Mike Yates expresses many opinions in his letter, including that he is not a bigot. He believes that there is a homosexual agenda, which places openly gay characters on TV, and that marriage should be only between a man and a woman.

The right to have one’s opinion is not at issue. Opinions should be considered from all extremes, but they should be limited to not causing another person harm or injury. Expressing one’s opinion can be open to judgment, though, when facts are cited. Yates seems to justify the murder of Larry King (a junior high school student) because the young student dressed in girls’ clothing.  The one fact presented in the letter states that “the school allowed him to dress in girls’ clothing and encouraged him to be open and aggressive with his lifestyle. It will come as no surprise when the boy who shot him gets off because of the stupidity of the Oxnard School District.” Wrong school district. The death of this young student was not in the school district Mr. Yates cited. The murder of student Larry King was a tragedy, and I pray that such an incident never happens again. Anywhere. Opinions should be used to make our world better, not justify intolerance or death. Facts, on the other hand, should be used to persuade the audience that the opinion is to some degree valid. Mr. Yates got that one wrong. It also should reflect upon his opinions to the readers of VCReporter. Denis

School Board Trustee, Oxnard
School District


Super Wal-Mart initiative cleared up
I would like to clarify some points about the Super Store/Large Retail Development Initiative that are consistently getting muddied.

The Initiative does not affect all future big-box development in Ventura. The Initiative was very narrowly worded to affect only big-boxes that have grocery stores in them. The big-box with groceries is what Wal-Mart builds, so this initiative is our best chance to discourage Wal-Mart.  

The initiative will not keep out a Best Buy or an Ikea. It will prevent Wal-Mart or Target from building a giant store that sells groceries. And it will stop the expansion of a “smaller” store into a Super Store that sells groceries. (I put smaller in quotes, because the Kmart property, which Wal-Mart holds the lease on, is already 100,000 square feet — double the size of the Ralphs across the street on Victoria.)

In Ventura, our neighborhood shopping centers are anchored by a Vons, Ralphs or Albertsons, which employ our neighbors and pay decent wages. These neighborhood centers are the lifeblood of the Ventura economy, and protecting them helps preserve our cherished Ventura way of life.

Nan Waltman
Ventura Chair, Livable Ventura


Giving back
Thank you for thinking about us. All the community service agencies in the area need the help of the local community now and throughout the year. Almost all charities can facilitate an “in honor of” gift. I would suggest that readers get their gifts and requests in right away in order to have best wishes sent to someone before December 25.

If you will be making a last minute “in honor of” gift, check the Web site for the charity.  Often, even if key staff are already gone on holiday, the computer system can get your gift and acknowledgments processed quickly, and you often have lots of options, such as having the letter sent to the honoree from the charity, having an e-mail sent to the honoree or allowing you to print a certificate yourself to give to the honoree directly.

Besides cash donations, we also accept donations of key items needed and offer tours.  You may find other charities can do the same. Here is our information:

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. We also invite the community to the Ventura Wish Center at 4222 Market St., Suite D, for tours at any time. You are invited to help enhance wishes by bringing donated items like airline miles, disposable cameras, travel games and gift cards. Go to www.tri-counties.wish.org/donate1.html for a list of items needed.

Airline miles are the most-needed item. You can request a Giving Miles Making Smiles kit that will help you collect airline miles from friends and family to donate. The chapter needs 12 million miles annually, and only 1 million are donated.

To schedule a tour or request a Giving Miles Making Smiles kit e-mail, Shanna Wasson Taylor at staylor@tri-counties.wish.org. If requesting a tour, please list a few date and time choices, the number in your group and any special needs issues.

Shanna Taylor, CEO
Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties Ventura


The narrow-minded majority
Man o’ man o’ man!

It should be clear to us by now that democracy really currently means that 51 percent of the people get to make up the rules. And I think it’s a safe bet heterosexuals will have that upper hand long into the future best, as I can see. But from one heterosexual to another, I’ve gotta tell ya’, this country was really supposed to be about accepting differences, and not to feel threatened by uniqueness in others. You remember, freedom of choice means race, creed, color and sexual preference (or so I thought).

The good thing about 9/11 was that for a while it brought us all together, whatever our differences. We were saddened that others would attack our commitment to freedom (there’s that freedom of choice thing again). But then an odd thing happened as time went on, lots of folks used it as an excuse to inflate and justify their prejudices. Call it blind patriotism for that narrow-minded narrow majority. So now we get to spend more tax money building walls at borders than we would on care for others, and laws prevail that only support the choice of that scared majority. In other words, forget about freedom of choice, and let it be known that the narrow-minded majority can and will create the laws for all to follow. Again, this preference stuff is subjective, so don’t give me any pretentious verbiage about what’s right or wrong. It was meant that we all get a choice in a bit of that freedom our forefathers intended. So bring on the differences; I only feel threatened by the thought that that majority, however narrow it may be, gets to impose slimmed-down choices for all of us, especially as they allow their fears to make protectionist decisions.

Give me choice without fear or give me voice loud and clear!

Joel Weiss


Dear Santa,
Must have wine!

I have been very good this year but I could have been so much better if I had a conditional use permit. If you could arrange for me to acquire a CUP for a reasonable sum of money, I would be most appreciative. Current estimates are $20,000 and a waiting period of at least six months. The worst part is, after one makes that expenditure, there is a hearing to decide whether one receives the permit, so it could be a really big waste of time and money.

If you were to grant my wish, I would promise to do the following:

I would, once again, provide a free venue for nonprofits to raise money. Some of my favorite charitable causes are the AVID program at Ventura High School, the Humane Society in Ojai, the Ventura Music Festival, FOOD Share and Help of Ojai. But there are many more and in these uncertain economic times so many people need help.

I would, once again, provide a free venue for teachers to host retirement parties.  Most teachers’ salaries do not allow for them to rent out a restaurant or banquet hall.

From a business perspective, having these events is beneficial to nonprofits and those they serve, to teachers, and to Old Creek Ranch Winery. The most amazing miracle of all is it also provides the County of Ventura with a significant revenue stream through sales tax. Santa, I frequently write to the Board of Supervisors and remind them that every sale I do not make, due to nonsensical regulations, is sales tax they do not receive but, alas, to no avail.

I don’t want to be greedy, Santa, but as long as we are talking about the Board of Supervisors, do you think you could explain to them that the potential income from the wine industry could solve some of their fiscal problems?  Instead of cutting services to the most needy, they could be proactive in assisting successful businesses to thrive by cutting red tape.  

I personally invited every member of the Board to the debut of the Ventura County Wine Trail Map at the California Welcome Center, and none of them attended. They appear to be content to watch the cars pass right through Ventura and take their dollars to Santa Barbara and other points north.

As you well know, Santa, the wine industry is the No. 1 employer in the state and generates $500 million in revenue from California’s world-renowned wines. One would think that Ventura County would want to take pride in the success of its local industry and capture its portion of this amazing revenue opportunity.

Well, I know you are a very busy man at this time of year, so I will end my list.  But next year, I will probably look to you for some assistance with starting a produce stand at the Ranch.  I want to sell locally grown fruits and vegetables as well as eggs, and you should see those regulations!

Carmel Whitman
Founding Member of the Ventura County Winery Association
Co-owner of Old Creek Ranch and Winery
President of the Carmel M. and John G. Whitman Foundation