Re: your Nov. 25 article, "Fillmore, Oxnard get flood map relief":
This "victory" is just a stay of execution. In a year or so, the trapdoor will spring and many will be left hanging. Those on future flood-zone maps will see their flood insurance prices increase at inflated and outrageous rates, even if purchased before the preferred-rate deadline. Our homes still sit under the shadow of the "floodplain" designation, which not only devalues them, but also makes them difficult to sell. Even if we find willing buyers, it's a safe bet that their lenders will not be overly enthusiastic.
The loss of property values in North Oxnard alone is estimated to be in the $150 million range; countywide, it must be a half-billion. This represents an enormous loss of tax revenues for schools, roads, emergency response services, social services and infrastructure.
Moreover, a delayed final map does not negate the city of Oxnard's financial liability for permitting developers to build homes in an area already known to be a floodplain, and then to sell those homes without fully and properly disclosing the facts to their buyers.
The floodplain issue is symptomatic of an insidious epidemic in this country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's action on Nov. 24 is more of a distraction than a remission, while the disease itself remains to be fully addressed. Only a Congress with fortitude can do that. Meanwhile, we all know who benefits.
-- Marcia Cummings, Oxnard
November 2009 Archives
Re: your Nov. 25 article, "Fillmore, Oxnard get flood map relief":
Re: your Nov. 26 editorial, "A Thanksgiving in tough times":
The editorial acknowledges the thanksgiving proclamations of George Washington (1789), Abraham Lincoln (1863) and Barack Obama (2009). As recorded in the National Archives, the 1789 and 1863 proclamations give thanks to God for his blessings, but that wasn't mentioned in The Star's editorial. Only a small part of the 2009 proclamation was printed, and there was no mention of God there either. Why wasn't our president's proclamation printed in full? I'm curious to know if he wants us to thank God for our blessings. According to Washington and Lincoln, that's what Thanksgiving Day is all about.
-- Roger Muir, Ventura
My doctor, the Camarillo Health Care District, TV commentators, this paper -- all urge me to get the shots, but I have been unable to find a dispenser who had not run out. This is my 91st winter. Every year when I had no shots -- and early on, that was every year -- I have suffered from the flu, so I need no urging. But where now can I find a source?
-- Hal Wilder, Camarillo
Re: your Nov. 29 article, "Nursing homes: Federal ratings give just part of the story":
My personal experience in evaluating several nursing homes does not fit with the federal data The Star cites in this article. Although The Star mentions Victoria Care Center as a "one-star" facility, my mother's experience there contradicts that assessment.
My mother has lived at Victoria Care Center for two years. She is 90 years old and has advanced dementia, which makes it difficult for her to communicate. Her adjustment at VCC has been rocky, and her behavior difficult to manage.
Through all of this, the management and staff of VCC have worked very hard to keep my mother comfortable and safe. Staff are always friendly and welcoming, kind and concerned, and this humane care is as important as the medical care provided. The management staff are professional, good listeners, problem-solvers and leaders. And the line nursing staff are compassionate, thorough and impeccable in infection control, from my direct observation. Food is plentiful and actually appetizing. My mother's quality of life in these late days is vastly improved because of the good care she is receiving.
I would say, then, that when evaluating a nursing home, it is important to find out what specific problems there have been in a facility and whether they have any relevance to your situation.
One other point: Families who visit their loved one regularly and pay attention to needs can assure good care. Be involved! It is hard emotionally, but essential for your family member.
Thanks to the dedicated staff at Victoria Care Center. You are all stars in my book. Keep up the good work!
-- Kay Regester, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 29 article, "Nursing homes: Federal ratings give just part of the story":
Your article about nursing home ratings is informative and helpful, but perhaps one should examine the rating system more closely before drawing too many conclusions. I looked up more about it on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Web site and found the following:
-- No physicians are represented on the expert panel that rated nursing home care.
-- The ratings are based largely on percentages of patients having complications such as bed sores or bladder infections, so a private nursing facility treating patients with more severe conditions requiring more time in bed would likely have a lower score by this rating system.
-- The rating system is based on statewide averages. The lowest-tier California nursing home rated by this system would rank in about the 50th percentile of care in Washington, D.C., according to information on the CMS Web site.
Since more than 70 percent of Ventura County nursing homes are for-profit, one could reasonably conclude that if these did not exist, there would be a critical shortage of nursing home care in our county. For-profit nursing homes also pay taxes, which support the roles of CMS in reviewing these facilities and generate capital that can be invested to create additional needed facilities -- all valuable to improving healthcare in our county. We should support them.
More concerning perhaps is the exodus of retirees from California to neighboring states with lower taxes, lower costs of living and cheaper nursing care. These are exactly the people whom we would like to attract and retain here in a time of recession to provide "green" jobs for nurses, physicians, other healthcare professionals and related businesses such as nursing homes which support them.
-- Michael C. Dugan, M.D., Santa Rosa Valley
Re: Tom Stephen's Nov. 26 letter, "Heroes of the highway":
I just wanted to take the time to thank Tom Stephen for his letter. I am one of the "handheld stop signs" on Lynn Road that has to deal with the speeding motorists flying between Dos Vientos and Thousand Oaks. I love my job of protecting children as they walk to school. Tom's letter of recognition made my day!
-- Paulette Gallimore, Newbury Park
I would like to commend the Ventura County Bar Association for bestowing its top award, the Norman Public Service Award, to Bob Huber of Simi Valley.
As a mother of two young daughters in Simi Valley public schools, I appreciate Bob's dedication to our local schools. He chaired the successful $35 million school bond campaign, which provided much-needed repairs to our schools. He was on the original founding committee that started the Simi Valley Education Foundation, providing hundreds of thousands of dollars to our schools.
Bob has been recognized for his commitment, receiving the Honorary Service Award from the Ventura County PTA Council.
I wish to extend my appreciation and congratulations to Bob on his public service leadership award.
-- Patricia Kleiman, Simi Valley
On a recent Saturday morning, I stopped at a Starbucks in Newbury Park to get snacks for my kids and coffee for me. After ordering food and drink, I felt that sense of panic when I looked in my wallet and realized I had left my debit card in my other jacket. I found a couple of dollars in my purse but was about to tell the kids we didn't really need snacks when an extemely kind-hearted individual didn't even hesitate and said, "I'll cover the rest." It's not like I was short a quarter, but almost $9, and I was utterly speechless.
I was not only grateful for the generosity and compassion he showed, but for also teaching my kids an invaluable lesson: There are so many ways to show kindness, and there are some really good people out there.
As we were leaving the store, my son asked me, "Would you ever do that for somebody?" and I said, "I will now."
I didn't get the name of this person, but I thank him, and I hope he reads this and knows who he is. I'm already looking to "pay it forward."
-- Amy Lafayette, Thousand Oaks
Recently there was a government report with a panel of people, all of whom, according to my research, are associated with the insurance industry and appointed by the previous administration, regarding mammograms and Pap smears. That got me thinking: If we pass the "public option," and I think we should, where exactly will all of the billions of dollars go?
Well, it will provide goods and services from people. People will get a paycheck for providing these goods and services -- small business contracts, office workers, medical support staff, on and on. These fine people will happily go to work each day, will pay income taxes and sales tax, be able to purchase a new home or car, go to the mall, take a vacation and enjoy the American dream.
The coffers in Washington will replenish the tax base, which will allow us to fix the dilapidated infrastructure, educate our children, enhance security, etc. -- and, yes, provide more jobs.
The only way we are going to get people back to work is to invest in our country, work together and stop second-guessing every breath that the president takes. If you love your country as I do, you will support it, not complain about it.
-- Kathleen Cappella, Simi Valley
Re: your Nov. 22 article, "Hackers leak e-mails, stoke climate debate":
I thank The Star for publishing the story about the whistle blower exposing the e-mails from the British university, proving the research into global warming was fraudulent. A more detailed story would be expected. These e-mails prove that the data was cherry-picked, manipulated and made up.
Even more interesting are the communications of the cover-up of this biggest fraud on the American people. An investigation reveals that there is no human-caused global warming, and there is no global warming. If there are any California paid scientists involved with this fraud, Attorney General Jerry Brown should investigate.
Additionally the polar bears are increasing in numbers, so how can they be endangered? This is another example of fraudulent manipulation of data.
Any so-called foundations collecting donations to save the animals from global warming should be investigated, money returned and the participants sent to jail. All those involved with this hoax should be investigated, textbooks should be returned and any teachers who continue to teach the global warming fraud should be fired. Too much money is being wasted on this hoax.
At least one California city spent millions of dollars replacing light bulbs instead of modernizing sewage treatment plants.
-- John Henke, Newbury Park
Re: Gary E. Murphy's Nov. 25 letter, "Why critics are wrong":
Murphy's letter regarding the benefits of a robust public option healthcare plan was replete with misinformation that needs to be corrected.
He stated that long gas lines in the 1970s were due to OPEC gas boycotts, whereas all news reports later stated that there was plenty of gasoline in the U.S. but that governmental distribution interference with the free market caused the long and unnecessary lines. Imagine what the government can do to mess up healthcare!
Recently, "60 Minutes" featured reports on healthcare showing $60 billion in current Medicare fraud and both excessive and unproductive end-of-life care resulting in wasted expenditure of many more tens of billions of dollars. One comatose lady in her 70s received bills from 27 specialists, including a pap smear that was promptly paid by Medicare without scrutiny. The proposed intrusion of government into healthcare will only exacerbate these losses. Private insurance carriers, despite their many faults that need to be corrected, at least do a good job on fraud and unnecessary care.
The only way to save money is to enact tort reform -- which is anathema to the Democrats as the trial lawyers are a prime source of financial support -- to allow competition across state lines, to really eliminate fraud as opposed to just talking about it and to address wasteful and overly excessive end-of-life care.
The proposed healthcare reform does none of that and should be changed to include these items or be soundly defeated.
-- Tom Reilly, Thousand Oaks
I propose that the killing of Larry King by Brandon McInerney, almost two years ago now, at a public school in Oxnard, was not a "hate crime," as the district attorney labeled it as soon as he learned that Larry was a self-professed gay, but an act of self defense.
Subsequent reports have revealed that Brandon was harassed by Larry, who teased the younger boy by making sexual advances to him in front of other students. It seems that this bullying tortured Brandon to the point that, in sheer desperation, frustration and misery, he had to stop the situation.
Could he, in this emotional turmoil, make a thought-out, rational decision as to the consequences of his solution, and at his age? Obviously not.
This killing did not have to happen. The sole venue of the whole situation was the school. Why was the bullying not stopped? Apparently it was well-known by teachers and students.
I would suggest that the school system did not know how to deal with difficult matters of a homosexual nature. I expect tolerance was emphasized, and rightly so, but to the point that Larry was allowed to wear makeup to school and that a teacher offered him a dress to wear? Larry was older than Brandon and seems to have been very secure in his sexual orientation, and he was being very carefully handled in the school. In the meantime, his victim was being ignored in his misery.
What about compassion? Was it taught or even thought of? How was a barely 14-year-old to cope by himself with the situation he was in? Where were the teachers? Where was the Guidance Department? The school has much to regret here.
There has been much study done and literature published about bullying in schools. It is shown to be destructive cruelty, leading to shame, unhappiness, self-hate and even suicide on the part of the victim. This was not a hate killing in the real sense of the expression. It was an act of self-defense.
-- Margaret Shea, Camarillo
I find it somewhat amusing that all of a sudden the replacement for Ventura County Treasurer-Tax Collector Larry Matheney needs a background in finance and such. I suspect the same people now raising a hue and cry voted a short while ago to elect a man with just about zero experience to be president of the United States.
Since that time, Barack Obama has put people in positions of considerable power that really stretch the experience level. Leon Panetta being named CIA director is a good example, as he had no background in running an intelligence organization.
Audra Strickland has a long record of public service and has run successful campaigns for elected office. I think she would bring energy and organizational skills to the office of treasurer. If you compare the experience level of Supervisor Kathy Long when she started out on the board (schoolteacher), many would say she is now an effective supervisor.
I think Strickland could do at least equally as well in the office of treasurer.
-- Allan R. Prevette, Camarillo
Re: Joe Howry's Nov. 22 essay, "Leaders inspire no confidence they can pull state out of hole," and your Nov. 22 article, "Senate ready to talk health":
Howry's essay on the ineffectiveness of California's (and the country's) legislative process was on target. And the front-page story exemplified part of the problem.
The lead sentence of the article stated, "Invoking the memory of Edward M. Kennedy, Democrats united Saturday night to push historic healthcare legislation past a key Senate hurdle over the opposition of Republicans eager to inflict a punishing defeat on President Barack Obama." Factual reporting stopped at the word "Republicans" and opinion/interpretation took over.
The fires of the paralyzing political polarization that grips our country are daily fanned by the media -- on both sides of the political spectrum -- helping to turn legislation into a partisan team sport (As Vince Lombardi said, "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."), rather than a process to reconcile differing views about how to solve a problem.
Please, politicians, stop the schoolyard-bully posturing and behave like adults. And news people, other than op-ed pieces, "Just the facts, ma'am."
-- Dale Osborn, Camarillo
Many people are unaware of what I call the "real mental health crisis," which is that totally normal people are being told they have mental illnesses that do not exist and have no basis in fact. Sometimes people are even told they have a chemical imbalance in their brain, when in fact no one anywhere has yet given a definition of what a correct chemical balance is.
Psychiatric disorders are just part of psychiatric drug marketing schemes.
One example is Attention Deficit Disorder. Ask anybody over 50 how many kids had that when they were in school. The answer is none, because it had not been invented yet. That's right, it is an invented disease that anyone can have because it is diagnosed using symptoms such as forgetting or losing things or feeling sleepy while studying. There are eight or 10 more like this -- things just about everyone has experienced -- so you can sell anyone on this disease.
The cure is amphetamine-like drugs -- very addictive stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall. There's big money there, and they are addictive, so if a customer quits, he could have serious withdrawal symptoms. Ask anyone who works in drug rehab. Ask the young folks in rehab, "What was your first drug?" Many will tell you "kiddy cocaine," and that's the above-mentioned amphetamine-type drugs.
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying people don't have problems in life. Of course problems are part of life, but life problems are not a made-up disease, and psychiatric drugs are not the answer.
If anyone reading this can help direct funds to something useful such as tutoring and education, please do. And direct as much as you can away from funding psychiatry and psychiatric drugs because being diagnosed as mentally ill and then being given psychiatric drugs and/or electric shock is very harmful.
-- Carol Horton, Ventura
Re: Elena Brokaw's Nov. 18 article, "Help homeless by giving to service organizations, not panhandlers":
How crass, at the holidays, to ask Venturans not to give directly to those in need. Ventura Community Services Director Elena Brokaw's recommendation to give only to institutions for the homeless, instead of to individuals, shows her lack of understanding. Above all, it is compassion, coupled with small change to buy essentials, which keeps the fragile spirits of the homeless alive. It is insulting to imply that panhandlers want only to feed unhealthy habits. Perhaps a few years on the street would open up the eyes of those so ready to categorize and to condemn.
-- Lawrence & Lori Anderson, Ojai
I would like to extend my congratulations to Jim Monahan, Brian Brennan and Neal Andrews on their re-election and also to Mike Tracy for his election to the Ventura City Council. I would also like to express to all the candidates my appreciation for their respectful and clean campaigns dealing with the important issues facing our city.
I want to express my thanks to all who supported me by their votes, by their efforts and by their contributions. I wish also to express my appreciation for the professionalism of the Ventura City Clerk's Office and especially to Mabi Plisky, city clerk. As a neophyte to the political process, I was greatly helped by their office.
We learned a lot from this campaign, and although we were unsuccessful in this attempt, we will return to contest the next election in two years.
-- Maureen C. O'Hara, Ventura
Re: E.J. Gibbons' Nov. 22 commentary, "New perspective needed on Kennedy assassination":
It seems that Gibbons is ignoring many known facts to get people to buy his book.
There are many reasons that people know there was a conspiracy of some kind. I can't prove that Lee Harvey Oswald had shooting help, although most experts agree it would have been impossible to make the shots as accurately and as quickly as he did.
My questions are mainly economic. I lived in Dallas as a kid when President John F. Kennedy was shot, and I know it would have been impossible financially for Oswald to do as much traveling as the Warren Commission admits he did on the type of salary he had. He made trips to Mexico, New Orleans and had an apartment for his wife and kids separate from where he lived. Somebody or some group had to pay for all that traveling.
The other reasons for doubt are political. One of the people on the Warren Commission was Allen Dulles, the former head of the CIA that Kennedy had recently fired. Considering that some people feel there was a CIA connection, I feel it is strange he was on the commission. Also, the mayor of Dallas, Earl Cabell, had a brother, Charles, who was the assistant director of the CIA until he was forced to resign by Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs disaster. The biggest thing was that most of the information was to be locked up in the archives for 75 years -- until everyone connected to his killing was long dead.
We will probably never know for sure what happened and who did it. It took almost 100 years to find out that President Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, was probably behind his death, and it will probably be the same for us, except we won't be around when it happens.
-- Dan B. Kaufman, Ventura
Re: Gregory T. Miller's Nov. 24 letter, "GOP machine in action":
Maybe Miller should reflect on his words concerning political machines. This state is nearly bankrupt because of the well-oiled democratic political machine in Sacramento.
When the previous three Republican governors left office, this state was in the black. Then the well-oiled democratic machine took control. I wish some off these machines would just break down.
-- Dottie Biller, Moorpark
A hearty congratulations to longtime Simi Valley resident Bob Huber on being named as Ventura County's Public Service Lawyer by the Ventura County Bar Association.
Huber has worked hard for Simi Valley schools, youth programs, affordable housing for our seniors and our young people, and for a strong business community. He has rightly earned recognition for his efforts on our behalf over many many years. Congratulations, Bob!
-- Jenni Sherman, Simi Valley
Re: healthcare reform:
-- Jeremy Goldberg, Agoura Hills
Lately, when I have been looking out my window driving to or from work, I have seen an exponential increase in California Highway Patrol making vehicle stops for traffic violations between Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills.
I have asked friends, who have all been pulled over, what specific violations occurred. People are not getting tickets for traffic violations that make sense and truly protect public safety. People are getting tickets for being human beings and making simple mistakes (e.g., lane changes, slight speeding, tinted windows) and very few mistakes that really affect public safety.
People, including myself, have come to the point where they are afraid to drive on the road not because they don't feel safe from fellow citizens, but more because of the dangers from the actual government itself. It would be a tired and moot case to play the race card as explanation, though the majority of CHP stops I have witnessed involve drivers of color (another story). But the real cause behind these CHP abuses seems to be largely financially motivated.
If this is true -- and it is -- the CHP has evolved into an organized crime unit not far from the Mexican Federales. The Federales are a government police force of Mexico that rides around dispensing justice and is one of the most corrupt police units in the country. Paying a bribe (a ticket) for concocted violations is comparable to our current situation, except we are not bribing the officers themselves. We are bribing the government.
It is truly pathetic the example our government reduces itself to when we hit hard economic times. Yes, we need to collectively figure out new ways to meet our budgets, but this is not America. This is clever corruption and must be addressed.
-- Jonathan Barnes, Newbury Park
No one wants a tax increase, including me.
Mostly all adults capable of working welcome a job.
In the 1980s, I remember having a conversation with a 20-something-year-old, and I said America would not have sufficient jobs relying on overseas manufacturing -- it's cheaper.
Since I doubt healthcare and all sustainability jobs will sufficiently increase the tax base enough to help California get out of a $20 billion-plus hole, what is left to do? Well, it seems taxes have to be raised because the shortsighted, rinky-dink fee increases will not cover $20 billion.
How about civic leaders and state politicians getting together and figure out how to bring back manufacturing to California and other parts of the U.S.?
