The reality of repeat offenders

Re: Three strikes, you’re out; Dismantling education in favor of prisons? Editorial, feature, 8/16

On average, California students spend about 180 days in school. If the students are in class eight hours a day (usually it’s more like six hours), that’s 1440 hours per school year. If California is spending about $8,667 per student that’s about $6.01 an hour per student.

Inmates spend 8,760 hours a year in prison at $47,102 each a year. That’s about $5.38 an hour per inmate.

Now, let’s remember some of the crimes that constitute violent and serious crime (according to the Penal Code, all violent crimes are classified serious, but not all serious crimes are considered violent.) Violent: murder, attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, attempted rape, kidnapping, lewd and lascivious with child under 14, continuous sex abuse of child under 14, robbery, burglary 1st (when victim is in house), carjacking, threaten crime with intent to terrorize. Serious but not “violent” crimes: assault with deadly weapon (only if an actual weapon is used), attempted robbery, attempted carjacking.  Some crimes that are neither serious nor violent (according to the Penal Code): corporal injury to spouse, battery on spouse, battery, attempted assault with deadly weapon, burglary 1st (no victim present in house), identity theft, elder abuse.

So if you think a person who has committed two prior violent and/or serious offenses, continues to commit crime and is convicted again of one of the crimes that is neither violent nor serious should not spend the next 25 years to life in prison (assuming, of course, he/she has not committed any other crime for which he/she was not caught), my questions are how much does it cost to pay for the police officers who continuously arrest the person? How much does it cost to hire the county jailer, the clerk of the court, bailiff, court reporter, jury pool, judge, or the substance abuse program two or three times over? How much does it cost the victim?

— ferg_kurt

To the editor:

The facts about the Oxnard brand project

Thank you for your editorial “Moving on to a better future for Oxnard,” 8/9. In reference to the Oxnard brand project, I would like to clarify a few points that will assist in the understanding of the brand project.

It was actually a seven-year project with many layers, surveys and events that took place to get to the seven-month project that Roger Brooks with Destination Development conducted from January to July 2010. The two announcements you mentioned were only part of 50 recommendations in the final plan. The name change recommendation was only that — a suggestion and not part of the long term international brand. Adding “Shores or Beach” to the name Oxnard would assist in creating a sense of place for Oxnard since it is not known as a coastal city. The international brand will be in development for many years, but the beginnings are there through Oxnard’s diverse culture, festivals and award winning international cuisine. We have a great start to a long-term vision to create something the residents of the county and visitors from out the area will enjoy.

I also hope that the city leaders and residents can work together and put the investigation in the past. Oxnard has a bright future ahead, but only if we focus on the future — and not the past.

Janet S. Sederquist
Oxnard Convention & Visitors Bureau


Saving money by realigning prisoners

In the recent editorial (8/16), your newspaper wrote: “There is no justification to spend so much more on prisoners when we could focus on keeping the inmate population down.”

Please note that the state of California has been successfully reducing its prison inmate population since October 2011 thanks to Public Safety Realignment (AB 109). The current population of California’s 33 adult institutions is approximately 120,000 inmates, and that’s down some 24,000 from late September last year.

It costs less to incarcerate someone in county jail than in state prison, though, without realignment, there would almost certainly be 24,000 more inmates in state prison than there are today.

Jeffrey Callison
Press Secretary,
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,
Office of Public and Employee Communication



The compounding irony

Mr. Moomjean, you’re right in calling down the gay guy thinking Jane Pitt a bitch deserving of death. (Right Persuasion, 7/10) Rush Limbaugh, though, who’s capable of as outrageous verbiage, you speak of unflinchingly, apparently a most worthy, even avuncular, pundit.

You entitle your piece “The tolerance party?” but speaking still of Jane Pitt, her comments damn, in effect, how many millions of folk who are attempting to live Christian lives? Their lack of conformity to her views is a vice? Your defending her in the context of tolerance makes you seem not aware of the compounding irony!

