trying not to be outgunned, will alleviate the problem.
Our politicians and The Star should let our generals, admirals and soldiers decide what they best need and how to employ it.
-- George J. Kirstner, Santa Paula
As an artist, business owner, art advocate for cultural tourism and recipient of a 2009 Mayor's Arts Award, I support Neal Andrews for re-election to Ventura City Council. Neal has repeatedly stepped up to the plate in favor of making things happen when it comes to all of the arts and cultural tourism.
He has been a longtime advocate for culture and opportunity for everyone of all ages in our community. His history proves that he wants to promote Ventura as an art community, not just a place you drive by on the freeway.
Andrews has long been an active and vocal supporter of the arts, ranging from theater arts to the visual arts and including art in the schools.
Neal sponsored the proposal to facilitate a public-private cooperative venture to develop a cultural arts facility within Ventura. He was an early proponent of the development of an arts village approach as part of the city's downtown development efforts. He was one of the earliest advocates of the artist live-work development project, now known as the WAV, or Working Artists Ventura project, and currently renting in downtown Ventura.
Neal was the original sponsor and advocate for an Artist-in-Residence program to bring internationally recognized artists, writers, musicians, composers and scholars to our community to work in our school system, among our artist community and with our cultural affairs programs.
He has long been active in efforts to promote Ventura as the leading center of the arts and culture on the central coast. Through his nomination, Moses Mora and M.B. Hanrahan received the Concilio award for their significant Tortilla Flats mural.
For these and many other reasons, I support Neal Andrews for re-election to Ventura City Council. I hope you will also.
-- Michele Chapin, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 11 article, "Those lucky dogs: Ritzy resort will pamper pets":
I have subscribed to The Star since the News Chronicle days (1966). I usually enjoy the newspaper, but this article really got to me.
I am in favor of people having luxuries and spending their money on what they want, but these days, with the economy so bad and people not being able to afford to pay their mortgages, food, gasoline, utilities, etc., I feel it was in very poor taste to put that article on the front page. The Star could be a little more sensitive to the problems in our community.
-- Judy Tullo, Oak Park
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger previously warned that if his then-16-year-old daughter ever violated the law, "she'll be taking the bus." Is Maria Shriver now going to be using public transportation?
-- Connie Gajefski, Ventura
Re: Barbara Baxter's Oct. 14 letter, "Nobel bribery?":
Baxter claims that bribery is the only explanation that has not been given for the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to President Barack Obama. I wish I could say I have done as exhaustive a review of all media to make such a claim, and frankly I'm sorry that Baxter has jumped to a criminal explanation for the action of an enterprise that really doesn't owe anything to anyone in the United States. Apparently, she doesn't like the award, or the response of "the Democrats" to the award, which she also appears to know completely.
This is all quite remarkable to me.
I can think of quite a few other explanations for the award, but Baxter must know all the others already. "Bribery" just hadn't occurred to me before today. Somehow I still don't understand that one -- or the value of considering it.
-- Fred Land, Thousand Oaks
I continue to be shocked and saddened by the ongoing irresponsible behavior of the Ventura County Sheriff s Department and the continuing negligence of the Department of Fish and Game. They shot and killed a bear in the Ojai area that was sitting in a tree and, at the time, posing no threat to anyone. They made the deadly judgment call to "euthanize" (gamespeak for slaughter) the bear instead of tranquilizing him and transporting him away from a populated area, which would have been the humane thing to do.
Why do we let these unjustifiable killings by these two departments continue? Remember, the same thing has happened a number of times in the past to a pet lion, mountain lion and other bears.
If we as a society are so limited in our thinking that we feel the need to exterminate anything that appears to impact our way of life rather than learning to coexist, then it is no wonder that others societies look upon us with trepidation when we attempt to extend our hand out to them in peace.
Remember, they were here first, and we are encroaching on their territory.
-- Sally Deutz, Simi Valley
We use two bank credit cards, which we pay promptly each month and never run a balance. I recently received a form letter from one of these companies. Only a highly specialized attorney could fully comprehend its meaning, but the following is my interpretation:
This is an agreement between the bank (we, us) and the customer (you). By using this card even once you have agreed to follow all the rules.
We make the rules. You must follow the rules. If you violate any rule you will be subject to whatever penalties we may impose. We may change any or all rules by notifying you in writing.
If any disagreement should arise between us, the parties agree to settle the matter by arbitration. We will pick the arbitrator.
If any portion of this agreement is unclear to you, please contact one of our friendly, trained representatives by calling the 800 number on your card.
We love our customers.
The form letter does not specify the interest rate, but my statement reads: "Effective Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 36.88 percent." This is no joke. That is what my statement says. This is wrong and ought to be illegal.
I am a business owner and political moderate, but I am fed up with some Wall Street firms and big banks that have ruined our economy. Because of weakened regulations and lack of oversight, the financial services industry was allowed to make its own rules.
Our citizens ended up with credit cards, loans and mortgages that are unfair and unsafe. Millions of Americans have lost their savings, their jobs, their businesses and their homes. Our economy continues to suffer.
In the interest of common sense, I support the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act (HR3126) that is currently under consideration by Congress.
-- Delton Lee Johnson, Santa Paula
Re: your Oct. 9 online article, "Ventura council candidates spar over sales tax measure":
I would like to thank the League of Women Voters for the opportunity to address the issues in concert with the other candidates for Ventura City Council. I would also commend The Star on its "fair and balanced" coverage of the event.
In reviewing the comments section of the article, I noted one commenter defamed my independence and political philosophy. I cannot speak for the other candidates mentioned in this particular post, but I can attest to my absolute independence from any special interest group save one -- the citizens and electorate of our city. That will be the only group to whom I will owe allegiance as a council member -- not the chain grocery stores and their unions, not the radical environmentalists, not the public employees unions.
Governments don't create jobs, economic activity or wealth -- private citizens, their property and their actions in their self-interests do.
If by beholden to "special interests" it is meant that I will answer to no one but the voters of Ventura, then I admit it. If by "right-wing" it is meant that I adhere to the principles of our Founding Fathers and our Constitution, then I plead guilty as charged!
-- Maureen C. O'Hara, Ventura
Regardless of one's political persuasion or personal beliefs, it seems strange that many folks today approach societal problems via the law or regulation rather than through the teaching and application of correct principles.
In 1789, people in the United States did not function within the scope of specific laws or regulations to govern themselves; rather, they acted generally in a manner that reflected their personal and religious beliefs. Many a sale of land, products or services was concluded with a handshake, not a multi-page contract. Neighbors respected neighbors, and friends treated one another with love and trust.
Why, then, have we become so litigious today? Have we forgotten the importance of such teachings in our homes?
A friend once posed this interesting question before a group of businessmen: "What impact would the teaching and practice of the 12 Scout Laws have on our society?" As an Eagle Scout and a former scoutmaster with eight sons -- all of whom are Eagle Scouts -- I suggest we would do well in our society to adopt and apply such laws: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
If all of us had been taught such principles from our youth up, think of how many lawsuits, and the time required to prosecute them, may have been avoided! Contemplate the vast number of people who may have sidestepped the imposition of a given law on them, just because at a propitious moment, the individual chose not to lie, not to steal, nor to cause hurt or harm to anyone!
