The beef alternative

It’s perversely ironic for rancher Cliven Bundy to excoriate poor people for collecting government subsidies, while ripping off the federal government of a million dollars in grazing fees. Bu, even if he were to pay up, Bundy and his fellow ranchers, would still be living on government welfare.

Livestock grazing is subsidized by federal agencies on 270 million acres of public land in 11 western states to the tune of nearly $300 million annually. Monthly grazing fees per cow and calf on private rangeland average $11.90, but corresponding fees on federal lands are set at a paltry $1.35.

Even so, grazing subsidies are dwarfed by other government subsidies and the medical, environmental and other external costs imposed on society by animal agriculture. These extra costs have been estimated at $414 billion annually, or $3,600 per household.

Each of us can make our $3,600 annual contribution to the common good by replacing animal products in our diet with the rich variety of grain-, nut-, and soy-based meat and dairy alternatives in our neighborhood supermarket.

Vinnie Castanza 


The basic facts

Alas, the VC Reporter has once again printed a column by Mr. Moomjean where statements are made which are easily verifiable to be false. His Right Persuasion column of April 10 states that barely 858,000 previously uninsured have paid for the insurance bought under the Affordable Care Act. First, there are no definitive numbers of how many sign-ups have actually paid. The reason for this is very simple, when one signs up on a website or over the phone, the formal application for insurance is made to an insurance company. The company then processes the application and sends a formal billing. At some time, typically 30 days, the bill is due and is considered in arrears if not paid by then. So what are the basic facts? As of March 14, long before the major ramp-up in enrollment, eight states released actual first-payment-made data. The result was, 1,050,000 had made that first payment out of approximately 1,400,000 applications processed. That is in just eight states! Nearly all models expect that better than 90 percent will ultimately make that first payment.

The conservative have such a long history of problems with reality. Who could imagine using airplanes as missiles? Well, the Clinton administration did for the Atlanta Olympics. The Iraq War might be six days or six weeks, certainly not six months. Actually, it lasted nearly 9 years. The polls showing Obama leading Romney were skewed. Obama won handily, with Romney getting only 47 percent (fitting) of the vote. The Bureau of Labor Statistics “cooked the books” showing job growth. Well, no, the data was subsequently revised as is typical, but it was upward, not downward. The Affordable Care Act website was cooking the books. Well, no, and with the continued completions of processes started, the final number is expected to be nearly 7.5 million.

Finally, what is this BS about Social Security, working but struggling to survive? Again, basic facts. From its inception, Social Security was designed as a pay-as-you-go system, that is, IT IS SUPPOSED TO GO BROKE EVERY YEAR! Social Security ran a profit from 1936 to 1958. In 1959, it began running a minor deficit. With various modifications, it vacillated until the early 1980s. Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill negotiated a major revamping in 1983. It boosted tax rates, brought in civil service workers, and provided for the first time that the baby boomers would pre-fund their retirements with a trust fund. Republicans led by George Bush have been trying to steal that trust fund ever since. George Bush, when he couldn’t privatize the trust fund and turn it over directly to Wall Street, cut taxes on the wealthy, borrowing from the trust fund to cover budget deficits, thus lending money from the trust fund to the wealthy. As Social Security begins drawing on that trust fund, those bonds will have to be repaid, and that means the wealthy will have to pay the money back through higher taxes. So they get their ignoramus mouthpieces to say Social Security is failing. They don’t want to give the money back!

Norm Rodewald




Health risk from GMO gene transfer


“Risk of a serious public health issue” by Dr. Edo McGowan on April 3 concerns spread of antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) from bacteria in poopy water to the genes in our gut bacteria. The ARGs can transfer as explained to aquatic and terrestrial microbes, as well as into gut bacteria that, therefore, can fail to respond to available antibiotics when we need them.

The same gene transfer to human gut biota can happen regardless of the trait, pointing to risks from GMO food. Genes inserted into GMO food plants using bacterial vectors can transfer to other bacteria in your gut. There is evidence that they are more unstable than ARGs. Your gut bacteria then produce substances that irritate your body and immune system.

Many foods contain the foreign gene with the trait for tolerance to Roundup (especially soy, corn and sugar beets). Those foods are so heavily sprayed with Roundup that the FDA raised the allowable limit. Roundup is now found in mother’s milk and in all infant formula containing soy and corn that is not organic. GMO corn contains a gene that produces Bt toxin that kills caterpillars by perforating their gut lining, and eating Bt corn is linked to leaky gut and related health issues. Regardless of the trait, natural or engineered, interspecies gene transfer is a serious health risk in our engineered food supply. Put simply, eating the most common GMO food turns gut bacteria into pesticide factories. How do you deal with bacteria in your gut that may be antibiotic-resistant and sabotaging your health? Robin Bernhoft, M.D. ,of Ojai is among many local health professionals concerned about the effect of GMOs on health.

The genes of the bacterial vector Agrobacterium used to produce GMO foods have been found in the lesions of people with Morgellons disease, suggesting not just interspecies gene transfer but interkingdom transfer from GMOs to humans.