-- Warren J. Potash, Moorpark
Climate change kills.
The climate has always been changing. Whole civilizations have been wiped out due to climate changes.
In a period when the climate was much warmer than it is now, the Norse settled in Greenland. Then the climate cooled and the Norse settlers died out.
Climate change also affects animals. In the 1950s there were an estimated 50,000 polar bears. Due to climate change there are now an estimated 200,000 to 250,000 polar bears. This has led to polar bears eating millions more hapless seals in order to survive.
We need a reliable computer model to forecast climate change in order to prepare for it. The computer models that are used today predicted 10 years ago that at the present time, most ski resorts would be out of business due to lack of snow, the atmosphere would be warming, there would be a warm spot in the upper atmosphere and hurricanes would be more numerous and more powerful. None of these predictions has materialized.
It is time these computer models, which assume that carbon dioxide has a significant effect on climate change, be scrapped. More reliable computer models should be developed that don't consider carbon dioxide a significant factor in climate change.
Due to these faulty computer models, cap-and-trade legislation has been introduced. Politicians who voted for it are either ignorant and have been swayed by the faulty computer models or they have ulterior motives. In either case, they should not be re-elected.
-- David J. Ameling, Newbury Park
The New York City trial of the 9/11 terrorists will not demonstrate our adherence to the rule of law. The feds have been extremely sloppy since Sept. 11, 2001.
Legal issues such as the right to a speedy trial, Miranda rights to have a lawyer and the right to remain silent, cruel and unusual punishment and extradition cannot be ignored.
Any appellate federal judge, reading the law as it's clearly written, could easily overturn any conviction.
-- Bob Munson, Newbury Park
Mark Twain said, "The report of my death was an exaggeration." The same could be said for the Open Classroom Magnet at Conejo Elementary School in Thousand Oaks. There are some fascinating rumors suggesting such demise.
My daughter, "Ms. Jennifer," is a K-1 teacher in open classroom.
A misconception in some quarters suggests that open classroom teachers are chosen on seniority. The criterion for teacher selection is for a match in the program. Proof: the present teacher staff. Further, Jennifer was a first-year teacher in the district when she started teaching in open classroom.
Conejo Elementary School administration continues to demonstrate the highest regard for the "whole child" and supports open classroom enthusiastically.
The Conejo Valley Unified School District strongly supports open classroom with a memorandum of understanding that includes teacher training, marketing support, and a vision committee that plans for the continuation of open classroom at Conejo School.
It has been suggested that open classroom students do not perform well in middle school. In fact, many open classroom grads are middle-school leaders. Open classroom has produced a high school valedictorian. Currently, a high school senior has chosen to complete a senior project working in Ms. Jennifer's K-1 classroom. One senior student invited her former K-1 teacher to her graduation.
Loyalty to the program runs deep. Students from the program have moved on to elite universities, including UC Berkeley and Yale.
Test scores of open classroom students attest to its excellence year after year.
Open classroom is alive, healthy and striding forward.
-- Bill Jackson, Simi Valley
In the Army, a commander knows doing nothing will lead to disaster. Disaster looms for all California while elected state officials do little or nothing. We are in the abyss, looking for a way out. Being desperate requires most unusual actions to survive. Here are some thoughts on survival:
-- Establish an across-the-board -- citizens and businesses -- flat tax. Eliminate all the credits.
-- Allow local school boards the authority to levy property taxes based on property values. Eliminate Proposition 13.
-- Both state university systems must eliminate all student funding programs and scholarships for non-California residents. Why are we paying to educate non-Americans who will leave with their education and return to their native country?
-- Reduce the size of the state Legislature. Establish legislative districts similar to U.S. congressional districts. Reduce the size of the state Senate by one-third.
-- Lock up the California/Mexico border. More money leaves California by way of illegal immigration than is gained by the cheap labor. Put our young people to work in the fields and kitchens.
-- Legalize all drugs. The cost of enforcing our drug laws is overwhelming -- $32,000 per year to house a 20-year-old who sold four ounces of methamphetamine, not to mention the tax revenue that awaits the state.
There are many other answers to our fiscal woes. Unfortunately, our elected representatives have chosen to remain silent in the abyss. Do something! Right or wrong, it is better to do something than to perish in the throws of indecision.
Good commanders lead once the talking is over.
-- John M. O'Brien, Camarillo
Re: A. James Rudin's Nov. 20 commentary, "Hitler's dead, Holocaust is over: Let's leave it that way":
The recent commentary by Rabbi Rudin focuses a much-needed spotlight on our current emotionally charged political landscape.
I have lived through 12 presidents, three major wars, countless skirmishes, civil unrest, recessions and a near depression, booms and busts and bubbles and scams and can proudly say we survived them all because of this nation's indomitable spirit of good will and optimism.
Now, however, there is a vitriolic cancer that is spreading through our society, fueled by dogmatic, self-appointed vigilantes intent on tearing down our elected leaders.
These individuals, using the airways to spout their venomous diatribes, are intent on overturning a free and fair election that their side lost. They hope and pray our current president will fail.
In years past, we could always disagree and have spirited but civil debate over issues that divide us. Today such discourse is abandoned by the self-proclaimed heroes of mass media, whose quest for ratings ignores facts. Scare tactics replace honest analysis. The net is flooded with half-truths via blogs, tweets and e-mails, with little concern for accuracy.
We need to stop fueling this frenzy for blood and return to honest and civil discourse, free of the emotional charged symbols, such as those raised by Rudin. Surely, we are better than that.
-- Robert E. Dempster, Camarillo
There is a situation taking place right here in Ventura County that is so outrageous I find it difficult to believe. I'm talking about the sewer project presently being forced on El Rio homeowners -- without being voted on by the people!
Even though sewers have been on the agenda of this small town since the early 1960s, why are they being done 50 years later? Why now, during the worst economy in decades? Why now, when unemployment and the loss of homes continue to be at a record high? Why now, knowing that doing so will cause even more to lose their homes?
Although grants and a portion of allotted stimulus money will help, it was still decided that homeowners of El Rio, one of the lowest-income areas in the county, will be expected to bear most of the cost on their own! When all fees are added up, these people will end up paying minimally $15,000! It makes me and others I have spoken to believe that there must be an alternative motive to this plan.
Think about it! What easier way to obtain land from its previous owners than to make it unaffordable? Once sewers are installed, the land value of this area will far exceed the value of these small, 50-plus-year-old homes!
Residents need to speak up and voice their opinions against this terrible injustice! Letters and e-mails need to be sent to our local newspaper, to U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and even to our own President Barack Obama. I have already sent out letters and hope others will do the same, as folks in El Rio now pray for a miracle.
-- Pamela Limon, Thousand Oaks
I find it disturbing that the president of the Ventura teachers union refers to efforts by the Obama administration to improve education by evaluating students' test scores as "naïve."
The "Race to the Top" school reform grants are aimed at rewarding innovation in education, a goal routinely resisted by unions, which are more comfortable with the status quo and with protecting teachers from being assessed by the outcome of achievement tests.
Obviously it would be unfair and unwise to compare teachers to each other when they teach students of differing abilities.
I am fortunate to teach honors level students. Ideally, the Obama administration is not suggesting that I should be rewarded for their impressive scores, rather that I should be evaluated on how well they do on the state testing for my subject compared to how they have done in the past. This "value-added" formula means that students (and thus teachers) are compared to themselves, not each other, year after year. If my students in the past have scored in the top 15 percent on their previous social studies tests, it is perfectly reasonable that my principal should review their scores from my history class and determine if their scores meet or exceed their projected scores.
William Sanders, the statistician who has worked with this data, refers to this comparison as the "teacher effect." Educators must be willing to examine and evaluate how well or poorly our students understand the material we teach in some measurable way and to be held accountable for the results.
I am not pretending that I understand the econometrics behind gathering this type of data, but it is far from "naïve," and I am continually frustrated by the union's knee jerk reaction towards any attempts at reform using testing results.
-- Cherie Eulau, Ventura
(The writer is a teacher at Foothill Technology High School in Ventura. -- Editor)
Re: your Nov. 23 article, "Volunteers clean up Ormond drain":
This is a commendable community activist story. More than 60 community volunteers showed up on Nov. 22 to help clean out Oxnard's J Street drain.
Special compliments go to Jason Weiner, attorney for the Ventura Coastkeepers/Wishtoyo Foundation; Mati Waiya, Wishtoyo founder and Chumash ceremonial elder; Stan Haakes from the office of District 5 County Supervisor John Zaragoza; Sandy Warren, public affairs officer from the Ventura Regional Sanitation District; high school and college students and members of various community organizations, such as the Sierra Club, League of United Latin American Citizens and the Ormond Beach Wetlands Environmental Coalition.
Sixty volunteers in their work clothes and gloves and with pickup sticks, rakes, brooms and plenty of trash bags climbed down into the canals, helping with the dirty task of cleaning them up before the next rain floods the trash down into the Ormond Beach wetlands.
These praiseworthy actions, like the similar volunteer drain cleanout event in October, highlights the need for trash filter installations along the industrial drains and canals and bilingual "No Dumping" signs installed at traffic areas of the drains that run though Oxnard to trap tons of trash before it reaches the Ormond Beach wetlands and eventually the ocean.
It is high time we all start taking care of our environment.
-- Jim Hensley, Oxnard
(The writer is the deputy district director of the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Ormond Beach Wetlands Environmental Coalition. -- Editor)
Per Attorney General Jerry Brown, base salaries will be cut from Department of Personnel Administration. That's one of the most encouraging reports seen in a very long time. California government cutbacks are essential to gain public confidence and to balance the budget.
There are so many low-cost, logical and reasonable ways to add money to the California budget. We would agree to the plans if we knew for sure that the money was going directly to worthwhile causes such as education, public safety, facilities for the mentally ill, etc.
Of course no one wants to pay any taxes, let alone more taxes. Those who can afford to buy luxury items can help. Collect a 5 percent luxury levy on clothing and jewelry for dogs, buying a private airplane or yacht, jewelry, purchase of museum paintings and artifacts, purified water from a foreign county, cigars brought in from foreign countries, luxury passenger automobiles of $100,000 or more, designer coffee, etc.
Place a vanity assessment on elective surgery and procedures such as Botox treatments, facelifts, breast implants and tattoos.
There are people who really do want to improve our country. They do not veer off topic with criticisms of past taxation and government decisions. How can we make improvements to compete with other countries and increase competition within our own country? We know the problems, so let's work together for solutions. We provide better for our prisoners than we do for our own law-abiding citizens.
A vanity assessment and luxury levy would generate an amazing amount of money towards the education fund to provide accountable community gatekeepers to improve the schools, the educational system, the skills of our young people and residents of California and to improve our country.
-- MarSan Friedman, Thousand Oaks
If Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., can hold out her vote on healthcare and get $100 million to $300 million for her state, what were Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both D-Calif., doing following in lockstep to vote for a bill that 60 percent of the population does not want? They keep getting elected for reasons I do not comprehend, as neither of them does anything for this state.
-- Dave McDonald, Oak Park
I hope that Ventura County Supervisors Kathy Long and Steve Bennett call for the resignation of California Treasurer Bill Lockyer for being "unqualified." But I am sure that won't happen since Lockyer is a Democrat, as they are. I am sure they save their partisan antics for Ventura County.
Lockyer couldn't even run to be Ventura's treasurer under the proposed rule change, despite the fact that he oversees the management of more than $445 billion, the sale of bonds and 238 employees.
Long and Bennett are so hypocritical. Maybe we should establish some "qualifications" for them.
-- Kristina Gajkowski, Camarillo
It is so hypocritical that the Ventura County Board of Supervisors wants to change the rules on others once they themselves are already in office. As far as I can tell, Assemblywoman Audra Strickland is the only candidate in the race for county treasurer-tax collector. I don't know how the supervisors can claim, "This isn't about her." Who else would it be about? No one even considered changing the eligibility for this until The Star announced her intention to run. It's just disappointing to see our elected officials stoop so low.
-- Lisa Figgins, Camarillo
Raising student tuition to an unprecedented high level, as the UC Board of Regents is doing, is a regrettable policy blow to our state's economic future. Once more, middle-class Americans are called to burden our nation's economic mistakes. The $70,000 income-set base is not a reasonable income measure.
I cannot help but ask why the UC Board of Regents leaders did not call upon UC alumnae, parents of the students and students themselves to ask for active participation in actions needed to avoid this tragic mistake. One idea that might be worth consideration is moving toward an education financial policy that places spending priority on: first, students; second, professors and teachers; third, the classroom environment; and last on administration. Administrative costs are important; however, during these economic times, we need to focus on students and faculty.
Finally, there is something wrong with a system that spends more money on prisons than it does on education.
It seems like California needs a makeover. I, for one, have seen California rise to the occasion and succeed in needed changes. A constitutional conference to deal with the future of California seems likely.
-- Lupe Anguiano, Oxnard
Re: Steve Binder's Nov. 20 letter, "Kent State redux":
Let's start with the obvious that the picture never really tells the whole story. The weapons that were used in the pictures all appeared to be less-lethal -- beanbag and pepper ball guns, etc. These were not the same type of weapons used in the Kent State incident.
The protesters were all considered to be in an unlawful assembly, which is why the police were trying to get the students to disperse.
Binder's account of the unlawful assembly is so riddled with untruths and delusion of facts that it hardly exacts a response, but this type of commentary needs correcting.
True, it is our right as Americans to stand up and have your voice heard and to have that right protected under the First Amendment. But that right is null and void when you incite violence, threaten and/or deem an unlawful assembly.
Binder's account of the story is irresponsible and one-sided. Where was the commentary when the healthcare protesters lawfully assembled, and the likes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were shouting from the rooftops? Where was the outrage for free speech then? Why the double standards? The actions by those in Washington and elsewhere in our country were the biggest attack on free speech so far.
By and large, the healthcare protests pale in comparison with the recent college protests. Take, for instance, the taxpayer march in Washington, D.C., on September 12. The numbers were put in the hundreds of thousands, and there were no arrests.
So you see, you can voice your opinion peacefully and responsibly assemble in record numbers and not incite violence.
-- Kenneth Manzer, Camarillo
Re: your Nov. 20 article, "Fervor rises over UC fees":
This article led me to a "fervor" of my own. No, not over the high fees that students are being asked to pay, but over the fact that they are protesting at all. They don't know a good deal when they see it.
Our son, Dan Jr., graduated from an institution of higher learning -- the University of Oregon -- and, after toughing it out through five near-indigent years, he is still carrying a government loan with a balance of $53,000. Danny didn't complain. He knew he would be getting a degree in his chosen field, architecture, and was willing to pay the freight, even though he would end up in hock to Uncle Sam.
So what do these young students expect? Free tuition? Free books? Hey, nothing worth having is free. They should get a clue.
-- Dan Navarro, Ventura
Re: Nov. 19 letters by Lloyd Carter, "Health bill unaffordable," and William F. Klepper, "No mandates":
Two recent letters illustrate why the critics of healthcare reform have got it all wrong, and why at the end of the day they will lose.
First, Carter complains that "we cannot afford what they (the proponents of reform) are doing." Why is it that folks from upscale locales such as Westlake Village are always the ones who say we can't afford to help people who will likely never have the means of becoming their next-door neighbors? Yes, sir, we are our brother's keepers.
Frequent contributor Klepper helps himself to his own facts in attempting to equate the energy crisis to healthcare. The gas lines in the 1970s were not caused by "government mandated gas prices." They were the result of the OPEC nations' boycott of the United States. And besides, a healthcare mandate is necessary because when the uninsured get sick, we all pay for them anyway, and we pay much more than we would if they became part of a public option.
Both of these letters are representative of the core resistance to healthcare: myopic self-interest and deliberate misinformation. That is why the majority of Americans in every polling say they want healthcare reform with a robust public option that will increase competition, lower prices and give more Americans access to care that helps pay down the deficit. That is why healthcare will pass and the American people will long remember the folks who tried to keep affordable healthcare away from them for another generation.
-- Gary E. Murphy, Simi Valley
The not-so-subtle blitz is on for Obamacare.
A government panel recently recommended rationing of mammograms, though the panel studiously avoided the use of the word "rationing." Mammograms were deemed to be unnecessary and an avoidable expense for women under 50. Fortunately, the panel is not empowered to make it mandatory, but they got their propaganda out. Government cannot be allowed to get between a woman and her doctor.
Steve Croft, on the Nov. 22 edition of CBS' "60 Minutes," hosted a segment on "The Cost of Dying" that pushed hard for quickly ending the lives of the elderly while they are still relatively able, rather than incurring Medicare expenses for end-of-life health care. The doctor who was featured in the segment stated that typical hospital costs for the elderly in the last two months of their lives were a major part of Medicare expense and suggested the involuntary withholding of care for the terminally ill. The segment included a piece in which that doctor actually tried to persuade an elderly patient that his life was not worth living and that he should forego requested transplants. Certainly, a priority system may be indicated in the case of limited availability of organs for transplants, but can you spell "death panels?"
Please write or e-mail your senators, congressmen and the president and stop the Obamacare onslaught before it bankrupts the next two generations.
-- Bill Gourlay, Westlake Village
Re: Suzanne Kurges' Nov. 20 letter, "Choice matters":
Unwittingly, Kurges' opinion about choice pertaining to the proposed healthcare bill is an actual argument for it.
Wouldn't having the "option" to choose or not choose the public healthcare provision allay her fears about not having the freedom of choice? How does having a "public option" -- that is choice -- stop her from exploring other insurance plans? Has she been able to find affordable healthcare through the current insurance structure given her financial condition? If there were an affordable public option available, wouldn't it be to Kurges' benefit to evaluate it, especially in consideration of her three children? And if there were a way to avoid welfare because she had an affordable healthcare option, wouldn't that allow her to reconsider welfare?
Finally, allowing Americans to obtain affordable healthcare might teach her children three very significant lessons: social responsibility, fairness in competition and, most importantly, compassion.
-- Rodney K. Boswell, Thousand Oaks
I am the parent of college students attending the UC and the CSU systems. Last fall the tuition for these schools went up 10 percent, then a few months later another 10 percent, and a few months after that 32 percent.
I asked my students about the mood brewing on their respective campuses. They reported a feeling of hopelessness amongst the students about their ability to fight back and have a say in the process.
Then I asked them if the students on campus who define themselves as liberal or Democrat understood the consequences of their voting in state elections. I was told that the students on campus were "unable to connect the dots" -- that voting to stop oil drilling, no new refineries, no nuclear energy, save the bay, save the fish, give to each and every cause and spend too many tax dollars on protected state union workers has finally broken the bank and there is nothing left for education.
That is the state excuse, but if you are over 40, you know that the government taxes the unrepresented first. When there were no protests after the first tuition hike, the state decided to just push increases as far as they could. Students have no union or lobbyists to represent their interests.
I then asked if these students find it ironic that state union employees (police) with legislative representation were figuratively and literally holding guns to their heads. The reply was that the liberal students just keep repeating the talking point mantra, "It is all Bush's fault."
With college professors indoctrinating generations of college students to be liberals, their salaries and benefits are assured protection for long into the future. And the financial mess we are in will never go away.
-- Stephen Sage, Simi Valley
Re: Ruben Navarrette's Nov. 18 commentary, "Lou Dobbs and his race issues":
As numerous other editorial submissions herein have previously indicated, the ongoing columns by Navarrette are simply insufferable and unbearable. His latest disparagement of Lou Dobbs, who recently retired his position at CNN after 30 years, was certainly no exception.
While I enjoy reading opposing opinions relative to topical political subject matter, Navarrette has unequivocally run the gamut in virtually every manner possible promoting his pro-illegal immigration agenda, and it's definitely time for The Star to move on to greener pastures and give readers a break. Enough of this guy already!
