What this community really needs

As 2012 starts, allow me to offer a challenge to our community. That is for us to move past our failures to success. The failure I am speaking of is our community’s lack of year-round, well-managed 24/7 shelter. For at the moment, we fail in two ways — rather dramatically.

The first is where we are failing to respond properly to what is a clear, present and urgent need for well-managed, year-round 24/7 shelter. I am aware that such shelter will not be a magic wand that will resolve all issues related to poverty or homelessness.

And the second way where we are failing is to reflect the true heart of this community, where I have lived since 1991. I long ago lost count of the number of people and businesses who are more than willing to actively participate and contribute to addressing identified needs in our community. Be it NAMI or Turning Point or Project Understanding or the local community councils, and so many others. I have witnessed again and again businesses and residents who, most often without fanfare or recognition, express the “where am I needed?” and “where can I contribute?” outpouring that is so much a part of this community of San Buenaventura.

When we focus on well-managed shelter, cannot 2012 be the year when we move beyond all the, at times well-intentioned, explanations of “why we cannot” to “here is how we will!”?

It truly breaks my heart, when, in our community of San Buenaventura, with both the recognition of what we need to do and so many who are more than willing to step up to fulfill their roles, we still fail, with all the politically correct code words, to move forward.

I don’t comment on our failure for the purpose of shaming us but rather to encourage us to get off our duffs and do the right thing. If we continue to accept failure, then shame will be merited.

I truly hope 2012 will be the year we respond to this recognized need.

John S. Jones

Obama delirium

I read the letters every week. I get it that the party faithful like Becham, Schulman, Jensen and Rodewald have all been through liberal indoctrination and worship at the altar of the Mulatto Messiah. I just don’t get what it is that they like about him. Is it the stifling unemployment, the disastrous foreclosures, the record number of families on food stamps or the downgrade of America’s credit rating on his watch? Do they admire him for the failed stimulus package, the government takeover of corporations, the giveaways to unions or the broken promise to close Guantanamo? Do they like his failed foreign policy that includes Iran getting nuclear weapons, alienating Israel, bombing Libya and Muslim extremists taking over Egypt? Maybe it is the constant stream of scandals like Solyndra, Operation Fast and Furious or refusing to prosecute Black Panther members who blocked white voters from a polling place that they find so compelling. Do they enjoy his open disdain for the military, his constant raising of the debt limit or his lawsuit against Arizona for enforcing their border? Do they like Obamacare or the countless waivers from having to participate in it handed out to his favored corporations and unions?

I am a conservative independent but if someone I voted for was destroying the country, I am open-minded enough to admit my mistake and put my country before party loyalty. Somebody please tell me the specific accomplishments and policies that they like about the Obama administration so I can admire him, too. All I see is another failed Jimmy Carter.

Forrest Mize



Redevelopment redefined     

It is embarrassing for anyone who believes that locals are in the best position to police government decisions to face up to the recent California Supreme Court decision curtailing the role of California Redevelopment Agencies.
The decision will have a substantial effect on Oxnard, that is, in effect, a giant redevelopment zone.
But to paraphrase comedian Bill Murray, the biscuit wheels have come off the gravy train that has made Oxnard one of its favorite stops.

On the surface, redevelopment looks like a good way to clean up problem areas. But the good intentions have long ago been undermined by mechanisms like misuse of the term “blight,” which pretty much allows agencies to take anyone’s property for any phony reason without due process or meaningful compensation.

In addition to taking property, redevelopment agencies have the ability to use tax increment funds to provide infrastructure for future development. Streets, sewer, water and power can all be installed at public expense, thereby benefiting special interests. The process is so convoluted that few citizens even try to follow what is happening. The implications have the ability to completely undermine the moral authority of local decision makers.

CBS did a 60 Minutes segment on redevelopment a few years back that exposed some horror stories. But you needn’t go to Cleveland to see how it works. Indeed, we have trouble right here in River City that illustrates the problems.

Years ago, the Oxnard City Council acted to create an Ormond Redevelopment Zone that includes mostly vacant and agricultural lands. It appears to be an outrageous violation of California law that supposedly restricts use of redevelopment for initial development of vacant lands, but it sailed through.

