updated Aug. 18.

Ongoing problem of SB 54

According to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Senate Bill 54 may be in jeopardy. This should come as a relief to all Californians. In April of this year, the bill’s author said, “No one wants dangerous or violent criminals roaming our streets,” but that is precisely what SB 54 will ensure.

As currently written, the bill would force Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents into our communities to find criminals instead of allowing them to be picked up while in custody. Additionally, the bill seeks to define who can and cannot be removed from our jails by ICE. By leaving no way to reasonably communicate with ICE to safely remove those dangerous criminals, some criminals who are here illegally will be given “sanctuary” and allowed to stay.  

The criminals I am referring to are people who commit acts of domestic violence or endanger children. Individuals who commit serious crimes like human trafficking, sexual battery, DUI causing injury, and battery on a peace officer would all be shielded from ICE and released back into local communities. Even in cases where an individual is convicted of the limited number of specific crimes listed in the bill, law enforcement would only be able to provide ICE with information that is currently available to the general public and would still be prevented from allowing ICE to pick them up.

Without ICE being able to focus directly on illegal immigrants who are arrested and held in county jails, its agents would be forced to go directly into local communities. They would have to operate in the manner that SB 54 is attempting to prevent. An unintended, but obvious consequence would be other noncriminal illegal immigrants being contacted and targeted for deportation.

Let’s be clear, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office neither targets immigrants nor asks about their immigration status. We do not hold inmates beyond their release dates for ICE, nor do any other county jail systems in the state of California. That practice is not part of our mission to protect the communities we serve. Criminals should fear the consequences of their actions, and that includes deportation from the United States if they are here illegally.

Gov. Jerry Brown addressed the problem head-on during a recent interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when he said, “It is a balancing act. It does require some sensitivity. And that’s why I take a more nuanced and careful approach to dealing with what is a difficult problem. Because you do have people who are not here legally. They’ve committed crimes. They have no business in the United States in the manner in which they’ve come and conducted themselves subsequently.”

The rhetoric surrounding immigration is drowning out the facts and making it increasingly difficult to police our communities, and that is why we are currently working with some local legislators to create a reasonable bill to protect both public safety and people within our community.

Allowing ICE in the jails is sensible and keeps the focus on the criminals, not the law-abiding, hard-working people in our communities. We recently released community service announcements we created collaboratively with the local Mexican Consulate to help educate our local immigrant population about law enforcement’s role.

As law enforcement professionals, we serve everyone equally and we never want to instill fear in anyone other than the criminals we seek to bring to justice.

Geoff Dean
Ventura County Sheriff

Ride a bike already

Responding to the mostly inane rant regarding cyclists by Rellis Smith published in the July 20 edition of the VCReporter, I have the following questions and comments:

 “We now have about as much of the roadways reserved for cyclists as for autos.” Seriously?? I don’t recall seeing bike lanes on California freeways, nor on most streets in the residential neighborhoods of Oxnard and Ventura. Living in Silver Strand Beach, when exiting this beach community on my bike, I must ride up Victoria Avenue in the bike lane that is, at most, a yard wide, whereas the road for autos expands from one lane to two and then three lanes, before narrowing back to two lanes, then once again widening to three lanes just before the 101 underpass, where no bike lane exists. Please inform me as to where cyclists are treated to a larger portion of a street or highway than an automobile.

“We have installed so many signs dedicated to cyclists, they have become a visual mess.” Can anyone tell me where this occurs? Or does the occasional “bike lane” or “share the road” sign baffle this individual? He later refers to these signs as giving cyclists more rights than automobiles, then complains about off-road bicycle paths while whining about costs incurred by taxpayers when a cyclist is injured (often by an automobile). Uh, Mr. Smith, do you not realize the contradiction in your argument? By the (road) way, like you, cyclists are taxpayers.

“My idea is for all cyclists to have a license for their vehicles … at least insurance for themselves.” Almost all cyclists (all the ones I know) have driver licenses, plus auto, health and life insurance.

“Cyclists contribute absolutely nothing to the use of roads, streets.” Exactly — we don’t contribute to the wear and tear of roads, to the pollution cars spew, or congestion by not adding another car on the road. But we do pay our taxes and, by generally being healthier, allow your taxes to be spent in other areas

My suggestion to Mr. Smith — get off your butt, out of your car, and ride a bike. To fellow bicyclists — ride on the correct (right) side of the road and wear a helmet.

