Misplaced blame

The first things I noticed in Bill Sabol’s letter “How a union destroyed good biz” in the May 8 VCReporter were  his unconscious — hopefully — condescension and narrow focus overall in his letter attacking Raymond Freeman’s recent Op-Ed (“1945 and after,” Sharper Focus, 5/29).

History or context for Sabol’s thoughts are lame, even when, at the end, he does get specifically historical.

Without explaining, he obviously assumes union means Bad, while works councils are at least OK. What’s the difference? During my early maturity in the ’50s and ’60s, most American unions and corporate bodies got along reasonably well. Happy workers were more efficient and dedicated; this meant higher productivity and increased company earnings, which, in turn, justified increased worker wages and better benefits. Were unions back then works councils?

But the American corporate sensibility has never been comfortable with moderation, or shared growth with those that make it possible. The moderation that followed the excesses and brutality of the early days of unionism, and that was strongly aided and abetted by the need for cooperation occasioned by WWII, faded. With better access to the media than unions, corporate powers were increasingly able to vilify unions, accrue their power and erode the common-sense notion that workers are at least important in the productive enterprise. Today unionism in America is a shadow of its former self, yet the media, almost as if by rote, keep pounding a staggering remnant, almost as if a dominant corporatized elite were shaking in their Lincoln Town Cars that the indomitable John F. Lewis, CIO President, or his equivalent was about to be reincarnated!  How ludicrous! None of this lust for power, however, was or is ever “adversarial” or “confrontational”!

Mr. Sabol does justify his letter title with a historical glance backward to the inept domestic car industry’s response to foreign car importation; though, of course, the United Auto Workers Union is the sole culprit. Huh huh!

Please explain why unionism — sorry, works councils — haven’t destroyed the German auto industry?


Duane Waln


Making money off global warming

Good job on your editorial regarding the study of global warming. Change is inevitable, but we can alter the path, 05/08) The most truthful and factual thing that was written is regarding the political issue that global warming has become. The study referenced is a great example of turning it into a political issue. Let’s ignore politics for a minute and look at world history.

Global warming began at the end of the ice age with the end of the Pleistocene epoch approximately 11,000 years ago. It ushered in the Holocene epoch. Temperature extremes are typically based on astronomical factors, variations in the Earth’s orbit. It causes periods when summers are hotter and winters colder, as well as periods when summers are cooler and winters are warmer. But the trend since the beginning of the Holocene has been an increase in Earth’s temperatures.

Politics become involved in studies such as the one you referenced to gain exposure. That particular study looked at less than one half of 1 percent of the time that the Earth has been warming. Why ignore the other 99.5 percent of time? Because it is boring and not sensational. And sensation sells. Many individuals and corporations have made a lot of money off of global warming fears. Al Gore got richer, and in the last California election we passed a measure that ensured that we would be buying future solar energy equipment from China, making them richer.

What does the future hold?  Based on Earth’s history, warming will continue until a period of cooling is ushered in. Will mankind survive? Despite the arrogance of man that they can control nature, their efforts will make little difference, if any. In all likelihood many species of plants and animals will disappear, only to be replaced by other species of plants and animals. With the exception of mankind, nature is adaptable. Will the polar bears survive the melting of the ice caps? There has already been evidence of breeding between polar bears and grizzly bears; they are adapting. What can be guaranteed is that temperatures will continue to climb, and politicians and corporations will continue to politicize the topic and make money off of it. And they have studies like this one to help their cause.   

Chris Rohlfing




Reflecting on Ventura’s art scene

The closing of the Sylvia White Gallery will mark the passing of an era in the history of Ventura’s cultural scene. The museum-quality exhibitions, performances and poetry readings were top-rate and enriched our community in so many ways. I am sad to see the gallery close. What is unfortunate is that the Sylvia White Gallery’s tenure in Ventura coincided with an unprecedented fiscal crisis that has yet to pass into the history books. In fact, many believe the Great Recession will have a long-lasting effect on the art world — especially when it comes to sales.

For the past five years, all of us working in the arts have weathered the most difficult period in our cultural history, our civic leaders included. In the lowest ebb of the fiscal crisis, it was extraordinary and very heartwarming to see our community come together in innovative ways. Artists, arts organizations, business leaders and city staff pooled resources and expertise to help get everyone through while benefiting our community at the same time. That is the beauty of our community: people who truly care. Although we all have yet to fully recover, opportunities arose that otherwise may not have happened.