It seems clear that the principal job of parents is to teach correct principles; the principal task of a principal or a teacher is to teach correct principles; and the principal responsibility of an employer is to live by, and act upon, correct principles. Would that leaders of all types and at all levels would sincerely try to inculcate this important concept.
-- Richard C. Matthews, Oxnard
Re: Maya Teague's Oct. 13 commentary, "Nobel Peace Prize unrest":
In her imaginative letter regarding President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, Teague states that the award was given by the committee in Oslo because of "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."
She further states the prize is for his "spirit of peace" and "his constant exaltations of his finest intentions."
The awarding of the prize is made even more amazing when one considers the deadline for nomination for the prize is February. Obama was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009. Given that, the prize was awarded for what may be as few as 11 days or as many as 39 days in office.
Let's hope for the future of the country, and perhaps the world, that the president will grow into the award.
-- Curt Bensen, Camarillo
Re: your Oct. 11 package, "A revolving problem: Recidivism high among mentally ill inmates":
Recovery works -- and increasingly so as science aids our understanding of the brain and treatment for its disorders. Yet we cling to our "love-to-hate-them" attitude, fueling what has been deemed "the world's greatest experiment in warehousing human beings" and blinding us to the effects of failing to assist our mentally ill to recover back to productive lives.
To help us hit our bottom and commit to emotional sobriety, let us require decision-makers to identify the source of funding diverted for each day of incarceration, e.g. which successful mental health program shall we dismantle, which public work project shall we forgo, which teacher shall we fire?
-- Elizabeth Rice, Camarillo
I have no problem understanding why we in Southern California need to conserve water. What I don't understand in view of new restrictions and fines for noncompliance is how the City of Oxnard can even consider annexing prime strawberry farmland to build 2,500 new homes.
Because we pay Oxnard for wastewater service, we received a pamphlet from the Public Works Department explaining the new conservation ordinance and the fines involved. How is it that we are asked to conserve when they intend to continue to build?
There is something wrong with this picture!
-- Nedra Kindig, Camarillo
Puppy mills raise dogs in cramped and filthy conditions. This confinement and lack of veterinary care often results in unhealthy animals that are abandoned not long after adoption by frustrated buyers, making the animal overpopulation crisis worse.
With millions of animals that are dying every year in shelters, there is no reason for the pet-shop trade. The best way to find an animal companion is through an animal shelter or rescue group.
-- Anthony Montapert, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 13 article, "Abortion legislation draws fire to Capps":
In the Oxnard Town Hall meeting held Sept. 4, Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, said, regarding her amendment to HR3200, "No plan is required to cover abortion; no plan is prohibited from covering abortion services -- just as long as those services are paid for with privately collected funds. Everyone who buys an insurance plan in the exchange will pay at least some of their own money to purchase that plan, and it is from those funds that any abortion coverage would ever be paid for."
Excuse me? Capps says that everyone must pay into the system both directly and through taxes. Therefore, if someone uses the government plan, we are going to say that it was their money, not tax dollars, that paid for their abortion? Is this a new kind of shell game?
Does Capps actually expect us to believe that there will be separate accounts for those persons who want an abortion and that only their money will pay for it? No, Capps' amendment guarantees that abortions will be covered.
It was also in this meeting that Capps said that everyone had "a right to health, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Actually the Bill of Rights, as we all know, says "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Perhaps Capps has unconsciously rewritten the Bill of Rights in her own head to support HR3200.
-- Rick Coplin, Newbury Park
I am a Vietnam veteran and have worked for 32 years in the aerospace and biotech industries of Southern California. I have received excellent medical care through insurance companies while at work and in the military from military doctors. But now, I am strongly in favor of a public option and eventually universal care.
The insurance companies need competition, as they are middlemen and do not contribute doctors, nurses or hospitals to the equation of healthcare. Too much money in profits is being siphoned off to these bureaucratic companies. At the least, their profits should be capped, in order that more of their healthcare premiums go directly to healthcare.
Insurance costs for the consumer are rising much faster than the cost of living and affordability for an average family of four. A public option would be only an option and would give more competition.
Spiraling health costs are hurting the country in business competition with other nations and decreasing our government expenditures. More money that goes to the insurance companies is less money in people's pockets to spend. It also costs the local and state governments more in emergency costs for those who cannot afford healthcare, as well as the national government in providing more money (Medicare, for instance) for less adequate care as compared to other industrialized nations.
Finally, as to the question of whether our national government can efficiently run a national public health program: Look at how well they run the Armed Forces medical programs -- Veterans Affairs, which treats veterans and runs clinical trials on new medicines -- and how well Medicare is administered.
-- Joseph Ratto, Newbury Park
It seems that there is a huge amount of misinformation being issued by the anti-Measure B group. Have they even read what it will do for Ventura?
First off, the height limits proposed in Measure B are temporary. The limitation on structures and additions over 26 feet in height is for just two years. After that time, there are no height limitations other that what is already in place. The 26-foot height limit will not exist after two years.
The two-year period is for the purpose of allowing a View Resources Board, made up of community representatives, time to write a view protection ordinance initiative to amend the city's general plan and for City Council to adopt it without changes or reject it with recommendations. If the council rejects it with recommendations, the board can then either accept the council's recommendations or submit it as an initiative for the next election, allowing the citizens of Ventura to decide what is right for them.
Additionally, not all of Ventura will fall under this height limit restriction during this two-year period. All manufacturing and commercial planned development zones, the area around the hospitals, the Pacific View Mall, the downtown core, the industrial areas, the auto mall area, and the entire Victoria and Johnson Drive corridors from the southern end to Crescent Street are exempt.
And finally, growth is good for Ventura, and Measure B welcomes responsible and compatible growth. Properly planned and designed buildings can enhance our city and make it attractive to new business, thereby improving our economic health. Buildings need not, however, canyonize our streets and make our city into another West Los Angeles or Orange County.
A yes vote on Measure B will allow the neighborhoods that are affected by development to have a say in what happens to their views and the views we all treasure.
-- Laura Swenson, Ventura
Barack Obama won his presidency on these promises: end President George Bush's "broken policy," improve our failing economy and provide a better healthcare system. He has worked on these goals since day one.
As it is, Bush's "broken policy" is a part of history.
The war goes on, and our troops are still in harm's way. While there is feasibility in Iraq, the fighting in Afghanistan is heating. A request for more troops is on the table. Like Bush, Obama now faces a difficult situation: Go for the win, or give up and lose.
"It takes money to make money" must be what was on Obama's mind when he dished out a tremendous amount of money from our treasury to fund projects that will help create jobs and bail out banks, businesses and the auto industry that were on the brink of bankruptcy. Yet nothing works.
His proposed universal healthcare system is not making headway either. He may need to push it with more transparency on how it will work and be funded before it moves.
Sadly, we are in worse shape now than we have ever been. Considering all the improprieties and fraud committed and still going on, I believe our crisis is more of some people's fast deteriorating morality than our fast disappearing money. In fact that's probably what got us into this mess.