His regular hyberbole, diatribes of completely distorted facts and outright prevaricated nonsense always appears replete with the same old stale messages regarding pro-amnesty. He neglects to even acknowledge that they broke the law from day one, and he uses the preposterous euphemism "undocumented" instead of "illegal" in a feeble attempt to divert attention from the truth.
Contrary to Navarrette's latest propagandist pontification, the vast majority of Americans adamantly oppose illegal immigration, and we're not so naive to think that they come here to "sell oranges on street corners."
-- Mark Higgins, Ventura
Re: Nov. 20 letters "Kent State redux" by Steve Binder, "Guns not justified" by Mark Hancock and "Are we in China" by Jeff Cowan":
How can these writers look at a single picture in the newspaper and come up with such ignorant letters?
I would like to point out that the law enforcement officers in the picture are pointing "less-lethal" weapons at the public disruptors in an attempt to gain their cooperation. Obviously, other attempts to talk to them failed, and force needed to be escalated.
These less-lethal weapons are far different than those M-16s used at Kent State in 1970, so let's not confuse the two situations. And no, this is not China; they have their own struggles.
The American public has the right to peacefully protest. What a great nation we have to allow us to do that! But when does a peaceful protest become a public disturbance? And when did they write in the Constitution that it was OK to ignore the law enforcement officials that we hire to protect and serve us? When did it become OK to disturb the peace or disrupt a meeting? And why do these writers assume that the public disruptors have more rights than the rest of the citizens of California?
-- Dave Willard, Simi Valley
I think it says a lot that the politicians who run this country are going to turn the healthcare system on its head for the user and consumer of health insurance, but they're not going to turn the healthcare system on its head for the lawyers.
Why is that?
We cannot have healthcare reform without lawsuit reform. And the truth is we can't afford it anyway.
And another thing: Has anybody in "journalism" figured out that the government panel that wants to change breast cancer tests for those over 50 instead of 40 made its decision because the government is about to take over the healthcare system and this how they're going to save money?
If you can't see healthcare rationing coming, then you're off in dreamland.
-- David St. Clair, Moorpark
Re: your Nov. 16 article, "Skills for treasurer candidates considered":
I find it amusing that a public employee is concerned about public employee qualifications. What are the qualifications to be a supervisor, a state representative or senator? How about a governor?
Take a look at the federal level. What are the qualifications to hold a federal office? Who is going to determine the state or federal job requirements? What are the qualifications to produce a job description? The only public job qualification I know of is a solid handshake, a great smile and promise everyone everything.
What would you do when local candidates receive a vast majority of the cast votes with absolutely no qualifications for the job? Send them to Sacramento? If it is determined they are overqualified for Sacramento would you send them to Washington, D.C.? It happened.
All elected personnel take an "oath of office." An individual who violates their oath of office or any element of that oath should be automatically impeached and not permitted to hold any future public position.
-- Robert P. Charlton, Thousand Oaks
Being 18 myself, I can certainly understand how exciting any important community title can be. But simply being over 18 and registered to vote does not nearly qualify one to be a good public servant. There are so many other important considerations that do not merely appear on your 18th birthday. Things like experience, community support, ability, and trustworthiness are achievements marked by constant service and dedication to the community. These traits are important for all of our elected officials.
Let the voters decide who best represents their values, and Ventura County's voters will ably select the best folks for all county positions.
-- Nancy Calderone, Simi Valley
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors needs to leave the power in the hands of voters. Voters should decide who can best represent them. Recent comments by Supervisor Kathy Long suggest that five people in the county know better than the 420,000 registered voters. Ventura County voters are well-educated and can distinguish between candidates and their qualifications. Do not take away another opportunity for local control.
-- Claira Guerra, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Nov. 16 article, "Skills for treasurer candidates considered":
My mom used to say that those in glass houses should not throw stones. I don't see how Supervisor Kathy Long can assert that such a limited number of individuals should be allowed to serve as treasurer-tax collector. Taking a few undergrad classes 40 years ago no more qualifies you to be a treasurer-tax collector of Ventura County than being an administrative assistant makes you qualified to be a county supervisor. I would argue that important characteristics like integrity, a strong work ethic, experience, common sense and a drive to learn are key traits that I look for in a public servant. No amount of schooling can teach character.
-- Matt Hewitt, Westlake Village
I awakened on a recent morning thinking: What if Dennis Kucinich had won the Democratic nomination in 2004 and had gone on to beat George Bush in the general election? Think of all the American soldiers who wouldn't have been brought home in body bags, with their bodies mangled or brains scrambled. Let's not even think of all the innocent civilians of Iraq and Afghanistan.
We probably would be on the way to solving the problems of climate change and environmental degradation and doing a better job of helping our fellow man and woman. What a difference it would make if we had leaders who put human welfare over corporate welfare.
But many of you readers are saying, "Why waste your time even thinking of something that could never happen?" But I say to you, it could very well happen, if we have a real genuine political democracy in our country. By that I mean national legislation on ranked voting and real debates in which all candidates participate on an equal basis and no subject is off the table.
Last but not least is controlling the effect of money in the elections by passing the California Fair Elections Campaign Act, which will be on the June 2010 ballot.
Please, everyone, get on board. The vultures that are destroying our country will move on when there is nothing more for them to destroy.
-- Bob Holtz, Camarillo
Re: your Nov. 16 article, "Skills for treasurer candidates considered":
In response to The Star's lead story earlier this week regarding potential adoption of standards for the county treasurer position, please allow me to voice my and many others' nonpartisan opinion to simply let the electorate evaluate the qualifications of the candidates and let our democracy work.
The stated plan by Supervisor Kathy Long to specifically exclude some from the field of potential candidates for the treasurer-tax collector's race appears as an abuse of her power and is definitely an affront to Ventura County's voters. Specifically, to raise this issue after ignoring the state's 1996 recommendation for experience requirements for over 13 years until Assemblywoman Audra Strickland's prominent mention and photograph in The Star's front-page article, Long's action appears to be another example of biased political manipulation to withhold from the people of the Ventura County to elect its considered preference.
Long's recent proposal brings to mind a few questions:
-- Why does she, or for that matter, anyone else on the county board unilaterally believe that their individual viewpoint is definitively superior to permitting the unlimited choice of the people?
-- Why have our elected supervisors delayed implementing the state's 1996 recommendation for these minimum qualifications for over 13 years until a current Republican Assembly member becomes a prominent candidate? The timing of this proposed action appears to label locally elected Long as one who places divisive partisan politics ahead of allowing the Ventura County people to independently select from an open field.
-- Finally, does she consider her judgment for the requirements of this position to be superior and to view the rest of us as "less enlightened" or "uninformed" folks? The next thing we may discover is that Long desires to make that position an appointed one rather than an elected one so that these people can all be selected from her political "puppets" instead of accountable to and responsible to the voters of Ventura County.
-- Paul Heron, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 16 article, "Skills for treasurer candidates considered":
Is Kathy Long seriously questioning the qualifications for the treasurer-tax collector position? Under her plan, the treasurer for the entire state of California would not be qualified to run as Ventura County's treasurer, and the state treasurer manages billions and billions of dollars, oversees hundreds of employees and has way more complicated and numerous tasks associated with his position.
Has anyone thought to ask what qualifications there are to be on the Board of Supervisors -- at least 18 years old and a registered voter? I find the hypocrisy baffling.
-- Tony Lamb, Ventura
The intellectual elite are spending far too much time analyzing Sarah Palin. Don't they get it? She is smart, sexy and sassy. Would I vote for her if she were to seek national office? You betcha!
-- Georgene Boyd, Camarillo
Re: your Nov. 19 article, "Students put up fight":
On the front page there is a picture of students protesting the 32 percent increase in enrollment fees to go to our state colleges. What really disturbed me was the picture of the police that surrounded them, pointing their rifles at the students with their fingers on the hair-triggers.
It couldn't help but remind me of the horrible Kent State massacre in 1970, where students protesting the Vietnam War were fired on by the Ohio National Guard, leaving four students dead and nine wounded. To this day the image is burned into my memory.
Isn't it all of our rights as Americans to protest when we feel the need to be heard by our fellow citizens without being threatened with weapons by our own law officers who are supposed to protect us and protect our rights of freedom of speech?
One protest sign a student was carrying caught my attention as well. It says it all: "California ... #1 in Prison Spending, #48 in Education."
-- Steve Binder, Oxnard
Re: your Nov. 19 article, "Leggo my Eggo! Kellogg fights waffle shortage":
In these tumultuous times of political unrest, rising taxes, college and university tuition increases and more crime than is imaginable comes the terrible news that the Kellogg Company, manufacturers of a variety of cereals and other products, has announced that their popular Eggo frozen waffles are not going to be feeding thousands (millions?) of hungry waffle lovers until next summer due to production problems in the plants that make the tasty items.
I have a solution for those who enjoy these warm, delicious smelling creations: Make them yourself! Fairly inexpensive waffle makers are available in stores, and occasionally you can find one at a garage sale or in a thrift store. Maybe even grannies who no longer putter in their kitchens have one stored away in a box in the attic.
And, if you don't want to spend the time making waffle batter from scratch (a very easy recipe I might add), purchase a bag or box of pancake/waffle mix at your local grocery store. The time involved in mixing the batter and cooking the waffles is not a long process, and your family will enjoy the wonderful aroma wafting through your homes! I make these delicious creations regularly and freeze them for future use. Try it! Your family will love you, hungry children won't have their waffles rationed and Eggo lovers everywhere will be able to pocket the money for some other treat! Better yet, put the extra "dough" in a piggy bank!
-- Jean McGuire, Somis
Re: your Nov. 19 article, "Students put up fight":
I am both appalled and disturbed by the front-page picture as it appears in our favorite newspaper of an armed law enforcement officer pointing a (loaded?) shotgun at unarmed students. Is something wrong with these students expressing their constitutional rights? Maybe I'm color-blind -- were the officers' uniforms black or brown? Then again, maybe this picture was actually taken in China. Or is this a bellwether to the much-touted New Order?
-- Jeff Cowan, Santa Paula
Re: your Nov. 19 article, "Students put up fight":
I am shocked at the front-page photo of the police pointing weapons at the students protesting the fee increases at the University of California. Who authorized this?
The article accompanying the photo made no mention of the students having knives or firearms. The students were apparently disrupting a meeting and refusing to quiet down or leave, so the questions are: Why was this different from a student protest in the 1960s or 1970s, and why didn't the police, after asking the students to either quiet down or leave, simply take them outside -- obviously using force if they had to -- or handcuff and arrest them?
I have it heard it said that you shouldn't pull a weapon unless you intend to use it, the heavy inference being that, if the situation doesn't already require deadly force, showing the weapon will quickly escalate the situation to that point. Were the police really ready to use armed force against UC students, who are some of the best and brightest, for protesting?
Guns in holsters are intimidation enough. What this photo speaks to me is a government body raising taxes and prepared to shoot people protesting those taxes. Is this government by consent, or government by force? Taking the guns out in a situation like this removes the veneer of freedom and should be protested. Are we a free people?
-- Mark Hancock, Ventura
The voters of California voted last year to support a $10 billion bond for high-speed rail. Now I read the governor is proposing another $10 billion bond for water projects. I see this as ironic in that the bond requests are for the identical amount!
I propose we unvote the high-speed rail bond in favor of the water bond. We can't afford both, and I would prefer to have sufficient water than maybe, someday, ride a pie-in-the-sky high-speed train from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Both projects are job creators, but only the water issue is of critical need!
The high-speed train will never be self-supporting, so the $10 billion is just to construct. I hate to even think how much California's matching funds will need to be to keep this fiasco running.
The old boater's saying goes, "A boat is a hole in the water that you pour money into." This high-speed rail is the boat, and the hole is where every resident in California will be pouring money.
Let's tell Sacramento that they have their choice: critical water infrastructure work or a money-draining train boondoggle. We can't afford both, and California can't keep buying a new Cadillac every year on borrowed money.
-- Mike Bell, La Conchita
I am glad that Assemblywoman Audra Strickland has decided to run for Ventura County treasurer-tax collector. She is one of the few legislators in Sacramento who is consistently looking out for the taxpayer. She has been a champion of eliminating waste in government and ensuring that the state lives within its means. We need Audra's known experience and expertise in this important county office.
-- Debby Heron, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 16 editorial, "Five returning to NYC for trial":
The Star's editorial hailing the Obama administration's decision to hold the trial of the five captive terrorists who are allegedly key players in the Sept. 11, 1991, attacks in New York's federal courts is an extremely narrow view.
These men were part of the planning and implementation of an attack on the United States as part of "the Jihad," or war, on the capitalist infidels around the world.
This was an act of war on America and its citizens, and these radical "soldiers of Islam" should be tried by a military tribunal at a military installation.
Not mentioned in the editorial is the secondary attack on the Pentagon, which caused additional deaths, and the third hijacked strike plane, which had either the U.S. Capitol or the White House as a target if not stopped in Pennsylvania by brave and heroic passengers on board.
The editorial went on to say, "This is a chance to showcase to the world its openness and fairness." Let's be real. These prisoners could be tried at Disneyland, and the Muslim world would still hate America and its people.
These types of actions by our present administration lead our enemies to think that we are soft and open to more attacks. They are at war with us on a daily basis and continue to kill our people in uniform as well as their own people. The recent killings at Fort Hood were carried out by a Muslim man yelling, "Allah Akbahr" (God is great) as he shot and killed or wounded many Americans on a military base. If Americans had perpetrated these attacks in, say, Iran or Pakistan, they would have had their heads cut off by a saber years ago, with no trial of any kind.
In talking to many of my friends about this decision, we all feel that about all this federal trial in New York will do is give our enemies around the globe another open forum to bash America. It will also reopen deep wounds of those who survived or lost loved ones in the well-coordinated attacks. They have suffered enough.
America does not have to prove to anyone, anywhere, that we have a fair and just judicial system. These five prisoners are soldiers of our avowed enemy and should be treated as such and tried in a military court based on the Uniform Code of Military Justice -- a fair military trial without the hyperbole the New York setting will surely incite.
-- Ron Busick, Camarillo
Audra Strickland is a known and proven tax-fighter and public servant. I trust her to be a wonderful steward of our tax dollars and wholeheartedly support her run for the Ventura County treasurer-tax collector position.
-- Tressa Golden, Ventura
Just a couple of random thoughts on healthcare endorsements:
The healthcare proponents state that the American Medical Association has endorsed Obamacare. Only 17 percent of medical doctors belong to the AMA.
Another endorsement comes from the AARP. The members don't vote on endorsements. The head of AARP was a major contributor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, plus the AARP is in line to make a lot of money offering "gap" insurance, which will come about if the healthcare bill is passed.
-- Dave McDonald, Oak Park
Kudos to our Ventura County obstetricians/gynecologists and pediatricians who are screening new mothers for postpartum depression. About one in seven new mothers suffers from clinical depression. When identified through screening in the doctor's office, they can immediately be referred for help and usually recover quickly. When not identified, about 40 percent are still depressed one year later. "Early intervention" is important not only for teens and young adults, it's vital for new mothers as well.
-- Ronald Soderquist, Ph.D., Thousand Oaks
Re: your Nov. 16 article, "Gifted and ignored":
With the cuts in Gifted And Talented Education funding and No Child Left Behind's pressure to focus on below-proficiency students, the unfortunate reality is that parents of gifted students cannot realistically expect that schools will meet their children's needs.
Fortunately, there are many options to help parents provide appropriate challenges for these students outside of school, including on-line learning programs, Web sites, DVD programs, university-run math circles, math competitions, young writer's workshops, mentors, gifted summer programs and more.
If parents take the initiative, they can help their gifted children develop their full potential regardless of what is -- or isn't -- happening in school.
-- Susan Goodkin, Ventura
(The writer is executive director of the California Learning Strategies Center. -- Editor)
In my daily travels along Adohr Lane to Pancho Road, I travel alongside open fields of vegetables, and fruits. It's a wonderful sight to see such expert farming. I also know and realize farming is not an easy life. But alongside the road is an open ditch that flows considerable water into the river from runoff as the fields are watered.
It seems almost weekly I get letters telling me of severe shortages of water, how to cut back or even take lawns out of service, etc, to help in this shortage. Then I see this large amount of water running daily. It makes one wonder what is going on.
Farmers are at the mercy of nature and have to rely on pumping water from the underground wells and need overhead sprinklers to feed their products. I truly admire farmers for their tenacity and hard work. However, is there not a way to keep or dam up this water and return it to the fields again?
-- John Adams, Camarillo
Re: your Nov. 11 article, "Fillmore board rejects plan for charter school in Piru":
I am writing concerning the Fillmore Unified School District Board of Education's recent decision to deny the Piru Charter School petition.
For me, this decision was a simple one for the following reasons:
-- The lead petitioners failed to involve the Piru community in the process. The standing-room-only crowd that overwhelmingly opposed the charter that night made a huge impact on everyone that attended. It was glaringly obvious that the petitioners did not involve more than just a few parents; they didn't involve Piru staff other than the petitioners; and they didn't involve the wider community of Piru. In short, they totally misunderstood one of the necessary ingredients for charter success: You need community buy-in.
-- The lead petitioners failed to see the impact of the charter on the Fillmore and Piru school community. I do not doubt that had the school board approved the charter as written, it would have caused a cascade of staff bumping throughout the school district, with the end result that some excellent staff would have lost their jobs. During both meetings, several FUSD employees addressed this serious issue. Unfortunately, the petitioners showed complete indifference to this very real effect.
-- The petition itself did not bring anything new to the Piru School or community. One petition supporter complained, saying, "When are we going to start talking about all the great things this charter school is going to do?" Well, the board gave them all the time they wanted to make a convincing argument about those great things at the Oct. 21 meeting. We also gave them unlimited time to counter the problems identified by Superintendent Jeff Sweeney in his recommendation to the board at the Nov. 9 meeting. Yet they could not articulate any of these "great things" to any board member well enough to get even one vote.
I could have voted for a well-thought-out, innovative charter petition. This one was neither.
-- John Garnica, Fillmore
(The writer is president of the Fillmore Unified School District Board of Education. -- Editor)
Re: your Nov. 14 article, "9/11 suspects to be tried in Manhattan court":
Surely any defense attorney worth his salt would argue for a change of venue on behalf of his client. And just how is trial by a jury of "peers" supposed to work?
-- Mike Merewether, Ventura
The office of the president is mostly vacant. The president is still on the campaign trail, not competent by training or experience to be a manager. He appears to be running from responsibility and critical management decisions.
While he's out apologizing and denigrating America to the other world leaders, he allows America to be hijacked by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, consultant David Axelrod and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who are accelerating our economy into bankruptcy. His and their priorities are all wrong. Who is looking out for our war fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan? That should be America's first priority, i.e., protecting those who volunteered to protect the rest of us.
The president is considering moving the terrorists from Guantanamo to a maximum security prison in the Midwest. The locals claim it will create 3,000 jobs, financed by the stimulus bailout -- more taxpayer debt. Why? The Marines at Gitmo are already in place and on the payroll. Ridiculous.
The president's appointee, Attorney General Eric Holder, is sending some of the 9/11 terrorists to New York City for a trial in civil court. This is not a criminal event. It's not like committing murder during a bank robbery. It's a terrorist event that demands a military tribunal and a firing squad if they are convicted.
-- Bill Gourlay, Westlake Village
Re: Dan Walters' Nov. 16 commentary, "Pensions need reforming," and Rob Feckner's Nov. 13 commentary, "Government pension myths and realities":
Walters writes a blasé hit piece on the California Public Employees' Retirement System, which serves more than 1.6 million active and retired California state and local government and public school employees.
