Oct. 3, 2019

Pickup popularity

I feel fortunate to live in Ventura County; it’s a beautiful place. But one thing I wonder is why many of its residents gravitate towards driving pickup trucks. This concerns me because pickup trucks, like SUVs, are steadily gaining in popularity.  The Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in the nation, followed by three other pickups. This is bad news for the planet. The transportation sector accounts for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in our state, and pollution near the 101 freeway is often the worst in the county. This number won’t decrease unless consumers change their preferences and start buying more fuel-efficient vehicles. 

In a state of almost 40 million people, what people choose to drive, or not to drive, has a huge impact on tailpipe emissions. Pickups might be a desirable short-term choice, but in the long run, are they worth the toll they take on our health and the planet? I think not.

Kristen Kessler

Systemic racism

I’ve written twice to Congresswoman Julia Brownley asking this question:  “Leaving aside the Mueller Report, the President’s daily obstruction of justice, and all the laws he routinely breaks, … Why aren’t his Human Rights violations, and all the American and International Laws and agreements on refugees and migrants he’s flouting, and the children and adults crammed into verifiably disgraceful and injurious cages and refrigerator boxes — sufficient for impeachment?”  Congresswoman Brownley’s response began, “Thank you for contacting me about former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation …”

On July 19, I wrote back, “I’m sure you are very busy, but your form letter . . . was odd, because I did not contact you about Mueller’s investigation …” I then asked again for a response to my question. That was July 19. I haven’t received a response from the congresswoman. (On July 23, the congresswoman signed up with those who had already called for an impeachment inquiry.)  

I believe I may have an answer to my question though. I think we must all very seriously consider what many of those who have been suffering from it have been trying to explain to the rest of us. It’s called systemic racism. It is so foundational and intricate to the functioning of our society that even our most well-meaning leaders operate oblivious to it. If our children, or children who looked like “ours” were dying in government custody, and thousands of others were being jailed for lengths of time well beyond the legal limits, sleeping on cold cement floors in very unhealthy, severely overcrowded conditions, refused flu shots, and without decent nutrition, medical care, or even soap and toothbrushes — regardless of the supposed crimes of the parents they were separated from months before — our collective reaction would be different. Can we doubt this?

And now we know that severely ill children who need to be here in the U.S. for medical treatment to survive, and who were originally approved to stay here for it, are deliberately being targeted for deportation. It is monstrous to arrange death sentences for children. This is what the United States of America is doing in our name, murdering the children of “others.” Treating people like this may be appalling to most of us, but how disturbing is it really when the victims look different from our unexamined image of who “we” are? How outraged are we at this heinous behavior?

He may not have shot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue yet, but if the premeditated killing of children is not disgraceful enough to be an impeachable offense, this country will not, and will not deserve to, survive it.

Cosmo Bua
Port Hueneme

Commentary on “Cancel Culture”

Regarding the opinion piece “Cancel Culture” by Paul Moomjean (Sept. 26, 2019) I am deeply concerned about the haste at which employers and the public rush to judgment whenever an accusation is made of sexual misconduct. How employers are approached by attorneys for the accusers like so many mobsters, giving them the ‘opportunity’ to fire the accused (and pay a nice big ‘settlement’) or face legal consequences. How the corporation finds it less damaging to fire the accused employee and pay off the extortionists rather than defend their often very loyal and talented and valuable employees in court, and see if there are any facts behind the allegations that actually lead to a conviction.

While there are many settlements based on confessions or irrefutable evidence presented at the ‘pre-trial meeting’ with the lawyers, there are many more that are simply corporations choosing to do ‘damage control.’ To throw their often loyal and long-time employee under the bus. To simply save face. 

The problem of sex crime accusations leading to legal shakedowns of corporations and the wealthy is not just crime in itself, it is increasingly being used as a tool to target mostly high-profile individuals who happen to be members of the liberal media or liberal political establishment. They are certainly not (as Moomjean wants you to believe) the ones behind these ‘crying-for-cash’ shakedowns. We currently live in a mad culture, where madness is rewarded if you get mad at the right people, and hire a mad enough lawyer to get mad at their employers.

I often think about why it is so easy for these employers to throw their employees under the bus like this. Without offering any legal defense to their employees. Without so much as asking for their side of the story. And the only answer I can come up with is that it has to be about more than just saving face (or money).

Corporations that act as judge, jury and executioner are just encouraging the rest of society to play judge, jury and executioner, in some sort of sick and sordid conservative political mafia hit game, where they can so easily take out whomever they want, just on the word of some young woman who they can get to cry to an attorney.