We are a government of the people, for the people and by the people -- making us all responsible to get better. There is no going around. What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. It really does not matter who we are and what we do for ourselves and to others. What matters is how we do things for us and for them.
-- Socorro G. Mercado, Oxnard
The U.S. military generals say we need to "train" the Afghans so they can fight the Taliban and/or al-Qaida. Who will be trained? Which tribes? Which warlords? Which chieftains?
Until there is a "united tribes" of Afghanistan, there is no point in sacrificing our young people and depleting our dwindling treasure. Put the responsibility on the Afghans to unite their people. Just maybe if the Afghans were united, they could eliminate the Taliban and al-Qaida.
I read that a few al-Qaida members were arrested in Denver and New York City. Thank goodness the military didn't bomb these cities or send drones when al-Qaida was suspected. They were apprehended as a result of good policing.
Who said, "Old men plan wars, while young men die?"
-- Judith A. Beay, Ventura
Re: Terry Paulson's Oct. 12 commentary, "America needs to reform":
It's clear from his essay that Paulson purports to be a fiscal conservative who believes that, when it comes to entitlements or social programs such as housing or medical care, politicians are promising "more than we can afford."
Apparently, taking care of ourselves as citizens is a personal "moral imperative" and not a choice that we should make collectively as a society.
But an honest discussion of what we can and cannot afford would point out that the amount we spend each year to take care of ourselves is actually less than what we spend to arm ourselves.
In 2009, we chose to direct $711 billion, or over 44 percent, of our annual budget to military purposes. In 2008, this accounted for almost 50 percent of the world's military spending -- far more than all of the countries we are supposed to fear combined. For some context, costs of the Max Baucus healthcare reform bill are estimated to be $829 billion over 10 years.
Providing for our common defense is certainly important, but it seems to me that if anything needs a "reformation," it is our lopsided military budget.
I submit that a recalibration of our current spending priorities would not only make the entire world far safer but would free up vast amounts of our own money to spend on ourselves, or hey, even fund a tax cut!
I only wish that Paulson were able to use the platform that The Star provides to foster honest discussion of important and complex issues instead of shallow, partisan nonsense.
-- Jim Miller, Simi Valley
In 1972, I met an Army captain who was freshly home from Vietnam after a tour doing intelligence. He was an airborne ranger, a real gung-ho type guy. I'd finished my Army service earlier and was interested in how things were going.
I was very surprised when he told me America was going to lose the war. He said many people in the south had been hurt because of the war; they'd lost homes or farms or villages or friends or relatives. The war had gone on for too long, first the French and then the Americans. Many south Vietnamese were so sick of war that they didn't care who won; they just wanted the fighting to stop. Later, news reports confirmed what the captain had said.
In 1975, Saigon fell.
I was sad for my country, and I grieved again for good friends who had died there. I did some serious thinking about what had happened and why. For me, it all came down to this: If they don't want to do it for themselves, we can't do it for them.
-- Nelson Wallace, Ventura
After reading that the City of Oxnard may be able to go ahead with the planned development of the old Wagon Wheel complex on the east end of land that is currently defined as "flood area" by the Federal Emergency Management Agency reports, I was curious -- as I am sure others would be -- on how the levees that exist would keep flooding from entering this new bazillion-dollar development.
Will the developers build levees to protect it? Will they build additional levees to keep the backwash from the adjacent neighborhoods in the event of a flood while the rest of the residents to the west of the complex pay flood insurance premiums that are in many cases up to and equal to the homeowners insurance they already are paying?
Surely they would not be required to repair the levees that are currently substandard or missing on the north edge of the proposed complex to make sure the entire area is protected before adding additional structures.
-- Russ Williams, Oxnard
I am mad as hell and not taking it anymore. Vote no on Measure A, the sales tax increase.
Doesn't the City Council know there is 12 percent unemployment? Vote out all incumbents except perhaps Neal Andrews. We need across-the-board reductions in spending, better supervision, more productivity and pension reform.
Be aware of retired city employees seeking a seat on the City Council with an agenda of opposition to pension reform.
The city dispatched three trucks and six people to fix a pothole on my block; two guys worked while four watched.
Vote no on Measure C and stop special-interest legislation. We need the sales tax revenue. Why is a Walmart objectionable but a same-sized Sam's Club -- a Wal-Mart affiliate -- acceptable? It would seem to me that the City Council should welcome new business.
-- John Ferritto, Ventura
Re: your Sept. 27 article, "Between two worlds" and Chris Hamming's Oct. 9 letter, "Islands book superficial":
I have to speak up about Ken McAlpine's book, "Islands Apart -- A Year on the Edge of Civilization. I found it to be very well-written and with a positive message about the benefits of disconnecting, even if only for a week at a time, from the stresses, pace and gadgetry of today's world.
Ken is a good wordsmith and an accomplished, successful writer who paints an excellent picture of his experiences so that all can relate to it. His observations of his time spent on the islands, while not of the duration or depth of many of our local mariners, are something that the average reader can appreciate and enjoy. Contrary to the letter from one of these opinionated local mariners, I find this book to be very far from weak and in no way "desperate."
As a local resident since the 1970s and a person very much involved in our art and culture, I enjoyed Ken's book. The "localness" of it fueled my enjoyment. I strongly recommend reading Ken's latest book and a previous book, "Off Season," about winter in the beach towns of the East Coast.
It is unfortunate that Hamming, who wrote the letter that spurred me to write, missed the entire point of Ken's book. I guess it goes to show that we are all different and have our own perspective of things. It is too bad sometimes that people have to resort to unkind words when they are presented with a perception that doesn't agree with their own. I guess that is part of the problem of what's wrong with our country today.
Read McAlpine's book and decide for yourself.
-- Steve Cook, Ventura
Re: Chris Hamming's Oct. 9 letter, "Islands book superficial":
I suggest Hamming actually read Ken McAlpine's new book, "Islands Apart," before he attacks and criticizes the Ventura author and his writing as being "weak," "desperate," "deceptively titled" and "comically dramatic."
After reading Star reporter Brett Johnson's interesting and well-written feature on McAlpine and his experience visiting each of the Channel Islands for one week apiece, I rushed out to buy the book. I was not disappointed, finding it to be a wonderful read.
Unlike Hamming in his mean-spirited letter, McAlpine does not boast about his camping skills; rather, he writes with deprecating humor. McAlpine's word portraits of each island are engaging and educational, but of even more interest and value is his introspection and personal growth during his weeklong stays.
However, to me, McAlpine and "Islands Apart" are at their very best in the chapters that take place away from the islands: at "Arlington West" where crosses and flags are displayed each Sunday on the beach in Santa Barbara; at a monastery in the Mojave Desert; on the sidewalk outside Grauman's Chinese Theater; at a church in Beverly Hills that feeds lunch to the homeless; and at a preschool in Ventura. Indeed, the closing chapter, "The Worlds To Come," about the students and teachers at Children's World Nursery School, is well worth the cover price by itself. You will rarely read a better essay anywhere.
Hamming is welcome to his own contrary opinion about McAlpine and "Islands Apart." However, the letters to the editor seems the wrong forum to attack the author and his work so personally. Indeed, while I have never met McAlpine, I feel The Star erred in printing such a letter.