Walters states that CalPERS has a multitude of investment woes. He also states that the CalPERS board is "controlled" by union members, who are promoting a plan that will have CalPERS make up its investment losses over a 30-year period. He then goes on to say that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says, "By deferring pension contributions CalPERS would not only be gambling that its investment earnings in this economy will grow faster than its pension obligations but would also be using our kids' money to do so because they will be the ones stuck footing the bill." He quotes a person who wanted to raid the California Lottery money to help him balance the budget.
Walters also says that the CalPERS investment earnings rate of 7.75 percent is too optimistic.
Last Friday in The Star there was an article by Rob Feckner, president of the CalPERS board of administration. In the article, Feckner states that CalPERS has weathered many recessions in its 77-year history. CalPERS survived the 1987 stock market crash, the 1990 recession, and during the 2001 recession, it lost $50 billion on paper but rebounded with a gain of $120 billion over the next four years.
"Even with last year's investment decline," he writes, "we have met our target long-term average annual investment return of 7.75 percent over the past 20 years -- the amount needed to fund our long-term retirement obligations. We have also regained $40 billion in the last few months, and our assets have returned above the $200 billion level."
Many states, cities, counties and businesses would love to have an investment return of 7.75 percent at this time, wouldn't you?
So, let me ask, whom should we believe about the financial position of CalPERS? A columnist who revels in producing fear and loathing pieces to perhaps make a dubious name for himself? Or just maybe we should rely on the truth of the matter as told by a ranking administrator of CalPERS, ya think?
-- Rellis Smith, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 16 editorial, "Five returning to NYC for trial":
The ACLU is celebrating the Obama administration's decision to bring enemy soldiers to New York in order to try them in civilian courts with all the rights of American citizens. The Star agrees. The Star says we should have "faith in our criminal justice system." I do not. I remember the O.J. Simpson trial.
This decision does nothing to help America and is a slap in the face of the victims' families. It will be the stage for the long sought-after trial of the Bush administration. These enemy soldiers should have already been tried in a military tribunal, convicted and sentence carried out.
-- Mike Kohl, Simi Valley
Thank you to the Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village libraries for selecting "The Soloist" for their "One City, One Book" program. Judging by the number of people who came to hear author Steve Lopez on Saturday at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, it spoke volumes on how much of an impact and impression this true story has made on us. By selecting this book, the libraries have opened our eyes and our minds.
Lopez turned out to be an entertaining and excellent speaker. He told us about his first encounter with Nathaniel Ayers and the positive influence that their relationship has had upon each other. His talk was truly inspiring and has made us acutely aware of the issues of mental illness, homelessness and the redemptive power of music. He has succeeded in educating our community about stigma, compassion, altruism and a call for action.
Thanks to our library, Steve Lopez and "The Soloist," I hope this will wake us all up to the stories in our own homes and on our streets.
-- Anjali Sippy, Oak Park
(The writer is a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Ventura County.)
So according to the healthcare bill that is currently being reviewed in the Senate, you will face prison time if you don't currently have insurance and don't buy the coverage the government will offer you. The irony is that you will get healthcare provided to you if you are in the prison system!
That should work out really well, since prisoners are being released because of budget cuts anyway. Brilliant!
-- Bob Lucey, Ventura
On Saturday night I was privileged to participate in the award ceremony of the 25th Annual Band Competition held at Oxnard High School. I was invited to this because I was the committee chairman for the first competition held here in 1985.
I hope my participation honored the many caring Band Boosters who started this event with me, and the hundreds -- maybe thousands by now -- of Band Boosters who continued to support the event over the years.
The band competition brings hundreds of talented, hard-working student musicians and performers to Oxnard every year. Thank you to Band Director Fundi Legohn, the Oxnard Marching Band and the Band Boosters for "Keepin' the Music Alive!"
-- Bill Conroy, Oxnard
Re: Colleen Cason's Nov. 15 Cason Point, "Different war theater, yet same senseless follies":
What does the "conference on the cold war" at the Reagan Library have to do with the Korean War, Vietnam War, Afghan War or the two Iraqi Wars?
President Ronald Reagan's motto was "peace through strength," not self-serving wars. He rebuilt the weakened Department of Defense "left on the roadside" by an incompetent Jimmy Carter.
Reagan did not destroy Nagasaki and Hiroshima and burn 250,000 Japanese citizens (see Harry S. Truman). He did not start the Korean War (see Truman again). He did not start the Vietnam War (see John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson). He didn't launch the two "Big Oil Company" wars in Iraq or the Afghani War (see George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney).
Reagan did not destroy 100,000 North African citizens when he went after Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan leader who supported Arab terrorism. Most importantly, he did not start a new World War III with the Russians.
Most American adults already know our history. Sure, it would be nice if President Barack Obama could bring our troops home. Newspaper editorials aren't going to change Washington policies. Congress might listen if 200 million people write and complain to Congress and the White House about these wars.
-- Tom Novinson, Ventura
Re: Michael Jamison's Nov. 12 commentary, "Closed-door agenda":
As usual, those who preach no to a competitive government healthcare system never talk about the current corrupt healthcare system that is a monopoly, that can and does charge amounts way above normal and that expects price increases of 480 percent over 10 years with no future controls or oversight.
This system can stop paying your sickness care when one's condition costs them too much. It can force many patients into bankruptcy, which has been documented in courts. And it does not insure Americans who have pre-existing conditions, regardless of its origin.
Additionally, more and more small business employers have dropped medical coverage benefits due to rate increases or raised employee deductibles because their carriers increased their costs. This is what no competition allows.
These companies also contribute lots of money to our representatives, some of which may be considered unlawful. They do lots of advertising, with the profits paid by their customers.
The objectors want and demand to keep their system, even if it is uncaring, especially toward middle Americans, a class that has been abused by our representatives in the previous administration. This system must be changed for the present system. Why?
Let's look at other complaints: It will cost too much, the Medicare system will go broke, we will be forced to use only particular doctors and eventually we will all move over to the government system. There's not a fact in place here, only speculation of potential problems that are solvable.
First of all, this new system is supposed to be competitive, meaning it will keep costs down. Is this the American way of doing business, and does not history tell us that competition is good?
In addition to that, they talk about the possible disaster problems. Just look at how their laissez-faire business methods caused the worst subprime failure, which began in the days of President George H.W. Bush and was called the savings-and-loan bailout. Now the number of people uninsured under the existing system is increasing moment by moment, causing more bankruptcies and more deaths.
The present system is the cause of the U.S. being the only major country in the world that does not have affordable universal healthcare for its citizens. Why? Because of its present cost practices.
This system has no identification, shows no cost controls, offers no universal healthcare, has no open system for doctor selection, and has no protection from cancellation. Why bother?
-- Leonard Weber, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 16 editorial, "Five returning to NYC for trial":
In a well-argued editorial on trying 9/11 terrorists in Federal Court, The Star's Editorial Board uses an idea that's only slightly problematic here, but which I'll cite because it's often used in ways that are self-defeating.
The editorial refers to "the senseless loss of nearly 3,000 innocent lives" on 9/11, which is fine in the editorial but unfortunately fits into the custom of talking loosely about "senseless violence."
With terrorism, violence is especially evil, but usually rational. It looks senseless when seen from outside and through world-views radically different from those of terrorists; and one of the things decent people have to do is work through those different world-views.
Try "red-teaming" it, thinking in the frameworks of one's enemies. If "your" goal is to stop a peace conference, machine-gunning a busload of children -- I'm not just making up this example -- is an effective means to that end. Murdering children is monstrously evil, which can make it all the more effective: For stopping talk of peace, it makes political sense.
The 9/11 attacks spread terror, got the U.S. invading Muslim countries (while getting many "infidel" U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia), and helped destabilize the American economy. They were effective.
If your goal is to bring down "the Great Satan," killing Americans makes sense, and that they are civilians is part of the traditional strategy of terrorism.
It's good not to throw around words like "evil," but the word "evil" is necessary. Actions can be rational -- and evil.
-- Richard D. Erlich, Port Hueneme
So, our commander-in-chief has taken the wraps off his no-longer-hidden agenda. He's out of the country at present, so he must have figured that it was safe to have his attorney general announce the news that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on America, plus four other co-conspirators will stand civilian trial in New York City.
What a travesty!
Either President Barack Obama is totally ignorant of the danger to the country of disclosing to all the world our national defense information, or he wants to weaken our defenses even more than he has already.
The co-conspirators already have said they have no defense, so the only defendant will be the United States! It will be al-Qaida vs. the U.S., and it will result in revealing all of our interrogation techniques, claims of "secret prisons," so-called torture (like waterboarding), etc.
Can you imagine the O.J. Simpson-style defense that will occur? And it could, depending on the degree of leftist-leaning of the judge, even be thrown out of court altogether, and Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder could then blame it all on the judge!
This would be an unprecedented use of a civilian court for an obvious military crime, and it should not stand! They are not U.S. citizens, and they should not receive any of the rights thereof. It will only result in the enemy we are currently fighting in the war on terror having one more tool in their toolbag, making them that much more efficient in their fight to kill us.
Where is the likes of President Ronald Reagan when we need him? God bless America!
-- Burt Smith, Camarillo
Re: Michael Jamison's Nov. 12 commentary, "Closed-door agenda":
Jamison's revelation of secret meetings to plot the overthrow of American healthcare makes no sense -- not in the recounting; not in the plan alleged.
Although Jamison doesn't tell us who attended the meetings, when and where they were held or who enforces the conspiracy of silence, he does relate in great detail the plans that were adopted. He even reveals the thoughts of those masters of the universe as they developed their step-by-step program. They "believe it will fail again if there is full disclosure," hence the secrecy, which Jamison has somehow penetrated and is now exposing for our benefit.
If a patient visited Jamison in his professional capacity and told a tale of secret meetings by powerful figures intent on destroying America -- even explaining what was in their minds at the time -- but was unable to provide evidence of the plot beyond the tale itself, my guess is that the patient would be referred to a mental health professional for follow-up sessions.
Additionally, the alleged plan itself makes no sense. The capstone event in Jamison's tale unfolds when Medicare is maneuvered into bankruptcy. When that happens, the government healthcare option will ride in "like a white knight" and save Medicare recipients who will "relinquish their Medicare contracts and join the now single-payer government healthcare plan." Where's the change? Prior to forced bankruptcy, white knights , and manipulated decisions, Medicare already stands as a single-payer government healthcare plan.
All that plotting, maneuvering and covert activity in order to force Medicare recipients into a plan that's identical, in Jamison's pivotal characteristics, to the one they already have? If the masters of the universe are holding closed-door meetings to devise a program for forcing individuals to move from Point A all the way to Point A again, we should be grateful they are wasting their time on such silliness.
-- Rick Scott, Ventura
Republicans are always preaching to black folk that they should scuttle the mentality or cloak of "victimhood," to take responsibility and quit playing the role of "victim" to excuse a dysfunctional lifestyle. And yet Sarah Palin was a victim of a liberal media witch hunt. Racist Republicans are victims of a forced climate of political correctness. Republicans are victims of reverse discrimination. Republicans are victims of affirmative action. Republicans are victims of a progressive push for a "socialist one-world government." Evangelical Republicans are victims of a "war on Christmas." Rural Republicans are victims of eco-frauds and environmental laws. Republicans are economic victims of lax immigration policies. Republicans are victims of diminishing gun rights. Republicans are victims of high taxes. And Republicans are victims of future terrorist attacks caused by former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.
-- Ethan Orloff, Simi Valley
Re: your Oct. 16 article, "Landfill proposal prompts concerns":
I appreciate The Star's recent articles regarding the proposed expansion of the Simi Valley Landfill. This is an important issue that not only affects Simi Valley, but also the reputation and environment of Ventura County in general.
As The Star reported, the expansion would triple the landfill's capacity, double the disposable trash intake to 6,000 tons per day and nearly double the number of daily truck trips to 892. It would become one of the largest landfills in Southern California.
This expansion is not being done to support Ventura County's needs, but rather to divert trash from Los Angeles County. According to the draft environmental impact report, the most likely driver of increased trash volume is the scheduled closure of the Puente Hills landfill near Whittier. Puente Hills is the largest landfill in the U.S.
I toured the Simi landfill during its recent open house. Waste Management is doing an admirable job of operating the facility and mitigating its impacts. But despite their efficient operations, this is still a massive expansion that is unnecessary to support Simi Valley and Ventura County. We should not risk the increased odors, traffic and hillside destruction to help Los Angeles.
An online petition is available for those who oppose the expansion. It is at www.ipetitions.com/petition/simivalleylandfill. More than 120 residents have signed it so far, voicing their opposition to letting Los Angeles County dump its trash in our county.
-- Scott Ranelletti, Simi Valley
It gets a little old reading and hearing about the fears, anxieties and the violation of the sensibilities of the Muslim community. If they seek understanding and compassion from the Christian/Judea segment of this nation, they, the American Muslim community, should rise in unison and condemn radical elements in their religion and condemn jihadism, which has murdered hundreds of thousands of their fellow Muslims throughout the world.
Only when they take a stand to condemn these murderous ideologists who seek the destruction of this country will they gain the respect they so desperately seek from a country where they chose to live. The reason they chose to live in this country is because they could not find peace and security in their own homeland. They came to this country for the same reason the pilgrims came here hundreds of years ago -- to seek freedom from religious persecution.
They should stop complaining and do something about it.
-- Chris Biller, Moorpark
Being a single mom of three, I struggle daily with expenses. However, the healthcare bill will not help me. I feel that the benefit of being American and living in America is the freedom of choice. If this bill is passed, then my choice no longer matters. I may as well give up and join the welfare ranks. What lesson does that teach my children?
-- Suzanne Kurges, Thousand Oaks
Re: Dan K. Thomasson's Nov. 14 commentary, "When medical costs hit home":
First, I extend my sympathies on his daughter's illness. With a wife in a nursing home, I can well imagine his feelings.
But -- and this is what bothers me -- why did a man in his position not know of the extreme cost of pharmaceuticals? I would hope that with all the controversy in the years and months past, he, as a newspaper person, would have full knowledge of these costs.
In addition, in his conversation with the congressman -- why no name? -- who also seemed stunned at the cost, why did Thomasson not challenge him on his answer? Why not ask him about the huge profits, few new medicines, or why stockholder demands preempt healthcare?
We depend on newspapers to challenge our representatives when they have the chance. We, as citizens, have little chance to meet our representatives and must rely on letters or e-mails.
With Thomasson's background as an editor, the challenge should have been obvious, but he failed us.
-- Fred Hall, Simi Valley
Re: Ann McFeatters' Nov. 16 commentary, "An Obama summit in the works":
The fact that attendees at a White House job summit would include CEOs and small business owners makes a great deal of sense. Adding nonprofit organizations, economists and financial experts does not make sense. Just consider the following:
-- Nonprofit: The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now? And locally, Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources?
-- Economists: AIG, Bank of America, the Federal Reserve, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
-- Financial experts: U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.?
Now, do you get the picture?
-- William "Bill" Hicks, Newbury Park
I think it is past time America woke up. This healthcare bill that has passed in the House is one of the worst pieces of legislation in our 233-year history. Congress is like Nero while Rome was burning. They are fiddling with our economy and our freedoms while the country is rapidly losing viability. Why don't they understand we cannot afford what they are doing?
-- Lloyd Carter, Westlake Village
Re: your Nov. 12 editorial, "Brown pelicans on the comeback":
That's wonderful for the brown pelican, but it sure doesn't make up for the millions of mainly children who had to die for the lack of a cheap pesticide to control mosquitoes carrying malaria virus.
DDT saved thousands of American soldiers in the South Pacific during World War II, and no one should not forget that. Like most things, there are trade-offs. With no DDT to control the mosquitoes in Africa and Third World countries, millions of young children have died miserable deaths, and the only answer is to supply them with cheap mosquito netting that doesn't work very well.
But look on the bright side. That means there are fewer we have to feed, and only the strong survive. And 650,000 brown pelicans get to crash their heads in the water off the Channel Islands, and we all enjoy that.
So the next time The Star does a story on endangered species, why doesn't it tell the whole story and give the credit to Rachel Carson of the "Silent Spring" book that started the whole thing. And don't forget the trade-offs!
-- Bob Moeller, Oxnard
Libraries are absolutely essential to our democracy, to the education of our children and our own ongoing education, and also to the well-being of all of us in the community. What a valuable part of our community Wright Library is! And what a tremendous bargain!
For $1 a year, we get the building. There's no air conditioning, and they use fluorescent lights, so the power usage cannot be that much. The librarians are woefully underpaid, yet they do a fantastic job.
When the lease runs out in several years, the best case would be to renegotiate the lease with Ventura College. Since the library is so well-situated between El Camino and Foothill high schools, as well as convenient for so many Venturans, that would be ideal. If not, between now and then we could move the library into the old Circuit City complex of buildings, perhaps that one on the end, facing Telegraph Road. It's been closed so long I forget what used to be there, a drug store? Or into the old Mervyn's building.
We need to keep our library, even if we can't lease the building for $1 per year in perpetuity.
We need to maintain and restore the Wright staff, as well as pay them what they deserve. No one who works hard and does an excellent job should be forced to live from paycheck to paycheck.
I demand that the $1 million-plus of property tax money that our community paid for Wright Library goes where it's supposed to go: to maintain Wright Library and maintain and restore its staff of outstanding librarians. Please don't wait. Make that happen now.
Thanks very much!
-- Lynne Moore, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 12 article, "Hospital wrecked career, Bakst says in suit":
Michael Bakst wrecked his own career!
-- Connie Gajefski, Ventura
Federal estimates say swine flu has killed 540 children in the last seven months. This equates to 77.1 children dying from H1N1 each month.
The Centers for Disease Control has called this an epidemic, and rightfully so.
On the other hand, 4.8 children are killed each day in the United States by their caregivers. That equates to 144 per month. And that is based on 2007 figures.
Some of these children are on Social Services' "radar," yet they are still killed. Social Services has yet to call on the CDC or any other agency to declare an epidemic of the killing of children by their caregivers. Actually, since the numbers are double those from H1N1, shouldn't someone call this a pandemic?
-- Leo G. Alvarez, Oxnard
My children mean so much to me. I cannot leave them with such a large amount of money to pay for the healthcare bill. I love America, and I can't stand by and see her go down in so much debt. We need to stop the spending.
My parents are on Medicare and will lose so much. They are too old (86) to go back to work to help pay for the increase in their payments and still lose so much coverage.
No to government-run healthcare. We the people know what is best for our families, not the government.
-- Emily Brough, Thousand Oaks
Re: Rob Feckner's Nov. 13 commentary, "Government pension myths and realities":
Nice try, but I don't buy it. It is a common ploy for the unions representing public employees to refer to the compensation of those in the private sector. However, most private sector workers do not have access to the generous benefit packages of the public employee and are certainly held much more accountable for their performance than those working at public agencies.
-- Tim Daugherty, Newbury Park
In a letter to The Star on Oct. 24, 2004, Camarillo resident Marjorie E. Grate complained about the lack of flu shots that season, blaming government officials, including President George Bush, for the lack of flu juice. Grate said back in 2004, "The probability is that 36,000 of us will die of flu virus because of the Republican administration's botching the job of proper planning for the 2004 flu season. Thanks, President Bush, this is another fine mess you have gotten us into."
I also remember in the spring of 2009 when President Barack Obama promised that all Americans would get their swine flu vaccinations this fall. Problem is, the swing flu program has failed, and the vaccine shortfall proves once again that we cannot rely on government for much of anything -- including the takeover of the medical insurance industry.
My question is simple: Is Grate going to write The Star to complain about the current president for, "another fine mess you [Obama] have gotten us into." I doubt it, but I won't be holding my breath either.
-- Daniel J. Murphy, Newbury Park
Without Medicare-for-all public option healthcare, meaningful reform is doomed. The underlying problems are this highly profitable field and the greed of the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. We will only get decent healthcare if private insurance plans have to compete with a really effective federal program like Medicare.