Please forgive my rant, and please understand that I am not referring to actual victims of sexual abuse who have immediately called authorities, preserved evidence (and witnesses) and who has prevailed in a court of law. They all have my deepest sympathies and support.

It’s the legal and desperate opportunists posing as victims of sexual abuse who are conspiring to ruin the careers, friendships, family relationships and marriages of innocent individuals that concern me so greatly.

Sean Turner

More on “Cancel Culture”

So, let me briefly explain… I quit reading the VC Reporter for one reason only, long ago… And that reason was — Paul Moomjean.

Anecdotally speaking, I found his writing — a dislocated, dysfunctional compilation of poorly researched right wing speak, which clearly originated from the prejudicial cesspool mindset of a conservative party line talking head…

At least that’s what (I) thought!

Regarding Paul’s refreshingly shorter rant, “Cancel Culture,” I find what appears to be Paul Moomjean making an argument for fairness and equity v. a culture which has over compensated, via political correctness, to the point of pre-war Nazi Germany, in reverse. In other words — as a culture we now punish people for daring to invite us to laugh at ourselves.

So then . . . Boom, have I let my raging liberal viewpoint fog the obvious, is Paul Moomjean a comedic satirist or a poor (very poor) reincarnation of William F. Buckley!

Somebody please lead me in the right direction here . . .

Matt Faust

Things Are Better

Your readers have been told about the challenges faced by the City of Port Hueneme. As they say, “The past is the past.” Let’s talk about now.

The City of Port Hueneme is in a strong position. Our management and staff are stable. The cannabis industry — once considered a potential problem area — is operating smoothly and contributing to our city’s coffers. And we are mending previous financial troubles.

To be frank, yes, we provided our share of negative headlines with financial and political troubles over the past few years. But a newly elected council and a strong city manager worked as a team and have made the following successes:

  • Council passed a second consecutive budget in the black;
  • We signed contracts with our police union and SEIU staff, both of whom had operated for a long time without an agreement;
  • We are adding police vehicles to our force and hiring new civilian personnel to direct traffic and take accident reports, allowing our police officers to stay on the beat.

We have stabilized our budget and given much-deserved pay increases to our employees because:

  • Our citizens increased the sales tax raising $2 million per year;
  • Cannabis operators are generating $2.5 million annually in development agreement fees and sales taxes to the City’s General Fund without any security problems;
  • Our partnership with the Oxnard Harbor District, Port of Hueneme (which is enjoying its 11th consecutive year of growth) is paying off.

Finally, our staff is stable, and we have resolved most of the lawsuits that have been hectoring us.

We have challenges ahead — not the least of which is an aging water delivery infrastructure. But we have a plan for that, too.

It is rare for a city with so many troubles to turn it around so quickly. We have done so at the City of Port Hueneme through strong partnerships with our council, staff, businesses and citizens. We look forward to continued progress.

Mayor Will Berg
Port Hueneme

Oct. 10, 2019

Concern over pesticides

I attended the town hall meeting on pesticides last week, my interest sparked because I have been recently tested positive for a range of pesticides, especially organophosphates. I have been detoxing for the last 25 years at least, firstly because of heavy metals, in particular mercury, presumably acquired through my mouthful of dental amalgams, then molds from living near the ocean, and now pesticides and herbicides — yes, including that ubiquitous stuff euphemistically called Roundup.

Something was going to nail me as I aged and now it’s a rare disease in the spectrum of motor neuron diseases. Like myself, most of you reading this will initially know little to nothing about this disease because it only affects four or five people per million. Nobody knows what causes it. But I was intrigued to hear a person claim at the town hall meeting that his Multiple Motor Neuron disease was caused by pesticides.

I left the meeting early, unable to take in any more information and feeling overwhelmed and defeated by the enormity of our ignorance and stupidity. My time here is rapidly drawing to a close but what about our children, grandchildren and future generations, I thought alarmingly.

So at the very least I do what I can and support those who have the vision and the energy to change to regenerative agriculture. This is the way forward.

Last night I spoke to Steve Sprinkel, a local organic farmer, and he was far more optimistic than I about the future and that calmed me down a bit.

John Holt
Oak View

Oct. 17, 2019

More on pesticides in Ojai

While I appreciate the theatricality of your Oct. 2 cover shot featuring actress Diane Ladd, it is also a bit absurd. That stylishly lacy breathing mask she’s wearing would do nothing to protect her from the toxic pesticide vapors to which she believes she is being exposed at her home in Ojai. For that, she’d need an OSHA-approved industrial respirator with chemical-specific filter cartridges. They’ve not stylish at all.

