Feb. 27, 2020

Accountability more important than party

I believe that responsibility and accountability are required of our elected officials no matter which political party they represent. Because of this belief it is with confusion and, yes, disillusion and anger, that I find Democratic organizations and elected Democrats, among other organizations, endorsing Carmen Ramirez for the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.  Clearly they haven’t lived through the 10 years in Oxnard that I have experienced.

There are definite advantages to living in Oxnard: Camarillo, Port Hueneme, the city of Ventura and Ventura County. For a relatively short drive I can experience a pleasant outing in well-kept and attractive parks. I can take my dog for a romp in well-designed dog parks. I can ride on streets free of potholes.

My house is across the street from an Oxnard city park, which is uncomfortably like living next to a landfill. Trash is infrequently collected and lies strewn around in the uncut grass and weeds. Then there is the damage caused by falling tree branches in the recent high winds because Oxnard does not tend to the trees in parks, street dividers, and curb areas.

The recent edition of Condor Call, journal of the local chapter of the Sierra Club, contains an article detailing the neglect of Ormond Beach and citing repeated instances in which Oxnard provided “zero enforcement” to control the human activities that were causing destruction and that the city had committed to regulate. One might think the Sierra Club would not think highly of a council member who presided over such “poor stewardship.” But no. Their endorsements for the March 3 election include Carmen Ramirez for the 5th district position on the Board of Supervisors.

This failure of stewardship is not confined to abdication of responsibility to protect the environment. It includes closing what was arguably the finest art museum on the central coast, the Carnegie, because the council would not continue the payments they had committed to.

This past year Alexander Nguyen, Oxnard City Manager, has presented lectures detailing the appalling instances of cupidity and stupidity during the past 10 years that coincide with Carmen Ramirez’s tenure on the city council and have virtually ruined Oxnard.

Yes, I am deeply disturbed by the lack of responsibility and accountability in Washington, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to champion the same lack in Oxnard because it is occurring in the Democratic Party.

Susan Zannos
Oxnard

Barack Obama has not endorsed anyone

I hope no one thinks Barack Obama has endorsed Micheal Bloomberg.  As a media mogul, he is using footage of Obama in his commercials. Barack Obama has not endorsed anyone yet, nor will he for some time.

Mary Volpe
Ventura

Martin Zaehringer for judge

Martin Zaehringer has all of the qualities a Superior Court Judge must have. Judges should have track records of the highest conduct in both civil and criminal law, and in appellate law. A Judge should have an even temperament and a profound sense of justice. Martin Zaehringer is all of that and more. He and his wife, Kelli, raised three young successful adults in our public schools, while participating in community service from sports through faith-based institutions and other nonprofits. They continue help others less fortunate than themselves. The choice is clear: Martin Zaehringer for Judge.

Kioren Moss

Ventura


Feb. 20, 2020

Draft environmental impact report for the Ventura County 2040 General Plan

The entire assumption of a General Plan and its supporting documentation is to have a forward-looking plan to deal with land use, potential significant impacts and their mitigation measures within a geographical area.

It is my belief, and the belief of many others, that climate disruption caused by greenhouse gas emissions is the primary concern that has to be addressed in this type of document. Any plan that attempts to provide a framework for mitigating significant impacts that does not place climate change at the very forefront of significant impacts is a deeply flawed document and is doomed to fulfill its “raison d’etre” which, ultimately, is to secure a safe and prosperous future for the residents and protect the physical environment under its jurisdiction.

The corrective action is to acknowledge the primacy of climate change and the devastating impacts that will be most severely felt in Ventura County. All goals and policies incorporated within a General Plan must have annual quantifiable metrics and measurables that lead to a complete cessation of hydrocarbon extraction practices within the county and the elimination of hydrocarbon usage by a date certain.

Steve Nash
Oxnard

 

Response to Aaron Starr

Regarding the letter from Aaron Starr in your Feb. 6 edition, I would like to say this:

I talked to Aaron Starr two or three times last year about his allegations of wrong doing and ethics violation claims against the Oxnard City Council. I believe that what he said in the aforementioned letter is true and accurate, based on my own research into the situation. He has had one or two lawsuits over related matters against the city of Oxnard in the past few years. As far as I remember, I believe he won the lawsuits.