Since then, this action has been re-authorized on several occasions by subsequent City Councils.
Members of Ormond Beach Observers tried to obtain information from the Agency for years, without success.

So even though we and the Ormond Beach Task Force have been meeting for more than 20 years, dealing exclusively with Ormond Beach issues, we never had a grasp on what the Agency plans were and how they would be funded.

Clearly, these agencies have been in a position that exposed them to graft due to large amounts of available funds and the ability to use public funds for the benefit of private interests. Current investigations by the county district attorney, state attorney general and even the feds may include Oxnard city business practices, and this has undermined confidence in city government.

The addition of questions regarding redevelopment agency actions just adds to the suspicion and confusion.

Let’s hope this is all ended by the California Supreme Court decision. The fact that the Justices were unanimous in their initial decision should be considered definitive. But attempts will be made to resurrect redevelopment agencies.

OBO is concerned that, if revived, years from now we will find ourselves back in the same place. After all, it took decades for anyone to take effective action against agency abuses. Additionally, the same local leaders who paved the way for projects like the Ormond Redevelopment Zone are still in power.

Oxnard citizens must find leaders capable of saying no to ill-conceived proposals. The alternative is having to wait for the Supreme Court to readjust our moral compass.

Al Sanders
President of Ormond Beach Observers



Blame the drugs or disorder

Thanks for the story on Dee Dee Watkins and the update on River Haven (12/22, News).

My church supported the encampment early on. I remember delivering food and other donations to them before they had their . . . well, what would you call them?  Yurts, maybe. More recently, I also was part of a group that visited River Haven as well as other such places as part of the church’s drive to bring the homeless into visibility and connection with the rest of the community. I had lost touch with them in the last few years, however, so the article was of particular interest to me.

A couple of observations on your article: The two mental illnesses attributed to Ms. Watkins — manic depression and bipolar disorder — are actually the same affliction, the latter being the more contemporary name for it rather than a different illness. Possibly Ms. Watkins had the two labels applied to her at different times and  misunderstood how many conditions were represented.

Also, Ms. Watkins’ history suggests that rather than her drug and alcohol abuse leading to mental illness, an underlying, undiagnosed bipolar condition led to her chaotic lifestyle. This pattern is common with untreated bipolar disorder. And of course, the substance-abuse overlay would lead to secondary mental health issues.

The chicken-or-egg dilemma probably doesn’t matter at this point except that she might be more gentle in judging herself, knowing that her decision making was impaired from an early age.

Margaret Morris

Not asking too much

God sent an angel to address a meeting of the Republican Party.

The angel says, “God has decided to grant you one of two wishes.

 “One choice:
“1. God will make America into a paradise;
“2. there will be full employment, high wages, free medical care for everyone;
“3. and God will pay off the national debt for you.
“4. Also, Obama will be re-elected.

“The other possibility:
“1. God will make global warming destroy American farming, food crops will fail, epidemics will break out,
“2. America will go broke, you will default on your debt,
“3. and unemployment will go up to 50 percent.
“4. Former middle-class Americans will be lying dead of starvation in the gutter and no one will bother even to pick up their corpses.
“5. The Republican Party, however, will win the 2012 elections by the biggest landslide in history.”

Speaker Boehner cannot control himself any longer.

He leaps to his feet and says, “And I would still be Speaker of the House, right?”

Tom Becham

How to win as an incumbent

It certainly was quiet over winter break in Ventura. Do you think it may have any bearing on the fact that the Ivory Tower (Ventura City Hall) has been closed for that week?

I have sent a couple of e-mails to the city manager, Mr. Rick Cole, and to the City Council asking them if they could possibly place an item on the council agenda asking the council members to vote on the idea of placing an item on the next election, giving the citizens of Ventura a chance to vote on the idea of being able to vote for the mayor of Ventura instead of the “good ol’ boy” method we now have of the council members picking their good friends as mayor.

I also asked if they could at the same time place an item on the next ballot giving the citizens of Ventura a chance to vote on the idea of moving our local elections to coincide with the general election, thereby assuring that more folks would be casting votes.