But the reality is that neither she nor any of the other individuals quoted in your story about the anti-pesticide activism currently roiling Ojai provided any actual evidence to support their

contention that the valley’s farmers are poisoning the community. What your reporter collected instead was an appalling pastiche of falsehoods, half-truths, unsubstantiated allegations and unverifiable anecdotes.

There was no evidence that anyone claiming to have been directly exposed to pesticides had reported that exposure to the county agricultural commissioner, who is legally required to investigate such reports to determine whether a serious violation of state and federal law has occurred. There was no evidence that anyone had sought medical attention for their alleged “exposure” symptoms and could provide toxicology reports identifying the chemical involved. There was no evidence that anyone swabbed down their patio furniture and submitted samples to a lab to determine whether drifting spray had, in fact, contaminated their back yard.

Some people are indeed poisoning the Ojai community, but it isn’t the farmers trying desperately to save their orchards and their livelihoods from the deadliest citrus disease on the planet. As reflected in your story, it’s people like Josh and Rebecca Tickell, the recently transplanted documentary filmmakers, deploying hearsay to incite hysteria. It’s people like Peggy Pagaling of Transition to Organics, promoting the fantasy that citrus trees magically become immune to a fatal bacterial disease if growers incorporate the right kind of compost into the soil. And it’s people like Ladd, terrifying parents by telling them they need to have their children’s blood tested for exposure to toxins and offering to pay the bill.

Ojai’s citrus growers are as concerned about public health and safety as any other members of the community, and they adhere to rigorous regulatory requirements intended to protect residents and the environment from the potential effects of pesticide applications. Most farmers live on their ranches and are raising their families there; to imply they have a cavalier attitude toward the use of these crop-protection tools is deeply insulting. They value the lives of their children every bit as much as their non-farming neighbors value the lives of theirs. That this point even needs to be made suggests how toxic and one-sided the community discourse around this issue has become in Ojai.

John Krist
Chief Executive Officer
Farm Bureau of Ventura County


Recently there have been alarmist anecdotes about alleged dangerous use of chemicals in Ojai. Let us collectively consider the situation in the most helpful and clinical way we know how. We need to stop reacting to our inner fears, pause, and take a few minutes to think this through rationally. As humans we are emotional creatures, yet balanced out by maturity, wisdom, and experience, we can come to practical conclusions and compromise. 

As children we are taught to read books like Chicken Little and The Boy Who Cried Wolf. These stories teach us that shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater is dangerous. Let us recall the message of these age-old common tales: reacting emotionally will cause mayhem. On a more advanced level we learn not to let our anxieties rule our lives. At the end of these stories everyone realizes their mistakes, discovers solutions and continues on with wiser and less ignorant lives.

Now, I understand that there are people who are unaware how the agricultural industry works. That being said, it is perfectly okay that not everyone works in agriculture. On the other side of the street, not everyone knows how the movie and acting industry functions. Just as the fact that not everyone can act or entertain the masses, not everyone understands the complexities of farming. Similarly, no one can completely understand the full extent of this situation, but at least we can try. If we invite different perspectives and lean into potentially uncomfortable conversations, we will begin to work together with a higher level of communal knowledge. To me, agriculture is a fundamental part of feeding the world. While I understand the gravity and timeliness of these circumstances, agriculture, in some respects, is necessary. In this type of situation, I use a very old set of principles to help me along. One is paraphrased loosely from Socrates “I only know what I don’t know.” In other words, I will be humble and ask questions.

This mentality allows for restraint of tongue and pen, keeping me in good social standing, while being open and willing to learn. I hope that each of us can learn to be open and willing to understand different perspectives. I hope that rather than relying on our emotions, we seek solutions through logic and rationality.

In conclusion, I am asking that we calm down and work to reason through this situation. It does no good to react, provoke and stir up community anxieties, emotions or jump to conclusions. If we find ourselves wound up tight in an angry fit, then that is a good sign that it is time to grow and mature. There is no doubt in my mind that if we all calm down and think through this situation, we will lead ourselves to a logical and reasonable conclusion.

George Thacher
Fourth generation Ojai farmer

Oct. 31, 2019

Trump in 2020?

Paul Moomjeam’s latest column [“The GOP has a new primary goal,” Oct. 10, 2019], where he argues that the Republican Party needs to find a “back to normal” candidate because Donald Trump is damaged goods because of the Ukraine “scandal” is laughable at best. I’m not surprised, because he has been a NeverTrumper from the beginning, and he proudly lumps himself with Bill Kristol, who has always been a globalist limousine Republican.