The allegations of wrongdoing and ethics violations are so serious that they need to be brought to the attention of the Ventura County Grand Jury. IF no one else is willing to file such a complaint, then I might do it myself. This bad behavior by the Oxnard City Council must, repeat MUST, be stopped now!! Nullifying the will of the people by altering their petitions is totally outrageous. It may even be a criminal act!!

John Jay
Oxnard

 

VC Supervisor Race and ACHS

A TV ad for candidate for supervisor trashes the record of Adolfo Camarillo High School and implies that a report reflected poorly on the leadership of Kim Marra Stephenson, ACHS principal (2015-19). 

First, this ad exaggerates and misstates information about the report and the principal. It refers to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges study of ACHS. A WASC study is <em>designed to give an independent review with recommendations on how to serve students better.</em> It is ridiculous for this candidate to suggest that the WASC study threatens the viability of the school.

The ad falsely states that Principal Stephenson “was removed” from office. She voluntarily resigned as principal (but continues as a teacher at another school within the district) because the time commitment of a principal is 24-7. She did the honorable thing. 

Secondly, Principal Stephenson’s record at ACHS with objective data shows that students thrived. During her tenure, the school ranked in the 10 percent of schools nationwide by U.S. News and World Report every year; received the California Civic Learning Award three years in a row and established a mental wellness center to meet students’ needs and destigmatize mental issues. Athletics, academic, career technical and arts programs thrived, modernized and, in some cases, doubled (like music).

The final group of graduates under Principal Stephenson’s leadership had 24 Distinguished Honors students who earned a 4.5 or better; 79 honors students with a 4.0 to 4.49, earned well over $1 million in grants and scholarships and earned a total of six Coastal Canyon league championships, all undefeated in league play. 

Finally, it is the worst behavior to use public education as a political weapon and seek to hold on to a political position by demeaning and diminishing our students, our schools, our district and our city. This ad did nothing to tell us why we should vote for this candidate but gave us a lot of insight into her approach to leadership and how she plans to govern.

I have been a public school teacher for 25 years. The job of an educator is to create an environment where children have every opportunity to learn and grow. Teachers see opportunity for growth. We do not take down children and schools. 

Karen Sher
Camarillo

 

PAC-sponsored push poll

The California Resources Corp. (Oil and Gas) PAC [political action committee], “For A Better Ventura County,” reported out in this newspaper, which supports supervisor candidates Tim Flynn, Kelly Long and Matt LaVere with an $825,000 pot of money, is now running a push poll.

The poll targets 5th district candidate Carmen Ramirez. The survey presents positive accomplishments of candidate Flynn followed by negatively characterized statements about Ramirez’s work, for example, to remove fossil fuel plants from Oxnard beaches, omitting the fact that votes to oppose the proposed Puente Peaker Plant were always unanimous.

There are other misleading statements attributed only to Ramirez, mistakes of the full [Oxnard City] Council and management. These dirty political tactics, seen in national elections, are rare locally, and not welcome in election campaigns in our small community.

Voters should understand that, while the PAC is running the poll, candidates who are receiving “campaign assistance” from this PAC have already declared their willingness to take money from the oil and gas industry. We should, then, expect to see more wells and fossil fuel plants at a time when the county is already feeling the effects of climate change. On the other hand, candidate Ramirez has taken a “no fossil fuel money” pledge, the only candidate to do so in the 5th district race.

Lauraine Effress
Oxnard

Congress must act now to prevent climate breakdown

Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen so many of my neighbors join my family in making environmentally wise decisions. We use less water, plant native landscapes, install solar and drive electric — we’re reducing our carbon footprints. And yet, the climate crisis plows ahead with no sign of stopping. One glance at climate.nasa.gov shows how drastically the climate has deteriorated. 2019 was the second hottest year on record. Global temperatures are up almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the twentieth century. And, as the VCReporter reported in November, the next 20 years are likely to see another 3-5 degree Fahrenheit rise in Ventura County, meaning more lethal heat waves and wildfires. (“Into the red: Climate research indicates 20 years of continuously rising temperatures in Ventura County,” by Kit Stolz, VCReporter, Nov. 21, 2019)