Socialized medicine? Bosh! We are the only First World country with a Third World healthcare system. Don't like England's? Try Canada's. Or Switzerland's. Or Japan's. Or best, follow Thailand's lead. That government created the healthcare system from researching other countries' healthcare systems.
-- Emerald Jones, Newbury Park
Re: Jason D. Oliver's Nov. 10 commentary, "Whose truth should laws be based on?"
I am writing to commend Oliver for taking issue with biblical support for the condemnation of people who are gay.
I found quite compelling his argument in favor of the inclusion of all of God's children in the family of humankind. How do people justify eradicating some antiquated practices from the Bible and enforcing others? Who decides? Surely ethical and moral behavior requires that compassion and equality should be offered to every human being.
Well done for speaking out so eloquently.
-- Jacqui Meisel, Simi Valley
As a healthy, middle-class native Californian who has spent my working life as a professional, I have had the issue of health insurance be a prevalent and often troubling one.
As a self-employed, divorced mother, I struggled without health insurance throughout the 1980s and early 1990s because it was simply too costly. Fortunately, I was blessed with a healthy child who was not accident-prone, nor was I, but I began every day with a prayer that we would make it through safely, anyway. Having remarried in the early 1990s, I felt the relief of being included in my husband's corporate policy. However, five years ago, he became self-employed as well, and we have been struggling with the huge dent in our finances that paying for our insurance creates.
Being Baby Boomers who are now in our 50s, we have watched the changes in healthcare throughout our lives. As a child, I have clear memories of our doctor making house calls, and as a young adult, paying $25 for an office visit. I recently received the bill for a simple 15-minute doctor's visit for flu-like symptoms that cost $225. How can that be justified?
Our congressmen (Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, in our case) and senators must heed the call to serve their constituents -- the people they came into office to serve -- and not the all powerful, moneyed insurance lobbyists or themselves. Every single day people are suffering and/or dying, and at the very least struggling to pay for insurance.
We are all people, human beings, in this together. We need our representatives to remember this and think of their own loved ones, future generations, and the American way of life they were elected to uphold when they cast their vote.
-- Sharon Pollock, Westlake Village
I recently attended a meeting convened by the Conejo Valley Unified School District where more than 100 parents, students, teachers and staff were informed that Park Oaks Elementary is being considered for school closure to help balance the district's budget.
The most difficult thing about the meeting was hearing the oft-repeated line from the school board that Park Oaks Elementary is a model school, with an unusual degree of success on a number of measures.
It is well established that parental involvement in a school is a key determinant of its students' academic success. Parental involvement is most certainly the key to the success being lauded at Park Oaks. When one asks parents at this school to explain their level of engagement, two common themes emerge: They participate because they feel welcomed, and they feel safe.
The district's plan to close this school assumes that the same level of parental engagement will be achieved in a different school with a much different composition. Although this year's budget may be balanced by more school closings, this solution does not take into account the long-term consequences and costs of such closings that include parental disengagement, poor academic performance, increased dropout rates and increased social and psychological problems.
I want to add my voice to the hundreds of parents present at the meeting and respectfully request that the Conejo Valley Unified School District eliminate another school as part of the answer to the district's budget deficit.
-- Christopher Christian, Thousand Oaks
(The writer is director of the Community Counseling and Parent Child Study Center of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. -- Editor)
There is a simple solution to our county's financial problems without raising taxes. Ventura County and all of the counties in California are wringing their hands over the decrease in property tax revenue. Our political leaders are plunging forward with tunnel vision and are failing to look to California's neighbors for a simple, no-tax solution.
Each year a property tax is not paid on a California property, the county treasurer files a tax lien against the property. The tax lien gets paid only if the property is sold or the property owner pays the outstanding bill. In California, delinquent property tax can go unpaid for five years before the county tax assessor can execute a tax lien sale on a delinquent property. That is five years with no property tax collected on a delinquent property.
In Colorado, the county tax treasurer auctions off the tax liens on delinquent property every year. These tax lien auctions give the Colorado counties 100 percent of the outstanding property tax every year it is delinquent, plus the county receives the premium paid by the bidder at the auction. The bidder who gets a tax lien at the auction is guaranteed an annual interest rate on the acquired tax lien. This is a win-win for the county as well as the lien holder. The county gets its tax money and the lien holder earns 10 percent per year on their investment.
Sacramento, take a lesson from a Colorado success.
-- David Collins, Newbury Park
A coroner in Indiana has linked the rising suicide rate to the economy. Really?
In the first Great Depression -- and we're living through the second one --bankers were jumping from buildings. In this Great Depression in the age of "too big to fail," we have Joe the Plumber types taking themselves out and, God forbid, taking their families, co-workers and/or innocent bystanders with them.
What I don't understand is how so many people have ingested the Kool-aid to the point that they can fight healthcare reform and complain about government takeovers while collecting unemployment.
I have friends who have lost their homes and their jobs and they still rant about President Barack Obama wanting to raise taxes on the rich. I'll try to explain that people making millions in "passive income" are thriving on the trading practices established and governed by America, and that if we didn't have the system we have, they might actually have to work for a living. These passive incomers want the benefits of America, but they don't want the responsibility of paying for the commonwealth, for the less fortunate, for the unemployed -- like my friend.
At this point, my friend pounds the table screaming that Obama is a socialist Adolf Hitler destroying America, for my friend drinks the Fox News brand of Kool-aid -- the kind that is distributed daily, like crack, and is just as destructive because it focuses the rage and frustration my friend is feeling. It's not rage at Wall Street, not at corrupt politicians, but at himself. So he fights healthcare reform, and he fights higher taxes and he fights regulation of the "free market."
I don't know about you, but suicide has touched my life several times this year. And Wall Street bonuses have gone up 60 percent. God bless America.
-- John Loprieno, Westlake Village
One must marvel at the wisdom of Ventura voters in the Nov. 3 election. They voted against a local tax measure to keep our library open. They voted for allowing giant big-box stores that provide lower-than-subsistence wages, scavenge sales from local retailers and send all profits out of state. They voted a former police chief onto the City Council to participate in decisions regarding the growing problem of police pensions.
If you, too, are baffled, do not feel alone.
-- Kathy Bremer, Ventura
Re: Dr. Michael Jamison's Nov. 12 commentary, "Closed-door agenda":
As Sen. Patrick Moynihan famously said, "You have a right to your opinion but not to your facts."
-- America, the richest country in the world, is the only First World country that doesn't provide basic healthcare to all of its citizens.
-- America spends almost twice as much per person as other First World countries for the healthcare that is provided, and with significantly poorer results for many citizens.
-- Medicare spending has to be corrected, whether there is a national plan with a public option or not.
-- There is no provision in the proposed congressional plan for Medicare recipients to change to a public option plan.
Jamison's discourse is replete with negative opinion and speculation, but I could not find anywhere his suggestions for providing care to all of us Americans and for reducing wasteful healthcare spending. His allegations are beyond refutation -- "Medicare is heading toward bankruptcy, and billions of dollars are being cut from Medicare to expedite this process." He may be concerned that Medicare will reduce payments to healthcare providers, but Congress continues to avoid cuts in such payments because they understand that doing so will cause some/many physicians to withdraw from providing care to those eligible for Medicare.
Changing the health delivery system is a complicated undertaking and no doubt will require fine-tuning down the road, but it must be done. Other countries successfully use an insurance mechanism to provide good care to its citizens. Are the naysayers, like Jamison, whining that our country just can't do it also?
-- Hank Stoutz, M.D., Ventura
My 40-year-old son has developed cataracts in both eyes. He can no longer drive or work. He has lost the ability to support his family and pay for insurance.
A simple operation would restore his sight and make him a taxpayer again instead of a welfare recipient.
Although his condition is not life-threatening, how many people are there in similar situations? It is unacceptable that he needs to feel like a burden on society when he has been a productive citizen all his life. I'm sure he would gladly pay for a public option policy if he could see to work!
I will not vote for any representative who votes against public option healthcare reform and indeed will support all who will.
-- Robert Mankin, Ojai
Re: Walter Wilke's Nov. 12 letter, "Don't copy Reagan":
It was with disbelief that I read Wilke's admonition of Terry Paulson in The Star blaming President Ronald Reagan for the attack in Lebanon that killed 247 U.S. Marines. I was privileged to attend the magnificent tribute to Reagan at his awesome library in Simi Valley, in which panelists such as Richard V. Allen, his chief foreign policy advisor, John F. Lehman, the 65th secretary of the Navy, Ed Meese, former U.S. attorney general, and Peter Robinson, lead speech writer, recalled their memories of serving under our 40th president.
When referring to the Lebanon incident, they recalled Reagan was vindictive and wished to retaliate immediately, but all of the above and his secretary of Defense were adamantly against it. In deference to them, he withdrew our forces to safety.
I have visited the Eastern Bloc nations where the residents extol Reagan for bringing an end to the Soviet Union. Poland even has a statue of him in a park. I was astonished to hear President Barack Obama ignore Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Lech Walesa in his speech on the anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down and only mentioning President John F. Kennedy and himself as the first African-American president. I think Wilke should rethink his message.
-- Lois D. Glab, Camarillo
We are sad to hear that the Wright Library will close at the end of the month. My husband and I have especially enjoyed taking our boys to the preschool reading hours, often walking down to the library.
I explained to my 4-year-old son, Anthony, that his photo was in the paper because the Wright Library was closing. He responded, "They can keep it open with the key." I then explained that they needed to keep the lights on and pay the employees. He questioned why they were paid, and we talked about all the things money provides. Then he said, "But we need books to learn about all the things that happened before I was born ... important, famous things ... things that happened before all the people that we see were born."
I could only agree.
-- Kateri Lawson, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 6 editorial, "Oil, taxes and red ink":
California's legislature has already raised our taxes by $12.5 billion this year. The politicians have begun arbitrarily withholding billions more from the paychecks of people lucky enough to still have jobs. And now they want to take even more out of our pockets with a new oil severance tax.
Small businesses know what the government apparently doesn't: Increasing the cost of doing business means higher prices for consumers, layoffs of employees and suppression of economic activity and growth. Just because the target of this latest tax scheme happens to be oil producers, it doesn't mean the laws of basic economics will be suspended.
Small businesses also are painfully aware of California's oppressively high tax burden compared to other states. Oil producers here, even if they don't pay the same kind of severance tax as their counterparts elsewhere, have to pay many taxes and fees unheard of in other states. It's ludicrous to imply that any industry here doesn't pay its fair share of taxes -- those who pay them know better.
Our lawmakers have already succumbed to the temptation to help themselves to more of our paychecks. If they are allowed to hit a single industry with a new tax, whose business will be next? For there to be any hope of economic recovery, the government needs to stop the dangerous pattern of killing California jobs and businesses one tax at a time.
The oil severance tax proposal should be abandoned, as should any other new tax that puts our economy at risk.
-- Nancy Lindholm, Oxnard
(The writer is president and CEO of the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce. -- Editor)
When Barack Obama was campaigning for the top office, he said, "If we can put a man on the moon, then I know we have the technology to refine coal and make it into a clean fuel."
I grew up in coal country, and I know for a fact this can be done. The problem, to my thinking, are the conservationists. I am not condemning all of their efforts. I believe they have served us in a lot of positive ways. At the same time, they stand in the way of developing much of our own energy. Surely we can hold companies that are doing the developing accountable to use means that do not destroy the beauty of our land or endanger the well-being of the population.
Why would we sooner pay inflated prices to nations that despise us rather than use technology we have to produce our own energy sources? Think of the satisfaction from achievement we will experience as reach these different milestones and also maintain the integrity of the beauty of America.
-- Leonard W. DeWitt, Ventura
I board my horse at the Hampton Canyon Ranch, located on Wheeler Canyon Road in Santa Paula. This past Saturday, they hosted a benefit for a wonderful lady. She is a single mother with three young daughters. She is a breast cancer survivor. Unfortunately, her cancer returned, and she has recently finished her second bout of chemotherapy and is only able to work part-time.
The owners of the ranch wanted to do something to really help her, so they got all the boarders to help and planned a benefit junior rodeo, with games and food items and a silent auction, with all profits going into the fund to help our friend. We needed prizes for the rodeo events, and three wonderful sponsors provided a large array of items to be awarded to the young rodeo competitors: The Wharf, Limoneira and Tandy Leather.
All of us who participated in this event want to thank the sponsors for their generous donations and support. We couldn't have had such a successful fundraiser without their help.
To The Wharf, Limoneira and Tandy Leather, you have our abundant gratitude. Thank you again!
-- Jeanne Walker, Oxnard
It is the 11th of the month, and my little company's health insurance premium is absolutely due today. My employees rely on this plan for the well-being of their families, and until this year, they paid only one-fifth of the cost.
When this "economic downturn" started taking its toll on our business, we discussed our options with our employees and agreed that the burden could be shouldered 50/50.
The current healthcare argument taking place in our Congress seems impotent towards hard facts. The existing healthcare options available to small business are plentiful, and yet they are not competitive. There are tens of thousands of small businesses in the U.S., and yet we are all serviced individually with little or no economic scale. God bless my insurance broker and the service they provide for our little company, as they are a small business too, but their business dilutes the power of my premium. Maybe I need to ask them what plan they use and ask if we can join them.
Our premium dollar has 1,000th the power of the same dollar spent in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. This is the plan offered to Congress and most federal employees. It is administered by the government but includes both public and private options.
I find it humorous that one-half of our adequately, soundly and cost effectively insured Congress is actively trying to scare the electorate from changing the healthcare system. These "public servants" are allowing big insurance the pleasure of shearing me and my employees monthly. The other half are unknowingly cobbling together what appears to be a watered-down solution for what really ails our economy and its workforce. We need strong medicine. We need change.
Why can't small business offer the same menu of plans that is available to all of our local federal employees and congressional personnel? It's flu season, and I am off to see my insurance broker with the check.
-- Andy Killion, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 8 article, "Tax-exempt compensation can pile up":
There are thousands of qualified people who will work for a lot less, and it's time to cut back on salaries and benefits for these kings and queens.
The small business sector -- the biggest labor force in America -- does not offer anything close to what this article tells us, the taxpayer. The small business sector should be the model to follow for city, county, state and federal governments.
No contracts, hired at will -- you do all your retirement savings yourself and the employer pays a modest health insurance plan for worker and spouse only; child insurance is on you. There's no overtime for management positions. There are no cost-of-living raises and no bonuses. A lot of the silly perks in these articles must be discontinued.
And it's stupid to say that somehow a big benefit package is needed for, or to retain, top talent. Ventura County, with all the amenities and quality of life, has to mean a lot for living and working here. We don't have to be "competitive" with anyone! This is the job, take it or leave it.
For my small business, the recession started about three years ago. Since that time there have been no salary increases. In fact, we have all been on a 10 percent salary cut since January 2009. And government should be on the same schedule -- they don't work any harder or longer hours than we do, and probably not as much.
And except for what we save on our own, our retirement is Social Security -- and that's the way it should be for all government workers. There is no reason we should pay them more than what we get.
Taxpayers, change the system! Taxes are too high at all levels of government.
-- Bill Neumann, Camarillo
It is with sadness that I viewed what my fellow Venturans voted on in this last local election. It seems the right wing must have come out in force (anti-taxes after all!), because I sense the results would have been different had they ridden President Barack Obama's coattails. Apparently, Venturans want government to continue to get the same amount of money but to get more services to them.
They do not mind if a cherished library closes, roads deteriorate and police get less support (defeat of Measure A).
They do not care how tall buildings get in town, as that would restrain beloved private property rights (defeat of Measure B).
They want cheap goods and a big store to deliver them, no matter the traffic, crime, union-busting, anti-environmental record that it brings (Walmart and the defeat of Measure C).
Finally, they trust the same pro-Chamber of Commerce, anti-environmental (Brian Brennan being the exception) bunch that continues to make poor decisions for this town. Way to go!
We become less like Ojai and more like the San Fernando Valley by the day!
-- Paul Caron, Ventura
Re: John M. Crisp's Nov. 10 commentary, "So what exactly is college for?"
Crisp's column was excellent. While we do need "rocket scientists" and astronomers and doctors, etc., we need the humanities because it is the classics that enrich us. It is the wisdom of the past that helps us build a better future.
-- Marvin Krantz, Thousand Oaks
Did you know that the Thousand Oaks City Council frivolously spent $40,000 of our taxes on outside consultants for a citywide survey to discover the obvious? Anyone could have told them for free that the majority of residents don't want mixed-use development (commercial on bottom, residential on top) or four- and five-story buildings on Thousand Oaks Boulevard. People generally don't like change, especially sweeping change that could transform Thousand Oaks into yet another extension of Los Angeles with more traffic, crime and congestion.
Why wasn't this survey done in-house by city staff, as it's historically been done? Here's the answer. The City Council (Claudia Bill-de la Peña excluded) and the city manager are hellbent on growth and development. They wanted a survey that showed public support for mixed-use and tall buildings, but they would have been charged with fraud if their own in-house survey said so. So they rolled the dice with an "independent" outside survey.
The council rolled snake eyes: Residents don't want what they want.
So what will the council do now? No problem, the consultants gave them the answer. Without providing any specifics or proof, the paid (biased) consultants said that residents typically support "development projects" when they're provided with detailed plans, not the vague survey questions. Bingo! The council and city manager got their modus operandi. A couple of sparsely attended public meetings with a few cronies and good ol' boys is all they need to show "public support." It's the same tired old game plan that sneaky and corrupt politicians use over and over.
Before the city transforms Thousand Oaks Boulevard into a western extension of Los Angeles, it should formally survey the residents with detailed development plans and act according to their wishes. Anything else is an abuse of power and invites charges of corruption.
-- John Fonti, Thousand Oaks
On Saturday, 220 of our representatives voted for a bill they had not read. They did it in a special Saturday session, ensuring voters could not read it either, as it runs 1,990 pages. Although the vote could not wait even until Monday, it will not take effect until 2013, so neither the representatives nor the president will face the legislation's consequences in their next elections.
Speaking of President Barack Obama, he has repeatedly said he would not sign this bill if it adds to the deficit. On Saturday, he visited Congress to urge passage of the bill, despite its $1,200,000,000,000 price tag. The bill will affect every person in the U.S., will create scores of new federal agencies and untold unforeseen consequences and is not supported by the electorate, according to Gallup and other polls.
History will judge these legislators harshly.
-- Gary Carlson, Simi Valley
Re: Terry Paulson's Nov. 9 commentary, "Freedom through strength":
Terry Paulson tries to gloss over President Ronald Reagan's failure to support the troops he sent to Lebanon. Reagan was responsible for the tragic loss of 247 Marines and sailors. Then he ordered our forces to withdraw. Instead of attacking the terrorists, Reagan ordered our brave Marines to retreat without firing a shot!
Let us hope President Barack Obama does not "take a lesson from Reagan," as urged by Paulson.
-- Walter Wilke, Newbury Park
Currently Metrolink doesn't recognize our United States Armed Forces in any way. In the midst of a second rate hike this year, many families are struggling, including our military families! It's time for Metrolink to stand up and and honor our brave men and women who have and who are currently serving this country!
Our troops risk so much and get so little, but when it comes to Metrolink, our troops get nothing! I have tried diligently to get an answer from Metrolink as to why they won't recognize our troops and I've gotten nowhere. I've begged them in countless e-mails and phone calls asking them to consider a military discount, and I've yet to get a response. I don't know what else to do.
I'm saddened by the backs that have been turned on this subject. It's a matter of principle now! It's time!
-- Deanna Oatman, Moorpark
Re: your Nov. 9 editorial, "Efficient, smart way to donate food":
Nine of the Ventura County Library facilities are participating with Move for Hunger in collecting donated food items for FOOD Share. Sheeler Moving and Storage is our partner. The participating libraries are listed at vencolibrary.org and moveforhunger.org.