The California Legislature is considering a bill, SB1381, to label genetically engineered food. It will help consumers recognize foods in stores that contain foreign genes. Thanks to Sens. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, for leadership behind this bill. Ask Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, to support your right to know what is in your food.

Jan Dietrick, MPH Nutrition



Massaging regulations

I strongly sympathize with the overall sentiment expressed in the VC Reporter’s editorial titled “The risky business of regulating massage establishments” and published on March 13.

If I understand the writer’s message correctly, the key points are:

1) Massage therapy is good.  

2) Prostitution does not belong within the massage profession.  

3) Human trafficking and slavery are evil, and are not welcome in our community.

So far so good.  However, these three assumptions lead me to the opposite conclusion from the one with which the prior piece closes.

Having practiced therapeutic massage since 1983, I am not a fan of local massage licensure. The reason is that, prior to Senate Bill 731, massage professionals faced a hodgepodge of local requirements, many quite demeaning. In many jurisdictions these included zoning to undesirable areas, dress and buildout codes, and annual sexually transmissible disease testing.  

Yet in most jurisdictions during this period, it was much too easy to qualify for and procure a local massage license with a fake transcript from the local diploma mill.  Were there sex industry establishments posing as massage businesses at that time?  Absolutely!  

Business and Profession Code 4600 (et seq.) standardized and increased the eligibility requirements for certification as a massage therapist throughout California. The CAMTC has done a good job of weeding out the diploma mills so that most of the people who get massage certificates nowadays actually did go to massage school for the required amount of time. That said, more attention is needed in this arena as the diploma mill hooligans have apparently found more clever ways to ply their trade without detection.

In 2011, Assembly Bill 619 established parity among all the licensed professions in terms of municipal regulation. This meant that massage therapists who were certified by the CAMTC were accorded the same rights to open businesses as pedicurists, physicians and all other professions.

While AB 619 was a recognition of our value as professionals whose time was long overdue, it has turned out to have a darker side. Some of the sex-industry folks figured out that, if they could just get certified by the CAMTC, they would be able to open their shops in any location that was open to the other professions. That’s how we got the proliferation of prostitution establishments posing as massage businesses.  

In order to overcome this undesirable effect, the CAMTC has recommended that the reauthorizing legislation include the following changes:

1) Add a standardized testing requirement for massage certification applicants.

2) Even more importantly, provide for the voluntary certification of massage establishments, which cities would be free to make mandatory.

In cities that make certification of establishments mandatory, anyone who wishes to open a massage business would be required to undergo a law enforcement background check, just as massage certificate applicants do currently. As a nonprofit (rather than governmental) organization, CAMTC could then suspend or revoke a massage establishment’s certificate based solely on a sworn declaration from a law enforcement officer that a worker at the establishment offered or provided a sexual service.  

This is currently the practice with individual certificants. This revocation process does not require citation, arrest or conviction, and it puts bad actors out of business months sooner. This one change to the existing law will make it easier than it has ever been to permanently close prostitution houses that pretend to be massage businesses.  

So the question at hand is whether to go backward or to go forward.  

My conclusion? Let’s go forward. Let’s strengthen and re-authorize the CAMTC for a specified period of time, so it can expand on its ongoing collaboration with local jurisdictions to weed out the bad actors and promote the best of massage therapy in local communities.

Nathan O’Hara
Director of the Alive! Institute of Therapeutic Massage, Oxnard
Board member of the American Massage Therapy Association, California Chapter





How a union destroyed good biz


Where do I start? I usually smile and shake my head when reading the intellectually deficient screeds of Mr. Freeman. For the Sharper Focus on March 20, however, he crossed the line from being a disgruntled populist whose Yugo has been run off the road by a Rolls Royce to a blatant propagandist for the United Auto Workers. First, German works councils are not, as asserted by Freeman, the equivalent of unions. They exist in German businesses of five or more employees who indicate a desire to establish one. In Germany, works councils are consultative in nature and in practice; they aren’t adversarial or confrontational, unlike labor unions. Could this be why German auto plants’ productivity exceeds that of the average unionized U.S. manufacturer by a long shot?  As to his inflammatory lamentation that Volkswagen employees here are paid a mere $20 per hour vs. $67 at its German plants (where worker productivity is more than twice that of U.S. union auto workers), just look at how the UAW has afflicted the domestic automobile industry with ridiculous and cumbrous work rules — a recent volume of which weighed in at 22 pounds — and, perhaps more important, with a poisonous us-and-them attitude regarding the firms that employed its members. The combination of UAW micromanagement and adversarial culture, not wages per se, is what helped to kill the golden goose in Tennessee, not Mr. Freeman’s usual bogeyman, the Republican Party.                                         

Bill Sabol


Let the voters decide

Over the past month the Legislative Committee of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce has heard from the supporters and opponents of the ballot initiative proposed by the Committee for Pension Fairness. Both sides are still in the process of gathering statistical and financial data and completing their analysis.  This is a complicated issue and will certainly require a great deal of voter education and research in order to understand all of the aspects of the situation and cast an informed vote.  The Chamber is confident that the voters of Ventura County will take the necessary time and effort to evaluate the issue before casting their votes at the polls. Likewise, the Chamber will continue to review information as it is available before deciding on taking a position.