-- Woody Woodburn, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 10 editorial, "Living up to the prize" and Avery Willis' Oct. 11 letter, "Comical medal":
This editorial stated that President Barack Obama hadn't yet done anything to warrant winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, let's just take a look.
The man has been in office for all of nine months. And all he has accomplished is that he has pulled this nation back from the worst economic disaster created by any Republican in our history. He has put the banking and financial industry back on solid footing and is now proposing legislation to re-regulate it so that they can never destroy the economy again.
That isn't enough? Well, how about the fact that he has managed to restore the stature of America throughout the entire world in that short span of time?
The next day, there was a zinger equating Obama and the Peace Prize to Beetle Bailey and the Congressional Medal of Honor. Now that one was funny.
No one has ever claimed the Republicans were not clever. I mean, these are the same guys who came up with the subprime loans. Aw, but that wasn't so very funny.
-- Patrick S. O'Malley, Oxnard
Re: your Oct. 10 article, "Ventura council candidates spar over sales tax measure":
The Star incorrectly reported in this article that I support Measure A, the proposal for a Ventura sales tax increase. I have not endorsed Measure A.
I voted against placing Measure A on the ballot. The Ventura City Council had not agreed to adopt the policy changes at the time that I felt were vital to improving the economy of our community or to resolving the pension and compensation issues without which we cannot fix the city's long-term budget woes that will otherwise constantly require future tax increases. Subsequently the Council appointed a committee, Bill Fulton and Ed Summers, to work with me to see if we could craft a set of recommendations to correct these problems, and we developed a set of compromise proposals by mutual agreement that accomplished 80 percent of my goals to promote economic prosperity and proposed a special Compensation Policies Task Force to formulate a package of pension system reforms to make our budgets sustainable in the future. The council adopted these recommendations unanimously.
As part of this intensely negotiated deal, I agreed not to campaign actively against the tax measure, and Summers and Fulton agreed to support pension reform at the next negotiation with our employee unions. It was a deal worth making on behalf of the taxpayers of this city.
I have kept my word by remaining neutral on Measure A, but neutral is a far cry from endorsing it, as The Star erroneously reported. I will honor whatever the voters decide on this matter.
-- Neal Andrews, Ventura
U.S. Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, blames drought on environmental policy and a 2-inch-long fish called the delta smelt. On Gallegly's Web site, on the "Question of the week" page, the Oct. 2 answer craftily places the blame on those agencies and policies that protect California instead of addressing the underlying issues.
Gallegly states, "There is no reason we should have to watch 3.6 billion gallons of fresh water being pumped into the ocean." Fresh water is not being pumped into the ocean. It is flowing naturally to the ocean.
Gallegly would have you believe that "environmental organizations have consistently blamed the delta water pumps as the main cause for delta smelt decline." In fact, delta smelt decline was so alarming that on Aug. 31, 2007, "California Federal Judge Oliver Wanger of Federal District Court protected the rare declining fish delta smelt by severely curtailing human use water deliveries at San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta from December to June."
The action of environmental organizations, government agencies and policies, federal district courts or the delta smelt fish are not at fault for California's drought. Drought has been years in the making. The majority of California fresh water projects for irrigation and human use was built between the 1930s and 1940s. Since then, California's population has increased fourfold, and add to that global climate change, changing rain patterns and low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.
The pollution that is causing global climate change is what Gallegly should be addressing. Instead, Gallegly picks his battles well. Beating out a 2-inch-long fish called the delta smelt seemed to be a slam dunk.
Smelt or no smelt, the issue will only get worse unless Congress addresses global climate change.
-- Christopher James Grant, Ojai
Re: your Oct. 13 article, "5 compete for 3 Ventura school board seats":
Many of us do not have children in the Ventura schools, but it is important that we vote in the school board election. The quality of our schools affects all of us.
A vote for the incumbents -- John Walker, Velma Lomax and Mary Haffner -- will help insure that our schools survive this difficult time. We need their experience and dedication now more than ever. They are serving us, the community, not to advance personal agendas or vendettas, but to support our local schools and our children.
Please mark your ballot for the incumbents!
-- Marcia Turner, Ventura
I support Neal Andrews for re-election to the Ventura City Council.
He is the only council member who understands what the people in Ventura want and need from their council. A perfect example is his opposition, from the beginning, of the ill-advised and foolish 911 tax. The 911 fee plan was an incredibly callous attempt to feather nests while ignoring the very real potential of great injury or even the loss of life.
No, I am not being overly dramatic. I have a severely handicapped granddaughter who suffers occasional life-threatening seizures. My daughter's call to 911 has saved her life several times. A moment of hesitation about the cost implications of the call should not have been created in the first place.
Neal was the only member who seemed to understand this critical dynamic. We need his character and good judgment on the Ventura City Council.
-- Charles Henderson, Ventura
Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, should be commended for his leadership in successfully passing legislation that protects the health and lives of children of Ventura County.
Thanks to Nava, nearly 21,000 of children in Ventura County and nearly 1 million children statewide will continue receiving critically needed healthcare coverage through Healthy Families. This program has enabled children with diabetes, asthma and other illnesses to get the care they need, and it has allowed kids to consistently see the doctor or dentist to prevent minor illnesses from becoming much more severe, deadly and costly.
As we look ahead to addressing next year's state budget challenge, we are counting on Nava and other legislators to maintain their bipartisan commitment to children's health. Unless state leaders continue to find solutions to preserve Healthy Families, today's victory will be short-lived, and our children will be needlessly and irresponsibly put at risk once again.
-- Hank Lacayo, Newbury Park
(The writer is state president and CEO of the Congress of California Seniors and a commissioner and chairman of the Policy/Advocacy Committee for the California Commission on Aging. -- Editor)
Re: your Oct. 6 article, "State schools chief candidate comes to S. Paula":
This article did a good job of outlining some of the major issues confronting California's educational system. Unfortunately, The Star didn't accurately present my view on one of the most important challenges our schools face: reforming our "accountability" system to support quality teaching, keep talented teachers in our classrooms and fairly addressing teachers who fail to perform at acceptable levels.
As a lifelong educator who has been a classroom teacher, a school principal and a district superintendent, I've seen struggling teachers become model educators with the right training and encouragement. I believe regular review by their peers and the support of a network of dedicated educators is the best way to help teachers improve their skills or identify a path better suited to their talents. I don't support a system that would dismiss struggling teachers without giving them the opportunity to improve. At the same time, our responsibility to provide students with quality instruction means we can't allow failing teachers to stay in our classrooms indefinitely.
I know California educators have unbelievably tough jobs: They are charged with preparing 6 million California students for work and for life and doing so with scant resources and support from the state. California's pupils come to our schools speaking more than 300 languages and encompass a wide range of abilities as well as economic and cultural backgrounds. Any reforms that meaningfully improve our schools will be complex; the solutions we need are not "one-size-fits-all" and they can't be boiled down into mere sound bites.
That's why I believe California needs an educator, not a politician, as our schools chief.