This last local election was a joke; barely 6,000 people out of the 60,000 or 70,000 registered voters were able to re-elect two incumbents and install the newest council member.

The Council has always relied on the fact that if it held the elections in odd-numbered years, only a handful of citizens would bother to vote. That way the incumbents always have the best chance for re-election, and you know what?  It works.  Mr. Monahan has been on the dais for something more than 30 years, now that’s a long time.

As of this writing, I have not received an answer from anybody except the new “good ol’ boy” Mayor Mike Tracy, and all he said was, “Thanks for the suggestion.” It’s amazing how fast Mr. Tracy went from retired “cop” with a huge retirement to a fulltime politician.

Rellis Smith



Why would a good man want to be president?

In response to Paul Moomjean’s article of Dec. 8, “Why would anyone want to be president?”

Mr. Moomjean has now decided that since his GOP candidate of the month, Mr. Newt Gingrich, is found wanting, as is Mr. Herman Cain (who is basically out of the running), we must now accept that “perfection is not an option.” That is how he justifies supporting the people he supports.

But let’s look at who else runs for president. Our president, Barack Obama, took office three years ago and has been struggling to undo and fix the misery that his predecessors took us into.  He has not been completely successful. Nobody could have been. If one of Moomjean’s men had been elected, do you think more of us would be at work? Would the banks have acted differently? Would fewer homes have been lost? Would we have pulled our troops back home? Naaahhh. Not likely. Not even possible. Not after that mess Bush and his cohorts got us into.

But … nobody, and I mean nobody, can deny that President Obama has been working as hard as he can to try and make things better. I’m not going to quote numbers and percentages here; we’ve all heard them until our heads want to explode. We, the people, only know the momentary reality of things. We are hurting financially. People are hungry, people are homeless, people are jobless, people are sick without health care, all things our President has been fighting to fix since he took office. And why is he having such a bad time? Because the GOP doesn’t give a damn about that stuff. They just want to remove him from office in any way possible and cut him off at every possible turn. Refuse to allow him to put in place any of the corrections he has attempted to install. As they will tell you, all they want is to get a Republican back in the presidential office.  That’s their goal. Not to fix what is wrong in our country. Not to help our people. Just to get back in office. The GOP is strictly about money and power — and THAT is why they want to be president. No secret there. They have admitted that they will do anything to make President Obama a failure, even if it hurts our country, our people.

Mr. Moomjean says that our President is hated on the left. Well, I’m sure that there are people on the left who hate him, just as there are people on the right who hate Gingrich, Romney, Huntsman, Bachman and/or Perry. But in fact, this person on the left loves and respects President Obama. I don’t see him as perfection, and he has made mistakes (unlike any other president, right?), but I do see him as a good, decent man who wants to do the right thing. I hate that the members of Congress are so biased against his party that they will do any and every thing to stop him from being successful.

I hope that the people of this country are able to see past all the garbage that has been strewn on the streets that our president has tried to clean, to the man who has our country’s people’s best interests at heart. He wants to be president because he wants to make it better. He has my vote.

Jan Richman Schulman

Now let’s lean to the right

Wow, Mr. Editor! How far left can you lean? To say that “one man’s yacht may have sacrificed dozens of workers’ pay to get them out of poverty” is unthinking when you consider that Barack’s and Michelle’s never-ending vacations cost millions and millions of dollars that could get HUNDREDS and maybe THOUSANDS of our citizens out of poverty. Please quit the sickening liberal diatribe and figure out that there has never been a poor man to give someone a job.

Richard Pillow

Editor’s Note: According to a CBS news report published Aug. 17, current and past presidents’ vacation days are as follows: President Barack Obama had taken 61 vacation days after 31 months in office. For the same duration in their presidencies, George W. Bush had spent 180 days at his ranch, Ronald Reagan had taken 112 vacation days at his ranch and Bill Clinton took 28 days. Data compiled by CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller.

Re: New laws for Californians, effective 2012; Editorial, 12/29)
With respect to AB 144, the purported ban on unloaded open carry of handguns, the bill actually creates no less than 116 exemptions which people may employ to lawfully carry openly-worn and unloaded firearms; these are in addition to those other pre-existing exemptions that were not modified by AB 144.

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