As for Focus on the Masters and our own response to the recession, we, like most nonprofits, cut everywhere we possibly could, year after year, including our staff. The last area to cut was our rent. The city stepped up and offered a vacant space that had been empty for many, many years. Knowing that other nonprofits were experiencing a similar fate, the City of Ventura’s Non-Profit Sustainability Center was formed where many nonprofits serving the greater community can continue their important work in a reduced-rent situation. This allowed for much-needed stabilization. All the money these organizations save in rent goes directly into our local economy through their programing. In the last four years, FOTM was able to rehire our education staff. By next year, our Learning to See Youth Outreach programing will be back to its full capacity. This is an incredible accomplishment that we could not have achieved without the city of Ventura’s help.

The city of Ventura was a pioneer in the early days of cultural tourism and its support for the arts. The city’s leadership inspired our surrounding communities like Ojai, Oxnard and Camarillo to follow suit. The rewards of our city’s cultural investments in our community remain vital today.  As the city of Ventura continues to recover, I believe financial support for the arts will increase as well. Our City Council knows how the arts generate revenue and that a vibrant arts community generates much-needed revenue and helps to pay for the essential services the city provides to our citizens. Supporting the arts is a necessity for the city’s financial stability and well-being and the City Council recognizes that. The fallout from the Great Recession is taking a little longer than any of us could have imagined.

This coming year FOTM will celebrate our 20th anniversary. During this time, I have participated in just about every facet of the cultural development of our community.  All along the way, I’ve worked with dedicated people, all passionately committed to our creative community.  From the artists to the City Council members, staff and arts commissioners, to our museum’s staff and board members, to gallery owners and collectors, we all remain committed to the cultural vitality in Ventura because we love our city and the artists who make it great.  I have seen a lot of changes over the 20 years. What remains is the love and devotion to the arts from our dedicated community.


Donna Granata
 Artist, Founder, Executive Director
Focus on the Masters




The atrocity of war

Congratulations to Paul Moomjean for his insightful Right Persuasion column in the April 24 Reporter. (“100 years of war). Yes, we have been in a nearly continuous state of war or preparations for war for a full century. And those wars have both disposed of some of the vilest dictatorships and foolishly laid the groundwork for the next series of wars. I don’t know if there is such a thing as a smart war, but our history is littered with our ignorance of the history of a people and their regional relations, leading to foolish wars to no purpose.

Mr. Moomjean mentions the Vietnam War. There is a great example of our ignorance leading to a stupid war. The French established a colonial empire in the 19th century. The Japanese invaded French Indochina in 1939. A young merchant seaman, Ho Chi Minh, returned to Vietnam to fight against these invaders, supported by both the U. S. and the British in this fight. In August 1945, Japan was defeated. In September 1945 Ho Chi Minh made a major speech, the first paragraph a declaration of independence taken directly from Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence of the United States. In 1946, the French re-established their colonial empire. The Vietnamese objected, leading to a nationwide strike in November 1946. The French responded by shelling Haiphong harbor, killing 6,000 civilians. We launched WWII over the loss of 3,000 just as we launched the Global War on Terror over the loss of 3,000. Ho Chi Minh returned to the jungles and relaunched his war, this time for full independence. It took from 1946 to 1975 to complete. And Vietnam today has a system that looks a lot like what was available in 1946, a single-party government with a mix of government enterprises and private enterprises. That was a truly stupid war with millions killed, along with 58,000 Americans. And like all wars, it bred its own collection of atrocities, as well as post-conflict retributions.

With regard to Russia, Ukraine and Crimea, there are ethnic and historic entanglements of centuries’ duration. Compounded by both Russia and Ukraine being governments of oligarchs using the power of the state for the benefit of thpse oligarchs and the political operatives they support. I do know we do not have the logistical capacity to maintain a robust land war in the region. I don’t know what a success in such a war would look like. And as Iraq so graphically showed, with the winner Iran becoming the most powerful regional power, poorly understood wars lead to undesired outcomes. Thus, we have limited options short of risking nuclear exchange with, at best, the fuzzy objective of making the world safe for one group of oligarchs at the expense of another group of oligarchs. That makes this a prime example of what might become a stupid war.  