I’ve been reading your articles for some time, despite their predictability, especially in their apparent presumption that millions of Americans — à la Jane Pitt — aren’t worthy to consider themselves as such. Pretty broad brush, don’t you think? What is your definition of citizenship, anyway!?

At a time when not just Americans, but the whole human family is without doubt facing the most unprecedented challenges the species has ever had to face, how wise is it to focus on a hackneyed and frequently failing course that hasn’t done very well for most of us, especially if the “us” takes in the billions around the world now forced into the system?

With both parties becoming increasingly irrelevant, isn’t it time to step back and re-evaluate, especially for a person like you, attempting to influence public opinion!

Shouldn’t it be a part of your citizenship?

Duane Waln  

A gun is just a tool

I was glad to see you didn’t run to the usual liberal knee-jerk position that guns are evil. (Editorial, 7/26) It is a mental health issue. People fail to recognize that gun control laws don’t work because criminals don’t follow the law. Murder is already illegal so if Mr. Holmes gave a shit about the law, all those people would still be alive. A gun is just a tool.

Forrest Mize


The corruption never ends

So about a year ago, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R, Blatant Criminal) insisted upon instituting mandatory drug testing for Florida welfare recipients because he insisted that substance abusers shouldn’t receive government aid, and that he could save the state a huge amount of money (because obviously everyone on welfare is a drug fiend).

So what happened in the approximately one year that Florida has had this policy?

Well, they spent $178 MILLION in testing Florida cash aid recipients. Only 2 percent did not pass the tests. That saved the state of Florida $60,000. The net result was a loss of $177.9 million to the taxpayers of Florida. (And guess who else supports mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients, but on a national level? Yep, Mitt Romney. Guess the corporate welfare queen, Romney, doesn’t appreciate any potential competition from poor people who might want to cut into his tax breaks and shelters.)

But take heart. At least family members of Gov. Scott who OWN the drug testing firms made some money. Because when Republicans talk about privatizing ANY government function due to “government waste and inefficiency,” all they really intend is to throw huge corrupt profits to their cronies.

Tom Becham



The last resort

Recently I was reading about a group that was started called the Friends of the Ventura River. This group’s mission is to remove the homeless population from the river bottom and turn it into an arboretum or nature reserve. Many homeless people live down there. (Some probably have lived down there for 30 years!) What provokes people to take on a cause of removing homeless people anyway, and who decides these issues? It seems to me that this is a constant conservative theme, to remove the riff raff from this city. Who thinks of these things anyway? We people vote the City Council members to office. This sounds like a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.  It’s not enough that we have to create a botanical garden way up on top of the hill by the cross (about $150,00 to clear the first trail), but this group claims to help find housing for all these people?

Here’s my idea. Why not open up the old Honor Farm and incorporate the Ventura River people to generate income (give them jobs and a sense of importance)?  These are people, not animals. We can’t keep the common notion and saying of “not in my backyard.”   Perhaps this can be called The Last Resort. We need solutions to the problem!

Janine Sullivan

New leadership needed in Oxnard

I am a former resident of Oxnard, and when I lived there, I was very active in city affairs.  Many times, over 15 years, I appeared before the City Council with serious questions about some of their deals and practices. The lengthy report from the Ventura County District Attorney in April and discussion of the Oxnard City Manager’s role came as no surprise as these were issues I raised repeatedly over a long period. It did, however, prompt me to raise a question about what kinds of changes would have to be made to eliminate corrupting influences in Oxnard’s future city government.

I would like to mention that, over the last 20 years, I believe the city manager’s office was directly involved in forcing out two respected department heads and one division head. In addition, one finance director was fired for refusing to “cook the books.” While one of these people received a five-figure cash settlement, two won wrongful termination lawsuits that cost Oxnard’s taxpayers millions of dollars.