This is a new program, and we hope that it helps FOOD Share provide for our community.
-- Dale Redfield, Simi Valley
(The writer is a principal librarian in the Ventura County Library System. -- Editor)
Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, has always shown compassion for animals. He authored bills against animal cruelty and has been endorsed by the Humane Society.
Based on this record, I had high hopes that Gallegly would show that same compassion for the American people and support the Affordable Health Care Act.
This bill is needed desperately to help insure uninsured Americans, lower the cost of medical insurance for the already insured and show the world that we take the healthcare of our citizens seriously.
I am very disappointed in my representative's vote.
-- Debra Jacobs, Simi Valley
I've often felt in our country that we have always been ruled by corporations, as our Congress always seems to bow to their wishes when it comes to certain needs of the American people. This is how I feel about the current argument on healthcare. It is disgraceful that we are at the mercy of insurance companies, and that there are those in Congress who are either intentionally or unintentionally providing favoritism towards the corporations rather than the people.
There is no doubt that in the long run, healthcare with a public option will bring down the outrageous cost of insurance and will favor the small business owners and the majority of Americans. The insurance companies have provided the money to anyone willing to organize the opposition to healthcare and making sure their loud voices are heard. Unfortunately, the majority of American people want the public option, but they are what is known as the silent majority. We need to speak up and take back our country from the control of corporations. We have an opportunity here and now, and I hope the silent majority, like myself, will let their thoughts be known.
-- Margaret Perlingos, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Nov. 8 chart, "Top 20 county overtime earners":
The chart shows that Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy John Sanders earned $124,569.40 in overtime.
I have calculated that this individual must have literally spent every waking hour at work, allowing for only eight hours total off per day. Sanders earned just short of $200,000 in 2008 for what is a very basic, non-degree-requiring profession.
If the argument is that police work is stressful and dangerous, surely we would want fresh and alert people performing this function, not someone who must be half asleep most of the time. This is completely outrageous and is another example of the pocket-lining that occurs in the club known as the County of Ventura. If the goal is to protect the citizens of Ventura from robbers and thieves, perhaps the Ventura County Sheriff's deputies should arrest each other, as this is criminal.
Apparently this practice is not isolated to law enforcement. The numbers from Sunday's paper tell the story of ridiculous overcompensation throughout the county. The idea that we the taxpayers must pay in excess of $200,000 per year to get qualified people is garbage. If the executives referenced in The Star knew what they were doing, the county would not be in a constant financial jam. This same argument, the need to pay exorbitant amounts for "talent," was offered by the Wall Street bank executives (Bear Stearns, et. al.). We all know now that they have nearly bankrupted the most successful economy the world has ever known.
-- Simon Risley, Ventura
I wonder if the government has been doing any follow-up on their sleeper-cell theory of terrorists living in this country. Years ago, there was a big deal on this subject, but we haven't heard anything lately on it. This incident at the Army base, with the killing of all these soldiers and the wounding of so many others, would sure open my eyes and make me start looking a little deeper into it.
This one man caused more death and harm than 90 percent of every suicide bomber I've read about since all this terrorist business started. I'm not counting 9/11 or the hotels, but just the suicides in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, where the suicide bombers wear a bomb. This particular person gave warnings that were ignored, just as the 9/11 warnings were.
Sooner or later we're going to have to ignore a little bit of this profiling and take some serious looks into it. There's no disrespect meant to anyone, believe me, but we've got to start thinking more about our own country and less about the countries that don't really care. Too many don't want us anyway, so let's get back to concentrating on this one.
God bless America and every man and woman wearing the uniform of our country and living and dying to protect it. I salute all veterans on Wednesday, America's Veterans Day.
-- Raymond Beaulieu, Oxnard
My boyfriend just celebrated a very special birthday last month.
Thanks to modern technology, great doctors, positive thinking, science and great insurance, my boyfriend survived two bouts of cancer before his 30th birthday. He received great treatment at the City of Hope, and is now looking forward to going back to a life without cancer treatment and doctor appointments.
Unfortunately, not everyone is in the same position as he is. As he often says: "Cancer is not a death sentence, but it is to those without insurance."
I can't imagine what his life would have been like had he been denied insurance for having a pre-existing condition, or having to go into bankruptcy to get treated.
I do not wish cancer on anyone, but if it happens, I hope they are able to receive the same, if not better, treatment my boyfriend was lucky enough to receive. And that starts with Saturday's historic vote.
I wish to thank all the representatives who voted for this bill, especially U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara. Thank you.
-- Elidet Reyes, Port Hueneme
It is encouraging to see that the problem of mentally ill people in prison is being recognized. It is barbaric that the Los Angeles County Jail is now the largest psychiatric institution in the nation.
I worked at the Camarillo State Hospital for many years, and the thing that affected my understanding of the people I worked with while they were court-ordered patients was the incredibly difficult circumstances they were born into. Physical and sexual abuse was the most common factor. Danger, violence and abandonment were facts of life.
It's not unusual for someone born into these undesirable circumstances to acquire beliefs and attitudes that result in anti-social behaviors. Unless someone intervenes to let such people know they are loved and cared for, they often gravitate to drugs and alcohol and commit other criminal acts. When your experience of life is predominately devoid of love or caring, drugs seem to provide a satisfactory substitute because you actually "feel good" for a change. All the hurt, anger and self-loathing are gone -- for a while. You are content in an illusion of peace, worth, love and meaning, until the drug wears off. Now what do you do? Use more drugs, of course.
We put these people in jail because we don't have anything else. Jails and prisons are not known for compassion, and the feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing that precipitated the criminal behavior are perpetuated. Prisons are stuffed with people like this, and more than 70 percent of those who eventually get out will re-offend in some way and return to prison within a short period. California has the highest recidivism rate in the country!
Drug and alcohol counseling should be a priority, along with educational opportunities, job training and life counseling.
I would hope that we are smart enough and compassionate enough to find a way to reverse these numbers and help more people to succeed than to fail. We get what we pay for.
-- Gary R. Ryan, Ventura
Re: your Nov. 8 article, "Tax-exempt compensation can pile up":
One of the obligations of the free press in this greatest country on God's green earth is to be a watchdog of government behavior. The Star is to be congratulated for the exposé of our county's profligate spending for its employees. By allowing tax exempt and overtime compensation, it seems like the supervisors are clouding some of the transparency in employee salaries. And with excessive pension promises at city, county, state and federal governments causing budgets to burst, it is time for the voters to know how government controls spending at every level.
The Star's comprehensive article showing the change in private and public sector compensation is an awakening call to all. It used to be that a government job wouldn't pay as much but the benefits were better than in private industry. Not anymore. Financial opportunities are better in government service now for everyone except the few confident risk-takers who trust their talents for success in the private sector.
-- Jack Weber, Oxnard
Re: Bill O'Reilly's Nov. 7 commentary, "So who's visiting the White House today?"
I'm not sure how other people in Ventura County feel, but I'm somewhat disappointed in The Star these days. I can't help but feel that part of the loss of readership to newspapers in this country has to do with the rejection by editors of basic journalistic integrity.
In his commentary, O'Reilly spends 16 paragraphs -- or close to one quarter of the Opinion page of the paper -- simply calling people names, implying illegal or inappropriate behavior and espousing his personal sexist beliefs. There's no evidence, no reportage, no integrity.
It would be nice to know what the standards are that the Opinion staff of the paper uses to select the columnists that are published in The Star. O'Reilly appears weekly, and I can only believe that the reason for this is that the Opinion staff on some level approves and supports his misogynistic and irresponsible pseudo-journalism.
Next week I will submit a column to The Star that simply calls people I don't like all sorts of names and implies, without any evidence presented, that they are bad or useless people. I hope that my opinion is given equal space on The Star's Opinion page. I will also be submitting a nice little picture that makes me seem serious and knowledgeable.
I encourage all readers of The Star to demand that they too have their space on the Opinion page to call people names. The journalism community should be proud of The Star.
-- Terry Welden, Simi Valley
With the passage of the healthcare bill in Congress: The president stated Democrats have a 70-year history of creating and defending programs like Social Security and Medicare. Are not these the same programs that are headed off the cliff into bankruptcy?
Please look at your own household when calculating the economics of this bill. Have you ever enlarged your household and saved money by doing that? This will kill jobs in the private sector while at the same time creating a new government bureaucracy.
People want health reform. But I was always taught to lower prices, which makes the product more available to everyone. You do this by increasing the supply and competition. You do not have the government entering the picture and mandating. Does anyone remember the government mandating gasoline prices in the 1970s? We sat in long lines to get gas. You will now be sitting in long lines to get your healthcare.
I guess healthcare for all is the important news story, and double-digit unemployment is just not that important.
-- William F. Klepper, Simi Valley
As a physician as well as an "uninsurable," I am concerned for patients and for myself. The United States finally has some thoughtful, gutsy politicians, and we will benefit by eliminating the insurance industry monopoly from healthcare. The alternative would be complete annihilation of the healthcare system by the profit makers, and it would be soon. Imagine if we had done the same to the banking industry before the fall.
Congratulations to the citizens and politicians who have been instrumental in making change to our healthcare system. Keep it up!
-- Robert J. Wallace, M.D., MBA, Westlake Village
At 59 years old, I am currently unemployed and have no medical coverage.
I have been denied by the two major companies that covered me for over 20 years. I am not considered a "pre-existing condition," but the new word is "medical risk." I had breast cancer over seven years ago.
Having my administration fighting to get something through is tragic. Having them distort other countries' medical insurance coverage is false.
I want all the representatives who voted no to please have their medical insurance canceled in opposition and to make a point that is honest. If they think their insurance is wrong for us, then they should cancel theirs.
Otherwise they should vote for this thing to go through. This is not a party issue, this is a people issue.
-- Genevieve Karakashian, Westlake Village
I am a father of two and a small businessman. My family is currently uninsured due to the high cost of health insurance premiums. Should we experience a catastrophic health crisis, we would lose everything we own and end up on welfare.
Wouldn't our tax dollars be better spent providing a low-cost alternative to people like me and my family so that we can continue to grow our businesses and create more jobs and opportunity, rather than gambling with our health so that drug companies and insurance companies can keep their enormous profits? When will the ruling class in this country embrace the concept that we all rise and fall together? Even the ultra-wealthy will feel the sting of 10, 20, 30 million unemployed and the social ills that will follow.
Elected officials need to stop taking the lobbyists' money and threats and serve the people who voted for them. We need this reform now.
-- William K. Savage, Thousand Oaks
Re: Irving K. Loh's Nov. 8 Pulse page piece, "When doctors were kings ... 50 years ago":
Please, please, please allow me a letter to tell Loh that if he thinks I'm going to believe some bureaucrat sitting in an ivory tower somewhere is going to make a better decision about my treatment than my doctors who are on the scene and know my medical history, he'd better change what he's been smoking because it's not doing him any good.
He's inadvertently making the point that I and so many others opposed to this healthcare reform have been trying to get across: that care will be taken out of the hands of the physician, treatment options will be dictated and care will be rationed, all in the name of saving us from ourselves. Fans of this reform should read him very carefully and understand what he's saying.
By the way, the role of the nurse is to carry out the orders of the doctor. It has been exactly that from the beginning of the profession to this very moment. There is nothing dishonorable about it. The nurse is a valuable medical professional, but sorry, the doctor is still the king. That is the nature of the medical profession and nothing Loh's so-called reforms can do can ever change it. When the registered nurse is qualified to write the letters "M.D." after his or her signature, then I'll agree with him, but not before then.
I recently benefited from the best state of the art that medicine has to offer, and I know better than to believe that doctors don't know or can't master the intricacies of what treatment is best for their patients.
-- Roy W. Hogue, Newbury Park
I have seen firsthand the results of individuals who have gone without health insurance or who have had benefits denied. In one case, it was a 30-year-old neighbor of mine who avoided seeking treatment because he didn't have health insurance. He was found by his mother, dead in his bed, of pneumonia.
In another situation, the cost for life-saving emergency treatment for my son was denied by his medical insurance company, because the treatment was at a nearby hospital (Los Robles, here in Thousand Oaks), and not at one of their more distant medical facilities in the San Fernando Valley.
I hope our elected officials understand the importance of providing universal health coverage, which will save lives, and provide a more worry-free way of life for us all.
-- Richard C. Borgioli, Newbury Park
Re: Yahya Merchant's Nov. 7 Religion article, "Quran asks followers to respect other religions":
Merchant makes claims regarding Islam in his recent article. He claims Muhammad established that "the security of God is equal for all groups" and "non-Muslim members have equal ... rights." The Constitution of Medina, written by Muhammad and referred to by Merchant, actually states (paraphrased for modern translation). "To the Jew who follows us belong help and equality," and "a woman shall only be given protection with the consent of her family." How about the Jew who chose to not follow Islam? Or how about the woman left defenseless because she was not legitimized by her relatives?
The writings of Muhammad contrast sharply with our constitutionally based republic in that our Constitution is based on every single human possessing inalienable, God-given rights, as individuals, regardless of religion, and regardless of being man or woman. In the United States today, we see millions of Muslims freely practicing their religion without discrimination. What do we see today in most of the Muslim-dominated world in regard to Christians freely practicing their faith?
Merchant's article was published two days following the Fort Hood tragedy. I suggest the shooting suspect, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, may have been taking the Constitution of Medina literally. The Constitution says (paraphrased for modern translation), "A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever, nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer." How can any Muslim be faithful to this statement of Muhammad while being a loyal member of the U.S. military?
-- Bryan Sexauer, Moorpark
I am appalled at Rep. Elton Gallegly's no vote on healthcare reform Saturday. He is clearly siding with the medical insurance lobby, not his constituents.
I have a son who was serving admirably in the U.S. Marine Corps as an attack helicopter air frame mechanic. He was suddenly and severely stricken with rheumatoid arthritis. He received an honorable medical discharge from USMC, but then we learned that he would no longer be eligible under my employer's medical insurance simply because he was turning 24. He is now in college, but because he served almost three years in the military, his college education was obviously delayed, so he will not graduate for another two years. Fortunately, he is eligible for COBRA -- thank you, Sen. Edward Kennedy -- but the premium is quite expensive on top of the premium our family already pays. There is no reduction in our monthly premium -- the monthly premium is the same if you have one child or 10, another thing that needs to be fixed.
We are not sure where we will go when COBRA expires, since we know that without healthcare reform we will not be able to get him affordable health care with his condition. He requires a very expensive medication to keep him out of constant pain and fatigue. The legislation that passed the House on Saturday sets the age for coming off parents' insurance at 27, which is much more reasonable. Don't we want to allow our children enough time to serve in the military and get a college degree?
Gallegly should be ashamed of his vote, and so should all who voted against it. We are keeping track, and Gallegly will go down as being on the wrong side of progress -- again.
-- Carla Ames, Moorpark
Re: your Nov. 8 article, "Tax-exempt compensation can pile up":
Regarding this excellent article, could I ask if it would be possible to go one step further? I would love to play a little "follow the money" by tracing back just to whom and when these excessive salaries were "granted." Who decided on these amounts, and did it ever go to a vote of the people, etc? Please also explain to the taxpaying public just why any "overtime" amount is granted to any employee that commands over $200,000 a year in salary? Why aren't they funding their own retirement and medical insurance when receiving these amounts?
Please, please spare all of us the old, tired saying that they must be paid these amounts to attract "good" people. What an absurd daisy chain! If these people were so good, why do we have the problems we have along with being almost bankrupt?
I trust The Star has many readers who are now saying possibly Vallejo has the right idea. Maybe California should declare bankruptcy and make all these contracts null and void -- and the sooner the better!
-- Kathryn Levesque, Thousand Oaks
We have the opportunity to change our lives and make them better by passing something that every American should support: the right to healthcare.
Every American has the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. How can we pursue our dreams when we are worrying about if we have healthcare? How can we make our dreams come true when we are scared that our children may not be able to go to the doctor when they are sick?
Whether our elected representatives are on the left or right side of the aisle, this is legislation everyone should support. Every religion speaks of taking care of our neighbors. This is our opportunity to practice what we preach.
-- Shaily Trivedi, Moorpark
As a breast cancer survivor, single mom, small business owner and daughter of a man who has Parkinson's disease, it was my hope that more of our representatives would have stood up to the pressure and done what was right for the people of our great nation.
As a result of my cancer, I am still repaying large medical bills, even though I had very good insurance at the time. My insurance is now very high, and I have less coverage. And I am one of the lucky ones who still has it! My father's medication for his Parkinson's disease is exorbitant, even though he has MediCal. Just one of his medications costs around $2,000 a month!
It is time for everyone to be able to have affordable medical coverage.
-- Melodi Calderwood, Newbury Park
Re: your Nov. 5 editorial, "The verdicts are in":
The Star laments that the failure of Oxnard's Measure E represents the tyranny of the small number of voters whose no vote defeated the measure over those in the community who stood to benefit from the additional tax revenue yet did not bother to cast a ballot.
Democracy has its flaws, but this result was not the fault of anyone but those who supported the measure yet didn't vote. Let's not bash those who voted or disparage them in any way. Breath is better spent attacking apathy and ignorance instead.
-- Anthony DeLuca, Oxnard
I am delighted that Dr. Regina Benjamin has finally been confirmed as our new surgeon general. Perhaps if the Senate had confirmed her earlier we would not have the disorganized swine flu vaccine mess we are now enduring. I would not be surprised to learn that Congress has all gotten the shots.
Since Benjamin had to contend with an even worse mess after Hurricane Katrina, as the national public health spokesperson, I am hoping she jumps in with both feet to force the reorganization of the manufacture and distribution of both the vaccines and the Tamiflu treatment, which, I understand, can also be hard to find.
It is both infuriating and sad to see Washington make this same mistake again. There was ample time to prepare a centralized, prioritized distribution strategy and not leave it to the discretion of local authorities, many of whom seem to be using what amounts to an "every man for himself" distribution process. I have wondered why there was no surgeon general leading the charge.
We need a recognizable face and a voice out there daily to reassure the public and a taskmaster to get the national public health structure to pull itself together. Ventura County is fortunate in that our public health department is organized and aggressive, but we still lack sufficient vaccine. Giving 1,000 doses of this precious commodity to Goldman Sachs while pediatricians go begging is even more disgusting than those big bonuses.
Welcome, Dr. Benjamin! Now, please get to work!
-- Lauraine Effress, Oxnard
Re: Will Thompson's Nov. 6 letter, "Voters selfish":
So Thompson feels that the voters of Ventura are "selfish" because we didn't pass Measure A. He feels that "the majority of voters in Ventura don't care a hoot about anything or anybody but themselves and a few of their dollars per year."
He couldn't be further from the truth.
The reason I didn't vote for Measure A is because there was nothing legally binding the City Council from spending this money any way they wanted. The politicians and supporters kept telling us to trust them and pointed to the citizens oversight committee, but that didn't convince me. Wasn't it a citizens oversight committee that originally convinced the City Council to put the failed measure on the ballot in the first place?
I think that the majority of voters in Ventura don't trust the City Council with even more money. It's that simple. It has nothing to do with the Wright Library, poor roads or public safety. It has to do with living within your means. Unfortunately, the San Buenaventura Friends of the Library got suckered into this sham.
I realize as a voter that I share the responsibility for the quality of life that exists in my community. That is why I didn't vote to tax myself even more and provide an irresponsible City Council with even more unaccounted-for money.
Had there been a sales tax measure that was specifically allocated to keeping library services in Ventura, I may have voted differently.
-- Fred Barnz, Ventura
Re: James Hollenback's Nov. 6 letter, "Remove signs, please":
His was an interesting study. Here are a couple more he can do:
-- Number of garage sale signs left up after one day.
-- Number of red-light runners at a non-photo intersection.