On a more positive note, the next letter to the editor, written by 13-year-old Isabella Fried Leeman, regarding her newfound food consumption/production awareness from reading Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, was encouraging. I would also recommend reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

Just to add a bit more to what Isabella wrote, from articles and research studies I’ve read in the past year:

Approximately 1 million animals are slaughtered every hour in the U.S. to meet our population’s demand for meat. These animals are as intelligent and have the same feelings as the cats and dogs we have as pets.

Ninety percent of the meat consumed in the U.S. is raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where animals live short lives in horrific conditions, are fed unnatural food (for them) that is mixed with antibiotics.

Ninety percent of corn and soy produced in the U.S. is fed to these animals. These crops are sprayed with toxic pesticides, such as Round Up.

Much of our food is produced by big agriculture corporations, such as Monsanto, who are far more concerned about their profits than your nutrition and health.

Anywhere from 30 percent to 60 percent of greenhouse gases in the U.S. are directly or indirectly related to meat production and distribution.

Brad Nelson

St. John’s on the leading edge

St. John’s Regional Medical Center and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital appreciated the chance to share our green health initiatives with members of Ventura County in the VC Reporter July 20 article “Medical Marvels: Along with new construction, advanced health care shines in area hospitals.” Preserving our environment is one of the pillars of our core mission.

In reading the full piece, we would like to inform readers that St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard and St. John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo also provide excellent medical services utilizing state-of-the-art technology.

Specifically in response to this article we would like to highlight recent investments in the areas discussed.

Leading-edge technology:

  • John’s Regional Medical Center is proud to have recently installed the only 3T (Tesla) MRI in use at a Ventura County hospital. The 3T generates exceptional anatomic detail over the standard-power 1.5T machines.
  • John’s Regional Medical Center has offered our patients minimally invasive DaVinci Robotic-Assisted Surgery since 2012. Our highly trained physicians use the DaVinci on a number of surgical cases, cardiac procedures and cancer tumor removals. Brian Tuai, M.D, performed his 500th robotic surgery at St. John’s on May 5, 2017

New hospital facilities:

  • John’s Pleasant Valley Hospital in Camarillo is proudly exceeding expectations in the progress of our new hospital expansion scheduled for completion in 2018. This brings exciting and significant additions to our medical equipment, medical department space, patient rooms, visitor waiting areas and health care services.
  • John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard is thrilled to announce that in October we will invite community members to a groundbreaking celebration introducing our Hospital of the Future scheduled for completion in 2019. The large-scale modernization and expansion project greatly increases the size of our Emergency Department, Labor and Delivery, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Additions include the latest imaging technologies such as a 3-D tomosynthesis breast imaging machine, a SPECT/CT scan room for 3-D nuclear medicine treatment, and electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy to biopsy the edges of the lungs.
  • John’s Neuroscience Center of Excellence, scheduled for completion in 2018, includes a world class neurosurgery suite, a state-of-the-art biplane angiography machine and a first-of-its-kind-in-the-county microscope to be used during neurosurgeries.

Award-winning heart health services:

  • The new Center for Cardiovascular Health at St. John’s Regional Medical Center allows us to remain a national leader in cardiac care.
  • John’s hospitals have earned countless awards in the area of cardiovascular health and continue to introduce the latest procedures. St. John’s Regional Medical Center was the first in the county to implant a leadless pacemaker and perform cryoablation for atrial fibrillation (AFib).
  • Most recently, our cardiologists and cardiac surgeons performed 11 of the latest sutureless aortic valve replacements, chronic total occlusion removals from coronary arteries, embolectomies for large clots, and are engaged in cardiac stem-cell research.

