Aug. 27, 2020

County should tax all oil and gas production at the wellhead

A local carbon tax on ALL oil and gas produced is an imperative for Ventura County’s General Plan.  It makes no sense to just tax the production from new wells! All oil and gas operations pollute our atmosphere with gases that are causing our climate to warm. They should pay for the damage that warming causes, and taxing that carbon pollution is an effective way to do this — a method supported by over 3,500 economists in a letter last year to the Wall Street Journal.  The excise tax collected should be used to fund greenhouse gas reduction and adaptation to a changing climate.  California just experienced record heat, firenados, a dry lightning storm with over 12,000 lightning strikes that started the second and third largest fires in California, and resultant air quality deemed the worst in the world.  Do the rest of us need to keep footing the bill and suffering the consequences for the damage caused by someone else’s profits? Our Congress has yet to pass a carbon tax; why don’t we in Ventura County show the nation that the time to act is now.
Fiona Bremner

Why rush the 2040 VC General Plan?

On July 16, Ventura County Planning Commissioners voted to submit their draft 2040 General Plan to the Board of Supervisors for approval.  Thank you, Commissioner McPhail, for voting NO until Spanish documents were produced and the Latino community could review and provide input. 

Community voices were heard after long hours of public comments asking the question of WHY the rush to pass the 2040 General Plan?  This plan, once approved, will dictate and govern on regulations affecting Ventura County.  Numerous examples of deficiencies were presented in the flawed proposal. These deficiencies include addressing loss of jobs, rising costs of housing and utilities and their effects post-COVID.  There was NO mention of this pandemic and how to address its challenges.  

Of greater concern is the county’s lack of focused outreach to the Latino community, which makes up over 40 percent of the population, including NO Spanish or Mixteco translation of the General Plan.  Not even a summary of the policies or programs was provided. 

This plan is NOT a viable plan for our future but is a plan to destroy hope for Ventura County’s young Latino residents.  This generation will have very limited employment opportunities thus making it difficult to afford housing or cost of living. 

Now is NOT the time to pass new polices that will create more hardship for Ventura County’s Latino community.  Our Board of Supervisors needs to pass policies that assure our next generation will have affordable housing, job opportunities and growth.  A legacy in which Ventura County can be a viable place to live with dignity and respect.

Ana Del Rio-Barba

Church defiance

Pastor Rob McCoy, leader of Calvary Godspeak Church was fined $500 per service for “playing God.” 
I applaud the judge for his ruling.  It is time past due that churches of all faiths realize they must comply with the law just like the rest of us. Besides, churches have historically instructed their congregations to obey governments and their rules.  
Miguel Espinosa

Aug. 13, 2020

Serra statue removal

It’s not just Catholics who are extremely upset with the statue coming down (“Serra statue removed,” July 23, 2020). We’re just the most organized and aware at this point. This will be an unpopular move for the majority of Ventura. 

You should do a story about Julie Tumamait-Stenslie’s father, Vincent, being part of the 1989 bronze statue dedication.

Dominic Krestyn

Aug. 6, 2020

County will not benefit from environmental “streamlining”

The EIR [Environmental Impact Report] will be certified by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors because our analysis is complete and all steps to conclude the EIR process will be done. [“2040 General Plan heads to Supervisors,” July 30, 2020.] However, because our Climate Action Plan does not contain enough quantifiable measures to achieve the greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions, the CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] process for future development projects cannot use the certified EIR for streamlining meaning each project will need to complete their GHG analysis using state standards not local mitigation measures. Therefore it is the “CEQA streamlining” provision that the county will not benefit from.

Part of the challenge to reach the GHG reduction targets is because the next 20 year growth rate for the county is very low. Thus, the opportunities to achieve reductions through new building regulations (materials, energy use, mobility infrastructure) is not significantly available as it may be within urban cities. While we will be lowering our GHG emissions through various mitigation measures, policies and programs, it will not be enough to meet the targets.

Dave Ward, AICP
Director, Ventura County Planning Department

The letter above was submitted in response to the VCReporter article “2040 General Plan heads to Supervisors” that printed on July 23, 2020. It is online HERE


RE: Behavioral Health Advisory Board

Thank you for your article [“Behavioral Health Board News: Director berates board member and calls for new committee,” July 30, 2020.]  What it points out to me is that the director of VCBH, Dr. Johnson, is more interested in killing the messenger (Mary Haffner) than she is in addressing the issue Ms. Haffner raises.  Dr. Johnson’s focus on stereotypes of the mentally ill and patient privacy are just a dodge. There was no HIPAA violation here.  And the symptoms of the person profiled in the VC Reporter article were real, not a stereotype.  Dr. Johnson’s implication is that nothing negative should be reported about the mentally ill. Well, that is just not reality.  

I suggest Dr. Johnson (and Ms. Parks) focus on fixing the “gaps” instead of berating a whistleblower.

Alison Carlson

Regarding Dr. Sevet Johnson’s statements about board member Mary Haffner being “callous,” I think she was projecting the attitude of the VCBH system in general. It is the callousness and a failed system of care which causes a parent to seek the help of a lawyer on the advisory board initially. Mary Haffner is a volunteer who is trying to make a difference in our county. I had a similar experience when I was on the Mental Health Advisory Board for 4.5 years as a parent of a child with schizophrenia. The BH director and my child’s treatment team would not allow me to attend the parent meetings for fear I might enlighten or give ideas to other caring parents. They “callously” kicked my son out of the system of care to get me off their backs. What kind of system of care does this?  It took the director of mental health at the state level to intervene with this county, which had just received $16,000,000.  My child needed the correct medication, a program and conservatorship. The continuum of care and the programs which they agreed to have never materialized in the 1990s. It took 10 years to get the right medication!

Dr. Johnson needs to stop the defensive rhetoric and provide a continuum of care for the people for which she is hired to service. This uncaring attitude has prevailed for 34 years in my experience and it needs to change. If there were no mentally ill in our county, there would be no need for a BH department, RIGHT?  We now have only 36 crisis beds at Inpatient. Mental illness strikes one in four people. We have almost a million people in Ventura County. WE need a treatment care facility to teach after the crisis.

Do what’s right for these people who suffer more than words can describe. It is a constant HELL in the brain which can only be helped with medication and teaching them hands-on skills in a program which keeps them in the county. Homelessness can be eliminated for the mentally ill and jails are NO SOLUTION to this problem. They have a brain disorder which needs caring treatment.


Democratic Party strategy

Sometimes I get so pissed off at my party! For example: We should take from Donald Trump’s playbook. That is, the strategy he uses when putting his opponents down. Trump constantly uses harsh criticism of his enemies. Yet, Dems never strike back. We should be pointing out his perpetual lying, the numbers of lies he lays on us, even his own constituents. We should strike back by citing the number of women he’s violated. We should be reporting about his constant blundering over the coronavirus and the economy, about his playing golf when there are so many problems he should be working on. We should be calling him derogatory names and reminding voters about the numbers of his staff that he fires, his poor judgment in selecting personnel, then dismissing them and his very controversial use of the power of the pardon.

Miguel Espinosa, Jr.