Trump supporters are not going to abandon him over Ukraine. Moomjeam’s problem, like most of the media, is that he does not understand how and why Trump was elected. Trump did not just happen in a vacuum. So to help, here is a little history, and it starts with the TEA Party.

The TEA Party was born out of the frustration rank and file conservatives felt after the Bush Administration’s trillion dollar bailout of Wall Street. The media likes to claim it was a racist response to Obama getting elected, but it wasn’t. “Taxed Enough Already” was the cry, and it started BEFORE the election in 2008.

The TEA Party generated a lot of both energy and money for the GOP. It got four senators elected (Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Mike Lee). The GOP response was to give them McCain (globalist) and then Romney (globalist). Neither candidate connected with the TEA Party faithful. In fact, Romney used his power at the GOP Convention in 2012 to shut out the TEA Party entirely. The message was “we want your votes, and your money, but you can forget about having a say in what the GOP stands for.”

So, along comes Trump. He is brash, and boorish, and crude. He far too often speaks before he thinks. He lacks any kind of tact. But, and this is the crux of it, he attacks the GOP establishment as much as he attacks Democrats. He promises to govern with an “America first” attitude. And, he steamrolled the GOP establishment and won the nomination.

He has torn to shreds most of the plans globalists had tried to implement. He pushes back on China with regard to trade. He refuses to fund UN climate mandates where America was (as usual) the main contributor. He was fought to stop the flow of illegal immigration in every way he can (with limited success because of the courts). In short, he has delivered on pretty much everything the TEA Party grassroots wanted. For this is he extremely popular with his supporters. They see the Ukraine dust-up as another witch hunt put together by the same people who tried the Russia hoax, and the Kavanaugh hit job. As more evidence comes out about the “whistleblower,” it only confirms their suspicions that it’s a coordinated farce by the House Democrats and the GOP Establishment.

Trump is just as popular with his supporters now as he was in 2016. He faces no serious challenge in the primary, and his supporters won’t abandon him over this. The Democrats won’t actually impeach him, because in his defense Trump could really shine a light on things the Democrats want to keep in the dark. This is all theater designed to damage his reputation and weaken him in 2020, but it will not work. Instead, it only strengthens the resolve of his supporters.

And when he wins, Moomjeam and the rest of the media are going to sit around in shock because they will not understand how it happened. Again.

Alan Ballinger

Monsanto lawsuits

Judging from the letter from John Krist in the last VCReporter [Oct. 17, 2019], Mr. Krist is unaware of all the major lawsuits exposing the fraud and lies perpetrated by Monsanto concerning Roundup. And that juries have awarded gigantic sums from $25 million to $2 billion to the victims of Monsanto’s pesticides. One jury found that Monsanto “engaged in conduct with malice, oppression or fraud committed by one or more officers, directors or managing agents of Monsanto.” There are over 18,000 similar cases pending, largely by people suffering from lymphatic cancers. And the fact that glyphosate is turning up in food and water is leaving many large food producers vulnerable to lawsuits.

These lawsuits have also uncovered the fact that many farm organizations just like Mr. Krist’s Farm Bureau and government officials have received payoffs and perks to continue to promote the use of these pesticides.

There is no doubt that these chemicals are extremely harmful and Monsanto has lied and deceived the public for a long time and is now going to have to pay the price for their deceit.  

Besides Monsanto’s Roundup, several other toxic synthetic pesticides by other companies, Syngenta and Valent, are filling our lungs in the valley. One is a “neonic,” banned in many countries.

On the label: “toxic to wildlife . . . highly toxic to bees.” Another is a neurotoxin implicated in causing Parkinson’s disease.  On the label, “extremely toxic to fish . . . toxic to wildlife . . . highly toxic to bees . . .” And then there’s Actara, a neonicotinoid pesticide by Syngenta, which is banned in many countries, and was going to be banned in the U.S. as well, before the Trump Administration rolled back the ban in 2018. On the label: “This pesticide is toxic to wildlife and highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates . . . highly toxic to bees . . .” The list goes on.

But Krist is right about one thing. We want people to get upset and fearful of all the poisons being dumped on our food, water and air. It’s time this stops. 

Then again, maybe Mr. Krist is uninformed and ridicules organic farming because he’s not a farmer but rather just a PR man who can’t even get the name of the Director of transition-to-organics.org right.

Sue Williamson