When I moved to Thousand Oaks in 1997, the frost date was mid-March. Now, it’s mid-February. Experts with the UN say we must slash emissions 8 percent every year to reach the 2030 Paris target and limit warming to 1.5C (2.7F). Otherwise, floods, fires and droughts skyrocket and biodiversity plummets. (See: “37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming,” www.climatechangenews.com)

As families in Ventura County, our power to steer ourselves from a catastrophic future is limited. Residential emissions are miniscule — less than a tenth — of overall emissions. Compare that to the combined impact of industry, power generation and transportation — those make up three-quarters. Large emitters must join our fight against climate change. To encourage them to do so we need bolder laws. We need Julia Brownley to support HR763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. HR763 is a great bill. It’s bipartisan. It places a tax on fossil fuel extraction, to spur clean energy development. The proceeds go to us, the public. The bill imposes a carbon adjustment at the border to keep businesses here. In short, HR763 lowers emissions at a societal level, reduces pollution, puts money in our pockets, creates jobs and is good for business. 

Congressmember Brownley: You must support this bipartisan bill. As your constituents, we have limited power to protect the environment. We demand that you and your colleagues pull your weight, and together we can move to a more sustainable civilization. 

With great concern,
Patricia Tavormina
Newbury Park

 

So, Mr. Bennett wants to go to Sacramento?

So, Steve Bennet wants to be an Assemblyman?

Well, he was my “Supervisor” for all of the 20 years he warmed a chair in his county office located less than 1/4 mile from the house I have been paying city and county taxes on for all that time and longer. He did nothing in my opinion and I am a voter who expects little from politicians; their job is to get elected, then re-elected for as long as possible.

However, the ONE time I contacted his office about looking into something that affected me and many others in his district all I got for my efforts were a few emails from one of his lackeys who managed to miss every point I was making. So NOTHING came of it and now he wants to double-dip Californians by raking in his county pension AND an Assemblyman’s paycheck?

We can do better than this by just voting for #anyoneexceptstevebennett.

John Darling
Ventura

 

Oxnard Park Master Plan: No Pool No Ball Fields College Park

Granted, the City of Oxnard does not have the $40,000,000 to $60,000,000 it needs to fund the Park Master Plan implementation.

I served on the College Park Master Plan Committee as the representative of the INCF (Inter Neighborhood Forum, now the INCO Inter Neighborhood Community Organization) 20 years ago. The College Park Master Plan Committee was a subcommittee of the Parks and Recreation Commission. The subcommittee met monthly for a year (2001) at various locations including the ranger station and pool facilities at College Parks and Recreation. Commission rejected the plan. The Parks and Recreation Commission then met several times, and came up with a plan that included a Farm Heritage Museum. This plan was rejected by the City Council. Eventually City Council approved a plan that included an aquatic center and ball fields. The ball fields to be built with public funds were going to be managed by a private entity, Big League Dreams. The Big League Dream fields never materialized due to contract disputes. The aquatic center was to be built in Phase V when funds became available. Measure O was then passed, generating over $10,000,000 in new revenue in General Fund New Revenue. The recession hit and Measure O was used to back fill lost revenue as property tax revenue and sales tax revenue dropped significantly. My hopes for an aquatic center drowned. 

A Park Master Plan was developed around 2008-2010. It was basically a Park Inventory Report, but it contained plans for College Park, Campus Park (acquired a few years previously) and Sports Park. For details of the purchase of Campus Park, ask Garcia Mortuary how they offered more money for the property (to build a cemetery) to the High School District than the City pf Oxnard offered, but was turned down by the High School District. For details of the questionable acquisition of land for Sports Park, including a reported back dated  threat at of eminent domain (to avoid capital gain taxes), ask Martin Jones (a private citizen) or Bert Perrelo (President of the INCO at the time now an Oxnard City Council Member). The plans for College Park in the new report was only for Phase I and II. The soccer fields were built, the skate park was built, basketball courts were built, dog parks were built, parking lots were built (the existing pool and ranger station was replaced to make room for the parking lot. No new aquatic center was built nor were the ball fields.