Norm Rodewald
The atrocity of war


Be rid of the racist
Not again.

Forrest Mize … How soon he thinks we forget. (VCReporter May 8) Mize starts his “Power to Speak” entry, “Five years ago I wrote an opinion piece” and continues, “the usual suspects called me a racist since a white man could never disagree with a black man.” And five years ago I wrote a reply to his drivel in which I corrected, that it was actually his own words printed in this very place calling President Obama “a terrorist,” “a smarmy chimpanzee,” “a slobbering primate” and, my favorite, “The Mulatto Messiah.” That is why we called him a racist!

Mize continues with his version of the “facts,” naturally all fabrications, distortions, flat-out lies and other falsehoods. Why oh why, VC Reporter, do you want to give this crazy old man a soapbox? He left Ventura. We deserve to be rid of this racist, delusional asshole.


Chris Jensen




Welfare ranchers

I grew up on a small farm 1 mile north of Fosters, Ohio, along the Little Miami River. We raised cattle, sometimes having as many as 200 head to feed. So we grew grasses to make hay, and part of our work involved cutting, raking, baling, loading wagons before hauling to the barn and stacking the bales.

I was given the honor of feeding these cattle twice a day, in the morning and early evening. I loved it. Have you ever heard the sound of a herd of cattle munching hay together?

We also grew corn and soybeans for feed. Lastly, we rented another 80 acres to pasture our animals. So we paid for feed either through our sweat equity or with cash. We got no free feed, unlike some ranchers in the West. So our competition had a leg up on us, getting the benefit of free or low-cost feed and the ability to run roughshod over the environment while we, as owners of our property, were duty-bound to act as good stewards of the land.

Our last year was 1966. We had to sell. Grandpa had retired from his day job and we just weren’t making any money raising beef.

Have you ever had your whole way of life sold out from under you?

Nowadays, we have a different kind of cattleman. Like Cliven Bundy who recently led a standoff against federal officials. Some call them the sagebrush rebellion. Others call them deadbeats and welfare ranchers. They call themselves patriots.

We never thought of ourselves in that way. We were just plain folks, working the land and caring for our critters. We never hurt anyone. We never threatened anyone. We never aimed our weapons on anyone.

I know a few people whom I would call patriots, even heroes. Not one would speak of himself or herself in such terms.

I witnessed a news video recently of a self-proclaimed patriot with a scoped gun high above a crowd of people in Nevada and aiming at government employees who worked for the Bureau of Land Management.

Like farmers everywhere there were times when we were opposed to government policy. But to be prepared to take a person’s life in such an event was unthinkable to us. Real patriots don’t act that way!

Farming or ranching require both grit and horse sense. Having one without the other will get you in big trouble.


Adam Sand
 Chief Strategist, Earth Alert


Stand up to Big Oil

I have to admit that I am a news junkie. I still get the daily paper, cruise MSN and CNN, and watch the evening news at least five times a week. All this activity pretty much lets me know what is going on all the time from the Marble Mansion to the White House and to the Kremlin. So when the latest round of price-gouging at the pump started, I was surprised that I could not find any of Big Oil’s lame excuses for its latest round of rip-offs.  

The only reason I could find for them stealing from Americans this time is this: Because they can.

Since they are totally unregulated, there is no one to tell Big Oil that they cannot force Americans to decide if they are going to fill their gas tanks so they can get to work or if they are going to feed their kids. Big Oil does as Big Oil wants and since they have bought and paid for politicians all the way up to the White House level, these graft-taking thieves also do as Big Oil wants.

All of this makes me nostalgic for the good old days when “the Arabs” were to blame for outrageous gas prices because whoever these nameless sheiks were, they seemed to know there was an upper limit, a price line they could not cross without Americans fighting back by cutting consumption.  This is not so with American Oil Barons who cannot ever seem to make enough profits regardless of how their price-gouging harms America.  They make the Arabs look downright patriotic.   

It is past the time for oil regulation to be instituted once more just as other essentials such as natural gas and electricity are regulated. Nothing can harm the economy of the American family more than uncontrolled prices at the pump. While we are at it, we can cut off their yearly corporate welfare tax breaks. 

I know that Big Oil will threaten us with even higher prices, but it is time to stand up to them and call their bluff.

John Darling








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