-- Larry Aceves, Fremont
(The writer is a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction. -- Editor)
The Republicans are incensed about it. The Democrats are defending it. President Barack Obama is planning to accept it, and the Nobel Prize awarders knew it would be controversial.
There have all kinds of explanations given for this strange award but one: The word bribe comes to mind.
-- Barbara Baxter, Simi Valley
Re: your Oct. 13 article, "Abortion legislation draws fire to Capps":
Reading that U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, doesn't want the healthcare bill to be about abortion reminds me of the Wizard of Oz hiding behind a curtain, working at projecting the image of the magnificent Oz. When discovered, he says, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." He hoped that he could continue to fool everyone, even though he had been found out.
And so Capps and company continue to insult us by asking us to ignore the reality behind the veil of wizardly words and just accept the super image presented by the liberal lovers of abortion.
All they have to do is put in the words that state definitively that abortion is not covered at all in this bill. If they can not or will not, then we all need to pay attention to the men and women behind the curtain and deal with the terrible reality of abortion and the fact that we are being mesmerized into allowing it, supporting it and paying for it.
Snap out of it. There is no Oz.
-- Dorothy Hage, Newbury Park
Re: your Oct. 7 article, "County workers ask board to protect pay, benefits"
I was one of the Service Employees International Union 721 members who spoke at the Oct. 6 Board of Supervisors meeting. I feel this story misrepresented our presentation.
SEIU 721 members who work for Ventura County are advocating alternatives to proposed permanent cuts, which could potentially devastate the local economy and delay economic recovery.
We understand that these are difficult times, and we are realistic that temporary cuts will help preserve public services. But here's what makes county employees nervous: The current proposal includes deep permanent cuts on top of temporary cuts. These cuts are so severe they'll make a few hundred county employees eligible for public assistance.
My wife is also employed by the county, and with the combined cuts, we will lose $700 a month of our income. We have two young children and we will just keep up with our bare necessities. In total, SEIU 721 members will spend $17 million less in the local economy, which will result in the county receiving less in sales tax revenue and put public services at risk. With employees spending less, local businesses may have to reduce their hours, lay off workers or even close. How will this help Ventura County's economy?
I wish The Star had at least mentioned this information in its story.
-- Jesse Guzman, Ventura
So now that President Barack Obama has "won" the Nobel Peace Prize, will that take him out of the running for the Nobel Prize in chemistry?
-- Brian Haueter, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 10 article, "Obama a surprise winner of Nobel Peace Prize":
Maybe the critics are correct and it was premature to award the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama. He hasn't accomplished much for world peace other than his diplomatic efforts. Comments from the Ventura County Republican Party Central Committee chairman are well taken. The Nobel committee in Oslo didn't have "best interests of the U.S. at heart" for this international peace award.
Maybe the Nobel Prize should have gone to ex-President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for their peace efforts in Iraq. After all, wasn't the Nobel Peace Prize given to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was branded a "war criminal" for his role in Vietnam and despised for his promotion of Latin American dictatorships? Perhaps these are more appropriate to international peace and America's best interests.
-- Tom Novinson, Ventura
I am a left-of-center Democrat. I have probably voted for every school tax that was ever presented to me. Today I am requesting you vote no on Proposition E.
My reasons are as follows:
1. The Oxnard School District recently spent $1.5 million of our tax money to design an elementary school on land they do not own. This issue is now costing taxpayer money in a lawsuit.
2. We have no less than four school taxes on our property taxes -- five if you count the Ventura County Community College District tax.
3. The multimillion-dollar steel elementary school completed on Wooley Road is across the street from the local airport. People are taking flying lessons over our children. What kind of district makes this decision?
I don't know about you, but I have had to cut back with this recession to an extreme extent. Another property tax on my bill counts. The reasons for this bill seem logical, but the school district did what all of our governments have done: No planning for "rainy days." The answer has been to tax the property owners. Shame on them. If you are a renter, expect a raise in your rent. The property owner will pass on this tax.
This measure is the only issue on our ballot. The district is counting on voters to not vote. To pass, it requires two-thirds of the votes cast, not two-thirds of the number of voters registered.
Please, vote no on E. Make them live within their budgets. I have had to do that, and so have you.
-- Kathy Swor, Oxnard
Re: Colleen Cason's Oct. 11 Cason Point, "If the shoe fits, buy it; don't blame the stress":
I thank Cason for printing this column regarding Rio School District Superintendent Sherianne Cotterell.
Isn't it a shame that the district doesn't pay her enough to buy a pair of shoes? We as parents are trying to instill in our children the difference between right and wrong. But when you see a person of authority violating the law, how can we justify why that is right?
We lost our precious puppy, Beans, due to a tragic auto accident. I kept my granddaughter home from school the next day because she was devastated and traumatized due to the loss. Will she get an excused absence due to trauma, or is stress the only acceptable excuse?
The Rio School Board needs to face the facts. Cotterell needs to pay the consequences. Our children need better than this.
-- Irene Betancourt, Oxnard
We have known Mike and Linda Tracy and their family for over 10 years. Mike served the people of Ventura for 30 years as a police officer, and as police chief he brought the department and the community together to keep our city safe.
Mike has been active in community activities including the Boy and Girls Club, the Police Activities League, Caregivers and the Salvation Army. Mike's wife, Linda, was a teacher in the Ventura Unified School District for many years. Their careers ran parallel, and together they have worked to stay grounded and connected with hundreds of families in this city.
Whenever Chief Tracy spoke to our Ventura-East Rotary Club, it was a special event. All of the members felt that Mike represented the Police Department not only as a cop, but also as a person who understands the issues from the perspective of the average citizen. Mike has demonstrated his ability to get the job done by listening to the concerns of others and then working together to develop practical solutions to problems.
Mike Tracy is one of those rare people who is genuine. He listens and understands, and his word is his bond. Mike Tracy will make an outstanding Ventura City Council member.
We endorse Mike Tracy for City Council and hope you will too.
-- Dr. Bob and Wendy Pazen, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 8 article, "Panel members sought to oversee tax fund spending":
Personally, I can see no better candidate for membership on this panel than former Oxnard City Councilman Tim Flynn. He would be the perfect steward for Oxnard's citizens.
Due to Flynn's recent experience on the council, he knows how the city's budgetary processes work, how funds are tagged and accounted for, accounting lines and association with projects/contracted work (whether or not the accounting line title actually reflects the intended use of the funds), etc. I would highly recommend Flynn.
Hopefully the drafted guidelines for membership do not exclude past council members. Who knows? Maybe a current council member will appoint Flynn.
-- Sylvia Robles, Oxnard
Re: Leo Alvarez's Oct. 11 letter, "Not yet worthy":
The writer states that President Barack Obama should decline the Nobel Peace Prize and accept it in the name of all our military persons who have fought for peace on foreign soil.
I have no problem with this opinion, but attacking our president's character and moral fiber if he does not decline this award disturbs me. If any president's integrity and decency should be questioned, it should be that of former President George W. Bush, who hawkishly put us on the path to war and all the misery that goes with it.