A few years ago the plans for an Aquatic Center at Sports Park was torpedoed when the demands from the Y. M. C. A. seemed to be excessive. The demand for an aquatic center has not diminished. 

The taxpayers are paying for Measure A — a community college district bond issue. The bond was floated with the idea an aquatic center was going the be built at Oxnard College which is in walking distance from Channel Islands High (which has no pool) and walking distance from College Park. The language for an aquatic center was not included in the final language of the bond when the bond passed. No aquatic center at Oxnard College was built, The Performing Arts Center at Oxnard College was buit instead. 

The new (Oxnard) Parks Master Plan has eliminated the ball fields and aquatic center at College Park. Staff has not followed the direction set by City Council years ago. Staff claims that as a result of a new study, the demand for an aquatic center was not has high as a demand for more soccer fields at College Park. The public was promised by the vote of the City Council to build ball fields and an aquatic center at College Park. The elimination of the ball fields and aquatic center by staff, not city council,is an another example of broken promises by the 4th floor (Administration offices of the City of Oxnard) that has been going on for decades. Nothing has changed. The city is still corrupt. The city found the the funds to build a $22,000,000 fire station (Station 8) at College Park, but cannot seem to find the funds for a $4,000,000 aquatic center after an additional $120,000,000  has been collected in Measure O funds over the last 10+ years. The city manager wonders why this member of general public is angry.

If one were to look at the Fire Department Strategic Plan (2005) Fire Station 8 was to have cost $4,000,000 with 1/2 coming from a developer if his EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for development on Hueneme Road was approved. The EIR from this developer was thrown out by the courts. The EIR was developed by Southland Sod, a financial contributor to a current council member.

Lawrence Paul Stein
Oxnard

 

A climate emergency too close to home

We have long known Ventura County was extremely vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet. Our fires, droughts and threatened coastal infrastructure put us at risk.

But it was still shocking to learn from a report in the Washington Post that we are the fastest-warming county in the lower 48 states. With a temperature increase of 2.6 degrees Celsius since preindustrial times, our warming has already exceeded the 2 degrees Celsius threshold set by the Paris Climate agreement. 

We have seen the catastrophic effects of a warming world in the fierce winds that whipped the Thomas and Woolsey fires out of control and we will not forget the suffering it caused our families and neighbors.

Then we learned from a new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that our coastal waters are acidifying at twice the global rate, threatening life in the ocean and with it our fishing industry. This is a lesser known effect of a changing climate.

The push for policies that will slow the catastrophic effects of climate change needs to begin everywhere and at once.

Ventura County must make a bold statement about climate with its General Plan Update. This is the document that sets the policies that drive all land use decisions for the next 20 years. Indeed, at a recent Board of Supervisors meeting dozens of speakers asked for more local policies that will help the county reduce emissions.

Climate First: Replacing Oil and Gas (CFROG) has analyzed the county’s General Plan draft with the help of nationally recognized air quality expert Dr. Steven Colome and the prestigious environmental law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger, LLP.

While its goals are laudable, the county’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) fails to provide enough emissions reduction to meet the state-mandated climate goals. The plan is seriously incomplete and lacks the technical and scientific input needed.

Climate change is caused by fossil fuel production and consumption. The CAP addresses the consumption side by merely encouraging, but not requiring, electric fuel vehicles and clean power for homes and businesses. But Ventura County is the third largest oil and gas producing county in California. As such, we must do our part to reduce oil production through thoughtful, rigorous policy to phase it out. This is not addressed.

The county is accepting comments through February on the Environmental Impact Report that accompanies the update. To submit your comments, go to vcrma.org/vc2040.org/review. CFROG has a list of talking points to use at www.cfrog.org.

We have seen that our state’s early, groundbreaking policies to reduce emissions have spread to other states, the nation and the world. Here in Ventura County, where the effects of climate change have become frighteningly real, we are motivated now more than ever.

Marie Lakin
Climate First: Replacing Oil & Gas
Ventura

 

How is the media getting away with publishing “fake news?”

This is actually a response to Mr. Leeman’s opinion letter to VCR.

Really sir, everything President Trump says is a lie? Isn’t that in fact a lie? Broad generalizations such as yours most assuredly are. And yet there it is another printed untruth (“fake news”) meant to slander and assumed as fact. 