-- Number of tardies at the local high schools on a typical day.
-- Number of people who return their grocery carts to the proper location.
-- Number of dog walkers who actually pick up their pets' messes.
I'll have a couple of new ones for him next week. Good luck!
-- Robert L. Rada, Ventura
Ventura citizens have shown their ignorance. First they shoot down Measure A. Then they elect Mike Tracy. This retired city employee is already pulling down a $15,000-a-month pension and now we have to pony up an additional $800 a month to pay him his City Council stipend. But gosh, let's not pay a half-cent additional sales tax! Morons!
-- Joseph Dodge, Ventura
As Veterans Day approaches, I just want to thank all the brave men and women who are still in the military and those who have served in the past. As a disabled veteran, not a day goes by that I do not thank goodness for all the freedoms and privileges that are provided by those honorable men and women who both wake up and woke up to put on their uniforms and report for duty! I truly thank you all.
Every man, woman and child who lives a comfy civilian life should really take the time to thank those people serving and who have served in the United States military. This Veterans Day is the perfect opportunity!
-- Larry Carlin, Ventura
On the average, I receive two envelopes a week with the heading as follows:
"Your personalized address labels are enclosed."
Usually there is a total of 48 labels in each envelope, for a grand total of 96 labels. Yes, 96 labels per week.
If I were to mail four letters a month and attach 95 labels to each letter, I would still have some labels left.
Receiving this many labels is very, very annoying and, in addition, very expensive to the company sending these labels. Plus, the company will not receive any good points from the person receiving the labels since we have established that receiving the labels is very annoying.
So what are we going to do?
To begin with, tell this story to every one of your friends with the recommendation to return the labels to the sender or, better yet, to refuse the envelope. Very soon, you won't receive any labels, which is OK, since nowadays there is a computer in every family that has the capability of printing your own labels.
-- Armando Cardenas, Camarillo
I would like every American on Veterans Day to take some time and think about those who are not here because they gave their lives to protect our country. At the same time, think about if you had to go in their place, what you would be thinking right now.
-- Doug Bamforth, Simi Valley
Re: John Henke's Nov. 4 letter, "No global warming":
It seems to me that Henke doesn't seem to have many of his facts quite right or left out some.
It is very true that there have been many climate changes over the centuries, but it seems that they have greatly accelerated because of man's industrial revolution. He states that during the past 11 years, the coldest year was 11 years ago, so I would think that it was getting warmer during the last 10 years. That is irrelevant because of all these colossal facts we now have:
-- For more than 500 years, explorers left Europe looking for the Northwest Passage, but to no avail. They just found thousands of miles of ice. But just this past year, two cargo ships made it through, and many more will be doing it soon.
-- The glaciers in Glacier National Park are disappearing. The glaciers in South America have melted more in the last 20 years than in the previous 500 years. The same is true of Antarctica.
-- Pacific Island countries are disappearing under water, but they have been there for centuries.
-- What about polar bears and other species that are suffering the same fate?
-- One more fact: This last August was the second hottest August since they began keeping temperature records in 1880. Greenhouse gas has high levels of carbon dioxide, and humans have been clear-cutting the Earth's forests that live on it, and those same forests gave us back oxygen.
It seems now that nearly all the industrial nations of the world realize greenhouse gas is a major problem -- except people like Henke and many corporate CEOs who say, "Just show me the money."
-- John L. Thawley, Santa Paula
As a 20-year reading intervention teacher in the Oxnard School District, I have noticed a steady decline in the number of students who need remedial reading instruction. This, I believe, is the result of the focused efforts of the dedicated teachers of the Oxnard elementary School District.
An important program -- the split reading option -- is being threatened by the Oxnard School District's efforts to take away teachers' right to determine the best teaching strategy for the students in their classrooms.
Teachers who choose the split reading program option divide their students into smaller groups, then design and implement lessons geared specifically toward the instructional needs of students in those smaller groups.
The Oxnard School District says that smaller class size does not improve test scores. Most parents, teachers and concerned citizens would refute that position on the basis of common sense. More important, however, is the question that such a stance raises: Have test scores really become more important than the children we teach?
Each student who enters our classrooms is a unique individual with unique instructional needs and a unique learning style. The split reading option allows elementary school teachers the opportunity to more effectively address each student's learning needs. The choice to divide classes into smaller groups via the split reading option is an especially important tool for teachers of diverse student populations.
The opportunity to receive focused, small group instruction is best for our students. Those of us in the classroom know it. Parents know it.
We are asking our board of trustees to think back to when their children were in elementary school. What was best for them? That is what we want for all of our children in the Oxnard School District.
-- Dori Maria Jones, Ed.D., Oxnard
Being a newly disabled person with an amputated leg has brought me to the realization that the handicapped parking in the city of Ventura is woeful.
I have contacted several people who are supposedly in charge of this problem. I can state three outstanding problem areas that need immediate looking-into:
-- The orthopedic group located at the top of Mills Road and Loma Vista Road.
-- The medical building next door at 3555 Loma Vista Road, where my personal physician is located.
Here is a perfect example of understated handicapped parking. Both of these medical facilities have only two spaces per building, which is ridiculous.
-- The Hill Cafe on Hill Street, which is frequented by older people, many of whom are disabled, and yet they have only one space.
I can go on and cite other places, such as Channel Islands Prosthetics on Market Street and Goodyear Avenue, which does nothing but build prosthetics, yet has only two spaces.
This is a very woeful situation for a city of our size, and somebody needs to take the bull by the horns and make it right.
-- Larry Maxick, Ventura
Well, the election is over here in Ventura, and the results are in. No, not the final tally of votes cast, but the leftover signage strewn across our city streets.
I've just returned from my Wednesday afternoon errands, and while I noticed considerably fewer signs than before the election, some candidates and causes weren't very quick at removing these eyesores. This is an unofficial count of signs I saw along Thompson Boulevard, Telegraph Road, Mills Road, Main Street and Victoria Avenue this afternoon, and it does not include signs posted on private property:
Mike Gibson 29, Neal Andrews 18, Mike Tracy 14, Monique Dollonne 10, Camille Harris 9, Maureen O'Hara 9, Phil Mechanick 8, Wendy Halderman 7, William Knox 6, Robert Dugan 6, Ken Cozzens 4, Jim Monahan 4, Ed Summers 3, Ventura Unified School District board incumbents 3, John Walker 1, Yes on Measure A 2, Yes on Measure B 11, Yes on Measure C 9.
I give a big thank you to those candidates and causes who picked up their signs promptly or never put any up to begin with.
Do these things really make a difference? My tally suggests voters don't use them when deciding who and what to vote for.
-- James Hollenback, Ventura
I thank The Star for supporting the residents of El Dorado Estates in their effort to defeat Measure F. We won this battle by an outstanding margin -- 969 votes (86 percent) against the measure and 159 votes (14 percent ) for it. We also thank all those who helped get the message out, and we thank the voters of Fillmore for taking the time to cast their votes, especially with only one issue on the ballot. Their concern for the future of El Dorado residents and the City of Fillmore is tremendously appreciated.
-- Paul Schifanelli, Fillmore
(The writer is the vice president of the Voice of El Dorado Mobile Homeowner's Association. This letter was also signed by the association's full Board of Directors. -- Editor)
I would like to applaud the efforts of labor in our community to fight Measure C. Fixed on the goal of protecting union jobs and wages, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 staff and UFCW members living in and outside of Ventura volunteered countless hours in our community.
The failure to pass Measure C, limiting large retail space, will no doubt negatively affect Ventura. During tough economic times, one can understand the voter's trade for tax revenue and cheaper prices today versus the traffic, crime, loss of jobs and low quality goods of tomorrow. However, I hope that the retail giants will carefully examine the number of votes cast in favor of Measure C -- votes that represent the number of people who will not be shopping their stores in Ventura. Our vote continues by our actions long after Election Day.
-- Michele Ward, Ventura
(The writer is a member of UFCW Local 770. -- Editor)
Regarding the defeat of Measure A, it is a sad day for Ventura citizens who are loyal to their hometown to know that the majority of voters in Ventura don't care a hoot about anything or anybody but themselves and a few of their dollars per year.
But, the "no" voters will be the first to complain about the condition of our streets, the cleanliness of our parks and beaches, the slowness of emergency medical response to their 911 calls, and the inability of the police to cope with gang violence on our streets.
They probably won't miss the library services that will be gone, because they evidently don't have the ability to think responsibly. They don't realize that, along with their freedoms and privileges, they, as citizens and voters, share the responsibility for the quality of life that exists in their community. Selfishness has no place in the concept of good citizenship.
-- Will Thompson, Ventura
(The writer is president of the San Buenaventura Friends of the Library. -- Editor)
Re: your Nov. 5 editorial, "The verdicts are in":
Oh, oh, we're in trouble, folks. Whenever The Star goes along with the misleading language of the politicians, often in the past and most recently in this editorial, we learn again that we don't know whom to trust. This silliness and the consistent half-truths about how many jobs the city has cut in order to save us taxpayers money are pure baloney. The trouble is, The Star reports it the way they say it.
Example: The City Council "has eliminated 42 positions."
This is probably true enough at the bottom line, but we shouldn't forget the real fact that many, many of these positions, although unfilled -- and we should wonder how the city has continued to run if these positions were ever really that important -- have resulted in what many of us consider overly generous pensions.
Along with The Star, we must learn that it all comes from the same pocket, and the folks who run our city might consider being more sincere as we move forward. With the failure of the recent tax measure, they are really going to have to try to honestly cut back. And if Mike Tracy, who somehow managed to win a seat on the council, is really going to donate his city salary to what we assume will be some local police charity, we must remember that it is a drop in the bucket to what we are paying him each year through his massive pension as a retired police chief.
Let's start off by asking The Star to list the "42 positions" and how much we are all paying in pensions, if not in salary and, finally, how many city workers were actually dumped out on the street in order to save money, as some of our friends and neighbors have been dumped in this time of troubled economics.
-- Ross R. Olney, Ventura
Re: Bill O'Reilly's Oct. 31 commentary, "Getting radical is comfortable for Obama":
In his characteristically distorted way, Bill O'Reilly has manipulated information in order to make circular arguments for his rant about the president's supposed inner circle of radicals.
First, he trots out his regular whipping boy, old news Bill Ayers. Though not in the manner O'Reilly would like, Ayers has said on several occasions that he does have regrets for what he called "mistakes of excess." In the same article, Ayers acknowledges responsibility for the risks to which his actions exposed others.
He O'Reilly dumps on Father Michael Pfleger for comments Pfleger made about Hillary Clinton. Yet he fails to mention that Pfleger apologized twice for what he said about Clinton -- or the fact that then-Sen. Barack Obama criticized Pfleger for those very same statements. Nor does O'Reilly mention Pfleger's efforts in condemning "rap" lyrics that disrespect women or his ongoing fight against the pervasive drug problems rampant in his parish.
Distastefully, O'Reilly then goes about misrepresenting Kevin Jennings' statement regarding education. To quote Jennings, "Our curriculum at kindergarten, and first grade, and second grade and every grade until students have graduated school should be that you must respect every human being regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of gender identity, regardless of race or religion or any of the arbitrary distinctions we make among people."
And what was so wrong about the concerns expressed by Judge Edward Chen right after 9/11? In Los Angeles alone, law enforcement agencies reported 167 hate crimes in the first four weeks of the backlash to 9/11.
I ask you, would O'Reilly condemn himself as an alleged fraud, cheater and degenerate just because he settled out of court in order to avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2004?
-- Rodney K. Boswell, Thousand Oaks
Re: Ann McFeatters' Nov. 2 commentary, "Another chance at consensus":
The problem McFeatters and others have is trying to paint us all with the same brush, thereby discounting the very real science of global climate change in favor of those who want to redistribute the world resources for their own gain. Some folks, the ones who are driving this, really have an agenda -- and it is not for your good.
Those of us who have researched this scientifically have concluded that we truly have been getting warmer for a long time; that human activity has little, if anything, to do with it; and that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with it at all. We really are being sold a bill of goods by those who would claim we are at fault, and the McFeatterses of the world fall for it because some of what they say is true.
There is dogma on both sides, but the facts prove that we will not stop global warming through our efforts. The fact is that we are getting a bit cooler again, and if my understanding is correct (it is), we will have at least two years of cooling. It has been getting cooler for the last six months.
There are many scientists who do not agree with the Al Gore version of global "climate change." The Smithsonian has a pretty good bit of information on the current cooling cycle. It just could be true that we will be cooling off for the foreseeable future.
All of the (great?) dictators of the world have known that the way to gain control over a population is to first scare that population and then act like saviors from the thing they scared them about. People give up their freedom for security and peace. Check it out. Look at the real science that exists. You will see that we are being manipulated.
-- Frank Bland, Simi Valley
I am a white man who voted for John McCain. I now know this means I am a racist, bigoted, Bible-thumping, gun-toting, right-wing, foaming-at-the-mouth redneck radical. OK, OK we all agree on that. But, I still oppose President Barack Obama because the man just can't add.
I lived in Chicago for many years, and I know that being a Democrat politician from Chicago, Obama has to have been schooled in all the finer aspects of bribery, extortion, payoffs and corruption, which are the dynamics that run that city. The absolute bottom line for any Democrat from Chicago is, "What's in it for me?" This requires basic knowledge of math.
Now Obama wants to create government-run healthcare on top of all the other debt creation and inflation-causing programs he recently engineered. And he says he can add 40 million people to a program that is currently underfunded without raising costs or rationing care. It's just not possible. And as I said, any Democrat from Chicago should be able to add better than that.
Just because he looks good and talks well doesn't mean he's any good at math.
-- Larry Cox, Ventura
At a time when American taxpayers are trying to stretch their dollar as far as possible due to lost or diminished jobs, home foreclosures, rising food prices and the declining economy, President Barack Obama and abortion industry allies in Congress would mandate taxpayer funding of abortion. You and I will be paying for abortions.
The government does not have the right to force us taxpayers to pay for someone else's abortion, whether we are pro- or anti-abortion. Tell Congress to vote against the healthcare bill unless precise language is included that stops taxpayers from funding abortions. Tell the House of Representatives to vote against any rule proposed by the Committee on Rules does not allow an explicit vote on the Pitts-Stupak Amendment. The Pitts-Stupak Amendment specifically includes language to prohibit taxpayer dollars being spent on abortions.
I also want to mention that a majority of Americans -- 63 percent -- support conscience protection rules, which protects doctors, nurses and other medical workers should they choose not to perform a medical procedure, like abortion, to which they are morally opposed. Conscience protections are not currently in the healthcare legislation. The Pitts-Stupak Amendment also includes conscience protection for medical workers. This is the second reason to tell the House of Representatives to vote for the Pitts-Stupak Amendment.
-- Dr. Mary Pat Huxley, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 24 article, "McInerney attorney appeals to state court":
"Lying in wait" is a charge that assures trial in adult court. This is the newest addition to the charges against Brandon McInerney, who was 14 years, 3 weeks old at the time of Larry King's death. The thought of a 14-year- old boy waiting in a school hall for 20 minutes, outside the room in which he knew Larry King was sitting, sounds more like trying to get up nerve to resolve the problem -- perceived sexual harassment by an openly gay 15- year-old boy -- than "lying in wait." Had some adult even noticed that Brandon was in the school hall, let alone with a gun, Larry King might be alive.
Scholarly theologians -- educated, mature adults -- are in a frenzy because of inability for agreement over the perceived problems of homosexuality. However, our District Attorney's Office and prosecutor Maeve Fox think that a 13-year-old boy should have been able to handle this problem. Had he finally felt overwhelmed only four weeks earlier, he would have been assured of being tried as a 13-year-old juvenile.
Brandon's dad solved his problems with violence and a gun. His mom wasn't around because of Dad's solutions. This has gone on so long that when Brandon McInerney walks into court he will be a strapping 15- or 16-year-old, not a harassed 13-year- old.
How can the prosecutor who added a "lying in wait" charge, and the school authorities who weren't concerned for Brandon McInerney, and Larry King's family that abandoned him because of his sexual identity problems live with themselves? Murder isn't kid's play, but using up two kids to satisfy our so-called sense of justice doesn't make sense. The juvenile system is designed to work with troubled kids. Give it a chance.
-- Charleen Z. Behrschmidt, Camarillo
I've listened to all the radio commercials for Meg Whitman, candidate for governor in 2010, with great interest.
I fully supported Arnold Schwarzenegger and his run for governor back in 2003. Schwarzenegger told the masses that he was going to "reform" government. He was going to stop the wasteful spending. He was going to appoint a "spending" czar to spearhead the effort. He was going to look under every rock to find wasted tax money. I believed him.
Fast-forward six years. The budget has increased nearly 40 percent since he took office. The budget process has been a complete embarrassment, not only in California, but on a national level as well. The size of California government has continued to grow, the unions control the majority, taxes are skyrocketing, high-tech jobs continue to leave the state in record numbers and so on and so on.
So my question to Whitman is very simple: Schwarzenegger promised much of what Whitman is promising, so how is she going to be successful when Schwarzenegger has been a complete failure? Is she going to fight the unions? Is she going to reduce the size of government? Is she going to implement government pension reform? Is she going to move the government retirement age from 50 to 62? Basically, is she committed to stopping the skyrocketing cost of government?
The time is now. Does she have the answers?
-- Brian Haueter, Ventura
It looks like conservatism is again on the march in the good ol' United States! Thank you, former President Ronald Reagan, who still lives in the hearts of all who truly love this country and what it has stood for for over 233 years.
The votes in Virginia, New Jersey and New York's 23rd District on Tuesday show that the current administration's attempt to drag this country we all know and love over a cliff on the left will not stand! God is good, and so are the American people, who have seen the light and will now be empowered to stave off the results of the bad dream of just one year ago, which resulted in the most socialist regime in the history of this nation attempting to take us to where we will not go.
Now it is up to us to reinstate the values, conservative ideals and principles for which this country was founded. Thank you, all you right-thinking voters of the country who have risen above the labels of Democrat or Republican and done the absolute right thing! Long live the Republic!
-- Burt Smith, Camarillo
Re: your Oct. 30 article, "Judge blocks demolition of Wagon Wheel buildings":
Whether or not you are a concerned preservationist, if you drive on Highway 101 through Oxnard, the fate of the Wagon Wheel complex - and what the developer wants to do with the site - should be of interest to you.
The approved "1,500 homes, apartments and town homes, as well as commercial development and transit center," mentioned briefly in the article, is a project with countywide impact. Immediately adjacent to the south side of the freeway, and directly across from the stalled housing development and shopping center complex on the north side of the freeway, the proposed Wagon Wheel site development is traffic gridlock in the making.
The California Department of Transportation's years-long freeway construction project, completed less than two years ago, resulted in one off-ramp northbound and two southbound off-ramps at Oxnard Boulevard and Ventura Road that will serve both of these megadevelopments. On-ramps are at Oxnard Boulevard only.
Since I haven't heard about any big employers moving into the city, I assume these new residents will be merging into commuter traffic on the freeway, and the new commercial development will hope to lure us consumers to this location. Traffic won't dissipate into other parts of the city. It will face off across this busy corridor.
Think about it, freeway travelers: What happens in Oxnard will keep us in Oxnard -- stalled in traffic on the 101.
-- Jill Dolan, Ojai
Re: Ken Raduechel's Nov. 4 commentary, "Tell the truth above all else":
Raduechel wrote that he truly believes that homosexuality is a sin, which is why he voted for Proposition 8, denying everyone in California the right to do something he would not do.
He is surely, in this free country of ours, allowed to believe that, but I ask Raduechel where in his belief system it tells him that he has the right, God-given or otherwise, to impose his belief system on others. What would his reaction be if no one were allowed to eat beef, or eat pork or some such thing because believers in another religion truly believe that this is a sin?