Aleesa Adams
Dignity Health Central Coast

A Simple Way

We have all let our democracy slide, probably because we are all still enamored of our individual chance of making it big with our own American dream. Nobody realized the promise of the American dream had fascism at the end of its rainbow. 
Only the likes of politicians and billionaires kept the dream going. Their twisted relationship with the public now allows them to do exactly what they want, no matter how ugly, and still be applauded for it. 
I believe there is a simple way to change our relationship with ourselves by creating in ourselves another dream that promises a heroic future of increased safety and peace. To achieve that, the individual must relate to his/her own self alone, understanding what that self is personally, politically and socially.
For the American public it is not easy to do what’s right when no one seems to know what right is. We are not outraged as I believe we should be. (I watched Al Gore on CNN last night. Here he was talking the end of the world scenario as if he was addressing a ladies charity event. He was mild-mannered and politically correct and because of his diluted passion he had no emotion or outrage in his tone and was, for me, ineffectual.)
When the Romans taught us to turn the other cheek we became pacifists, and all our resistance collapsed, weighed down with political correctness and a pacifist POV enabling the ruling class to fragment us and control us easily. 
When someone is angry, upset and emotionally outraged at the lack of social justice, we have been taught to look away; but these real outraged feelings are in us all. If we are going to change things, we must find a way for all of us to know what is definitively right and wrong and then express ourselves accordingly.
To know that we must relate to the innermost original part of ourselves (the building blocks of life) gives us the knowledge and human right to be honestly outraged against injustice. 
I am talking about each one of us applying a simple matrix to the origins of our own human psychology that tells us for sure what’s right and wrong. It will show us social justice not only lives in us but must be fought for as a health issue and a duty to ourselves and the common good. 

Christopher Judges

Do your job

Oxnard City Council and Supervisors of the County, it is not your job to discount the voters because you think they are wrong. It is YOUR JOB to persuade the voters to do what is right. Those are true leaders! In this case they failed in these examples below.

To do this to any employer is a sure way of getting FIRED! 

Examples: The CI Harbor land-grab attempt and the water rate hike in Oxnard.

Dotty Pringle

Remove Serra

We see many of our states removing all statues, plaques and other Southern memorabilia dealing with the American Civil War. Basically, because all of those different items only serve to remind us of those horrible times and foster hate between the folks that are still of that mind and the folks that are not.

What the cities in California should take into consideration is the total removal of all like items that deal with the glorification of a man called “Father Serra.” This man was a racist, murderer, rapist, child molester and more. To have statues such as the one in front of the San Buenaventura City Hall is a direct slap in the face of all Chumash and other Native Indian cultures.

It appears that the folks that decided to erect such ignorant items of our past illegal actions, it’s like they are saying, “It was OK that this mass eradication of a particular culture happened because it gave us control of all the property that once belonged to the Native population.

If the folks that are in control of our city’s business at this time had any sort of human compassion, they would become the first city to remove the statue of Serra in front of the City Hall, even possibly asking for forgiveness from the many Native American Indians that are still living here.

Rellis Smith

Ecologically sensitive

On Aug. 17, the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) responded to a threat by the Trump administration to open the Santa Barbara Channel to new offshore oil and gas. While California is excluded from the current Five-Year Leasing Program created under the Obama administration, the Trump administration decided to consider additional areas in a new leasing program that would begin in 2019. This new program could include the Santa Barbara Channel and other areas along the West Coast. No new lease sales have occurred in this region since 1984, and EDC will continue our commitment to prevent new leases in the future.

The Trump administration’s clear efforts to reduce environmental protection for our coasts and oceans will be challenged by EDC. For 40 years, EDC has worked in the public interest to protect the coastal and marine environment of the Santa Barbara Channel region. We will continue to fight to ensure protection of this ecologically sensitive area, which is home to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Park, as well as federal and state Marine Protected Areas. It is time to focus on cleaner and safer renewable energy sources, rather than fossil fuels. We have come too far to have our marine environment threatened by new offshore oil and gas developments intended to benefit a few corporations rather than our communities that rely on it.

Kristen Hislop
Marine conservation program director
Environmental Defense Center

Absolutely racist, hate symbols

Most of these monuments did not go up immediately after the war’s end in 1865. During that time, commemorative markers of the Civil War tended to be memorials that mourned soldiers who had died, says Mark Elliott, a history professor at University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

“Eventually they started to build [Confederate] monuments,” he says. “The vast majority of them were built between the 1890s and 1950s, which matches up exactly with the era of Jim Crow segregation.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s research, the biggest spike was between 1900 and the 1920s.

Most Confederate monuments weren’t built until the rise of Jim Crow. They largely symbolize a romanticized version of antebellum racism, not the Civil War dead.

But when these statues — be they historical place markers, or myth-building icons of Lee or Stonewall Jackson — were built seems to suggest these monuments have very little to do with paying tribute to the Civil War dead and everything to do with erecting monuments to black disenfranchisement, segregation and 20th-century racial tension.

Many people, including Trump, are saying we are destroying our history by removing these Confederate statues and monuments.

The vast majority of these symbols were constructed and installed not just after the Civil War but during the beginning of, and during the entire length of the Civil Rights movement to attempt to counter the effects of this movement.