It is important that the citizens of Ventura County have the opportunity to vote on this issue and we encourage both sides to let the initiative process proceed so that the voters will have the ultimate choice in deciding our future.

Suzanne Scar
Vice Chair, Governmental Affairs and
Chair, Legislative Committee, Ventura Chamber of Commerce




Protest Ventura water rate increases

Are you prepared for a 37 percent water/sewer rate increase over the next four years? That’s what the Ventura Water Department wants the City Council to approve at a public hearing on Monday, May 5.

This is the same Ventura Water Department that was recently fined $603,000 by the State of California for illegally discharging contaminated wastewater!

Although it may seem like a done deal, Ventura residents do not have to accept this outrageous rate increase! Pursuant to Proposition 218, passed by California voters in 1996, the City Council cannot adopt a proposed rate increase if a majority of water utility customers object to it.

But now the plot thickens: In order for a rate increase protest to be counted, it must be made in writing, signed and snail-mailed or hand-delivered to City Hall. Signed protests that are emailed or faxed will not be considered valid, even though electronic signatures are held to be legitimate, pursuant to California Government Code, section 16.5 and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (California Civil Code 1633.1 to 1633.17).

Why is this? Well, back in February 2012, the Ventura City Council unanimously approved Resolution 2012-017, specifically disallowing emailed or faxed rate protests. The resolution also states that oral comments at the public hearing will not be counted unless accompanied by a written protest. Nor will a written protest be counted if it isn’t received prior to the close of the public hearing, regardless of whether it has a timely postmark.

The idea, it seems, is to make it a little more inconvenient for residents to exercise their right to protest the rate increases. They probably figure we’ll just not bother and go away.

Further discouraging public input, the notice of public hearing about the rate increases states that a rate protest form is available on the city’s website and at the City Clerk’s office, and implies that this form must be used for submitting a protest. In fact, that is not the case, according to Ventura Water. They will accept any written rate protest as long as it includes a statement that you protest the proposed increase(s), the name of the owner or water customer, the street address or utility account number of the property, and an original signature and legibly printed name.

If you’re unhappy with these proposed water rate increases, make your objections known to the Ventura City Council in writing before May 5. Mail your comments to P.O. Box 99, Ventura, 93002, or hand-deliver to the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 501 Poli St., Ventura

Ursula Britton


Joan Farber, animal welfare activist, dies

Joan Farber the indefatigable, passionate activist for Ventura County pets died on April 17 at the age of 77.

She leaves behind a legacy of fighting for a no-kill shelter, always believing that it was possible. That the county has moved in that direction is, in no small measure, due to her and the others of the rescue community.

Some quotes from her colleagues:

“The world is much better off because of her life and her devotion to what she wanted to do and often accomplished for all the animals she loved so much. She will be missed by many, many of us.” — Betty Okrent

“Her voice for the animals will be missed.” — Rene Ruston

“Her persistence in believing our county could be no kill was invaluable beyond measure to the animals in Ventura County.” — Tracy Williams

“She and I jokingly referred to her as the town crier. She worked so hard to get Ventura County a shelter director committed to ‘no-kill’… and maybe her work in that regard was finished.” — Diane Rowley

“A true hero to the countless numbers of animals she saved.” — Linda Parks

This is only a smattering of the responses received after the notice of her passing was sent to the rescue community. She downplayed her accomplishments, never thinking it was enough. There is, hopefully, left behind a sustainable shelter that will take the lives of the animals into account when they add up their budget and the other bureaucratic necessities.

She is survived by a daughter, Susan Farber, of Santa Barbara.        








You must be registered and logged in to post your events.


  1. Spiritual Bodies: Photography by Carlton Wilkinson

    January 10 @ 8:00 am - February 29 @ 8:00 pm
  2. History Lecture Series: Accommodation and Resistance

    January 14 @ 7:00 pm - March 10 @ 7:00 pm
  3. Meleko Mokgosi: Acts of Resistance

    January 22 @ 10:00 am - April 9 @ 4:00 pm
  4. Ventura County Research Symposium: Sustainability Through Soil Health

    February 27 @ 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
  5. Post-Fire Food Safety Workshop

    February 27 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  6. Wildfire Recovery Community Healing Workshop

    February 28 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  7. Watercolor on Yupo Workshop

    February 29 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
  8. Zlatomir Fung, Cellist with Janice Carissa, Pianist

    March 1 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  9. Dinner & Art Demonstration

    March 3 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
  10. Ojai Women’s Fund 2020 Grant Workshop March 3rd

    March 3 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Get hooked up!

Get hooked up!

Join our mailing list and get updates and other cool stuff.

You're in! Thanks!

Share This