Were these people fired because they were incompetent? Probably not, and, in my opinion, it is more likely they were bought out, forced to resign or fired because they stood in the way of outside forces (tied to members of past and present City Councils) who wanted to clear the way for new deals to slide through or keep old deals passing through. In tying the last 20 years of this type of behavior to the city manager’s office, it is my opinion that in each of the four personnel actions identified above, various members of the manager’s office were involved directly, indirectly or coerced into looking the other way as a means of keeping their jobs. At this point in time, I find it ironic that those who now are complaining about a hostile work environment were contributors to that same type of environment just a few years ago.

The relationships of the city manager’s office, the City Council and outside influences could, at best, be described as incestuous, corrupt corporate culture or just a good ol’ boys (and girls) network doing business as usual. No matter what it is called, the climate of allowing outside influences to negatively impact any staff member has to end.

A good time to start would be in November with the election of a new mayor and two new City Council members who have no ties to the current regime. This, however, would depend on whether the voters of Oxnard have heard the wake-up call or if they want to continue business as usual with a corrupt administration.

Steve Buratti
Daleville, AL



One solution to the Cemetery Park wars

Fellow Citizens of Ventura:
Sometimes a solution to a seemingly complex problem is so simple that it is overlooked.

In the Cemetery Park wars, those who have community founders and precious family members buried in the park want them HONORED and revered. They do NOT want dogs “doing their numbers” on their ancestors’ graves.

Dog lovers, on the other hand, see precious few places in the community where they can enjoy the exhilaration of playing with their dogs in complete abandonment. There are only two other parks in Ventura where the dogs can run free, and the state is clamping down on enforcement on the beaches.

One possible WIN-WIN solution to this ongoing war could be SEPARATE BUT SHARED USE.

Cemetery Park has enough space to meet the needs of both groups. Imagine dividing the existing park into TWO sections. Measure the eastern section to include 65 percent of the space. Dedicate this as the “CEMETERY PORTION” of the park, in which dogs are TOTALLY FORBIDDEN. Then move, restore, replace all the headstones into this area. Divide the western 35 percent in two. Fence one half for free play for the dogs. Leave the other half open for sunbathing and picnicking, with leashes mandatory.

Over time, each of the areas could be progressively “enhanced.” The “cemetery” area could be tastefully landscaped into sections with low traditional stone walls. Benches and tables could be “sponsored” by living relatives of those buried there. Additional historical and memorial panels could be created, documenting the deeds and exploits of our city’s founders. Missing headstones and crypts could be replaced. The fenced “dog-run” area could have additional trees planted, with paths, benches and tables. The artistic community could be invited to create thematic dog sculptures and other animal-related art. The sunbathing, picnic area, in addition to benches and tables, could have a children’s play lot created, similar to the ones in Plaza Park or Arroyo Verde. (It could even have a “dog/animal theme.”)

Even without these creative enhancements, the newly re-created “CEMETERY MEMORIAL PARK” would continue to honor the city’s ancestors and bring joy to our community, and the initial cost of a fence would be far less than future anticipated legal fees.

It is time to lay down the weapons and stop the fighting. We are wasting the creative energies of our citizens and squandering the financial resources of our city and its staff. Let’s work together to find and implement a creative solution that will meet the needs of both sides and benefit our entire community.

Virgil Nelson

Residents need voice in alcohol permits        

For nearly 10 years the city of Ventura has saved money and improved safety through the local alcohol permit process: if a business wants to add a license to the 300+ already in place, it answers questions about specific plans for responsible retailing as part of a public hearing.  Problems have diminished under this policy scrutiny, while many restaurants and other businesses have flourished.

It works very, very well and while the city is still in growth mode, why change?