It is quite apparent that the people that helped pay for these symbols were the extreme racist of those times.

Not only do they attempt to glorify the Civil war but also they are aimed at denigrating the people that were against the slave era.

All of these racist, hate-filled symbols should not only be removed but they should all be destroyed.

Rellis Smith

Thank you, Shane

I would like to take a moment to recognize Shane Werner for his dedicated service to the members of IBEW Local 952 Ventura. Shane has provided the leadership and guidance this Local has needed for the last 15 years as our business manager. As a member, I greatly appreciate his honesty and willingness to make this union a truly democratic organization. Shane guided this Local through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression with surety and confidence as a leader. In my opinion, Shane embodies the ideals we, as members, hold in our minds of our labor organization. Thank you, Shane, for your service. And I hope for you all the best in your future endeavors.

James Hansmeier

John Slade’s King Lear

During the years I knew John Slade, I wished we had become real friends. Every time we ran into one another, we would have brief but significant conversations.

He knew how much I loved Shakespeare’s King Lear and invited me to his final appearance as Lear at the Libbey Bowl.

I was enthralled, transfixed and stunned by the depth and breadth of his performance; by the deep seated respect he had for the beauty, complexity and simplicity of Shakespeare’s words; by his unhurried and dignified unfolding of the plot.

When I told him afterwards that I thought his Lear had surpassed Sir Laurence Olivier’s, he looked at me with his soft but penetrating brown eyes as though this compliment was simply a revelation to be meditated upon.

We have lost a truly gifted man.

Clive Leeman

Preventive medicine

Thanks to your 7/20/2017 informative article on “Medical Marvels.”  It is great to learn of advanced health care for medical treatments. It would be even better to learn that local hospitals are more focused on preventive medicine via diet and lifestyle. For example, the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program is offered at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, California, and also at other hospitals across the country.

Ken Steiner

Erroneous belief

Scarcely has a day gone by where we have not been reminded, in some form or another, of the unrelenting cataclysm that is the drug and alcohol epidemic. Originating from a multitude of sources, which include data pertaining to crime rates, suicide, overdoses, deaths, etc., our lives have been bombarded with these unsettling statistics. Recent studies show that ER visits from individuals seeking opioid-controlled medications have continued to rise.

However, there is a bright side to this dreary and seemingly hopeless world. Around us, every day, men and women touched with this affliction are turning around and changing their lives, using their experiences to help other men and women who are still struggling. Due to the explosion of rehabs and sober livings, many hold an erroneous belief that locking up and monitoring an addicted person is the solution. In and of itself, in our collective experience, this is not the solution. For an addicted person, it takes hard, personal, daily work to get and stay off drugs. And it is work that people are doing. This is the only true, beautiful, flip side to this ongoing plague: Lives are being repaired and changed for the better; families are being healed and sometimes even reassembled.  This is another item that belongs on the front page of the newspaper in Everywhere, USA, every single day: There is a solution to the drug problem. But contrary to a belief we find to be popular, there is no quick fix. It is not a problem at which you can just throw money, and it is not something that can be personally solved in 28 days, or 60 days, or 90 days. Again, it takes hard, personal, individual work that must be done daily for the rest of one’s life. We are writing this due to our collective awareness of the fact that there exists an ethos which supports these aforementioned, misleading and harmful notions.

It is our experience that only through selfless and constructive action that one has a chance to, and can, permanently recover. We ourselves, a state-licensed, CARF-accredited treatment program, are saying that treatment, in and of itself, is not the long-term solution. Although such facilities can sometimes be the initiating catalyst for such alterations in one’s life (as well as provide critical and essential medical supervision during the early stages of recovery, including detox and withdrawal symptoms), it is only through taking total personal ownership and accountability, and a true willingness to change, that one approaches the precipice to true, long-term and meaningful recovery. A new “way of life,” if you will, is to be acquired.

Recently, our treatment facility received word of a report published by the county of Ventura containing implications that the opiate/opioid epidemic is showing signs of improvement and is leveling off.  While we are grateful for the good, sincere and loving work being done in our county by various groups and individuals to help try to solve the local opiate/opioid epidemic, our calls for help have yet to show signs of decreasing. Sadly, from our seat, for whatever it may be worth, and in the spirit of helpfulness, the epidemic, as well as the inspiring stories of recovery, remain in full swing.

Kyle Johnson
The Lakehouse Recovery Center
Westlake Village