As we now know, Obama did accept the Nobel award as a "call to action" for all of us to work together and do whatever we can, big or small, to make this world a safer and better place for all people. He has obviously inspired many around the globe to higher and more positive goals. The deciders of this most prestigious award have recognized and acknowledged his positive force that has been missing for too long in American and international leadership.
I am proud of this president's determination to work hard for peace and harmony. I thank him for his inspiration.
-- Grace Nishihara, Oxnard
Re: Doug Halter's Oct. 11 letter, "Measure B unnecessary":
"There is an abundance of truth in the world; just not much demand for it," leapt to mind upon reading Halter's letter.
Halter touts the Ventura "view task force" as a success. That's not surprising -- he was among the group congratulating themselves on keeping building heights out of its "recommendations." He invents, then ascribes, a "change of opinion" to Diane Underhill and alleges distress at his own invention.
Underhill was an early supporter of the Measure B citizen initiative, begun because City Hall adopted a new code allowing 45- to 75-foot-high corridor buildings. The city View Task Force was formed after Measure B qualified for the ballot, and it failed to make meaningful recommendations regarding building heights.
Remember Halter's positions on previous initiatives. He supported "Midtown redevelopment," and he favored hillside development. Both were soundly defeated at the polls. During failed runs for a City Council seat, he once proclaimed, "Ventura has so much potential."
Ventura is already a special place. I'm weary of those preaching, like a scheming suitor: "You're perfect, I love you, now change."
Ventura is a vibrant coastal mission town, forever limited by its geography -- the sea, two rivers and the backdrop of the hills. Enough is enough. We have limited water, limited land. We have Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources because we don't want sprawl. Halter wants to sprawl "upwards" with big-box-like condos. Overly tall projects have already been approved and are in the pipeine.
Measure B allows citizen input on future building heights to ensure that new construction of taller buildings will not obstruct the views that make this place "this place." Those who worship at the altars of "bigger-is-better" and "more-is-necessary" need to go ply their wares at someone else's carnival.
-- Ross A. Nideffer, Ventura
I am one of the founders and board members of Ventura Citizens' Organization for Responsible Development, which was formed only after many requests to our City Council to adopt some sort of view protection ordinance, which most of California's cities already have in place.
Our council had absolutely no interest in doing this since they, along with City Manager Rick Cole, envisioned and had already approved many high-rise buildings along the Main Street and Thompson Boulevard corridors. Obviously, these projects would not fit into the older residential neighborhoods along these corridors. VCORD had absolutely no agenda other than forcing the city planners and developers to consider what their proposed projects would do to the adjacent neighborhoods.
The City Council forced us to obtain signatures (at great cost and time) in order to bring this matter to a head. The city has done everything it could -- including the dirty trick of mysteriously losing 300 or so of our signatures and bad-mouthing VCORD -- to head off this issue.
They came up with a "View Protection Task Force" -- which I was a member of -- loaded with their developers or others who have a heavy financial interest in building these projects to give the council what we considered a reasonable approach to an ordinance. We were "patted on the head" for a good job, and our report was relegated to "File 13" -- there's still no ordinance because this city is going to do exactly what they want to do, no matter what the residents think.
I live and work on the very east end of the city, so this will take decades to ever affect me, but I feel for any residents in Midtown or the hillsides because they are going to be looking at a lot of tall, ugly, view-restricting buildings.
If you don't care, then by all means, vote no on Measure B. But if you do care, you had better vote yes because this is your last chance to force the city to consider the effect of the high-rise infills on you and your fellow city residents.
-- Richard A. Pillow, Ventura
Police were telling people they'd let the bear come down on its own in the night, and then they shot it out of the tree! Revolting! And Ojai will do anything to save an oak tree?
Who got paid so well to OK killing the bear?
It's appalling and disgusting. What exactly is the Fish & Game policy so we can understand this?
-- Elizabeth Rittmeyer, Ojai
Re: your Sept. 27 article, "Between two worlds," and Chris Hamming's Oct. 9 letter, "Islands book superficial":
I enjoyed the Sept. 27 article on Ken McAlpine's new book, "Islands Apart: A Year on the Edge of Civilization" -- so much so that I purchased and read his interesting and sobering book. While most of us live our lives on automatic pilot, McAlpine, sensitive and aware, thinks about things and cares about people, their commitments, and their vulnerabilities. He captured beautifully the fear many of us city dwellers would feel on being left on our own for a week on any of the islands.
I was also interested in Hamming's cranky letter criticizing the article. From Hamming's view, McAlpine simply dips his toe into the "edge of civilization." He states in his letter that he has lived that life for nearly 30 years, the last 12 of which he has been living on his boat.
I think both approaches to experience are valid.
McAlpine's ability to question and to accept is most refreshing in today's climate of multitasking and verbal bombast. His fine book has inspired me to re-read "Walden," as well as Elizabeth Lester's "The Legendary King of San Miguel."
As for Hamming, I, along with others, would be most interested in reading about some of the events he has witnessed on and around the islands.
-- Bruce Allen Hardy, Ventura
The law officials let people come and stare at the bear in the tree as if he was on exhibit at the zoo. They told us they would do everything they could to help guide him back into the Los Padres Forest. There is now a sign carved into the cactus where this beautiful creature died that reads, "Forgive us."
Yes, we must all take responsibility for the tragic death of this beautiful misplaced creature. Until we come together to make a change, law officials will say what they please and shoot bears out of trees.
-- Cordelia Sipper, Ojai
It's not too early to start thinking about who you would like as the next governor of California. I'd like you to give Steve Poizner a chance to impress you. He has certainly impressed me.
He is the only candidate with a plan -- yes, I said a plan -- that cuts taxes for businesses and individuals. Steve "gets it." He knows we need to make California's economy competitive again. He signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge Live on KFI's "John and Ken Show." He vows to veto any and every tax hike that comes across his desk as governor.
As insurance commissioner, Poizner has reduced his department budget by 15 percent. He is the only man in Sacramento that has ever cut anything! He has demonstrated his commitment to get this state back on track.
The governor we are looking for is already in tune with the needs and opinions of the people of California. He is not afraid to be unscripted and unescorted. He is available to the people of this state for debates and radio interviews. He has the ability to get things done. He is not afraid to be left out of the Hollywood social scene. He knows the state of California will not return to greatness if he is in black tie with the glitterati. He has proven that he is not afraid of hard work, and he knows that some of what must be done will make him unpopular, even with those in his own party.
I am convinced he has the plan California needs. He is ready to take that plan into the governor's office and put it into action.
Do your homework and check him out. I think, like me, you'll be relieved to find a candidate you'll want to vote for.
-- Brenda Freeman, Thousand Oaks
Simi Valley Police officers are among the best in the nation. The men and women who serve our community are people of integrity who have consistently shown courage, honesty and integrity and are unquestionably good role models for our children.
That is why I am surprised the Simi Valley Police Officers Association is unwilling to accept a 2 percent pay reduction at a time when so many of our neighbors are jobless, so many of our local teachers were given pink slips, our state employees have had 25 percent pay cuts due to unpaid furloughs and our other city employees have taken an across-the-board 2 percent pay cut.