-- Todd Terres, Camarillo
Re: Dave J. Betti's Nov. 4 letter, "Fly flags properly":
First and foremost, I'm a Vietnam veteran and very proud of that fact. I own American Flags & Cutlery, the only flag store in Ventura County.
This recent letter blamed the businesses that sells the flags for the Ventura County Government Center Veterans Memorial and says they are not keeping the proper sizes in stock.
So here's the truth. American Flags & Cutlery made a commitment eight years ago to supply flags for the Ventura County Government Center Veterans Memorial. We do that twice a year. We supply a 5-by-8-foot U.S. flag and a double-sided 4-by-6-foot POW/MIA flag, both of which are made in America by American workers. Those are the sizes that have been flown there as long as I can remember. These flags are supplied to the Disabled American Veterans, and they in turn put them up twice a year.
I would invite the writer to stop in and see that there is always a 5-by-8-foot U.S. and 4-by-6-foot double-sided POW/MIA flag tucked away when it is needed by the DAV for their needs.
Oh, by the way, those flags are given to the DAV free of charge. All costs are borne by American Flags & Cutlery. This is our commitment to fly those colors constantly. We continue our commitment to provide flags for the Government Center even in this economic downturn.
What happens at other locations is out of my control. However, if people come into my store, I will advise them of the proper display of the flag and selection of sizes.
-- Gary L. Parker, Ventura
Tuesday's victories by the Republican Party tell me that my fellow Americans' attention spans are getting shorter and shorter.
It was only 10 months ago that we were talking about the country going into the worst depression in our history. And who put us there? The Republicans.
When Barack Obama took office, he told us it would take at least two years before our economy would "normalize." First we'd have to stabilize the banking system so they could once again start loaning money to small businesses, followed by bringing down our high unemployment numbers. According to the latest factual information, he is right on schedule.
In the past 10 months, Obama and the Democratic Party (with a few exceptions) attacked global warming, our dysfunctional healthcare system, two unpopular wars and almost everything Americans are supposed to care about.
During those same 10 months, the Republican Party's only purpose was to say no to everything that would improve our lives and do everything to help bring down our government. It took eight years plus to get rid of all our laws that would have prevented corporations from getting us into this mess in the first place, thanks to the Republicans.
Is our attention span that short that we no longer remember what our country was like before the Democrats got into office? According to the latest polls, independents are actually voting to put Republicans back in office again. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, couldn't they at least wait another year and two months?
-- Steve Binder, Oxnard
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
This article was disturbing to me. I am a huge proponent of eliminating lawns and planting drought-resistant plants. But requiring the removal of mature oxygen-producing and carbon dioxide-cleansing trees and bushes seems counterproductive. The homeowner prevented erosion at his expense and beautified the hillside.
If you're going to eliminate all "non-native" plants in the area, you can start by taking out the "non-native" pine trees placed on public right-of-way next to our home 30 years ago on Mountclef Boulevard. All of the homeowners here would love to get rid of the messy pine needles that blow into our yard constantly. And look around for all the eucalyptus trees in the city.
The Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency has some major work to do.
COSCA should move their energies forward by restricting future encroachments and structure encroachments, or maybe assisting homeowners who want to improve the city property adjacent to them at their expense.
-- Dennis Allen, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Nov. 3 article, "Moorpark-area water rates likely to increase 16%":
I want to thank The Star for the Page 6, Section A, story regarding the water rate hikes that will happen in Moorpark unless we act together. I only wish The Star had chosen to carry the story on Page 1. It is that important.
Let me get this right. Because the Ventura County Waterworks District was in such dire straits earlier this year, we were forced to ration our water use by a minimum of 15 percent. Where were all the hydrology experts at the district and the municipalities when the environmental impact studies were being conducted and certified prior to all the development? They were obviously sleeping or they did not care that there was not enough water to supply their customers. Development equates to tax revenue.
We did such a great job conserving water this summer that the district's revenue stream has been affected. Therefore, the district must now retaliate by increasing the rates again to make up the difference. How disingenuous is that! As the old saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished.
I would suggest that along with our rate hikes, the water district be forced to reduce their operating budget by 31 percent -- 15 percent for January 2009 and 16 percent for January 2010. Additionally, the district should be required to reduce its profit margin by the same 31 percent.
In any event, everyone should write letters of protest to the district at: Ventura County Clerk of the Board, 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura, CA 93009. They should also plan on attending the public hearing at 7 p.m. Dec. 8 in the City Council chambers at the Simi Valley City Hall, 2929 Tapo Canyon Road. If more than half of the district's customers object in writing, the district will be forced to cancel the current proposed rate hike.
This could be another tea party moment.
-- Roger Maki, Moorpark
I recently toured the Simi Valley Landfill and Recycling Center, which is owned and managed by Waste Management.
I was shocked and surprised by what I saw and learned. I was expecting to see huge amounts of smelly garbage with birds circling overheard, and instead I came away very impressed with the operation and most of all consideration Waste Management has for the residents of Ventura County and beyond.
I was amazed at how well-managed the landfill is. Special care is given to keep clean air for close-by residents, as well as safety features for its staff and street and freeway drivers by reducing truck traffic. Mounds of rubbish are completely covered each night in the late afternoon after compacting machines minimize the daily intake. Wind fences and "deodorant" spraying have been constructed to curtail offensive odors, and pipelines carry methane gas, which is a byproduct of decomposing waste, through generators that work around the clock to capture that energy and maximize yield and efficiency.
They have even dedicated more than 500 acres for open space and wildlife habitats and created hiking trails and an area for children to sit and learn about landfills and their importance in our lives.
This landfill will reach its capacity in 2027, and Waste Management has proposed to expand the landfill by 371 acres and make improvements that will serve the residents of Ventura County until 2050.
Landfills are as important as our parks and open space, and I hope the Ventura County Board of Supervisors will approve this important expansion.
Take your family on a tour and learn how well our rubbish and recyclables are disposed. For more information or to schedule a tour, contact Lisa Hemenway at 805-581-1746 or LHemenway1@wm.com. And please don't forget to take time to recycle.
-- Diana Malmquist, Westlake Village
You know what would really help me gain a clear and local perspective on the real impact of passing/not passing the proposed healthcare reform? Some honest, open dialogue between our local leaders, specifically Reps. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley.
As a grad student, I'm partial to finding the facts on issues through doing my own research. However, after spending many, many hours on the Internet, including Capps' and Gallegly's Web sites, sifting through facts/myth sheets, summaries and bullet points, I get the sense each side is telling their own version of the story and maybe not the whole story.
Where is the real, complete story? How can we get the real truth?
Perhaps if Capps and Gallegly care to spend time together with us, speaking their mind on healthcare reform and taking our questions, we just might get there. I'm sure my school will gladly open its doors to host a debate.
-- Maria Arias, Sherman Oaks
(The writer is a student of public policy at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. -- Editor)
Re: John Henke's Nov. 4 letter, "No global warming":
It's truly sad when global warming deniers like John Henke spout unsupported accusations against people like Al Gore. It borders on silly when they make meaningless -- again, unsupported -- assumptions about the weather the Vikings encountered 1,000 years ago in Greenland. But when they don't even read their own letters, well, that's just plain ridiculous!
In his first paragraph, Henke wrote: "During the past 11 years, the coldest year was 11 years ago. That means the Earth has been cooling." Wrong! That means the Earth has spent the last 11 years warming! If he got that part wrong, it stands to reason that he has the rest of it wrong too.
Perhaps Henke should take a class in climatology before he toes the conservative mark on the subject again. At the very least, he should take a course in proofreading.
-- Burton Weinstein, Simi Valley
Re: John Crisp's Nov. 3 commentary, "Blinders the latest fashion":
This commentary discusses our willingness to ignore facts we don't like. As proof, he cites a poll that indicates only 57 percent of people believe that global warming is real. So let's look a few facts.
If we look at global temperature data and we pick our starting point as 100 years ago, we would indeed say that the Earth is warming. But if we start 10 years ago, we would say that the temperature is stable. But then if we start 5,000 years ago, we would say that the Earth has cooled. Then again, if we start 100,000 years ago, we would say the temperature is cyclical.
These facts don't even begin to touch on whether humans have caused these temperature changes. Yet despite the uncertainty the data implies, some people still try to stifle discussion by blithely claiming, "The debate is over!"
Crisp is indeed correct that we humans often practice "willful disbelief." But when it comes to global warming, who is more guilty of this -- the skeptics or the believers?
-- Todd Strasburger, Thousand Oaks
Re: James Giles' Nov. 3 commentary, "Eliminate profit motive":
I completely agree with the premise put forth by Giles. Today, we are "creating" more criminals in the way we handle the drug issue, especially marijuana. Instead of putting our kids in jail, let's try and protect them -- yes, protect them -- by handling the drug as if it were cigarettes or alcohol.
We all know that the kids can get the drugs, and we also know that they have no idea what they are ingesting. Youngsters feel they are invincible, and no amount of warning is going to scare them off. If we were to legalize it, not only would we eliminate a certain criminal element, but we could monitor how the drug is produced and manufactured, tax it so that the various government agencies would make more money, sell it with certain legal restrictions such as those regulating cigarettes and alcohol, and then leave it up to parents to monitor what their children are doing.
The fact is that our children are very much at risk with the use of street drugs and medications exchanged without anyone knowing what they are. Nothing has worked to eliminate or lessen that risk. All we have done is create a whole new generation of criminals and create more need for the crimes to be committed.
I think the decriminalization of drugs is the issue, however -- not the profit motive. I know many people will not agree with me, but those are my thoughts.
-- Jan Schulman, Oxnard
Re: your Oct. 22 article, "Labor uprooted":
We have two caring, nurturing, married people improving the surrounding area of their home -- so called "open-space dirt" adjacent to their property. They are making it more beautiful, more functional and weed-free, with a water irrigation system and protection from slide damage. They enhanced the surrounding area at their own expense, devoting time and energy for three decades.
Now they are being criticized, and with tyrannical dictating by civil servants, told to remove their beautification of the environment at their own expense within 30 days due to a new ordinance, after years of tender care to the surrounding environment.
I am astonished at the over-the-top demands of the bureaucrats at the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. Rather than being commended for their wonderful efforts of caring for and adding lush green plants and trees to the surrounding uninhabited environment, the Rassulis are condemned by the do-gooders from Thousand Oaks.
Humanitarian effort be damned. Common sense be damned. Reasonableness be damned. Penalties be damned. The open-space property now beautified ought to be deeded to this caring couple for their years of tender loving care of the surrounding environment.
-- Gerald Christian Nordskog, Ventura
Re: Thomas D. Elias' Oct. 21 commentary, "Whitman's eBay tax stance under review":
I am totally amazed Elias would condemn Meg Whitman for denying the California legislators millions of tax revenue. "The chance to collect big money," he says.
What would they do with it? Pay the state's debt? Save it for the proverbial rainy day? Maybe return it to the taxpayer?
We have gotten the state far enough it debt. Don't give it to us more. We will just spend it and borrow some more to spend.
Elias says Whitman is "contributing significantly to the ongoing fiscal crisis." Nonsense! I suppose he favors a California Constitutional Convention to override Proposition 13. Howard Jarvis saved the taxpayer several billion that they would add to the current state debt. Sounds like he wants Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown for governor.
Stick with "change." I have heard that word before. Let's do it: Provide the California tax-and-spenders with pocket change to spend and keep the folding stuff out of their hands.
-- Robert Charlton, Thousand Oaks
Re: your Oct. 26 In Brief article, "Up for discussion at CLU: cloning":
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
How appropriate for The Star to print California Lutheran University's information regarding human cloning so close to Halloween. For a "Christian" university to present a speaker who is expected to be a defender of a process that disrespects the human person is problematic, if not ghoulish.
Pence asks, "Who's afraid of human cloning?" My response is, "I am!" And so should you be, if human life is brought so low as to be an experiment in a Petri dish whose parts can be manipulated and extracted at the expense of the life that has been made.
I just watched an episode of "Numbers" dealing with cloning, and when the FBI agent says to the scientist who fathered the clone, "I am sorry for your loss," the scientist says, "I do not cry when I toss out a Petri dish, do I?" This is the cold disregard that is prevalent in the area of human stem cell science.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
-- Dorothy Hage, Newbury Park
President Barack Obama would have us believe the increase in the gross domestic product indicator is his miracle and the recession is ending.
The GDP is the sum of consumer consumption, investments and government spending. It doesn't take a fifth-grader to figure out that the $3 trillion Obama and Congress have spent since January is the reason the GDP went up.
On the other hand, what does it all mean?
Wake up, America: Washington is still using the smoke and mirrors, and we have to change the horses.
-- Ray Holm, Thousand Oaks
Re: Jason Oliver's Oct. 30 commentary, "Union's tactics go way too far in Simi Valley":
After reading Oliver's one-sided commentary, it is obvious who his friends are.
Just because other people decided to roll over and take a pay cut doesn't mean our police officers should have to. When other city employees start handling gang crime, arresting drug dealers and dealing with all the other situations that our officers do, then I might feel the police should take a pay cut.
I happen to be in a profession that was hit harder than most, but I don't have the gall to think others should have to suffer my fate just to "even things out."
I don't believe for a minute that Councilman Glen Becerra was scared when he and his family saw the officers in front of his house. I believe Becerra was angry, and I don't appreciate him thinking that the people of Simi Valley are so stupid as to believe otherwise.
How can the city cry poverty when they throw themselves a party with thousands of taxpayer dollars? I have lived in this city for 44 years and saw no reason for this.
I have a thought for Oliver: When you can convince criminals to commit 2 percent less crime, then you might have a good enough argument to cut police officers' wages. But I have a hunch that you'd be better off trying to hold back the tide than accomplish that.
Oliver doesn't speak for me or my family or any of my friends. When armed people go into buildings to kill others or rob stores or banks or take an innocent child, the men and women of our Police Department are heading toward the problem and helping people in peril -- including Oliver -- without so much as expecting a thank you.
-- Sandy Monroe, Simi Valley
Re: your Oct. 14 article, "Conference expected to draw figures key to fall of the Berlin Wall":
I applaud the Reagan Library for holding events emphasizing the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9.
While we won the Cold War, we face continuing challenges to our freedom and Constitution. We are asked to give up our rights to defeat terrorism (with the Patriot Act), or protect the children, the environment, or those with sensitive ears. Constitutional issues arise with undeclared wars and unprecedented bailouts of "too large to fail" corporations.
One reporter recently asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "Where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?" Pelosi derisively dismissed the question by saying, "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
Contrary to Pelosi, Congress has no constitutional authority to legislate healthcare, and this reform violates the Fourth Amendment by giving the government access to our personal healthcare and financial information. And if you do not obtain "acceptable" health insurance, you will be fined without the due process protection of the Fifth Amendment.
Twenty years after the Berlin Wall fell, we must continue to be alert to violations of our freedom. Libertarians recognize that our rights are under assault from both the left and the right as we slide down a slippery slope to more state control. Such equal-opportunity duplicity was also evidenced in the Pentagon Papers, which documented government lies about the Vietnam War through five presidents, from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon. ("The leak that stunned a nation," TimeOut Oct. 30-Nov. 6).
Thomas Jefferson warned, "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." We must demand that our representatives uphold the oath they took to support the Constitution.
-- Bruce K. Bell, Moorpark
Re: your Sept. 20 Opinion package, "Ojai Valley Scenic Resources Protection Zone proposal":
I noticed in various media outlets that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is willing to waive environmental reviews in order to speed construction of a new football stadium in Los Angeles. However, based on comments in The Star, Ojai farmers are facing increased scrutiny if they want to build a fence or barn on their land.
It appears that a stadium would have more of a negative environmental impact than any fence or barn that a farmer can put up.
It should be interesting to see how this plays out in the environmental regulatory world -- the glitz and glam of the NFL versus the practical farmer who wants to protect his investment.
-- Ralph J. Coolman, Ventura
Re: your Oct. 25 article, "Republicans bash Democrats on healthcare plans":
This story regarding the healthcare mess Congress is stumbling over reports a new requirement that most people buy health insurance. Who are the ones not included in "most people?" Illegal immigrants? Will they be denied healthcare? If they can't afford insurance, surely they cannot afford healthcare. Or will the rest of us be required to pick up the cost of their care via federal benefits?
-- Hal Wilder, Camarillo
Enlightened U.S. citizens cannot help but conclude that America is in a rapid retreat from greatness and is in a state of deep moral decline.
The American republic was extremely successful for 150 years after its founding. This was partly because the trends and movements that doom any government to early self-destruction were carefully limited and controlled by our Consititution.
After 150 years, politicians began to ignore the Constitution and the doctrines of liberty. Today's chaos and crises are the result of that trend, which a nation of timid citizens has foolishly allowed to continue.
Another huge factor has been the decline of religious influence in American culture and the refusal of good people, especially church-going people, to oppose evil.
-- John K. Carter, Camarillo
After reading and hearing former Ventura Unified School District board candidate Monique Dollonne demean the Ventura district, teachers and students, I want to set the record straight.
Dollonne has repeatedly stated in press releases, mailers and paid VC Reporter advertisements that, "A shocking 44 percent of VUSD children cannot even read and write at proficiency levels for their grade standard."
At first, that statement seems quite startling. What Dollonne doesn't say is that the standard by which she uses to demean VUSD is currently under fire by the federal government as misleading and not representative of actual results. The law set arbitrary annual stairstep increases into place without regard to issues such as demographics, student turnover rates, language or special education consideration.
Most recently, federal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said on Sept. 24 that the law "unfairly labeled many schools as failures even when they were making real progress ... placing too much emphasis on absolute test scores rather than student growth ... and is overly prescriptive in some ways while it is too blunt an instrument of reform in others."
He further said, "Many parents just view it (No Child Left Behind) as a toxic brand that isn't helping children to learn." Most importantly, in the speech he referred to a proposed "growth" model that more aptly reflects real, measurable results. See www.ed.gov for the press release.
In our county, using Dollonne's now ill-fated standard, there are currently 12 districts scoring below Ventura Unified and seven scoring higher (www.ed-data.org).
While her scare tactics appear shocking at first, the truth is that Duncan realizes that the current measurement system does not in fact measure true results. VUSD has shown consistent, considerable growth in all areas since NCLB was put into place.
-- John Walker, Ventura
(The writer is a board member of the Ventura Unified School District and the California School Boards Association. -- Editor)
A "Dealers Record of Sale" form must be completed each time a firearm is purchased, for a fee of $25. By law, the charge cannot be more than the actual cost, and the state is expressly prohibited from making a profit on the DROS fee. How does the State of California validate charging sales tax on a required fee that is added to the actual cost incurred?
-- James Walker, Camarillo
There's no arguing that history is a good indicator of the future. Take, for instance, Hillary Clinton's vaccines for children program.
In 1993, a Democratic-controlled Congress passed Clinton's vaccines for children program, which used federal power to ensure universal immunization. Sounds great, right? Well, the problem is that the U.S. government purchases 55 percent of the childhood vaccine market at forced discounted prices. The results have been declining financial incentives to develop and produce vaccines.
The result of Clinton's program was that the government, instead of the doctors, became the direct purchasers of most children's vaccines. Basically, the government was controlling the price to the drug manufacturers, and it was below the cost, so many manufacturers were forced out of business. Thirty years ago there were 25 companies that produced vaccines. Today there are only five. That has caused a serious shortage of vaccines; we now have the evidence of these shortages with H1N1 vaccine. The vaccine has moved at a snail's pace. This is a direct result of the government's involvement in the care of your health.
Do you want the government handling your healthcare? This should not be a partisan issue. It should be about you and your family's right to decide what kind of care that you want, not somebody in Washington who will never have the same level of care that you would receive.
We can't change history.
-- Kenneth Manzer, Camarillo