Speaking of slanderous remarks, I do not hear many people complaining about journalist’s “fake news” assaulting innocent people.” The latest victim was Nick Sandmann. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if you or VCR’s readers have not heard of him. Don’t you people have a conscience?

Make no mistake my friend, you or I may be the next victim. Just say something that goes against these “social justice warriors’ ” code of ethics and see what happens. 

If President Trump is not exempt, imagine what will happen to us.

By the way, thank you President Trump for bravely coining the word “fake news,” and thank you to Nick Sandmann for bravely standing up to those reporting it as facts. 

Ms. Trumpet
Oxnard

Feb. 6, 2020


Oxnard City Council kills term limits

[On Tuesday, Jan. 21], the City Council did something dastardly — they adopted strict term limits in order to kill strict term limits.

Yes, you read that correctly! Let me explain with a little background.

As you know, we gathered signatures over the summer from Oxnard voters to qualify a term limits initiative for the November ballot … that would limit the Oxnard mayor and council members to two consecutive four-year terms. After a two-year break the officeholder would be eligible to run again.

Knowing that we were about to qualify for the ballot, the City Council placed its own competing initiative (Measure B) on the March ballot that would also impose term limits, but their proposal allows for up to three consecutive four-year terms (and a two-year break before being able to serve again).

But the City Council’s measure includes a loophole — if you switch from council to mayor (or vice versa) the clock starts all over again … So some can avoid term limits altogether. In other words, it’s a fake term limits proposal.

Rather than submitting our REAL term limits measure for the November ballot, the city council actually ADOPTED it to go into effect immediately. 

The City Council knows that people voting in March for Measure B (the Fake Term Limits measure) will unwittingly be voting to OVERRIDE real term limits.

You see, the voters in the March election are about to be lied to in an official government publication. Voters won’t be told that we ALREADY have strict term limits. Instead the ballot argument for Measure B falsely states the following:

“FACT: Measure B imposes real term limits on elected officials.” As if term limits don’t yet exist.

In reality, because of the Oxnard City Council’s self-serving maneuver, voting for Measure B in March will now OVERTURN our stricter term limits and substitute the council’s FAKE TERM LIMITS scheme.

The City Council deprived you of the right to vote for real term limits in November.

Now, in order to preserve real term limits, Oxnard voters need to vote AGAINST Measure B on March 3.

Be sure to Vote No on Oxnard’s Measure B.

Aaron Starr
starr@movingoxnardforward.org
805-804-9101

GOP plan from a progressive

It’s my understanding that none of the Republicans will stand up to Trump because they are fearful of losing their House or Senate seat!  

I have the solution! All those with gonads or kahunas should band together and not only convict Trump, BUT remove him from office! They will save their jobs as there will no longer be a Trump threat, AND would also restore the Republican Party to a saner place.

My political savvy friend, Trish Parker, has the perfect winning ticket for the Dems: Biden for President and Obama for Vice-President. Can you imagine the Republicans’ reaction? They would all be apoplectic! Speechless! Dumbstruck!

Could someone please contact Obama and persuade him to return to DC for even just four years?

Judith A. Beay
Ventura

 

Great men are almost always bad men

When the British politician Lord Acton wrote in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men,” he was implying that only a few great leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, could also be good people.

Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have described Donald Trump as “the most corrupt president in U.S. history,” he is neither a great nor a good man.

Concerning the so-called controversy between Bernie and Elizabeth over whether a woman can be president, hardly any commentator seemed to notice Bernie’s reminder that he had deferred to Elizabeth when she was considering running for president in 2016.

 “In 2015, I deferred, in fact, to Senator Warren. There was a movement to draft Senator Warren to run for president. And you know what, I stayed back. Senator Warren decided not to run, and I then did run afterward.”

Nor did anyone seem to comment on the video Bernie mentioned showing him arguing 30 years ago that a woman could be president.

Critics of Bernie and Elizabeth’s progressive policies seem to be doing their best to foster animosity between the two.

Don’t let this happen, Bernie and Elizabeth.

You are both already good and, given the opportunity, can both become great.

Clive Leeman
Ojai