The Simi Valley POA has hired a non-Simi Valley based public relations firm indicating their intent to escalate the issue. What is disturbing to me as a resident of this community is the message this action sends both to city employees who are already absorbing a 2 percent cut and to the taxpayers, all of whom are dealing with the financial burden of the worst economic decline since the Depression.
This community and its leaders have a long history of unflinching support for public safety, and again this is why our law enforcement is the best. We are all struggling, and if times were better and there was more money available, nobody would even seriously ask our police to accept anything other than a raise in pay.
Unfortunately, times are bad, and the Simi Valley POA ought to reconsider their Los Angeles public relations firm and take the money they are paying the PR agency and give it back to their own members to help them out financially during these hard times.
-- Jason D. Oliver, Simi Valley
Re: your Oct. 5 editorial, "After the game, the damage lingers":
The Star's editorial linking football players and memory-related disease quoted a member of the Florida Gators as saying, "Everyone gets concussions. Stuff like that happens."
That cavalier Gator doesn't realize that a concussion is now classified as a mild traumatic brain injury.
Statistics indicate that more than 400,000 Southern Californians live with a TBI, yet most cannot find or access the social services they need in order to live successfully in the community.
The state Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Board is holding stakeholder community meetings in a push to gather input around existing service delivery and gaps. Stakeholders comprise TBI survivors -- including veterans who come home with TBIs from the Middle East conflicts -- and their family members, caregivers and service providers.
The meeting nearest Ventura County is at the Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel on Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m., in conjunction with the State Independent Living Council. If you cannot attend, please join a conference call on Oct. 29 or submit comments by e-mail, phone, fax or U.S. mail. You can find more information at www.cce.csus.edu/conferences/cdmh/ctbi09/indexhtm.
The TBI Advisory Board, under the auspices of the Department of Mental Health, works to enhance access to comprehensive and coordinated services for Californians with TBI.
California currently receives no federal TBI dollars. There's no TBI state agency, nor any services act funding such as Proposition 63 for mental health. Decision-makers routinely sweep TBI under the rug.
Without funding for needed community-based supports, many TBI survivors are relegated to an institutionalized life -- even today.
Traumatic brain injury is called "the silent epidemic" because it affects so many, yet its cognitive deficits are so often invisible. It's long past time TBI became visible.
-- Cherie Phoenix, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is a member of the California TBI Advisory Board. -- Editor)
I would like to alert the community to a dental scam taking place in Thousand Oaks.
I recently took my 86-year-old mother to a Thousand Oaks dental clinic recommended by a friend of hers. Luckily, I went with her, as they were telling her she needed an extensive teeth cleaning that would cost $1,800. Yes, that's $1,800 for an hour-and-a-half cleaning done by a dental hygienist, not a dentist or specialist. (I have my teeth cleaned by a periodontist who specializes in gum disease and prevention. My cleaning done by a specially trained oral hygienist costs $124 for one hour plus. A cleaning at a family dentist runs less.)
These rip-off artists convinced my mother that they would need to "scale" her teeth and numb her. They told her that her dental insurance would cover all but $500, which she would need to pay out of pocket. When I went in the next day to get her records and X-rays, they told me the actual cost was $1,300 but her out-of-pocket expenses would be $600. (I called her insurance, and they only cover $16 for a cleaning, and dentists in their plan only are allowed to charge $37 for a cleaning.)
I had my mother's teeth cleaned at my periodontist's office because she was worried about needing her teeth "scaled." There was no need for any of that. It was just an ordinary teeth cleaning.
I am writing to alert the public about this scam. There were several elderly people and people who spoke English as a second language in the waiting room. I wonder how many of them were told they needed an $1,800 teeth cleaning and ended up actually going through with it.
This is an outrage. I called the city, Senior Concerns, the retirement place my mother lives and the office of Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Moorpark, but they all said there was nothing they could do. Hence this letter.
-- Lesly Vick, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Oct. 10 article, "Obama a surprise winner of Nobel Peace Prize":
In saying "I am not sure what he has done to deserve this," and I quote him directly, just precisely what part of "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" -- and I quote the Nobel Prize committee directly -- does Ventura County Republican Central Committee Chairman Mike Osborn not understand about the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Barack Obama?
Osborn's further assertion that the award is "a purely political statement by people who don't necessarily have the best interest of the United States at heart" is even more puzzling.
What I'm having a lot of trouble understanding is how the "purely political statements" of the hateful rants of his Rush Limbaugh -- who has loudly and very publicly expressed his hope that the president fails -- along with the daily, equally hateful and libelous rants of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, to name but a few, aimed directly at the president and his administration, "have the best interest of the United States at heart."
-- Bob Jackson, Simi Valley
The reason for the growing success of the Fox News Channel is because they speak to the many Americans who have figured out that they have been duped for a long time by "big news" -- for example, The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN.
Once you branch out to Fox, talk radio and the Internet, you begin to realize how much "big news" holds back and doesn't report or how much they feign outrage toward even the pettiest issues against a conservative.
Simply being fair and balanced -- reporting both viewpoints -- has put a strain on big news' ability to manipulate the public perception on current events and politics. It is comical when you actually get to see a liberal have to stand up against the conservative argument.
Even "Saturday Night Live" is getting it. A skit that poked fun at President Barack Obama's lack of accomplishments actually provoked CNN to do a fact-check analysis segment in an attempt to support the president against SNL. Do you think CNN would do this if the skit satirized a George W. Bush or a Sarah Palin?
Those who still hate Fox are the same people who state that they hate Rush Limbaugh, but a little digging reveals that they have never listened to his radio show.
But as the Fox News Channel continues to gain viewers, a more cynical American public becomes evermore informed about how American exceptionalism has been undermined by -- Dare I say it? -- the left wing conspiracy.
-- Michael Pringer, Thousand Oaks
Just how relevant is the Nobel Peace Prize these days? This is the same committee that awarded it to the arch-terrorist, Yasser Arafat, some years ago. Now someone comes along and nominates President Barack Obama, who had warmed the Oval Office chair for less than two weeks before the February 1 nomination deadline. Whoever submitted the president's name was simply using a time-honored institution to snub the George Bush administration.
Obama himself rightly stated that he hadn't accomplished anything yet. In truth, to date, all he's done is try to ram a whopping healthcare bill down our throats that we can't afford in this recession.
The Nobel Committee completed the politicization by awarding it to him for his aspirations, as they called it. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had more than just aspirations to their credit: They won the Cold War against the Soviet Union, largely without Norway's help. That took a lot of vision, certainly, but they never did get that call from Oslo.
There is rank hypocrisy at work here, deeply tarnishing a once great emblem. Alfred Nobel would have been more sensible to have just profited from his dynamite.
-- Joe Hernandez, Thousand Oaks
Re: Colleen Cason's Oct. 11 Cason Point, "If the shoe fits, buy it; don't blame the stress":
I'm sure glad that I don't happen to be walking by Cason's residence and spit on the sidewalk. She would probably have me hung up on the nearest tree without first questioning whether I was choking on a bug that flew up my nose.
Cason speaks of Rio School District Superintendent Sherianne Cotterell in such absolutes. Cotterell earned a handsome salary, which begs the question of whether avoiding the cost of the shoes was her primary motivation. Cason says CotterelI is the "real deal"; let's remember all real people can make a rare mistake that shouldn't overshadow all other good work.