That’s why we were surprised to find a proposal from city staff in front of the Planning Commission recently to do away with public input, and issue permits over the counter.  This idea is penny-wise and pound-foolish! City staff should think twice … and NOT roll the dice. Taking the public out of the process may sound more efficient and “business-friendly,” but the truth is that Ventura’s safety is everyone’s business because we all pay a heavy price for problems caused by poor planning. This is one area where residents still need a say; it’s too risky to switch back to no transparency by the community. Handing out alcohol permits and hoping for the best is a gamble the city can’t afford, and our residents are sure to lose.

Suz Montgomery
Prevention Alliance



We need to increase the use of 90-day prescriptions

California faces serious health and budget issues that are a growing problem. Access to services, including preventive care, is critical to keeping healthy people well and to keeping those with illnesses from becoming sicker. Yet years of budget shortfalls have severely limited the funds available to invest in health programs. And drastic cuts to the Medi-Cal program now threaten millions of vulnerable low-income patients and increase the likelihood of poor health outcomes.

In this environment, it is tempting to get discouraged when big fixes do not seem possible. But the legislature should not pass up opportunities to make positive, incremental changes to improve people’s health.

In that spirit, we commend Sen. Ed Hernandez for his attempt to make a small but critical change in the law to increase the use of 90-day prescriptions.

The simple change he has proposed — which has passed the Senate — eliminates a burdensome provision that requires pharmacists to call a prescribing doctor’s office for permission to dispense a 90-day supply if the prescription is not written exactly that way. So if a doctor orders a 30-day supply with two refills, for example, the pharmacist must pick up the phone even though the doctor has already written a prescription for exactly the same amount of medication.

Calling a doctor’s office in these cases is unnecessary and counterproductive. It wastes valuable time for professional staff at pharmacies and in doctors’ offices. As a result, few pharmacists make the call.

But patients would benefit greatly from more widespread availability of 90-day prescriptions. They would save time by visiting a pharmacy only once, instead of three times, and run out of medication less frequently.

Even more important, research suggests patients would be more likely to take their medications as directed using a 90-day prescription than a 30-day prescription.

Why does this matter?

The National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) reports that up to half of patients do not take their medicine as directed, which can lead to disease progression, complications and, in severe cases, death.

In California and other majority-minority states, the stakes are especially high. A February 2012 report of Global Advertising Strategies notes that non-adherence results in an estimated 125,000 deaths each year, and that Hispanics and African Americans “index 20 percent lower in terms of adherence relative to non-Hispanic white patients.”

This compounds the problem of health disparities. Hispanics and African Americans already experience higher rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease than whites, so greater prescription adherence among these groups is absolutely essential to saving lives and improving health outcomes.

As children of color now outnumber white babies, and with ethnic minorities expected to grow to 40 percent of the American population by 2030, it is critical to take steps now to promote adherence and reduce disparities.

Improving adherence will also save money. Non-adherence costs health payers, including taxpayers, an estimated $100 billion each year in additional hospitalizations.

The Hernandez bill, now being considered by the State Assembly, is not a cure-all. But it is a positive step in the right direction toward promoting greater medication adherence for all Californians. Our Assembly members should take advantage of this chance to improve the health of their constituents.

Hank Lacayo
President, Congress of California Seniors, Ventura County

Mr. Electable

The GOP candidate vetting process is hopelessly broken because the party is controlled by a wacky combination of the pathologically greedy and a creepy doomsday cult.

When you look at the pathetic collection of nuts and repulsive losers that ran, Romney was the “most electable.” All of the issues that are accumulating were already apparent a year ago, but in Tea-Bag La-La Land, being a modern robber baron is an asset.

They couldn’t find anybody better because, in a party that thinks Sarah Palin is a gift from God and Newt Gingrich is smart, this was the best they could come up with. There is no dark horse, plan B or even plan 9. Only the comfort that they really could nominate Charles Manson and still only lose 53-47 as long as he supports tax cuts for the rich, more defense spending, and would be willing to see an (R) next to his name.

And since Mitt perfectly represents everything his party has REALLY stood for over the past 90 years, I really don’t understand the reluctance of conservatives to embrace him.

Tom Becham


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