Cason's conclusion that Cotterell was stressed by the recession forgets that other things cause stress. Many times in my life I have been so stressed I have felt like putting my fist through a wall knowing I would probably break some bones in my hand.
Many strong adjectives describe the situation: "ugly," "slip and snip," "ripping off." I love her right-out-of-the-gate acceptance of the police report before hearing directly from the other side. Can't someone be a great educator and have a bad rare moment? Cason had to look back 27 years ago to quote a similar situation.
Cotterell did break the law -- how badly will be determined. I, for one, hope that this is handled as a "private personnel matter" and that Cotterell maybe does become a little more compassionate toward the actions of students and the enforcement of any zero-tolerance policies.
Let's wait and see and not be so judgmental until everything plays out between her, her employer and the public without prejudicial prejudgment.
-- Michael Seelig, Thousand Oaks
The proposal to raise fees for select majors should serve as a clarion call to get UC students and Californians who care about quality education to demand that any increase in fees result in a commensurate percentage drop in salaries for every UC trustee or employee making more than $150,000 a year.
On another note, during the space race, the U.S. government subsidized the tuitions for many engineers. Now, when we need to build smarter cities to combat climate change, we're going to dissuade those same people we need to compete in the race for energy independence.
-- Omar Masry, Thousand Oaks
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the hundreds of community members, elected officials, Scouts and businesses, including The Star, that joined us in bringing the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall Experience to Westlake Village this past Labor Day weekend.
Words cannot describe the emotions evoked by a hand reaching out to gently touch the name of a fallen friend, brother or sister; by the personal remembrances left for a lost loved one at the foot of the Wall; by a lone individual standing in silent vigil; or by a lasting, healing embrace, one veteran to another.
More than 500 individuals and 50 businesses dedicated hundreds of hours of time and donated products and services to make the event memorable and inspiring. This extraordinary backing allowed us to support, educate, thank or welcome home nearly 80,000 families and veterans who visited from around noon Wednesday when the Wall arrived, 24 hours a day, until well after the closing event on Monday.
I am extremely proud to be part of such a giving and thoughtful community.
-- Tammy Eacker, general manager,
Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks - Memorial Park, Mortuary and Crematory,
How about this: We get out of Afghanistan. We say we don't want any more of our soldiers killed or maimed, and we tell the Afghans and the Pakistanis that this is their fight. We tell them that we will continue to send them equipment and supplies to help defeat the Taliban, al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden.
We know they hurt us badly on 9/11, but we haven't been able to exact revenge to this date. Is that defeat? Maybe, but so what? How about licking our wounds, getting out of there and taking care of the problems we have at home, which are voluminous and that require our government's strict attention to tackle without other distractions.
We're not the saviors of the world we once were, and we're not as respected worldwide either. Let's recognize this and start to rebuild at home. Perhaps in the future we can then once again regain the respected position in the global community that we once enjoyed.
-- Sidney Cohn, Ojai
Re: Diane Underhill's Oct. 4 commentary, "Protects city's priceless views, promotes business":
The more I have read about Measure B, the more I have become concerned that turning our community's view protection effort over to the Ventura Citizens' Organization for Responsible Development is not a good idea.
On Oct. 4, Underhill wrote a commentary revealing VCORD's true colors. VCORD claims simply to be a conduit for neighborhood opinion. But as the commentary shows, the organization really does have an agenda and fully intends to use the power the initiative grants VCORD to push that agenda.
Underhill stated that the main reason Measure B is needed is that the city's View Task Force, of which she was a member, "could not deliver strong, meaningful view-protection measures" because it did not recommend reducing heights along the Main and Thompson corridors below the current two- and three-story limits. She made it very clear that VCORD's agenda will be to stack the new View Resources Board with like-minded people who are concerned only with much lower building heights -- to the exclusion of other issues.
Underhill also stated unequivocally that if the City Council does not approve the View Resources Board's ordinance, the board "will request it be on the November 2011 ballot." How does she know? The board hasn't even been created yet, nor have its members been appointed yet. Has VCORD already decided what the View Resources Board is going to do?
Measure B is unnecessary. The city has already lowered heights throughout Midtown, and the task force has created new design guidelines. I guess VCORD is just using the "neighborhood power" banner as a way of deceiving people into giving VCORD the power to pursue its own narrow agenda.
-- Adam Goldstone, Ventura
Walmart has not hidden its desire to expand the current Kmart site into a huge superstore as soon as it can legally.
In its latest site plan submitted to the city, there are two adjacent stores ready for the expansion - to make a store nearly three times the size of the giant Ralph's across the street - if Measure C fails. A Walmart superstore of this size will very likely result in other shopping centers seeing their grocery stores close, to the detriment of those neighborhoods and the longtime employees of those stores with decent wages and health benefits.
All too often, Wal-Mart's illegal business practices and the many lawsuits brought against it have been well documented in the media. Last December, Wal-Mart agreed to settle 63 wage and hour class-action lawsuits filed by employees who claimed they were forced to work off the clock, change their time cards and work through breaks promised by Wal-Mart or required by state law.
If Wal-Mart opens a store in Ventura, it will negatively impact their Oxnard store sales and they will use everything in their vast arsenal, legal or not, to drive other retailers out of business. There is little our law-abiding small business owners or grocery chains can do when faced with such unfair competition.
Clearly, the high cost of Walmart's "low prices" will come in lost jobs, higher taxpayer healthcare subsidies, a lower economic spending base, and increased costs for policing and prosecuting Walmart-related crimes.
Measure C is Ventura's best option for limiting Walmart's piecemeal expansion into immense superstores in the future. Please vote yes on Measure C.
-- Sally Richards, Ventura
Re: Diane Underhill's Oct. 4 commentary, "Protects city's priceless views, promotes business":
As one of the 15 members of the View Task Force that spent over eight months in meetings and countless hours researching view issues and considerations, it was with great surprise that I read some of Diane's comments.
This task force, made up of one of the most diverse representations of our community, worked hard to identify our common values, which are reflected in our recommended view ordinance.
To read Diane's commentary and find out that she now believes that we didn't address building heights in sensitive areas, nor did we deliver a meaningful view protection measure, is not only distressing after eight months of focused effort, in which she and Camille Harris participated, but is alarming in that she would change her opinion several months after we concluded our efforts!
We cannot allow exaggerations to cloud the facts. While she speaks of "concrete barricades" replacing our "sweeping views," it needs to be noted that the city's re-coding efforts over the last few years have all reduced the density and height of buildings from that which had been allowed for well over 50 years, yet where do you see these concrete barricades? Are more empty lots, more dilapidated motels and unused commercial buildings her preferred path, since even a one-story building will block some sweeping views?
If we really want to preserve our neighborhood charm, if we really are interesting in reducing traffic and keeping jobs and shopping local, if we really believe in stopping urban sprawl and the continued homogenization of our community, if we want to even have a chance at our kids raising their kids here in Ventura, then please vote no on Measure B. It is unnecessary and damaging to the future of our city.
-- Doug Halter, Ventura